Disclaimer: About This Blog

THIS BLOG IS: my personal journey of how I am rethinking some of my spiritual beliefs.
THIS BLOG IS NOT: intended to point fingers at people who I think are wrong.
I do not believe the final judgement will be based on how many correct answers we get on a theology exam. I believe many people throughout history have had genuine relationships with our Lord and Saviour Jesus, despite holding questionable beliefs and practices. I make no claim to having it all figured out or being your judge. If we end up disagreeing over these topics I pray we can find a way to demonstrate grace.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

From That Time On

Matthew 4:17
From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."

This was the core message of Jesus teachings, whether parable, by life example, or straight forward teaching.

'From that time on' emphasizes this was no small topic to Jesus.

From this time onwards I also desire to share this same good news message.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Playdough Scripture Rom 14:17

"For the kingdom of God is not will be a matter of eating and drinking in God's presence in heaven, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,"

Rom 14:17 (Playdough Version)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What Are You Waiting For?

The Jews in Jesus day were waiting for the Messiah, someone to lead and restore their nation to a position of power - free from the domination of Rome.

Jews are still waiting for the Messiah:
"Basically, the Messiah in Jewish thought is a descendant of King David who will also be a king and will bring the Jews together to live in the Land of Israel and to keep the commandments. He will fight wars against the enemies of the Jews, will prevail, and will inaugurate an era of everlasting peace when the Third Holy Temple will be built in Jerusalem. It is commandment to long for the Messiah every day and to expect him to arrive. There is no time that it is impossible for the Messiah to come, even in the darkest hours. "
http://jewish.families.com/blog/messiah-who-and-what-are-we-waiting-for1
The Muslims are also waiting for a Messiah/Savior:
"According to the unanimously accepted saying of the Prophet Muhammad, God will bring about a saviour before the end of time to establish the global domination of Islam over all religions. In other words, the saviour will establish the Kingdom of God on this earth. In Islamic traditions, that saviour is known by the name of "al-Mahdi".
http://www.ummah.net/khoei/mahdi.htm
Christians are waiting for the second coming of Messiah:
The second coming of Jesus Christ is the hope of believers that God is in control of all things, and is faithful to the promises and prophecies in His Word. In His first coming, Jesus Christ came to earth as a baby in a manager in Bethlehem, just as prophesied. Jesus fulfilled many of the prophecies of the Messiah during His birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection. However, there are some prophecies regarding the Messiah that Jesus has not yet fulfilled. The second coming of Christ will be the return of Christ to fulfill these remaining prophecies. In His first coming, Jesus was the suffering Servant. In His second coming, Jesus will be the conquering King. In His first coming, Jesus arrived in the most humble of circumstances. In His second coming, Jesus will arrive with the armies of heaven at His side.
http://www.gotquestions.org/second-coming-Jesus-Christ.html
What are you waiting for?
  • To Grow up and move out of your parents home?
  • To find a spouse?
  • For your kids to get out of the diaper stage?
  • For your kids to get past the rebellious stage?
  • Retirement?
  • Going to Heaven?
  • Are you waiting for someone to come and save you from the mess you are in?
What was Jesus message to those who were waiting for Messiah?

He claimed to be the Messiah:
The woman said, "I know that Messiah" (called Christ) "is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us." Then Jesus declared, "I who speak to you am he." (John 4:25-26 NIV)
However His Kingdom was not of this world:
Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place." (John 18:36 NIV)
His Kingdom was starting during that generation:
I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom." (Matthew 16:28 NIV)
Jesus core message was about this Kingdom of His. He often used parables to describe it, and focused his preaching on it.
From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." (Matthew 4:17 NIV)
You don't have to be like the religious leaders of Jesus day:
Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him. (Matthew 21:32 NIV)
The good news is that God's Kingdom is here now. Change your way of thinking, believe this message:
"The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!" (Mark 1:15 NIV)



Related Posts:

Friday, October 23, 2009

What is the Gospel?

The word Gospel gets used a lot in Christian circles... but do we know what we mean when we use the word?

John Piper:
"What's the Gospel?
What’s the gospel? I’ll put it in a sentence.
The Gospel is the news that Jesus Christ, the Righteous One, died for our sins and rose again, eternally triumphant over all his enemies, so that there is now no condemnation for those who believe, but only everlasting joy. "
http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Articles/ByDate/2007/2389_The_Gospel_in_6_Minutes/

GotQuestions.org:
Question: "What is the true gospel?"
Answer: The true gospel is the good news that God saves sinners. Man is by nature sinful and separated from God with no hope of remedying that situation. But God, by His power, provided the means of man’s redemption in the death, burial and resurrection of the Savior, Jesus Christ.

Gospel means good news.

And yes I agree that the above statements are good news.

Gospel also refers to a style of music, and of course 'the gospels'... usually referring to 4 books that tell the good news story of Jesus.

But I keep asking... What was the Gospel that Jesus preached?

Matthew 4:23 (NIV)
Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.
Matthew 9:35 (NIV)
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.
Matthew 11:5 (NIV)
The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.
Matthew 24:14 (NIV)
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Mark 1:14-15 (NIV)
After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God.
"The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!"
Mark 8:35 (NIV)
For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.
Mark 10:29-30 (NIV)
"I tell you the truth," Jesus replied, "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.
Luke 3:18 (NIV)
And with many other words John exhorted the people and preached the good news to them.

Luke 4:16-20 (NIV)
He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him,
Luke 4:43 (NIV)
But he said, "I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent."
Luke 9:6 (NIV)
So they set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere.
Luke 16:16 (NIV)
"The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.
Luke 20:1 (NIV)
One day as he was teaching the people in the temple courts and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, together with the elders, came up to him. (NIV)

Is it worth wondering what the good news message was that Jesus preached as he traveled from town to town?

I'm pretty confident he wasn't preaching the gospel message of his death and resurrection... I think there was a different core good news message He must have been preaching.

And what are we to do in response to Mark 16:15 (NIV):
He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.

What good news message are we commanded here to share with the world?

Are we commanded here to share gospel music with everyone?
Are we commanded here to share the 4 gospel books with everyone?
Are we commanded here to share the good news related to Christ's death and resurrection?

Considering the larger context of how gospel and good news is most frequently used in the gospels... I think we're commanded here to share the good news of the kingdom of God.



Related Posts:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A quote from the Pope

"And this, dear brothers and sisters, is true for every Christian: Faith is above all a personal, intimate encounter with Jesus, and to experience his closeness, his friendship, his love; only in this way does one learn to know him ever more, and to love and follow him ever more. May this happen to each one of us."


http://www.zenit.org/article-27293?l=english

Spirit Of Truth

John 14:15-21 (NIV)
"If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."
I pray that this Counselor, the Spirit of truth, would be with me at all times... I desperately need Him.

There have been times in my life when I have recognized the Holy Spirits presence with me... and here's a promise that I hold on to... that if I ask I will receive.
..

Luke 11:13 (NIV)
If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"
And what will this Spirit of truth teach me?

John 14:26 (NIV)
But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
Hmm... will the Holy Spirit teach me all things? What could this mean?

I'm not certain this spirit of truth will teach me all truths about Science, Math, History, Medicine, Business, Accounting, Biology, Information Technology, Music, Art.....

If I want to learn how to fly a plane, should I ask the Holy Spirit to teach me?

Or maybe it's not all truth, but the most essential truths that we can rely on the Holy Spirit for.

Just like in this passage... considering the context, what truth did Jesus come to testify to here?

John 18: 33 - 37 (NIV)
Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?"
"Is that your own idea," Jesus asked, "or did others talk to you about me?"
"Am I a Jew?" Pilate replied. "It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?"
Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place."
"You are a king, then!" said Pilate.
Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me."
Jesus came to testify to the truth... the truth that He is King.

I think it's fair to assume that the Holy Spirit will also testify to the fact that God Reigns... in our lives now, and for eternity. Recognizing this truth will also realign our thinking as we live our days...

I doubt having the Holy Spirit with us is a promise that we will know all truths on all topics... that would be cool, but...

We don't have to be in charge of our lives and make stupid selfish decisions that harm ourselves and others...

We don't have to rely on our own wisdom to to guide and direct our decisions in life... we can request wisdom from God.

Related Posts:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Playdough Scripture Acts 1:8

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you study correct doctrines; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

Acts 1:8 (Playdough Version)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Does Scripture say Hell is Eternal Punishment?


OK, one more summary post on this 'Hot Topic' of Hell. Most Christian denomination teach that Hell is a place of eternal conscious punishment for the wicked. There are some verses that when read alone can make a good case for this belief. There are other verses that imply the consequence for not seeking to live in God's kingdom, is death, perishing, being destroyed, a second death, or not getting to live for eternity.

Either way, eternity with God is a better choice.

If you are of the opinion that you don't understand, and that there are more important things to focus on while living this life than trying to figure out exactly what eternity will look like.. read no further... do not waste another moment on this debate... I agree with you 100%.

Still reading? Then I also want to say that I'm not sure getting this correct is as essential to ones faith as maintaining unity and love. I strongly believe scripture is crystal clear that unity is essential, and love is essential for all in the body of Christ. If attempting to dialog on less essential topics like this causes harm to unity and love, then we should take a break from the dialog and agree to disagree until the Holy Spirit prompts further growth in us.

OK, enough of a preamble... If you think it is important to have a firm position on the eternal conscious punishment in hell, and hold a high view of Scripture, I'd suggest it's worth looking at verses on either side of this issue. I confess I had strong beliefs on this issue for years without searching the scriptures for myself.

Verses That Don't Sound Like Eternal Punishment

Ezekiel 18:4 (NIV)
For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son—both alike belong to me. The soul who sins is the one who will die.
(Do all souls live forever? - Ezekiel 18:20 repeats "The soul who sins is the one who will die")

Matthew 3:12 (NIV)
"His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
('burning up the chaff' - does this sound like the chaff keeps burning, or burns up.)

Matt 7:13-14 (NIV)
"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."
(Destruction for some... life for others)

Matthew 10:28 (NIV)
"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell."
(destroy both soul and body in hell)

Matthew 19:16 (NIV)
Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?"
(doesn't everyone get eternal life? what does eternal life mean? will those in hell live forever?)

Matthew 19:29 (NIV)
And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.
(again what does eternal life mean? will those in hell live forever?)

Luke 10:25 (NIV)
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
(again eternal life for some... implies some won't have eternal life.)

Luke 13:1-5 (NIV)
Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you to will all perish."
(what kind of perish? Like having a tower fall on them? Not very eternal. If Jesus wanted to say "unless you repent, you to will all be punished eternally in Hell", I think he could have said it, and also found a better analogy.)

John 3:15 (NIV)
that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life
(again eternal life for some... implies some won't have eternal life)

John 3:16 (NIV)
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
(did Jesus mean "... shall not have eternal life of torment but have eternal life of bliss"?)

John 3:36 (NIV)
"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him."
(some get eternal life... and others will not see life)

John 4:14 (NIV)
but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
(again eternal life for some... implies some won't have eternal life)

John 5:24 (NIV)
"I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.
(here eternal life means they have crossed over from death to life)

John 6:40 (NIV)
For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."
(again not everyone will get eternal life? will those in hell live forever?)

John 6:47 (NIV)
I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.
(everlasting life? will everyone live forever, even those in hell?)

John 6:50 (NIV)
But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die
(who will not die? everyone?)

John 6:51 (NIV)
I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."
(who will live forever? will those in hell live forever?)

John 6:54 (NIV)
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.
(not everyone will get eternal life? will those in hell live forever?)

John 6:58 (NIV)
This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever."
(who will live forever? will those in hell live forever?)

John 8:51 (NIV)
I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death."
(who will not see death? will those in hell live forever?)

John 10:28 (NIV)
"I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand."
(not everyone will get eternal life? will those in hell live forever?)

John 12:25 (NIV)
The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
(not everyone will get eternal life? will those in hell live forever?)

Romans 2:7 (NIV)
To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life
(Do we all possess immortality? Will everyone live forever?)

1 Timothy 6:15-16 (NIV)
which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.
(Do we all possess immortality? Will everyone live forever?)

Romans 5:21 (NIV)
so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
(not everyone will get eternal life? will those in hell live forever?)

Romans 6:13 (NIV)
Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.
(what could it mean to be brought from death to life?)

Rom 6:23 (NIV)
"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
(death for sinners - eternal life is the gift God is offering)

Romans 8:13 (NIV)
For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live,
(sinners will die - those living by the Spirit will live)

1 Corinthians 1:18 (NIV)
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
(some will perish, others are being saved)

2 Thessalonians 2:10 (NIV)
and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
(some will perish, others are being saved)

Galatians 6:8 (NIV)
The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
(some will be destroyed, others will receive eternal life)

Philippians 3:19 (NIV)
Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.
(some will be destroyed)

1 John 2:17 (NIV)
The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.
(will everyone live forever?)

1 John 3:15 (NIV)
Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.
(will murderer's have eternal life in Hell?)

1 John 5:11 (NIV)
And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
(Is God giving everyone eternal life? Some get good eternal life, some bad eternal life?)

2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 (NIV)
"He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power."
(what does destruction mean? Are they destroyed for eternity?)

2 Peter 2:12 (NIV)
But these men blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like brute beasts, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like beasts they too will perish.
(perish and destroyed)

2 Peter 3:7 (NIV)
By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
(ungodly men are destroyed?)

2 Peter 3:9 (NIV)
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
(what does perish mean?)

James 4:12 (NIV)
There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?
(some are saved, some are destroyed)

James 5:20 (NASB)
let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
(can a soul die?)

1 John 3:14 (NIV)
We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death.
(contrast is death vs life... not eternal torment vs eternal bliss)

Jude 1:7 (NIV)
"In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire."
(What kind of example was Sodom and Gomorrah? Are they still being punished? The fire may be eternal, but we know that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed.)

Revelation 2:11 (NIV)
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.
(What could second death mean? To die a second time, after the final judgment?)

Revelation 20:6 (NIV)
Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.
(What could second death mean? To die a second time, after the final judgment?)

Rev 20:12-15 (NIV)
"And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire."
(What could second death mean? To die a second time, after the final judgment?)

Rev 21:8 (NIV)
"But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death."
(What could second death mean? To die a second time, after the final judgment?)

Other Explanations for some of these verses

Some have argued that the word destroyed and perish in some of these verse don't actually mean they die. Some say some of the words would be better translated lost. Others explain that what is meant in some of these verses is that it is simply describing a bad thing that happens to the wicked.

I've read a few of these arguments, but sorry I can't do a good job repeating them. There are simply too many verses here, and they are consistently translated using destroy, perish, death, etc, contrasted with life, eternal life, etc. If we can't trust most of our translations on all these verses, we've got another problem. If there was just one or two obscure verses, I'd consider these arguments...

It's Greek to Me

You may be used to reading these verses in non-literal ways. Not thinking that
  • perish could mean perish or die
  • destruction could mean destruction or die
  • destroy could mean destroy or kill
  • death could mean death
  • eternal life could mean living forever
If you are used to reading parts of some verses literally, but other parts of the same verses figuratively, have you ever asked yourself why? (In a previous post I ask why do we read parts of some verses literally, and other parts of the same verses figuratively?)

Here is some greek if that helps as you try to sort out what the above verses could mean.

Destruction in Matt 7:13, Phil 3:19, 2 Pet 3:7
apoleia ap-o'-li-a: ruin or loss (physical, spiritual or eternal) -- damnable(-nation), destruction, die, perdition, perish, pernicious ways, waste.

Perish from verses like Luke 13:3-5; John 3:15, John 10:28, 1 Cor 1:18, 2 Thes 2:10, 2 Peter 3:9
apollumi ap-ol'-loo-mee: to destroy fully (reflexively, to perish, or lose), literally or figuratively -- destroy, die, lose, mar, perish.

Perish from 2 Peter 2:12
Destruction from Gal 6:8
phthora fthor-ah': decay, i.e. ruin (spontaneous or inflicted, literally or figuratively) -- corruption, destroy, perish.

Destruction in 2 Thess 1:9
olethros ol'-eth-ros: a prolonged form); ruin, i.e. death, punishment -- destruction.

Destroy in Matt 10:28
apokteino ap-ok-ti'-no: to kill outright; figuratively, to destroy -- put to death, kill, slay

Death in Rom 6:23
thanatos than'-at-os: (properly, an adjective used as a noun) death -- deadly, (be...) death.

Eternal from John 3:16
aionios ahee-o'-nee-os: perpetual (also used of past time, or past and future as well) -- eternal, for ever, everlasting, world (began).

Life from John 3:36 (both times)
zoe dzo-ay': life -- life(-time).

(all greek definitions from http://scripturetext.com )

Ok... I could spend another day looking at the greek and checking if 'the' means 'the'.
I guess if someone wants to believe that in all these verses destroy, death, perish, die are not literal but mean "bad stuff happens - like being tormented for eternity" that is up to them.

I find it interesting that the same people who would argue that death and annihilation are not just and fair enough... that the wicked deserve greater punishment than death... will tone down verses that say perish to mean "a loss". Perish is too strong in these verses, because they want the wicked to survive to be tormented for eternity. (???)

Verses That Support Eternal Torment

Matthew 18:8 (NIV)
If your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire.
Matthew 25:30 (NIV)
And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'
Matthew 25:41 (NIV)
"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels."
Matt 25:46 (NIV)
"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."
Luke 16:22-24 (NIV)
"The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.'
Revelation 14:9-11 (NIV)
A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: "If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name."
Revelation 19:3 (NIV)
And again they shouted: "Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever."
Rev 20:10 (NIV)
"And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

Other Possible Explanations for these verses

Matthew 18:8 - does not state if the person would survive in this eternal fire or if they would perish in it.

Matthew 25:30 - people would also weep and gnash their teeth on their way to being destroyed. Again this verse does not state eternal torment.

Matthew 25:41 - again does not state if the person would survive in this eternal fire. It could be similar to Gehenna. Gehenna (translated hell in our Bibles) was a burning garbage dump near Jerusalem which burned forever. Things thrown into the burning garbage dump would be destroyed. The fire burned forever, but the things thrown into it perished.

Matt 25:46 - This one is a bit harder to explain away... it does say "eternal punishment".
For myself I'm fine giving a point to the eternal punishment side. :)
There are some who have alternate explanations for this verse, you can try these:
http://www.bcrevolution.ca/eternal_torment.htm
http://www.wrestedscriptures.com/B03Hell/matthew25v46.html
http://www.tentmaker.org/articles/EternalPunishmentNotTrueToGreek.html


Luke 16:22-24 - Not sure if this fits the doctrine of Hell - where the wicked go after the final judgment. This story continues describing how the rich man wanted to send someone back to warn his family members who were still alive on earth. If anything this is a description of some abode of the dead before the final judgment - or some purgatory like place.. ???

Revelation 14:9-11 - tormented in the presence of the angels and the Lamb... forever and ever?? Are they being tormented in Heaven or in Hell? This may not be after the final judgment but a separate punishment for those who took the mark of the beast. If you continue reading Revelations there are still people on earth... I don`t have a great understanding of Revelations, but I`m not sure this passage speaks of final judgment for all the wicked.

Revelation 19:3 - again I'm not sure if this great prostitute refers to all the wicked after the final judgement.

Rev 20:10 - The devil, the beast and the false prophets may be eternal beings... they may possess eternal life - and spend it in Hell. This verse may not say anything about eternal punishment for mortals.

Used for either Side

Mark 9:43-48 (NIV)

If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where " 'their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.'

This passage is often used to support the idea that hell is eternal. But we also need to consider that Jesus is quoting Isaiah 66:24 here:
"And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind." (NIV)
Note the reference to dead bodies, not living bodies. Also Gehenna (translated hell in our Bibles) was a burning garbage dump near Jerusalem. Things thrown into the burning garbage dump would be destroyed. The fire burned forever, but the things thrown into it perished.

Two Sides, Which Side To Pick?

There are some verses above that do not fit well in the 'Hell is eternal punishment' box.

There may be some verses above that do not fit well in 'God will annihilate them' box.

I see four options when confronted with a passage that doesn't fit in my box:
  1. ignore the passage
  2. re-word and re-explain it to force it to fit the box (playdough scripture)
  3. Get a different box
  4. admit I don`t understand it, don't know what box to use, and just keep collections of truths and questions scattered around like an unfinished puzzle for now... when/if I need to understand it, I believe the Holy Spirit will guide me to understand the truth.
I vote for option 4.

I'll conclude the belief in the eternal nature of hell is not an essential part of following Christ. If understanding this issue was a requirement of being a Christ follower, I think Jesus would have spent more time describing it.

Maybe, just maybe, we can agree to disagree on this one.

What difference does it make?

Here are some questions to consider:
If scripture was clear, I don't think I'd be asking the above questions. But there are enough verses to give me some doubt. I'd rather admit I don't know for sure one way or the other, than give someone a potentially false image of God.

Either way eternal life with Jesus is still the obvious choice. I'm just questioning if the doctrine of Hell, that most denominations support, is clearly true to scripture. To be destroyed or perish may simply mean that those who do not choose life with Christ do not get to live eternally.

Eternal Consequence


This summer our family spent some time in Mexico. Part of our time was spent at some beaches that had some great snorkeling opportunities. My youngest is 7, and I was certain she would be capable of putting her face in the water to see the fish. We had purchased a special snorkel and mask for her. I pulled her out in an inner-tube to an area with live coral and lots of fish. And I tried to encourage her to take a look under the surface.

Well... for reasons I don't understand, she did not want to put any effort into this, and did not want to risk getting salt water in her eyes, nose or mouth. I had done most of the work for her. I had purchased stuff for her, putting it on her, and pulling her out to the location. All she had to do was trust me and put her face in the water. We had a little discussion, but I was unable to convince her that it would be worth it.

I cut short that swim, and brought her back to shore.

We don't know, but she may have the 'eternal consequence' of never snorkeling in a place like that again. The consequences of her choices that day may last forever. She may never have an opportunity like that again.

My other daughter did great - she went out a number of times and enjoyed swimming with the colorful fish, and sea turtles. I think she even sort of enjoyed the experience of seeing a stingray, jellyfish, and a barracuda - a mix of joy and fear.

A loving parent will often use forms of punishment or consequences because they want their children to learn something and make better choices next time. Other times there may be consequences without the opportunity for a next time.

But would a loving parent ever give a punishment that is anything similar to the conscious eternal torment that many believe God has planned for his lost children? What would be the purpose or benefit to that?

Or is God offering eternal life with him, and those that do not accept it do not get it. Now is our one chance to say yes to God as Lord, or receive the eternal consequence of not having eternal life with Him.

John 3:16 (NIV)
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
John 3:36 (NIV)
"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him."
Rom 6:23 (NIV)
"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Story of Compassion



"God's message is very simple, he has created us and put us in different places of the world, with different thoughts. Not so we can judge each other, but so we recognize those differences and learn to love."

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Literal or Figurative Death

I'm working through a bunch of Scripture, wondering if there is reason to doubt the belief that hell will be an eternal conscious place of punishment.

Take a look at these verses. Which parts should be read literally, and which parts figuratively?

Matt 7:13-14 (NIV)
"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."
John 3:16 (NIV)
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
John 3:36 (NIV)
"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him."
John 10:28 (NIV)
"I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand."
John 12:25 (NIV)
The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
Rom 6:23 (NIV)
"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Romans 8:13 (NIV)
For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live,
Galatians 6:8 (NIV)
The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

Figurative Language for Death, Destruction, die, perish, lose life?

  • Until recently my mind has automatically translated those verse to mean: the final result will be eternal punishment in hell.
  • Not a literal death, just a figure of speech meaning something bad will happen.

Literal for Life, eternal life, see life, will live?
  • I've always read these literally.
  • The gift of God is to live forever with God in His presence.

Is that the best way to interpret these verses?

When death is contrasted with eternal life, shouldn't we read them both literally or both figuratively?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Is Jesus Going to Hell?

Here's a silly logic scenario:
  • If the penalty for sin is death
  • And by death we mean eternal punishment in hell
  • Jesus took our sins to the cross
  • If Jesus took the penalty of sin for us
  • Is Jesus spending eternity being punished in hell for us?
Or is the penalty for sin death? And death means death.

Playdough Scripture Matt 7:13-14

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction torturous eternal life, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to pleasant eternal life, and only a few find it."

Matthew 7:13-14 (Playdough Version)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Playdough Scripture John 3:36

"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life live for eternity in hell, for God's wrath remains on him."

John 3:36 (Playdough Version)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Playdough Scripture Matt 10:28

"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy torment both soul and body in hell."

Matthew 10:28 (Playdough Version)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I Don't Mind If You Think I'm Nuts

Just for the record... I'm OK if you think I'm nuts. If you don't agree with what I blog about, that's OK with me. A year ago I would have disagreed with half of my blog. Five years ago I would have disagreed with all of it.

But I don't judge the Jon of 5 years ago. He was basically the same person that I am today. I know I was seeking to love and follow Jesus. He was just at a different point on the journey.

So I don't judge you when your interpretations of Scripture are different than how I'm reading things these days. I may blog about those issues, to sort it out in my mind, and highlight beliefs that seem to be off track. But I'm not judging the matters of the heart - that task is God's. I may be recording my observations, but I'm not writing any final evaluation.

If I'm purposefully ignoring things clear in Scripture, please gently enlighten me with Scripture that I've misread or overlooked.

I'll try to extend the same grace to those who hold to beliefs I don't see in Scripture.

But yeah, go a head and think I'm nuts... I totally understand. The Jon of 5 years ago would be right there with you.

Playdough Scripture Matt 3:12

"His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up scorching the chaff with unquenchable fire, but the chaff doesn't burn up it just keeps being scorched for eternity."

Matthew 3:12 (Playdough Version)