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Reciente: Evangelistic work by Dewayne, Rita and Antonio Shappley, mostly in the Spanish-speaking world
This photograph shows part of a great multitude of people -up to 22,000, or more- who came together on a fifteen-acre, concrete paved lot, surrounded by various casinos, in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States of America, for the fourth Country Music Festival. They were from several different countries. The Festival lasts three nights. The 2017 one ended tragically Sunday, October 1, at about 10 p. m., when Stephen Paddock, shooting from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, killed fifty-eight people, also wounding 527. The nickname of the Festival is “neon sleepover.” Tickets were sold only for the three nights, at a cost of $210 each. “Many families traveled there in their SUV’s to dance, children six years and under being admitted free.” http://time.com/4965055/route-91-harvest-music-festival/
“INNOCENT people were killed in Las Vegas,” exclaim not a few, horrified.
Yes, “INNOCENT.” Innocent in so far as their relationship to Stephen Paddock was concerned. They did not know him. He did not know the victims. Perfect strangers in the night. Randomly struck down those “innocent” ones by the deadly bullets of the unknown shooter.
In this sense, the innocence of the musicians and spectators of that Festival can be affirmed, without fear of being mistaken.
Around the world, hundreds of millions of human hearts unite in deep pain and profound sorrow for the fallen and wounded, a great number of condolences and prayers are poured forth for loved ones of the innocent victims and concerns for where homo sapiens of the 21st century are generally headed, whether farther down or farther up, become graver, at least in the minds of the serious and analytic.
From there, if we wish to explore more deeply the question of “innocence,” be it that of the multitudes thronging the playgrounds of Las Vegas or the whole rest of humanity, including our own, it would be necessary to move to the personal plain, to that of the personal innocence of the individual. A very delicate area of our being, of our existence, of our behavior, where there are certain dangers for my soul-spirit, and yours also, beloved reader, as well as for those of all other human beings, including those who avoid the soul-spirit, even denying its existence.
Because it is dangerous for the soul-spirit to categorize as “innocent” that which is not. A danger in the same category as “calling the bad, good, or the good, bad.” Both asseverations are very dangerous because of the very great self-deceit within them.
According to your judgment, how innocent are the following?
Children that talk and even curse using really bad, nasty, smutty language like that of adults whose every other word betrays a dirty, undisciplined mind.
Parents and family who laugh at such children, saying they are “cute little dudes…” or “sassy little devils.”
Mothers who teach their little daughters, even before they get out of the baby bed, to be “very sexy.”
People of all ages who listen to explicitly sexual, violent music.
Couples that have sex together “because they love each other,” but refuse to morally and legally unite themselves in marriage.
Young people and adults who become absolutely passionate about social media to the extreme of breaking off normal social relationships with family, divorcing themselves from concrete realities and taking up residence in a virtual world.
Women whose profession is being “single mothers.”
Sports lovers for whom “there is nothing, NOTHING, in the world as important as the GAME!”
Elderly men and women who travel distances, even long distances, to spend their resources of time and money in casinos. “It’s MY time and MY money, and I will do anything I want to with them during the last days of my life!”
Pregnant women who seek abortion. “It is MY body, and I will do whatever I want to with it!”
Drug addicts. “I use recreational drugs, but not excessively. What’s it to you? Bug off!”
No doubt, there are young, middle aged and old around just about anywhere who would classify all the above as “innocent.” Free of any and all guilt; of malice or evil. “Good people! All of them. They aren’t doing anything out of the way, out of the ordinary; nothing bad. No reason to censure them, making them feel bad. Besides, what they do is none of my business, nor yours either!”
“Innocent” such human beings? Really and truthfully? By whose criteria? Careful! It is just at this critical point that self-deceit can be, and usually is, actuated on an advanced level. Do YOU say they are “innocent?” What is your criteria, your moral standard? Are you merely stating your personal opinion based on your upbringing and formation, or is your evaluation based on weightier, more objective, norms and laws? How complete has your moral-spiritual education been? Who taught it to you and by what authority? Ah, take care to pronounce anyone “innocent” who is so only in your own eyes, according to your own, personal, perhaps prejudiced or deficient, criteria!
What right does a person have, who is materialistic and carnal through and through, in whose mind God the Creator occupies no space at all, to make pronouncements about “innocence-innocents?” His head empty of spiritual thoughts and principals renders useless and senseless whatever characterization of “innocent” he might make about his fellow human beings. Are those who, full of vices and iniquities, do damage to themselves, and others, to be held as innocent? Innocent, those who starve, wound, poison or even kill the mind, soul and spirit, not only their own but also of others, with their vile language, evil advice, licentious and violent music, unnatural life styles, etc., all of which engender an infinite host of negative, destructive consequences? Nevertheless, some people of those very stripes are so bold as to call each other “innocent.” Could that be a psychological strategy to minimize the bad and evil they do? Disguise it, justify it, excuse it? You may call wrong and evil “good” or “innocent,” but they continue to be wrong and evil, at the other extreme of “innocent.” You may say that a bad person is “innocent,” but if he continues to be bad he will receive, sooner or later, rewards suitable for the evil. Of course, as long as there is life and opportunity, the bad may correct their ways, becoming “good,” truly good, a process which also makes one “spiritual,” a “new” man or woman, who will walk in “newness of life” (Romans 6:3-7). What a wonderful prospect this is! There is hope, and there is a way to lay hold of it, making it one’s own. It is all there in the life-giving Words of God, in the Bible, particularly, in the New Testament of Christ.
“They are innocent!” We humans are very quick to publish our judgments. But very slow to learn a great reality-truth, to wit: That when it comes to “innocence,” we have not been charged with establishing criteria. For, we did not create ourselves. Nor did we conceive and write the code for our nature. Nor did we fix the design or set the parameters for our continued existence. Neither did we determine norms for our conduct. All this was done by the Creator God who conceived us and created us in his “image and likeness.” Consequently, the right to make unilateral, personal judgments on “innocence and guilt, the innocent and the guilty,” in terms of morality and spirituality, is not ours. Let us take great care, then, to not attribute to our own selves rights, powers and authority that belong solely to the God that created us.
On the moral-spiritual level of mature human beings, there has been only one “innocent” on the face of planet Earth: Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Without sin. Without guilt. Without malice. Completely! “For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, unstained, separated from sinners, exalted above the heavens” (Hebrews 7:26). Many cleansed, redeemed, justified, sanctified and pardoned there have been (1 Corinthians 6:11), but only one perfectly “blameless… undefiled,” innocent! Two who were taken up from this life without experiencing death -Enoch and Elijah- because of their high commitment to God and holiness, but only one absolutely innocent!
No human being able to discern between good and bad is innocent by nature. Without sin, malice or guilt. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us” (1 John 2:8-10). It is thus that he who has been pardoned and sanctified by virtue of the sacrifice of Christ, having purified his soul by obedience to the truth (1 Peter 1:22-25), has the right to say “I am saved,” but not to say “I am innocent.” Because he is not “innocent” of his sins but rather guilty, escaping the pain of eternal death for them by accepting the magnanimous offer of Christ for pardon, this being granted to everyone who applies for it, on the condition of believing, repenting and being baptized “for the forgiveness of sin” (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:37-47; 22:16 and many similar texts).
So then, there would be no point in asking: In that multitude (whatever multitude, gathering, reunion, congregation, conglomeration of shoppers, large, medium or small group, gathered for whatever purpose: sports event, musical show, conference, political meeting, religious campaign, special sales event, etc.), how many innocent were there on a personal moral-spiritual plain? Because the obligatory answer would always be: “NONE!” Rather, we can ask more reasonably: How many people enjoying God’s approval were there? And the necessary answer to that has to be: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” (2 Timothy 2:19). Because he is the only one who knows perfectly “the thoughts and intentions” of each human heart (Hebrews 4:12), the moral-spiritual principals and parameters of each life, as well as the actions and works of each one.
In multitudes, gatherings, etc., there are usually to be found…
Babies, infants, preadolescents and adolescents. Babies, infants and preadolescents are catalogued as “innocent” because of their lack of the knowledge of good and evil in moral-spiritual contexts. Growing up, at some phase of adolescence they come to have such knowledge, beginning to make decisions about “doing right” or “doing wrong,” being “good people” or “bad people,” conscious of the concomitant consequences not only of a material, temporal nature, but also of a spiritual, eternal one.
In such multitudes, gatherings, etc., there may also be young people, young adults, adults, middle aged or elderly, be they very few or numerous, that…
Are “good, just, merciful, respectful, humble and quick to help a neighbor, loving family and friends a lot, even humanity in general, as also God,” though they may not know him well, neither, for whatever the reason might be, the vital content of the “gospel of salvation” brought by Jesus Christ and his apostles in the first century. When the apostle Peter entered the house of the Roman centurion Cornelius and his family, Gentiles by race and not Jews, having been guided there by God and hearing Cornelius explain why he had called him, he began to understand a great, simple truth, unclear to him to that moment. He said, no doubt with some astonishment: “Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him” (Acts 10:34-35). Who is “acceptable” to God “in every nation?” The answer: “anyone who FEARS him and DOES WHAT IS RIGHT.”
In such multitudes…
Young people, young adults, adults, middle-aged and elderly who may be like not a few Gentiles in the time of Christ and his apostles, in the first century, identified by the apostle Paul as people who did by nature what was taught in the law, despite not having acquired a knowledge of the true God or his law. Alluding to them, Paul wrote: “When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them” (Romans 2:14-15).
In such multitudes, gatherings, etc., there may possibly also be found…
One or two people, maybe a good number, who are in close communion with God the Creator, having heard and obeyed the pure “gospel of salvation.” Added by Christ to his church (Acts 2:37-47), they continue persevering faithfully, confident that they are conducting themselves uprightly, in harmony with the moral code of the New Testament. It is obviously more probable that the Lord “knows” these “as his.”
It remains true that among the four groups mentioned “The Lord knows those who are his,” those who are really and truly his in whatever place or time under consideration. In some commercial center milling with people, sports stadium with 40,000 spectators, music spectacle or concert with 60,000, theater or movie house with a 1,000, some popular street where thousands walk up and down; a subway with 800 passengers, a cruise ship with 5,000, an airplane with 200, a bus with 40. Today, at any moment of the day or night, there are approximately 1,000,000 passengers on airplanes crossing the skies of the whole earthly globe. It has been called “the city in the sky.” How many of those 1,000,000 really belong to the Lord? He knows! Only he does!
Of one thing I am personally well convinced, to wit: when any person of those the Lord knows as “his” dies a natural death, or is killed, whatever the cause may be -the bullet of a terrorist, a fatal accident in some form of transportation, acts of war, violent phenomena of nature, criminal acts, a building collapse, a sudden fatal heart attack, etc., etc., etc.,- the soul-spirit of such a human being belonging to the Lord leaves the physical body that has lost its animal life and is taken to the Paradise prepared by God, where he is consoled and cared for in the midst of marvelous blessings until the day of resurrection, receiving in that day a new, spiritual -not carnal, but spiritual- powerful, glorified and immortal body! In it, he will be admitted to the new earth, with new heavens, where he will enjoy eternally the new spiritual creation. (Luke 16:19-31; 23:43; 1 Corinthians 15:42-44; Revelation 21:1-7, and many other relevant texts)
Family, friends and acquaintances who also belong to the Lord, surviving and continuing their life on earth, suffer to one degree or another the “premature departure” of a loved one whom the Lord receives as his own, and this is natural. Nevertheless, on the other hand, they console themselves and even rejoice, contemplating with the enlightened eyes of spiritual knowledge and understanding, with spiritual intelligence and wisdom (Colossians 1:9), their loved one, happy and content “over there in the beautiful Paradise of God.”
Not so family, friends, acquaintances and even strangers who remain on the material earth, but who do NOT belong to the Lord, who have no appreciation for the spiritual, who do not believe in some “celestial Paradise.” These lament the “premature death,” the “tragic departure,” “the injustice of depriving an innocent, a youth, a good person,” of more years on the earth. The eyes of some stream with tears; others make harsh judgements against “fate and circumstances,” even voice strong recriminations against “God,” any “god.” Some, even many, may lose what little faith thay had in God because of what happened, turning bitter, disturbed in thoughts and emotions, perhaps angry, depressed and moving ever farther away into darkness. Some may go to the extreme of cursing God and blaspheming.
Meanwhile, the soul-spirit safe in Paradise rejoices greatly! For blessings are bountiful, and the outlook for eternity is spectacular indeed. If such a soul-spirit secure in Paradise and certain of eternal glory and honor were presented the opportunity to return to earth, take up again his resurrected physical body and resume a “normal” life on earth, eventually dying again of some natural cause, would he happily accept? It is really inconceivable that he would. At any rate, the question is rhetorical, for such a possible return to earth is not a part of God’s plan for the saved in Paradise. With the exception of a few whose physical bodies have been resurrected as a sign of the absolute power of God and Christ over life and death. For example, Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary (John 1:1-44; 12:1-2 and 8), and that of Jesus Christ himself, who occupied his resurrected physical body during forty days before ascending to the throne of God in Heaven. A similar purpose is stated in the miraculous healing of a man blind from birth.
“As he [Jesus] passed by, he saw a man blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be made manifest in him” (John 9:1-3). Through the miracles of Christ and his authentic apostles, the blind see, the lame are instantly able to walk and jump, the stormy seas are calmed, lepers are healed instantaneously and perfectly and the dead are raised. “…that the works of God might be made manifest.” That the message from Heaven, the good news of salvation for all, might be confirmed by the “signs that attended it. Amen.” (Mark 16:20).
Is that YOU out there in the midst of that monstrous crowd? Is the occasion, or event, a wholesome one? Out there, does the Lord recognize you as one of his own? Even though he does not know as his the majority of those round about you? What is your reason or evidence for stating and reaffirming your answer? Is the motive that lead to your being there pure? Is your conscience clean? Are you spiritually prepared to leave those physical-material surroundings at any time, fully confident that your destination would be God’s Paradise? Even in the middle of a very, very exciting game? Whatever your age may be? Whatever the cause might be? Are you certain those stands will hold up the tremendous weight of such a multitude of human beings? What about the foundations that support your intellectual-moral-spiritual life? And, the balance in your life between work, entertainment, other social activities, care of your physical body and care of your soul-spirit?
All English site by Homer Dewayne Shappley
Spirit of Prophecies
SPANISH version of “INNOCENT people were killed in Las Vegas!
Versión en ESPAÑOL de “INNOCENT people were killed in Las Vegas!
Terrifying Mass Murder in Las Vegas. “Pure evil?” But, “God is in control!” Is that so? Then, why did he not take action to avoid the killing of 58 people and the wounding of 527?
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