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I've traveled to the remote South American town of Abadiania, Brazil, with the belief that it is possible.
Hundreds of people, all shapes and sizes, all walks of life, from varying religions, and from all around the world draw in closely to get a glimpse of this notorious yet controversial Guru. I approach the blue and white open-air buildings called the Casa de Dom Inacio de Loyola -- John of God's healing center. Here in Abadiania, there is no desperation; there is only hope as it pumps through our veins while we search for our miracle. Up until today, many of us have been sleep walking through life, letting fear rule our universe.
We are let in through the first healing room, which is the room where we are "spiritually cleansed." At least 70 people with their eyes closed are meditating in silence for our soon to be healing. John of God is a medium who is incarnate in a physical body as he channels spirits, famous saints, surgeons and historic medical doctors through his body to help humans in need.
My translator shares my intentions in Portuguese to the guru, "Amore Proprio y Evoluir Espiritual." To love myself and evolve my spiritual connection with God.
He mumbles as my translator quickly brushes me to the side and says to me the Medium said, "You have to come back to Brazil three more times." Before I can make sense of my "next steps," I am pushed into the blessing room, and then abruptly spit out into the healing center's main garden area.
Heather Cumming's my guide who is a Shamanic Practitioner, Reiki Master and the right hand assistant to the Guru, later tells me, that the Entities have work to do on me, and it will take time in between my trips to Brazil to heal. My entire life I have been an impatient "magic bullet girl." Jumping from one trend to the next, always looking for instant results. I thought I was coming for self-love, but what I really needed was to see that there is nothing wrong with me, or with any of us. I have arrived in this dusty, petite town, to pour my desperation into the man some arguably call the world's best healer. The center is founded on faith, hope and an unshakable core belief that there is a power greater than ours. Being here is much different though; the pain and illnesses that caused us to come seem to lesson their hold in this bubble of the world. Two tall orders, but I believe in miracles, especially when I am holding hands with an angel. I guess asking to fall in love with myself and be closer to God will take more than a miracle.
Some Christians feel that in this story, Jesus was offering His hearers a glimpse of what existence in the afterlife is like.
He desired to stimulate their deepest thought and contemplation, and He knew that if He spoke too literally, certain of His hearers would quickly forget His words. The Jews had been blessed above measure by a knowledge of God and his plan of salvation for all mankind. Instead, they considered them as a€?dogsa€? that would have to be satisfied with the spiritual crumbs falling from their mastersa€™ tables.
Only moments before relating this parable, Jesus had rebuked the Pharisees for their spiritual conceit. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. Based on this belief, some people teach that those who are consigned to the fiery torments of hell will never stop burning throughout all eternity. Their bodies obviously came along, for we find the rich man lifting up his eyes, and desiring to have his tongue cooled by a drop of water from the finger of Lazarus who was resting, as we have seen, in Abrahama€™s bosom. Instead, He was referring to the unfaithfulness of the Jews regarding their assigned responsibility. Notice that the Scriptures choose the strongest possible words to describe the complete annihilation of the wicked. The apparition of Samuel told Saul, a€?Tomorrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me.a€? Saul committed suicide on the battlefield the next day. Obviously, a€?psuchea€? could not mean soul in this instance, or people could be said to lose their soul for Christa€™s sake.
Put in the word a€?lifea€? instead of a€?soula€? and the text makes perfect sense in its consistency with the rest of the Bible. Maggots that fed on the dead bodies were constantly destroying what might escape the flames. With the fires of Gehenna burning before their eyes, Jesus could not have spoken a more graphic word to the Pharisees to describe the final total destruction of sinners. But in this case, the word a€?carcassesa€? is used, revealing the fact that the fire consumes dead bodies, not disembodied souls.

When the soldiers came just before sunset to take the bodies off the cross, Jesus was already dead (John 19:32-34).
He asked, a€?Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.a€? Thata€™s exactly when he will be remembered and taken into that Kingdom. Paul realized that one did not pass instantly from being clothed with this tabernacle into being clothed with our house from heaven. It has been preached that Christ actually descended into the lower regions of the earth and preached to lost souls that were imprisoned in some purgatory or limbo. The answer is plainly given in verse 20, a€?When once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing.a€? So, the preaching was actually done while the ark was being builta€”during the preaching of Noah to that antediluvian world.
There is absolutely nothing here that indicates that Jesus departed from the body during the time He was dead to go to any subterranean place to minister to wicked spirits. In Exodus 21:1-6 the Hebrew servant was to serve his master a€?for ever,a€? but it was obviously only as long as he lived. Christ is called a€?a priest for evera€? (Hebrews 5:6), yet after sin is blotted out Christa€™s work as a priest will end.
Arriving in Brazil 50 pounds overweight, and succumbing to the disappearing act of self-esteem, I am praying for a miracle. The rest of the group is buzzing with anticipation as well while we dress in our cleanest whites.
Everyone who arrives at the Casa, is dedicated and determined to live their lives differently. The pain has caused such dis-ease that it has pushed us into a greater understanding of life. It is not everyday that I get a chance to look a man in the eye and see an angel looking back at me.
It can only come with patience, dedication and a surrender to accessing an even deeper hope within. Others, citing numerous passages of Scripture that seem to contradict the portrayal of heaven and hell contained in this passage, feel that Jesus was teaching an altogether different kind of lesson.
Not only that, but others, for whom certain of His parables contained stern rebuke, would be so angered by straight speaking that they would attempt to silence Him by violence.
But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. The a€?dogsa€? and sinners, so despised by the self-righteous Pharisees, would enter heaven before they would.
Abraham replies, a€?If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.a€? Verse 31. As with the parable of the trees and the bramble (Judges 9:8-15), however, serious problems arise with a literal interpretation of the story elements. And if there is really a great gulf fixed between heaven and hell, how could the rich man possibly have been heard by Abraham? Enough graves have been exhumed in recent years to know that the bodies of the deceased are carried neither to heaven or hell after burial. As stewards of the special message of truth, they utterly failed to share it with the Gentiles, who were eager to hear it.
By the parable of another rich man, He graphically illustrated how they had proven just as unfaithful with spiritual riches as the steward had been unfaithful with physical wealth.
Nowhere do the Scriptures teach that the wicked will continue to suffer in the fires of hell through the ceaseless ages of eternity. In no way should these clear words be misunderstood by one who honestly desires to know truth. He received his information as second hand from the witch, and only concluded it was Samuel from her description.
The contrast isbetween one who can take the physical life, and He who can take away eternal life. In other words, it is a destruction which never ends, because there will be no resurrection from that destruction. Yet, he hastened to say in the same verse, a€?There shall not be a coal to warm at, nor a fire to sit before it.a€? So the unquenchable fire will go out after it has finished its work. First, even though Jesus told the thief, a€?Verily I say unto thee, To day shaltthou be with me in paradise,a€? three days later He told Mary that He had not yet ascended to His Father. The thieves were very much alive, and their legs were broken to hasten death and to prevent them from escaping. After desiring to be clothed upon with immortality, Paul states that a€?being clothed we shall not be found naked.a€? Verse 3.

It says that Christ suffered once for sin that He might bring us to God by being put to death in the flesh. The three questions are clearly answered in the text itself, that He preached by the Holy Spirit, He did it while the ark was being prepared, and He did it to the spirits in prison or to those individuals whose sinful lives were bound in the prison house of sin.
I am unapologetically ready to meet my new Guru and join forces with the future me; the healthier, happier version of me. People from so many countries around the world, with all kinds of ailments ranging from physical, emotional, to spiritual have made it to the source. Many of the people waiting to see Medium John of God have similar stories; somewhere along their journey, a doctor diagnosed them with a deadly disease and they said, "NO, that is not how my story ends, I am going to heal! Unfortunately, many modern religious teachers have isolated the story from its original context and used it as a device for scaring people. Only a Jew would pray to a€?Father Abraham,a€? as we find the rich man doing later in the story. Perhaps more disturbing, how could the saints enjoy the comforts of heaven while enduring the cries of the wicked being tormented? Those who accept Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice will live forever; those who do not accept Jesus will die.
There is a fire reserved for the wicked, but a fire so hot it will utterly destroy all who are engulfed by it.
Do we have a genuine love for those around us, and have we invited them to share our spiritual inheritance? Here is proof in the words of Jesus: a€?And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. So whatever Christ did in preaching during this period of time, He did it through or by the Holy Spirit. The text says here a€?to the spirits in prison.a€? Throughout the Bible, we find this terminology used in describing those who are bound in the prison house of sin. Cancer patients walk out tumor-less; people who have been blind for their entire life, suddenly see the light of the world, and others who are wheelchair bound, instantly stand up and walk.
Although he was born to a Catholic family, today he practices a different source of faith; he simply believes in God, and his religion is love.
It suddenly becomes clear to me that John of God is a miracle man, not because he performs healing of a profound nature, but because he teaches us all how to believe.
Religious a€?conversionsa€? resulting from a fear of hell as it is depicted in this passage have indeed occurred, but are based on a foundation sorely in need of the strength that comes only from a genuine appreciation of Goda€™s character and a proper understanding of Scripture.
Crudena€™s Concordance explains: a€?Our Saviour in the gospels often speaks to the people in parables.
Jesus never would have compromised the integrity of the Holy Scriptures by teaching a doctrine contrary to its own overwhelming testimony on the subject. Samuel is described as a€?an old man covered with a mantle.a€? Is this the way immortal souls appear? Not only will their bodies be destroyed in that fire, but also their lives will be snuffed out for all eternity. So how could Jesus assure the thief of being with Him in Paradise that day when they did not both die on a€?that daya€?? Eternally burning fire is not taught anywhere in the Biblea€”not even in the story of the rich man and Lazarus. In contrast, by active, loving service, our relationship with Christ as well as with others will become stronger and more meaningful.
The question is: How could Jesus tell the thief that he would be with Him in Paradise that day, when He did not go there until three days later? I leave Brazil with the greatest gift of all; the realization that the journey is the reward, and there is no destination.
Perhaps then we will better understand what lessons there are for us in the story of the rich man and Lazarus. Also, the expression a€?eternal firea€? may be understood in terms of consequences rather than duration, as in the example of Sodom and Gomorrha in Jude 7).

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