Soulless creation???

I’m an animal lover.  I’ll just get that out of the way right now.  I was raised with cats and often quip that I was raised in the way of being a “crazy cat lady” from my youth, (although I will assert to this day that I am still one cat shy of “crazy.”)

So with this kind of history, when someone looks at me and says that animals ‘don’t think, they don’t feel, and they don’t have souls,’ I know in my heart that it’s untrue, but until I sat down to work on a project this morning, I didn’t have the scripture to back up what, to this point, had just been my ‘opinion.’

To give context to the following, my mother had recently sent me an e-mail about an upcoming video addressing “Our Pets in Heaven?”  Asserting that she was planning to get a few copies, she had me curious so I clicked the link.  I’ll say it was the animals with photoshopped wings that turned me off to the video, rather than the fact that it included an “animal behaviorist” in among the Bible scholars slated to address the topic.

So when I replied back with what was essentially a “thanks, but no thanks, I have all the verses I need to settle this issue for me and don’t need a video for that,” I shouldn’t have been surprised when I got the reply back of “can you send those to me?”

Since I had first had someone look me in the eyes and tell me that “animals don’t have souls,” I’ve been highlighting those verses in my nightly reading, (Bible in  a year,) but unfortunately, it is an app on my cell where highlights are not searchable.  While I have transferred some to my paper Bible, I had not transferred all of them and so, was not in a position to readily provide the list of verses I had found that established that not only do animals have souls, but they know that there is a God and even cry out to Him!  Not only that, but He hears them as well, and they absolutely will be in heaven!

So after several hours of searching and reading and cross referencing, here’s the list I have compiled so far- just so that I don’t lose it and have it for easy reference later.

“And should I not pity Nineveh, the great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left- and
much livestock?” Jonah 4:11

Your righteousness is like the great mountains; Your judgments are a great deep; O Lord, You preserve man and beast. Psalm 36:6

(In the NLT translation, the last line is: You care for people and animals alike, O Lord.)

For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. Colossians 1:19-20

(notice “all things” not just “men”)

Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. Matthew 10:29

A righteous man regards the life of his animal, Proverbs 12:10a

“But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you; and the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you; and the fish of the sea will explain to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this, in whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind? Job 12:7-10

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox, the nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, and the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. Isaiah 11:6-9

“Six days you shall do your work, and on the seventh day you shall rest, that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your female servant and the stranger may be refreshed. Exodus 23:12

For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the mountains, and the wild beasts of the field are Mine. Psalm 50:10-11

“Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so. Genesis 1:30

(“life” in this verse is the Hebrew נָ֫פֶשׁ pronounced neh’-fesh. The first listed definition for it is “a soul.”)

that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on the earth- in Him. Ephesians 1:10

(again, things instead of man or mankind.)

“And as for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with you and with your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you: the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you, of all that go out of the ark, every beast of the earth.” Genesis 9:9-10

In that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, with the birds of the air, and with the creeping things of the ground. Bow and sword of battle I will shatter from the earth, to make them lie down safely. Hosea 2:18

I said in my heart, “Concerning the condition of the sons of men, God tests them, that they may see that they themselves are like animals.” For what happens to the sons of men also happens to animals; one thing befalls them: as one dies, so dies the other. Surely, they all have one breath; man has no advantage over animals, for all is vanity. All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust. Ecclesiastes 3:18-20

(by the way, the same “breath” that we have here, is also translated “spirit.”)

The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works. Psalm 145:9

Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it. Ecclesiastes 12:7

“Can you hunt the prey for the lion, or satisfy the appetite of the young lions, when they crouch in their dens, or lurk in their lairs to lie in wait? Who provides food for the raven, when its young ones cry to God, and wander about for lack of food? Job 38:39-41

(That’s God answering Job out of the whirlwind, by the way- establishing the even ravens, which are sometimes used to symbolize evil, even cry to Him and He hears!)

And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!” Revelation 5:13

(again- creature.  Literally, “every created thing.”)

Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all the depths; (…) Beasts and all cattle, creeping things and flying fowl; Psalm 148:7 & 10

The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their food from God. Psalm 104:21

It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 1 Corinthians 15:44

(Go back to 39 for full context; alternately translated “If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.”)

“And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'” Luke 3:6

CPB

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No harm in making nice…

First off: in this context, YES, there is.  There is eternal harm in this kind of “making nice.”

By this time, we’ve all see the headlines splashed across all kinds of media outlets: “Pope says atheists can go to heaven.”  If you happen to have somehow missed it, here are a few links:

Pope Francis assures atheists:You don’t have to believe in God to go to heaven  (The Independent)

Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own consciences   (The Guardian)

Don’t feel like clicking and reading?  Here are two quotes:

Responding to a list of questions published in the paper by Mr Scalfari, who is not a Roman Catholic, Francis wrote: “You ask me if the God of the Christians forgives those who don’t believe and who don’t seek the faith. I start by saying – and this is the fundamental thing – that God’s mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and contrite heart. The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience.
“Sin, even for those who have no faith, exists when people disobey their conscience.”
-The Independent

Expressing the belief that it was important for Christians to engage in “a sincere and rigorous dialogue” with atheists, Francis recalled Scalfari had asked him whether God forgave those “who do not believe and do not seek to believe”.
“Given – and this is the fundamental thing – that God’s mercy has no limits, if He is approached with a sincere and repentant heart,” the pope wrote, “the question for those who do not believe in God is to abide by their own conscience. There is sin, also for those who have no faith, in going against one’s conscience. Listening to it and abiding by it means making up one’s mind about what is good and evil.”
-The Guardian

Now, this isn’t the first time that Pope Francis has spoken out about the redemption of atheists, either.  Earlier this year, in May, there was some backlash over a homily that he gave.  NPR covered the story:

“The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us children of God of the first class. We are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all. And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: We need that so much. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: We will meet one another there.”

If this is not your first time skimming through my blog, I am sure you already know where this is going.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
John 14:6

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.  This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’  Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Acts 4:8-12

“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
John 3:18

He who is not with Me is against me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters.
Luke 11:32

If you try to be a “good person” apart from the salvation offered by Christ, it’s not good enough.  Sorry, no passing go and collecting $200.

There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.
Proverbs 14:12, 16:25

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9

But we are all like an unclean thing,
All our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;
Isaiah 64:6a

The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked,
Who can know it?
Jeremiah 17:9

So pretty clearly, we can do what seems to be right, and give it our best effort, but even that is nothing more than a filthy rag.  It’s a pretty desperate situation, this human condition.  Thankfully:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believe in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His Son to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
John 3:16-17

But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah 53:5-6

Now one thing that Francis said, I do agree with, based on Scripture.

For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge this: that if One died for all, then all died;and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.
2 Corinthians 5:14-15

But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification.
Romans 5:15-16

So yes, I do agree that Jesus did die for everyone; those that were alive, those that are alive, and all that are to come in the future.  BUT- if we accept that, then we accept that fact that we were bought with a price and that we no longer live for ourselves, but for Him.

For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and your spirit, which are God’s.
1 Corinthians 6:20

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.
Luke 9:23-24

“But why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do the things which I say?
Luke 6:45

But be doers of the word, not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
James 1:22

So clearly, apart from Christ, there is no salvation; no justification.  Yes, it is a free gift to all, but as with any gift, it must be accepted and then you are to respond accordingly.  With gifts from friends and family do you not respond with an attitude of gratitude?  Why would you give any less to God who offers you a gift that you could never hope to earn on your own, freely?

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul,
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
Psalm 19:7-8

So why do I cite these two verses?  Because of something that I recently became aware of; the belief by Catholics that the Pope is infallible, that he speaks for God.  That truly scared me.  Let me say this plainly: he is human.  Those verses about hearts being desperately wicked and the very best a person can muster being nothing more than filthy rags?  Guess what- they apply to the Pope as well!

O my soul, you have said to the Lord, “You are my Lord, my goodness is nothing apart form You.”
Psalm 16:2

“Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you aide in Me.  I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
John 15:4-5

The only good in me is the presence of the Holy Spirit.  Even with His presence, however, I am still a fallible human.  It doesn’t matter how much time I spend in prayer, at church, or singing worship songs.  I will still screw up.  Are we then to take the word of a man that is supposed to be infallible, speaking in what appears to be opposition to a list of Scriptures within the Bible?

Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar.
Romans 3:4a

When all these comments hit the news outlets and it seemed as though the media was taking Francis out of context, a Vatican spokesman, Thomas Rosica, quickly made a statement to try and clarify things.

“People who know the Catholic Church cannot be saved if they refuse to enter or remain in her.”

Now at this point, I will raise my hand to say that I know the Catholic Church.  I will never “enter or remain in her” because I know that my salvation is granted by the blood of Jesus Christ not a church of man.

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.
2 Peter 2:1-3

So what I feel needs to be taken to heart here is that either God or man can be infallible.  Not both.  Compare anything you hear to the Bible to find the truth.

 

CPB

K.I.S.S

I’ve wanted to say something about this for a few days, so will take the fact that this weekend’s sermon was related to this topic as a hint that I need to stop thinking and start typing.

We’re all guilty of complicating what is, in the end, supposed to be the epitome of K.I.S.S. (keep it silly simple.)

How?

We’ll let’s see….

Oh, but you must be baptized   You must be more than a ChrEaster believer,  (you know what I mean, one that shows at Church only at Christmas and Easter)  What do you mean that you haven’t taken communion?  You don’t religiously tithe ten percent?

Gasp.

You’re on the verge of being cut from the most exclusive club.  You sure you want to chance it?

Guess what?

None of that matters.

Doesn’t matter if you don’t give to the church, never show up in a pew, or if you are still an alcoholic.

How can I dare say something like this?  Easy.

But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die?  We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.  Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”

And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Luke 23: 40-43 (NLT)

This man was such a criminal that the Romans deemed him deserving of crucifixion; the worst death possible at that time.  He was never baptized.  He certainly didn’t tithe, (he may very well have tried to steal those donations.)  He never had time to partake in communion.  And yet, Jesus assured him that they would be together in Heaven.

People in general, seem to want to put all kinds of other requirements and standards on believers.  (This is what the sermon this weekend addressed.)  We may raise an eyebrow or bristle at seeing another believer in a liquor store, or speeding on the freeway, or any of a number of other “infractions”  all the way down to smoking outside the church before services begin.

Does any of that matter?  In the end, no.

What does matter, as clearly shown with the criminal on the cross, is Jesus.  In those moments, he acknowledged that Jesus had done no wrong, and expressed hope be thought of favorably by Him.  He knew he deserved to be on the cross.  He had done wrong.  He saw himself as the sinner he was when contrast with Jesus.  So in those last few moments, he was saved.

He could have stolen a coin purse from one of the soldiers that lashed him to the cross and he’d still be covered.  All because he acknowledged Jesus as being without sin, and as the Son of God.

With the simplicity, why do we seem to add so many requirements to it?  Is it possible that we, as broken humans, just see His offer as too good to be true?

Entirely possible.

But there it is, in black, white, and red.  Directly from God, to us.

All that you need is Jesus.  Period.  End of discussion.

CPB