Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A very brief word on why people go to Hell...

You hear many these days say that people die and go to Hell because they don't know Christ.  There is definite truth in that statement... but it isn't the most accurate way to phrase the 'why' of why people go to Hell.  Let me make this statement which will at first make you recoil.  No one has ever gone to Hell because they didn't trust Christ.  No No No I am NOT a heretic... Please read on and let me explain.

John 3:16-18 (NASB) - “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.  17 “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.  18 “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

In verse 17 it says that Jesus didn't come to judge the world but to save it.  If He came to save it then we can easily see the inference that the world stood condemned.  Not for a lack of belief in Christ but for something else.  Ephesians 2 makes it clear that we WERE dead in our sins.  We are dead in our sins but God in His goodness has sent Jesus Christ so that those who repent and trust in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 

What does it say there in verse 18.  He who does not believe has been judged already.  He who does not believe is ALREADY CONDEMNED.  The REASON people go to Hell is because they are dead in their sins.  If God sent people to Hell because they didn't trust Jesus then He would be a cruel God wouldn't He?  It seems that way to me.... in a way of thinking at least...

Verse 18 is explaining what was said in verse 16 and 17.  Verse 18 makes plain that those who are in Christ are saved from the judgment that once awaited them and that those who have rejected the Savior are still facing judgment as a result.

However, we are responsible for our own sin (Romans 3:23).  God does not cause us to sin.  We sin because we are sinful.  So we condemn ourselves to Hell.  However, Jesus Christ is the only One who can save us!  Those who don't believe on the Son are condemned already, yet those who trust in the Lord will be rescued!  Will be saved! 

That shows Him to be the good God that He is, the beautiful Savior that He is!

All Hail the Power of Jesus Name!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Doctrine of Hell

In the Bible, three specific terms are used for hell.  Hades/ Sheol and Gehenna.  Studying the words will help us compile a Biblical Doctrine of Hell.  Even though many don’t believe in hell… in fact a recent survey showed that only 65% of Americans who believe in God believe in Hell also. (staggering)

The first term: Hades/ Sheol is the Hebrew equivalent.

Hades is a Greek word.  Hades is the Greek word for Hell. Sheol is the Hebrew word and it means the unseen world.  Unknown world.  The place where disembodied souls reside.  It is used 10 times in the New Testament.  Four of those times it is used specifically from Jesus and 4 times in Revelation which is Christ speaking through John and then it is used twice in Acts.

It is always used to refer to the dwelling place of the dead and a place of torment.

There are a couple of ways that Hades/ Sheol and Gehenna are viewed Some scholars say that they are two separate places.  Hades is the place you go when you die in your sins and you await the Final Judgment there and after that you are thrown into Gehenna.

Others hold that they are the same place completely.  This view says that if you die in your sins you go to Hades/Gehenna where you remain apart from your body until the Final Judgment at which point you will be reunited with your body and both will be cast into Hades/Gehenna together.

I hold that second view personally.  That they are one in the same and that right now just the souls of the damned are there and after the Final Judgment of the entire world they will be reunited with their physical bodies and they will be both thrown into Hell once for eternity together suffering God’s wrath.

The other word used is Gehenna.  Used twelve times in the New Testament, it was used by Christ 11 of the 12 times in describing Hell.  Unlike the words Hades or Sheol, Gehenna is a more descriptive and more terrifying word for Hell than any other.

Turn over to Matthew 5 I want to specifically call your attention to verses 22;29;30.  Gehenna is the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew word gehinnam.  It means “The Valley of Hinnom”. 

In the times of Jesus, the Valley of Hinnom was used as the garbage dump of Jerusalem.  Into it were thrown all filth and garbage of the city including dead animal carcasses and the bodies of executed criminals.

To consume all of this, fires were burned in this place constantly.  Maggots worked in the filth and when the wind blew across it in the direction of the city, it was AWFUL.  At night you could even hear wild dogs howling and fighting over the waste.

Jesus used this awful scene as a symbol of Hell.  In effect He said, “Do you want to know what hell is like?  Look at Gehenna.”  So you could say that hell is similar to this place only the fires in hell will burn but never consume their fuels fully.

Mark 9:47-48 - “If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell,  48 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.

Essentially saying that life without one eye or hand would be better lived than going with both eyes or hands into a place worse than the Valley of Hinnom.   All that is unfit for heaven, which is anyone who has not been washed by the Blood of His Son, all without Christ are thrown into Hell.

So they would have understood very well what he meant by those words.

2 Thessalonians 1:7b-9 - when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire,  8 dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.  9 These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,

Away from the presence of the Lord.  Presence of the Lord, there, also translates to face of the Lord.  Hell is where God’s face is turned away from those there.  Which is always a way of saying that God’s favorable presence is not on you. 

Luke 13:24-28 - “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.  25 “Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open up to us!’ then He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from.’  26 “Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets’;  27 and He will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you are from; depart from Me, all you evildoers.’  28 “In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves being thrown out.

It says there that they will be able to see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob but they will not be let in to them. 

Revelation 14:9-10 - Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.

Who is clearly doing the tormenting there?  God.

2.) Indescribable Suffering

Clearly taught in the Bible is the suffering, the horrible sufferings, of the wicked in Hell.  It isn’t that they are tormented out of God’s cruelty, because God is not cruel.  They are tormented justly for their sin.  He does not gleefully torture them.  In fact God’s chief pleasure is not in their demise.

Ezekiel 18:23;32 - Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord God, “rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?; 32 “For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord God. “Therefore, repent and live.”

God is a God of justice and Hell is the place where that justice is dispensed.  The wicked receives no less or no more punishment than they deserve.

In Luke 16:28 the rich man begs Abraham to send Lazarus or anyone to his living brothers to warn them not to die in their sins so that what?  They don’t end up in that place of torment.

Matthew 8:12, says it is a place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Indescribable pain is there.  Not the least of which is the full understanding of our sin.  Just as the believer will rejoice in that day because he will see the fullness of the sin he was saved from and what it cost Christ to redeem him, so the unbeliever will feel the fullness of the weight of their sins.

3.) Unending Punishment

Hell is eternal.  It is not a purgatory that purges us from our sin and then sends us on to Heaven.  By the way, have you considered this… that those religions who teach purgatory as a true doctrine, not only are they teaching a false doctrine but they are also implying that there are two ways to be saved.  One, through Jesus and two through purgatory.

So it is more than a small doctrine we can differ on, it’s heresy.  If it’s heresy, it isn’t Christianity.

Revelation 20:10 - And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Matthew 25:46 - “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

The wicked go to eternal punishment; the righteous go away into eternal life.  It would be inconsistent to give two contradictory meanings to the same word in the same sentence.  If “eternal” punishment doesn’t mean punishment forever then it would make sense that “eternal” life doesn’t mean that the righteous will enjoy heaven forever either.   So it is either that they are both eternal or both temporary.  The Bible insists that they are both eternal.

We are warned to avoid Hell at all costs and believers are told to warn others of hell at all costs.

Matthew 10:28 - Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

What is man’s only hope?

Scripture is clear that hell is the fate that awaits all mankind.  All of us stand condemned by default before God.  All of us are capable of all sorts of sin and perversion and all of us have violated God’s perfect standard of the righteousness needed to enter into Heaven.

We are in a great deal of trouble on our own, BUT there is a hope!  A singular hope!

Galatians 3:22-24 - But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.  23 But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed.  24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.

Jesus Christ is our Great High Priest, our Living Hope.  He has said that if you will turn from your sin and trust Him for forgiveness then He will forgive you and you will be able to enter into Heaven through that narrow gate.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Guest Blogger: Chris Bottoms - A Healthy Church

There is a lot of talk out there in the blogsphere relating to The Church. I'd like to throw in my two cents.

I think we have to start with the issue of sin. Before we can talk about The Church and what it is but could be or isn't and should be, we have to deal with the issue of sin.

Why is the church failing to fulfill its Christ-breathed mission?


Why isn't the church ministering as it should?


Let's just look at it the way Jesus does. Start in Matthew 5; Jesus is sitting on a mountainside, teaching the crowd of disciples, and leads with eight characteristics that Believers must embody to be "approved". First up, Jesus gives us the "poor in spirit". This speaks to the realization that we have nothing to offer God that we can redeem for our salvation...nothing to plead with...nothing of value to give Him in exchange for real, present and eternal life. That characteristic permeates our person and is lived out as an ongoing act of repentance. Consider the tax collector of Luke 18, who cries out for mercy realizing that he is bankrupt spiritually because of his sin and must depend on God's mercy and grace for salvation. Next Jesus offers us "those who mourn", speaking to those that are completely broken over their sin and the sin that permeates our humanity. Right out of the box, Jesus is dealing with a Believers' relationship to sin. Of course, the Beatitudes go on into other markers, but we'll stop there for brevity's sake.

Now, if the Church is the gathered body of Believers, then we, not "it", ought to have such an attitude toward sin...which would of course lead to repentance, humility, meekness, and utter dependancy on Almighty God for all things, not least of which is our redemption.

If that were the case, we'd see an exponentially more effective Church, actively growing in discipleship, serving the Lord, the Body, and the community for the sake of the Kingdom.