Top 10 Ways the Bible Changed My Life: #9. The Bible Gave Me Hope for Something Better – A Life Better Than This…
I’m not afraid of dying…Sure, everyone has some some anxiety about how we die, but the concept doesn’t fear me. Because I believe without a shadow of doubt that there’s something better…after all this.
I don’t like this world. During this time of Pandemic, I keep getting asked when I go out to the gym and drive to and from work, whether I’m afraid of catching the Coronavirus…my answer is no. This isn’t out of ignorance or some arrogance that I think I’m impervious to the disease…But more so, I just don’t cling to this world the way most people do.
And it makes sense for me. You keep hearing all these slogans about how we’re “AloneTogether”…but really, we’re not. I’m a 34-year-old man who lives by himself. Most of my family are hundreds of miles away. I have no wife, no children, no love interests. This isn’t to complain. Just stating the facts. If I caught the Coronavirus and died, the people I love will be taken care. I’d have no regrets. I won’t miss anything about this world. My eyes are fixated on something better.
“Seek first the Kingdom of Heaven and all things will be added onto you.” – Matt. 6:33
As a Christian…knowing that there’s a better life beyond this one really does provide such joy…and relief! I’ve seen so many documentaries where the weak and innocent have been preyed upon and suffered the most nightmarish lives before meeting their end. And if they didn’t believe, if they didn’t know about Christ, I can’t even imagine what that must have been like for them.
That’s why I have so much compassion for Atheists who don’t know the truth, more so than I do for Christians who claim to be Christians, and yet, choose to live life however way they want it. Because if you’re an Atheists who doesn’t believe in God or the Bible, what hope is there when this world has misled you? One such woman comes to mind. She’s a beautiful person with a good heart, but you can tell there’s so much sadness when she gets to talking about her future (life beyond her party years).
But let’s back up for a sec…The Kingdom of Heaven…what is that? What is heaven? What is hell? How does anyone really know what will happen to us after we die? Will heaven really be so much better after this one? There’s a word for this subject that I just learned this year. It’s called “Eschatology: the part of theology concerned with death, judgment, and the final destiny of the soul and of humankind.”
This point couldn’t be more relevant. With the death of George Floyd and mass protests calling out for change…I keep hearing the uproar, the solidarity about how racism needs to end. About how people need to be better. About how the injustice needs to stop.
School shootings. Massacres. Mass abductions. Terrorism. Plagues. Famines. Racism. Sexism. The list can go on and on. Will it ever end? The answer is yes. But it won’t be ended by humans. Years ago, I asked my Facebook friends this question:
“There is no right or wrong, only popular opinion. Is this statement true? If so, who decides?”
Some people said that the community decides. However most people claimed that there is a right and wrong. And it’s defined by God by his word the Bible.
But what happens when the world starts thinking they don’t need the Bible? Even some Christians believe there’s no place for God in institutions like school, politics, and business. If that’s the case, then how do you know what’s right or wrong in those arenas?
Whether the US was founded on Christian principles or not, it’s undeniable that in the mainstream, we’ve gradually started moving away from the Bible. And then we wonder why things are so bad, why my generation is increasingly growing frustrated, why more children are born out of wedlock, why suicide’s on the rise.
Just like the Israelites of old, in times of peace, humans forget how much God has guided them. It’s in this forgetfulness that humans begin to think they don’t need God. That they can decide what’s right or wrong on their own. They start to abandon Christ’s teachings because they see how the wicked and immoral have prospered. King Solomon warned us about human nature long ago when he wrote: Eccl. 8:11 – Because sentence against a bad deed has not been executed speedily, the heart of men becomes emboldened to do bad.
Ladies and Gentlemen…the world as we know it is coming to an end. Human existence will end. The day is indeed drawing near where Jesus Christ will return and wipe away all wickedness from Earth. (Heads up, this is a long one. Might want to bookmark)
Can you fathom it? When you hear these things, as I did when I was a kid, it’s a bit hard to believe. Especially when people have been saying it for centuries, right? “We’re living in the last days,” Jehovah’s Witnesses would say. When I was a kid, I used to hear that and be like, “Is it going to happen in my lifetime? Or my children’s? What’s God waiting for?”
Would I even want to live in heaven? Is heaven or hell really my only two options? If neither sounds appealing, can you blame others for wanting to make the most out of this one life they have here, now on earth? There are so many interpretations, so many beliefs about resurrection, about what happens when we die. And of course, none of us personally knows because none of us have died?
So why have hope? What is there really to look forward to?
The exact time of my writing this passage is August 2nd 2020. First, I want to tell you what was handed down to me about what happens to us when we die. Then, I’m going to tell you the truth based on what I’ve read in the Bible.
My first concept of Heaven and Hell was the same as everyone else when I was a child. Perhaps it was that cartoon “All Dogs Go to Heaven” that did the trick. It was the popular notion that when we die, if we’ve been good, we become like angels with a glowing golden halos and wings to fly wherever we wanted, including the white glorious clouds of the sky with shining light all around.
If we’ve been bad, eternal torment awaits us in a never-ending burning lake of fire called hell. Oddly enough, hell didn’t frighten me as a kid. Fire didn’t frighten me and I had been burned. For me, a greater effect would have been if someone described a never-ending sensation of drowning in the middle of a dark churning ocean with hurricane force winds and gray nightmarish clouds that seemed to look down on me with this murderous intent, as if the clouds were making sure I was indeed suffering with no break or letup for an instance.
…yeah, that would be hell…
At the age of 11, however, I was introduced to the Jehovah’s Witness interpretation of heaven. And this interpretation, I carried with me for most of my adult life.
From my understanding, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that when we die, we’re conscious of nothing. There is no heaven or hell. But since we are conscious of nothing, when we die, it’ll be just like sleeping where ten hours feels like a minute. After Armageddon, the great war where Jesus defeats Satan and his wicked demons, cleansing the earth of all wickedness…everyone who has died will be resurrected and judged by the father, Jehovah God. Jehovah will decide whether or not you will be able to go on living in the Millennial Kingdom on earth, where Jesus Christ reigns.
The Millennial Kingdom is essentially a period of a thousand years where Jesus Christ rules with a governing body of 144,000 select individuals. During these thousand years, those who were resurrected will be able to enjoy life and live a peaceful existence.
I once asked why there would need to be a “governing body” if Jesus washed away all wickedness, and the answer given was because we’d still need answers, we’d still need guidance.
After the 1,000-year period, Satan will be unleashed once more to tempt those living in the Millennial kingdom. If you give into temptation as Eve did in the Garden of Eden by listening to the Great Deceiver, that’s it. You’re done. You will perish forever. Satan will be free for just a short time period before, finally, he will be destroyed forever. If you withstand his temptation and continue to obey God, surviving this testing period, then alas, you will be able to enjoy life forever in a Paradise Earth.
This Paradise… In the Book of Isaiah (65:17-25) Isaiah describes a new world where there will be no more weeping or distress. No more sickness. Where the wolf and lamb will feed together. A new heaven and earth.
The People will be protected and enjoy great prosperity. Our mission will be to glorify God, which simply means to recognize and acknowledge his wonderful works. There will be worldwide peace. You can go anywhere, and not be attacked or preyed upon. No one will wish you harm or even hate or envy you. No more racism, no sexism, no corruption, violence, or despair. You will be free. No taxes. No nine-to-five grind. Everything you have, you built or made yourself with the help of others.
I used to dream of a world where I can swim in the ocean and not worry about drowning or being bitten by sharks. Where I can run in the rain forests and not worry about bears, alligators, or being stung by a multitude of insects. Where I can sleep under the stars and not worry about robbers or a pack of wolves stalking me. Where I can follow a pod of orca towards the Rio Catatumbo and watch the display of lightning off the coast.
All that sounds great…but I confess, there were always a few things that bothered me about the notion of Paradise and Heaven.
What about love, companionship, marriage, affection and intimacy? Also, wouldn’t it be boring if there’s no conflict, drama, or obstacles?
The common belief by Jehovah’s Witnesses is that when you die and get resurrected into this Kingdom, you lose your recollection of memories attached to those who didn’t make it. Meaning, if you lost a loved one and hoped they’d be resurrected but they’re not, when you’re resurrected, you won’t remember them.
This is part of the notion of removing pain and wiping every tear from your eye. All the former things have passed away, including the grief you feel, the longing you felt, the hope you had of seeing those who did not make it.
That sounds…great and convenient, right? It’s just…What if that person who didn’t make it is your spouse? Your girlfriend, boyfriend, husband or wife? I think it’d be different if your children didn’t make it because your children aren’t your partners, your intimate companions for life. But throughout all human existence, one thing I’ve learned about us human beings is that we are social creatures.
Ever since I was 15, it has been my goal in life to get married to one I could call my wife for the rest of my life and never divorce. That’s why I take courtship very seriously. I am very selective. I date in preparation to get married, not to get “laid”.
However, since this world has become more and more secular with even Christian women buying into worldly ideals, my hope in ever finding a wife who endeavors to put God first, while still being beautiful and not a single mother…it’s dwindling with each passing year.
“That’s okay! I’ll just wait for the future Kingdom of Heaven and simply find a spouse then? I’m prepared to die a virgin bachelor if I truly believe I’ll find my wife in the next life.”
That’s what I honestly believed for a number of years. Jesus Christ said to take up the cross and follow him. I believed that by remaining a virgin until marriage, it was one way of doing that. Because it isn’t easy. The loneliness. Seeing other people have someone else. Seeing criminals and convicted murderers get married from prison. But here, I can’t find but one?
I wasn’t sure if I was being tested or molded. Meaning by enduring a number of years alone, God was preparing me to be husband material for the appointed time that he chooses to bless me with a wife.
THEN…In reading the Bible, I came across Matthew Chapter 22. In verses 23-33, Jesus Christ is questioned by the Sadducee. They were trying to trick him because Jesus was steadily preaching the truth about the world.
“Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him. 25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. 26 The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. 27 Finally, the woman died. 28 Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?”
In verse 29, Jesus answered, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. 30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.
When I read that scripture…I confess it was like a punch in the gut. Honestly, for a time, it kinda made life even more pointless for me than it already was. It’s like, why was I even born if I can’t be happy in this world and probably won’t be happy in the next? Honestly, I’m not sure I want to exist at all if I have to spend an eternity by myself or surrounded by those who drag me down.
That was my initial reaction. This is why it’s important to read the entire Bible. Not just sections of it, not just bits and pieces. I’m not ashamed of my initial reaction. What kind of human would I be if disappointment had no effect on me? The thing is…one of the biggest obstacles a lot of us have to face when it comes to reading the Bible is submitting ourselves to it.
It’s the difference between those who twist and manipulate Christ’s teachings to conform to their lives…instead of conforming their lives to Christ’s teachings.
What I mean by that, is humbling our hearts. If God tells Saul to commit genocide and wipe out the Amalekites…who am I to say that’s wrong? It was a command from God. If God calls homosexuality an abomination, who am I to say God is wrong and homosexuality is alright? (Lev. 18:22)
It’s not just that we must humble our hearts…but more than that, it’s about trusting in our Heavenly Father. We have to trust that God loves us, he knows our hearts, our wants, our desires. He sees our pain, our heartache and takes no pleasure in it.
The point I’m getting at: is that while I was concerned about the loneliness of not having a romantic partner in this life or the next, I should have (and now do) trust that God has a plan to take care of all that. Right now, there are people committing suicide, specifically because they feel they have no one, or a place in this world. God knows that we need, that have a desire to be wanted and accepted. Companionship. It’s human nature.
…human nature…the flesh.
That’s what’s going to change in the future. I don’t believe we’ll be humans as we think of ourselves as humans today, of flesh and blood. The Apostle Paul describes us as seeds. When we die, the seed deteriorates and gives life to the flourishing plant. When we die, we leave our flesh and blood behind. We become something else.
Honestly, I didn’t realize it the first time I read the Bible in its entirety. It wasn’t until the second time, and perhaps because I was specifically searching for the answers and understanding that I found it.
The answers are in 1st Corinthians Chapter 15. It’s perhaps, the most extensive chapter in the Bible that reveals what happens to us when we die. I encourage everyone to read it. Particularly verses 35-49. In it, the Apostle Paul describes us as a Heavenly Body. A spiritual form. After I read that, I formed my own conclusion about how to view life after death. Here it is:
It’s just like what Jesus said when he was asked about being married in the resurrection. Jesus said that people won’t be given into marriage but will be like the angels of heaven. Therefore, I decided to let go of expectations of heaven or the kingdom or about what life will be like.
I’m thinking our existence will be nothing like the way we live now. It will be an entirely new spiritual existence without the same needs and wants that we currently desire as humans, sentiments like a need to be loved or desired or recognized. Of the millions or billions of angels that exist, how many can you name aside from Gabriel, Michael, or Satan? Do you think they care?
Therefore just put your trust in God that he knows what’s best for you. Life might actually surprise you and be ten times better than what you ever dreamed. Even now, there’s still so much man has yet to discover, galaxies far and wide. So just be good. And trust in God.
Whether I’m right or wrong about the future, I smile with the conviction that this is the way I choose to live my life. Either way, I know the future will be better than it is now. Why? Alright, fine. Let’s talk about “now.”
Recently, my father vented about how a black man shouldn’t have to go outside and fear for his life from the police. An Instagram model recently posted a picture that said, “telling a black man to respect the police to avoid being killed is like telling a woman to dress modestly to avoid rape.”
Everyone’s talking about how things “should” be.
And me…I can’t help but think, “those things sound nice…” But I know this world is currently run by Satan. The government, education, entertainment, and even in our worship, Satan has infiltrated it all, striving relentlessly to turn people away from God, to destroy them since he knows he will be destroyed. He’s the villain who knows he’s going down and wants to take as many as he can with him. Jesus Christ is the only way to save yourselves, by believing in Him. Faith.
And the problem is, too many people are looking to other humans for answers. They’re looking to more government for salvation. They’re looking to celebrities for leadership and guidance and support. And of those celebrities and government officials…how many look to Jesus Christ for salvation? Even if they say it, do their actions reflect it?
In Revelations 21:14, we’re told that God “will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
No doubt, so many of us long for world like that. But here’s the catch, which I hope prompts some self-reflection. Because you hear it all the time. TV, movies, even on the news, people talk about going to heaven. I remember when the rapper, Nipsey Hustle was killed last year, everyone was sharing pictures of Nipsey Hustle in heaven with Tupac and Biggie Smalls.
Consider what’s wrong in the world that we’re living in. What’s the source of your sadness and strife? What’s bringing you pain and despair? Yeah, anyone could say, “religion, or coronavirus, or guns, or money problems…”
I say, it’s humans. We are the problem. Bad, immoral, selfish, corrupt, and wicked.
A gun can’t shoot me by itself. A human has to pick it up, aim, and pull the trigger. The coronavirus can’t affect me by itself. Humans have to spread it. The shutdown and quarantine that led to millions of unemployment…it wasn’t the coronavirus that did this, it was the decision of humans to close everything that did this, whether it was the best course of action or not.
And of course…religion. People like to blame God and the Bible for the millions killed in God’s name throughout history. Having read the Bible from cover to cover, I know the truth. In the Dark Ages, the common man lacked the ability to read the scriptures for themselves because it was written in a language they couldn’t read. So they depended on the church, on priests to give them divine direction.
Any priest or pope calling for the genocide and murder of those who don’t accept Christ as their Lord and Savior…this is a wicked person misusing God’s name, profaning God’s name. He is replete with ulterior motives ranging from avarice, glory, and power.
Even in more recent times; Jim Jones, David Koresh come to mind. People like to blame religion as the root of evil, the same as they’ll say about money. I say its humans and how we use these things. A hammer is just a tool. It could be used to build something up. It could also be used to destroy something.
So when you think of heaven or a new world where there will be no more pain or suffering…what kind of people do you think will inhabit this new world? Thugs? Gangsters? Prostitutes? Drunkards? Billionaires? Drug dealers? People who value materialistic things? People who desire to control others?
In Matthew Chapter 5, there’s perhaps the most encouraging description of the kind of people set to inherit this new, better world.
Does any of this describe you? I confess, I used to worry about the “meekness” because I thought it meant humility and humbleness of heart…and modesty isn’t one of my strong suits. However, after reading the Bible a second time and examining MacArthur’s notes on it, Meekness refers to “opposite of being out of out of control. It is not weakness, but supreme self-control empowered by the Spirit.”
The Scriptures also tell us what kind of people will not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. Brace yourself.
Some Christians believe that since Jesus Christ died for our sins, all you need to do to enter the Kingdom is accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, as in, believing that he died for your sins. And that’s it. That’s your faith. As long as you have faith that Jesus died for our sins, you can sin again and again and all will be forgiven.
I don’t agree with that notion. I believe that if you “ACCEPT” Jesus Christ as your lord and savior, it’s has to be more than just words you say, or words you tell yourself. You have to believe it in your heart. And if you do see Him as your Lord and Savior, it would be evident, not simply by the “works” you do, such as preaching or proclaiming the Gospels, but by the way you live your life.
So when I see 1st Corinthians 6:9-19, it makes perfect sense that the Apostle Paul would list those kinds of people. I’m not saying that if I came across those kinds of people, I’d assume they won’t be saved, because only God knows that. However, if I’m a Christian who loves my fellow neighbor and sees them living that kind of lifestyle, what kind of person would I be, to not direct them to these scriptures?
Yes, there are some who do it maliciously to hurt and make others feel bad. There’s no doubt about that. But this isn’t why I personally write these essays. It’s out of loyalty and love, and in honoring Christ that I do my best, the best way I can, to share these Bible truths.
The book of Romans tells us that “works” won’t get us into heaven, but that isn’t to dissuade us from doing “works.” It’s written so that we won’t judge others who don’t seem to be putting in the work. I’m not a preacher. I don’t stand on street corners and shove my beliefs down my co-workers throats at every turn. By merely “looking,” there’s no way you can see the works I’m putting in.
However, if you like to read, if you follow me on Facebook, if you talk to me outside the office and ask my personal opinion about the world and current event, you’ll hear something quite remarkable.
Throughout Jesus Christ’s ministry, he said time and time again to be a fruitful and productive tree. The unproductive tree will get cut down. He commanded followers to give up their earthly possessions and follow him. To store their treasure up in heaven. Christians may have different interpretations about this, but to me, the commands were clear.
1) Don’t put an emphasis on riches and material things of this world. 2) Treat others as Jesus would have treated them, with love, kindness, and compassion, and 3) spread the good news about the resurrection, that this system will pass away and a new world will come.
Lastly, I’d like you to ask yourself. How would you feel if you’re just out enjoying your afternoon and someone happy and upbeat starts randomly talking about God? Not about anything controversial like a debate on interpretations, but just a simple compliment of praise towards God for such a lovely day. Or praise about how God gave him the strength to get through the day.
If that bothers you, how well do you think you’d fare in a world where everyone has the praise of God on the tip of their tongue?
Don’t you think it’s messed up that we have to consider our surroundings before we even mention God’s name. Where we have to look over our shoulders before we praise Jesus Christ at work, meanwhile anyone can talk about getting drunk or partying on the weekend.
“But Rock, religion is a sensitive subject. Not everyone believes. So it makes sense that you’d be careful about talking about our Lord and Savior, considering the time and place.”
What if you’re a person who doesn’t agree with the beliefs of the LGBT community? Or Black Lives Matter? Who gets to decide that it’s okay for them to espouse their beliefs in a business and social setting, but you have to contain your praise for Christ?
The point I’m getting at…is considering the world we live in, and this notion that so many self-proclaimed Christians believe their going to heaven or want to go to heaven, and yet you can’t stand people talking about God and giving him glory, why would you even want to live in a world where everyone is like this?
“I’m Christian, but I’m not religious.”
How many times have you heard that?
“I’m Christian, but I don’t believe God has a place in politics or the workplace.”
How many times have you heard that?
Jesus Christ said in Matthew 16:24-26, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?”
And let’s not forget what he said in Luke 9:26, “26 Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”
These words aren’t meant to scare you…but to encourage you. Remember, Satan is trying to take as many down with him as he can. He has this world in the palm of his hand. You have a choice. You could choose to serve God or this world.
As long as you’re alive, you still have time. The Bible has many examples of people who lived sinful lifestyles, yet received God’s forgiveness and grace. Consider the prostitute Rahab who aided the two Israelites before the fall of Jericho. Consider the great Judge Jephthah, who was the son of a prostitute.
The key is to repent. All this word means is to turn away. If you were used to hitting up clubs and getting drunk, bringing a girl back to the flat for a one-night stand…you can turn away (repent) from that lifestyle. If you’re a Feminist hellbent on destroying the gender roles, taking advantage of dating sites for sex and free food, you can’t turn away from that lifestyle. If your whole life has been the pursuit of money and pleasure, you can repent and strive to do what’s good in God’s eyes.
And that’s the best we can do. God sees our hearts. It’s like being on a football field. You might have everyone else convinced that you’re giving it your best, but the Coach can see right through you. He’ll keep pushing you. If you resist and give up on the Coach, he might sit you out. Why? Because your attitude might tarnish the rest of the team.
This is the main one I want to hammer home. I don’t know Nipsey Hustle on a personal level. I didn’t know Tupac. And I didn’t know Biggie Smalls. But I listened to a song by Bigge for the first time last year called “Gimme the Loot.” The whole song was about robbing and killing people.
And I get it. I’m an author too. Some of my fiction has horrible things happening in it. But there’s a moral to my stories. I don’t glorify the violence or sins, but teach how they corrupt the individual. Is that what these rappers do? Is that what all these pop singers do? Is that what all these socialites do?
Ask yourself, if you wanted to create a new world, free of all the problems the current world had, what kind of people would you let into this new world?
Already, I can hear people screaming, “NO RACIST COPS! I can tell you that.”
Lol, well, we know what we don’t want. But what DO we want?
When I was a child, being raised by Jehovah’s Witnesses…I used to look around the Kingdom Hall and tell myself… “If paradise consists of only of those who are like these people, I don’t think I want to live in everlasting life.”
Also, when I was younger, I confess, a world without conflicts seemed boring to me. If there’s no drama or challenges, there’s no entertainment. So what pleasure would I get out of living forever in the Kingdom of Heaven?
Back then, I wasn’t religious at all. When I died, I didn’t care whether I was resurrected or not. Heaven or hell. None of it mattered because it all seemed like hell.
It wasn’t until I picked up the Bible and read it for myself that all that changed. The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ interpretation of the Bible isn’t absolute. Just like the Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans and Catholics, they’re all different systems of the same belief in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, that’s why we all fall under the umbrella of Christianity.
Life is a gift. God wants us to enjoy it. Jehovah, a God in his infinite wisdom who created everything with its place and order…I have no doubt that our future selves will be made with our every want, need, and desire already considered. Just trust in him. God loves all of us and doesn’t wish for anyone to be destroyed.
“If God doesn’t want anyone destroyed, then why will he destroy people?”
To protect and provide for the meek who will inherit the earth. I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen several instance in life when a good group of people were led astray by the insertion of but one single corrupted individual. Good people can fall prey. Good people can be tempted and those of us who resist temptation are often persecuted and oppressed. This is what God intends to protect us from. Thus, wickedness must be destroyed.
“But Rock, if God picks and chooses who will be saved, what’s the point of us even trying? It sounds like people are predestined to be saved or destroyed?”
The choice is yours. If you’re reading these words right now, you have the choice of finding out for yourself what is true by picking up the Bible and reading it for yourself…or you could discredit what I’m saying, deny the existence of God and choose to do what you want. Your actions merely display what God has already decided.
No matter what you decide…as a Christian I’ll continue to love and respect you to the best of my abilities, to be a lamp that lights up the room.