The Benefits of Forgiveness

Everything we do has a cost. The cost may include money, time, physical or mental exertion, or a toll on our emotional health and well-being. Sometimes, the cost of our actions is imposed on people we love. Failing to forgive others exacts a tremendous cost.

If someone crashes into our automobile, there is not only a monetary cost for repairs, but also the costs of inconvenience, physical trauma, frustration and time exerted in making phone calls, filing insurance claims and obtaining police reports, etc.

There is also a cost for not forgiving another person who has wronged you. In fact, there are tremendous penalties imposed for failure to forgive another person. Forgiving another person can be a hard thing to do, perhaps even seemingly impossible. The person who has wronged us owes us a “debt.” Only the one “holding the note of debt” can choose to forgive it.

In psychology, forgiveness is a deliberate choice to let go of anger and resentment toward the individual who has caused you harm. Forgiveness is as if you forgave a debt.

Medical research conducted in hospitals and universities has discovered health benefits for forgiveness. These benefits include lowered blood pressure and heart rate, decreased stress, less depression and anxiety, improved sleep, less pain and increased psychological well-being. The one who forgives has greater peace of mind. Negativity is replaced with a positive mindset, healthier relationships and even a stronger immune system. These are tremendous physical benefits to the act of forgiving!

But those who hold a grudge, refusing to forgive, will suffer physical penalties for their anger, hatred, bitterness, depression and anxiety, all of which take a toll on their mental and physical well-being.

Those who study the world’s religions understand that one of the most important elements of Christianity is the forgiveness of sin that Jesus Christ has made possible through His crucifixion, endured for the benefit of mankind. His blood covers the penalty for the sins of believers, making possible our reconciliation with God, and extending to us the promise of eternal life.

But the interesting thing is that Jesus Christ requires us to forgive those who wrong us! In fact, it is essential that we do so in order for us to receive His forgiveness! In Luke 6, Jesus instructed His disciples to “…be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven” (vv. 36–37).

In Matthew 6, in what is known as “The Lord’s Prayer” or “Model Prayer,” is Christ’s clear instruction: “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (v. 12). After the prayer, Christ explains: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (vv. 14–15). Woah, that is serious! The consequence for not forgiving others is that we will not be forgiven by God, and without His forgiveness we are doomed to death. That is a heavy consequence!

One can research “famous” quotes about forgiveness and see that a few of them capture a glimpse of what it means to forgive, while others miss the mark entirely. For instance, one says that since the Bible says “forgive seventy times seven,” they are keeping a chart. Really?! That totally misses the object lesson! Another said to forgive your enemies because it really annoys them. That also misses the point.

All should read Christ’s parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18. It concludes with the clear instruction that we are required to forgive “from the heart” if we are to receive our Father’s forgiveness (v. 35).

This is part of being a true Christian. Our booklet What Is a True Christian? is available free of charge, online or in print, here at Tomorrow’s World.

Article source: https://www.tomorrowsworld.org/commentary/the-benefits-of-forgiveness

Stephen Hawking and the Universe

The famous astrophysicist Stephen Hawking died on March 14, 2018 at age 76. His contributions to science and cosmology have pioneered significant developments in understanding our universe. And yet he had a yearning to learn even more about the universe and to “search for a complete unified theory” (A Brief History of Time, 1988, p. 13).

In his book, A Brief History of Time, Hawking uses the word “God” more than twenty times. In fact, Carl Sagan wrote in his introduction to Hawking’s book, “This is also a book about God… or perhaps about the absence of God. The word God fills these pages. Hawking embarks on a quest to answer Einstein’s famous question about whether God had any choice in creating the universe” (p. x).

Hawking’s references to God are more rhetorical and philosophical rather than an acknowledgement of God’s reality. He states: “Humanity’s deepest desire for knowledge is justification enough to our continuing quest. And our goal is nothing less than a complete description of the universe we live in” (p. 13).

In 2016, NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, added to that description: “The landmark Hubble Deep Field, taken in the mid-1990s, gave the first real insight into the universe’s galaxy population. Subsequent sensitive observations such as Hubble’s Ultra Deep Field revealed a myriad of faint galaxies. This led to an estimate that the observable universe contained about 200 billion galaxies. The new research shows that this estimate is at least 10 times too low.” In other words, the universe contains more than 200 trillion galaxies. We stand in awe of the vastness of the universe and the fact that some galaxies are moving out into space at more than 100 million miles an hour (God and the Astronomers, Robert Jastrow, p. 12).

But why does the universe exist? Hawking desired to know the answer: “Up to now, most scientists have been too occupied with the development of new theories that describe what the universe is to ask the question why” (Hawking, p. 174).

Where shall we go for the answer? Hawking refers to God many times, but do cosmologists and astronomers seriously consider God’s revelation, which answered that question millennia ago? Ancient King David asked the fundamental question many of us have asked: “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?” (Psalm 8:3–4).

Scripture explains that this lifetime is preparation for the ultimate inheritance, not only of the earth (Matthew 5:5) but of “all things” (Psalm 8:6). The book of Hebrews quotes that Psalm and clarifies the potential future of the human destiny intended by God: “You have put all things in subjection under his feet” (Hebrews 2:8). Evangelist Roderick C. Meredith explained this ultimate destiny: “The Greek word here used for ‘all things’ may correctly be understood as ‘the entire universe’! In fact, in the Weymouth Version, Hebrews 2:8 is translated, ‘For this subjecting of the UNIVERSE to man.’ Immediately after that, Paul wrote: ‘For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him’ (Hebrews 2:8). Notice that nothing is excluded from being under man’s dominion. But it is not yet accomplished” (Your Ultimate Destiny, p. 17).

As unbelievable as it may sound, your Bible reveals that humans have the potential to explore the outer reaches of the universe, How? By following the example of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who was resurrected from the dead to live in the spirit dimension, as revealed in Romans 1:4. Those who believe and obey Him and His way of life are promised eternal life, as it states in John 3:16.

Hawking wrote regarding his quest to understand the universe: “If we do discover a complete theory, it should in time be understandable in broad principle by everyone, not just a few scientists. Then we shall all be able to take part in the discussion of why the universe exists. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason. For then we would know the mind of God” (The Theory of Everything, p. 126).

The triumph is not from human reason, but from God’s revelation. Scripture reveals the mind of God! As astounding as it may sound, God created the universe as our future inheritance! And as we prepare for that future, the universe exists as the ultimate environment for humans to learn about the Creator of the universe (Romans 1:20), and to prepare for their awesome destiny.

To learn more, connect to our Tomorrow’s World telecasts “Why the Universe?” and “Our Mysterious Universe.” Also, read Your Ultimate Destiny.

Article source: https://www.tomorrowsworld.org/commentary/stephen-hawking-and-the-universe

Wait for It…Patiently!

Many have heard the joking declaration: “Lord, please give me patience, and give it to me right NOW!” This tongue-in-cheek, satirical statement humorously depicts what is so hard about being patient.

Many have also heard the maxim, “Patience is a virtue,” probably so many times that it becomes a cliché—tiresome and meaningless to them. That is unfortunate, because patience is a highly valuable character attribute! Whoever has and exercises patience will reap rewards.

So much in our present-day culture teaches us to be impatient. We have microwaves and fast-food drive-thru restaurants. We have instant soup, rice, potatoes and pudding. We have computers, the Internet and iPhones to give us (nearly) instantaneous information and communication. We have planes and trains and automobiles to move us quickly from place to place. But, if there is a traffic jam or accident, we can easily lose patience. This reminds me of the sardonic definition of a “split second”: the interval of time between the stoplight changing to green and the driver behind you honking their horn!

In this impatient age, we should consider our own level of patience. Patience is one of the fruits of the spirit listed in Galatians 5:22–23. Some translations use the words “longsuffering” or “forbearance.”

There are other synonyms for the word “patience” that describe the application of patience in a particular circumstance. Patience may require us to be subordinate in certain situations, while we may need to be flexible, tractable, amenable or acquiescent in other situations. Other times, we may express patience by being tolerant, accommodating, understanding or meek. Or, we may need to simply exercise self-control, being tranquil and uncomplaining until a situation is resolved.

One amusing slang expression I heard once was, “Take a chill and be still.” A similar one was “Take a chill pill!” It’s good advice.

The Bible encourages us to be patient. James 5:7–8, tells us twice to “be patient.” The Greek word (Μακροθυμέω, makrothumeō) means “to be of a long spirit, not to lose heart, to persevere patiently and bravely in enduring misfortunes and troubles, to be patient in bearing the offenses and injuries of others, to be mild and slow in avenging, to be longsuffering, slow to anger, slow to punish.”

Paul encourages us to “walk worthy of the calling (Divine invitation) wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering (same word as above), forbearing (ἀνέχομαι anechomai: to hold up, to sustain, to bear) one another in love; …” (Ephesians 4:1–2, King James Version). Occasionally

Another saying about patience is “Good things take their time” or “Good things come to those who wait.” There is a reward for patience. The Bible gives us examples such as Job, Abraham and Sarah, David and others. We are told in the book of James, “…that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:3–4). Having patience bears positive fruit.

One of Christ’s parables is the Parable of the Sower in Luke 8. In the explanation of the parable to the disciples, Christ explains that the seed that falls on good ground is like “…those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience” (v. 15). Exercising patience produces good fruit.

In Hebrews 6, we read about the earth drinking in the rain, either producing useful fruit, or thorns and briers (vv. 7–8). But, if we imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises, we will reap the rewards and receive the promises that God has made. God, the Righteous Judge, will give “eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality” (Romans 2:7).

True Christians will need patience to get through the tough times just ahead before receiving a tremendous reward, Your Ultimate Destiny.

Article source: https://www.tomorrowsworld.org/commentary/wait-for-itpatiently

An Intermission

While watching a classic epic movie from the 1960’s recently, I was surprised when, about halfway through the film, there was an intermission. I suppose the directors figured the audience needed a brief break before the lengthy production resumed to complete the story. In live theater productions and at the symphony, an intermission is often provided before the actors again take the stage and continue the performance.

This pause in the action before the story resumes came to mind as I attended the funeral of a person who died at a great age, or as the Bible says, “in a good old age, full of days.” The priest at the funeral service gave a brief homily in which he stated that the deceased, being a good person who died in the faith, was in heaven in the presence of the Father and Jesus Christ. He mentioned the resurrection to come, but did not explain why the resurrection of the dead would be necessary since, based on his comments, the deceased person was already in heaven having received their reward. It was a solemn, liturgical service, but sadly it was not Biblically correct—it contradicted the Scripture.

For example, the Apostle Paul stated plainly that “…it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Jesus cleared up the matter of going to heaven when he said, “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven” (John 3:13).

Anciently, Solomon understood that there was no consciousness in the grave when he wrote, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). However, death for human beings is not the end of the story. Paul wrote eloquently of a resurrection of the dead, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the first fruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming” (1 Corinthians 15:20–23).

When will this resurrection of the dead take place? Paul gives the timing, “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So, when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory’” (1 Corinthians 15:51–54).

Notice the mention of a great trumpet. It will be a supernatural trumpet blast that the whole world will hear, ushering in the Kingdom of God as Christ returns in power and glory. Paul further explained what will happen: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus, we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:16–18). Where will these resurrected Christians be and what will they be doing? Revelation 5:10 gives the answer: “…And we shall reign on the earth.”

So, while most of the mainstream churches, Catholic and Protestant, teach and sincerely believe that the dead waft off to heaven, or someplace less desirable, the Bible plainly teaches that death is the end of a chapter, but not the end of the story for mankind. Physical death is only an intermission, if you will, in which the dead “sleep” until the return of Christ, at which time the rest of the story of God’s plan for mankind will play out. You can read more about it in Revelation 20–21. Don’t delay!

Article source: https://www.tomorrowsworld.org/commentary/an-intermission

A Splash of Blood

Much of the Christian-professing world has been observing Lent, a time of self-denial in preparation for Easter. Interestingly, the day before Lent begins is a time of partying and excess known as Mardi Gras, or “Fat Tuesday,” though most of the participants don’t know why they are celebrating. The next day, Ash Wednesday, begins forty days of “fasting” leading up to Easter. Adherents usually give up some simple pleasure during that time, supposedly harkening back to Jesus’ 40 days of fasting in the wilderness before being tempted by Satan. All of this culminates on Easter Sunday—often with sunrise church services, and the accompanying rituals and accoutrements.

These traditions, cherished by millions as important parts of their religious lives, have no basis in the Bible. In fact, there is no command to observe the Messiah’s resurrection in Scripture. Of course, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is essential to our Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation, and there are instructions for a solemn observance commanded for Christians today in the New Testament, which was instituted centuries before Jesus Christ walked the dusty roads of Galilee and Judea.

Anciently, the stage was set when Joseph, who had become great in Egypt, summoned his family to Egypt to escape widespread famine. Their descendants eventually became a great multitude. Scholars tell us that the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt for about 210 years, their lives made bitter with harsh servitude. God heard their cry and used Moses, an Israelite who had been reared as a prince of Egypt before being exiled, to free the people in 1487 BC.

It was no surprise that Pharaoh would not let his labor force go voluntarily. Moses warned the great king that God would plague the Egyptians if they did not free the Israelites. His warnings were ignored, and a series of nine terrible plagues devastated Egypt. Still, the Pharaoh would not let the people go. Finally, God sent His ultimatum. If the slaves were not freed then all the firstborn of Egypt, man and beast, would die. The Pharaoh refused to budge.

In preparation for this great, final plague, God gave detailed instructions to the Israelites on how to be protected from the loss of their firstborn. On the 14th of Nisan, the first month of the Hebrew calendar, they were to slaughter an unblemished lamb, and to take some of its blood to smear on the door posts and lintels of their houses. The lamb was to be roasted in a special way and eaten in haste with bitter herbs and unleavened bread within their homes, all of which had special significance (Exodus 12:1–13). This ritual was called the “Passover,” since those who obeyed were spared as the death angel “passed over” the houses with blood on the doorways. This was the inception of the Passover observance, to be observed at the same time each year as a memorial of this great event (Exodus 12:14).

That night, all the firstborn of the Egyptians died. There was not a home without one slain. Finally, the devastated king relented and told Moses to leave with all the Israelites and all their possessions. This great multitude left Egypt “with a high hand” (Numbers 33:3 KJV).

Though the freed slaves did not grasp the spiritual significance of their exodus from Egypt, it was a type of mankind coming out of enslavement to sin. The sacrificial lamb was a type of the Messiah that was to come. Just as the shed blood of the “lamb without blemish” was used to spare the Israelites from death, the blood of Jesus Christ, the ultimate sacrifice, would be for mankind’s salvation.

In the New Testament, Jesus Christ observed the Passover throughout His life. His last Passover on the evening of the 14th of Nisan was recorded for us today. He instituted the New Testament symbols of the bread and wine picturing His body and blood (Luke 22:7–20). He also added foot washing to the observance to illustrate having a humble, serving attitude (John 13:1–20). Annually, baptized members of the Church of God, on the evening of the same date (beginning at sunset because, in the Bible, days are counted from sunset to sunset), come together to review the Holy Scripture and partake of these holy symbols in remembering Jesus Christ and His incredible sacrifice for all mankind. The Apostle Paul explained the importance of the Passover in 1 Corinthians 11:20–34. In verse 26 he states, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.”

While much of what the world sees as Christianity pursues traditions that have little or nothing to do with biblical instruction, those who are determined to follow the Bible can honor God’s commanded Holy days—including the Passover observance—listed in Leviticus 23.

So, what will you choose: man’s traditions, or knowledge of God’s true plan of salvation for all mankind?

Article source: https://www.tomorrowsworld.org/commentary/a-splash-of-blood

Trade War over Steel and Aluminum?

United States President Donald Trump recently proposed tariffs against steel and aluminum imports. This has raised the prospect of a “trade war” between the U.S. and nations who export steel and aluminum to American markets. What is a trade war? That’s when one nation imposes taxes on certain goods from another country, and—in retaliation—that country slaps punitive taxes on other goods from the offending nation. Tomorrow’s World writer Dexter Wakefield explains the concept thoroughly in his article “Trade War!” (May-June 2017). Will this happen now? If so, what could result?

As with any geopolitical situation, the issue is complex, with many reports and studies coming out, often leading to contradictory conclusions. Many members of Mr. Trump’s own party oppose steel and aluminum tariffs because of the prospect of a rise in overall prices of related products and a potentially negative overall impact on American jobs in the long run. On the other hand, President Trump is fulfilling a campaign promise to more aggressively fight on behalf of certain American domestic industries against trade practices that are perceived to be unfair. He also contends that a viable steel and aluminum industry is vital for national security in the event of war, which is certainly true.
 
So, what happens next? Though we can’t be sure, it seems most likely that the current uproar will not lead to an all-out trade war. Reuters reported on March 9 that allies of the United States are already lobbying for exemptions for their products. And the United States policy has been going down this “protectionist” path for quite some time already. According to the international law firm Gowling WLG, the United States “has made 1,085 more protectionist measures than liberalising ones since 2009” (BBC.com, January 23, 2018).
 
However, does this mean a trade war won’t happen in the future? We are told by Jesus Christ to expect wars and “rumors of wars” (Matthew 24:6). Could this include “trade wars”? Jesus also prophesied that relations between leading nations in the world will break down in the end-time, and dramatically so. While some will benefit economically for a time, at the end rivalries and lust for power will consume many, leading to world war (Revelation 17:15–18, 9:18). This will go hand in hand with a global economic collapse (Revelation 18).
 
What about the United States? Should our President impose higher tariffs on goods in order to defend American workers? Is that the solution to the problems of the many being left behind in the economic recovery? Perhaps a bigger view of the situation is in order. Frequent visitors to this website understand that here at Tomorrow’s World we believe—based on Scripture and history—that America is one of the modern nations that have descended from the ten “lost” tribes of Israel. Because of this, all Americans—and anyone who simply wants to understand what is going on—should take a hard look at what Moses recorded more than three millennia ago.
 
If you want an economic forecast for America’s competitiveness in the global economy, here it is:

  • “The alien who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower. He shall lend to you, but you shall not lend to him; he shall be the head, and you shall be the tail” (Deuteronomy 28:43–44).
  • “A nation whom you have not known shall eat the fruit of your land and the produce of your labor, and you shall be only oppressed and crushed continually” (Deuteronomy 28:33).
  • “I [God] will break the pride of your power” (Leviticus 26:19).

We are in for an economic toboggan ride—and not a very pleasant one! How can we know with certainty? If you want to truly understand where we are going economically, take a look at the trajectory of our morals. Look at our dishonest practices and our worship of material things. In America, we flagrantly disregard the sanctity of the marriage covenant. We openly reject God’s rules for morality. We deny He even created us, and therefore contend that we have no responsibility to honor and obey Him. And even among those who believe in God, too many of us practice a “cheap grace” of “accepting Christ” while deciding for ourselves what our moral code will be.

When you look at the writing on the wall, an economic collapse is coming upon end-time Israel, which includes the United States and several other nations. And God made it clear why it would happen: “Moreover, all these curses shall come upon you and pursue and overtake you, until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you” (Deuteronomy 28:45). Will the pending tariffs on steel and aluminum damage or improve the U.S. economy? Are they merely one part of an elaborate negotiating ploy? Many things remain to be seen. But in the long run, unless we get our spiritual house in order, our economic one will collapse.

Article source: https://www.tomorrowsworld.org/commentary/trade-war-over-steel-and-aluminum