Tag Archives: eternity

The Death of Death | Bible Gleanings – June 4-5, 2022

Death. It fills graves and empties hearts. It is the ship that carries the soul across the infinite sea of eternity. It is the wind that blows out the burning candle of living. It is the door through which we exit life and enter everlasting delight or damnation. It is the period at the end of the final chapter of your story on earth.

Death is also a sentence—the penal verdict for transgressing the righteous law of the Judge of all the earth. The decree from His golden bench reads, “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20a). The first criminals to be anathematized by this awful adjudication were our first parents, Adam and Eve. After they sinned in the Garden, the Lawgiver declared to them, “For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:19b). And death is still the consequence for crooked culprits convicted of the crime of sinning against God: “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a).

Yet, somehow one of Scripture’s most malignant malefactors can confidently say, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). Paul violently persecuted Christians in the early church, but he was happy to die. How is death a petrifying retribution in Genesis, but a pleasant reward in Philippians? Apparently, the meaning of death changed somewhere between the Garden of Eden and the Roman prison from which Paul wrote this letter. As a matter of fact, the nature of death changed somewhere between two thieves on a hill called Calvary.

As Jesus desperately clung to life on a bloody crucifix, He assured the robber beside Him, “Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). Death would not be the thief’s painful conclusion—it would be his passageway to paradise because of the grace of Christ. The Lord of life put death to death by His death, securing eternal life for all who believe—including the swindler by His side (2 Timothy 1:10). Because of Christ’s work for believers, death is the gateway to glory, the staircase to salvation, and the elevator to everlasting life. It is merely the bridge between heaven and earth for those who have crossed over from death to life (John 5:24).

This is why the Christian may sing and shout the words of 1 Corinthians 15:54-57,

“When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).

A Formidable Flight | Bible Gleanings – May 21-22, 2022

Newspapers around the world festooned their front pages with a headline that made history: “LINDBERGH DOES IT!” Charles A. Lindbergh (Feb. 4, 1902—Aug. 26, 1974) had flown from New York to Paris in 33 ½ hours, defying all odds and earning an esteemed place in aviation history. Lindbergh cranked the scanty 220 horsepower monoplane in the early hours of May 20, 1927, eager to navigate the unknown sky above the Atlantic. The crowd nearby clenched their teeth in worry, recalling the recent deaths of Rene Fonck, Noel Davis, and Stanton Wooster who had attempted the same challenge. After trudging through the muddy runway of Roosevelt Field, The Spirit of St. Louis slowly climbed the vacant skies, and the unpredictable journey began. 

Lindbergh was cloaked in the blackness of night twelve hours after takeoff. Beneath him were monstrous and unforgiving waters that could swallow him whole. A shroud of hazy fog besieged his wings and clouded his vision for thousands of miles. Exhaustion was depleting his eager spirit since he had been without sleep for more than two days and nights. And frozen bullets of sleet pecked incessantly at the propeller, but Lindbergh stayed the course.

Suddenly, Lindbergh beheld a strip of earth beneath him: Europe’s splendid shores. The relieving sight rejuvenated his soul and he continued steadily toward Paris. The Missouri pilot soon circled the Eiffel Tower and landed in Le Bourget Field. His journey was over. Lindbergh had achieved the impossible with little more than a compass, a drift sight, and a full tank of faith.

Flying eastward to Europe is hard; flying heavenward is even harder. Every believer saved by grace is headed toward a “better country” (Hebrews 11:16). The fog of uncertainty can tempt us to turn around and abandon the plane. The roaring waters of tribulation may intimidate us for miles of our heavenbound flight. But one day, we shall see the golden shoreline of heaven after flying through this wicked world.

“For you have not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance that the Lord your God is giving you” (Deut. 12:9). While we fly our voyage, the compass of faith and the drift sight of God’s word serves to guide us. As Sanford Bennett said in the hymn, There’s a Land That is Fairer Than Day,

“There’s a land that is fairer than day,

And by faith we can see it afar,

For the Father waits over the way

To prepare us a dwelling place there.

In the sweet by and by,

We shall meet on that beautiful shore;

In the sweet by and by,

We shall meet on that beautiful shore.”

Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).

Front Page News | Bible Gleanings – April 30-May 1, 2022

The chilling news froze me in my tracks. The blackness of gloom enveloped my heart when I read the big black headline on the front page of The New York Times: “The Toll: America Approaches Half a Million COVID Deaths.” The death toll has soared to nearly a million since then, but I remember burning with zeal to do everything I could to prevent the coronavirus from spreading. I am not sure whether mask-wearing and social distancing made a difference—only the Lord knows. But I wanted to do everything in my power to slow the death count when the reality of death was in my face. 

The last time a gust of grief struck me like that was when I read Jesus’ words in Matthew 7, where He warned, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (vv. 13-14). According to Jesus, hordes and heaps of lost souls are driving down the wide open highway to hell, while only a fragment of humanity trudges on the hard road to heaven. Millions are afflicted by the crippling disease of sin, and they will discover too late that they were sick (Matt. 7:21-23). The “second death” toll is infinitely high, and it rises every day (Rev. 21:8). And the sharp twinge of heartbreak ought to pierce the heart of every believer when confronted with this sobering reality (cf. Romans 9:1-3).

Only 31% of the world’s population profess to be Christian, which means that the remaining 69% are hellbound (and that is if all 31% are true believers). According to the World Population Review, 166,279 people die daily. That means that at least 144,733 souls enter the gates of hell every day, and one million do every week. Jesus was right when He said that “many” would hear these terrifying words: “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Matt. 7:23).

The good news is that there is plenty of room in heaven, and its door is open to all who would enter by faith in Jesus Christ. The Lord promised, “In my Father’s house are many rooms” (John 14:2a). Therefore, those heavenbound ought to take the life-saving gospel with unquenchable zeal to those who have never heard. The miserable reality of hell for the lost and the marvelous reassurance of heaven for the saved ought to be on the front page of every Christian’s mind. As John Wesley stated, “I desire to have both heaven and hell ever in my eye, while I stand on this isthmus of life, between two boundless oceans.”

Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).

Heaven Is Not About You | Bible Gleanings – Feb 26-27, 2022

The mounting pile of books on heaven sold online and in bookstores is nearly as high as heaven itself. Books written by people who claim to have visited heaven during a near-death or out-of-body experience are adding to the soaring heap. In these popular works, authors describe their blissful voyage to heaven, brought about by either serious medical issues or psychedelic mushrooms. There are more than a hundred such best-selling books, many of which are offered by evangelical retailers like LifeWay or Christianbook. Among the most popular are 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper, Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo, and The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven by Kevin and Alex Malarkey (yes, that name is real). 

All of these books have one common theme: heaven is all about you and the fulfillment of your greatest desires. They talk about having the ability to fly like an angel, conversing with God in an eternal question-and-answer session, seeing all of your friends and loved ones (even those who didn’t believe), and enjoying an eternal dream home filled with every conceivable luxury. There’s only one problem: heaven is not all about you. According to the apostle John—the man who actually visited heaven by a spiritual vision—heaven is all about God and extolling His glory in Christ.

John saw a glimpse of heaven’s glory through “a door standing open in heaven” (Rev. 4:1), and he did not see people floating on clouds or sliding down rainbows. Instead, he saw a place where God is exalted and creation is humbled. His magnificent throne is at the center (Rev. 4:2-3). He is surrounded by unceasing angelic praise (Rev. 4:6-11). And the Lord Jesus is encircled by an everlasting chorus that says, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” (Rev. 5:13).

Heaven is God’s house, the place where His glory dwells (Psalm 26:8). Fortunately, the door to His immortal abode stands open to anyone who would enter by faith in Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:8-9). You may walk through heaven’s door if you are dressed in the white garments of Christ’s righteousness (Rev. 3:5). But you must do so now while the door remains open, for one day it will shut. As Jesus said,

“And while they [the foolish virgins] were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour” (Matthew 25:10-13).

Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).

Sermon: When You Die for Christ, Part 1 (Acts 7:54-60) | Sept 5, 2021

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English shepherd), and Dot (beagle).

The Place to Be | Bible Gleanings – November 6-7, 2021

1,000 Places to See Before You Die, a New York Times bestseller written by Patricia Schultz, catalogues a thousand unforgettable places on God’s green earth that showcase the “best the world has to offer.”1 Her contention is that you should visit these breathtaking locations before you breathe your last. You should travel to these areas before your soul travels to eternity. Behold the giant sequoias in Yosemite National Park, she says. Admire the intricate architecture of India’s Taj Mahal. Tan your hide on the baking beaches of Fiji.

Schultz affirms an indisputable truth: our planet is magnificently beautiful and indescribably stunning. As Louis Armstrong would say, “And I think to myself, What a wonderful world.” She also confirms a popular misconception held by thousands of people: this world is all there is, so you better see it all before you die. Van Halen used to sing about it: “Whoa, you don’t have to die an’ go to heaven, or hang around to be born again; Just tune in to what this place has got to offer, ‘cause we may never be here again.” 

Frankly, I am more concerned about going to a better world when I die instead of seeing this whole world before I die. The Imperial Palace in Beijing is gorgeous, but it pales in comparison to the glorious mansions built in heaven for followers of Christ (John 14:2). Paris and Prague may be among the most elegant cities on earth, but they don’t compare to the eternal city, “whose designer and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10). New Zealand’s splendid landscapes are unimpressive compared to the New City that will one day come “down out of heaven from God” (Rev. 21:2). I don’t want to rendezvous among the most lovely countries on earth; I want to rest my soul in “a better country, that is, a heavenly one” (Heb. 11:16).

This world is not all there is. In fact, this old world is “passing away,” and it will one day be “burned up and dissolved” (1 John 2:17; 2 Peter 3:10). Heaven is the place you want to be when you die, my friend. But you will only get there if your name is on God’s “guest list,” the Lamb’s Book of Life (Rev. 21:27).

How can you see and enter this heavenly place? Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). You must be made new to enter the city where all things are made new. This happens when you repent of your sins and trust fully in Christ for your salvation. When you do that, you’ll have your ticket to glory on Zion’s heavenbound ship.

  1. Patricia Schultz. 1,000 Places to See Before You Die (New York: Workman Publishing Company, Inc., 2003).
Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).

You Are Enlightened (Eph. 1:9-10)

The following sermon was delivered at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky, on the 23rd day of September 2018, during the morning service:


profile pic5Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with free Christian resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their two dogs, Susie and Aries.

What Does the Bible Say About the Eternal Destination of a Person Who Never Hears of Jesus?

This question has in mind the eternal destination of an individual who never gets a chance to hear about Jesus Christ or the gospel. Hypothetically, you might think of a person completely alone on an island. In reality, you might think of persons in an indigenous tribe where the message of the gospel has not yet arrived. The question assumes that God may treat such an individual differently because they never had a chance to believe in the gospel because they never heard it. How could God hold a person accountable for what he doesn’t know? Wouldn’t it be unfair for God to send such a person to hell?

Well, there are several logical and theological problems with the assumption that any person would be treated differently than any other sinner. The question itself is flawed from its false assumption. But remarkably, even though this question is flawed, the Bible gives a very clear answer. The Bible’s answer is this: all sinners everywhere are justly condemned by God for willfully rejecting His rule and His laws. A sinner is not exempt from condemnation just because he doesn’t hear the gospel, and a sinner does not become liable to judgment once he does hear the gospel. For the individual who never hears the gospel, he is liable to the judgment just like a person who does hear the gospel. We can arrive at such an answer because of several things that the Scripture clearly teaches.

First, the Bible clearly teaches that God has revealed Himself generally through the beauty and order of creation. That is, every person on the planet has some level of knowledge about God – even the person who’s never heard of Jesus. The apostle Paul states this in Romans 1:18-20, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (emphasis mine). Paul states in that passage that God has given general revelation to all of mankind. That is, God can be generally known through creation. That being said, knowledge of God from creation is limited. You cannot know things about God from creation like the fact that He is Triune, loving, or omnipresent. But God’s existence, His power, and some perception of His divine nature can be known through creation alone. Paul says that God has revealed Himself through the creation of the world and because of this, all men are “without excuse.” Because of the evidence of God in creation, mankind should know that God exists – he has no excuse and he cannot claim that God didn’t give him sufficient evidence for His existence. Paul also states that sinners have suppressed this knowledge. Because mankind is unrighteous, he suppresses the truth that God exists. So then, because God has made Himself known in creation, all of mankind have knowledge that God exists, whether they be in North America or some undiscovered tribe. The problem is not that they have no knowledge of God at all, the problem is that they have suppressed the knowledge of God that they already have.

Second, the Bible teaches that all of mankind have a sense of what God requires. All mankind have some sense of morality, an understanding of right and wrong. Even the person who never hears of Jesus or the gospel understands right and wrong. He will therefore be held accountable to God for doing what is wrong and failing to do what is right, since he knows what he should and shouldn’t do. Now, as with general revelation, this does not mean that mankind has an exhaustive knowledge of right and wrong, but that he has a general one. Again we turn to Romans to find this truth revealed where Paul says, “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus” (Romans 2:14-16). Paul is dealing with the nature of man in this passage. Even though a man may not have “the law,” that is, the law of Moses, they are a “law to themselves.” Paul says that all man has knowledge of moral law written on his heart, and it is enough moral knowledge for him to have conflict in his conscience. So again, man has general knowledge of God and general knowledge of morality – the person who never hears of Jesus is therefore not innocent or exempt from being accountable to God. Although he doesn’t know the Bible or all the specifics, he doesn’t seek the God he knows exists and he doesn’t obey the moral law written on his heart. People are responsible to God for what God has already revealed to them.

Third, the Bible clearly teaches that you must hear the gospel in order to believe it and thereby be saved. A person who never hears of Jesus cannot believe in Him. How can you believe in something you’ve never heard of? Scripture teaches that a prerequisite for salvation is hearing the message of the gospel. In Ephesians 1:13, Paul describes something of the process of conversion, and notice what he says comes before belief: “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, [you] were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit” (emphasis mine). Hearing the “word of truth,” the gospel, comes before belief. Furthermore, Paul states this truth even clearer in Romans 10, where he explains how a person arrives at believing in Christ for salvation. Notice the progression and simple logic in the passage: “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (vv. 14-17, emphasis mine). Paul states that belief in Christ is necessary for calling on Him, and hearing about Christ is necessary for believing in Him. He even summarizes that truth in the last verse of the passage, saying that faith (for believing unto salvation) comes from hearing the word of Christ, the gospel.

The question assumes the possibility that a person is not liable to judgment until he hears the gospel. But hearing the gospel doesn’t make you liable to judgment, being a sinner makes you liable to the judgment. Hearing the gospel is only the prerequisite for coming to Christ in repentance and faith. If hearing the gospel was what made a person liable to judgment, then you should avoid evangelism at all costs! Why would you take the gospel to the nations if they were innocent before hearing the gospel and condemned after hearing it? The apostle Peter says something to this effect: “For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them” (2 Peter 2:21). If people who never hear the gospel are already saved, then we should make sure no one ever hears the gospel. The worst thing we could do would be to share the gospel with a person and have him or her reject it. If that were to happen, he or she would be condemned. Why run the risk of people possibly rejecting the gospel and condemning themselves when they were previously saved because they had never heard the gospel?

Fourth, the Bible clearly teaches that salvation is only by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. Just because a person never hears of Jesus doesn’t mean he can take a different way of salvation. If he doesn’t receive salvation by grace through faith, “the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36) and he goes to hell. If this were not the case, then you would have to explain how salvation comes to a person differently than what is clearly prescribed in the Bible – and there is no other way. And what would it say about the justice of God and the work of Christ if a person could be saved apart from faith in Christ? The Bible is clear that a person must come to Father through Jesus (John 14:6), and that there is no other name under heaven by which we can be saved (Acts 4:12).

Fifth and finally, we are not in a position to judge whether or not God’s actions are fair or just. We are not ultimately in a position to judge God’s actions as fair or unfair. Some think it is unfair for Him to express judgment on sinners who have never heard of Jesus. What’s more, some people would consider it unfair that they were “force-fed” Christianity their whole lives. If you consider it unfair for God to condemn those who have never heard, your opinion doesn’t matter. God’s ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9), He does what He pleases (Psalm 115:3; 135:6), and He always does what is good and glorifying to Himself.

So what does the Bible say about the eternal destination of a person who never hears of Jesus? Without saving faith in Jesus Christ, he will go to hell. Just because he didn’t have a chance to hear the gospel doesn’t mean he was innocent. He has knowledge about God and some sense of what God requires, and because he doesn’t seek God or do what God requires, he is condemned like the rest of mankind. If he doesn’t hear the gospel, he cannot believe it, and the only way to be saved is through hearing and believing the gospel of Jesus Christ. And instead of judging the fairness of such, we should be more fervent to preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15) so that they can come to Jesus Christ.

What Does the Bible Say? is a question and answer series which seeks biblical answers to pressing questions.

26219980_2002699353334045_1898487006197556984_n.jpgBrandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with free Christian resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their dog, Susie.