And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume XII, Number 31 August 09, 2009
In this issue:
We have just experienced some of the hottest summer weather on record in the Pacific Northwest. It gave us the opportunity to teach on the reality of hell and the eternal punishment of sinners who do not obey God’s command to repent (Acts 17:30-31; Rom 2:3-11). The prospect of eternal hell is a good reason to obey Jesus Christ now and always.
Coincidentally, last weekend USA Today published an article on hell that reported “only 59% of Americans believe in hell, compared with 74% who believe in heaven” (“Many Americans don’t believe in hell, but what about pastors?”, Greg Garrison, RNS). When some denominational pastors at the Beeson Pastors School in Birmingham, AL were recently asked whether they had ever preached a sermon on hell, nobody had.
All the common reactions about hell and preaching on hell were noted in the article, including “people want to avoid” the subject and “it’s a difficult topic”. Preachers are not preaching on hell “out of fear of not appearing relevant,” said Kurt Selles, director of the Global Center at Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School. “It’s pressure from the culture to not speak anything negative. I think we’ve begun to deny hell. There’s an assumption that everybody’s going to make it to heaven somehow,” he added.
“The soft sell on hell reflects an increasingly market-conscious approach” to the gospel, said Selles. “When you’re trying to market Jesus, sometimes there’s a tendency to mute traditional Christian symbols,” he said. “Difficult doctrines are left by the wayside. Hell is a morally repugnant doctrine. People wonder why God would send people to eternal punishment.”
A friend recently noted that “hell is a prepared place for unprepared people.” Sin puts sinners under divine wrath; the punishment of sin is just (Rom 1:18-21; 2:5; 3:23; 6:23). The denial of hell’s reality is a symptom of denying the reality of sin, of the judgment and of the “eternal punishment” of sinners (Rom 6:23; Matt 25:30, 31-33, 41-46).
Denominational preachers are not the only ones who refuse to preach on hell. I wonder, preaching brother, when was the last time you preached on hell? What would your answer be? Are you afraid you will run people off if you preach on hell like Jesus did? Or, like His apostles did? John wrote, “Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev 20:14-15). Preach on, brother John.
Others among us have tried to redefine hell. These have manipulated and twisted the Scriptures so that hell is no longer viewed as a place of horrific punishment that never ends (see 2 Ths 1:8-9), but as a place of annihilation that forever removes the ungodly from existence. They assert there is no conscious, eternal torment of the wicked. Hell’s fiery flames will punish, they say, for a just period of time, then forever extinguish the soul of the wicked.
Consider a sampling of false doctrines on hell:
Edward Fudge (abandoned the way of truth for the “New Unity Movement” in the 1970’s): “The term “conditionalist” is used of the view that the wicked will suffer conscious punishment precisely measured by divine justice but that they finally will perish in hell so as to become totally extinct forever,” (The Fire that Consumes, xvi). There is no doubt that Fudge is a “conditionalist”: “Does Scripture teach that the wicked will be made immortal for the purpose of suffering endless pain; or does it teach the at the wicked, following whatever degree and duration of pain God may justly inflict, will finally and truly die, perish and become extinct for ever and ever?” (Ibid. 425)
Samuel G. Dawson: I now believe that hell is the invention of Roman Catholicism; and surprisingly, most, if not all, of our popular concepts of hell can be found in the writings of Roman Catholic writers like the Italian poet Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), author of Dante's Inferno. The English poet John Milton (1608-1674), author of Paradise Lost, set forth the same concepts in a fashion highly acceptable to the Roman Catholic faith. Yet none of our concepts of hell can be found in the teaching of Jesus Christ! (Jesus’ Teaching on Hell, www.gospelthemes.com/hell.htm)
Homer Hailey (who once taught the truth on hell, but now writes): “Jude says, “These (Sodom and Gomorrah, jrp) are set forth as an example, suffering the punishment of eternal fire” (v. 7) …If they serve as an example, what do they teach except that those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire are to exist no more?” (God’s Judgements and Punishments: Individuals and Nations, 141-142)
Concerning Revelation 20:14, Hailey wrote: “The first death pertained to the physical life and death; the second pertained to the end of each. Death and Hades and the wicked, those whose names were not written in the book of life, existence came to an end in the lake of fire…Since the second death is the lake of fire (v. 14b), then those whose names were not found written in the book of life were cast into the lake of fire, they suffer the same punishment as of death and Hades.” (Ibid. 178-179)
Please take note that death and Hades will have the same punishment as the devil, who will be “tormented day and night forever and ever” in the lake of fire (Rev 20:10). That doesn’t sound like annihilation (“end”) at all.
What Jesus taught about hell should convince sinners to repent and obey Him now:
Jesus said hell is real. According to the Son of God, sinners will be cast there (Matt 5:29-30). He said sinners will be cast “into outer darkness” where “there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt 8:12).
Jesus said hell is the place of punishment for sins. He said hell is the place where “both soul and body” are destroyed (Matt 10:28). Jesus said hell is the place of condemnation (Matt 23:33).
Jesus said hell is forever. Hell is a place of “everlasting fire”: “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels’” (Matt 25:41). The fire into which sinners are cast “shall never be quenched” (Mk 9:43).
Jesus said hell is a place of eternal punishment. “And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matt 25:46). The punishment of hell lasts as long as the reward of heaven: forever. Hell is where “Their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched” (Mk 9:44-48).
Many religionists join with the world to say hell is not real or that it will not last forever. But, Jesus said it is real and it is eternal. Hell is where the wicked “will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Rev 20:10, 15).
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Psalm 25:1-5
1. No one
can come to God except he first believes that “God is”, Heb 11:6.
I. GOD IS…
Spirit, Jno 4:24; Num 23:19; Isa 55:8-9
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Matthew 13:44-46
parables illustrate the value of kingdom, Matt 13:44-46.
I. LOOKING FOR PRECIOUS PEARLS, Ec 2:3
The World’s List of Life’s Most Valuable things (1 Jno 2:15):
II. THE SEEKING MERCHANT.
desired the Better Things in Life, 13:45. We must desire the best things!
cf. Mary, Lk 10:38-42
III. THE PURCHASE OF THE PEARL.
A. The Purchase, 13:46; 2 Cor 6:2; Lk 14:33; Matt 5:27-30; Lk 9:23; Phil 3:7-8.
Miracle Didn’t Come: Father Convicted in Daughter’s Death
Last weekend a jury convicted Wisconsin father Dale Neumann of second degree reckless homicide in the death of his 11 year old daughter, Madeline Kara. His wife, Leilani, was convicted of the same charge in a separate trial. Neumann believed prayer would heal his daughter and did not take her to the doctor for treatment. She died of untreated diabetes.
“Neumann, 47, read passages from the Bible to explain his beliefs. He spoke with zeal -- and a thundering voice -- about the moment he became a born-again Christian. He looked the jurors in the eyes, and addressed them as though he were conducting a personal prayer meeting.
“He made it clear, or sought to, that his faith that prayer would heal the girl was unshakable -- that he took what he truly believed were the appropriate actions to save her.” (Editorial, August 5 2009, wisconsinrapidstribune.com).
This is another sad example of false doctrine leading to the death of the innocent. (A similar case recently occurred in Oregon where a 15 month old died of pneumonia when her parents, who believe in “faith healing”, did not take her for medical treatment; they were acquitted of manslaughter.)
The Bible is clear that the time of miracles has ended. Their purpose was to give divine evidence that Jesus is the Son of God and to validate the gospel message (Jno 3:2; 5:36; Mk 16:17-20). The gift of miracles was given by the apostles to some Christians (Acts 8:14-17; 19:6; 1 Cor 12:11; Heb 2:4). These miracles were never given for personal advancement (even Paul’s sick companion was not healed, 2 Tim 4:20). Miracles have now ended because they have accomplished their God-given purposes (Heb 2:3-4; 1 Cor 13:8-13). This does not diminish the power of God to hear and answer prayer. But, it does mean we cannot “wait for a miracle” when prayer and medicine are the blessings God has given us for our good (Jas 5:14).
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 08/09/2009
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA