The Spirit

The eternal component of our tri-partite nature that wants to worship something is called our spirit. God longs for us to worship Him, but He gives us free will to do so, or to worship someone or something else. God imparted that spirit to us at conception, which is why we believe that unborn babies (whether miscarried or aborted) go to heaven to be with Jesus. The story Heaven is For Real is a beautiful confirmation of this reality. In this true story, Colton tells the babysitter how much he misses the sister he met in heaven, but whose miscarriage had never been told him by his parents. During his brief encounter in heaven, 4 year old Colton, whose body was still on the operating table where doctors are trying to revive him, not only met the sister who died in his "mommy's tummy," but also got to sit on the lap of his deceased grandfather--who had died 20 years earlier and whose picture he had never seen before. He also got to sit with Jesus, and later describes to his father in great detail things that he had never heard before, yet that are 100% Biblically correct. On the other side, my wife told me a story of a patient of hers who died in the ICU. During his resuscitation he started screaming in utter agony "I'm on fire, I'm no fire, I'm on fire, I'm on fire." While the doctor in charge was demanding vital signs be taken (temperature, blood pressure, pulse) and that IV fluids be started.....where had this man's spirit just returned from? Dead bodies get colder, not hotter. So, why was this man in agony crying "I'm on fire" during the few minutes since his heart monitor went flatline? Heaven and hell are a reality. When our time on earth is up, we will face an immediate judgment of our spirit that has eternal consequences. You, too, are a precious soul and have eternal value. So, let's talk not shirk the issue. If you want to know how you can get saved, please read the last two paragraphs.

Since completing my psychiatry internship at Bethesda Naval Hospital in 1993, my colleagues in the Navy have referred their mental health patients to me. Some of these had tried killing themselves "and failed." Their attempts were not faint-hearted ones either. Yet, they were not able to commit suicide. God was merciful and gracious to them. But He won't always override your will. There have been those who "have succeeded" in taking their own lives. The ones "who failed" are worth mentioning. God's intervention was, if nothing short of a miracle, at least remarkable.

One sailor told me he tried to drown himself in the ocean on a deserted beach at night-time during a particularly bad storm. "I swam away from shore. I was a ways out and couldn't touch the bottom, but the waves became too strong. I was utterly exhausted, I couldn't keep my head up and started to go down. Then the funniest thing happened. It was as if something lifted me up, like a sub or something, and placed me back on shore, where I woke up." During my psychiatry residency another man told me he had tried to hang himself at night-time from his favorite childhood tree deep in the forest. He told me he had climbed the tree, secured the rope around the branch and his neck and let himself down slowly until his strength gave out and he couldn't hold on to the branch anymore. He told me, "Doc, I passed out. The next thing I know, I woke up sitting on the branch I had been trying to hang myself from, and there is noone around me." Isn't God gracious? He gave these people second chances. But that is not always the case. God is under no obligation to intervene, although He sometimes does. From the above we have learned that although some try, not everyone succeeds in attempting suicide. Nevertheless, when death comes, there is a place of eternal bliss or agony that is immediate and eternal. Not everyone gets a second chance.

The next topic is also challenging. Let me say it bluntly. There is indeed a battle for your mind. Not every thought you have is your own. Not every voice you hear is a product of your own mind. There certainly are schizophrenics, or others who experience hearing voices from time to time for a variety of reasons. But when the thoughts or voices are commanding in type, tellling you that "You are worthless, you might as well kill yourself....etc. etc. " that is probably an attack from the enemy--Satan. I have experienced such a satanic assault while at a conference with my wife in New York City. I was looking through our hotel window at the yellow cabs honking at each other 27 floors below me, when this strange thought popped into my head out of nowhere---"Jump." I did a double take. I was neither depressed nor suicidal. On top of that, I am a psychiatrist. I turned around to see my wife who was quietly unpacking her suitcase behind me. She had said nothing. I didn't hear it with my ears. I had the thought in my head. It took me a second to realize that this was a Satanic suggestion with intent for me to end my own life. If I had acted on it, I wouldn't be writing this. I dismissed the thought, but it bothered me for a while. Satan was indeed intent on destroying me. Satan is indeed the destroyer, going about to kill, steal and destroy those who give into these suggestions.

As you can see, Satan is a real entity. He is a deceiving spirit. But he cannot physically kill you. He can, however, place thoughts in your head. If you choose to act on them, he wins. But God gave us His roadmap, the Bible, to overcome these temptations. Gods Word tells us to "Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ...submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee." Jesus even rebuked Peter's thought, saying to him "Satan, get thee behind me." This tells us that not every thought we have is our own. Another time Jesus, while fasting 40 days in the wilderness, was tempted of Satan three times. How did He fight back? By quoting scripture and by not giving in. After the third time, Satan left Him. In order to quote scripture, you have to read the Bible and commit applicable verses in self-defense to memory. That is your sword. That's how you fight the good fight and win. God's Word is just as practical and powerful today. Pick it up and use it.

The Gospel

So, here is the good news: the Plan of Salvation. God wants a personal relationship with you. He allows things to happen to humble you, to where you will recognize your need of Him. Not only did God create the world and the universe, but He also had a plan to save us. CHRISTmas is all about Jesus Christ. He is God Himself Who left His heavenly abode and came to earth to make that substitutionary payment for our sin, that only He has the ability and authority to pay. If you try to pay it in your own strength, you will fail miserably. Romans 6:23 states "For the wages of sin is death (the second death: eternal separation from God's presence, i.e.going to hell); BUT the gift of God is eternal life (going to heaven, like little Colton in the above story) through Jesus Christ our Lord." If God is holy, then He cannot lie. If He says eternal life is a free gift to us, and He pays for it, then how can we possibly believe that we can make that "perfect payment for our sins," when we are messed up already? How insulting would it be to your parents if you insisted on paying them for your birthday presents? That invalidates the gift. It's no longer a gift if you pay for it. How insulting it must be to God for people to say that His payment for our sins on the cross was not good enough, or that He is not strong enough to make that payment, and that we somehow have to help Him out? The Bible plainly negates all our self efforts. "All your righteousness is as filthy (menstrual) rags. For it is by grace that you are saved, not of works, lest (unless) any man should boast." John 3:16 confirms the above. It plainly states "For God so loved the world (mankind) that He (God the Father) gave His only begotten Son (Jesus Christ), that whosoever (anybody) believeth (by faith, not by works) Him (Jesus Christ), shall not perish (go to hell), but have eternal life (go to heaven)." The bottom line is that if I help you physically, but I neglect your soul; if I have the good news, but don't share it with you--you will not thank me when you face eternity. I would have done you a grave disservice. Your eternal spirit is precious and of infinite value.

Dr. Vrielink's Personal Testimony

For 30 years I was church going. I went to churches in the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium. Upon moving to America at age 14, I attended Methodist, Prebyterian, and Lutheran churches. But I never heard the Gospel explained. I knew that Jesus died on the cross. That was a historical fact. I never questioned or disputed that. But I used to sincerely believe that going to heaven was up to me, by keeping the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule. I thought if I were more good than bad, I would somehow make it in. I did not understand that God had already made that full payment on our behalf. It is freely available to all those who call on Jesus Christ. On April 3rd, 1994 pastor Jim Shettler at Pensacola Christian College explained the Plan of Salvation to me. I had heard some of these things, but never had it explained that way--that Jesus' death on the cross had a purpose. That His death was sufficient and acceptable to God as the payment for all my sins. All I had to do was trust Him and what He had done for me, and to accept Him as my Savior and Lord (ruler) over my life. It seemed so easy, but it all made sense. When I made that decision, it radically changed my life. I repented, I restored relationships, and I made restitution where necessary. I have absolutely no regrets. He is real and active in my life. You, too, are free to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Or to reject Him. There is no middle ground. You are either for Him, or against Him. So, give it some thought. But don't delay. You may not have tomorrow.