May 29, 2018

Ep.1024: Is the Hell of Christian Tradition Taught in the Bible? (Part II)

Hellfire's pagan influence on post-New Testament Christian beliefs

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CHAPTERS

[00:17:41]
Did Jesus ever talk about mankind's judgment?


[00:36:25]
What does Gehenna mean?


[00:54:23]
How prevelant is Gehenna in Jesus' teachings?


[01:12:28]
What about after his ascension?


Theme Scripture: Luke 4:18

"The end result of God’s judgment upon those who do not accept Jesus is eternal fire and torment."  Such is the serious warning of many Christians of many centuries before us and of our day as well.  Their studied claim is that Jesus was specific,and his words are the words of the Gospel and are therefore not subject to question.  While we agree with the unquestionable nature of the words of Jesus, we DO question our Christian friend’s interpretation on this very serious matter.  Our questions we respectfully ask about a New Testament hell are these:  What if Jesus’ teachings about God’s judgment did NOT point to a burning hell at all?  What if that doctrine was borrowed from ancient heathen teaching (as we discussed in Part I of this series) and illegitimately planted into what became known as the Gospel – centuries AFTER Jesus spoke?  What if careful scriptural reasoning coupled with post New Testament history could PROVE this?

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What would YOU do if you were me?  What if you firmly believe that you had been introduced to well established, documented and centuries-old historical insight into a really serious biblical doctrine?  What if you believe that this insight shed powerful light on the true teaching of Scripture by establishing its meaning and context within the ancient times it was written?  What if these provable scriptural and historical facts point to a conclusion that much of Christianity flatly rejects?  You would want people to know about it, wouldn’t you?  You’d speak up wouldn’t you?  Welcome to my world and the raging debate about the meaning of hell and hellfire in the Bible!

Here is the thing - I am no Bible scholar, I cannot read let alone understand Hebrew or Greek. I am not an ancient civilizations historian either.  But I love the Bible – I love God with all of my heart and I have tried every day for over 40 years to walk in Jesus footsteps.  The insight that I follow is clearly not my own and I absolutely take no credit for it.  I am merely a Christian who has been given weekly opportunities to talk scripture with people all over the world.  So I do.  Recently we have done Episode #1021 Part I of a 3-part series “Is the Hell of Christian Tradition Taught in the Bible?”  In these podcasts we lay out the Scriptures, the history, the languages and the conclusions we firmly believe disprove a Hell of eternal flames and torment in scripture.

How can that possibly be?  What about the Scriptures that cite "everlasting flames"?  What about the Scriptures describing a New Testament hell with "worms that don’t die" or the "smoke of torment rising up forever"?  These are great, valid and deeply important questions that deserve a thorough, historical and linguistically-sound response, which is why I won’t respond here.  A short quip would not do justice to such powerful questions.  Instead I ask you to listen,  especially to this Part II of our series we broadcast on June 4, 2018.  If you do listen and you disagree, then kindly respond back with the specifics of what the disagreement is based on and most importantly why.  Then we can talk Christian to Christian and reason through our beliefs.  Such an approach can only make us all stronger in faith! Also see Episode #1027 Part III.

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May 29, 2018

VIDEO: Is the Hell of Christian Tradition Taught in the Bible? Part II

Part 2 of this 3-part vlog continues with reviewing history and Scripture to show that there is no burning hell of eternal torture.  Watch this short video then listen to the full podcast of the same name.

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Ep.1023: Is Israel a Thorn in the Side of the World?

Israel's unique role in the world and in God's plan

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CHAPTERS

[00:18:29]
How long has this land been fought over?


[00:35:36]
What about historical Palestine?


[00:54:59]
What does the Bible say is coming next?


[01:13:34]
What will come of God's overruling on Israel's behalf?


Theme Scripture: Zechariah 12:3

Israel is a country that only covers about 21,000 square kilometers (not even in the top 150 countries – about the size of New Jersey) and houses about 8.3 million people (which figures to be about .11% of the world’s population).  Yet for its insignificance, this land is always in the news and always seems to be in trouble.  Why are there so many questions about and issues with this tiny nation?  Are they really occupying land that is not theirs?  Are they really mean and over-the-top harsh with their neighbors, or are there important details about the constant conflicts we are always missing?  Should we just be fed up with what they do and what they stand for, or should we be respectfully looking up to Israel for what they do and what they stand for?

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May 28, 2018

VIDEO: Is Israel a Thorn in the Side of the World?

The Old Testament serves as a factual and archeological source for tracing Israel’s past and how they developed as a nation. The 12 sons of Jacob (whose name was changed to Israel) were the beginnings of the nation and they moved into the land that would also bear that same name. Why are there so many questions about and issues with this tiny nation? Are they really occupying land that is not theirs? Is Israel really mean and over-the-top harsh with their neighbors, or are there important details about the constant conflicts that we are always missing? Watch this short vlog then listen to the full podcast of the same name.

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Ep.1022: As a Christian, Should You Just Be Yourself?

Determining how much of "me" is appropriate as a Christian

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CHAPTERS

[00:18:07]
How do we dig down to our deeper selves?


[00:36:28]
What's the learning process of a Christian to find our best self?


[00:54:46]
Should we institute the changes or wait for God to do it for us?


[01:12:34]
What drives our change in the right direction?


Theme Scripture: 1 Corinthians 15:10

“Just be yourself, no can ask any more of you than that.”  This is such free and easy advice – someone has probably said it to you, and you have probably said it to someone else.  But what does it mean?  Is being yourself just reacting to whatever comes your way with a knee-jerk impulse?  Does being yourself mean that your personal preferences and feelings should be stated and followed?  Do each of us have different selves that we can be? And what about Christians?  Are we even supposed to be ourselves?  Is our call to Christ a “leave it all behind” call with sacrifice or a “take it with you and we’ll build on it” call?  How do we better understand and apply our best selves to our Christian walk?

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Perhaps answering this question should begin with a personal and probably uncomfortable question: Do you like the self you see when you visualize just “being yourself”?  If we are really honest, I think most of us would look at that vision of “ourselves” and be unhappy – even a bit embarrassed.  We are probably picturing the part of ourselves that is perhaps a bit lazy or moody.  Maybe we are staring at a self that is short-tempered or careless.  Maybe we are seeing a self that has done regrettable things.  If this is the case then answering the question of just “being yourself” would seem easy.  "No!  I shouldn’t just be myself because that “self” is not a happy representation of what I would like to be or what I am striving to be."

Now let’s ask that same question with a twist. Do you like the self you see when you visualize what you think God sees when He is looking at what He knows you can be?  Ah, when you look at this self you now probably see an entirely different person than in your previous vision.  This self is strong in a faith that provokes action – it is helpful, kind and wise – full of scriptural principles and godly thinking.  This self lives in forgiveness and gratitude and is blessed to know God through Christ.  I’ll choose this self over that other self every time!  So, what do we do now?  We work on it.

The fact is, defining “being yourself” can easily become an exercise in futility.  We sometimes end up defined by our circumstances, and other times we are defined by our perceptions.  In these cases we settle for outside forces labeling the inside person.  Still other times we are defined by our vision and discipline in the face of challenge and defeat.  In these cases we reach down deep to our true core values to find our definition.  Check out our May 21, 2018 podcast, “As a Christian, Should You Just “Be Yourself?” for some clarity.  Find out not only how our brains go about defining us but also find out how the Scriptures go about defining us.  Once you understand the ingredients, self definition takes on a whole new and exciting meaning!

 

 

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May 14, 2018

Ep.1021: Is the Hell of Christian Tradition Taught in the Bible? (Part I)

Hell’s Pagan historical beginnings and its Old Testament absence

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View Series

CHAPTERS

[00:15:28]
How did God teach His people the truths of life and death when surrounded by paganism?


[00:36:25]
Did God add or change what He told Israel about life and death as time went on?


[00:54:53]
Does the Old Testament back up God's character?


[01:09:05]
What condition did 400 years of prophetic silence leave Israel in?


Theme Scripture: Deuteronomy 32:22

It is called Hellfire.  For many centuries the churches have taught that when sinners die they face a punishment of eternal torment and torture in hell. Reading some of the descriptions of how this intense and endless torture works will make your skin crawl and your stomach turn.  Yet, those who adhere to such teaching are firm in their belief that it is thoroughly biblical, and therefore entirely in line with God and His plan.  But is it?  Could God have contrived such a diabolical and heinous place, where screams of agony and relentless pain are the order of the day, now and forever?  What if this teaching is NOT of God but rather of Satan?  What if, by understanding well-established facts and by keeping Bible scriptures in context it could be proven that what many churches have taught for centuries is one of the greatest misrepresentations of God that the world has ever seen?

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Yes, we know this is a reactive topic.

There is no doubt this is one of those topics that can easily bring out the reactive parts from all of us. From the pro-hellfire crowd there is the, “If you don’t believe in it then, you are going there!" Or, “Don’t you read your Bible? Revelation says ‘the smoke of their torment goes up forever!’ Duh!” Then from the anti-hellfire crowd there is, “Hello, look up the words, don’t make up the meanings!” or “Don’t YOU read your Bible? God told Adam the penalty for sin was death not torture! Look it up!”

This approach isn’t fun and certainly is not at all productive! Why don’t we all take a breath and review a few fundamental assumptions about each other. First, your belief is sincere and based upon both what you have been taught, and what you have thought and studied yourself. Therefore, as I look at that belief - be it in agreement or not - I must be respectful. You carry your belief for a reason, and I will assume your reason is a conviction that it reflects God’s word and plan. Now please, do grant me the same respect. I carry my sincere belief based on what I have been taught and what I have thought and studied and I (like you) am convinced it reflects God’s word and plan. There, I said it...so now what?

Now let’s talk about it. Calmly and scripturally.

Now let’s present a point of view that we believe reflects God word and God’s plan. Let’s use reason, let’s keep the things we quote in context and let’s verify them with history as well. If you would, allow me to go first. Check out our May 14, 2018 podcast, “Is the Hell of Christian Tradition Taught in the Bible? (Part I).” In this podcast we attempt to present a logical, scriptural pattern of reasoning we believe firmly explains God’s position on the matter in the Old Testament. Why not the New Testament? Two reasons: first, the Old Testament is the foundation upon which Jesus himself based his teachings. Second, the New Testament is the focus of Part II. Listen and then respond if you would like. Tell us where you think we are right or wrong and why. What a great opportunity this could be for us to talk with each other! In Part III we explain difficult texts about hell.

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VIDEO: Am I Too Cynical or Not Cynical Enough?

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New Covenant

Is the New Covenant Different From God’s Other Covenants?

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Revealing scriptural details regarding how the new covenant works
New Covenant

VIDEO: Is the New Covenant Different From God’s Other Covenants?

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generosity

VIDEO: What is generosity?

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...and what if giving doesn't come naturally to us?
who was Nehemiah

VIDEO: Who was Nehemiah?

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Been searching for a inspiring hero of faith? Look no further!
influencer

How Can We Become Influencers? (Part II)

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Learning how to become powerful and God Honoring Influencers
influencer

VIDEO: How Can We Become Influencers? (Part II)

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influence

How Can We Become Influencers? (Part I)

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Learning to appreciate as well as be wary of the power of influence
influence

VIDEO: How Can We Become Influencers? (Part I)

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resurrected

If Jesus’ Resurrection Saved the World, Why Is It Such a Mess?

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Tracing how Jesus DID save the world without saving the world
May 07, 2018

Ep.1020: Do My Doubts Mean I Don’t Have Faith?

Understanding and harnessing the power of uncertainty

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