Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 1:13)
A Holy Day / A Wicked Day
Sunday, October 31, 2004
the Lord's Day and All Hallows' Eve...
I must say, I really don't mind it when Hallowe'en falls on the Lord's Day. If this perplexes you, ask yourself: "at what other time has it been so easy to see where God's people (or those who just call themselves God's people) stand before the Living God.
To the righteous, this is the Lord's Day. This weekly observance started some 2000 years ago, on the glorious day in which the Lord Jesus Christ was raised from the dead. Back then, as in now, God's people gather together to celebrate the Christ's resurrection and to worship our amazing God.
"And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." (Acts 2:42)
"And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight. " (Acts 20:7)
To the wicked, this day is Hallowe'en. This yearly observance started over 1000 years ago (some say it started long before that in different form...which is quite possible), in various parts of Europe. Back then, Hallowe'en was the pagan celebration of the dead and the spirit world:
"All Saints' Day (or All Hallows' Day) was originally a pagan festival of the dead that began at sundown" (excerpt from The Folklore of World Holidays).
"In the 7th century, Pope Boniface IV introduced "All Saints' Day"to replace the pagan festival of the dead" (excerpt from The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits).
"Hallowe'en is derived from the rites of the Druids celebrating the day of Saman, when the lord of death called together the souls of the wicked who had died during the past year. The theme of the harvest, which runs through modern Hallowe'en celebrations, comes from both the old Druidic celebrations and the old Roman festivals in honour of Pomona, goddess of fruit, which were brought to Britain during the Roman occupation." (excerpt from Collier's Encyclopedia).
And there you have it. Couldn't be simpler. The wicked, on this day have their activity; and the righteous have theirs.
So, why is it so many Bible churches tonight will have poor attendance? Why is it so many "Christians" will be out celebrating a heathen celebration instead of attending their evening service?
C-O-M-P-R-O-M-I-S-E ! (and no! that's not a good thing)
Does not the Bible say:
"Abstain from all appearance of evil." (1 Thessalonians 5:22)
"And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." (Ephesians 5:11)
Now I hear the objections: "Ah! it's just some fun for the kids!" or "We don't take it seriously!"
Well, my answer to that is: "The Lord takes it seriously!" And as far as the "just for fun" argument, I agree, doing wickedly is often "fun" to our sinful flesh; it doesn't change the fact the God calls us to "crucify the old nature".
If you call yourself a Christian, you should have nothing to do with Hallowe'en. The Bible tells us:
"Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils." (2 Corinthians 10:20)
"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." (2 Corinthians 6: 14-18)
This Lord's Day, this Hallowe'en night, make up your mind. You can't serve two masters, the Bible is clear on that. Are you going to serve God in holiness? Or will you serve the devil through heathen celebrations? No more sitting on the fence.
"A double minded man is unstable in all his ways." (James 1:8)
Have a good Lord's Day, my Christian brothers and sisters,
Friday Night Notes
Saturday, October 30, 2004
The lone ranger lives to fight another day...
Well, I just got back from downtown just now. It was a quiet night preaching out there, and I'm kind of glad. I was by myself tonight (my pastor was working on his sermons, and the fellow who usually comes out with me had a prior engagement). It's a little intimidating when you're the only clear believer in an "ocean" of lost souls, but the Spirit gave me the words to share and I managed to preach for close to 2 hours.
A small group of young believers (of the brethren type) came by to show some support which was nice, but they ended up becoming a bit of an irritation. They walked up to me when I was dealing with a woman who had been listening to my preaching for a few minutes. One of the young people joined the conversation trying to communicate the gospel to the woman. Now I had absolutely no objections to this, there was no pride in my heart, but the problem was, the woman couldn't care less about the gospel.
You see, when I present the gospel (or part of the gospel) to an unbeliever, if the response isn't favorable, I try to encourage them to seek the Bible and leave it at that. My reasoning is: "if the Spirit ain't working, it won't happen." Unfortunately, the young fellow who had jumped into our conversation didn't see things that way. He just kept trying and trying, using different verses, different arguments, different illustrations...but in the end, the woman didn't believe and had no intention of coming to the Truth.
At that point the woman bid us goodnight, and I left her with the verse: "Ye must be born again"... maybe the Spirit will get her thinking about that.
Other than that, it was a pretty uneventful night. I'm glad a lot of people heard the gospel though...who knows what the Lord will do!
With that, I'm going to bed!
My Answer to Scenerio # 2
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
If you haven't already, please read the post entitled "Scenerio #2
" before proceeding.
OK, this scenerio really wasn't hypothetical for me. I was in this situation a few years ago. Obviously, that experience has greatly shaped my opinion on the issue.
At first, when problems started to arise, I held that this was just like a secular job, and as long as I did not expect more than that, everything would be fine. I could carry on doing my work, while disagreeing with how the agency operated in soliciting and distributing donations. However, that just became too aggravating and I eventually left. Before leaving, I made my disagreements known to the president, staff, and a board member I was close to. None were supportive or understanding, so it was a difficult departure.
It is my view that para-church organizations - including Christian humanitarian agencies - rarely, if ever, glorify God. I don't say that lightly; I have been deeply involved in several of these organizations in the past, and I do not doubt the sincerity of a great many of the believers who serve in them. This is why I would not go so far as to say that they never glorify God. But if we want to do God's work, shouldn't we do it God's way? God gives us a very specific blueprint for how the local church should be operated. We have no such blueprint for operating para-church organizations. As a result, these organizations have a freedom to write their own rules so to speak. When anyone mentions a discrepency from the Biblical model, they just say "But that's only intended for the church; we're not a church..." I find this a cop-out since there are no para-church organizations in the Bible. It is like if the Bible described in detail how to teach children in schools, and then, thinking there was a more effective way to teach children, people formed a new institution called a noodle and ran it their own way. They would not be accountable to any of the criteria for schools since they are running a noodle.
I think it requires more faith to do things God's way, and trust Him with the results. I also think it's only when we start to apply this extra element of faith that we begin to glorify God. For instance, instead of having an attitude of "Let's all work together to end poverty and disease on the earth..." (man glorifying attitude), we must learn to say "Let's visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction and
keep ourselves unspotted from the world." (James 1:27). There is plenty we can do to help those in need within the confines of the church and individually. We must trust God to use our efforts and those of all His children everywhere to accomplish His purposes. If God wants to wipe out poverty and disease, He is quite capable to do that and doesn't need us to show Him how. As hard as we try, we all know deep-down that we could never do it anyways. It would seem from Mark 14:7, that it is not the Lord's intention either: "For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always."
So to answer the question of whether Christians should work in such an organization, I would just say you need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and, as with a secular job, there could come a time when you need to leave because of your convictions clashing with the job requirements. At my job, it got to a point where I was no longer comfortable answering the telephones and telling people on the other end that this was a Christian
humanitarian agency, when I had no clear idea of what that really meant, and I didn't find their practices very Christian at all. Personally, I will stick with secular jobs in the future, and when it comes to ministry involvement, I will find ways to serve under the authority of my local church. On that note, I would applaud any local church forming its own humanitarian agency, that was subject to the authority of the church.
I have purposely left out the details of what I found objectionable at the agency where I worked for fear each one of those items could branch off into a whole separate discussion. I hope that lack of detail has not made this post too vague to be understood. If you feel you need those details to get the point, please mention it in a comment, and I will oblige.
Scenerio # 2
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
When it comes to humanitarian efforts, what is a Christian to do?
What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. James 3:14-16
We all know we are supposed to help the less fortunate, so is this an area where Christians of various denominations, as well as nominal Christians and Catholics ought to work together? After all, if we pool our resources, we can surely do more good, right?
Here is the scenerio:
You have just accepted a job working for a medium sized Christian humanitarian agency that distributes medical supplies and medicine in third world countries. Your job is to answer phones and perform administrative tasks, as well as updating the office’s computer capabilities. The work is pleasant and challenging. At first, you cannot believe your blessedness to be in a workplace where daily devotions and prayer time are considered as vital as coffee break. All of the staff profess to be born again believers, and you find it very easy to talk to them and share spiritual thoughts.
As time goes on, you start to question many of the agency’s practices, in light of Scripture. Then the question arises in your mind: Just what is a Christian humanitarian agency anyways? The agency itself cannot be Christian; it is just a logo after all. The staff do profess to be Christians, but they all have different doctrinal beliefs, making it hard to use the Scriptures as the ultimate authority in judging conduct. The agency does have a board of directors, who have regular conference calls and meetings. The board has authority by voting to determine how the agency operates. The board is supposed to be made up of Christians, but you come to realize that these people have been chosen for their business credentials and/or political influence.
Please give me your thoughts on:
Is it alright for a Christian to work in such a place, or is it better to separate from this type of thing?
Is it possible for a non-denominational Christian humanitarian agency to exist and truly glorify God?
Friday Night Ministry Notes
Sunday, October 24, 2004
plus a few more things...
It had been 2 weeks since I went out preaching, so it took me a bit longer to get warmed up (in every possible sense of the word...it's getting cold in Canada).
When I first arrived to the spot in the marketplace where we usually preach, I heard someone calling my name. I then saw 3 young fellows walking in my direction. I recognized one of the men as they drew closer, it was the son of one of my neighbours (back when I lived at my aunts place). When all three got within a couple of feet from me, that's when I recognized the man who had called out to me; it was my cousin!
I hadn't seen him in a couple of years, and he changed his "look" quite a bit, so I have an excuse (watch my wife is blame this on my age...argh!). Anyway, there we were, me preaching the Word, and him going out drinking with a couple of his buddies. And I know he felt some conviction, 'cause he saw me leave drunkenness to return to the Lord. I hope and pray that the Lord will use our encounter to bring him spiritual life.
Other than that, it was a quiet night. I spent about 30 minutes contending for the faith with a couple of guys who thought the Bible was nothing but a collection of historical fantasies. I believe I presented the Truth well, but the Spirit definitely wasn't working right at that particular moment (just goes to prove 1 Corinthians 2:14
). Anyway, they left thanking me for my time, so it was good.Some other notes:
We'll be getting back to our scenarios now. Twinklemoose (my better half) will be handling the next scenario. Remember to read the post entitled Separation
, it'll avoid confusion as to what is going on.
Oh, and by the way, Joe Missionary
put an excellent post
on the way many believers misuse the old "in Jesus' name amen", please drop by his blog and read it. I preached on this subject last year at our church because I believe it is a serious problem in the prayer life of many of God's people.
On that note, dear readers, God bless you,
My answer to Scenario # 1
Saturday, October 23, 2004
I'll update the street ministry notes tomorrow...
Ok...first off, my answer to Aunt Vanessa would be a tactful, but firm "no". After that answer, the question that would most likely arise is:
And the answer to that question is two-fold.
#1 - About Psalm 23. There is a reason why this passage is so often uttered at funeral services. It is a beautiful, wonderful description of the rest God's people enjoy when their time on Earth is done.
And there is the problem for poor Uncle Mike; he wasn't a believer. As far as I'm concerned, Samantha is absolutely right when she says: "If the uncle was not a Christian, you can't use that psalm to depict his life or walk with the Lord." The fact of the matter is, Uncle Mike is most likely (we can never know for sure) suffering in Hades for his ungodly life, and not enjoying the rest depicted in Psalm 23.
To read Psalm 23 at a funeral service of an unbeliever is an exercise in deception. As believers, we should be honest (even when it is hard), not deceptive.
#2 - Again, Samantha touched on a problem: the Roman Catholic church. Brothers and sisters in the Lord, read these passages:
"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?
for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." (2 Corinthians 2: 14-16)
"Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen." (1 John 5:21)
Be honest with God's Word friends. Look at those passages again and ask yourself: "Should I, as a born-again believer, attend a religious service which is rooted in idolatry?" Would it had been okay for a child of God in the Old Testament times to attend a funeral service at a temple of Baal? Perish the thought! So why would it be okay to go to an Roman Catholic church? Because they call their idols "Jesus" and "Mary"?
So to summarize my answer: "No, Aunt Vanessa, I can't do what you ask because I don't believe Uncle Mike was born-again, and I don't want to sin in idolatry by participating in a Romanist funeral service."
Now I can hear some of your rumblings over cyberspace: "But that's so harsh! You'll lose your family with an attitude like that!" To that, I say: "Nonsense!" Let me relay a story:
Last year, my pastor's mother-in-law died with absolutely no evidence of salvation. The day after her passing, my pastor gets a call from his brother-in-law, and in the midst of the conversation (which was quite courteous), the brother-in-law says:
"Well...she's in a better place now"
My pastor, without flinching, answers:
"No...no...I don't think so. Your father was born-again, his life clearly showed that, but I can't say the same about your mom."
Now, I'll be honest with you...I was in the room when this call came in....and my jaw dropped when he said that. But an amazing thing happened; the brother-in-law, though unsaved, basically agreed with my pastor's assessment. How could this happen? Easy, my pastor didn't compromise in these matters in the past. His family knew that his way was the Bible way plus nothing. They knew he wouldn't lie and they knew he wouldn't keep silent over their self-deception (as in making themselves believe the mother-in-law was at peace).
Don't get me wrong though. The first few times a Christian takes such a stand, it doesn't go over too well, but lays the foundation of dealings with the unsaved family. Future stands are anticipated and things usually go much smoother. A Christian has to be wise about how he/she deals with his/her family, he/she can't always just go along (consider: Matthew 12: 46-50, Luke 9: 59-62, Luke 14: 26)
Take Care and God bless,
Scenario # 1
Thursday, October 21, 2004
Pop quiz hot-shot...
" before reading this post)
Your Uncle Mike died on Friday after a long fight with cancer. Though he was a kind, gentle man, your uncle never came to a saving knowledge of the Truth that is in Christ Jesus. Some of your born-again Christian friends hope your uncle has repented before breathing his last, but there is just no way of knowing.
It's Saturday now and you are at a family gathering in honour of your deceased uncle. Your family members are organizing a Roman Catholic funeral at a local Roman Catholic church, since Uncle Mike was "born a Catholic". In the midst of all the talk, your aunt Vanessa, Uncle Mike's wife, asks you to participate in the funeral service; she would like for you to read Psalm 23 as well as give a short speech on Uncle Mike's life achievements and how he is now at rest.
The funeral service is on Monday. What do you do?
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
no...no...my wife and I are still together (hee hee)...
The term itself has a negative aura about it, and yet it is a necessary thing in a holy Christian's life. In fact, holiness means SEPARATED or SET APART unto God. And by the way, I added "holy" before "Christian" for effect, I do not believe one can claim to be a Christian without a measure of holiness; we are after all, as Peter put it, a royal priesthood and an holy nation! Many though call themselves Christians but are separated from very little if anything at all.
So what are Christians suppose to be set apart from? What should they separate from in order to be called "holy"? Well, most serious Christians will agree to these:
-separation from the world:"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. " (1 John 2: 15-17)
"If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you OUT OF THE WORLD, therefore the world hateth you. (John 15: 19)
-separation from false teachers:"And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." (Ephesians 5:11)"If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself." (1 Timothy 6: 3-5)
-separation from disobedient Christians:"A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself." (Titus 3: 10-11)"Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us." (2 Thessalonians 3: 6)
On these, I believe most Christians agree. But we have a problem. The problem is in the application (kind of like: the devil is in the details). How and when do we separate? How and when do we tolerate? How much weight do we really put on 2 Corinthians 6: 14-18 (and where do we put that weight):"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."
This is an area I believe the church is failing miserably in. So for the next few days, I will post some scenarios for you. Scenarios which I hope will get you thinking on whether one should separate or tolerate. I will post my position after a day or two.
Peace, and God bless you.
a shake-up in the blog world...
"A Pattern of Sound Words" is pleased to report the acquisition of "Peccadillos & Penetralia"! Shareholders voted overwhelmingly in favour of the merger. Dow Jones, NASDAQ and the TSX all reacted favorably to the news.
Yes, Twinklemoose (aka, my better half) has agreed to form a partnership with "your's truly" in our blogging. We hope that the merger of the two sites will increase our total post output, and therefore (hopefully), be a greater blessing to all of you, dear readers.
In the next few days, "A Pattern of Sound Words" will be upgraded to reflect the new partnership. So please stand by, we'll get things together soon...
Take care and God bless,
Greetings from "away"
Saturday, October 16, 2004
just thought I'd send a postcard...
Well the trip went well. We had to drive through a bit of bad weather but we did the trip in good time. The kids are playing with their grand-parents, and we all got the chance to meet the newest addition to the family (who is still nameless). I'm quite pleased I was able to hold my little nephew.
Oh! I almost forgot, we did lose an hour on our way here last Thursday, but before I get into that, read this little article:"More than a century ago, on the streets of Port Hope, Ontario, a man could be seen walking along carrying a saw and a sawhorse. One day a rich man from across the street saw him and said to a friend, "He looks like a sober man. I think I'll hire him to cut wood for me." "That's Joseph Scriven," the friend replied. "He wouldn't cut wood for you. He only cuts wood for those who don't have enough to pay." And that sums up the philosophy of Joseph Medlicott Scriven, a devoted member of the Plymouth Brethren Church, who took the Sermon on the Mount literally. Scriven was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1819. He fell for a lovely young woman, but on the eve of their wedding she accidentally drowned. Scriven never recovered from the shock. The Irishman began to wander, hoping to forget his sorrow. At age 25, he finally settled in Canada. His faith led him to do menial tasks for poor widows and the sick. He often worked for no wages and was regarded by the people of the community as a kind man, albeit a bit odd.He later fell in love again and planned to marry a wonderful Canadian woman. But again, tragedy struck. His fiance died after contracting pneumonia. In 1855, a friend visited an ill Scriven and discovered a poem that he had written for his ailing mother in faraway Ireland. Scriven didn't have the money to visit her, but he sent her the poem as an encouragement. He called it "Pray Without Ceasing." When the friend inquired about the poem's origins, Scriven reportedly answered, "The Lord and I did it between us." Scriven never intended for the poem to be published, but it made its rounds, and was set to music in 1868 by musician Charles Converse, who titled it "What a Friend We Have in Jesus." It has since become one of our greatest hymns. Scriven died in 1886 (ironically, in an accidental drowning). In his memory, the town of Port Hope erected a monument with this inscription from Scriven's famous song: In His arms He'll take and shield thee. Thou wilt find a solace there.
Well, Port Hope is on the way to my in-laws, so guess where we made a stop last Thursday. We looked all over town for the monument mentioned in the article but were unable to find it. We asked some of the locals, but we just got blank stares. We did find a Scriven Boulevard, but no monument. We may try again on our way back home (I'd like to get a picture of the monument, so I can post it sometime).
See you later,
Odds and Ends
Thursday, October 14, 2004
so much happening!
Well, I've got one more work day (Thursday), then I'm off to visit my in-laws for an extended weekend. They live roughly 7 hours away by car so I got quite a ride ahead of me. Since the arrival of our first child, I've been making the trip during the night; that way, we don't have screaming kids who need to go to the bathroom every 30 minutes. We leave tomorrow night, so please pray for travel mercies on my family and I.
It should be a fun visit. My sister-in-law is due to have her first baby (at any moment now), so my wife and I are looking forward to being an aunt and uncle for the first time.
On the home front, we are finalizing the selling of our house tomorrow morning. Now comes the task of finding a new nest for my growing family. We've seen a house today that both my wife and I liked, so we may be making an offer on it (still getting some info. on the place).
I'll try to post something on the weekend. And on that note, dear readers, have a great weekend! (just had to rub it in a bit...LOL)
God bless you,
Monday, October 11, 2004
not so super, I'm afraid...
Some of my posts have been unpopular and I'm afraid this one will probably fit in that category.
Visiting many of my favorite websites today, most had some kind words to say about Christopher Reeve, who died this weekend. Most called him an inspiration, and a good man. Now I know that it is customary to speak well of the deceased, but I really feel I need to make this clarification to all those posts and comments I read today.
First, please check out this Reuters article
Christopher Reeve was THE HOLLYWOOD VOICE FOR EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH. For those of you who are not too knowledgeable in the subject of embryonic stem cells and other biotechnologies, you can check this past post
. In short, Mr. Reeve supported infanticide to develop cures for spinal injuries and other diseases.
The fact of the matter is, though I lament Mr. Reeve dying at such a young age, after going through so much adversity, HE WAS NOT A GOOD MAN. And having died in his sins, HE IS NOT RESTING IN PEACE. Does not the Bible say:
"There is no peace, saith the LORD, unto the wicked." (Isaiah 48:22)
I'm sorry if all this seems harsh, but as a Christian, I feel that it is important to be truthful. Even when the truth isn't too popular.
break out the turkey!
Well, another Thanksgiving in which we can thank God for continued peace and prosperity in Canada. Not once, in my 30 years of life in this country have I gone without food, raiment, shelter, the Word of God, freedom, and a panoply of wonderful blessings. Truly, I thank the Lord my God for His providence and His blessings!
"But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day." (Deuteronomy 8: 18)
"But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." (Romans 8: 28)
"Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done."
(Johnson Oatman, Jr.)
Thursday, October 07, 2004
An eternal perspective towards the lost...
Four words in the King James version of the Bible are translated into "hell"; one Hebrew, the three others Greek words.
-Hebrew word meaning "world of the dead".
-Not an eternal place for souls (see Psalm 86:13; Psalm 49:15).
-Both righteous and unrighteous souls went to Sheol (Genesis 37:35; Job 14:13; Psalm 16: 10)
-The righteous and the wicked did not experience the same thing in Sheol. The righteous experience rest, while the wicked experience imprisonment (2 Kings 22: 20; Jonah 2: 6)
-Greek word meaning "place of departed souls"
-it is synonymous to Sheol - same word, different language.
-Proof: in Psalm 16:10, we have the word Sheol (translated hell) and in Acts 2:27, Peter quotes this passage but the word translated "hell" is Hades.
-the account in Luke 16 adds detail to how things work in Hades: the wicked are in torment and are separated from the righteous who are experiencing rest (Abraham's bosom)
-Greek word from a Hebrew name; it means "the valley of the son of Hinnom".
-the valley of Hinnom was the city dump where garbage burned day and night, year round. Before becoming a dump, this valley was a place where the wicked worshiped the false god Molech (which consisted of burning infants alive). All in all, the valley of the son of Hinnom was the perfect picture of a terrible cursed place.
-unlike Sheol/Hades, Gehenna is a place of spiritual AND PHYSICAL punishment (see Matt. 10:28).
-and again, unlike Sheol/Hades, Gehenna is a place of eternal punishment (see Mark 9: 42-48: if the worm never dies, then there is always a body to eat, and if the fire is never quenched, then there is always a body to burn).
-Greek word meaning "the deepest abyss of hell"; and in this context hell is the Greek version of hell which was a subterranean, dark place where wicked spirits were punished.
-it would seem that Tartaroo is yet another section reserved for wicked angels, or demons (see 2 Peter 2: 4).
So, what is the purpose of all these "hellish" places ? Here is, as far as I understand it, what happens to a wicked person when he dies:
1. the soul of the wicked goes to Hades/Sheol where he is imprisoned and in torment. His physical body remains in the grave where it decays naturally.
2. when the hour of the Great White Throne judgement comes (Rev. 20), the soul of the wicked is brought out of Hades/Sheol where it is joined with his resurrected body.
3. the wicked is judged and condemned for his sin.
4. the wicked is cast to the Lake of Fire (Gehenna), both bodily and spiritually, where he will suffer torment forever.
Now, why did I preach on this a couple of weeks ago? Well, contrary to what you might believe, I didn't do it to review the doctrine of Hell. Rather my goal was to help maintain an eternal perspective in my brothers and sisters in the Lord.
What I mean by an "eternal perspective" is to remind ourselves of the big picture, not the day-to-day stuff. For example: reminding ourselves that the world isn't suppose to be good and getting better; reminding ourselves that our retirement savings isn't important in the grand scheme to things; reminding ourselves that we have a spiritual race to run for the Lord...etc.My point
: The wicked are going to Hades, where they will be tormented for a time, and then they will take part in the Lake of Fire forever. This is a terrible thing, especially when we realize that all of us (even the most righteous of Christians) deserve no less. The only reason I am not going to suffer this condemnation is because God was gracious to me. Like Joshua the High Priest in Zechariah 3, I am a brand plucked from the fire!
Now consider those who haven't received God's gracious gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus. What a terrible punishment! And that's exactly what we should keep in mind when we read Matthew 5: 38-45:"Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.
And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
How could a Christian, who keeps in mind the terrible events that will befall the wicked, give an unbeliever a hard time? Think about it, even death row inmates get extra privileges like favorite meals, family and religious visitations...etc. Our justice system allows this because they, justly, figure that the inmate will suffer a bad enough fate, there is no reason to aggravate him anymore.
So let me ask you the following questions:
-do you aggravate the lost?
-or do you rather have a heart for them?
May God help us to keep an eternal perspective.
God bless you all,
So many things to blog about!
Saturday, October 02, 2004
it's been quite a week...
Work has been insanely busy. I'm working on several different projects so it's quite difficult to keep in mind everything I should be doing (I'm still hoping I didn't forget anything this week).
On the home front, it looks like we've sold our house. We have had it on the market for a couple of months now, and we finally got an offer we can live with. Now comes the fun task of finding a bigger place for my growing family (please pray that the Lord would prepare a place for us).
I just got back from our street preaching. Not a whole lot of conversations tonight, but alot of gospel tracts were distributed. Oh yeah, and remember the fellow I met during street preaching a couple of weeks ago
? Well, he's been coming to church, we've had dinner together over at our home, we've had a bible study together, he's been listening the sermons on tape that my pastor loaned him, he's definitely reading his Bible because he's actually been paraphrasing some passages when praying (oh yeah, he' praying at our prayer meetings too!). So it's all looking pretty good for him. Time will tell if the Lord has genuinely saved him, but I got a good feeling about this guy. He does have some pretty nasty things going on in his life though, so if you want, please pray for him (call him Z, the Lord will know who you are talking about...Hee hee).
Well, that's it for now. It's late, and I've got alot to do tomorrow. Promise I'll try and get that summary of my sermon (preached last Sunday night) posted soon.