I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. 4And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: (Rev 17:)
4They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone. 5In the same hour came forth fingers of a man's hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaster of the wall of the king's palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. (Dan 5:)
"Is this a party you're having here?"
"You bet. Grab yourself a soda and a piece of that fried chicken and come sit with me by the pool."
"You're inviting me to your party? But you don't even know me."
"Know, shmow. Who cares. You're here, and that's all that matters."
"Well, that sounds great and all, but what's it going to cost me?"
"Cost? No cost. It's all free for the taking. Don't be a Fuddy-duddy. Grab what you can outa' life while you can. Come join the party."
"This place is mighty fancy. Are you sure it's ok for me to come in? I mean, is there anything I have to do, or to sign at least?"
"Oh sure. But it's a snap. Just go read the words on that piece of paper hanging on the wall and you're a full-fledged member just like the rest of us."
"A member? You mean to tell me all I have to do is read some words and I'll be a member of a big, luxurious club like this? There's got to be a catch to it."
"No catch, no catch at all. It's all yours for the taking."
"Are you sure? I mean, it's not that I doubt you or anything like that, but is there someone here I can talk to about this to get some information and all?"
"Sure there is. Just go talk to the Pastor over there. He's the man with all the answers."
"Ok, thanks, I think I will."
"Pastor? Are you the Pastor? That lady over there by the pool said I should come talk to you about joining this club."
"Yes, I'm Pastor Jack. I would be very happy to tell you about our little club. And what might your name be, my son?"
"Me? I'm Tim, and I was wondering...."
"Well, Tim, I'm very happy to meet you. Let me show you around this little club of ours and point out the advantages and the benefits of membership in our little establishment."
"Benefits? You mean like retirement benefits I get from my job?"
"Yes, very much like retirement benefits. Only these benefits begin from the moment you join our little club and extend on into eternity."
"Eternity? That's a long time! How can the benefits last that long?"
"Very simply, my son. You see the Host of this little party is the Almighty God, and He says that anyone who believes on Him and says a few words will get all He has to offer and will live forever."
"That's a whole lot to get for just saying a few words! What words do I have to say?"
"Come over here to this sign on the wall and I will show you. You see, all you have to do is say you know you are a sinner and that you are sorry for your sins, and everything you see here will be yours."
"All I have to do is say I'm sorry? Don't I have to stop sinning or anything like that to stay in this club?"
"Contract? You mean I have to sign a contract? I hadn't heard about that! What kind of contract do I have to sign?"
"No no, my son. You don't have to sign a contract. God signed the contract two thousand years ago. And since God can't lie, He is bound to it."
"Two thousand years ago? You mean two thousand years ago God signed a contract that effects me? How could He do that? And why would He do that for me?"
"That's just the way God is. He's a God full of love for all His people, and He wants the very best for us. He knew you before He even created this world and all the galaxies, and set up a plan just for you and me whereby we may be saved."
"Well, that sounds mighty fine and all, but I have a few questions.... I hear noises! Is that drums I hear? And marching? It sure is noisy. It seems to be coming from the other side of that high wall over there. What is that?"
"That? Oh, that. Those are our noisy, obnoxious neighbors. They're always playing war games and causing a ruckus. We keep hoping the Landlord will kick them out, but He doesn't for some reason. After a while you will get used to their inconsideration and will hardly notice it. Just be assured that you are doing what is right and in the Will of God."
"I guess you're right. And they are inconsiderate for a fact. Look up there, on the wall, over the gate between you and your noisy neighbors. I see a sign that says 'Narrow Gate.' What does that mean?"
"That is a good question, my son. It means God has made it so only a few people will be able to get into Heaven. He just wants the best, the choice of His Creation. All the rest He will burn in hell forever."
"Burn in hell? For Ever?!" I thought you said He was a 'Loving God,' why would He want to burn people forever?"
"I don't know why, I only know He will. That is God's prerogative as the creator of this universe, and it is not ours to question His motives, just to obey His commands. And His commands are to say the words on the wall over there. Are you ready to do that, my son?"
"I suppose. But I have a question I would like to ask."
"Yes, my son?"
"Well, you said God was going to burn everybody. Who is the 'everybody' He is going to burn?"
"Why, that's easy, my son. Everybody outside these walls you see around our little club here. They are the ones God will burn with an everlasting flame that they so richly deserve."
"Deserve? Why do they deserve to be burned forever?"
"Because they are sinners, terrible, wicked sinners."
"They are sinners, but the people on this side of the wall aren't? Why? What makes the difference?"
"That's easy, my son. We are all sinners. The difference is we are saved sinners, redeemed by the Blood of Jesus. That is what separates us from them who are doomed to hell."
"You mean, just by reading the words on that little piece of paper over there on that wall makes all that difference? That's amazing!"
"It surely is amazing. It is what we call Amazing Grace."
"I hear that noise again. Are those people going to go to hell too?"
"Especially them, my son. Especially them. Would you like to go over to that wall and read the words that will save you?"
"I guess, no, I'm not sure. There's something about the noise on the other side of that wall I need to check out first. I don't know what it is. Just something. Would you mind?"
"That's entirely up to you. I certainly can't stop you. But I must advise you that you are making a terrible choice by doing so, and delaying your salvation. But if you feel you must go, then satisfy yourself that what I have told you is true and correct, knowing that once you have done so you will always be free to return and join us in our Godly pursuit."
"Well, thank you Pastor Jack. And maybe I will be seeing you again later."
"I certainly hope so, my son. I certainly hope so."
"Hup, toop, thrip, fwua... Yo'r left! Yo'r left! Yo'r left, yo'r right, yo'r left! Yo'r 'uda left, soldia'! Get 'dem shoulders back. Suck in 'dat belly. Where ya' think ya' are? A Ga'den Pa'ty!?"
"Pardon me, sir, I was just over the wall and heard you...."
"What ch' yo' want, Bud!? Cain't yo' see I is busy? I ain't got no time fo' no....!"
"I'm very sorry to disturb you, but I..."
"Too late. Sa'gent! Take over fo' me whilst I get 'dis bum outa' he'a'! Ok, now, what's so all fired impo'tant 'dat yo' gotta' upset our trainin'?"
"Well, it's like I was telling you. I was next door and heard you over here and wondered what you were doing. I mean, from what I understand and all, both you and your neighbors are in the same camp, except for that big wall over there. I was just wondering why you are so different."
"What makes yo' think we's in 'da same camp, Bud? 'Dey wears suits 'n ties 'n swimmin' bloomers. We wears combat boots an' armor. It ain't 'da wall what sep'rates us from 'dem, it's our di-rection."
"Direction? I don't know what you mean by 'direction'."
"I mean jus' what I says. Whilst 'dey sits by 'dey's poolsides sippin' cold ales an' eatin' high on 'da hog, we's he'a' fittin' ou'selves fo' 'da battle what's ta' come. Whilst 'dey lays back an' waits fo' a cloud ta' yank 'em out'a he'a' when 'da fightin' commences, we is beatin' our bodies inta' fightin' form in readiness ta' stand firm. Whilst 'dey is a sittin', we is runnin' 'da race."
"Race? Fight? War? I don't understand. What war are you preparing for? I didn't hear about this country going to war."
"Not 'da country, Bud. Yo'! Yo', me, all 'dee's men an' womens an' chil'ens yo' sees ma'chin' an' runnin' 'round 'dis he'a' parade field is in a wa'. It's a wa' what's been goin' on fo' thousands a yea's. It's a wa' what eitha' yo' wins, o' yo' loses. 'Dey's no in betweens. Eitha' yo's fighten 'da Lo'd's battle, o' yo' ain't. An' if'n yo' is fightin' 'da battle, yo' has got ta' be ready ta' fight ta' 'da end. Ain't no retreatin' o' fallin' ta' 'da wayside in wa'. Yo' goes over 'da wall, o' yo' don't."
"But if you are in a war, who are you fighting? I mean, there has to be an enemy, doesn't there?"
"'Dey's an enemy all rights. An' he's a big 'n. He's 'da bigges' enemy what any A'my has done eva' fought, o' eva' will fought."
"You mean the devil?"
"'Da devil? Naw. He is small taters next ta' 'dis enemy. 'Da devil yo' c'n see an' runs from. 'Da devil he 'ttacks from 'da outside a ya' by tellin' ya' lies an' playin' trickses on ya'. He wea's fancy little swimmy suits an' flashes moneys at ya'. He's easy ta' pick out. 'Dis enemy digs at ya' from 'da in side a ya' an' plays wit' yo' feelin's an' yo' heart. 'Dis enemy is ha'rd ta' tangle wit', 'cause he is yo'!"
"Me! How can I be my own enemy?"
"'Dey is but two peoples in all 'dis he'a' world. 'Dey is yo', an' 'dey is Christ. 'Dey is 'da fu'st Adam, an' 'dey is 'da Secon' Adam. 'Dey is da Ol' Man, an' 'dey is 'da One New Man. An' 'dey ain't no in betwixt. Yo' is eitha' 'da one, o' yo' is 'da 'uda. Does yo' folly' me, Fella?"
"Not exactly. I kind of do. I mean, what is the difference between the two? I mean, I was born an 'Adam,' I understand that. But what is this 'Second Adam,' and what does He have to do with me?"
"Yo' is right-on 'bouts yo' bein' Adam. We all is. But not all is Adam. Like Jesus ain't no Adam no moa'. An' no moa' is 'dey Adam what takes on 'da nature a' Jesus. What I means is if'n yo' folly' afta' Jesus an' becomes what He was, an' does all He says to do an' do'd His self, an' prepares yo'self ta' take on 'da sufferin' what He tooked on His self, 'den yo' is becomin' a New Adam as He is. Does yo' read me clea'?"
"I think I do. But Jesus was crucified on a cross wasn't He? How am I supposed to do that? They don't do that any more. And even if they did, why in the world would I want to volunteer to do such a thing!?"
"Yo' is dead-on co-rrect 'bout yo' not goin' ta' want ta' do such a thin'. It ain't in 'da nature a' Adam ta' do nothin' what ain't in his own in'erest. Adam is selfishness centered. He does all what he wants ta' do an' diverts from what he don't wants ta' do. Jesus did all what no man would eva' want ta' do, but did what God wants Him ta' do. 'Dat's 'da diff'rence. 'Da di-rection I tolded yo' 'bouts at 'da fu'st."
"I can see that ok, I guess. But if it's not like Adam, I mean me, to do what God wants me to do because it doesn't please me, then how am I supposed to do such a thing?"
"Good question, Fella, 'cause yo' cain't"
"I can't? Then why would God expect me to do what I can't do? And if it can't be done, why are you and all these people working so hard to try and do something that can't be done?"
"We is not doin' nothin'. We cain't, like I done tolded yo'. It's 'da same thin' what is makin' us do 'da beatin' o' ou'selves inta' sub-mission what did Jesus an' Paul an' 'da 'uda Apostles. It is 'da Holy Spirit what is in us is what's doin' 'da wo'rk. We is but instr'ments folly'in' di-rections is all."
"That I don't understand at all. How can you just be 'instruments' of the Holy Spirit? That sounds like you're possessed or something of the sort."
"Yo' is close ta' tight-on. Has yo' eva' been in 'da A'my, o' 'da Navy an' 'da like?"
"No, I haven't."
"'Den yo' has gots a ha'rd row ta' hoe tryin' ta' un'erstand my meanin'. But 'dey is hope yet. Has yo' eva' been a young'en growin' up un'er a Momma an' a Poppa?"
"Well, sure. Who hasn't."
"Exacital. An' 'dat is 'da why Jesus gived us 'da pitcha' o' a tiny tot ta' show what He is meanin' by what's it take fo' an Adam folk ta' gets ta' Heaven. 'Da chil'en knows what is like ta' take or'da's an' do whateva' 'dey folks done tol' 'dem ta' do. 'Dey is fed by 'dey's folks, 'dey is wa'med by 'dey's folks, 'dey is lub'ed an' cuddled by 'dey's folks. Ever'thin' a chil'en gots is gived 'dem by 'dey's folks. If 'dey don't get what 'dey needs from 'dey's folks, 'dey ups an' dies. Chil'en knows what bein' a instr'ment a 'dey's folks means. An' we is ta' be chil'en a' God, not runnin' 'roun' bein' chil'en a' our own self like we does. In uda' words, Fella, we gots ta' beat our own selves out a ou'selves so God c'n get inta' ou'selves an' make us like He is. Does 'dat make it plain?"
"I guess, kind of. But I have a question."
"Well, everybody can't come to a place like this and learn to be submissive. I was wondering how someone, anyone, can learn submissiveness. Did Jesus ever tell us who we are to listen to, and who to take orders from?"
"He sho' 'nuff did! He said we is ta' take o'da's from our folks. An' our folks is s'pposed ta' take o'da's from amongst one anotha'. An' if 'dey is a dis-pute, 'da wifey is ta' obeys her husband like he was 'da Lo'd His self. An' he, 'da hubby, is ta' reckon wit' his wifey as like he was 'da Lo'd wit' lub'e in his heart. An' all is ta' take o'da's from 'dey's bosses, an' 'da gov'ment o'fficials. An' in 'dey's church 'dey is ta' obey all what is in 'de're, even ta' 'da lowest, willin' even ta' be washin' o' 'dey's feets.
"An' down ta' 'da wire, Jesus even tol' us ta' listen ta' our enemies like as 'dey is our Lo'd, even ta' 'da beatin' o' us on 'da cheek, an' mo' if'n it come ta' 'dat.
"Ya'see, young fella, it's a ha'rd thin' fo' 'da Ol' Adam ta' un'erstand, but when we is 'da Lo'd's, He is ala's watchin' out fo' us. He onliest allows 'dose thin's ta' bo'dder us what will do us fo' good. I don't mean good fo' 'da Ol' Adam o' us, 'da selfish like desires we harbors in our souls, but 'da Eternal Us in us what is goin' ta' be like God His own self an' live on fo'eva' wit' Him. 'Dis is 'da cross what He was tellin' us ta' bear up unda'. He done beared a cross voluntar'ly wit' submissiveness ta' His enemies, an' He done tol' us ta' do 'da very same. Our enemies, I mean 'dose what wants ta' do us wicked, is 'da very ones what will give us 'da Eternal blessin' what few is goin' ta' see. Does yo' folly' all 'dis, son?"
"I'm afraid I do. But, who can hear such a thing as this?"
"Nobodys. Nobodys 'xcept 'dose what's been called, an' 'dose wit' 'da gut powa' ta' beat out 'dat Ol' Adam from 'dey's heart."
"Over there on the other side of the wall the Pastor was telling me about the Love of God. Do you know anything about that?"
""Da Lub'e a' God? Sho' I does. 'Da Lub'e a' God is da' thin' what we is all 'bouts he'a'. But 'da Lub'e a' God ain't 'a'tall what 'dey say 't tis'. No sir-ree. 'Da Lub'e a' God ain't so much in da' doin' ta' us folk as 'tis in 'da doin' ta''uders by us'ns. Lub'e is what we gives, 'taint what we gets. God lub'es us like 'da same pa'po'tions as we lub'es Him an' what lub'e we shows ta' 'uda' folk what ain't our kin. Is yo' gots what I says?"
"I think so. I'm not sure. The Pastor said that what they have over there is free. Is it free over here on this side of the wall as well?"
"Free? Sho' 't's free. 'Dat is if'n yo' c'n afo'd it, it's free. 'Da Lub'e what Jesus done showed us on 'da tree a' 'da cross is all 'da cost 'ts gonna' cost yo'. Jesus done sayed Hisself we 's ta' count 'da cost b'fo' we's joins up wit' Him. 'Da cost what it cost Jesus was ever'thin' right down ta' His blood. We is got ta' be willin' ta' does 'da same if'n we is goin' ta' folly' afta' Him. Does 'dat make reas'nable ta' yo'? O' does I got ta' spell 't out fo' yo'?"
"No, I think I understand. That's a high cost to pay. But if what you say is true, then the rewards are certainly worth it."
"'Don't wo'rks 'dat way, son. If'n yo' sets out fo' 'da re-wa'ds an' not fo' 'da lub'e, 'den 'da re-wa'ds is gonna' be sho'rt on comin'. Re-wa'ds what's aimed fo' ain't re-wa'ds a'tall, but is pay fo' wo'rk done. 'Dey ain't no pay fo' wo'rkin' in God's A'my. 'Da bestest wo'rk what a fella c'n do's is no mo' 'den dir'dy ol' rags ta' 'da Lo'd."
"Hmmm. I see. At least I think I see. Look! There's a sign over the door of the wall. There's one just like it on the other side of the wall that says 'Narrow Gate.' This one says 'Babylon.' Is this Babylon?"
"Son, 'dey puts signs up ova' doo's what folks go in ta', not what 'dey's comes out a'. I has got ta' get on 'bout my business. So yo' get on wit' yo'self an' study up on what road yo' is ta' go. An' I wishes ya' 'da best an' a God-led journey.
"Yo'! Climbin' 'dem walls Gets yo'selves ova' 'da top. Don't let no walls gets in yo' way! If'n yo' cain't gets ova' 'da top, bust 'em down. No walls is gonna' stan' when 'da Lo'd comes!
"What's yo' 'doin' sittin' wit' yo' mouf' open like 'dat? EATin'!? Yo' gots two hands ain't ya? Yo' onliest needs one ta' eats wit'. Grab yo'self a Bible wit' 'de 'uda hand an' feed yo' mind an' yo' Spirit whilst yo' fills yo' belly. Don't be makin' me 'da bad guy hafen ta' tell ya'll 'dis all 'da time.
"An' yo', Yeah, yo' Prayer Warria's. 'Dis he'a' A'my don't run on it's belly but on 'de wings a' yo' Prayea's. So get on wit' yo' bad selves an' bend 'dem knees like I done tol' ya'!"
"Well, my young friend, I see you're back from your adventure with that noisy bunch next door. A bad lot. I'll bet you're glad to be back with decent people. Sit down here beside me and let me get you a drink. Hey! You, boy! Quit lollygagging and bring us some drinks and some caviar. And make sure you put plenty ice in my drink this time! These people. It's hard to get decent help any more."
"Help? But he's wearing a soldier's uniform just like they do next door. What is he doing over here waiting on you people?
"I don't know. It makes no sense to me. They come over here and volunteer their services. I suppose they have nothing better to do and so they like to come here and soak up the atmosphere while they gawk at us girls in bikinis. Their not much good at serving anyway. But like I said, what can you do?"
"There's one of those soldiers washing the Pastor's feet? Why is she doing that?"
"Got me. Some sort of ritual they go though I guess. They do it all the time. Want your feet washed? I'll call one of the flunkies over here."
"No no. I'm fine. But why do you put these soldiers down? They are doing you a favor."
"A favor? Don't make me laugh. We're doing them a favor by even letting them come over here in the first place. Them doing us a favor. Ha!"
"I see some people in a tower watching the sky with binoculars. What are they looking for?"
"Oh, them. They're our cloud watchers."
"Yeah. They watch for the cloud that guy, um, what's His name? Hey! Joe! What's that guys name? Oh yeah, Jesus is supposed to come on to take us to Heaven forever. The preacher says we're supposed to keep an eye out for Him, so that's what those guys do day and night. Kind of like air raid wardens I guess. I'm just glad I'm not one of them."
"I think Jesus meant.... oh, never mind. I've been kind of looking around and I haven't noticed anyone praying or reading the Bible. Do you do that here?"
"Sure we do. We do that in the morning and at meal time. I guess some of us spend almost five minutes a day praying. It works to! See Bill over there? He spent ten minutes a day for a whole week praying and he got a new Mercedes out of it."
"And the Bible?"
"Oh, sure. I myself spend five, even ten minutes reading the Bible once or twice a week. Well, it's not exactly the Bible, you know, but one of those little books they send you in the mail. But it's the same thing, you know. No difference. Besides, the Pastor keeps us up on all that junk every Sunday. Most of us just let him do all that. After all, that's his job. Some people say we should read the Bible fifteen minutes a day. Ha! Can you believe that? Who's got time to do that? How many hours do they think there is in a day is what I say?"
"I see. Well, I think I will be going now."
"Going? Where are you going? Why don't you stay here with me? I'll get a boy to bring you a drink and I'll rub your back ...."
"No, I think I'll go next door. I saw a lot of people reading the Bible over there. I think I'll talk to them and see what they have to say."
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