LIVING AN ILLUSION

BRAND NEW! This is a new short story called, “Living an illusion – embracing the default ignoring the divine.” A fictional account of what could possibly happen to many people after they die and cross over to the other side. An interesting dialogue between a man named John and a spiritual messenger named Cassiel sets the tone for a chilling story about the difference between what people think about life and what God requires. I hope that everyone will consider the consequences of this very serious subject. Yes, the masses do not want to think about our earthly behavior or our eternal destiny but seeking out our own salvation with fear and trembling are divine words of wisdom and warning. This story is not for the faint of heart and should cause all of us to think deeply about our own worldviews and our everyday life of thoughts, words, and decisions.

lIVING AN ILLUSION REAL 2

LIVING AN ILLUSION

EMBRACING THE DEFAULT – IGNORING THE DIVINE

By William F. Holland Jr.

Originally published 10/16/2017

We have heard and been taught that every person which has ever lived will someday stand before God and have a discussion about the life they lived. Some will argue and deny that knowing God personally is hardly a summary of the meaning of life, but for the most part, the majority will agree this is true to some extent. The default life is an existence that requires no spiritual discipline, sacrifice, or yielding of the will. This is a worldview that does not have to do anything but relax and be perfectly content to float down the river so to speak, to enjoy all that life has to offer and take a dangerous chance about God and the next dimension. On the other hand, the Christian life is about searching and learning what God requires and being willing to accept the call to become a devoted disciple of Jesus Christ. This life-changing decision has everything to do with yielding our mind, body, and soul to the Creator of heaven, earth, and everything in-between. We also may agree this is definitely worth considering since He has promised with all certainty that He is The way, The truth, and The life. Many Bible scholars are convinced there are two divisions of judgments and both are directly associated with whether the individual falls into the categories of what is referred to as saved or lost. Even though there are many different levels of good and bad, the basic concept describes a certain number of souls who are spiritually born-again and are declared as being a child of the Most High OR on the other side of the fence where we have those who reject the invitation to become a member of God’s family and thus are referred to as spiritually blind. The deeds that were committed or omitted in both camps are directly associated to how everyone will be judged and are all held accountable to the sovereign decisions that only God has the perfect wisdom to address.

With many years of listening and observing not only the world but also within my own life, I have arrived at the conclusion that I am just as much of a philosopher as I am a minister. I see myself as a seeker of truth and a messenger but also feel intimidated to not only wade into the deeper waters of reason and purpose but as a teacher that is introducing and leading others into the way of Christ. I am a sinner just like everyone else but also live according to the promise of God’s Word which invites me to embrace Him by faith and allow His grace to save me. To say the least, I am grateful, to say that He looked beyond my fault and saw my need. Besides the Bible, I have also read the thoughts of many leaders and noticed that individuals who are committed to their calling are serious-minded, bold, and disciplined, yet at the same time filled with sorrow and compassion over a fallen humanity. I believe that Jesus was filled with patience and love while also being honestly blunt and the huge difference is that He was not a hypocrite as humans tend to be. I do not desire to be remembered as someone who could talk about God all day but could not live for Him for even an hour. What do you want to be remembered for? Yes, I’ve made terrible mistakes and taken some hard falls and it’s only with humility that is given by His endless mercy and that I can live and move and have my being. I proclaim my righteousness is as a filthy rag and if I have accomplished anything in my life that has eternal value, it was manifested through me by the one and only Holy Almighty Father. What is my message? To cry from the housetops and stand in the middle of a busy highway if need be to warn a captive world being held in bondage about how Christ loves them and desires to set them free from sin. To plead with all whom God will arrange with divine appointments about the dangers of accepting the default life and becoming satisfied to trade seventy or eighty years on earth for an eternity of terrible pain and disappointment. The red devil with a pitchfork is not a joke and neither is the holiness of God who has always demanded honor, reverence, and respect. His offer for all to embrace His divine blueprint is the greatest gesture of compassion the world has ever known.

It’s no secret that seekers of truth have lots of difficult questions. I guess the most important question at the end of life is how much truth did the seeker find and more importantly how much of it did they comprehend and demonstrate? It’s been said that knowledge is merely the accumulation of informational facts but wisdom is the “understanding” of knowledge. Again, we use the idea of levels to describe just how far and how deep we will venture in our quest to know the mysteries and secrets about the meaning of our existence. The passion to discover these revelations seem to only matter to a small amount of the population which is peculiar in itself, but nevertheless, we can agree as the fictional X-file agent Fox Mulder used to say, “the truth IS out there.” Speaking of truth, with the help of technology we can receive a constant flow of communication from the world at the push of a button and most consider this as a blessing. However, what the masses do not realize is that all events are mixed with opinionated commentary that conforms knowledge with bias and influences their personal perspectives with deception. In this light, things are not always the way they seem, and thus the critical need for spiritual discernment. By the way, it appears that humans love to learn the dirt about others and then proceed to judge and counsel them according to their way of thinking, but are not willing to examine their own heart and accept their own advice. It’s much easier to tell everyone else what to do instead of dealing with our own failures and embracing the sacrifice of self-discipline. Prayer, for example, has been suggested as the true spiritual thermometer of the soul. Charles Spurgeon is quoted, “Beware I pray thee, of presuming that thou art saved. If there be no vital change, no inward godliness; if there be no love to God, no prayer, no work of the Holy Spirit, then proclaiming I am saved is but thine own assertion, and it may delude, but it will not deliver thee.”

This fictional dialogue between a man named John and a spiritual being named Cassiel is not meant to be condemning or fearful but rather as something to seriously consider. I call this a work of fiction but it could very well happen. The doctrine that we are held accountable for our actions is not a strange or unreasonable idea but actually one of the basic fundamental pillars of the Christian faith. We can only speculate what happens after we die or what types of conversations we might encounter, but whatever the case, we do imagine we will have access to someone in this time and place of transition. It could be that angels escort the saved and fallen angels are sent to escort the lost, but we are not sure. We also have a brief example in Matthew chapter seven and verses 22 and 23 where Jesus describes how people will someday try to convince Him of all the good religious things they have done and He concludes bluntly that He was not impressed. In fact, “depart from Me, I never knew you” indicates there are many who are confused about the difference between religion and relationship. We are not redeemed because we scored a certain amount of points or were a generally good person. It is a sad and sobering reality that many seemingly decent and somewhat religious people will surprisingly find themselves in hell. With a world of reasons and excuses, we can know that mankind has never taken Jesus seriously and only a few have been willing to surrender their will completely to Him. The full gospel of Christ is offensive to our human nature and if presented any other way, it is being distorted. It’s also why religion is so popular and how we must not be afraid to warn against it. The gospel has been remodeled to please the masses and has softened the burden for lost souls by talking about how much God wants to make us rich. Is this disturbing? Yes. Shame on the Christian that is more interested in the comforts and pleasures of this world while millions of lost souls are falling into an eternal hell. If we are NOT disturbed and convicted about people dying without Jesus – something is deeply wrong.

So, will we really have a chance to sit down with a spiritual being and have a friendly chat immediately after we die? Sorry, but again we do not really know. There are a number of people who have had near-death experiences that contained some interesting adventures but maybe they were dreams or hallucinations. Others have claimed to come back from the dead, but most scholars will agree that once a person crosses over into the next life, they cannot return. Of course, we have the mystics who can channel spirit guides through the portals and dimensions of the netherworld and psychics who believe in reincarnation and use crystal balls and seances to summon the deceased that have not yet crossed over, however, Hebrews Chapter 9 and verse 27 says that it is appointed unto humans ONCE to die and then the judgment. If anyone has been granted the opportunity to cycle multiple times they would have to die more than once and according to the Bible this is impossible. In this light, we can know that any familiar spirits which can be conjured are actually familiar spirits (demons – fallen angels) posing as someone from the grave in order to deceive. Luke chapter 16 states that souls cannot pass from Hades to paradise because a great gulf or barrier prevents them from intermingling. I personally believe there is a similar gulf that does not allow a soul to come back to earth after they are deceased UNLESS there is a specific reason that God would allow. On an interesting note, we read where the rich man that was in Hades could see into the realm of paradise where Abraham and Lazarus were but Lazarus could not see him. This would be similar to a one-way mirror. It also creates a speculation about whether the lost who have died can possibly see into the earth and be reminded (and tormented) of not only their loved ones who are living without God but also how they neglected the opportunity to be ransomed by God’s love and give their life to Christ. May the Holy Spirit speak to our heart as we sit back and listen to this conversation.

John had been declining for a few weeks and was in a hospital room hooked up to wires and tubes and machines. Hospice had been called in and he was now receiving a regular dose of morphine every two hours. Sometimes he could hear muffled voices and could see lights and shadows when he would try to open his eyes but mostly everything seemed blurred and confusing. He knew (somehow) that he was slipping away from this life and could sense his heart and body simply letting go. His mind was swirling but all at once sensed something unusual. He opened his eyes as wide as he could and it seemed he could make out a figure in the corner of the room next to the ceiling. It was a man that was coming into the room and was just quietly floating in the air. John blinked a few times and tried to focus in spite of the drugs. “Could this be real?” he asked himself? He slowly closed his eyes but discovered he could still see and maybe even better than ever. John noticed the presence was now reaching out his hand down to him and he did not really know why, but with all of his strength, he tried to raise his hand up to this stranger. Suddenly, he could no longer hear the swishing of his heartbeat in his ears and also noticed he had no power or need to breathe. Without speaking, John could communicate and said, “Where am I?” He was in a daze, looking around like he had just awakened from a dream. “What is happening…who are you?” “Hello John, my name is Cassiel and I’m a messenger. Your spirit is separating from your body and now you are going through the process of discovering who you are and where you are going.” John now had a firm hold of his hand and was being lifted through the ceiling and on up through the top of the building into the clouds. He kept going higher and faster and could recognize that his senses were more increased than even when he lived in his old body. It seemed he could hear in all directions what was being said before Cassiel could even say it. The sounds within this environment reminded him of huge Ocean waves crashing on the shore and he could see trails of colors he had never imagined. Everything was like being transparent, but highly detailed, layers of depth more advanced and complete than his senses could describe. He could literally see the wind as the air was wavy like the heat coming off a hot pavement. In the distance, he could make out what appeared to be explosions of light and streams of rainbows that were so vividly bright and clean. The only thing he could relate this to is the feeling of being underwater and at the same time engulfed and saturated with an overwhelming brilliance of wonderment, beauty, and awe. John was speechless as they traveled, it felt like a long time but there was no way to tell as this dimension seemed to be nothing like the realm of earth. When they finally began to slow down, it seemed to be an appropriate opportunity to say something about what had just happened. “I remember you…I saw you right before I…left. You were reaching out your hand. I looked down and could see my body and then as I lifted my head, I was flying so fast, like at the speed of light. It felt like I was falling forward through the universe…past the sun and the stars…then I heard what sounded like loud claps of thunder that was vibrating the air along with the echoes of many voices. Eventually, I could see a tiny light far away and I knew I was being drawn toward an opening, like the end of a tunnel that was a million years away. You were holding on to me.” John stopped for a moment and with quivering lips mumbled… “I died.” With a long pause, he spoke in a monotone voice, “I’m dead.” Cassiel had heard all of this so many times before yet calmly but firmly replied, “Yes, John, you did pass away, and now you have crossed over into eternity.”

John had considered himself an average person and with all due respect, this was a sad but accurate description of his life. He never really accomplished anything exciting, significant or notable but rather lived a melancholy, laid-back style that was shy, quiet and low-key. His normal routine was going to his mundane place of employment which he hated, coming home, eating dinner, watching TV until he could not hold his eyes open and then going to bed. Now when it came to sports, he was much more enthusiastic and his hobbies and were unashamedly high on his list of true loves. His fate had allowed him to grow up in the twentieth century in the United States where he had the opportunity to be educated, land a decent job, have a loving wife and raise two children, but he never realized what a blessing this was. To categorize his social status, you could say he was raised middle-class and had maintained a mediocre level of success considering he usually did just enough to get by. He mowed his lawn, kept his vehicles washed and seemed to get along with most everyone. On the outside, you could say that he was a decent fellow but he also had a short fuse when things did not go his way. He had been a rebellious teen but finally settled down and became satisfied with being in debt and living check to check like most everyone else he knew. With much support from a hard-working wife, they raised their three children and then he eventually retired after 40 years in the insurance business. He went to the doctor regularly but did not embrace the idea of eating healthy and exercising seriously, again like most everyone else. Cheeseburgers and milkshakes were his ideas of a wonderful and balanced example of nutrition. When he was in his early sixties, it was discovered among other serious health issues, he had a serious cancer and after some aggressive surgery and chemo treatments, he was in very poor condition. He lived a couple more years in a weakened state and then to everyone’s surprise, at 67 years old, he had a massive heart attack and died suddenly. A few people came to the funeral and the minister did the best he could to create a legacy of integrity and admiration. Several times it was affirmed how much he loved his family and how he would give anyone in need the shirt off his back. They all enjoyed and laughed at the stories of how he loved to eat and what a devoted sports fan he was. Of course, it was mentioned that he was now standing in line at the all you can eat buffet in heaven and what a great time he was having with those who had gone on before. The usual prayer and sad song concluded the service and after a short presentation at the grave to say their final farewells, everyone went to the vehicles and drove away. It’s sad but true, after the initial shock of the death of a loved one, we all discover the painful reality that the world keeps spinning and life goes on. We are born and we die but it seems we just do not realize it’s what goes on in between these two events that will make a difference in the next life. Denial is actually a deceptive and very dangerous “happy place.”

When it came to John’s spiritual life, I guess you could say this was another part of his journey that was average. His enthusiasm about the gospel and the spiritual world could be compared to learning about George Washington and the development of our American government. John had gathered facts but he had no personal connection or relationship with God Himself. He believed there was a God and visited the church occasionally in his life, but never really felt the conviction to consistently pray or learn more about the Bible or the meaning of life. He thought it was normal to not worry about dying and eternity or become involved with serving the Lord, and the sad part is – it is very common. He had formed his own worldviews and concluded that if someone believed that God was real, they had nothing to worry about and everything would be alright in the end. In fact, he had read somewhere that maybe everyone would go to heaven because God is filled with love and mercy and did not want anyone to be lost. He assumed that every person who was a morally decent human being no matter what they believed would be given a certain amount of points or some type of credit especially if they were nice and tried to help others. (Now that is a comforting and peaceful thought. Too bad it’s not true). He just guessed that God graded on a huge curve, looked over the silly stuff and that He would surely take many other things into consideration within His final judgment. To be honest, he always thought that religion was for sissies and old women. He made fun of people and called them holy rollers, and thought it was embarrassing to profess you were a Christian in public. He did not want anyone to laugh at him or think he was emotionally and educationally weak or a nut case. Besides, he was a tough guy, always trying to be cool, a progressive thinker and proud of his macho independence.

So, if you are a messenger, I assume you are an angel?” Cassiel stood before him and replied, “Is that what you think I am?” John was noticing how peculiar and unnerving this being really was. He could not even tell if it was a he or she, but rather it’s striking image reminded him of a marble statue that spoke wisely and could move gracefully, yet more strange than anything he could have dreamed. “I am probably not what you think I am. Not all “angels” are the same.” Cassiel stood at attention like a soldier as John stared at him intently. John continued the conversation, I’ve always heard of guardian angels but never really believed there was such a thing. I thought these were folk legends or stories that were the figment of someone’s imagination. Were you my guardian angel?” “There are many spiritual messengers that serve both kingdoms. It is an intricate hierarchy which has many levels and is based on spiritual authority that also includes the freewill choices of humans. These ministering spirits are called to protect and watch over humans according to their spiritual allegiance. For example, those who choose to continue in the default system in which they were born are assigned a constant presence to oversee the person retains their original nature and remains devoted to their father the devil. These soldiers work day and night to reinforce humanistic attitudes and to encourage the lost to stand firm in their independence. With a steady flow of influence and persuasion, it’s the job of the demon to convince these lost souls of the satisfaction which comes with living a carnal existence. This dark deception is stronger than humans have ever imagined as they become filled with pride in thinking they have created their own way and have been the captain of their own journey. On the other side, we have messengers from the kingdom of light that are given to the saved to protect, help, minister, and watch over them. Most people have never realized how many battles are fought in the spiritual realm every day. These guardian angels rage war against the demonic forces because the old kingdom hates those who have been converted by the blood of Jesus and now wants to kill and destroy them. If not for God’s messengers, there would not be any Christians alive. The deeper the followers of Christ desire to go in their relationship with God, the more intense the battle becomes. The dark kingdom does not care about religion, in fact, they work hard to support it. It’s when God’s people fall on their knees to pray and intercede is when all hell breaks loose against them.”

The being knew that John had many questions – they all do. He had a sickening feeling that he was one who had remained in the default system. If being transformed into the kingdom of light and if prayer was a critically important factor to be in God’s favor, this was not sounding promising. After a long and awkward silence, John finally cleared his throat and spoke up, “So…what happens next? Where are the streets of gold, the cities and rivers, and God’s throne and all that?” Cassiel turned and gave him a serious look and then glanced out into the distance without any change in facial expression. His voice broke the anticipation, “The heaven you have heard about is certainly real and will be unveiled in the future but it is reserved for a very small remnant of saints. You are presently in a holding place that some languages on earth refer to as Sheol. This is where all souls which have crossed over are gathered to wait until the final judgment. Sheol is divided into two separate places. God’s children are led into paradise while those who are lost are sent to Hades. There are levels and degrees of punishment for those who are in Hades just as there are levels and degrees of reward for those who are in paradise. Eventually, the saints will stand before The Lord of Lords at the judgment seat of Christ where all of their deeds will be considered and the lost will stand before Him at the Great White Throne judgment to be sentenced.” All at once, John did not have a very good feeling about this. He could feel himself becoming tense and a strong sensation of dread washed over him like an emotional tsunami. “Now wait a minute, you seem to be giving me some negative vibes here. Since there are only two eternal destinations…which one will I be a part of?” Cassiel once again stood motionless and the silence was uncomfortable to say the least. “I’m afraid I have bad news…I’m sorry. I’ve been instructed to escort you to Hades.” The words seemed to freeze in the air and then drop like a stack of china plates. It was as if someone had punched him hard in the gut and knocked the breath out of him. He was paralyzed, not knowing what to say, he could not think or move. The silence was deafening, his ears were ringing and voice cracking as he could barely utter the words, “there must be some type of mistake.” Cassiel’s answer was steady and confident, “there is no mistake.”

Stunned beyond belief, John somehow managed to gain some composure and sheepishly wondered out loud why he had not received any type of consideration for the good things he had done. He finally spoke out, “I believe in God…I was a decent person…I never killed anyone or committed any heinous crime or hurt a child. How can this be happening? Surely some of my good deeds are worth something, I helped people, I went to church a few times, I even gave twenty dollars to Saint Judes Hospital!” Cassiel looked around as if waiting for someone and then hesitantly responded, “John, I’ve watched you since you were born, and you’re right, you’ve been an average normal person, but being decent has nothing to do with going to heaven. The Bible carefully explains about taking up your cross and following the Lamb but you refused to embrace any level of dedication to Jesus. You never accepted Him, you were never born-again and you never had a real personal relationship with God. You willingly allowed your mind to be deceived as it was easy and pleasurable to live according to what you wanted to do and now… you are facing the consequences. I must tell you the truth…it’s too late for you. You will spend eternity without God’s presence because you did not love Him on earth. Your final destination will be filled with regret and you will be reminded of your selfishness and rebellion while you suffer in a place of darkness and pain. God loved you and Jesus died for you but you rejected salvation. Your final answer was to walk away and now you will remember this forever. Only those who choose to surrender their will on earth and sacrifice their life because they sincerely love God and desire to know Him personally are invited to live in heaven with God forever. Only those who have been washed in the blood of Jesus and have been truly born-again are rewarded with eternal life. You never allowed yourself to be convicted with fear and trembling about what true salvation really meant. You never had a fervent passion to develop a spiritual intimacy with Jesus. You never wanted to learn how to pray or worship in Spirit and truth or had a desire to know what the Bible required for you to do. The Holy Spirit tried to warn you hundreds of times that without self-discipline and a determination to have God as the highest priority, a person cannot walk in God’s Spirit or live in His presence. There are masses of people who are religious and spiritually lukewarm but sadly, there is only a very small group that will go to heaven.” Out of desperation, John felt like he was on trial and needed to present some type of critical evidence which could overturn this magnificent presentation but he could not think of anything that could justify his earthly life of sin and overturn this depressing verdict. “What about mercy?” John pleaded, “What about God’s love and compassion?” Cassiel continued, “The grace of God sent Jesus to the cross to save whosoever will believe, however, this grace does not mean that mankind can live however they want. Grace is the opportunity to be forgiven of sin and welcomes the individual to become accountable by inviting Jesus Christ to be their Lord and Master. This means inviting Christ to sit on the throne of their heart and freely giving Him control over everything they think and do and unfortunately also explains why hardly no one will agree to these terms. Everyone wants a Savior but only a few want a Lord and will agree to completely lay down their life for Him.

Yes, God loves everyone and His mercy endures forever but how many will sincerely love Him? He proved His love on the cross, but how many will prove their love for Him with absolute obedience?”Again, the silence was deafening. They slowly began to walk together and to John, it felt like a condemned convict being led toward his cell on death row. He gritted his teeth and winced as if he was in excruciating pain as he was already recalling his old life and how he turned over his decision-making process to his carnal nature. He could have tried harder to follow Jesus but he just didn’t want to. He could have been as close to God as he wanted but he loved the flesh much more. He could have turned away from the temptations of the world and cried out to the Lord, but he just did not want to do it! And now…no do-overs, no second chances…he was going to hell. He is now reaping exactly what he had planted. If he could only go back and warn everyone. If he could only have a chance to explain that being a Christian is not what everyone thinks it is. He would stand on the street corner and beg people to repent. He would fall on his knees and pray day and night if only he had another chance. He began to weep and cry out as he grabbed Cassiel by the arm. It was no use, everything was settled, nothing added and nothing taken away. Cassiel pulled him loose and said they needed to keep going.

Continuing further down the corridor, the atmosphere began to change as it was becoming darker and more difficult to see up ahead. The air was transforming from what was a fresh aroma of roses to now more of a stench that smelled like something burning. It wasn’t long before John realized this offensive stench smelled like charcoal and the misty fog was actually a growing density of smoke. The temperature was also noticeably becoming warmer which made him feel nauseous and fearful. Cassiel slowed to a stop and politely stated this is where they would separate. John’s breaths were ragged and had increased like he had been jogging, “Where are you going? with a sense of panic.” Cassiel turned and looked directly at him, “I must return to earth for there are many more souls getting ready to cross over. I’m going to help them and be with them just like I was with you. Just continue in this direction and you will eventually be greeted by another guide named Procel who will lead you the rest of the way. “Goodbye John.” “Wait, do not leave me!” Please, I’m afraid, it’s becoming darker and the smoke is causing me to be short of breath. In the distance, John could now faintly hear what sounded like people crying and screaming in agony. Louder he called out, “Oh No…please…I beg you to please help me!” Cassiel walked away and quickly disappeared in the smoke. John was now all alone surrounded in a cloud of gasses and vapors that reeked of brimstone as it seemed like he was standing at the edge of a volcano. Everything was quiet except for the crying voices which seemed to be coming from all directions. His thoughts painted a horrible picture of people burning and suffering but yet not being able to die. He remembered the scripture that mentioned a rich man who lifted up his eyes being tormented in the flames of hell and how he begged Abraham to send Lazarus the beggar back to earth to warn his five brothers. Abraham told the rich man if the world will not listen to God’s Word they would not listen to someone who comes back from the dead. This was not a parable, this was a true story with real people and now he wondered how he could have been so blind and foolish.

Suddenly, he could hear footsteps, and out of the fog, there appeared an image of a disturbing looking creature walking toward him. This must be the escort Cassiel was talking about. John could sense a dark presence as the demon stopped and stood in front of him. The creature’s eyes were penetrating and it was motionless except for an arrogant sinister smirk. John was trembling in fear as the beast was more fearful than any horror movie he could imagine. It had four faces of different animal-like characteristics and the face staring at him reminded him of a Gorilla. It was tall and dressed in battle gear that included leather overlaid with chains and a large belt of iron plates around the waist. The fallen warrior was very hairy with tall boots with many buckles and it had large calloused hands. With an angry and irritating voice, he spoke with authority, “Come…now!” And then with a terrifying explosion of laughter, Procel bellowed, “It only gets worse from here!” He took a couple of steps into the darkening decent then turned and aggressively motioned for John to come along. John could not move as his legs had become stiff and his mind was racing. He thought about running the other way, but where would he go? He could see tunnels and passages that were dark and filled with smoke and no telling what other types of creatures or dangers he would find.

John cleared his voice and spoke up, please allow me to ask a question. Procel walked back until he was within a few feet of where John was standing. In a mocking response, he growled, “Make it quick, I have work to do.” Trying to present his question while fighting back the fear and intimidation of sounding like a terrified schoolgirl, he said, “Is this hell…or is this a holding place until the judgment? There was silence except for the sounds in the distance. John continued, “Is this place…forever?” The beast began to chuckle in a low guttural sound of hostility and then answered with a wisdom and intelligence of a cruel prosecuting attorney, “This is a dimension that is more horrifying than anyone’s imagination or nightmares. We are in a holding chamber for the souls of those who did not know God. I don’t know all the details about everyone and I don’t give a damn! After the judgment, you will be sentenced to a burning lake of fire where you will suffer in darkness and agony until God says you’ve had enough. Is it forever?” He began to laugh, “It’s all up to Him!” And then in the blink of an eye, the hideous creature reached out with force and took hold of his arm and began to pull him. John began to scream as loud as he could, “Help me, somebody…please help me! Noooooo…please…Jesus help me…please.” With an aggravated and sinister tone, the creature mumbled under his breath, “It’s too late to cry out to Jesus now” and soon they both disappeared from sight. For a few moments you could still barely make out John’s sobbing and pitiful cries but after a while, it blended in with all the other voices and that was the last time he was seen.

Cassiel was already back on earth and was now patiently standing in the corner of a dilapidated nursing home waiting for the last breath of an elderly lady named Pat. A nurse was busy with the routine monitoring as one of the staff stepped in the doorway. “I believe we should call the family and the chaplain.” As the young orderly was heading out into the hall, she turned around and asked, “Have you ever seen an angel in the room of someone dying?” While writing on the chart and without looking up, “In over 30 years, I’ve seen some very strange things. It’s very common for someone in the dying process, even if they in a deep coma, to reach out toward a corner of the ceiling like they see something. I believe the death angels do come for us when it’s our time.” The young girl paused for a second and then quietly slipped out. Pat had taken a turn for the worse overnight and she was rapidly deteriorating as there was no doubt the end was very near. There was sweat on her forehead and her breathing was now more labored. The nurse was writing down a new order for an increase in morphine while picking up the phone to call Hospice.

Very similar to John, Pat also considered herself to be an average person that had lived a normal life. She had graduated college, married, had a couple of kids, worked, cooked and cleaned and all those things a regular wife and mother does. She had visited a church for special occasions but had never really thought that much about spiritual things and honestly felt that what she believed was no one’s business. She saw herself as being decent, clean, well mannered, and always thought that religious views should never be talked about in public. She could care less what other people thought and considered her own views no one’s business. She never felt the necessity to read the Bible or pray and rather received everything she felt she needed to know about the world from the news. Her husband had passed away a few years earlier, and her own health issues had multiplied after experiencing several debilitating strokes. Sure, she had heard about Jesus and the story about Him being on the cross and all that but never really entertained the idea of investigating it or even overly concerned about it. Her honest conclusions were to be cautious around extreme religious people because they were suspicious kooks. Besides, in her mind, most religious people were hypocrites and probably more dangerous than anyone else in our society. She had formed her own ideas and thought that if there really is a God, He will do whatever He wants in the end so why should she worry about it? She used to tell her friends the Bible was confusing and living and dying was like rolling the dice or playing the lottery as some will win and some will lose. Instead of taking the time to research the Word of God, she built her own persuasions and convictions which included always trusting her tuition and depending on her own common sense. Besides, she was educated and intelligent, and with science declaring that everything started from nothing, it appeared to her this “God thing” was mostly an emotional folklore for the weak-minded.

She had taught her kids to be strong and independent but intentionally neglected to guide them to Jesus because she thought they would be made fun of in the modern liberal culture. The same was true about missing a wonderful opportunity to teach her grandchildren about God. Her political views were very liberal and she basically believes that everyone should be able to do whatever they wanted without anyone intervening, especially religious people. For unbelievers, it’s all about being logical and sensible which does not include having some pie in the sky faith about something you cannot see or fairy tales that are difficult to understand. Every now and then she would hear someone say, “What if there is a God, and what if He’s right?” But, she would just laugh it off as another nut case trying to raise money or promote a political agenda. The higher dose of morphine was being released and her breathing was becoming more shallow. One of her last foggy and fading thoughts was recalling a recent magazine article which declared that everyone could be happy with whatever situation they were facing. It did not mention God but did express that if a person could just think good and positive thoughts, anyone could live in true peace and contentment. The heart of what was deemed an inspirational message was that everything will somehow work out in the end. Another deceptive presentation of a humanistic philosophy that is popular with our nature but very offensive to God Himself. “It’s all going to be alright” sounded wonderful to her at the time and now with the same sense of false security that maybe heaven was like a large casino and there was a chance that she could slip past God and sneak in through the back door, she closed her eyes and hoped for the best. As she began to lift above her body, she reached out and took Cassiel by the hand.

You have just read a possible account of what might happen at the end of life for those who have never asked for forgiveness, yielded their will to God or called upon Jesus Christ to save them. The gospel has been preached and taught all around the world and for the most part, people of every nation has at least heard about Jesus and why He died on the cross. In America, most everyone is acquainted with the gospel and the basic Bible stories, but why is there so many that refuse to believe and serve God in their own personal life? Maybe they are satisfied with their idea of religion and are convinced they already are doing everything necessary to have eternal life. Maybe they are like John and Pat who never really worried that much about it and thought it would all work out. Whatever the case, every Christian is faced with the painful and frustrating facts that salvation is similar to throwing a drowning person a life preserver, but it’s not that easy or guaranteed. To begin with, it’s not us that is doing the saving because we are not the Creator or the Savior. When it comes to witnessing, we cannot even persuade them to accept God’s invitation because that’s the job of the Holy Spirit. However, we have been commanded to demonstrate our faith and commissioned to pray. As a vessel of honor, we must do these two things if we are really serious about our relationship with God and our love for people. The way we live has the potential to generate power to change situations, not the power to force but the spiritual authority to bring conviction through the holy and perfect Word of God. God knows what it will take to convict someone’s conscience and if we care about people’s eternal life, this is the reason we must intercede. If we do not care, we are cold, calloused, disobedient, and backslidden and will be held accountable for the sins of omission.

Each human being has been given a free-will to manage and express their own political and social opinions and religious worldviews. And, this gift of free-will also is a huge part of our accountability and how we will be judged. God’s plan has always been for people to hear about His great love and to respond with brokenness and humility, and then accept Him into their heart. God wants to live inside of those who receive Him by faith and to direct and guide their lives. This is what it means for Jesus Christ to be not only our Savior but our Lord. There is room for only one throne in our heart and either He is sitting as King or we are still sitting there. In this light, if we have not allowed Him to renew and possess our mind, then He is not our Lord. If we only want Him to our Savior and not our Lord, we are deceived and have completely missed the point of our covenant vow of salvation. I personally believe that many have more than just missed the point, but have actually missed God altogether and will also miss eternal life. The most devastating tragedy in this life would be to believe that all is well with our soul and then to discover we were deceived. Speaking of eternity, did you notice the demon mentioned that God would decide if hell was eternal? Traditional Christian teachings have always agreed with an eternal hell and many still do. There are also many scholars who have researched the original languages and have provided another doctrinal view where God will eventually reconcile all things as a way of completing and restoringall things” into eternal perfection. The idea of every lost individual having a specific sentence of punishment in hell and serving their designated time is an interesting subject. It seems that our human emotions are not very merciful but gladly desire for all lost souls to suffer forever without any chance of release. According to tradition, children beyond the age of accountability and those in the jungles who have never heard the gospel would serve the same amount of agony as Hitler, Lenin, and Stalin. As the demon stated, the Almighty God is absolutely sovereign and the holy, righteous judge and He will make all decisions about everything for His glory just like He always has.

When it comes to witnessing, we cannot and should not expect to coerce, force, or intimidate a person into believing what they do not agree with. I certainly cannot expect someone to trust me or accept the gospel just because I believe that Jesus is God and openly declare the plan of His salvation. When someone becomes angry and violent toward another individual because they do not believe like they do, this attitude reveals how our old human is possessed with an aggressive and defiant spirit of pride, manipulation, and control. It also exposes the reality that God is filled with compassion and is reaching out to an angry world with the gracious offer of eternal salvation. God so loved the world that He sent Jesus, His only Son to die in order that whoever would believe would not suffer destruction but instead could be ransomed forever. You see, all humans are born with these feelings of enmity against the Creator but as a result of our fallen human nature, evil always opposes good. It’s only natural to reject and rebel against the authority of the Almighty which is why God has declared in His Word that we must be born-again. This spiritual metamorphosis includes repentance, renewing our mind, surrendering our will, and being sincerely transformed into a brand new spirit being. This conversion process allows us to experience His grace and the ability to comprehend the true meaning of life. Nothing is more important than redemption.

Political correctness is a cornerstone of the new legal system of social acceptance which demands that everyone must embrace a certain way of thinking. I use the word demand instead of suggesting because of the aggressive and violent agenda for every human being to obey this system. The choice is to either compromise or face the devastating consequences associated with not following its regulations. Those who reject these cultural ultimatums are deemed unfit to function and contribute to the world and are openly discredited and stigmatized in every way possible. The conservative Christian view is now considered to be the poison which contaminates the conscience and our social environment. This modern movement has publicly condemned and discredited the Bible along with God Himself as being racial, hate-filled and discriminating against those who disagree with its philosophy. Yet, according to this new system, progressive thinking “demands” a tolerance and respect for its own secular agenda. This aggressive system of the beast is absolute hypocrisy and deception in the most offensive form.

We can clearly see where the world is headed and according to Biblical prophecy, we know it is not hopeful, to say the least. The few pioneers who in the past have harbored the secrets and mysteries of the demonic world have now morphed into a crusade to literally abolish God from the planet. Christianity has always been a minority and as the population grows larger the smaller the Christian influence. This along with a spiritually lukewarm approach, the younger generations lost respect for following Jesus and was persuaded through public education to embrace humanism. Sadly, this has conceived and nurtured a harsh and calloused culture of politically desensitized zombies. The Creator according to the Bible stands for everything the humanist opposes and now with the floodgates being opened to barbaric independence, we are witnessing the rapid and popular advancement of atheism. Instead of mankind bowing their knee to the maker of heaven and earth, we are seeing human arrogance on steroids as the remaining opportunity for Satan to deceive the masses is coming to an end. The tsunami of wickedness, perversion, debauchery, deception, confusion, chaos, violence and hatred is covering the world in a media frenzy filled with fear, depression, and anxiety. The strategy of evil is simple: confuse the mind – distract the conscience – overwhelm the heart – steal the soul.

It is not a new revelation to realize the world will not embrace Christ. The world has been filled with wickedness since the beginning of time and will continue to grow worse until the end of the age. An important question is how the Christian should approach this environment and the answer is always saturated with an awareness of being led by the Holy Spirit. Listening and obeying the voice of God in all that we do is the perfect resolution for the overcomer. Christians not only have a right and freedom to obey Biblical commands and follow the Creator of the universe, but they also have a responsibility to carry the light of the gospel in hopes that someone might possibly be convicted with the eternal truth which can save a soul. A true Christian is not rebellious or condemning toward the unbeliever, but rather burdened with a sincere sorrow for the lost who without Christ will suffer for all eternity. They know that Jesus is the only way, the only truth, and the only spiritual authority that can open the eyes of the blind and set the captives free from sin. The world is filled with darkness and deception and anyone can only comprehend the true meaning of life when we surrender our heart to Jesus Christ. There are questions that need to answered like how can those who know the truth about judgment, not be alarmed or have a sense of urgency about those who are lost? Does it not haunt us that many of our friends and family members are walking on the rim of hell? Do Christians even believe in hell? Could it be that followers of Christ are so terrified of God’s judgment they allow themselves to be distracted because it makes them feel better to think about other things? Yes, it’s painful to consider that spouses, parents, and children will live and die without accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord, but it is true. All of the spouses, parents, and children who are dead and waiting to be sentenced to the lake of fire are someone’s spouse, parent, and child.

So, how can we conclude this subject? Some might suggest that we talk about something happier that includes heaven and eternal peace and joy. This would certainly be true and it does bring comfort, however, our subject is also not a fabricated story and even though very disturbing, we must face the facts of it being the most heart-breaking and horrifying reality that is actually happening all around us. I have never held a sign on the side of the road that says, “Repent and turn to Jesus today” but I can definitely understand the reason why some do. The burden for the lost can become great and it should bother us and yet the frustration about what to do also can be discouraging. I have always believed that spiritual conversion is directly associated with a “divine appointment” which simply means that God carefully prepares the opportunities for salvation. In this light, evangelism is not a haphazard event but rather divinely directed by the Holy Spirit on the part of the messenger and the listener. God plans these meetings and gives the world a chance the hear the truth and then the decision is left with them. We have the choice to fight against the conviction of truth or surrender our will to His authority. This is not just a one-time confrontation but rather a daily settlement within the deepest part of our conscience and will also play a huge part in our final judgment. We can do many religious deeds and good works and along with our moral views, we can appear to be righteous to all who know us. However, it will always come down to how much of God we wanted in our lives and how much of our carnal nature we were willing to sacrifice. Our salvation is proven by God’s love for us but our relationship with Jesus Christ is demonstrated by our love for Him.

Oh Lord, you are the maker of all things. You created humans and blessed them with everything good and perfect. Your original man and woman made a decision to sin against you and then sadly faced the consequences of failing to obey you. After this terrible fall in the Garden of Eden, all humans thereafter have been born spiritually dead. Each person who has been introduced into the world has a spirit that is lost and in desperate need of being redeemed. Those who hear the gospel and receive it into their life are given the gift of salvation and their spirit is “re-born” into a child of God. His gift of mercy and grace allows them to walk in God’s Spirit on earth and spend eternity in heaven with Him. However, all who fail to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior within this temporary journey are blind and deceived to the absolute truth and the meaning of life. These children of the darkness who refuse and rebel against the love of God will not only miss the peace and joy with God in this life but will also face an eternity of pain, suffering, and regret. Lord, I was born spiritually blind and lost.

Lord, I had no desire to love you or serve you. I did not know you and had no intention to know you. My spirit was hopelessly lost and I did not care about spiritual truth. I was born with a rebellious attitude. It’s normal for me to sin. It’s normal for me to be selfish, hard-hearted, and self-centered. I’m filled with pride within the core of my being and it’s very comfortable for me to live and do whatever feels good. I was born with a carnal nature that hates God. My original nature loves to be independent and to make my own decisions. I do not want anyone to tell me what to do or how to live. My nature is very aggressive and stubborn and will fight anyone to the death who tries to change me. I was born with a free-will. BUT – You looked beyond my fault and saw my need! Somehow you loved me in spite of who I was and with your grace, you redeemed me and transformed me into something completely different. You were willing to take a clump of dirty coal and turn me into a sparkling diamond. You burned away my old self-righteousness and made me pure and clean and righteous by the blood of Jesus! Humans are not robots as you have graciously given to each person the ability to choose how they will live and who they will follow. This also includes the most crucial decision a person will ever make – whether or not they will believe, trust, and follow God. Once a person has heard about God’s great love for them, they will make the daily choice to either embrace Him or reject Him. I was born with an un-renewed mind. My mind is the processing plant that makes all of my decisions and works very closely with my carnal nature. Together, these two are known as co-captains of our ship who determines all the plans and decides which direction we go. These two work directly under their fleshly dictator called general and president free-will.

So, in order for me to be changed and transformed spiritually, mentally, and emotionally, it’s going to require some serious determination, to say the least. The old way of thinking and living must die in order for Christ to become the Lord and King of my conscience. There can only be one master and the serious problem is that we do not want to kill our independence or our fleshly desires. Many are determined to have both world’s at the same time but if we try to bring Jesus into our lives while still serving our old nature, we will not have the capacity to experience the blessing of His presence or any type of spiritual victory. This attempt at living in the middle of the road is often associated with the deception of a religious lifestyle. The painful reality is that attempting to mix Jesus and the devil together is actually living in a denial of hating God and being an enemy against our Creator. The only way to truly walk holy with the Lord and invite Him to control us completely is to yield and sacrifice our will to His will and then learn to sincerely hate sin.

To be an overcomer for Jesus we must abhor sin to the point of being filled with a spiritual sorrow. We can develop a reverential fear and trembling when we realize how much our sin hurts and disappoints God. Unless we are nauseated with all sin, we will continue playing games with manipulation, denial, arrogance, and deception. Sadly, this way of living is considered a lukewarm lifestyle and also one that does not have a happy ending. Yes, there is grace, but this is not an excuse to continue living in carnality. Yes, there is mercy, but God in His perfect judgment must require an accountability from us in order to preserve His divine truth. Yes, there is His sovereignty, but this cannot annul or overturn His eternal Word of wisdom and authority. Yes, there is forgiveness, but this privilege is more than saying we are sorry. True repentance is turning away from our sin and never allowing it to snare us or control us again. As we can see, there are many interpretations of the Christian life because our flesh and the devil are doing everything possible to distract us from the truth. We are our own worst enemy and until we come face to face with this revelation, we will continue LIVING AN ILLUSION. We are either dwelling in the holy of holies or we are not. He is either our Lord of all or not our Lord at all.