As the Day of the Lord approaches, Christians need to examine their life carefully – using the lens of the Lord’s Word and the working of His Spirit. We need to ask ourself – Are we really in the family of the Lord? Is my life on the path of growth in Christ and flourishing with the gifts of holiness? All gifts come from the Lord, yet have we used our gifts for His greater glory? Unfortunately, western society has now made it acceptable and legal that which was previously immoral and unacceptable in the eyes of our Saviour.
We are entering a time when Christians are being attacked – both spiritually and within a lonely demonic society. We are asked to accept values and laws that are contrary to traditional Christian life. One may be a lawful citizen, and yet in the same way, be a sinner and far from the love of Christ. If we do not examine our soul and faith carefully, we are at risk of being a worldly, lukewarm Christian.
Revelation 3:14–22 (NKJV): 14 “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: 15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. 21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 22 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ’ ”
Consider the following test:
10 Questions To See If You Are a Lukewarm “Christian” 1 – Do Cares & Worries of This Life Dominate Most of Your Thoughts & Conversations? 2 – Do You Practice Sin on a Regular Basis? 3 – Do You “Love” The Things of This World More Than God’s Word? 4 – Are You Too Busy for Jesus? What are Your Priorities? 5 – Do You Use God’s Name In Vain? (‘Oh My G-d?’) 6 – Do You Fail to Pray Earnestly & Pray for the Lost Who Will Spend Eternity in Hell? 7 – Do You Fail to Preach the Gospel on a Regular Basis? OR Do You Hinder Others? 8 – Are You Indifferent About Your Sin? What is Your Attitude? 9 – Do You Seek After Worldly Wealth & Fame vs Seeking First The Kingdom of God? 10-Do You Fail to Obey Jesus, and God’s Word Consistently?
Let us hear the Word and realise that the solution is clear, to anoint our eyes with the salve of the Word to see things as they truly are in our lives. We shall repent as we have become too comfortable with the immorality of the world and realise that we have become lukewarm and comfortable with these sins. Revelation 3:19 (NKJV): As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.
Examine yourself as though the Lord is judging you at the end of days. Every secret thought, word or deed will be seen and heard. There is nothing that can be hidden. The guilt may be raw, peeling away layers of self-justification and pride to show your heart as it truly is – in need of forgiveness. This may be quite upsetting if you have not relied on Christ alone and have become a satisfied in a life of mediocre sin. With genuine repentance and prayer, the grace of the Lord will comfort you and lead you onto the path of holiness.
1 Peter 4:1–6 (NKJV): 4 Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. 3 For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. 4 In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. 5 They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6 For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.
The Jesus Prayer
According to the Orthodox Church, this ancient simple prayer provides the necessary humility to approach the Lord (and burns demons!)
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Straight to Heaven Prayer / Prayer of Daily Neglects
(Roman Catholic version from Father Mark Goring)
Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Sacred Heart of Jesus, with all its love, all its sufferings and all its merits.
First — To expiate all the sins I have committed this day and during all my life. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Second — To purify the good I have done poorly this day and during all my life. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Third — To supply for the good I ought to have done, and that I have neglected this day and all my life. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Almighty Father, I ask that my sins may be covered and washed away by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, whose atoning grace is sufficient for all eternity.
First — To forgive all the sins I have committed this day and during all my life. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Second — To purify any good I have done poorly this day and during all my life. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Third — To forgive my sins of omission, be they through ignorance or selfishness, all that I have neglected this day and all my life. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen
I ask these things through your beloved Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Once we are forgiven, we also need to learn to forgive ourselves for falling into the luke-warmness of the world. If we are forgiven, yet cannot forgive ourselves, we deny the redemptive work and grace of Christ in our own life.
Jude 24–25 (NKJV): 24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, 25 To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen.
Before his near-death experience, Howard Storm (www.howardstorm.com) was a Professor of Art at Northern Kentucky University, was not a very pleasant man by his own admission. He was an avowed atheist and was hostile to every form of religion and those who practiced it. He often would use rage to control everyone around him and he didn’t find joy in anything. Anything that wasn’t seen, touched or felt, he had no faith in. He knew with certainty that the material world was the full extent of everything that was. He considered all belief systems associated with religion to be fantasies for people to deceive themselves with. Beyond what science said, there was nothing else. But then on June 1, 1985, at the age of 38, Howard Storm’s had a near-death experience due to a perforation of the stomach and his life was since forever changed which he describes in his 2005 book, My Descent Into Death: A Second Chance at Life. He is also the author of Lessons Learned: A Spiritual Journey (2014); Befriend God: Life with Jesus (2019); and It’s All Love (2014). His near-death experience is one of the most profound, if not the most profound, afterlife experience I have ever read. His life was so immensely changed after his near-death experience, he resigned as a professor and devoted his time attending the United Theological Seminary to become a United Church of Christ minister. Today, Howard Storm is presently happily married to his wife Marcia and is the retired Pastor of the Covington United Church of Christ in Covington, Ohio. For his past time, he has maintained his passion for painting; but now, unlike in his past, he paints with a God state of mind which raises his paintings to a whole other level. On his website, Pastor Storm shares a unique look at his paintings and the effect Jesus Christ has on his daily life and on his paintings. The following is the account of Pastor Howard Storm’s near-death experience.
Struggling to say goodbye to my wife, I wrestled with my emotions. Telling her that I loved her very much was as much of a goodbye as I could utter because of my emotional distress. Sort of relaxing and closing my eyes, I waited for the end. This was it, I felt. This was the big nothing, the big blackout, the one you never wake up from, the end of existence. I had absolute certainty that there was nothing beyond this life – because that was how really smart people understood it.
While I was undergoing this stress, prayer or anything like that never occurred to me. I never once thought about it. If I mentioned God’s name at all it was only as a profanity. For a time there was a sense of being unconscious or asleep. I’m not sure how long it lasted, but I felt really strange, and I opened my eyes. To my surprise I was standing up next to the bed, and I was looking at my body laying in the bed. My first reaction was, “This is crazy! I can’t be standing here looking down at myself. That’s not possible.”
This wasn’t what I expected, this wasn’t right. Why was I still alive? I wanted oblivion. Yet I was looking at a thing that was my body, and it just didn’t have that much meaning to me. Now knowing what was happening, I became upset. I started yelling and screaming at my wife, and she just sat there like a stone. She didn’t look at me, she didn’t move – and I kept screaming profanities to get her to pay attention. Being confused, upset, and angry, I tried to get the attention of my room-mate, with the same result. He didn’t react. I wanted this to be a dream, and I kept saying to myself, “This has got to be a dream.”
But I knew that it wasn’t a dream. I became aware that strangely I felt more alert, more aware, more alive than I had ever felt in my entire life. All my senses were extremely acute. Everything felt tingly and alive. The floor was cool and my bare feet felt moist and clammy. This had to be real. I squeezed my fists and was amazed at how much I was feeling in my hands just by making a fist. Then I heard my name. I heard, “Howard, Howard – come here.”
Wondering, at first, where it was coming from, I discovered that it was originating in the doorway. There were different voices calling me. I asked who they were, and they said, “We are here to take care of you. We will fix you up. Come with us.”
Asking, again, who they were, I asked them if they were doctors and nurses. They responded, “Quick, come see. You’ll find out.”
As I asked them questions they gave evasive answers. They kept giving me a sense of urgency, insisting that I should step through the doorway. With some reluctance I stepped into the hallway, and in the hallway I was in a fog, or a haze. It was a light-colored haze. It wasn’t a heavy haze. I could see my hand, for example, but the people who were calling me were 15 or 20 feet ahead, and I couldn’t see them clearly. They were more like silhouettes, or shapes, and as I moved toward them they backed off into the haze. As I tried to get close to them to identify them, they quickly withdrew deeper into the fog. So I had to follow into the fog deeper and deeper. These strange beings kept urging me to come with them.
I repeatedly asked them where we were going, and they responded, “Hurry up, you’ll find out.”
They wouldn’t answer anything. The only response was insisting that I hurry up and follow them. They told me repeatedly that my pain was meaningless and unnecessary. “Pain is bullshit,” they said.
I knew that we had been traveling for miles, but I occasionally had the strange ability to look back and see the hospital room. My body was still there lying motionless on the bed. My perspective at these times was as if I were floating above the room looking down. It seemed millions and millions of miles away. Looking back into the room, I saw my wife and my room-mate, and I decided they had not been able to help me so I would go with these people. Walking for what seemed to be a considerable distance, these beings were all around me. They were leading me through the haze. I don’t know how long. There was a real sense of timelessness about the experience. In a real sense I am unaware of how long it was, but it felt like a long time – maybe even days or weeks. As we traveled, the fog got thicker and darker, and the people began to change. At first they seemed rather playful and happy, but when we had covered some distance, a few of them began to get aggressive. The more questioning and suspicious I was, the more antagonistic and rude and authoritarian they became. They began to make jokes about my bare rear end which wasn’t covered by my hospital dicky and about how pathetic I was. I knew they were talking about me, but when I tried to find out exactly what they were saying they would say, “Shhhhh, he can hear you, he can hear you.”
Then, others would seem to caution the aggressive ones. It seemed that I could hear them warn the aggressive ones to be careful or I would be frightened away. Wondering what was happening, I continued to ask questions, and they repeatedly urged me to hurry and to stop asking questions. Feeling uneasy, especially since they continued to get aggressive, I considered returning, but I didn’t know how to get back. I was lost. There were no features that I could relate to. There was just the fog and a wet, clammy ground, and I had no sense of direction. All my communication with them took place verbally just as ordinary human communication occurs. They didn’t appear to know what I was thinking, and I didn’t know what they were thinking. What was increasingly obvious was that they were liars and help was farther away the more I stayed with them. Hours ago, I had hoped to die and end the torment of life. Now things were worse as I was forced by a mob of unfriendly and cruel people toward some unknown destination in the darkness. They began shouting and hurling insults at me, demanding that I hurry along. And they refused to answer any question. Finally, I told them that I wouldn’t go any farther. At that time they changed completely. They became much more aggressive and insisted that I was going with them. A number of them began to push and shove me, and I responded by hitting back at them.
A wild orgy of frenzied taunting, screaming and hitting ensued. I fought like a wild man. All the while it was obvious that they were having great fun. It seemed to be, almost, a game for them, with me as the center-piece of their amusement. My pain became their pleasure. They seemed to want to make me hurt by clawing at me and biting me. Whenever I would get one off me, there were five more to replace the one.
By this time it was almost complete darkness, and I had the sense that instead of there being twenty or thirty, there were an innumerable host of them. Each one seemed set on coming in for the sport they got from hurting me. My attempts to fight back only provoked greater merriment. They began to physically humiliate me in the most degrading ways. As I continued to fight on and on, I was aware that they weren’t in any hurry to win. They were playing with me just as a cat plays with a mouse. Every new assault brought howls of cacophony. Then at some point, they began to tear off pieces of my flesh. To my horror I realized I was being taken apart and eaten alive, slowly, so that their entertainment would last as long a possible. At no time did I ever have any sense that the beings who seduced and attacked me were anything other than human beings. The best way I can describe them is to think of the worst imaginable person stripped of every impulse to do good. Some of them seemed to be able to tell others what to do, but I had no sense of any structure or hierarchy in an organizational sense. They didn’t appear to be controlled or directed by anyone. Basically they were a mob of beings totally driven by unbridled cruelty and passions.
During our struggle I noticed that they seemed to feel no pain. Other than that they appeared to possess no special non-human or super-human abilities. Although during my initial experience with them I assumed that they were clothed, in our intimate physical contact I never felt any clothing whatsoever.
Fighting well and hard for a long time, ultimately I was spent. Lying there exhausted amongst them, they began to calm down since I was no longer the amusement that I had been. Most of the beings gave up in disappointment because I was no longer amusing, but a few still picked and gnawed at me and ridiculed me for no longer being any fun. By this time I had been pretty much taken apart. People were still picking at me, occasionally, and I just lay there all torn up, unable to resist.
Exactly what happened was … and I’m not going to try and explain this. From inside of me I felt a voice, my voice, say, “Pray to God.” My mind responded to that, “I don’t pray. I don’t know how to pray.” This is a guy lying on the ground in the darkness surrounded by what appeared to be dozens if not hundreds and hundreds of vicious creatures who had just torn him up. The situation seemed utterly hopeless, and I seemed beyond any possible help whether I believed in God or not. The voice again told me to pray to God. It was a dilemma since I didn’t know how. The voice told me a third time to pray to God. I started saying things like, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want … God bless America” and anything else that seemed to have a religious connotation. And these people went into a frenzy, as if I had thrown boiling oil all over them. They began yelling and screaming at me, telling me to quit, that there was no God, and no one could hear me. While they screamed and yelled obscenities, they also began backing away from me as if I were poison. As they were retreating, they became more rabid, cursing and screaming that what I was saying was worthless and that I was a coward. I screamed back at them, “Our Father who art in heaven,” and similar ideas. This continued for some time until, suddenly, I was aware that they had left. It was dark, and I was alone yelling things that sounded churchy. It was pleasing to me that these churchy sayings had such an effect on those awful beings.
Lying there for a long time, I was in such a state of hopelessness, and blackness, and despair, that I had no way of measuring how long it was. I was just lying there in an unknown place all torn and ripped. And I had no strength; it was all gone. It seemed as if I were sort of fading out, that any effort on my part would expend the last energy I had. My conscious sense was that I was perishing, or just sinking into the darkness.
RESCUE FROM HELL BY JESUS CHRIST
Now I didn’t know if I was even in the world. But I did know that I was here. I was real, all my senses worked too painfully well. I didn’t know how I had arrived here. There was no direction to follow even if I had been physically able to move. The agony that I had suffered during the day was nothing compared to what I was feeling now. I knew then that this was the absolute end of my existence, and it was more horrible than anything I could possibly have imagined.
Then a most unusual thing happened. I heard very clearly, once again in my own voice, something that I had learned in nursery Sunday School. It was the little song, “Jesus loves me, yes I know …” and it kept repeating. I don’t know why, but all of a sudden I wanted to believe that. Not having anything left, I wanted to cling to that thought. And I, inside, screamed, “Jesus, please save me.” That thought was screamed with every ounce of strength and feeling left in me. When I did that, I saw, off in the darkness somewhere, the tiniest little star. Not knowing what it was, I presumed it must be a comet or a meteor, because it was moving rapidly. Then I realized it was coming toward me. It was getting very bright, rapidly. When the light came near, its radiance spilled over me, and I just rose up – not with my effort – I just lifted up. Then I saw – and I saw this very plainly – I saw all my wounds, all my tears, all my brokenness, melt away. And I became whole in this radiance. What I did was to cry uncontrollably. I was crying, not out of sadness, but because I was feeling things that I had never felt before in my life. Another thing happened. Suddenly I knew a whole bunch of things. I knew things … I knew that this light, this radiance, knew me. I don’t know how to explain to you that I knew it knew me, I just did. As a matter of fact, I understood that it knew me better than my mother or father did. The luminous entity that embraced me knew me intimately and began to communicate a tremendous sense of knowledge. I knew that he knew everything about me and I was being unconditionally loved and accepted.
The light conveyed to me that it loved me in a way that I can’t begin to express. It loved me in a way that I had never known that love could possibly be. He was a concentrated field of energy, radiant in splendor indescribable, except to say goodness and love. This was more loving than one can imagine. I knew that this radiant being was powerful. It was making me feel so good all over. I could feel its light on me – like very gentle hands around me. And I could feel it holding me. But it was loving me with overwhelming power. After what I had been through, to be completely known, accepted, and intensely loved by this Being of Light surpassed anything I had known or could have imagined. I began to cry and the tears kept coming and coming. And we, I and this light, went up and out of there.
We started going faster and faster, out of the darkness. Embraced by the light, feeling wonderful and crying, I saw off in the distance something that looked like the picture of a galaxy, except that it was larger and there were more stars than I had seen on Earth. There was a great center of brilliance. In the center there was an enormously bright concentration. Outside the center countless millions of spheres of light were flying about entering and leaving what was a great being-ness at the center. It was off in the distance. Then I … I didn’t say it, I thought it. I said, “Put me back.”
What I meant by telling the light to put me back, was to put me back into the pit. I was so ashamed of who I was, and what I had been all of my life, that all I wanted to do was hide in the darkness. I didn’t want to go toward the light anymore – I did; yet I didn’t. How many times in my life had I denied and scoffed at the reality before me, and how many thousands of times had I used it as a curse. What incredible intellectual arrogance to use the name as an insult. I was afraid to go closer. I was also aware that the incredible intensity of the emanations might disintegrate what I still experienced as my intact physical body. The being who was supporting me, my friend, was aware of my fear and reluctance and shame. For the first time he spoke to my mind in a male voice and told me that if I was uncomfortable we didn’t have to go closer. So we stopped where we were, still countless miles away from the Great being. For the first time, my friend, and I will refer to him in that context hereafter, said to me, “You belong here.” [Webmaster Note: Howard believes his friend was Jesus Christ.]
Facing all the splendor made me acutely aware of my lowly condition. My response was: “No, you’ve made a mistake, put me back.” And he said, “We don’t make mistakes. You belong.”
Then he called out in a musical tone to the luminous entities who surrounded the great center. Several came and circled around us. During what follows some came and went but normally there were five or six and sometimes as many as eight with us. I was still crying. One of the first things these marvelous beings did was to ask, all with thought, “Are you afraid of us?” I told them I wasn’t. They said that they could turn their brilliance down and appear as people, and I told them to stay as they were. They were the most beautiful, the most …
As an aside, I’m an artist. There are three primary, three secondary, and six tertiary colors in the visible light spectrum. Here, I was seeing a visible light spectrum with at least 80 new primary colors. I was also seeing this brilliance. It’s disappointing for me to try and describe, because I can’t – I was seeing colors that I had never seen before. What these beings were showing me was their glory. I wasn’t really seeing them. And I was perfectly content. Having come from a world of shapes and forms, I was delighted with this new, formless, world. These beings were giving me what I needed at that time. To my surprise, and also distress, they seemed to be capable of knowing everything I was thinking. I didn’t know whether I would be capable of controlling my thoughts and keeping anything secret. We began to engage in thought exchange, conversation that was very natural, very easy and casual. I heard their voices clearly and individually. They each had a distinct personality with a voice, but they spoke directly to my mind, not my ears. And they used normal, colloquial English. Everything I thought, they knew. They all seemed to know and understand me very well and to be completely familiar with my thoughts and my past. I didn’t feel any desire to ask for someone I had known because they all knew me. Nobody could know me any better. It also didn’t occur to me to try to identify them as uncle or grandfather. It was like going to a large gathering of relatives at Christmas and not being quite able to remember their names or who they are married to or how they are connected to you. But you do know that you are with your family. I don’t know if they were related to me or not. It felt like they were closer to me than anyone I had ever known.
Throughout my conversation with the luminous beings, which lasted for what seemed like a very long time, I was being physically supported by the being in whom I had been engulfed. We were in a sense completely stationary yet hanging in space. Everywhere around us were countless radiant beings, like stars in the sky, coming and going. It was like a super magnified view of a galaxy super packed with stars. And in the giant radiance of the center they were packed so densely together that individuals could not be identified. Their selves were in such harmony with the Creator that they were really just one. One of the reasons, I was told, that all the countless beings had to go back to their source was to become invigorated with this sense of harmony and oneness. Being apart for too long a time diminished them and made them feel separate. Their greatest pleasure was to go back to the sources of all life.
Our initial conversation involved them simply trying to comfort me. Something that disturbed me was that I was naked. Somewhere in the darkness I’d lost my hospital gown. I was a human being. I had a body. They told me this was okay. They were quite familiar with my anatomy. Gradually I relaxed and stopped trying to cover my privates with my hands.
THE LIFE REVIEW OF HOWARD STORM
Next, they wanted to talk about my life. To my surprise my life played out before me, maybe six or eight feet in front of me, from beginning to end.
The life review was very much in their control, and they showed me my life, but not from my point of view. I saw me in my life and this whole thing was a lesson, even though I didn’t know it at the time. They were trying to teach me something, but I didn’t know it was a teaching experience, because I didn’t know that I would be coming back. We just watched my life from beginning to the end. Some things they slowed down on, and zoomed in on and other things they went right through.
My life was shown in a way that I had never thought of before. All of the things that I had worked to achieve, the recognition that I had worked for, in elementary school, in high school, in college, and in my career, they meant nothing in this setting.
I could feel their feelings of sorrow and suffering, or joy, as my life’s review unfolded. They didn’t say that something was bad or good, but I could feel it. And I could sense all those things they were indifferent to. They didn’t, for example, look down on my high school shot-put record. They just didn’t feel anything towards it, nor towards other things which I had taken so much pride in.
What they responded to was how I had interacted with other people. That was the long and short of it. Unfortunately, most of my interactions with other people didn’t measure up with how I should have interacted, which was in a loving way. Whenever I did react during my life in a loving way they rejoiced.
Most of the time I found that my interactions with other people had been manipulative. During my professional career, for example, I saw myself sitting in my office, playing the college professor, while a student came to me with a personal problem. I sat there looking compassionate, and patient, and loving, while inside I was bored to death. I would check my watch under my desk as I anxiously waited for the student to finish.
I got to go through all those kinds of experiences in the company of these magnificent beings.
When I was a teenager my father’s career put him into a high-stress, twelve-hour-a-day job. Out of my resentment because of his neglect of me, when he came home from work, I would be cold and indifferent toward him. This made him angry, and it gave me further excuse to feel hatred toward him. He and I fought, and my mother would get upset. Most of my life I had felt that my father was the villain and I was the victim. When we reviewed my life I got to see how I had precipitated so much of that, myself. Instead of greeting him happily at the end of a day, I was continually putting thorns in him in order to justify my hurt.
I got to see when my sister had a bad night one night, how I went into her bedroom and put my arms around her. Not saying anything, I just lay there with my arms around her. As it turned out that experience was one of the biggest triumphs of my life.
The entire life’s review would have been emotionally destructive, and would have left me a psychotic person, if it hadn’t been for the fact that my friend, and my friend’s friends, were loving me during the unfolding of my life. I could feel that love.
Every time I got a little upset they turned the life’s review off for awhile, and they just loved me. Their love was tangible. You could feel it on your body, you could feel it inside you; their love went right through you. I wish I could explain it to you, but I can’t.
The therapy was their love, because my life’s review kept tearing me down. It was pitiful to watch, just pitiful. I couldn’t believe it. And the thing is, it got worse as it went on.
My stupidity and selfishness as a teenager only magnified as I became an adult – all under the veneer of being a good husband, a good father, and a good citizen. The hypocrisy of it all was nauseating. But through it all was their love.
When the review was finished they asked, “Do you want to ask any questions?” and I had a million questions.
I asked, for example, “What about the Bible?”
They responded, “What about it?”
I asked if it was true, and they said it was. Asking them why it was that when I tried to read it, all I saw were contradictions, they took me back to my life’s review again – something that I had overlooked. They showed me, for the few times I had opened the Bible, that I had read it with the idea of finding contradictions and problems. I was trying to prove to myself that it wasn’t worth reading. I observed to them that the Bible wasn’t clear to me. It didn’t make sense. They told me that it contained spiritual truth, and that I had to read it spiritually in order to understand it. It should be read prayerfully. My friends informed me that it was not like other books. They also told me, and I later found out this was true, that when you read it prayerfully, it talks to you. It reveals itself to you. And you don’t have to work at it anymore.
My friends answered lots of questions in funny ways. They really knew the whole tone of what I asked them, even before I got the questions out. When I thought of questions in my head, they really understood them.
I asked them, for example, which was the best religion. I was looking for an answer which was like, “Presbyterians.” I figured these guys were all Christians. The answer I got was, “The best religion is the religion that brings you closest to God.”
Asking them if there was life on other planets, their surprising answer was that the universe was full of life.
THE FUTURE OF THE US AND THE WORLD
Because of my fear of a nuclear holocaust I asked if there was going to be a nuclear war in the world, and they said no. That astonished me, and I gave them this extensive explanation of how I had lived under the threat of nuclear war. That was one of the reasons I was who I was. I figured, when I was in this life, that it was all sort of hopeless; the world was going to blow up anyway, and nothing made much sense. In that context I felt I could do what I wanted, since nothing mattered.
They said, “No, there isn’t going to be any nuclear war.”
I asked if they were absolutely sure there wasn’t going to be nuclear war. They reassured me again, and I asked them how they could be so sure.
Their response was: “God loves the world.” They told me that at the most, one or two nuclear weapons might go off accidentally, if they weren’t destroyed, but there wouldn’t be a nuclear war.
I then asked them how come there had been so many wars. They said that they allowed those few to happen, out of all the wars that humanity tried to start. Out of all the wars that humans tried to create, they allowed a few, to bring people to their senses and to stop them.
Science, technology, and other benefits, they told me, had been gifts bestowed on humanity by them – through inspiration. People had literally been led to those discoveries, many of which had later been perverted by humanity to use for its own destruction.
We could do too much damage to the planet. And by the planet, they meant all of God’s creation. Not just the people, but the animals, the trees, the birds, the insects, everything.
They explained to me that their concern was for all the people of the world. They weren’t interested in one group getting ahead of other groups. They want every person to consider every other person greater than their own flesh. They want everyone to love everyone else, completely; more, even, than they love themselves. If someone, someplace else in the world hurts, than we should hurt we should feel their pain. And we should help them. Our planet has evolved to the point, for the first time in our history, that we have the power to do that. We are globally linked. And we could become one people.
The people that they gave the privilege of leading the world into a better age, blew it. That was us, in the United States.
When I spoke with them about the future, and this might sound like a cop-out on my part, they made clear to me that we have free will.
If we change the way we are, then we can change the future which they showed me. They showed me a view of the future, at the time of my experience, based upon how we in the United States were behaving at that time. It was a future in which a massive worldwide depression would occur. If we were to change our behavior, however, then the future would be different.
Asking them how it would be possible to change the course of many people, I observed that it was difficult, if not impossible, to change anything on Earth. I expressed the opinion that it was a hopeless task to try.
My friends explained, quite clearly, that all it takes to make a change was one person. One person, trying, and then because of that, another person changing for the better. They said that the only way to change the world was to begin with one person. One will become two, which will become three, and so on. That’s the only way to affect a major change.
I inquired as to where the world would be going in an optimistic future one where some of the changes they desired were to take place.
The image of the future that they gave me then, and it was their image, not one that I created, surprised me. My image had previously been sort of like Star Wars, where everything was space age, plastics, and technology.
The future that they showed me was almost no technology at all. What everybody, absolutely everybody, in this euphoric future spent most of their time doing was raising children. The chief concern of people was children, and everybody considered children to be the most precious commodity in the world.
And when a person became an adult, there was no sense of anxiety, nor hatred, nor competition.
There was this enormous sense of trust and mutual respect. If a person, in this view of the future, became disturbed, then the community of people all cared about the disturbed person falling away from the harmony of the group. Spiritually, through prayer and love, the others would elevate the afflicted person.
What people did with the rest of their time was that they gardened, with almost no physical effort. They showed me that plants, with prayer, would produce huge fruits and vegetables.
People, in unison, could control the climate of the planet through prayer. Everybody would work with mutual trust and the people would call the rain, when needed, and the sun to shine.
Animals lived with people, in harmony.
People, in this best of all worlds, weren’t interested in knowledge; they were interested in wisdom. This was because they were in a position where anything they needed to know, in the knowledge category, they could receive simply through prayer. Everything, to them, was solvable. They could do anything they wanted to do.
In this future, people had no wanderlust, because they could, spiritually, communicate with everyone else in the world. There was no need to go elsewhere. They were so engrossed with where they were and the people around them that they didn’t have to go on vacation. Vacation from what? They were completely fulfilled and happy.
Death, in this world, was a time when the individual had experienced everything that he or she needed to experience. To die meant to lie down and let go; then the spirit would rise up, and the community would gather around. There would be a great rejoicing, because they all had insight into the heavenly realm, and the spirit would join with the angels that came down to meet it. They could see the spirit leave and knew that it was time for the spirit to move on; it had outgrown the need for growth in this world. Individuals who died had achieved all they were capable of in this world in terms of love, appreciation, understanding, and working in harmony with others.
The sense I got of this beautiful view of the world’s future was as a garden, God’s garden. And in this garden of the world, full of all beauty, were people. The people were born into this world to grow in their understanding of the Creator. Then to shed this skin, this shell, in the physical world, and to graduate and move up into heaven there, to have a more intimate and growing relationship with God.
Webmaster Note: In Howard Storm’s book, “My Descent Into Death” (2000), Storm describes the future of the United States as given to him by light beings he encountered during his NDE in 1985:
The Future of the United States
Howard Storm recorded how his light being friends told him, in 1985, that the Cold War would soon end, because, “God is changing the hearts of people to love around the world.”
Storm states, “Since the time in 1985 when I was told these things about the future the Cold War ended with little bloodshed due to the hearts of people being unwilling to tolerate oppressive regimes.”
Storm described what the light beings told him concerning the way things will be on Earth in about 2185.
He asked the light beings the question, “Will the United States be the leader of the world in this change?”
The light beings replied, “The United States has been given the opportunity to be the teacher for the world, but much is expected of those to whom much has been given. The United States has been given more of everything than any country in the history of the world and it has failed to be generous with the gifts.
“If the United States continues to exploit the rest of the world by greedily consuming the world’s resources, the United States will have God’s blessing withdrawn.
“Your country will collapse economically which will result in civil chaos. Because of the greedy nature of the people, you will have people killing people for a cup of gasoline.
“The world will watch in horror as your country is obliterated by strife. The rest of the world will not intervene because they have been victims of your exploitation. They will welcome the annihilation of such selfish people.
“The United States must change immediately and become the teachers of goodness and generosity to the rest of the world.
“Today the United States is the primary merchant of war and the culture of violence that you export to the world. This will come to an end because you have the seeds of your own destruction within you. Either you will destroy yourselves or God will bring it to an end if there isn’t a change.”
Storm states, “I don’t know if the richest country in the history of the world is doomed to lose God’s blessing or if the people of the United States will become the moral light of the world. How long will God allow the injustice to continue? The future lies in the choices we make right now. God is intervening in direct ways in human events. May God’s will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven!”
Howard Storm’s light being friends told him more about the new world to come. According to them, God wished to usher in the kingdom within the next two hundred years. In order to do so, God had rescinded some of the free will given to creatures, in favor of more divine control over human events. This new world order, according to Howard, will resemble some near-death descriptions of heaven. People will live in such peace and harmony and love that communication will be telepathic, travel instantaneous and the need for clothing and shelter eliminated. The lion will indeed lie down with the lamb.
HOWARD LEARNS WHAT HAPPENS AFTER DEATH
I asked my friend, and his friends, about death – what happens when we die?
They said that when a loving person dies, angels come down to meet him, and they take him up – gradually, at first, because it would be unbearable for that person to be instantly exposed to God.
Knowing what’s inside of every person, the angels don’t have to prove anything by showing off. They know what each of us needs, so they provide that. In some cases it may be a heavenly meadow, and in another, something else. If a person needs to see a relative, the angels will bring that relative. If the person really likes jewels, they will show the person jewels. We see what is necessary for our introduction into the spirit world, and those things are real, in the heavenly, the divine sense.
They gradually educate us as spirit beings, and bring us into heaven. We grow and increase, and grow and increase, and shed the concerns, desires, and base animal stuff that we have been fighting much of our life. Earthly appetites melt away. It is no longer a struggle to fight them. We become who we truly are, which is part of the divine.
This happens to loving people, people who are good and love God. They made it clear to me that we don’t have any knowledge or right to judge anybody else – in terms of that person’s heart relationship to God. Only God knows what’s in a person’s heart. Someone whom we think is despicable, God might know as a wonderful person. Similarly, someone we think is good, God may see as a hypocrite, with a black heart. Only God knows the truth about every individual.
God will ultimately judge every individual. And God will allow people to be dragged into darkness with like-minded creatures. I have told you, from my personal experience, what goes on in there. I don’t know from what I saw anymore than that, but it’s my suspicion that I only saw the tip of the iceberg.
I deserved to be where I was – I was in the right place at the right time. That was the place for me, and the people I was around were perfect company for me. God allowed me to experience that, and then removed me, because he saw something redeeming in putting me through the experience. It was a way to purge me. People who are not allowed to be pulled into darkness, because of their loving nature, are attracted upwards, toward the light.
I never saw God, and I was not in heaven. It was way out in the suburbs, and these are the things that they showed me. We talked for a long time, about many things, and then I looked at myself. When I saw me, I was glowing, I was radiant. I was becoming beautiful not nearly as beautiful as them but I had a certain sparkle that I never had before.
HOWARD LEARNS THAT HE MUST RETURN TO EARTH
Not being ready to face the Earth again, I told them that I wished to be with them forever. I said, “I’m ready, I’m ready to be like you and be here forever. This is great. I love it. I love you. You’re wonderful.”
I knew that they loved me and knew everything about me. I knew that everything was going to be okay from now on. I asked if I could get rid of my body, which was definitely a hindrance, and become a being like them with the powers they had shown me. They said, “No, you have to go back.”
They explained to me that I was very underdeveloped and that it would be of great benefit to return to my physical existence to learn. In my human life I would have an opportunity to grow so that the next time I was with them I would be more compatible. I would need to develop important characteristics to become like them and to be involved with the work that they do. Responding that I couldn’t go back, I tried to argue with them, and I observed that if I bear that thought the thought that I might wind up in the pit again I pled with them to stay.
My friends then said, “Do you think that we expect you to be perfect, after all the love we feel for you, even after you were on Earth blaspheming God, and treating everyone around you like dirt? And this, despite the fact that we were sending people to try and help you, to teach you the truth? Do you really think we would be apart from you now?”
I asked them, “But what about my own sense of failure? You’ve shown me how I can be better, and I’m sure I can’t live up to that. I’m not that good.” Some of my self-centeredness welled up and I said, “No way. I’m not going back.”
They said, “There are people who care about you; your wife, your children, your mother and father. You should go back for them. Your children need your help.”
I said, “You can help them. If you make me go back there are things that just won’t work. If I go back there and make mistakes I won’t be able to stand it because you’ve shown me I could be more loving and more compassionate and I’ll forget. I’ll be mean to someone or I’ll do something awful to someone. I just know it’s going to happen because I’m a human being. I’m going to blow it and I won’t be able to stand it. I’ll feel so bad I’ll want to kill myself and I can’t do that because life is precious. I might just go catatonic. So you can’t send me back.”
They assured me that mistakes are an acceptable part of being human. “Go,” they said, “and make all the mistakes you want. Mistakes are how you learn.” As long as I tried to do what I knew was right, they said, I would be on the right path. If I made a mistake, I should fully recognize it as a mistake, then put it behind me and simply try not to make the same mistake again. The important things is to try one’s best, keep one’s standards of goodness and truth, and not compromise those to win people’s approval.
“But,” I said, “mistakes make me feel bad.”
They said, “We love you the way you are, mistakes and all. And you can feel our forgiveness. You can feel our love any time you want to.”
I said, “I don’t understand. How do I do that?”
“Just turn inward,” they said. “Just ask for our love and we’ll give it to you if you ask from the heart.”
They advised me to recognize it when I made a mistake and to ask for forgiveness. Before I even got the words out of my mouth, I would be forgiven but, I would have to accept the forgiveness. My belief in the principal of forgiveness must be real, and I would have to know that the forgiveness was given. Confessing, either in public or in private, that I had made a mistake, I should then ask for forgiveness. After that, it would be an insult to them if I didn’t accept the forgiveness. I shouldn’t continue to go around with a sense of guilt, and I should not repeat errors I should learn from my mistakes.
“But,” I said, “how will I know what is the right choice? How will I know what you want me to do?”
They replied, “We want you to do what you want to do. That means making choices and there isn’t necessarily any right choice. There are a spectrum of possibilities, and you should make the best choice you can from those possibilities. If you do that, we will be there helping you.”
I didn’t give in easily. I argued that back there was full of problems and that here was everything I could possibly want. I questioned my ability to accomplish anything they would consider important in my world. They said the world is a beautiful expression of the Supreme being. One can find beauty or ugliness depending on what one directs one’s mind toward. They explained that the subtle and complex development of our world was beyond my comprehension, but I would be a suitable instrument for the Creator. Every part of the creation, they explained, is infinitely interesting because it is a manifestation of the Creator. A very important opportunity for me would be to explore this world with wonder and enjoyment.
They never gave me a direct mission or purpose. Could I build a shrine or cathedral for God? They said those monuments were for humanity. They wanted me to live my life to love people not things. I told them I wasn’t good enough to represent what I had just experienced with them on a worldly level. They assured me I would be given appropriate help whenever I might need it. All I had to do is ask.
The luminous beings, my teachers, were very convincing. I was also acutely aware that not far away was the Great being, what I knew to be the Creator. They never said, “He wants it this way,” but that was implied behind everything they said. I didn’t want to argue too much because the Great Entity was so wonderful and so awesome. The love that was emanated was overwhelming.
Presenting my biggest argument against coming back into the world, I told them that it would break my heart, and I would die, if I had to leave them and their love. Coming back would be so cruel, I said, that I couldn’t stand it. I mentioned that the world was filled with hate and competition, and I didn’t want to return to that maelstrom. I couldn’t bear to leave them. My friends observed that they had never been apart from me. I explained that I hadn’t been aware of their presence, and if I went back I, again, wouldn’t know they were there. Explaining how to communicate with them, they told me to get myself quiet, inside, and to ask for their love; then that love would come, and I would know they were there. They said, “You won’t be away from us. We’re with you. We’ve always been with you. We always will be right with you all the time.”
I said, “But how do I know that? You tell me that, but when I go back there it’s just going to be a nice theory.”
They said, “Any time you need us we’ll be there for you.”
I said, “You mean like you’ll just appear?”
They said, “No, no. We’re not going to intervene in your life in any big way unless you need us. We’re just going to be there and you’ll feel our presence, you’ll feel our love.”
After that explanation I ran out of arguments, and I said I thought I could go back. And, just like that, I was back. Returning to my body, the pain was there, only worse than before.”
[Howard Storm’s near-death experience ends here.]
Returning to life wasn’t easy for Storm. In addition to his physical problems, he had to face the usual array of uncomprehending and insensitive responses to his new spiritual condition. It began in the hospital, he said. Howard states, “I felt this overwhelming sense of love for everyone. I wanted to hug and kiss everyone, but I couldn’t even sit up. I would say, ‘Oh you’re so beautiful’ to anyone and everyone. I was the joke of the floor. People found it very amusing.”
Like other near-death experiencers, Storm sense of empathy expanded, as well as his compassion. He could, he said, feel the emotions of others more powerfully than his own. Howard decided to enter the Christian ministry after his near-death experience.
Certain very great mistakes are made concerning this matter of temptation, in the practical working out of this life of faith. First of all, people seem to expect that, after the soul has entered into its rest in God, temptations will cease; and to think that the promised deliverance is not only to be from yielding to temptation, but even also from being tempted. Consequently, when they find the Canaanite still in the land, and see the cities great and walled up to Heaven, they are utterly discouraged, and think they must have gone wrong in some way, and that this cannot be the true land after all.
Then, next they make the mistake of looking upon temptation as sin, and of blaming themselves for what in reality is the fault of the enemy only. This brings them into condemnation and discouragement; and discouragement, if continued in, always ends at last in actual sin. The enemy makes an easy prey of a discouraged soul; so that we fall often from the very fear of having fallen.
To meet the first of these difficulties it is only necessary to refer to the Scripture declarations, that the Christian life is to be throughout a warfare; and that, especially when seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, we are to wrestle against spiritual enemies there, whose power and skill to tempt us must doubtless be far superior to any we have ever heretofore encountered.
As a fact, temptations generally increase in strength tenfold after we have entered into the interior life, rather than decrease; and no amount or sort of them must ever for a moment lead us to suppose we have not really found the true abiding place. Strong temptations are generally a sign of great grace, rather than of little grace. When the children of Israel had first left Egypt, the Lord did not lead them through the country of the Philistines, although that was the nearest way; for God said, “lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt.” But afterwards, when they learned better how to trust Him, He permitted their enemies to attack them. Then also in their wilderness journey they met with but few enemies and fought but few battles, compared to those in the land, where they found seven great nations and thirty-one kings to be conquered, besides walled cities to be taken, and giants to be overcome. They could not have fought with the Canaanites, or the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, until they had gone into the land where these enemies were. And the very power of your temptations, dear Christian, therefore, may perhaps be one of the strongest proofs that you really are in the land you have been seeking to enter, because they are temptations peculiar to that land. You must never allow your temptations to cause you to question the fact of your having entered the promised “heavenly places.”
The second mistake is not quite so easy to deal with. It seems hardly worth while to say that temptation is not sin, and yet most of the distress about it arises from not understanding this fact. The very suggestion of wrong seems to bring pollution with it, and the evil agency not being recognized, the poor tempted soul begins to feel as if it must be very bad indeed, and very far off from God to have had such thoughts and suggestions. It is as though a burglar should break into a man’s house to steal, and, when the master of the house began to resist him and to drive him out, should turn round and accuse the owner of being himself the thief. It is the enemy’s grand ruse for entrapping us. He comes and whispers suggestions of evil to us, doubts, blasphemies, jealousies, envyings, and pride; and then turns round and says, “Oh, how wicked you must be to think of such things! It is very plain that you are not trusting the Lord; for if you were, it would have been impossible for these things to have entered your heart.” This reasoning sounds so very plausible that the soul often accepts it as true, and at once comes under condemnation, and is filled with discouragement; then it is easy for it to be led on into actual sin. One of the most fatal things in the life of faith is discouragement. One of the most helpful is cheerfulness. A very wise man said that in overcoming temptations, cheerfulness was the first thing, cheerfulness the second, and cheerfulness the third. We must expect to conquer. That is why the Lord said so often to Joshua, “Be strong and of a good courage”; “Be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed”; “Only be thou strong and very courageous.” And it is also the reason He says to us, “Let not your heart he troubled neither let it be afraid.” The power of temptation is in the fainting of our own hearts. The enemy knows this well, and always begins his assaults by discouraging us, if it can in any way be accomplished. Sometimes this discouragement arises from what we think is a righteous grief and disgust at ourselves that such things could be any temptation to us; but which is really a mortification arising from the fact that we have been indulging in a secret self-congratulation that our tastes were too pure, or our separation from the world was too complete for such things to tempt us. We have expected something from ourselves, and have been sorely disappointed not to find that something there, and are discouraged in consequence. This mortification and discouragement are really a far worse condition than the temptation itself, though they present an appearance of true humility, for they are nothing but the results of wounded self-love. True humility can bear to see its own utter weakness and foolishness revealed, because it never expected anything from itself, and knows that its only hope and expectation must be in God. Therefore, instead of discouraging the soul from trusting, it drives it to a deeper and more utter trust. But the counterfeit humility which springs from self, plunges the soul into the depths of a faithless discouragement, and drives it into the very sin at which it is so distressed.
I remember once hearing an allegory that illustrated this to me wonderfully. Satan called together a council of his servants to consult how they might make a good man sin. One evil spirit started up and said, “I will make him sin.”
“How will you do it?” asked Satan.
“I will set before him the pleasures of sin,” was the reply; “I will tell him of its delights and the rich rewards it brings.”
“Ah,” said Satan, “that will not do; he has tried, it, and knows better than that.”
Then another spirit started up and said, “I will make him sin.”
“What will you do?” asked Satan. “I will tell him of the pains and sorrows of virtue. I will show him that virtue has no delights, and brings no rewards.”
“Ah, no!” exclaimed Satan, “that will not do at all; for he has tried it, and knows that wisdom’s ways are ways of pleasantness and all her paths are peace.'”
“Well,” said another imp, starting up, “I will undertake to make him sin.”
“And what will you do?” asked Satan, again.
“I will discourage his soul,” was the short reply.
“Ah, that will do,” cried Satan, –“that will do! We shall conquer him now.” And they did.
An old writer says, “All discouragement is from the devil”; and I wish every Christian would just take this as a pocket-piece, and never forget it. We must fly from discouragement as we would from sin. But this is impossible if we fail to recognize the true agency in temptation. For if the temptations are our own fault, we cannot help being discouraged. But they are not. The Bible says, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation”; and we are exhorted to “count it all joy when we fall into divers temptations.” Temptation, therefore, cannot be sin; and the truth is, it is no more a sin to hear these whispers and suggestions of evil in our souls, than it is for us to hear the swearing or wicked talk of bad men as we pass along the street. The sin only comes in either case by our stopping and joining in with them. If, when the wicked suggestions come, we turn from them at once, as we would from wicked talk, and pay no more attention to them, we do not sin. But if we carry them on in our minds, and roll them under our tongues, and dwell on them with a half-consent of our will to them as true, then we sin. We may be enticed by evil a thousand times a day without sin, and we cannot help these enticings. But if the enemy can succeed in making us think that his enticings are our sin, he has accomplished half the battle, and can hardly fail to gain a complete victory.
End times perspective from our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters. Published in 1970 as “The Coming Chastisement” by Yves Dupont, some interesting insights and parallels emerge if one ignores the anti-Protestant and ultra, self-glorifying Catholic perspective. Keep in mind that a peace arises after the war when the anti-Christ appears. I do not endorse or agree with all of the views contained, but believe it may show pieces of the larger eschatology. It is best to rely fully on the Bible instead of personal revelation. A general summary is as follows:
“General Events • Not a two-camp war, but a multi-sided war. • Not a war only, but a world-wide revolution as well. • Not simply a man-made holocaust, but also a God-sent chastisement, accompanied by cosmic disturbances. • To last about four years. Particular Events The whole world will be involved in the fighting. A unique feature is the internal disintegration of the Western democracies and the invasion of Western Europe by (people of the Crescent moon) forces. The roles of the U.S.A. and U.S.S.R. (Russia) are not clear in the beginning. The U.S.A. may be involved in the Far-East or at home or both. The U.S.S.R. may want to keep out of the fray at first, while abetting the (Crescent) world, or may be involved in Siberia. Civil wars rage in Western Europe. The Church is persecuted; the Pope leaves Rome and dies in exile: an anti-pope is installed in Rome; the Catholic Church is split, leaderless and completely disorganized. Communism is victorious. The (Crescent moon people) invade Europe and commit innumerable atrocities. In the West, however, Christians rally around an unexpected leader, an army officer of royal blood, but their chances seem very slim. The natural disturbances begin: floods, droughts, famines. A comet approaches the earth: Whole mountains split open; huge tidal waves swallow up low-lying lands; stones fall from the sky; a deadly fog or gas poisons the atmosphere; a prolonged darkness envelops the earth. Two-thirds or three-fourths of the human race is wiped out. The powers of evil are shattered. The Christian Prince leads his growing army to battle and wins victory upon victory. In West Germany he crushes a Germano-Russian Army. Communism collapses everywhere. The Crescent people are thrown back to the sea. The war is carried to Africa and the Middle East, where the Crescent Power is dealt a deadly blow. At this stage, if not earlier, U.S. troops come to the assistance of Western Europe. Russia and China are converted to Catholicism, as also the (Crescent people). All non-Catholics return to Mother Church. A holy Pope is elected; he shows great firmness; and he restores all the former disciplines in the Church. All the nations of Western Europe unite and form a new Roman Empire, and accept as their emperor the great Christian Prince, chosen by God, who works hand-in-hand with the holy Pope. The triumph of the Catholic Church is universal. The whole world enjoys a period of complete peace and unprecedented prosperity in mutual love and respect among people and nations. This great peace will last until the coming of Antichrist.”
A person is identified as a Christian based on one’s approach towards, or embrace, of the gospel. Romans 10:13 “For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
A question that has been placed upon my heart is: Are Catholics Christian and therefore saved by the Lord? The very short answer is yes…..but there are some huge caveats and concerns. A person is identified as a Christian based on one’s approach towards, or embrace, of the gospel. Romans 10:13 “For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.”
1 John 4:1-3.
But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
That is, God has sent his Son to redeem us through His death and resurrection. Any institution that ignores, diminishes, distorts or denies our redemption, justification and sanctification by Christ cannot be called Christian.
My Personal Experience with Catholicism
Although I have been a confirmed adherent to reformed and evangelical churches for more than 30 years, I attended and participated in religious practices within a Roman Catholic boarding school. In hindsight, I did not understand all of the traditions and rituals of the Roman church, but was impressed by the genuine devotion displayed by most of my peers. Some of the teachers in religious orders displayed faith and compassion, and strove to imitate Christ. One Christian Brother, it was retold by the boarding students, had fired a rifle shot at a statue of Mary in the garden because it was seen to be moving, in a demonic manner, in the courtyard. This same Brother was often heard saying that “Mickey Mouse has large, round ears to hide the devil’s horns”. Perhaps this religious brother was well aware of the future trends of the Church and our society. The influence and contact with people in Catholic religious orders was largely positive, and at times, made me seriously consider taking religious vows as a Dominican, Franciscan or Cistercian monk. I had previously told my Catholic associates and friends to remain in the Roman church, in spite of the scandals, but now I am loathe to say this again. It is possible for Catholics to be good Christians and reform the church from within, but this will become increasingly difficult.
In the spirit of goodwill for my brothers and sisters in Christ, I will explore areas of contention between the Catholic Church and Protestantism in general terms, providing both perspectives on the issue.
Catholic Perspective: Catholicism bases its authority on apostolic succession, indicated by the statement in Matthew 16:18, “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” The Bible, church fathers, popes, bishops; Seven Ecumenical Councils; Trent, Vatican, and other Catholic councils also form the basis of Catholic authority. “The best argument for the Catholic doctrine of Church authority comes from the New Testament itself: the Acts of the Apostles reveals the Church’s self-image as a body at the service of Christ’s saving Gospel, acting in the ways and structures taught to them by Christ himself. The Apostles are keenly aware of the authority that has been given to them by Christ, and of their own need to remain ever faithful to Christ as they exercise that authority. ” http://www.beginningcatholic.com/church-authority
Most Catholics believe that the Bible needs to interpreted by the Church in order to lead followers to Heaven. This in turn leads to the rulings of the Pope and the church as specific teachings, or majesterium.
Protestant Perspective: Unlike Catholicism, the Protestant tradition is based on Sola Scriptura – Scripture alone. Scripture is seen as infallible and most denominations strive to follow the principles of the apostles and the early church. Catholics tend to disregard this and state that Protestants are a new, heretical church that started after Martin Luther published his 95 Theses in 1517. However, this was due to the moral corruption and unbiblical practices that had become “traditional” within Catholicism, particularly the sale of “indulgences”, or reprieve from temporal punishment from forgiven sins. The reformers tried to reform the Catholic Church from within, but were unsuccessful and consequently excommunicated. Protestantism is essentially a branch from the historic “tree trunk” of Roman Catholicism; yet it regards human traditions as wretched and flawed if they separate humanity from God’s Word. Anything infallible is without error and unable to deceive.
Jesus indicated that he was not going to change the Law and the Word of God: ‘“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-20)
“Pope Urban II was the benchmark for where the crimes against humanity and God became genocidal. Between the years 1096-1099 Pope Urban II ordered the slaughter of roughly ten million people where there were men and women but mostly children in efforts to procure Belgrade, the Orthodox Church of Constantinople in Yugoslavia as well as Turkey, Syria, Antioch and Palestine. Just for reference, Hitler killed in or around six million Jews during the Holocaust. Wow.” Source: http://www.thelistcafe.com/top-10-most-evil-popes/2
Some modern Popes have also shown how wretched and flawed man is…..such as: Pius XII.
“Taking a note from Pavelic (a Croatian military leader), Pius XII established his own mini form of the Ustashi known as the Catholic Ustashi (guess he liked Pavelic’s work?) and the Catholic organization was responsible for the murder of more than 600,000 people. Not only were the murders enacted but they were done in such hideous ways that it’s probably a sin just to think about how they may have looked. Killings ranged anywhere from excessive torture to another visitation of crucifixion (it’s not just Christ this time), cannibalism (mmm, mmm. Finger-lickin’ good), live dismemberment (remember the saying ‘I’ll cut off your arm and beat you with it?’”) and burning alive (oh so they gave the Jews a few friends to dance on the hot coals with). If all of this is true, this man was not only truly insane, he was quite possible the epitome of evil in the 20th century. ” Source: http://www.thelistcafe.com/top-10-most-evil-popes/2
By stating that the Pope and the church teachings are infallible, a mass of contradictions occur, and Catholicism loses credibility when the church leaders are worse sinners than pagans and non-Christians. The obvious question that Protestants ask is, “How can the church lead sinners to Heaven if the actions of the religious are contrary to the Word of God?” Historically, the Catholic Church has been responsible for the death and torture of countless people during the Inquisition. “Estimates of the number killed by the Spanish Inquisition, which Sixtus IV authorised in a papal bull in 1478, have ranged from 30,000 to 300,000. Some historians are convinced that millions died.” Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/jun/16/artsandhumanities.internationaleducationnews
” In reply, it must be noted that Protestants (including Luther, Calvin, the early English Protestants, Zwingli, Melanchthon et al.) have a very long and troubling list of “scandals” and “inquisitions” as well. As just one example among many, Martin Luther and John Calvin both sanctioned the execution of Anabaptists due to their belief in adult baptism, which they considered to be “sedition.” Thousands of Catholics in England and Ireland were executed (often in very hideous ways) simply for being Catholics and worshiping as their ancestors had done for 1500 years.” Source: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/darmstrong/were-50-million-people-really-killed-in-the-inquisition
In Romans 3:21-26, Paul expounds how all fall short of righteousness: “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
The expectation is that those who share the Gospel, to teach, preach and prophesy, should imitate Christ in their personal life so that people may give thanks to God and encourage others in their faith. Any church stained with sin, deceit and controversy will harm the faith of many. In 2 Peter 2:1, Peter states: “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.” Those who teach the Gospel but deny it in their lives will be judged harshly.
From a Catholic perspective, the Church is the vehicle of faith and is the source from which grace is dispensed through the institution. “The sole Church of Christ which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him.” (Catech 870). Grace is preserved and distributed by the Church. All Catholics, even priests, are in constant concern of their state of grace – if they are not in a state of grace, they will not be able to enter Heaven. Grace is dispensed through works and participation in Mass, confession, penance and other sacraments according to the teaching of the church. Priests and those in religious orders are required to undertake vows of obedience and follow the direct commandments of church superiors – bishops, cardinals and the Pope.
At present, scandals have rocked the foundations of the Roman Catholic Church. Over 1000 priests have been accused of abuse against children in the USA and a number of bishops are accused of hiding these crimes.
More than 130 U.S. bishops – or nearly one-third of those still living — have been accused during their careers of failing to adequately respond to sexual misconduct in their dioceses, according to a Philadelphia Inquirer and Boston Globe examination of court records, media reports, and interviews with church officials, victims, and attorneys.
Traditional Catholics tend to blame the current woes on the introduction of the New Mass during the Vatican II Council:
The long-term effect of the council has been a complete revolution of Catholicism, one that has been most visible in the changes in Catholic worship, specifically in the Catholic Mass, which went from being a solemn, dignified, and otherworldly rite of Sacrifice being offered to the Most Holy Trinity in the sacred Latin tongue by a priest facing God and therefore having his back to the congregation, to being a pedestrian service in which the priest is reduced to the status of a mere presider over a meal, often acting even as an entertainer, reading dull prayers in English while facing the people. Lots of lay participation in the sanctuary contributes to an already-desacralized service. The results have been catastrophic: exceptionally low Mass attendance, an unprecedented crisis in vocations to the priesthood, and a “Catholic” populace ignorant of some of the most basic tenets of Catholicism.
But the “New Mass” or Novus Ordo Missae, as it is called, is merely one visible symptom of the fundamental problem, which is that the religion you see today as “Roman Catholicism” is not the Catholic religion of ages past but is basically the religion of the Second Vatican Council, usually abbreviated as “Vatican II” (the First Vatican Council, or Vatican I, had taken place from 1869-70 under Pope Pius IX). A great many ideas today promoted as Roman Catholicism, are actually rooted only in Vatican II and were not known or accepted before — and that’s a pretty long “before” — around 1,900 years. Things like ecumenism, interreligious dialogue, interfaith prayer services, opposition to the death penalty, religious freedom as an ideal for every society, the notion of “human rights”, declaring all war to be evil (even the just kind) — all these are examples of Vatican II ideas, not Catholic ideas. Source: https://novusordowatch.org/start-here/
Protestant Perspective: Unlike Catholicism, there is a distinction between the visible and invisible church. God saves anyone he chooses, or anyone with proper faith, regardless of church membership. One may attend a visible church, even as a priest or minister, but remain unsaved, whereas an invisible church member may be a Catholic or Protestant, who may not always attend church due to external factors, and yet be called, justified and sanctified by the Holy Spirit. A person may be saved and yet outside of the church – but is best to be in fellowship with believers.
The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary states that the priesthood of believers is a “Christian belief that every believer has direct access to God through Jesus Christ and that the church is a fellowship of priests serving together under the lordship of Christ. The concept of priesthood is integral to both the OT and the NT and is fulfilled in Christ as Mediator and great high priest. The foundation of the priestly ministry is found in the OT where the priestly ministry is assigned to the Aaronic line of descent and the tribe of Levi (Exod. 40:13, Num. 1:47–54). According to the OT model, the priest fulfilled a representative function—entering the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement and making a sacrificial offering on behalf of the people. This representational role was fulfilled by Christ, whose offices as Prophet, Priest, and King describe His accomplished and continuing work. As mediator, Christ fulfilled the representational role to which the Aaronic priesthood pointed. The letter to the Hebrews explains this fulfillment by describing Jesus Christ as the “great high priest” who, having accomplished His mediatorial work of substitutionary atonement, has now passed through the heavens (Heb. 4:14). Christ’s death on the cross is described as a priestly act that once for all paid the penalty for our sin. As priest, Christ did not take the blood of a representative animal into the Holy of Holies but instead entered “the greater and more perfect tabernacle” and shed His own blood to obtain “eternal redemption” (Heb. 9:11–12 HCSB). Now that Christ has fulfilled the representational role of the priesthood, and since He is the one mediator between God and men (1 Tim. 2:5), there is no continuing need or role for a human priest. No longer does a human priest stand to represent other humans before God. As the people of God, the church is now a “royal priesthood” (1 Pet. 2:9), ministering together in the name of Christ. Though we do not represent one another before the Father, believers are called to pray for one another, to encourage each other to good works, and to call one another to holiness. Central to the doctrine of the priesthood of believers is the concept of the gathered church, or congregationalism. Each church is comprised of believers who have been redeemed by Jesus Christ and now serve as priests together. In its purest sense this doctrine refers to believers gathered together under the lordship of Christ, not to individual believers standing alone. The doctrine does, however, rightly affirm that we need no human priest to stand between the individual believer and God. As mediator, Jesus Christ alone fulfills that role.” R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
Catholicism insists on intermediaries between God and lay people – countless saints, Mary (mother of Jesus), and priests are called on for grace and intercession. Catholicism aims at working to mortify the flesh and focus on the unworthiness of human nature, yet still insists on one having to “pull oneself out of the mud by one’s boots”. Yet, this can go horribly wrong – as indicated by the testimony of former nuns and priests.
Most Protestants are unaware of the extent of confusion and decay with the Catholic Church. Though every denomination is imperfect, Protestantism trusts that every stage of their God-given spiritual growth is perfect, whilst the work of man will always be incomplete and imperfect. When the institutionalised church distorts the gospel, engages in carnal behaviour and hypocrisy, true believers should abandon false teachings that rely on human tradition and works. Instead, one should find a Bible-based church that teaches that grace alone can save sinners.
Luke 13:24-30: “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’ 26 then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ 27 But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’ 28 There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out. 29 They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God. 30 And indeed there are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last.”