Categories
Theology

Passion Week – Good Friday Meditation

Part 5 in a 7 part series. View series intro and index.

1 Peter 3:18:

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.

2 Corinthians 5:21:

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Jesus did not come to make you a good person with upstanding morals and decent ethics.  He came to make you a perfect person.  How does he do this?  He died in our place and bore the concentrated wrath of the Father that we deserved for our sin.  Our sin was credited to him; his righteousness was credited to us. Whoever believes in him, by faith, is presented to the Father, not as a “good” person, but as a completely perfected person.

Hear these penetrating words from C.S. Lewis.

God, who needs nothing, loves into existence wholly superfluous creatures in order that He may love and perfect them. He creates the universe, already foreseeing — or should we say “seeing”? there are no tenses in God — the buzzing cloud of flies about the cross, the flayed back pressed against the uneven stake, the nails driven through the mesial nerves, the repeated incipient suffocation as the body droops, the repeated torture of back and arms as it is time after time, for breath’s sake, hitched up.  If I may dare the biological image, God is a “host” who deliberately creates His own parasites; causes us to be that we may exploit and “take advantage of” Him. Herein is love. This is the diagram of Love Himself, the inventor of all loves.

Father in Heaven, let me feel the weight of glory of Christ’s crucifixion. This is no game. My sin is serious, and it put the God-man to death. Yet that is the only way I could be made perfect, the only way I could be right with you. Thank you for your Son. Thank you for the Cross. Let my eyes always be on the Cross.

Categories
Life

Some of My Thoughts About Hell

In the previous post, I posted on a sermon from my church.  As I’m blogging through my church’s sermons, I should make a note that I don’t necessarily agree with everything that the speaker says.  In this week’s sermon, there were a few things that I took issue with.  I have no doubt that preacher was sincere and loving in his intentions and I am in no way questioning his study or integrity.  He said nothing heretical by any means, and of course, you can only say so much in a 35-minute sermon.  I hope to be gracious to him, but I do want to share my thoughts on some things I disagreed with.

  • In the sermon, the pastor made the point that “hell is ultimately the separation of people from the presence of God (Point 1.3).  The passage he quoted was 2 Thessalonians 1:8-10.  This is true, but not all the way true.  I think that more explanation is needed because the word “presence” communicates an awful lot. I disagree with the flat statement that hell is the “separation of people from God’s presence” for this simple reason: God is omnipresent, he cannot not be somewhere. That includes hell.  Instead of just saying that hell is “separation of people from the presence of the Lord,” we should widen our view.  More than that, hell is the “separation of people from the majestic, glorious presence of the Lord.” Hell is, in fact, “an eternity of suffering the destructive, wrathful, fiery presence of the Lord, experiencing the presence of the darkness of his judgment.” Satan is not the one tormenting people in hell since he himself is being tormented (Rev. 20:10).  So hell is not ultimately about being separated from God, but more about experiencing God’s wrath because of unrepentance. When Christ died on the cross he took on the concentrated wrath of God, which we were deserving of, so that we might not have to experience that wrath in hell. (Check out Luke 3:7; John 3:36; Rom. 2:5, 8; 5:9; Col. 3:5-6; 1 Thess. 1:9-10; 5:9; Rev. 19:15.) For more on this, see R.C. Sproul’s comments on the subject.
  • The pastor also quotes C.S. Lewis saying, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell.”  I don’t think that Lewis is a reliable source when it comes to hell.  He’s not so orthodox there.  Piper has said it a lot better than I can, but in short, I don’t think anyone chooses hell.  Just because you don’t choose God doesn’t mean you, by default, choose hell.  When I think of someone “choosing” something, I think of something they want.  Certainly no person would ever want the hell that Jesus describes.  They might chose their own hell or something that is preferable to the “borningness of heaven” (though heaven won’t be boring), but they aren’t choosing the literal hell of the Bible that unregenerate people go to after death.  Piper put it this way: “What sinners want is not hell but sin. That hell is the inevitable consequence of unforgiven sin does not make the consequence desirable. It is not what people want — certainly not what they ‘most want.’ Wanting sin is no more equal to wanting hell than wanting chocolate is equal to wanting obesity. Or wanting cigarettes is equal to wanting cancer.”
  • Finally, as he closed, the pastor said that John 3:16 (i.e. the “so loved” part of the verse) communicates how much God loves the world.  This is not the correct translation of “so loved.”  God does love the world more than you or I ever could, but that is not what Jesus is telling Nicodemus in John 3.  What Jesus is telling Nicodemus is this: “God loved the world this way.”   What way?  “Namely, that God sent his Son Jesus Christ that whoever believes in him will not experience the death of hell.”  Jesus coming to earth is a tangible, real illustration of what kind of love God has for the world he created.

So there are some thoughts.  Please feel free to interact with them and offer your thoughts as well.

Categories
Theology

Sermon 5: How should I be thinking about hell?

How Should I Be Thinking About Hell?
Series: Debated: Answering Hard Questions About Christianity
Pastor Jeff Dart

  • What does the Bible say about hell?
    • Matthew 5:22 is a key text.  Jesus talks about Gehenna.  Gehenna (Gk.) was a valley (“Valley of Hinnom” in English) that was used by pagan kings and Hebrew kings to make sacrifices.  The most popular sacrifices were child sacrifices to Molech.  King Josiah eventually tore down the pagan altars and turned this valley into a large, burning garbage dump (see 2 Kings 23:10; Jer. 7:31-32; 19:2-6; 11-14; 32:35).
    • Heaven and hell are about relationship.  People go to hell because they do not know Jesus (Matt. 7:22; cf. John 17:3).
    • Hell is ultimately the separation of people from the presence of God (see 2 Thes. 1:8-10).
  • There are two choices people people: heaven or hell.  Matthew 25:31-46 tells us that the righteous will enter into eternal life and the wicked into eternal punishment.
    • Hell is for people who chose it.  C.S. Lewis wrote, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell.”
  • God’s final word on hell is the cross (see Rom. 5:8-11).  God has offered to us his Son because his desire is not for anyone to go to hell (2 Peter 3:9).  John 3:16 tells us, “For God so loved the world.”  This shows us God’s great love for us, how much he loved us.

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Update: Make sure to see my follow-up post on some of my thoughts about hell and this sermon.

Categories
Life

Jesus’ Resurrection Has Implications for Your Life

A few decades ago, a lot of scholarly research was dedicated to finding the answer to the question, “Did Jesus really rise from the dead?”  Now, it seems as if everyone in this postmodern, relative society is not asking, “Did he?” but rather, “So what?”

Let’s answer this practically: If a man died from a brutal execution — so much so that his body and face were hardly recognizable as human — and then rose from the dead with a healed and restored body, then this man must be more than just a man.  “So what?” you ask.  Well, if he is more than a man, then he must be loved, honored, and obeyed for who he is, namely God himself.

What do you love, honor, and obey?  Money?  Sex?  Relationships?  Food?  Praise of man?  Hollywood?  Sports?  Status?  Technology?  Cars?  Children?  Body image?  Knowledge?  Religion?  Yourself?

If these things died, would they rise from the dead like Jesus did?

I doubt it.

Categories
Life

Some arguments are better than others, and this one is just bad.

Check out the video below of Douglas Wilson and Christopher Hitchens, stars of the new documentary Collision, appearing on the Joy Behar show.

During the video, Behar asked Wilson if he really believed “that all those animals were on the ark” with Noah.  That puzzles me.  Out of all the things that happened in the Bible (like say, God becoming a Man, being killed, and rising from the dead) she wants to know about animals on a boat?  Seriously? That’s not the most miraculous and mind-boggling thing you’ll read in the Bible.

Hitchens comes across as a bitter, arrogant, angry, lonely man.  As I watched, the famous C.S. Lewis quote that he ended Mere Christianity with comes to mind:

Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay.  But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.

One day, Christopher Hitchens (and every other person) will stand before Jesus to be judged after the resurrection.  That’s sobering.