Saturday, June 4, 2016

Jan Crouch and Muhammad Ali- questions of death, final destination, and eternity

Jan Crouch died a few days ago. Muhammad Ali died yesterday. Famous people dying makes us think about eternity. The news coverage puts eternity into the spotlight, along with the eternal question, what happens after death?

One minute after you slip behind the parted curtain, you will either be enjoying a personal welcome from Jesus Christ, or catching your first glimpse of gloom as you have never known it. Either way, your future will be irrevocably fixed and eternally unchangeable. ~Erwin Lutzer, One Minute After You Die

Of those family and friends of who we are pretty sure were justified on earth and are now glorified in heaven, we mourn their passing but celebrate their ongoing life. We might envision them meeting Jesus, and think of their wonder at the glory that surrounds them, and how excited they might be to praise and sing to the Savior. It is pleasant to ponder these imaginings of those we miss but are fairly sure have gone on to glory.

For those of whom we are less sure they are resting in peace or singing in the choir invisible, we have different imaginings. These ponderings would include people like Jan Crouch and Muhammad Ali. What was it like for them one minute after they died?

Janice Wendell Bethany Crouch was a woman who professed Christ but in near certainty did not possess Him. She was in fact a greedy false teacher who taught and believed in a different Jesus. I don't think that can be debated. By any stretch, she was likely not justified and is probably not resting in peace, but in all probability is in torment. (Titus 1:16). We can't say for sure, because final destination is the task of Jesus to determine. But there are strong indicators given what the Bible verses say about the entry requirements to heaven. So, we ponder her meeting one minute after she died.

The UK Daily Mail pulled no punches about Crouch's death and life:

Televangelist Jan Crouch who founded the world's largest 'prosperity praying' church and was famous for her purple hairdo and extravagant spending dies aged 78 
But before she passed away yesterday, days after suffering a massive stroke at her Florida home, the 78-year-old lived a life of enormous wealth funded by her Evangelical TV empire. Alongside her husband Paul, Crouch preached to millions of viewers on a weekly basis, promising them wealth if only they would open up their own pockets and donate to her. Using that money the couple bought adjoining mansions in Florida, jets worth almost $60 million and a $100,000 mobile home just to house Janice's dogs, according to a lawsuit filed in 2012.
Jan Crouch was a ridiculous caricature of a woman. With her cotton candy, wild colored hair, extravagant lifestyle, and outlandish statements it was easy to dismiss her for being unbiblical in even her appearance. (1 Timothy 2:9, 1 Peter 3:3). Her evil influence regarding life and doctrine affected people across the entire globe. Jan Crouch did not know the Jesus of the Bible. So it's easy to imagine that she might well have entered hell one minute after she died.

Matthew Henry said of false teachers (2 Corinthians 11:15),
It is far better to be plain in speech, yet walking openly and consistently with the gospel, than to be admired by thousands, and be lifted up in pride, so as to disgrace the gospel by evil tempers and unholy lives.

I have many thoughts about her and others like her, who lead millions astray. She grieved the Spirit many times, and though I want to say more, I'll end this part on Jan Crouch saying exactly what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 11:15, of false teachers:

Their end will be what their actions deserve.

Muhammad Ali was a famous boxer, heavyweight champion of the world in fact. He was a masterful athlete, a gifted marketer, an orator extraordinaire. I came of age during his tenure as heavyweight champ. I was 14 when the Ali's victory over Joe Frazier, happened. You remember the Thrilla in Manila. It was the greatest fight of all time, people say. Ali dominated my early adulthood like no other athlete did, not even Olga Korbut, Nadia Com─âneci, or Evel Knievel. OK, lol on that last one. But my point is, Ali's deeds and persona insinuated into even this retiring, bookish gal's mind. He surely was a force to be reckoned with.

My father-in-law was a policeman and he was on duty inside the arena during the famous 1965 Lewiston Maine Ali-Vs. Sonny Liston fight. Ali was named Cassius Clay then, his real name before his conversion to Islam. The most famous and iconic shot of Ali ever taken occurred in Lewiston during that controversial fight. Neil Leifer's photo is below,

Muhammad Ali after first round knockout of Sonny Liston
during World Heavyweight Title fight at St. Dominic’s Arena
in Lewiston, Maine on 5/25/1965. Leifer photo

In retirement since 1981, Ali has "helped promote world peace, civil rights, cross-cultural understanding, interfaith relations, humanitarianism, hunger relief, and the commonality of basic human values."

In 1965, Ali joined the Nation of Islam and changed his name. He converted to Sunni Islam in 1975, and then to Sufism in 2005. Wikipedia reported,
Several weeks before the [Lewiston] fight, the Miami Herald published an article quoting Cassius Clay Sr. as saying that his son had joined the Black Muslims when he was 18. [Nation of Islam]. "They have been hammering at him ever since," Clay Sr. said. "He's so confused now that he doesn't even know where he's at." He said his youngest son, Rudy Clay, had also joined. "They ruined my two boys," Clay Sr. said. "Muslims tell my boys to hate white people; to hate women; to hate their mother." Clay Jr. responded by saying, "I don't care what my father said....I'm here training for a fight, and that's all I'm going to say."

In 1967, Ali was fervent enough in his beliefs in Nation of Islam to accept the consequences for his refusal to be conscripted. He had objected on religious grounds. Ali was arrested, found guilty and stripped of his heavyweight championship title. He fought the charge all the way to the Supreme Court, where his conviction was overturned. However, Ali had lost 4 prime fighting years in his career. He felt THAT strongly about Islam.

Muhammad Ali was easy to love and Jan Crouch was easy to hate. One spent a lifetime helping people and the other spent a lifetime bilking people. One rejected Christianity and another professed Him. Yet it is entirely likely that both are in hell, enduring eternal torment.
And so while relatives and friend plan your funeral- deciding on a casket, a burial plot, and who the pallbearers shall be, you will be more alive than you ever have been. You will either see God on His throne surrounded by angels and redeemed humanity, or you will feel an indescribable weight of guilt and abandonment. There is no destination midway between these two extremes; just gladness and gloom. Erwin Lutzer, ~One Minute After You Die

Ali's good works won't satisfy the entry requirement to heaven. His sincere religious beliefs won't get him in. (Proverbs 16:25). Crouch's pleas that everything she did, she did in His name won't get her in. (Matthew 7:21-22).

The requirements to enter heaven are few, but are clear and direct. You must repent of your sins, and believe in the Jesus as revealed by the Bible. (John 3:15, Acts 1:11, Acts 2:32). Evidence for your profession is that you are submitted to Jesus's ways, have stayed on the narrow path, and have grown in sanctification-producing fruit. If not...then not.

 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. (Matthew 25:46)

I don't write these things to point fingers and certainly not to gloat. I have shed tears writing this, and have stopped many times through the day to pray to Jesus in gratitude for His saving grace. I'm not saying that to appear super-spiritual but to demonstrate the weightiness of eternal matters. We cannot comprehend the seriousness of sin. Unbelievers are eternally guilty. Believers are eternally righteous. These are the most important ponderings in all of life.
When the curtain parts for us, nothing can keep us from answering the summons. One minute after we die we will either be elated or terrified. ~Lutzer
How can we be sure of where we are going after we die?
There are two important tests in Scripture for a person to determine whether or not he or she is a true believer.

There is first of all an objective test, which asks, "Do I believe?" Ask yourself if you affirm the Scripture's record of the person and work of Jesus Christ. Do you believe that He is God manifest in the flesh? Do you believe that God saves sinners solely through the merits of Jesus Christ's obedient life and substitutionary death on the cross?

Second is the subjective or experiential test of assurance in which you ask yourself, "Is my faith real?" The apostle John's purpose in writing the epistle of 1 John was to give true believers assurance of their salvation (1 John 5:13). In that small epistle John gives several marks to distinguish a true believer. Source Gty.org

For more, go to the link, or here:

A Believer's Assurance: A Practical Guide to Victory over Doubt

Is It Real: 11 Biblical Tests of genuine Salvation

For the unbeliever who may be wondering about the questions of eternity and final destiny, here is a resource,

What is the nature of true saving faith?

May God bless you and may you be assured of your destination into eternity. We all enter an eternity. Mine is with Jesus. I pray yours will be too.

And this is that testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. (1 John 5:11)

3 comments :

  1. On point as usual, ma'am. Thank you.

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  2. Hi Elle,

    Thank you so much. If you know of someone who is struggling with assurance or an unbeliever who wants to know more, the resources above in my opinion are really good

    ReplyDelete
  3. I heard this story relayed yesterday on one of the sports shows where they were talking about Muhammad Ali: But then I think of a story that one of Ali’s friends and former managers, Gene Kilroy, once told me. A child was dying of cancer. Ali visited the hospital and told the boy that he was going to defeat Sonny Liston and that he, the kid, was going to defeat cancer. “No,” the boy said. “I’m going to God, and I’m going to tell God that I know you.”

    The commentator then said that Ali and that boy were both now talking to God. My husband and I just shook our heads at the ignorance of God in today's world.

    ReplyDelete