Strangers in a Strange Land

Christians truly are a strange lot. In a sense we’re a bit like Moses, who fled into the land of Midian, after killing an Egyptian slave-master. We are, as Moses then declared himself, strangers in a strange land (Exodus 2:22).moses kills egyptianWe don’t really fit snugly into the modern world, but then it’s understandable that Christians have always been out of step with the rest of the world. Even when the western world was nominally Christian, those who believed in Jesus and His message of loving their enemies (Mat 5:44) but hating sin, were never in the majority.

It may appear difficult to hold love and hate together harmoniously, but that’s what Jesus tells us is the hallmark of a Christian. Once we step over into belief in the Lord Jesus Christ and His biblical message, we are a people filled with contradictions. Yet everything makes perfect sense because our new life is in Christ. Jesus once said:

They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. (John 17:16)

Christians understand these words of Jesus to mean, “We are in the world, but no longer of the world.” We live within our human communities on planet Earth, but now our focus is on the Greater Reality and the things of this world are no longer as they once were to us. Although we live in mortal bodies and dwell in a finite world, we now have an eternal perspective.

As Christians we have learned that it is wise to fear God (Psalm 111:10), but we are never afraid of Him. When we spend time with God we are in awe of His great majesty and blessed by His overwhelming reality. There is nowhere else we would rather be than in His presence.worshipOur first and greatest love is for the Lord Jesus Christ, even though we have never seen Him with our human eyes. And although we understand how spiritually poor and lowly we truly are, we can talk freely about the most insignificant details of our lives with the One who is King of all kings, Lord of all lords and Creator of heaven and Earth, without ever feeling any incongruity in doing so.

Christians believe that in Christ we died, yet we are more alive than ever before and fully expect to live forever (Romans 6:8). We base this belief on the sure and certain knowledge that, because we have accepted God’s free gift of eternal life, the second death will never touch us (Rev 2:11).

When we come into the presence of our holy God we are painfully conscious that in our sinful nature dwells no good thing (Romans 7:18) and yet we understand that we are cleansed from sin. We are at peace knowing He accepts us completely because we are now in Christ and covered by His righteousness. And so we live our new and wonder filled lives surrounded by contradictions. Paul told the Corinthians that as new creatures in Christ (2 Cor 5:17):

We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything. (2 Cor 6:10)

We have not been miraculously transformed into supernatural beings, yet we live our lives in the presence of the Heavenly Father and are filled with wonder at His awesome power and everlasting love. We understand that in our own right and our own strength we are undeserving and have nothing of any merit to offer, yet we know without question that we are the very apple of God’s eye (Deut 32:10) and that for each one of us the Eternal Son became flesh and died on the cross of Calvary.

© Carlos Lozano /Licenced from

© Carlos Lozano /Licensed from

When we look at that cross we are completely pessimistic, because we know that the same judgment that fell on the Lord of glory condemned in that one act all nature and all of humanity. We are heartbroken as we contemplate this truth, but we reject every human hope that is not centred on Christ, because we know that all of humanity’s noblest efforts are only dust building on dust.

Yet we are calmly, restfully optimistic. If the cross condemns the world, the glorious resurrection of Christ guarantees the ultimate triumph of good throughout the universe. Through Christ all will be well at last. Thus the Christian confidently awaits the consummation of all things through Jesus Christ who died and victoriously rose again. The great love and mercy of God will be manifest throughout all the world and He will ensure justice and mercy prevail. It is with absolute assurance that we watch and wait for His return.

© Marinv |

© Marinv |

When we think about what Jesus did for us on that cross we remember that, as Paul put it:

The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. (1 Cor 1:18)

Paul goes on to explain:

As the Scriptures say, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.” So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters?

God makes the wisdom of this world look foolish because God, in His wisdom, saw to it that the world would never know Him through human wisdom and He has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe. It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven and it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom. So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews find it an offensive obstacle and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense. (1 Cor 1:19-23)

School of Athens by Raphael

School of Athens by Raphael

God knew the spin the “philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters” would put on the knowledge of this world, but He ensured we could all have access to His Truth (John 14:6). And this Truth has nothing to do with the amassing of knowledge; it has nothing to do with having the IQ of a genius – this Truth is a Man like no other that has ever walked the Earth. But we are easily caught up in the wisdom of this world, it’s seductive.

However, in God’s universe it is His wisdom that is true wisdom. The wisdom of this world is a poor relation. Paul declared that:

….. if anyone thinks they know anything, they know nothing yet as it needs to be known. (1 Cor 8:2)

After reading some of Nietzsche’s works, he appears to me to be the epitome of a person who has become so enraptured by his own intelligence and the wisdom of this world, he is completely deaf to the things of God. The pure irony, and one would have to say the absolute tragedy of Nietzsche’s life, is that he lost his mind. His great treasure slipped away from him and he was reduced to insanity and died when he was only 56 (as I’m about to turn 65 this seems awfully young to me). All our greatest intellectual achievements cannot give us what we were truly destined to become – eternal people living in a loving relationship with our merciful Father.

When we take our place in God’s eternal family we are no longer Earth bound, our values, our hopes and our beliefs are not those of this world, they came by revelation and through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Our new life in Christ can be difficult to navigate at times, but we also know that when we are weak, then we are at our strongest, because Jesus said:

“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9)

God created a universe filled with opposites and unredeemed humanity wants to reject this reality. It seems today people want a universe that is filled with 50 shades of grey. We don’t want anyone to tell us that something is wrong and something else is right. We demand the right to decide these things for ourselves. We don’t like the fact that God created life and death, light and darkness, good and evil, we want everything to be somehow naturally neutral.

shades of greyGod knew this would be the case. He knew we would want to be our own gods and decide our own destinies. And He has allowed us to do just that. We must each decide for ourselves whether we want to be part of God’s eternal family and take our place in His new universe after He destroys sin and death. No person is capable of creating an entirely new universe that will run along the lines they think God should have set in the first place. Instead, doubters have created a myth which pretends nature made this present creation without supernatural agency and people are therefore free to live their lives exactly as they choose.

Some people actually like to think that one day humanity will be able to control light and dark, good and evil and life and death. No matter how much people want to believe this they cannot change God’s program now and they never will be able to, because this is God’s universe and we are His creation. God designed the universe to run according to His laws and we must either accept His Way or forfeit our eternal destinies.Jesus preachingIn the gospel of John, chapter 6, Jesus explained to His listeners that He is the bread of life that came down from heaven. He likens Himself to the miraculous manna that God gave to Moses and the Israelites to sustain them as they traveled through the wilderness.

For 40 years the children of Israel fed on the heavenly bread, or manna, in the dessert; it gave them life and strength for that day. Once they’d collected the manna they could not store it up, they had to gather it afresh every morning and it was sufficient for that day’s needs (Exodus 16). Christians are like the Jews following Moses and the signs God set before them around the Sinai Dessert. As each new day dawns for the followers of Christ we go to Him for our life and strength. He has directed us to “feed on Him” as we sojourn in this wilderness world.

mannaThis is the basis of the Christian otherworldliness and the reason our understanding of life, our worldview, is foolishness to those who reject Christ’s message. Our focus is on the Man who is like no other man. He was born into the human community, but He was unlike any other person who has ever lived.

  • He came from heaven,
  • lived a sinless life for 33 years on Earth,
  • preached a new commandment,
  • introduced a new covenant,
  • was judicially murdered,
  • rose to life after three days in the grave,
  • walk and talked throughout Israel for 40 days,
  • then ascended to heaven to take His place with the Father in a transformed human body.

Once a person knows, understands and accepts the message Jesus came to impart to humanity, an entirely new awareness of human destiny fills their being. It is as if a door opens up that shows us a different world. This other world sits alongside the natural world but it is a Greater Reality; it is the eternal world that can only be perceived and entered through the Eternal Son of the Eternal Father by the Holy Spirit. There is no way to comprehend this eternal world through the physical senses and human reason. God has limited access to this Greater Reality to those who have their eyes on His Son.

For the Christian, while we walk on this Earth, we are seated with Christ in heaven (Eph 2:6) and though we were born on Earth we find that since being born again we are no longer completely at home on this beautiful planet. We are indeed strangers in a strange land awaiting the return of our Lord.

©Review & Herald Publishing/ Licensed from

©Review & Herald Publishing/ Licensed from

He will come again and He will deal the final blow to death, pain and suffering, ultimately bringing about the fulfillment of God’s eternal plan and purpose for humanity. He is reaching out to each and every person born onto this benighted world (John 12:32; Romans 8:20-23), graciously offering each one a place in His new, eternal creation (Rev 21:1). Can you see Him? Can you hear Him? He’s calling you!

The inspiration and some of the words in this post came from INCREDIBLE CHRISTIAN! by A.W. Tozer

Tinkering With Truth

Sojourner Truth was a woman one can only admire. The youngest of 12 children, Sojourner was born into slavery in 1797 in Ulster County, New York State and given the name Isabella Baumfree by her African-American parents. Like most of her siblings, Isabella was sold and separated from her family at the age of nine; then sold again and again, until, in 1826, she took her baby daughter and walked away from her life as a slave and into a life of challenging the status quo.

Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth

Isabella, or Belle, appears to have had a questioning mind and not only did she question the establishment of her day, she spoke out boldly for truth and justice, matching her words with actions. Isabella was a woman with passion. She passionately believed in her Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and she passionately believed He had made all people equal, no matter what colour they happened to be. When addressing a predominantly white crowd in Battle Creek, Michigan she once said:

Children, who made your skin white? Was it not God? Who made mine black? Was it not the same God? Am I to blame, therefore, because my skin is black? Does it not cast a reproach on our Maker to despise a part of His children, because He has been pleased to give them a black skin? Indeed, children, it does; and your teachers ought to tell you so, and root up, if possible, the great sin of prejudice against colour from your minds…..Does not God love coloured children as well as white children? And did not the same Saviour die to save the one as well as the other? (2)

In her narrative she recounts an experience that occurred in 1843, on the day of Pentecost, when she was called by the spirit, who instructed her to leave New York, a “second Sodom,” and travel east under the name Sojourner Truth. Sojourner based her new first name on the biblical verse:

We are here for only a moment, strangers and sojourners in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace. (1Ch 29:15)

In her narrative we also find:

Truth adamantly believed that all humans are sojourners waiting for the second-coming of the Lord who will welcome all into eternal life. She took her responsibility as a Christian disciple and prophet seriously, dedicating her life to spreading the word of the gospel alongside her messages of racial equality and women’s rights. The surname Truth is somewhat self-explanatory for a born-again Christian and street preacher, but Truth has published various accounts of how she chose her last name. (1)

One of these accounts is recorded in her narrative where she explains:

…… her surname had always been the name of her master. Now that she served only God, she served the Truth, and took that as her last name.” (1)

lecture poster

Under the name Sojourner Truth, Isabella set out to travel east of New York, through Connecticut and Massachusetts and as an itinerant preacher she determined to tell the truth and work against injustice. She saw her mission as teaching people “to embrace Jesus, and refrain from sin.” And she saw quite clearly that enslavement was a terrible sin. Selling fellow human beings as though they were nothing more than a flock of sheep was a sin against their Maker, who had created them in His own image.

Sojourner’s strong faith and relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ gave her the power to rise “above the battlements of fear” as she stood against slave masters and other slaves who counselled her to accept her lot and submissively pray for good masters. She saw the inhumanity of slavery for what it was; an evil that followers of Jesus must work to eradicate. At the end of her narrative she takes great joy from hearing that one of her slave masters had also reached this conclusion.

Although Sojourner was illiterate, she had a clear and incisive mind and she often sat for hours discussing topics with fellow believers. As she could not explore ideas through her own reading, she took advantage of her time travelling and when she found groups who held differing views she would spend time discussing The Bible with them. Her narrative tells us she had:

….. no preference for one sect more than another, but being well satisfied with all who gave her evidence of having known or loved the Saviour.(1)

She also had people read to her from The Bible, but she preferred that children perform this task, as adults tended to add their own commentary. She said:

Children, as soon as they could read distinctly, would re-read the same sentence to her, as often as she wished, and without comment;—and in that way she was enabled to see what her own mind could make out of the record, and that, she said, was what she wanted, and not what others thought it to mean. She wished to compare the teachings of the Bible with the witness within her” (1)

Rather than submitting to the prevailing worldview of the people around her, Sojourner spoke out against racism and sexism with Jesus as her “soul-protecting fortress.” Although she spoke English as her second language, her first language being Dutch, she was able to hold the attention of English speaking audiences with her ability to cut to the point, her strong voice and her powerful songs.

lincoln and truth2It is remarkable to find that despite the fact that she was an illiterate, female slave, on October 29, 1864 she had an audience with President Abraham Lincoln at the White House and later met President Ulysses S. Grant. Even today this would be an amazing feat for any person of such humble origins. But Sojourner believed she had a mission and she gave her life to work for those things she felt the Lord had put on her heart to change. She lived her life working tirelessly for truth and justice and ended her life with the words “be a follower of the Lord Jesus.” She believed that this meant following Jesus’ teachings and I believe she would acknowledge that it was through His power and strength that she was able to accomplish all that she did.

If an illiterate slave woman of the 19th century could live out her faith and fight for truth and justice, despite the dreadful situation she found herself in, surely believers today who claim to follow the Lord Jesus Christ can do the same. However, I believe God’s people are hamstrung by one terrible doctrinal error. The prevailing opinion of Sojourner’s day amongst the ruling class was that slavery was acceptable and slaves were commodities. Even people who claimed to be Christians held to this age old idea. Sojourner refused to look at life in that way because she knew it was not God’s truth. The Bible taught that:

There cannot be Jew nor Greek, there is no slave nor freeman, there is no male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal 3:28)

Sojourner could see no reason why this truth should not be acted upon. Even though Paul had taught caution to the slaves of his day (Eph 6:5), Sojourner understood that the inhuman slavery practiced in her time was not something her Lord would allow to continue. She once admitted to an audience that she had at one time hated white people, but she went on to say that when she met her final master, Jesus, she was filled with love for everyone. When slaves were finally emancipated she knew her prayers had been answered.

Today, there are many people who claim The Bible teaches the doctrine of eternal torment. These people look to tradition and suggest that those who see The Bible as teaching a different destiny for the unsaved are not following the clear teachings of the church. This horrific doctrine has never appeared to be biblical to me, no matter how long the church has held to this view. There are many theologians today who have also changed their minds on this issue after a closer look at God’s Word.

I believe we are tinkering with the truth when we refuse to look at the overall teachings of The Bible concerning this issue and we are also slandering our Father, who has declared He is Love (1 John 4:8). It is my contention that people who accept this doctrine have a warped understanding of the nature and character of our Creator. They believe Him to be vindictive, whereas He is working to save as many as possible from the destruction that will come on our present creation. This destruction will be the outpouring of God’s wrath on sin and its consequences, death, pain and suffering and its entire purpose will be to eliminate these corruptions of God’s original creation.way of god

Had Sojourner Truth and William Wilberforce simply accepted that one verse told the whole story (Eph 6:5), without taking the overall teachings of The Bible into consideration – as many people do with a particular understanding of Matthew 25:46 – the church might still be championing the cause of the slave holder. But we know better than to base our understanding of the nature of God on one word in The Bible. We have many verses in both the Old and New Testaments that declare the ultimate destiny of the unbeliever is that they will perish, or be eternally destroyed.

Many people claim Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians supports the case for eternal torment, but this verse tells us quite clearly that eternal destruction – which means a final, eternal separation from the Creator by this destruction – awaits those who refuse God’s rescue plan. Paul tells the Thessalonians not to worry about the people who are persecuting them. God is not going to allow people to inflict pain on other people forever, He will bring this world and all it’s pain and suffering to an end. Paul writes:

And to you that are troubled, be at ease like us, because when the Lord Jesus comes from heaven with the angels of power and with flaming fire, He will bring forth punishment on them that do not see God, and do not listen attentively to the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will themselves be punished with eternal destruction, and removed from the face of the Lord and from the worship of His might. (2 Th 1:7-9)

Indeed the punishment for those who refuse to listen to the gospel, and therefore cannot see God, will have dire eternal consequences. Unbelievers will be eternally removed from the Lord’s presence by the eternal destruction (or the eternal punishment mentioned in Mat 25:46) awaiting this present creation. The Father wants to save everyone from His final elimination of death, pain and suffering (2 Peter 3:9), but there will be those who have refused to listen to Him and accept His rescue plan. These will suffer the final punishment, which is the second death in the lake of fire (Rev 20:15).

As Sojourner reminds us:

Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace. (1Ch 29:15)

Like so many other people who had not been subjected to traditional teachings, Sojourner rejected the concept of eternal torment, stating that:

I have found out and know that God’s brightness and goodness and glory is hot enough to scorch all the sinners in the world. (2)

God is probably not going to send an angel declaring the imminence of the destruction of this present creation until the very end (Rev 14:6), so people need to start listening now if they want to be part of His new creation. Have you taken the time to examine God’s message to you? He sent His only Son to proclaim the Good News. He is going to destroy death, pain and suffering, but to do that He will need to destroy all that is outside of His rule and reign. There is only one way to be part of the new creation He will bring into existence after the final destruction of this corrupted creation and that is to accept Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Redeemer.

truth to hate

(1) Truth, Sojourner (2004-07-01). The Narrative of Sojourner Truth [with Biographical Introduction] . Neeland Media LLC. Kindle Edition.