If as we discussed in Parts 1 of this series, there is no burning eternal torture in hell, then why does the New Testament hell talk about "unquenchable fires" and "smoke of torment"? It seems so plain at first reading. In this second of 3 parts, we talk about the what these mean in context.
Every so often someone comes along who stands out from the crowd, someone who distinguishes themselves from their peers by their manner, their motivation and their mission. They don’t seem to fit into any comfortable category, for theirs is a mission that has world-changing implications and such missions are not common and least of all comfortable. With such a description we would typically and rightfully envision Jesus as its object, but today we will focus on another. Today we focus on John the Baptist, the man who prepared the people for Jesus, the man who stood alone as a powerful voice that pointed to the Redeemer of all men. John the Baptist uniquely epitomized greatness – where did he come from, what did he do and how did he do it?
A few weeks ago we began a conversation about the Bible and its inherent challenges of understanding and interpretation. As we discussed the book in all of its complexity, we suggested a very straightforward and simple conclusion: the Bible is difficult to understand because it was purposely written to be difficult to understand. Such a conclusion really disturbs most common Christian thinking about converting the world here and now. As we continue to lay out what we believe to be the reasons for such an avoidance of world appeal by the Scriptures, we now turn the focus on the really big question of results. Why would God, why did God set up a plan where everyone does NOT get a fair chance to come to an understanding of the Bible in our present environment? What good could possibly come from such a strategy?
Pick up a book or an article and start reading...if that book or article is well-written, it will bring you to some kind of conclusion, some kind of understanding or realization that you didn’t have before. Now, these realizations can be across a wide scope of subjects and learning, but the bottom line is you picked up that well-written book or article and now you have some greater knowledge or insight. Now pick up the Bible and start reading…it starts out all good and wonderful and then just six chapters later it seems like God gets mad and pretty much scraps His whole creation thing. Why? Read further and the confusion grows! So, what's up with this, anyway? The Almighty God, creator of all things, surely could have had the Bible written in such a way that it would be universally understood! Well the fact is, He didn’t! Why not? There is actually a really cool answer to this!
Love God. It is a simple enough commandment - easy to say, repeat and remember. But what does it really mean? Are there different ways of expressing love for God and does God look for different results depending on what age of humanity we live in? Most of all, is loving God - no matter when and where we live - enough?
We are blessed – truly blessed - to know Christ and to have the opportunity for salvation before us. In light of this blessing that is claimed by Christians, some have raised the question if you (Christians) have this blessing and path to God’s favor while the vast majority of the world’s population does not, then isn’t that saying that your God is not an equal opportunity employer? Is that a fair God? Is their question legitimate?
A few weeks ago, we began an important discussion regarding God and His treatment of humanity in the Old and New Testaments. There are many who say that the warlike and nationalistic activities of the God of the Old Testament cannot possibly be the same as the God of mercy love and salvation of the New Testament. So, how do we explain the obvious shift in focus? Stay with us!
(Part 1 in a 2-part series) Ours is a world of great contradiction. Some say the ends justify the means and others say that the means are an end in themselves. Some say equal treatment is giving everyone the same while others say that equal treatment is giving each what they need. Some say that there is a higher judge of morality, while others say that morality can only be determined by those whom it affects. Some say that God is a God of dual personality – the Old Testament God of anger and the New Testament God of love, while others say (and by others we mean us) that God is one and His purpose is one. Stay with us as we seek to demonstrate WHY God is the same glorious God in both the Old and New Testaments!
On this past May 20th we embarked on a journey through the Apostle Peter’s life and on June 10th, we continued that journey. Our ending point was his conversation with our Lord after Jesus’ resurrection – the conversation that let Peter know that Jesus was counting on him as a lynch pin of what would become Christianity, in spite of Peter’s shortcomings. Today, we look at some of Peter’s experiences that followed, from Pentecost to the conversion of the first Gentile to the writing of Peter’s epistles. Stay with us as we look at how God’s Spirit influenced Peter in his mistakes, his impetuousness and his courage.
A few weeks ago on May 20th, we discussed Part 1 of our conversation about the Apostle Peter. We covered his life from his being introduced in the Scriptures as a typical fisherman from Galilee, up to his proclamation that Jesus was the Messiah and his angst at Jesus saying that he, Jesus, would have to die. These three things typify the life of Peter: a regular guy of no singular background, impetuous – willing to speak up when others would not, and often getting into some kind of trouble for things he said or did. Stay with us as we look further into this utterly fascinating life of a man who would become one of Christianity's greatest leaders.