Category Archives: Theology

Forceful Men Matthew 11:7-15/ Ephesians 6:12

From The Pilgrim’s Progress

“(The man) fell to cutting and hacking most fiercely.  So after he had received and given many wounds to those that attempted to keep him out, he cut his way through them all, and pressed forward into the palace, at which there was a pleasant voice heard from those that were within, even of those that walked upon the top of the palace, saying, Come in, come in; Eternal glory thou shalt win.”

Luke 13:24, Jesus said, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.”

Ephesians 6:12 “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

“Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest.” Hebrews 4:11

Acts 14:22 “strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”

Read Matthew 11:7-11

To think that even though John was greater than anyone born of a woman, any Christian is even greater.  The reason is that a Christian is not just born of a woman; he is also born again by the power of God.  While John the Baptist spent his life preaching that the kingdom of God was at hand, those of us who are Christians have the privilege of being a part of that kingdom.

The Effort of Forceful Men

Read Matthew 11:12-15

There seem to be two different groups of men who are being discussed here by Jesus.  First of all, there are forceful men who seize hold of the kingdom of God.  And secondly, there are others who reject it even though they have seen the evidence.  Jesus commends the one group and he condemns the other.

Some are willing to do whatever it takes, make whatever sacrifices are necessary to enter the kingdom of heaven.  “Set down my name Sir!

Application

It has been said that our favorite hypocrisy is to make a choice and then to refuse to pay for it.

The price for the Christian life is high, and Jesus wants us to count that cost as part of our decision to follow him.

Read Matthew 10:34-39

The Cost of Accepting “free” Grace

We must be willing to face broken earthly relationships in order to have our relationship with God restored.

We must be willing to pay the price whatever that price may be in our lives.

No one will stroll into the Celestial City with his hands in his pockets.

That place is reserved for forceful men who in their desperation will do whatever it takes.

Summary:

We can’t just sit back, relax and take it easy.  Rather, we as Christians must continue to struggle toward heaven.  We must be diligent to enter that place of rest.  We must strive to enter the narrow gate. We must constantly struggle with whatever forces within or without us that try to keep us out of heaven. We must shout to the recorder, “Set my name down, sir,” and then we must fight our way into the Celestial city of God.

Who Is My Neighbor? Luke 10:30-37

(Unhurried enough to Care)

Love Doesn’t Rush

In I Corinthians 13, when Paul describes the nature of love and loving, the first trait he lists is patience. Consider that the God of the Scriptures is in no hurry to become angry with us. If, as Paul said in I Corinthians 13 that love is patient (God is Love) then God is patient, and He is patient with me. Take Time to Care Read again Luke 10:30-37

We are on the road. We have somewhere to go. We have a full schedule. The needy person along the way is an inconvenience, an interruption. I may complain that loving everyone in the world is impossible, but that’s not what Jesus commanded. Our Lord directs us to care for the person who is actually crossing our path. Proximity provided an opportunity to love.

The Unexpected Hero

The Samaritan saw the wounded man. Love looks long enough to be affected by what it sees. Love doesn’t look away from what is hard to see. Too often we want wounded people to hurry up and get better because they are inconveniencing me; I want to get on with my life. But what is God’s invitation for a given season of my life? To Follow or Not to Follow? God is love. Period. Are we love? Do we love? Love is the primary measure God uses to determine what is valuable and what is worthless. Love lasts. And love requires us a more unhurried approach to life.

To Follow or Not to Follow?

God is love. Period. 

Are we love?  Do we love?  Love is the primary measure God uses to determine what is valuable and what is worthless.  Love lasts.  And love requires us a more unhurried approach to life.

Walking With Forgiveness Luke 7:36-40

A Weeping Woman
We can imagine the effect this was having on Simon’s banquet. Keep in mind that Pharisees had nothing to do with women in public Remember the reputation that this woman had in the public eye.
Read Luke 7:39 again
As far as Simon was concerned, the facts only permitted two possible conclusions: Either Jesus did not know what kind of woman she was, or else He knew who she was and did not care.
A Simple Story Verses 40-43 This Simple story gets to the heart of the matter. Who has been forgiven little? Who in the story has been forgiven much?
Read Luke 7:44-50
How did Jesus’ host respond to His accusations? The Pharisee was perhaps speechless as Jesus explains the simple story and surely Simon understands that the story is about him.
This woman was now walking with forgiveness (verse 48). And like us today, forgiveness (grace) is a strong motivator to sin no more.
Personal Application:
Am I aware of the enormity of my sin?
Am I aware of the wonder of being forgiven of my sins?
Having been forgiven much, do I love much?
Has my love found expression?

 

Launch Out Into the Deep Luke 5:1-11

5 things, significant things from this passage is our focus.

Disappointment

Read Luke 5:5 again.

Maybe you have experienced the same thing, disappointment.

Just like those fishermen in this passage, sometimes we fish all night long, trying and trying only to pull up empty nets.  We suffer disappointments and we get depressed.  All because what we expected to happen didn’t happen.  And now we are at a loss as to what we should do.

Obedience

Read Luke 5:4-5 again.

Peter set aside his own feelings, set aside his own disappointment, and he obeyed God  he did what Jesus Christ told him to do.

Read I Corinthians 15:58 “Labor, not in vain”

Analogy: Jesus was going to take Peter from his superficial, half-hearted attention to Him and turn that into a deeper, more personal and real commitment to Jesus.

Provision

Read Luke 5:6 again

Just as Jesus met the need of those fishermen, God will meet our needs as well.

Ephesians 3:20, 21 “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen”

What I am trying to say is that God has promised to meet our deepest needs.  Not our deepest wants, but our deepest needs.  He not only has the ability to do it, but He has the desire to do it.

A Change of Focus

Jesus provided for the needs of the fishermen in Luke 5, but He also let them know that His focus was not on physical things, but on spiritual.  He wants us to focus on the spiritual.

Read Luke 5:10 again.

As long as Peter was only concerned about fish, he was never going to achieve great things for God.  His focus needed to be on the souls of men.  Like Peter, it is so easy for us to get caught up in physical things; but Jesus is always more concerned about the spiritual.

Response of Worship

Read Luke 5:8-11 again.

Because of the power that Jesus displayed, Peter was willing to accept the call of Jesus, and he followed Jesus. He placed Jesus first in His life and did what Jesus called him to do.

Are we willing to go before the Lord as Peter did, recognizing that we are sinners in need of salvation? Are we willing to forsake all and follow Jesus? Are we willing to place Him FIRST in our lives?

 

Simeon: Looking For Jesus Luke 2:25-35

The only things we are told about Simeon are those things which matter most to God—things which pertain to his faith and his character, things which tell us about his relationship with God.  We are told that Simeon was just and devout—he was a man who loved God deeply, so much so that God was able to use him in a wonderful way.

Read Luke 2:26, 27

Today, those who look for Jesus will find Him.

Simeon was waiting for something.  In fact, he had waited for a long time for this moment.  As Mary and Joseph came into the temple area, Simeon reached out and he took this baby Jesus in his arms, and he must have experienced that same feeling when grandparents have when they first hold that new grandchild.  There was such joy and excitement.  Then Simeon burst forth in praise to God because this wasn’t just any baby.

Read Luke 2:28-32

Notice: Matthew 13:45, 46 The pearl is so spectacular that the merchant realizes that nothing else really matters as long as he had that pearl and so he sold everything to obtain. It.  For Simeon, seeing Jesus was all that he wanted in life. With his own eyes and with his own arms he held the Messiah, to him, that was the Pearl of Great Price. Nothing else really mattered anymore.

Luke 2:34, 35

Simeon tells Joseph and Mary that Jesus’ life will involve as much pain as it will joy.  The sword that will pierce Mary will inch its way even deeper into her heart as Jesus experienced rejection that eventually ended at the cross.

Simeon’s words seek to prepare Mary for the grief she must suffer.

John 1:10-11

When God came to tell us the truth about our sinfulness and our need for Him, it wasn’t appreciated by everyone.  And so Simeon says that people will stumble over Him.  Many people would turn away from Jesus.

Simeon knew that God wanted to bless us, to save us, but that salvation would come at a great cost.  The salvation that God brought to us through the baby born in Bethlehem was going to cost the life of that child.  And unless the baby dies, there is no Joy for us.

Summary:

The joy that Simeon experienced and shared with Mary and Joseph wasn’t just an excitement of holding a newborn baby.  It is a joy that is centered on knowing and believing that, in spite of who we are and what we do, there is a God who loves us and has sent His Son Jesus so that He could rescue us from our sins by dying for us on the cross.

That sword that pierced the soul of Mary resulted in the greatest joy that we can ever possibly know.

The Birth Of Jesus Meets The Real World

When the Birth of Jesus Meets the Real World

Jesus’ Birth: Then

The birth day of Jesus was not one of peace and tranquility. Everything about the birth of Jesus was difficult.

Read Luke 1:26-38; 2:1-20

Mary: Ordinary Peasant Girl; Young teenager, engaged to Joseph; Her thoughts were on the upcoming wedding; But God chose her to carry His Son; Did she appreciate the news?; Did she feel that some of her dreams were no longer possible?

Joseph: He thought about working hard and making a life for his wife; He knew that he wanted children; But what does he think when he finds his beloved is pregnant?; And what would others think, after all they could count to 9 just as well as we do; Can you imagine Mary telling him, “I’m pregnant, but it’s alright, it’s God’s baby, His Spirit covered me and His angel told me the good news!

Joseph too is visited and told of their situation

Jesus’ Birth: Today

For many, the birth of Jesus is summed up by the announcement of the angels, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.” Luke 2:14

Christ was born into a world of hardship and pain and suffering in order to bring us to eternal hope. The point of His story is not that everything is going to be alright, but that God is in Christ, and that everything will eventually turn out right.

Image Magazine “God did not come into a perfect world to institute carol-singing, gift-buying and chestnut roasting. He entered a world blighted with suffering and cursed by sin in order to bring hope, salvation and healing…We would miss the point of Christmas altogether if we turned away its anguish.”

2 Corinthians 8:9 “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”

¨Is it possible we expect too much of the holiday and not enough of Jesus? The Holiday itself cannot take away our problems, but Jesus can!

¨The story of Jesus is ultimately not about a cute and cuddly baby in a manger; it is about an old rugged cross and a forever empty tomb.

Where’s the Band?

Ephesians 5:18b, 19, 20 “be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ,”

Jewish Worship

When the Jews sang in the synagogues, they tended to chant their songs.  They used Psalms and other source material as their “song book.”

When the Hebrew religion ended by the death of Jesus upon the cross, a dramatic change was brought about in the way God wants to be worshiped.

When Jesus came and started His church, the music of worship also changed.  The music of the early church was all vocal.

History: In Chapel Style

The word a-cappella is a very important word when we talk about the idea of history.  Most of us have heard this word in our lives.  Many of us understand it to mean “without instrumental accompaniment.”  What most people don’t know is that a-cappella is an Italian expression that literally means “in chapel style.”

Over time the idea of “in chapel style” came to mean “without instrumental accompaniment.”  That is because throughout most of Christian history the music heard in chapels, was without instrumental accompaniment; it was purely vocal.”

The Music of New Testament Worship

I refuse to worship God with musical instruments because my primary goal as God’s child, His slave and His worshiper is to please Him; and because He has not indicated that he would be pleased with a praise offering from a musical instrument.  I will not make such an offering to Him.

Let’s Read our Bible a Minute

2 Corinthians 5:9-10; Ephesians 5:7-10;Colossians 1:9-10;Hebrews 13:15-16

See also I Thessalonians 4:1-2; I John 3:21-22 and I Timothy 2:1-3

And so we ask, who are we trying to please with our worship?

I want you to see that “pleasing God” must also be our bull’s eye in matters such as coming before God with our offering of praise.

Shouldn’t our first question be: “What can be done in worship to please God?”

God Has Told Us What Pleases Him

Ephesians 5:18-19;  Colossians 3:16

Ephesians 5:19 “addressing one another”

Colossians 3:16 “teaching and admonishing one another”

The instrument of music never fulfills the desires of God and the intention of singing.  It is an addition to the Word as revealed to us through the Holy Spirit.

Singing involves the mind.  And with our mind and our voices we speak to one another, we teach one another and we encourage one another.

The idea of “making melody” or “with thankfulness in your hearts to God” lets us know that we are to engage our minds when we are singing. Singing is not just about notes and pretty singing, but it is worship to God. Our worship partakes of the essence of God.  Worship is making melody in our hearts.

Christians should emphasize music and realize that the worship of God involves spirituality and sincerity from the depths of their hearts.  Music becomes vital as we enter into our worship.  It is our own human response to God Almighty, and we cannot help but become better people when we sing and participate.

The Sound of Praise

Read Hebrews 13:15-16  God wants “the fruit of our lips that acknowledge His name.”  And we know, of course, that this phrase means heartfelt words of praise and thanks.

I Corinthians 14:15  Here Paul discusses how worship must come from both our spirit and our understanding.

Read also James 5:13 Also consider Colossians 3:16, Ephesians 5:18, 19 and Acts 16:25.

As we look at the expression in these  verses we notice something.  Expression like “singing…to God,” “singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord,” and “were praying and singing…to God.” Heartfelt singing and heartfelt praying are given “to God.”  That’s an offering.  That’s worship.  And that obviously pleases God.

But Preacher…#1

It hasn’t been specifically forbidden!

We can’t make assumptions about Worship and assume that we are pleasing to God.  Can you read God’s mind?  Are you a mind reader? Are you going to base your soul on what you feel?

But Preacher…#2

We are under the New Covenant now, and under the New Covenant isn’t it true that God is only concerned with the worshiper’s heart?

Although pure motives and sincerity are without a doubt fundamental factors in how God responds to us, the Scriptures make it unambiguously clear that God is also concerned with our actions.

So please, do not try to have a relationship with God based on the false assumption that all God cares about is your heart—your motives and sincerity.  He is also concerned about your actions.

But Preacher…#3

People worshiped God with instruments in the O.T.

2 Chronicles 29:25 “for the command was from the LORD.”

Notice Romans 15:4 “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

Certainly in Tabernacle worship they used a trumpet to call everyone together.  When David was getting people ready for Temple worship, he was commanded to make instruments and add a chorus to the mix.

Consider this: If the O.T. was binding on us today, then why don’t we have an alter of acacia wood to burn incense to the Lord as commanded in Exodus 30:1?  Why didn’t you bring your grain offering today made of unleavened cakes of fine flour mixed with oil an a griddle to the Lord as commanded in Leviticus 2:4-9?  Why didn’t you bring a bull or a sheep or a goat today to fulfill the required sacrifices as described in Leviticus 1:1ff.

Shouldn’t we be consistent with our arguments?

Summary:

Because my ultimate desire in worship is to please God, I’ll keep opting for singing.  The potential of displeasing God in worship is enough to keep me right where I am.  As long as I continue to offer to God only those sacrifices of praise that He has specifically indicated are pleasing and acceptable to Him, I know that He will be pleased and that I will be pleasing.

Hebrews 13:15 “Through Him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips that acknowledge His name.”

 

In Remembrance of Me I Corinthians 15:1-4

The death, burial and resurrection of Christ form the central theme of the gospel message.

Old Testament Roots

God commanded them to observe the Passover feast every year, to commemorate their deliverance from Egyptian bondage. (Exodus 12:1-13:10)

Read Matthew 26:26-28

Jesus became the sacrificial Lamb of Messianic deliverance.  He gave His own body and blood as payment for our sin debt to deliver us from the bondage of sin and death.  The simple elements He chose appropriately represent His sacrifice.

A Feast for a King

Jesus said that He would eat and drink a new feast with them when the kingdom came.

Jesus had promised that the kingdom would come in their lifetime (Mark 9:1).  He had promised Peter the privilege of opening the doors of the kingdom, which He also called His church (Matthew 16:18, 19).  Peter used the keys of the kingdom on the first Pentecost after Jesus’ resurrection.  He preached the first gospel sermon, which resulted in the first converts to Christianity (Acts 2:14-40).

The Lord’s Supper is a feast fit for a Messianic King and His subjects. This feast binds us together as one with each other and with the King.  The feast around the Table of the Lord is “sharing in the blood of Christ” and “sharing in the body of Christ” (I Cor. 10:16).

We are invited (Christians) to this banquet for one purpose—to participate with Him and with each other in the event that brought about our victory over sin.

A Lord’s Day Supper

From their earliest beginnings, Christians assembled on the first day of the week to break bread (Acts 2:42, 20:7).   “Break bread” was a term often used for the practice of taking the Lord’s Supper.  When Paul spoke of “the bread which we break” in I Corinthians 10:16, he was referring to part of the Lord’s Supper.

No evidence exists, in either Scripture or early church history, challenging the practice of Christians meeting together on the first day of the week to observe this sacred meal.

When are we to Eat and Drink?

The only Bible reference to the day that the Lord’s Supper was kept indicates that it was observed on Sunday—the first day of the week.

The church’s universal practice, following the period immediately after the apostles, was to observe the Lord’s Supper on Sunday, the first day of the week. This would indicate that Sunday was a day established by the apostles, whom the Spirit guided into all truth.  Being helped by the Spirit, they were able to instruct the converts to observe all things Jesus had commanded them to teach.

When are we to Eat and Drink?

Christians met on Sunday each week.  The purpose for their gatherings was to take the Lord’s Supper.  Weekly observance must have been a pattern established by the apostles.  Those today who want to continue in the apostles’ teaching should meet each Sunday in order to partake of the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of Jesus.

Yes they met at other times, but the day they partook of the Lord’s Supper was Sunday, for on that day Jesus conquered death on behalf of mankind.

A Remembrance

At the table, Christians experience both sorrow and joy.

Jesus wants us to remember not only what He has already done for us on the cross, but also what He is doing for us now as our King, High Priest, and Mediator.  He also wants us to remember what He has promised in the future.  2 Timothy 2:11b, 12 “if we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him.”

We are somber and reflective, we are joyful. Jesus paid our sin debt to set us free!

The bread and the fruit of the vine remind us of His sacrificed body and blood.  He is our sacrificial Lamb.  We participate together by giving thanks, as He gave thanks for the bread and the wine.  We celebrate our deliverance.  As we commune with Him and with each other, as members of one body, we reaffirm our unity and our support of one another.

Celebrate—but recognize that God is holy and pure, while we are sinful and frail.  He is not like us, but He wants us to be like Him.  The Lord’s Supper provides a perfect setting for us to exercise both reverence and joy.

The Lord’s Supper is Important

This is what binds us together and holds us together as one body.  The Lord’s Supper is not just a ritual to be performed, but a meal to bring us together and enable us to commune with God and with each other.


Judge Not That You Be Not Judged Matthew 7:1-6

Don’t Judge Matthew 7:1-2

The Pharisees were used to judging others self-righteously. Jesus said there are problems with that kind of judging. It’s overly critical, always going around with a nit-picking attitude, digging and searching for faults, always suspecting the worst.

What Jesus is talking about is a hasty, unloving, “holier than thou” type of attitude.

Whenever we make a judgment, we do so based on what we have seen and sometimes that’s not enough to provide the whole picture. Human judgment is limited to the information which we put into it and sometimes that isn’t enough to make an accurate judgment.

Searching For Specks Matthew 7:3-5

Bertrand Russell capsulated this hypocrisy when he said, “I am firm. You are obstinate. He’s pig-headed. I have reconsidered. You have changed your mind. He’s gone back on his word.“

We’re not qualified to sit in judgment on others because it’s impossible to  be impartial — we’re influenced by our own imperfections.

When I spend my time pointing my finger at your sin, my attention is distracted from my own sins, and that’s the real danger of judging. We’re all sinners, and we’re to work together as a family to overcome our sins.

Helping Our Brother Matthew 7:5

Suppose a child comes to you with a splinter in his finger. He’s crying, “Please take this splinter out!” What’s the Christian thing to do? Leave the splinter there? No! You take the splinter out. So Jesus was saying there is a place for some discernment in people’s lives. If you see brothers or sisters who have specks in their eyes, you need to help them take it out!

The Right Way To Judge  Matthew 7:6

Some believe that you can’t judge anyone else as being right or wrong and you have no right to condemn the way anyone is living. If you are doing that, you are wrong and that you shouldn’t live that way. Thus they practice the very thing they claim is wrong for others.

First Jesus says, “Don’t judge, don’t condemn.” Then, in the same breath, He says, “Make certain judgments concerning people and behavior.”

How can these two positions be reconciled? The two positions actually complement and limit each other perfectly. In the first statement, as we’ve already seen, Jesus condemns the critical, holier-than-thou, jumping to conclusions sort of judgment that the Pharisees were known for.

In this second statement, Jesus acknowledges the need for making decisions concerning people and behavior that is detrimental to our Christian lives.

Summary:

In Matthew 7:1-6 we have a warning to avoid the extremes of judgment.

We need to be careful not to become harshly judgmental, looking for faults, taking the opportunity to look down on others from our position of self-righteousness.

But neither are we to overlook sin. We need to be able to recognize sin for what it is. Any attempt to overlook or justify sin on any grounds is itself sinful.

In John 8 We come to another story, the story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery.  Notice how Jesus demonstrates Matthew 7:1-6

Jesus refused to look down on her. He wouldn’t allow the mob to treat her as a thing. Rather He forced the mob to consider their own sin.

But, He didn’t justify her sin. He wouldn’t refer to her action as anything other than sin.

 

What the Bible Tells Us About Hell 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10

There are many concepts out there about the reality of Hell. Some profess to its reality and others claim that there is no such place.  And the tragedy of our time is that most of those who are now living will go to hell.

But we must realize that the same Bible that tells us of this wonderful place called Heaven also tells us about the awful hell below.

Let’s look at some words translated Hell in our Bibles and then let’s talk about this place. There are three Greek words in the text of the Bible that are translated Hell.

  1. The first word translated Hell is Geennan or Gehenna. This word was originally used to describe the Valley of Hinnom, which was a deep and narrow valley in the South of Jerusalem.

The valley called Gehenna, was so called from the cries of the little children who were thrown into the fiery arms of Moloch as the Jews worshipped his idol and sacrificed their children to him.  The faithful  Jews so abhorred the place after these horrible sacrifices had been abolished by king Josiah (2 Kings 23:10), that they cast into it not only all manner of refuse, but even the dead bodies of animals and of unburied criminals who had been executed. Fires were always needed to be burning there to consume the trash and the dead bodies, and so the air was very tainted by the putrefaction.

You can imagine just what a terrible place it  would be as the garbage dump would be crawling with insects and worms feeding and the fires burning.  It’s disgusting to think about.  This is the word the Jesus uses here to describe the place of eternal punishment for the wicked.

READ Mark 9:42-48  The word hell is the word Gehenna.  Jesus wishes us to see just how terrible hell is.

2.  The second word translated Hell is Hades.  An example of  this is found in Matthew 16:18 “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

The word Hadou or Hades is “the unseen world.” It is not so much a place as it is a state of being.  Of course there is no possible way we can completely comprehend this concept, so we accept the fact that someday, unless Christ comes before you die, you wil be here and will know for yourself what it is really like.

Hades is the place where all the souls of the dead are to be found, whether good or bad.  It is where we await the Final Judgment.  There is one “part” (an inaccurate term, but the only one I can use to get across the idea) where the good are found and another “part” where the wicked are to be found.

But now, having said all that and having drawn that distinction, we need to realize that it is an actual place, and not much different from our final resting place either in heaven or hell.

There is just no way to really convey the dreadfulness of this place.  It is beyond our human comprehension.  But let me assure you that just one second in this place would convince anyone that he should flee to God at once.

Another verse that uses the word Hades is in Acts 2:27, it lets us know that Jesus was there for a short time after His death and before His resurrection.

And one of our favorite verses of hope and security also involves Jesus as He speaks to the thief on the cross.  He says in Luke 23:43 “And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”   Paradise is what Jesus calls the part of Hades we all want to be in.

3. The third word translated hell is what the Greeks and the Bible call Tartarus.

READ 2 Peter 2:4-10    The word hell in verse 4 is Tartarus.

Tartarus is a place of punishment for the spirits of the wicked dead, the other side of Hades, the opposite of Paradise. So Hades, often translated Hell, is the place everyone goes after death, awaiting the judgment.  And we will be there either in Tartarus or paradise.

Remember the story of the rich man and Lazarus from Luke 16?  The rich man ends us in Hades, being in torment.  He was in Tartarus. What is Hell like?

  1. It is a place of Torment. There are no words in any language to adequately describe this torment. The Scriptures use the example of fire to try to covey the idea.  The figure is a good one. If you have ever sustained a burn, you know how painful it can be.  If you can, try to remember that pain.  Then try to imagine what it would be like to be burned over every square inch of your body.  And then finally, try to imagine what it would be like to be “burning up”–to have your soul eternally “on fire,” always burning, but never consumed.

Just thinking about this place will drive you insane.  The want of relief, the desire to even have one drop of water is so great and yet, there is no way out once you are there.

2. It is a place of memory. In a way, even more hideous than the fact that this is a place of torment, is the fact that this is a place of memory.

There are people today who claim that there is no soul, no eternal part of man.  How we would wish that to be true if we were in hell. But the truth is that after death, one is very conscious and very aware–of where you are, of all that is happening to us, and all of this is eternal.

Your spirit, or maybe we could call it your mind, when it is released from the flesh will gain in its capacity to understand.  We will be in tune to the Omniscient and Omnipresent Mind of God (a wonderful situation if you are in the realm of the saved, but a horrid situation if you are in the realm of the doomed).

Again looking to the story of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man was able to recognize Abraham, a man he had never seen before.  He still had his memories, he remembered his brothers and their  plight on earth.  And these memories will never fade.  Memories that will continue to haunt us unmercifully.

“Why didn’t I do that?”  “Why did I go there?”  “What was I thinking?”

Memory for the saved must be one of their greatest blessings.  You can almost hear the praises and blessing as they give all glory to Jesus the Christ and God the Father.

3. It is a Permanent Place. Of course, all of this would be bearable if there were any hope at all of relief.  If we could know that in a thousand years, or a million, or a billion, that there would be an end, then we could stand it one way or another.  But this is not the case.  This is the most permanent place.

Don’t believe those who tell you that they can get you out.  That they can pray you out or be baptized for you to get you out of Hell.  This is a place that shall never end–and those in it today will be in it tomorrow and they will be in it a hundred million years from now and a hundred million years from then.   What a terrible thing people do when they tell others to “go to hell.”  What an awful thing to wish upon another creature.

Now is the time to be concerned about Hell.

Until it happens we will never know just what a surprise it will be to die.   We have so many plans. We are counting on doing so many things, and then–we are dead.  Whether we like it or not, our work is done.

Are you concerned about your soul?  Are you concerned about your children? your neighbor? your friend?  Is there anyone who means anything to you?

You know that the Messiah died on the cross for all of us.  He was willing to take the punishment, to bear the separation from the Father, to suffer emotionally and physically too.  He is a wonderful Savior.

And surely if you want to respond to His call, you too can be a part of the saved.

And surly if you share His love with others there will be others who will want to be saved.

Summary:

The conditions of salvation are simple.  Trust in the sacrifice of Jesus. We call that Faith

Repent of your sins.  Change your mind about who you are and what you are about.

Confess Jesus as Lord with your lips unto salvation.

Submit to Baptism where the blood of Jesus washes you clean.

Live in faith until you too die.

 

To those who once came to Jesus but have gone astray, we are told to come back to Him in repentance, confession and prayer.  This sounds so simple and yet many will not do even this to escape Hell.

Hell is not a resort, a reform school or a playground.  Hell is a place of punishment.  Do everything you can to never go there.