The deception and heresy of Christian Universalism

8 Therefore it says, “When HE ascended on high, HE led captive A host of captives, And HE gave gifts to men.” 9 (Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.) (Ephesians 4:8-10 NASB)

I have always taught here that the Bible very clearly refutes universalism, which denies the existence or permanence of the Lake of Fire or Hell. What prompted this study was two separate encounters with professing Christians who disagreed with our understanding of the Gospel, God, Man, and Eternity claiming that they had a better more correct ‘vision’ that was given to them by God Himself.  These visions stated that our teaching of the Gospel was wrong and contaminated by churchianity and was , therefore, not the genuine Gospel as taught by Christ and the Apostles. View article →

Christian character in light of God’s Sovereignty and the pressure to comply to Political Correctness

18 Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a good conscience, desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all things. 19 And I urge you all the more to do this, so that I may be restored to you the sooner. 20 Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, 21 equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:18-21 NASB)

Is the term ‘honor’ as a descriptive term for a human being out of place in our day and time? If we look up ‘honor’ in our dictionaries we will find that its chief synonym is ‘integrity.’ Before we begin to determine the lack of this characteristic in the current body of Christian believers, especially among its leadership, let us define what we mean. Integrity describes one who has an uncompromising adherence to moral and ethical principles. It describes one who possesses soundness of character. There are many more definitions, but this is enough for now. A honorable person is a man or woman of principle. He or she puts principle ahead of personal gain. Also, they do not compromise their principles. That would mean that once they grasp the truth they would never let go, no matter the cost. View article →

What is Penal Substitution and why is it so important in Justification?

6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. (Romans 5:6-11 NASB)

As I researched the doctrine of Penal Substitution for this article I was amazed at the lengths some people go to in order to obscure God’s truth through man-centered verbiage slanted away from Sacred Scripture towards human reasoning. Not one piece I read that decried Penal Substitution could attack it exegetically. In every case I read, the focus was on the barbarity of such a doctrine and how this shed a very negative light on the character of God. Before we go any further let us define what Penal Substitution is.

Penal Substitution is a theory of the atonement within Christian theology, especially associated with the Reformed tradition. It argues that Christ, by his own sacrificial choice, was punished in the place of sinners, thus satisfying the demands of justice so God can justly forgive their sins. Penal Substitution is, therefore, a specific understanding of substitutionary atonement, where the substitutionary nature of Jesus’ death is understood in the sense of a substitutionary punishment. View article →

Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked…

17 Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, 18 I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. (Revelation 3:17-18 NASB)

Self-Righteousness: the attempt to meet God’s standards based upon one’s own merits.

A thorough study of our Lord’s earthly ministry reveals with certainty the following truth. Our Lord was merciful in every instance to those who were broken, humbled, and spiritually helpless before Him. On the other hand, the proud, the self-righteous, and the self-sufficient He rebuked and shunned, which is thematically summarized for us by James our Lord’s brother in his epistle. View article →

Now, little children, abide in Him

28 Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. 29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him. (1 John 2:28-29 NASB)

In 1 John 2:28-3:1-10 we read of our spiritual identity as children of God and what that entails. The first thing he commands us to do is abide in Christ. What does that mean? This means that Christians must continue in a daily, personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Trust, prayer, obedience and joy characterize this relationship. In John 15:1-17 our Lord commands us to abide in Him for He is the True Vine and we are the branches. Our abiding in the True Vine is the source of our spiritual sustenance just as the grape vine feeds its branches, which bear the fruit. We cannot bear the spiritual fruit that God develops in His people unless we remain attached to our Lord in this level of relationship. If we become self-focused and indulge the flesh as a way of life then we are not abiding in our Lord as we should and we suffer spiritually for this. View article →

Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves

15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. (Matthew 7:15-18 NASB)

Our Lord, in His Sermon on the Mount, told us to beware of false prophets who come to us in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. He told us how to recognize them. How? It is by their fruits. This has not changed. Therefore, when I sit at the feet of a teacher or preacher of God’s Word I look for this within what is taught and within how he lives and with whom he associates and how he conducts himself in this life. Those who are not really God’s man will be revealed in this because of their inconsistencies in godliness and their consistencies in worldliness because, “we will recognize them by their fruits.” View article →

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16 NASB)

What is Spiritual Formation and Contemplative Spirituality? Are these just another term for Christian spiritual growth or “the way or method” that God has designed for His people to grow spiritually? Or are they totally different from what the Word of God teaches us? A clear-headed and Biblically-based study of Spiritual Formation and Contemplative Spirituality will actually reveal that they are being introduced into the visible church via deception. The proponents of these non-Christian spiritual systems attempt to validate that they are Christian by taking passages from God’s Word out of context and attempt to force them to support their mystical paradigm. While these people do put a lot of emphasis on Christian Authenticity and what that means as well as becoming Christlike or like Christ and while I write about those things quite a bit, it is quite amazing and a bit surprising to see them take the passages from God’s Word I use to teach believers to deny themselves, take up their crosses daily and follow Jesus to mean something quite different. View article →

What causes deception?

10 For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond- servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10 NASB)

What causes deception? We like to believe that people lying to those they deceive causes deception. However, if we think critically about that (yes, I know that post-modernists have lost that ability, but humor me) deception is not the direct result of the lie, but it only takes effect when the one being deceived desires something from the deceiver such as a relationship or something else that is offered. The deceived believe the lie in order to receive something else that they want. What has this to do with compromise in ministry? When theologians, preachers, or Christian leaders who once were not compromised suddenly appear to make these strange decisions, if we take the effort to dig into what is going on, invariably we will find that they are doing what they are doing in order to please someone else in a pragmatic way. The motive is that of gaining the approval of man. Yes, there will be some with discernment who will notice and make an issue of it, but these people go ahead and do what they do because they see the gain they will receive as being higher than what they will have lost by not doing so. Of course, that gain is from man not God and the heat they will take from those with discernment, well, who listens to them anymore anyway? View article →

Are you working to please God?

28 Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” (John 6:28 NASB)

The flesh is still with us all, even those who have been born again unto eternal life. The flesh does not understand grace. The flesh does not understand the relationship to the Christian being born again unto good works (Ephesians 2:10). Therefore, the visible church is ripe with false teaching at this time that emphasizes all the wrong things, and, coupled with rampant Biblical illiteracy, most professing Christians are like those Jesus was confronting in John 6 who could not conceive what our Lord boldly told them in vv35-40 that belief and salvation was a gift from God not something earned or deserved. View article →

For we are His workmanship

10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.(Ephesians 2:10 NASB)

In the NASB’s rendering of Ephesians 2:10, the word “workmanship” translates the Greek noun ποίημα or poiēma, which refers to what is made or created. Our English word “poem” is derived from ποίημα. I have one lexicon that renders ποίημα as “masterpiece” or “work of art.” In the context of Ephesians 2:10, the creator is God and the ποίημα is who? It is the true child of God! Before we continue let’s look at the Greek text of v10 and then a word-for-word translation.

10 αὐτοῦ γάρ ἐσμεν ποίημα, κτισθέντες ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ ἐπὶ ἔργοις ἀγαθοῖς οἷς προητοίμασεν ὁ θεός, ἵνα ἐν αὐτοῖς περιπατήσωμεν. (Ephesians 2:10 NA28)

10 For of Him we are His masterpiece having been created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God previously prepared that we should walk in them.  (Ephesians 2:10 translated from the NA28 Greek text) View article →

The nature of purchased grace

16 I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; (John 14:16 NASB)

As we look about us with any discernment at all in these times of spiritual deceit, it can be heart rending to see the outright lying done in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. There are so-called men of God preaching and teaching and ministering and doing things that could best be described as either the teaching or application of damnable heresies. I know that there are some who call themselves Christians who automatically have a problem with that last statement because they are afflicted with the disease of post-modernistic thinking while others are mired in their man-made religiosity and traditions. Both forces them into the thinking that everything is relative. Sorry, to the wind with that. If you are uncomfortable with the proclamation of God’s truth as absolute then you will not be comfortable here. God’s Word is His truth, a precious gift to His Church. In it we learn theology and His doctrines. This includes the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. From that we learn that our salvation is entirely by God’s grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8,9). We are justified by faith, not works. God’s truth is objective and absolute not subjective and relative. The grace we possess as Christians was purchased for us at the Cross of Christ. Oh, and the only ones who can and do turn to Christ are called by God effectually (John 6:44).  View article →

Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord

14 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14 NASB)

Are we to accept the profession of faith from everyone who claims to be a Christian? This is a hot button issue in our time. I know of several people who once fellowshipped here who no longer do because they are convinced that it is wrong to rebuke and contend with those who profess faith in Christ, but whose fruit show otherwise. What about this fruit? Is it an indication of the veracity of one’s faith? According to Hebrews 12:14 we see that only those who possess sanctfication (holiness) will see the Lord. This is a way of saying that those who will see the Lord, those who are truly saved, will possess some degree of personal holiness. View article →

IHOP – Feeding the Undiscerning

From Berean Research:

Doug Evans of Asleep No More delves into IHOP-KC guru Mike Bickle’s background. Evans uncovers solid evidence that Bickle’s teaching on prayer is highly unbiblical yet, unbelievably, the man heads up a noted “Christian” prayer ministry. What are young people who flock to IHOP exposed to? Contemplative prayer.  Allow me to explain.  CP is a prayer ritual that comes from teaching associated with Roman Catholic mystics. The aim is for the participant to empty and free the mind and empower oneself. In other words, Transcendental Meditation.  (More on this below)  So there’s no question that CP’s a dangerous practice.

Now find out the reasons Christians must not involve themselves in Eastern mysticism.

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This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent

28 Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” (John 6:28 NASB)

Genuine Christians will be very interested in getting the answer to the question posed to Jesus from John 6:28. If a professing Christian is not interested in that answer then there’s a problem. On the other hand, there are many professing Christians who have answered that question without reading Jesus’ response to it. Instead, they have jumped head foremost into “religious” work that they believe pleases God and is earning them bonus points in eternity. Their “works” may look good to most people, but are they what Jesus tells us are the genuine works of God? Let’s look at this passage in context. View article →

Steven Furtick teaches that God Breaks the Law

From Berean Research:

Steven Furtick and Joel OsteelA little over a year ago Steven Furtick, prophet-pastor of the highly influential Elevation Church in North Carolina, taught his congregation that God broke the law of love.  Recently he posted a two minute clip from that sermon on Facebook which caused quite a stir.  For those who are unfamiliar with Pastor Steven, the late Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries once said of him: “Steven Furtick is a rising star in the evangelical world and his discernment is so badly skewed that he seriously thinks [Joel] Osteen is ‘a great man of God’  and has also told us ‘T.D. Jakes Is My Favorite Preacher In The World.’”

So, did God really break the law of love as Furtick believes?  Respected blogger and pastor Tim Challies says an emphatic No! and took to the blogasphere to challenge Furtick’s faulty theology. Following is the blog post he wrote entitled “Did God Break the Law for Love?”:

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Pragmatism vs always being sober-minded, enduring suffering, doing the work of an evangelist and fulfilling one’s ministry

1 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. 5 But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:1-5 NASB)

The proponents of the seeker-sensitive church growth model may very well have had good intentions when through it was spawned the rise of contemporary mega-churches such as Willow Creek and Saddleback Valley Baptist and their clones. The focus was outreach to the unchurched. While that appears to be a proper function of the New Testament Church one of the model’s fundamental components is actually an antithesis of the clear instruction to Church leaders found in God’s Word. That component is pragmatism. View article →

But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation

20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. (2 Peter 1:20 KJV)

20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. (2 Peter 1:20 ESV)

20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, (2 Peter 1:20 NASB)

20 This first knowing, that every prophecy of scripture by private explanation does not take place. (2 Peter 1:20 The Apostolic Bible Polyglot)

20 This first knowing that all prophecy of scripture of any personal interpretation does not happen. (2 Peter 1:20 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

I remember the conversation like it was yesterday. The young man was so excited that he could barely contain it. He could not stop talking about his experience at his new church in Tulsa under a very well known Word Faith pastor. He went on and on and on. I had been a Christian about 10 years by then and had not yet entered into that long period of dryness that God put me through that ended just a few years ago so this must have been in the early 1990’s. In any case, neither the young man nor his wife would engage me personally in conversation nor would they look at me directly. They only talked to those around me. However, with each emphatic point he made that I knew was unbiblical I would try to interject something, but was ignored. Finally, there was a point in the conversation when he made one of those points and everyone became quiet and I simply said, “But that is not Biblical and what you are describing is subjectivism, not anything that can be proved by Scripture.” His answer was simply this, “God still speaks to His people and not all of His truth is found in the Bible.” I then asked, “Will He then say things to these prophets that are contrary to what the Bible says or will He say things that these people prophesy that does not take place? If so, what then?” He then pooh-poohed me away and would not let me engage him in any more conversation. The “religion” he was involved in has its foundation in mens’ private interpretation of the Bible along with God speaking prophecy directly to them thereby “confirming” their false interpretation of the Word of God. I never could find out from them how one could know how one could really know if that word from God was really from God or if it was just their over active imagination or an attempt at fraud. View article →

God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble

6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6 NASB)

Despite what those say who insist that the only attribute of God that ever comes into play is His Love, the only ray of hope in man’s spiritual darkness is His sovereign grace. It alone can rescue man from his propensity to lust for evil things. The passage above (James 4:6) tells us that God gives “more grace.” What does this mean? It shows that His grace is greater than the power of sin, the flesh, the world, and Satan (cf. Romans 5:20). Who obtains God’s grace? Do the proud? View article →

Adult Coloring and Meditation – What Every Christian Should Know

From Berean Research:

Coloring book Evidently adult coloring books are all the rage so many professing Christians have taken to coloring. Why’s this a problem?  Because it involves way more than the sort of coloring children do. Adult coloring can involve meditation — and it’s not biblical meditation.

“Meditative coloring,” explains Jessica Pickowicz “is the practice of coloring specific patterns while emptying the mind, allowing thoughts to roam free, and achieving spiritual enlightenment.” She warns that some coloring books can take participants into the world of the occult which is not a safe place for the Christian (or anyone else) to roam.

The Bible says that Satan masquerades as an angel of light. (2 Cor. 11:14)   So, has the wily serpent made his imprint on the pages coloring books?  Pickowicz thinks so.  She writes:

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Betrayed with a kiss: Azusa Now’s One World Religion

Amy Spreeman reports the shocking details of an “act of reconciliation” that occurred between evangelicals and Catholics at the Azusa Now: The Call event that was led by NAR false prophet Lou Engle:

A kiss is just a kiss? Not when it betrays the Lord Jesus Christ.  It’s been six weeks since I posted: Azusa Redux: Lou Engle, Greg Laurie uniting denominations?

That’s a question that was resoundingly affirmed by Lou Engle in the sound of one sloppy wet kiss.  The NAR-affiliated false teacher Lou Engle, founder of the “Azusa Now: The Call”  exchanged foot kisses with a Roman Catholic leader live on stage in front of a cheering audience of 100,000+ packed into the LA Coliseum this past weekend.  (See video at 6 hours and 55 in:)

The video shows the two throwing themselves to the floor in prostrate humility, each proclaiming that Christians and Catholics must unite in the name of unity.  The kiss started with Matteo Calisi, the Roman Catholic leader appointed by Pope Benedict, who founded United in Christ, an organization that strives for ecumenism between Christians and Catholics. Telling the audience that division between Christians and Catholics is a “diabolical sin,” and that Jesus “doesn’t care” that Christians and Catholics disagree on biblical doctrine, he did what many Christians find unthinkable.

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The Devil is the father of those who refuse to acknowledge God’s Word as truth

43 διὰ τί τὴν λαλιὰν τὴν ἐμὴν οὐ γινώσκετε; ὅτι οὐ δύνασθε ἀκούειν τὸν λόγον τὸν ἐμόν. 44 ὑμεῖς ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς τοῦ διαβόλου ἐστὲ καὶ τὰς ἐπιθυμίας τοῦ πατρὸς ὑμῶν θέλετε ποιεῖν. ἐκεῖνος ἀνθρωποκτόνος ἦν ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς καὶ ἐν τῇ ἀληθείᾳ οὐκ ἔστηκεν, ὅτι οὐκ ἔστιν ἀλήθεια ἐν αὐτῷ. ὅταν λαλῇ τὸ ψεῦδος, ἐκ τῶν ἰδίων λαλεῖ, ὅτι ψεύστης ἐστὶν καὶ ὁ πατὴρ αὐτοῦ. (John 8:43-44 NA28)

43 “Why do you not understand what I say? Because you are not able to hear my words. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning and the truth is not in him. When he speaks a lie it is from his own character, because he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:43-44 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Christianity, true Christianity, is not about feelings or experiences as “proof” of its veracity. No, read the accounts given to us in the book of Acts and in the rest of the New Testament. It is all about real events that happened that were witnessed by real people. Jesus was a real person who walked and ministered. He was illegally arrested, tried, and executed. However, He was resurrected after three days and nights in the tomb. Real people witnessed all of these things. No one has ever been able to provide evidence to refute any of it. Paul said that Jesus’ resurrection is the key to our hope and if it is not true then our religion is false. The reason we can know that it was true is that we have the proof of eyewitness accounts of it in the Word of God. Therefore, when so called “christian leaders” in our time write books or give interviews or whatever in which they attempt to refute the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, His deity, or the fact of His resurrection or they try to cast doubt on any of it, we must understand that those we are listening to have a different spiritual father than genuine Christians. View article →

The Cross of Christ seperates the living from the dead

19 “After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also.” (John 14:19 NASB)

When our Lord spoke of the “world” in John 14:19, he was talking about those in this temporal existence who are not believers. They are not true Christians even though some in that group may profess to be so. In this context he was also referring to the Jewish religious leaders of his own day who so opposed him and his ministry and who would continue to oppose the early church as is seen all through the books of Acts for example. What is it that separates those alive in this world who truly see Jesus for who he really is, believe and are saved from those who refuse to do so, reject the gospel, and remain in their sins, even if they may develop a form of Christianity that suits them that is absent of the real Jesus? View article →

Blindness has blinded his eyes?

15 Μὴ ἀγαπᾶτε τὸν κόσμον μηδὲ τὰ ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ. ἐάν τις ἀγαπᾷ τὸν κόσμον, οὐκ ἔστιν ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ πατρὸς ἐν αὐτῷ· (1 John 2:15 NA28)

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1 John 2:15 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

If we are not prayerful and become careless in our own abiding in our Lord, we can become distracted and then susceptible to the wiles of our enemy to become discouraged and even despair about distractions all around us coming from the current state of Evangelicalism. On the other hand, when we are in the heat of battle and God is using us, it is amazing how clear we can see the compromises. We see believers with a love for truth and a profession of faith, but also with a love for this world and the things of this world that becomes evident in those compromises. When this takes place in “Christian leadership” what are the evidences we should look for? Are there consistent ones that obviously point to ones that we can say, “Blindness has blinded his eyes?”  View article →

Joy and The Resurrection

22 καὶ ὑμεῖς οὖν νῦν μὲν λύπην ἔχετε· πάλιν δὲ ὄψομαι ὑμᾶς, καὶ χαρήσεται ὑμῶν ἡ καρδία, καὶ τὴν χαρὰν ὑμῶν οὐδεὶς αἴρει ἀφʼ ὑμῶν. (John 16:22 NA28)

22 “Therefore, you now have grief, but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice and no one takes your joy from you.” (John 16:22 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

According to my stats page, What is Joy?, is by far my most popular post. It was also one of the first ones I wrote when I started this ministry in 2006 and its focus has been the focus I have attempted to maintain since I started, which is the edification of the Body of Christ by pointing all to the true source of our joy instead of what the world attempts to sell us as a replacement, which is just temporal happiness. That true source is our Lord Jesus Christ and the fact that we have eternal life in Him. He has also given us the Encourager, the Holy Spirit and eternal promises from the Father that we are not left here alone. Also, and by far that which is strangely overlooked today, is the joy that we have in the promise of the Resurrection. The fact that our Lord was dead on our behalf, but is now alive and has promised that we too will be raised to be with Him with glorified bodies forever is not well understood by most believers today. View article →