See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and
16 In that I command
thee this day to love the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to
keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou
mayest live and multiply: and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in
the land whither thou goest to possess it.
17 But if thine heart
turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and
worship other gods, and serve them;
18 I denounce unto you
this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong
your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to
19 I call heaven and
earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you
life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that
both thou and thy seed may live.
Life and Death…
before us life and death throughout the Word of God. Life, here and
hereafter, is what Jesus came for. He tells us in the tenth chapter
of John, "…I am come that they [you] might have life, and that they
might have it more abundantly." (verse 10) Over and over in the Word
of God are warnings to you and me to not listen to what the world
has to say. Christ tells us, "I am the way, the truth, and the life:
no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6).
I'm fearful, that we're
in a day and time when people don't take these Scriptural
warnings seriously. Yet, how we react to God's Word is a matter of
life and death. Some people feel they can do what they want to,
about some portions of God's Word, but when God speaks His Word, He's
setting before us life and death. We choose whether or not we
want to obey it, believe it, walk in it, and be blessed by it.
When God talks of life
and death, He's not talking about physical life and death, in the
truest sense. He's talking about life in fellowship with God,
living under God's blessing (spiritual life). Spiritual death is
living separated from God or living under the curse of God.
Therefore, when God sets
His Word before us, we need to be attentive and hear what God has to
say. When He sets His Word before us, He sets before us the greatest
blessing, which mankind can enjoy here on the earth or the worst
curse, which could be brought on mankind from any realm. There's
nothing I am any more serious about than the Word of God; nothing
else can be set before us in such positive terms as this.
In our text, He says, "I
call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have
set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore
choose life, that both thou and thy seed [children] may live." Oh,
how many children are lost in sin, under spiritual death, because of
the attitude the parents took. We're in a time when people feel
they can turn their children over to God. Nevertheless, the Word of
God comes right back and lets us know that the choice we make,
whether we choose to obey or disobey God, not only affects us, but
also affects our children.
Our lives are made up of
choice and no-choice situations. That's the simplest way I know how
to put it. In some areas of our lives we have options; in others we
don't. To start with, we had no choice about being born.
Have you ever heard
someone say, "I wish I'd never been born?" Not a one of us had a
choice of when we would be born, who would be our parents, or what
would be the circumstance; there's no option about that whatsoever.
In other words, we have
to live. Someone might say, "Oh, I could commit suicide." Well, they'd
still have to live for a while. They have to come to a place of, a
knowledge of right and wrong. They have to have opportunity to have
life and death put before them. Even the individual who commits
suicide has to live for a certain length of time. With absolutely no
voluntary participation on our part, we came into being.
We Choose How We Live…
Even though we have no
choice about our birth, we have a choice about how we live. There's
too many people who feel that they have no choice about some
things, which God has given them a perfect right of choice about.
There's others who feel that they have a choice about things,
which they have no choice about whatsoever.
We can choose whether we
live selfishly or unselfishly. We can live timidly or boldly. We can
live, as many are, on the 'animal plane', gratifying our physical
desires only. Far better, God has given us a choice to rise to the
level of the things of the Spirit, where we can set our affections
on things above. This's where we find real and complete happiness,
living right here in this life.
Too many are bound with
sin and the gratifications of the flesh. They look at the mass
multitude around them in the same condition and are made to feel
that they have no choice. Friend, I'm here to tell you that you
don't have to live "low down" in the corruption and the bondages of
this old world; Jesus Christ came to give us a choice.
Man had no choice of
being free from those conditions until Jesus came. Man was under
death, spiritual death, until Jesus came and said, "…I am come that
they [you] might have life..." (John 10:10) Oh, how happy I am, that
Jesus came, and brought us a choice and broke that terrible
condition that we were all under, bound in the gratification of the
flesh and the power of sin.
The devil would like to
have people feel that they're bound eternally. Thank God, we don't
have to go on, separated from God, bound in the darkness of sin.
We can be set free from sin and live free from sin, if we choose
the way of life.
So, there is a choice,
since the Gospel has come. This is the good news of the Gospel. We
don't have to go on being an alcoholic or an addict; we don't
have to go on being a thief; we don't have to go on being a liar;
we don't have to go on being an adulterer or an adulteress!
We can live honestly or
we can live in a world of pretense and suicide. I want you to study with me on some who
are committing a more subtle form of suicide, by giving themselves
over to deceptive practices, attitudes, and habits, which are
resulting in 'slow death.'
It's proven by the Word
of God (as well as the government), that when we inhale tobacco
into our lungs, we're destroying our body. The only difference
between putting a gun to our brain and taking your life, or
smoking, is that one method is a fast process and the other is slow;
we're committing suicide, either way.
People, today, are
pouring all kinds of poison into their bodies through the bottle or
shooting it into their veins; it's the devil's subtle way of
causing people to commit suicide. We're shortening our life by
years every time we lay hold of these things.
The Scriptures tell us
to honor our father and mother that it might be well with us and
that our days might be long on the earth. (Exodus 20:12) We have a
choice about it. We can't be careless in our living and say, "Well,
it makes no difference. I'm just here for so long, and when I reach
that appointed time, I'm going to go." We can shorten that time.
The Bible speaks out very plain on this.
When people fail to get
rest and waste their strength in riotous, careless, unrestrained
living, they can shorten their days. I'm not talking about spending
ourselves for the Lord. Certainly, He's the One who gives us
strength. Brother, if He doesn't bless, we can lie down and sleep
ten hours and get no rest. I've worked all night and only rested
an hour and forty-five minutes, but, with God's blessing, I was more
rested than if I'd been in bed twelve hours. He's the rest-giver,
physically and spiritually!
A Merry Heart…
We can prolong our lives
by proper eating, rest, and maintaining (by the Bible) a merry
heart. Pressures, carrying circumstances that are against and not
conducive to real Christianity, and holding attitudes against people
can shorten our physical life. This temple (body), which we live in,
is so closely connected to the real "me" (soul) down inside, that
when the real "me" doesn't live right, it affects this temple and
shortens its life.
In Proverbs 17:22,
Solomon said, "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a
broken spirit drieth the bones." In other words, it takes the marrow
out of the bones; where we used to pick our feet up and 'step
lively,' we kind of scoot 'em. A merry heart makes the
I'm talking about a
medicine that'll do us more good, than all the contrivances,
which the doctors and the pharmacists can put together. "A merry
heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the
bones." I repeat: There's an intimate connection between sorrow of
the soul and sickness of the body. A good physician will try to keep
you up in spirit and cheer you even if he has to lie to you. The
doctors learned in medical school, that there's a close connection
between the soul of man and the body. If a person's spirit's down,
the very treatment they give them won't have the right effect.
On the other hand,
cheerfulness of the spirit relates to physical health. "A merry
heart doeth good like a medicine…" I say, this's convincing proof
of the 'mysterious synonymous' between the soul of man and his
When Solomon speaks of a
merry heart, he speaks of a heart that's at peace with God. He's
not just speaking of a person, where everything has gone well, and
they're happy and merry about it; he's speaking of a heart that's
at peace with God.
It's a proven fact, that
certain poisons taken into the body can deaden the capabilities of
our feelings. This's why some men drink, and others shoot all kinds
of dope into their bodies. It's also a proven fact, that opium may
send a man to sleep, but it's a sleep that neither gives
refreshment nor strength. The same thing's true of any other kind
of poison that's put into the body.
Someone may ask, "Well,
how can I have a merry heart?" First of all, a quiet conscience is
the first and indispensable element of heart-cheerfulness. A merry
heart's a heart that has peace with God. Paul said in Romans 5:1,
"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through
our Lord Jesus Christ." My friend, being justified by faith is a
sense of standing in right relation to all that's right and true in
the universe. When we know we're right with God and our fellow men,
no matter what circumstances befall us, we can have a merry heart.
Living With Others…
Let's study more on the
thought of choice and 'no choice.' We have no choice, but to live in
relationship to others. Some may say, "Oh, I wish I could just get
out somewhere and be alone." This's always been the move,
seemingly, of man. Whenever the world gets rough, they want to get
everyone out of the world and get them separated in a little flock
somewhere else. Nevertheless, my friend, we have no choice but to
live with others -- no option.
God has ordained that we
must live in relationship to others. The Bible tells us that no man
lives and dies to himself. (Romans 14:7) We might as well get down
to a solid foundation and realize what life is, and what it's made
up of. We're going to have to live with all kinds of people. There's
two things we have no control over: circumstances and other
people! We're going to be thrown right into the midst of
circumstances, which we have no control over. We're going to have
to work with, and live beside people whom we'd rather be away
from. Nevertheless, 'this is life.'
We have no choice about
living with others, but we can choose how we live with them. We can
retire from our job, but we can't retire from others. Others are
going to be here, just as long as God sees fit to let us live.
We can live in
suspicion. Too many live there -- afraid to trust anybody and
suspicious about everything. Oh, what a terrible way ta live --
suspecting that everyone's out to 'beat us' or suspecting that
'everyone's crooked,' if we give them enough opportunity.
Living in hostile
competition, is another detrimental way to live. There's always
going to be somebody getting something, and if we try to live in
competition, we'll live in the most miserable state that a person
can live in. We'll always be striving to get hold of something
that we're unable to.
One of the main reasons
that Jesus came was, so we'd be able to live with others, right
here on earth. He said, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me…"
(Matthew 11:29) One of the things, which we learn is, how to live
with each other. Why? This life is the proving ground; here's where
we're 'in school.' We're going to live with people throughout
eternity, but here's where we learn how to live with them. If we
don't learn how to live with them here, we'll never grace the inside
of a new Heaven and a new Earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.
We don't have to live in
suspicion; we don't have to live in hostile competition. We can live
with a supportive and cooperative attitude toward one another. We
can actually be thankful someone else has something, and wish them
We can try to always
take or always give. We can go back to the Word of God and learn
that we have to both give and take. I've talked to people who had
to learn hard lessons because they 'stubborned up;' no one was going
to give them anything. What a lesson they had to go through to learn
that you have to receive.
Life's a matter of
'give and take.' There's homes broken up, which wouldn't have
been, if they'd learned the lesson of 'giving and taking,'
'bearing and forbearing.' We have no choice about living with
others, but we do have a choice about how we live with them.
Death Awaits All…
We have no choice, but
to die, if Jesus tarries. We're quickly going from 'life here' to
'life hereafter.' I can't find in the Word where God thinks enough
of me or anyone else -- that He's going to send a special 'chariot
of fire' to 'take us in.' I don't think there will be any 'express
runs' from 'here on out.' I think we'll all ride the same, 'slow
train' - death.
We do have a choice,
however, of how we die. We can either die with 'composure and
confidence' or with 'regret and despair.' I've been with many
people at death. I could relate many different instances; some of
them, I'll never forget. I've been in death rooms, where men
faced hell; they pled for prayer, "Please get hold of God for me!!"
Sorry to say, they'd passed the point of no return. Their
testimony, just moments before they expired, was, "It's dark here,
and when I shut my eyes, it's ten thousand times darker. Can't you
please get hold of God for me?"
On the contrary, I've
been blessed by having witnessed the deaths of children of God. They
died with complete composure, because they were confident that they
were entering a far better life.
We're all going to die,
but we can choose how we die. The only way we can choose how we die,
is to choose how we live. Our death will be one hundred percent
affected by how we've lived.
Down in Grand Cayman,
there's a sign about twenty-five feet long, with large letters
right up over the preacher. This's what it says:
I must die, but
I must meet God, but how?
I will live in eternity, but
We must die, but we
have a choice, on how we die. We have no choice, but to live again
-- but we can choose what our life hereafter, will be like. Many
people seemingly confuse 'necessity and choice.' Some tell us that
they don't want to live forever; they feel, death will end it all.
They see no need of looking at the option of life in eternity.
Our Future Existence Is
Man has no choice, but
to live forever; we're made that way. It's just like being born,
just like living with others, and just like dying; our future
existence isn't optional. People commit suicide, because they want
to end it all. Little do they realize, that when they end mortal
life here, they step into the very beginning of an 'eternity.' We're
going to live forever; we have no choice. People, today, are so
weary with life, that they welcome death. They say they're sick of
'the whole thing' and would like to 'end it all,' but they can't
'end it all;' man's ordained of God to live forever.
Jesus, in John 5:28:29,
said, "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all
that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth;
they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they
that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." There's
going to be a resurrection and amplification of the life, which we've
There'll be a
resurrection of the just and the unjust. The Bible makes it very
plain, that when death comes on us here, the spirit goes into the
place called Hades, a place of departed spirits. If it's a lost
soul, it goes to a place of torment (hell) to he tormented between
death and the second coming of Christ. The soul that 'dies saved,'
goes to another part of Hades, which is called Paradise to rest from
their labors, until the second coming of Christ.
When Christ comes again,
He'll bring all the spirits with Him; every grave will give forth
a new body, and the soul will move back into that body. We, who are
alive on the earth, when He comes, will be given a new body and will
be caught up to a final judgment. We have no option about it; man is
ordained to live forever.
Life Has Power Over
Life has power over
death. This is why you and I can live as a Christian; there's more
power in life than there is in death. We're going to resurrect, but
what happens after our resurrection, is optional. Luke 20:27-33
tells us: "Then came to him certain of the Sadducces, which deny
that there is any resurrection; and they asked him, Saying, Master,
Moses wrote unto us, If any man's brother die, having a wife, and he
die without children, that his brother should take his wife, and
raise up seed unto his brother. There were therefore seven brethren:
and the first took a wife, and died without children. And the second
took her to wife, and he died childless. And the third took her; and
in like manner the seven also: and they left no children, and died.
Last of all, the woman died also. Therefore in the resurrection
whose wife of them is she? for seven had her to wife."
Let's stay right with the
point; they're not asking if we're going to marry after the
resurrection. The question they implied was, if the marriage vows
taken here, would be effective in eternity. Jesus answered in verses
34-36: "And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this
world marry, and are given in marriage: But they which shall be
accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the
dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: Neither can they die
any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children
of God, being the children of the resurrection. "
Jesus, in His wisdom,
knew that the Sadducces, came to Him because He was teaching a
resurrection, and they didn't believe in a resurrection. They,
merely 'set up an equation,' of this woman with seven husbands, to
try to catch Him. Jesus knew where the real problem was. Verses
37-38 explain: "Now that the dead are raised, even Moses shewed at
the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God
of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For he is not a God of the dead, but
of the living: for all live unto him." Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had
been gone many hundreds of years when Moses referred to them; yet,
he could say that they were alive.
To God, they were even
already resurrected. Verse 38 tells us that all live unto Him. You
and I, being finite, are limited in a 'time frame;' we speak of
past, present, and future. God looked on Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
as being already resurrected, because there's no past, present, or
future with God; He's infinite.
This's why Paul said in
Romans 4:17, "…God…causeth those things which be not as though they
were." The Lord gave John a picture of millions of saints reigning
with Christ in Paradise, when they hadn't even been killed yet.
John received the vision in A.D. 96(?); the martyrdom had just
started. In a long period of time following that, fifty-five to
sixty million saints, would be killed. God showed John a vision of
them reigning (already having had their heads 'cut off') -- with
God. Everything with God, is, as it has already happened. Whatever
God says, that's the way it'll be.
Heaven and Hell Are
Heaven and hell are real
"places" for "real people" just like you and me. Contrary to popular
belief, the Bible speaks very little about Heaven. People take
Revelation 21 to teach of streets of gold and all those wonderful
things we're going to enjoy. All you have to do, is read verse nine
to find that this's a symbolic picture of the Church, today
(present tense). There's very little spoken of about Heaven in the
Word of God, because we can't comprehend it. There's nothing to
liken it to. We can take symbols and teach about the Church. We
can teach about life (good or bad) by using symbols.
However, what would God
liken Heaven to? He'd have to liken it to something earthy for
you and me to comprehend it. Paul just made it up to the third
heaven (into Paradise, where the souls wait), and he "…heard
unspeakable words, which is't lawful [possible] for a man to
utter" (2 Corinthians 12:4).
It's too great for us
to understand. Because of this, the devil takes advantage and tries
to sow doubts about the reality of heaven. Some, with their human
wisdom, go to work on the Word of God. They declare the same Greek
word used for atmosphere (the celestial heavens where the sun, moon,
and stars are) is the same Greek word, which's used for God's
We have to own the fact
that the same Greek word (just like many other Greek words have many
different meanings) is used when it speaks of the physical
atmosphere. Therefore, man just comes to a quick conclusion that
Heaven's the sky.
Solomon said, "…the
heaven and heaven of heavens can't contain him…" (2 Chronicles
2:6). Paul said that, when Jesus ascended up, He "…ascended up far
above all heavens…" (Ephesians 4:10).
Science tells us that
space is a mighty, mighty big place. Well, somebody may say,
it'd take you forever to get there." Again,
they don't understand God. Jesus told the thief on the cross when
he truly repented, "…Today shalt thou be with me in paradise" (Luke
23:43). That was late in the afternoon; they went to Heaven
(Paradise) before dark. I don't know what kind of a 'ship' He has,
but it's fast (smile).
Heaven's a real place,
for real people. I join with the poet; my faith is fixed just like
his: "There's a land that is fairer than day, and by faith we can
see it afar." I have accepted the fact; I know Heaven's there.
Believing in Heaven,
affects my living. If I didn't believe Heaven was there, I wouldn't
be so careful of how I live. We see or accept it by faith. Paul
tells us in 2 Corinthians 4:18, "While we look not at the things
which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. for the things
which are seen are temporal [You can only see them with the temporal
eye]; but the things which are not seen [that you see by faith] are
eternal." Furthermore, if we'll keep our eyes on the things not
seen, it'll put an exceeding and eternal weight of joy in our
There's a land out
there that's fairer than day; there's a better Place than this
earth. God never created this world with all of its beauty, as an
'eternal abode.' When we realize that God would go to such pains to
make a beautiful world such as this for us to have, just as a
'dressing room' or 'proving ground,' we wonder how beautiful Heaven
must be. How beautiful the place must be, where we're going, to
live forever with Him.
Heaven's real. In Luke
6:23, Jesus made it plain, that Heaven's a place, where those, who
have suffered on earth for righteousness, will be rewarded. Heaven's
a definite place, for a real, definite people. He said, your
reward is great in heaven…" It's a Place where rewards are passed
out. We'll have the personal identity and self-consciousness to
receive the benefits.
We'll he real people.
When He says, "Here's your reward, for the suffering that you went
through for righteousness sake," we'll know what He's talking
about. We'll have a mind; we'll have a memory. What blessing
would there be in reward, if you didn't know what you were being
rewarded for? He made it personal when He said, "…your reward is
great in heaven…" It'll be an individual measure, for individual
Hell Is to Be Avoided at
Any Cost… In Mark the ninth chapter, Jesus talked about the reality
of hell. He said: "And if thy hand offend thee, cut if off: it's
better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to
go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where
their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." (verses 43-44)
What's Jesus teaching? He's not talking about us cutting off an
arm; that won't keep us from going to hell. Our trouble is in
our heart. The eyes and hands operate from the desires of the
heart. We can cut off both hands and still feel; we can pluck out
both eyes and still lust and commit adultery.
He merely sets forth the
eye, foot, and hand to teach us one lesson: It would be better to go
through great suffering here, giving up things which seem hard to
give up, than to hold on to them and end up in the torments of hell
and the lake of fire, forever. Hell is a real place, for real
people. So when He says to cut off a hand or pluck out the eye, He's
merely telling us that hell's to be avoided at any cost.
In other words, there's
no sacrifice too great to make Heaven. It's ridiculous, the things,
which people keep rather than sacrifice them to the saving of their
soul from hell. In selfishness, people refuse to deny themselves. In
the Bible, the rich young ruler kept his wealth and went to hell.
Demus chose the world in place of salvation and went to hell. Judas
chose to take the route of hell and sold Christ for a paltry thirty
pieces of silver. Ananias and Sapphira decided to hold back just a
very small part of the price, chose hell, and went there.
The Word of God tells us
in the seventh chapter of Matthew that many, many people (even
preachers, miracle workers, and just plain people) who refuse to go
God's way will be told to "…depart from me, ye that work iniquity"
There's others who
unconsciously get caught in the 'busy program of life' and fail to
do the work of Christ. We get a preview of the judgment in Matthew
25; it reveals two different pictures. May God help us, as
Christians. We can pick up our 'self-righteous skirts' and say,
"Thank God, I don't drink, I don't take dope, I don't commit
adultery, etc." We'll not be asked one of these things, at the
judgment. The Bible definitely teaches that we must live modestly
and stay away from worldly things; that's necessary. Nevertheless,
they're not points, which will come up at the judgment.
Therefore, what's going
to cause so many people to be lost? They unconsciously get caught in
the program of life and don't have time to do the real work of
Christ. What's going to be the decisive thing at the judgment? The
Lord will say to them on the left hand, "Depart from me, ye cursed,
into everlasting fire…For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat:
I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink ... sick, and in prison, and
ye visited me not" (St. Matthew 25:41-43).
How are people going to
answer these questions? "Then shall they also answer him, saying,
Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or a stranger, or naked, or sick,
or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?" (verse 44)
Nevertheless, the reply will be, "…Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch
as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me"
(verse 45). How long has it been since we've visited anyone sick
or in prison?
If we could only get
'lifted high enough' to 'look over life's horizon,' we'd see,
that there's some certain realities. Please, please, please, dear
children, don't get caught in the busy program of life and allow
the devil to 'shade the reality' of a real Heaven and a real hell,
which awaits us.
When I use the word
"hell," I'm aware that there's a place of torment called "the lake
of fire". Hell's between death and the judgment. When the rich man
was 'in hell,' his brothers were still living here on the earth; so
hell is an experience between death and the judgment. If you read
into the Revelation, it will tell you that death and hell was cast
into the lake of fire that burns forever and ever and ever. Hell is
a place where men are tormented in the fire, for a time. Then, when
time comes to an end, hell will be cast into an eternal lake of
Jesus has put before us
life and death, He's put before us Heaven and hell. The choice
we make, is ours. "I call heaven and earth to record this day
against you, that I have set before you life and death…therefore
choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live." (Deuteronomy
30:19) Please! choose life!! [The End.]