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.
...Unless one is “born again.” This phrase carries great meaning no matter what Christian denomination you come from. The meaning of the phrase certainly changes depending upon your particular belief system, but the power of the phase remains intact. To be “born again” in all cases implies one of the most significant spiritual changes any person can ever experience. So when does being “born again” happen and what does it really mean? Does this spiritual change happen when one is baptized as an infant or when one commits their life to God through Jesus or when one is baptized as an adult or when one dies? Is this spiritual change a prepaid one way ticket to heaven or an opportunity for power and control in your present life, or is it a sober and humbling opportunity to sacrifice all that you have and all that you are?
A goose that lays golden eggs. King Midas and the ability to turn things to gold through “the Midas Touch.” A winning Powerball Lottery ticket. Confessing Jesus as your Savior and inheriting an irrevocable one-way ticket to heaven. What do all of these things have in common? First of all, they all sound really good at the outset as they all provide a way to find some kind of wealth without work. It sounds like fun, though if you know the stories of the goose and King Midas, things didn’t work out so well. Secondly, they are all not based in reality, even Powerball. With odds of winning placed at over one in 175,000,000, this translates to “not gonna happen, so don’t hold your breath.” Wait a minute; did I just imply that a one-way ticket to heaven is not based in reality? Yes and no! Let’s look!
We all do wrong. We all hurt other people. Sometimes the hurt we deliver is the result of oversight, ignorance or immaturity, or careless words and actions or sloppy and selfish thinking. We hurt someone, but we don’t really mean it. Sometimes the hurt we deliver is a result of anger or vengeance or jealousy and we absolutely mean to create havoc and turmoil. Either way we do hurt others and we therefore do need forgiveness. So how do we receive forgiveness from others and especially from God? What do we have to do or say or think for forgiveness to take hold? How can we truly know that we are forgiven? Is forgiveness really worth the effort?
Judgment Day! The very words strike fear into the hearts of many believers across the borders of many religions. After all, this world obviously does not dole out any form of true justice to its vast population, and whatever God you may believe in surely sees this and will soon balance those scales that are presently so skewed in their measure. Justice! For many believers there is a conviction that God’s justice will soon come to earth in the form of anger, wrath and fire and bring the result of a destruction never seen upon this planet! Judgment and Justice – are these images of mayhem and obliteration really what the Bible describes? Is this world in for a dark and miserable night of pain from the wrath of God from which there is no tomorrow or is there an entirely different meaning and result of Judgment Day? What does the Bible REALLY say?
It kind of funny how there is such a movement against the Bible and biblical principles these days, yet things like “Armageddon” and “Judgment Day,” which have their basis in Scripture, are common themes in our society. Of course, society dramatizes these things way beyond the reality of Scripture, so what we perceive is generally not what will happen. So, Judgment Day – it is coming! What does that mean? When will it happen? Who will be judged? Stay with us!
Resurrection. It is synonymous with the most basic tenets of Christian belief, no matter what denomination, sect or group one may come from. For most of us, we think about Jesus and the fact of his resurrection and we think about the prospect of our own resurrection. On the surface it sounds pretty simple – be faithful, die and then go to heaven – but – what if the doctrine of resurrection entailed more than that? What if what we normally envision with our “resurrection eyes” was only the beginning of something much bigger and even more amazing? Stay with us!
Life is difficult – it is full of trials, tragedies and trauma. Sometimes it overflows with grief and pain. For most of us, there is an ebb and flow to all of this and we work at coping with and learning from these difficulties. For others however, the pressure of the pain and grief never seem to relent and they begin to despair of life itself. Sadly, some bring that despair to its fruition and end their own lives. Suicide – it is a serious issue that plagues humanity. What drives people to this final decision? How can we better understand it to help those in need? Does God forgive suicide?
We as Christians all hold the life, death and resurrection of Jesus as the centerpiece of our faith. Without Jesus, we are nothing. One of the key factors about this sacred truth that actually divides Christianity is the application of the sacrifice of Jesus. Just who did he die for and who, if any, are excluded from the benefit of his death? Stay with us as we look into a variety of perspectives and try to find the biblical principles that seal the answer to this question.
It has been 2,000 years since Jesus walked the earth with the good tidings of the Gospel. When he finished his work, he left the infant religion of Christianity in the faithful hands of the twelve Apostles. These men “prospered and grew” Christianity. So 2,000 years later, in a world that is mostly non-Christian and largely secular, is the work of the Gospel still “prospering and growing?" Are we now achieving what our Lord Jesus set out for us to do? Stay with us as we look at the cold hard facts of Christianity in the world today.