I take no special delight in writing this article. But hell is real and people are going there. So let’s look closely at what the Bible has to say about it as well as the on-going debate over whether hell is eternal conscious punishment.
What you and I “like” is utterly and absolutely irrelevant. God doesn’t set his eternal agenda based on what we “prefer”. What we might “hope” to be true simply doesn’t matter. What does or does not make us “feel comfortable” has no bearing on the truth or falsity of this issue. The fact that we have an intuitive sense for what strikes us as “fair” or “just” plays no part whatsoever in coming to a conclusion on whether or not there is an eternal hell. The fact that we may not enjoy the thought of eternal conscious punishment doesn’t make it go away! The fact that you “feel” the existence of hell is inconsistent with your concept of God doesn’t mean there isn’t one. What we “want” or “hope” or “desire” has no relevance at all in this debate. The only important question is, “Does the Bible teach it?” And if the Bible does teach it (and Revelation 14 together with numerous other texts would indicate it does), our responsibility is to believe it and fervently and faithfully proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ as the only hope sinners have for now and eternity.
Here are 10 truths about hell that we must understand and accept.
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There has been considerable controversy over the differences between Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and their respective descriptions of what happened on Easter Sunday morning. But the differences are not discrepancies. In other words, all four accounts, in my opinion, are complementary and perfectly compatible with one another. When we compare and align the four gospel accounts of the resurrection of Jesus, we derive the following ten truths.
The first thing of importance for us to note is the commitment of several women who had witnessed the crucifixion and had helped in the burial of Jesus. They agreed to return on Sunday morning, after the Sabbath, to finish preparation of his body. Two women in particular, Joanna and Susanna, already had in their possession the spices needed to anoint Jesus (Luke 23:55-24:1). Early on Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene, the other Mary, and Salome went to the market to purchase additional spices with which to anoint and prepare Jesus’ body. These spices were used to offset odors that resulted from decomposition.
The fact that they agreed to return to the tomb on Sunday indicates that they had no expectations of an immediate resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
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Membership in a local church is very much in the minds of Christians these days. Is it biblical? Is it necessary? Is it helpful? These and other questions lead to the following ten things you should know about what church membership means and entails. [In addition to my own research, I’ve drawn heavily on the writings of John Piper, Michael McKinley, Jim Elliff, Mark Dever, and Kevin DeYoung.]
Perhaps the best place to begin is by asking the question: What do you want from your local church? I assume, first of all, that you want a local church where you can be known and loved and cared for by other Christians. There is, after all, no such thing as an “anonymous-lone-ranger-Christian” in the NT. You can certainly remain anonymous if you want to. It’s easier to do in a church of several thousand where you can slip in on a Sunday morning and sit along the wall and never engage anyone in fellowship or conversation or accountability. So, yes, you can do that if you want. But why would you want to?
I also assume you want a local church where you can know others and experience the joy of pouring into their lives and loving and encouraging and helping them and ministering to their needs. In other words, you want a local church, I assume, where you can be useful and be a blessing to others who are struggling and need your input.
Finally, I assume you want a local church where you can be spiritually led and biblically fed and lovingly protected by gifted leaders. I assume you want leaders who not only know who you are but are joyfully committed to keeping watch over your souls, leaders who take seriously their responsibility to teach you the truth and help you grow in your knowledge of God and your intimacy with him.
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As Paul delineates nine of the gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, the last on his list is “the interpretation of tongues.” Later in that chapter he again refers to interpretation in his denial that any one gift is granted to all Christians (v. 30b). In his instruction on how believers are to arrive at any particular corporate assembly, he says that whereas one may come with a hymn, another with a word of instruction, another with a revelation from God, another with a tongue, one may also come with “an interpretation” (1 Cor. 14:26).
Here are ten things to keep in mind regarding this spiritual gift.
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Not too long ago a book was published with the title: What was God doing on the Cross? It appears that there are two questions being asked, not one. First, “What was God doing on the cross?” Why was the God-man impaled on a Roman gibbet? It seems shocking that God should be crucified? Second, “What was God doing on the cross?” Once we've agreed that the God-man was on the cross, we wonder, “what was he doing there?” What was he accomplishing through the crucifixion of Jesus? To what end and for what purpose was Jesus, the God-man, suffering?
The problem is that there are growing numbers of Christians who are having an increasingly difficult time answering that question. The reason for this is three-fold: (1) a diminishing sense of God's holiness; (2) a diminishing sense of mankind's sinfulness; and (3) an inordinately increasing sense of self-worth. Whereas I affirm the need for a proper self-image, I fear that many are fast becoming so impressed with themselves that they can't help but wonder why Jesus had to die for them at all! But when we look at the Scripture, we realize that the God-man, Jesus, was on the cross suffering the eternal penalty we deserved because of the infinity of God's holiness and the depths of our depravity.
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If there is a single driving force in our society today it may well be what I call instant self-gratification. It is into this mindset in our society that the Bible speaks about fasting.
Mysticism is an approach to Christianity that focuses on preparation for, consciousness of, and reaction to what can be described as the immediate or direct presence of God. Emphasis is placed on the subjective or “felt” experience of being in an intimate relationship with God, what some mystics refer to as “spiritual ecstasy”. The earthly goal of this relationship is personal ethical and spiritual transformation, the heavenly culmination of which is the beatific vision.
There have been a variety of expressions of mysticism in the history of the church, making it difficult to identify a singular stream or set of characteristics. But here are several features of most forms of mysticism.
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All of us have our favorite Bible verses. Some of us have our favorite Bible books. Mine is Second Corinthians. Perhaps that is due to the fact that it is so profoundly pastoral and describes in detail how Paul interacted with a church that treated him poorly. In any case, if you’ve never studied Second Corinthians I urge you to do so.
Here are ten things about the letter that may help you get started.
The city of Corinth in the first century, with a population estimated to be as high as two hundred thousand, has been described as “a wide-open boomtown” (Murphy-O'Connor) comparable to San Francisco of the gold rush days. It boasted two harbors and was strategically located, thus enhancing its reputation as one of the leading commercial centers of southern Greece. Sailors and merchants from every city and province, and therefore from every race and religion, passed through Corinth. It was truly cosmopolitan in nature.
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On several occasions in Scripture we come across reference to something called “the book of life” or “the Lamb’s book of life.” What is it and why is it important that we know?
In the OT the “book of life” (or its equivalents) was a register of the citizens of the theocratic community of Israel. To have one’s name written in the book of life implied the privilege of participation in the temporal blessings of the theocracy, while to be erased or blotted out of this book meant exclusion from those blessings. In other words, this book had reference to the rights of citizenship for the Jewish people (cf. Ex. 32:32; Ps. 69:28; Isa. 4:3).
“So Moses returned to the Lord and said, ‘Alas, this people has sinned a great sin. They have made for themselves gods of gold. But now, if you will forgive their sin – but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written.’ But the Lord said to Moses, ‘Whoever has sinned against me, I will blot out of my book’” (Exod. 32:31-33; cf. Ps. 69:28; Isa. 4:3).
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