Archives
Tag Cloud
: Mothers Abandonment Abomination of Desolation Abortion Abraham’s Bosom Abuse Accounting Activism Adoption Adultery Affection Affliction Afterlife Alliances Altar America Analogy Angels Anger Anointing Apologetics Apostasy Armor of God Ascension Ashamed Atonement Authority Baal Babylon Bad Baptism Belief Betrayal Bible Bitterness Blasphemy Blessing Blessings Blindness Boasting Body of Christ Bondage Book of Life Borders Born Again Bottomless Pit Bride Bride of Christ Bridegroom Calling Capital Punishment Carnal Celebration Character Childbirth Children Children of God Chosen Christ Christian Life Christians Christmas Church Circumstances Civil Disobedience Clay Cleansing Comfort Commands Communion Community Comparison Compassion Complacency Complaining Conception Condemnation Conduct Confidence Conflict Conformity Confrontation Confusion Connection Conscience Consequences Contentment Conviction Cornerstone Correction Cost Counsel Courage Covenant Coveting Creation Creator Crisis Cross Crowns Crucifixion Culture Curse Darkness David Day of the Lord Death Deceit Deception Decisions Defense Delegation Demon Demons Denial Dependency Design Desolation Destruction Devil Direction Disaster Discernment Disciple Disciples Discipleship Discipline Discontentment Discouragement Disease Disgrace Disputes Distraction Diversity Divine Division Doctrine Double Fulfillment Doubt Drought Drugs Duties Duty Earth Earthly Earthquakes Easter Edom Education Elders Elect Emmaus Emotions Employment Encouragement End Times Endurance Enemies Enemy Environment Environmentalism Equality Equipped Eternal Eternal Life Eternity Evangelism Everlasting Life Evil Evolution Exaltation Exalted Exclusion Excuses Exorcism Expectations Eyes Failure Fairness Faith Faithful Faithful Servant Faithfulness False Christs False Doctrine False Gods False Prophet False Religion False Religions Family Famine Fasting Father Fathers Favoritism Fear Fear of the Lord Feasts Feasts of the Lord Fellowship Fig Tree Finances Fire First Coming First Resurrection Firstborn Flesh Flock Folly Foolishness Foreigner Foreknown Forgiveness Fornication Forsaken Foundation Freedom Friends Friendship Fruit Fruit of the Spirit Fruitfulness Future Gentiles Gentle George Wood Giving Glorified Body Glory God God’s Word Godliness Godly God's Will Good Good Shepherd Good Works Gospel Gospels Government Grace Gratitude Great Commission Greatness Grief Growth Guilt Hades Hardship Harvest Hate Hatred Healing Heart Heaven Heavenly Hedonism Hell Help Herod Hidden Holiness Holy Holy Spirit Home Homosexuality Honor Hope Hopelessness Humility Husband Hypocrisy Idolatry Ignorance Image Immanuel Immigration Impossibility Incarnation Individuals Indulgences Inheritance Injustice Inner Battle Instructions Insults Integrity Intercession Intermediate State Israel Jerusalem Jesus Jewish Temple John the Baptist Joy Judas Judgment Judgment Day Judgments Justice Justification Justify Key Keys Kids Kindness King Kingdom Kingdom of God Kingdom of Heaven Knowledge Lake of Fire Lamp Law Law of the Lord Lawlessness Leader Leaders Leadership Leftism Legalism Leprosy Lies Life Life-Span Light Like-minded Lord Lost Love Lowly Loyalty Lust Lusts Luxury Malachi Manipulation Marriage Martyrdom Martyrs Mary Master Materialism Maturity Meditation Men Mentoring Mercy Messiah Metaphor Millennium Mind Mind of Christ Minister Ministry Miracle Miracles Mission Mocking Money Mothers Mystery Nations Natural Natural Gifts Naturalism Nature Near-Far Fulfillment Necessities New Covenant New Earth New Jerusalem New Man New Testament Obedience Obstacles Obstructions Offense Old Covenant Old Man Old Nature Old Testament Omnipresence Omniscience One Mind Outcast Pagan Pain Palm Sunday Parable Parables Paradise Paranormal Parenting Passion Passover Path Patience Patriotism Peace Peer Pressure Pentecost People of God Perception Perfect Persecution Perseverance Persistence Personal Testimonies Perspective Perversion Pestilence Peter Pharisees Philosophy Piety Pilate Politics Poor Position Possession Possessions Posture Power Praise Prayer Preach Preaching Preparation Pride Priority Privilege Prodigal Promise Proof Prophecy Prophet Prophets Prosperity Protection Protestant Reformation Proverbs Providence Provision Punishment Purgatory Purity Purpose Questions Racism Rapture Reason Rebellion Rebuke Reconciliation Redeemer Redemption Refuge Regeneration Rejection Rejoicing Relationship Relationships Reliability Religion Remember Remnant Renewal Repentance Reputation Resolve Rest Restoration Resurrection Revelation Revenge Revival Reward Rich Riches Righteous Righteousness Rights Riot Risk Rivalry Robbery Roman Catholic Church Rule Sabbath Sacred Sacrifice Saint Salvation Sanctification Sarcasm Satan Savior Schemes Science Scoffers Scripture Seasons Second Coming Secret Seed Seek Self Self Control Self-centered Self-Control Selfish Ambition Self-Righteous Servant Servant-Leadership Servants Serve Service Serving Sexual Immorality Sexual Sin Sexuality Shame Share Sharing She’ol Shepherd Sickness Signs Signs and Wonders Simplicity Sin Sincerity Singing Singleness Sinners Slavery Sober Society Sojourner Sojourners Son Son of God Son of Man Sons of God Sorrow Soul Source Sovereignty Speech Spirit Spirit Realm Spirits Spiritual Spiritual Battle Spiritual Birth Spiritual Death Spiritual Gifts Spiritual Growth Spiritual Rulers Spiritual Warfare Stewardship Strength Stress Strife Stumbling Block Submission Suffering Supernatural Supper Surrender Syncretism Tags: Patience Taxes Teacher Teaching Tears Technology Temple Temptation Temptations Terminal Illness Test Testimony Testing Tests Thankfulness Thanksgiving The Curse The Day of The Lord The End The Fall The Grave The Holy Spirit The Law The Way The Word The World Theology Throne Time of Visitation Times of the Gentiles Tithing Tongues Tradition Tragedy Transfiguration Transformation Traps Treachery Treasure Tree Tree of Life Trial Trials Tribulation Trifles Trinity Triumphal Triumphal Entry Trouble Trust Truth Unbelievers Uncertainty Unity Unpardonable Sin Utopia Value Victory Vigilance Vindication Virtue Virtues Visiting Ministries Voice of God Volunteer War Warning Warnings Wars Watching Water Baptism Water of Life Weary Wicked Wickedness Widows Wife Wineskins Wisdom Witness Witnesses Witnessing Women Word of God Word of the Lord Works World World View Worry Worship Worth Wrath Yahweh Yeast YHWH Yoke Zion

Weekly Word

Entries in Judgment Day (3)

Tuesday
Jan082019

Walking with the Lord in 2019

Psalm 1:1-6.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on January 6, 2019.

As we begin this New Year, we begin by praying for our walk with God.  We need His wisdom and guidance for the path ahead of us, and we need to grow in our ability to follow Him.  However, more than these things from the Lord, we need His presence in our life.  So we come to the question.  Am I walking with God as I should?  Am I following the One that He sent, the Lord Jesus Christ?  This is a question that we can ask ourselves every day.  It is that important.

The Bible presents Jesus as the perfect Son of God.  He is our example of how to walk with God the Father.  Yes, He is definitely more than an example, but He is one nonetheless, which we would do well to follow.

Our passage today compares and contrasts the one who refuses to walk with the world, and walks with God, to the one who does not.  This is not about disconnecting from society and the people around us in order to go on a spiritual journey.  Rather, it is living our life in the midst of society and the people around us by following God’s direction and not our own.  It is recognizing that my way provides no salvation for myself or this world, but His way brings life.

We need to learn to walk with the Lord.

Verse one of this psalm opens with a series of statements that use the verbs “walk, stand, and sit.”  It is clear that the psalmist is not just thinking of the simple actions in and of themselves.  He is not worried that a sinner might walk beside him on the road to Jerusalem, or that a scoffer might happen to sit by him at a wedding.  Rather, he uses these verbs as extensions of the choices that we make in our heart and in our mind, which cause us to do these things in league with certain people.

Thus, it is not about who happens to be walking next to me, but who I choose to walk with.  Similarly it is not about who happens to be standing or sitting beside me, but about those whom I choose to stand with and sit beside because I share their purpose and outlook on life.  We need to learn to choose to walk in harmony with the Lord, to walk in fellowship with Him, and to walk by His leading.

Thus we end up with a list of things that we should avoid because they take us away from the Lord.  As we look at this list, we should also note how Jesus perfectly demonstrates how to avoid them.  First, the blessed man chooses not to listen to the counsel of the wicked.  Now, the wicked are those who reject God’s Word and do what they want.  They have chosen a path that is adverse to God’s path for mankind.  Those who reject God’s path, and consequently His fellowship, have their own way of looking at things and their own “wisdom.”  Their counsel or advice is always a twisted reasoning why they should not follow the counsel of the Lord.  Their counsel is like that of the devil’s when he tempted Eve.  “Has God really said…”  The wicked can be openly hostile to God, or they may operate under the umbrella of God’s people.  Yet, their counsel always provides an exit off of the path of God’s way.  If we are to do well this year, we must learn to avoid listening to the counsel of the wicked.

Second, the blessed man chooses not to stand on the path of sinners.  “Sinners” here is a conceptual rhyme with the earlier “wicked.”  They are essentially the same with a slight difference in nuance.  Yet, the emphasis moves from their counsel to their path.  We start walking away from the Lord by first listening to their counsel, but then we find ourselves walking their same path.  The sinner’s path is not the path of the Lord.  The very definition of the word sinner is one who misses or falls short of God will.  They go a different way than the Lord.  Again, if we are to do well this year, we must not go down the path of those who reject God’s counsel and are refusing to walk with Him.

Third, the blessed man chooses not to sit in the seat of scoffers.  The image of a seat seems to be the end of a series of choices that lead to a worse and worse situation spiritually.  Having listened to false counsel, and walking down a false path, we can end up in a destination full of those who scoff, mock, and scorn those who follow God.  How sad to go from walking with God to mocking those who still do so.  If you find yourself sitting with those who mock and deride God and His Word, if you find yourself in league with such people and such attitudes, then you are in a bad place.  If we are to do well this year, we will need to avoid that mocking spirit which wants to pull us off of the path of Christ and on to a path of our own making.

Now verse 2 gives us the positive things that a blessed person embraces.  Here we see that the first is the Law of the Lord.  Now the psalmist is an Israelite living prior to the times of Christ and the Law of the Lord represented the apex of God’s Word.  God had made a covenant with Israel and given them His Law.  As Christians we are not under the Law of Moses, but rather the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:2).  The point here is not about legalism.  The Law represented God’s counsel and wisdom to Israel as to how they should run their society and show their faithfulness to Him.  For Christians today, we also need to heed God’s counsel and his wisdom in order to stay in fellowship with God and show our faithfulness to Him.  However, we have the Gospel from Jesus and His apostles.  We need to listen to the counsel that they give us.  Jesus will not lead us towards wickedness, sin, or mocking.

We should also note that it says that we should delight in God’s Word.  This represents an emotional response to the grace that God gives when He gives us His Word, His wisdom.  If we are to do well this year, we will need to delight in receiving God’s Word and then follow it.

Secondly, we should embrace meditating upon God’s commands.  It is not enough to merely hear God’s Word.  We are told to meditate upon what He says.  This is an inner dialogue that we can have with God in which we contemplate His Word, how it applies to us, and what obstacles we need to overcome.  The focus is to fill our minds with the understanding of God’s counsel and commands.  This involves recognizing and casting aside those understandings and counsels that are adverse to Christ.  If we do not take time to meditate about our choices in this life, we will fall far short of walking with the Lord.  If we are to do well this year, we will need to set aside time each day to meditate about the path in front of us, and prayerfully ask God to help us see His path.

In verse 3 we see the effect of the path that we walk upon our life.  Those who walk with the Lord become fruitful and beneficial to others.  This image of a fruit tree may somewhat conflict with the imagery of walking with the Lord.  However the difference in imagery helps to further explain what is intended for us to see.  The one who is walking with the Lord is simultaneously a tree in this world.  The rivers of water point to the need for trees to have water.  Without it there can be no growth.  God and His Word is our source of water.  When we are connected to God as our water source then we will become fruitful. 

Now the whole point of a fruit tree is to provide something for others.  Apple trees do not eat their own apples.  Our growth is not about getting all sorts of stuff to feed ourselves.  The one who follows God’s path becomes like a tree laden with fruit and all who come upon them can find good sustenance from them.  What kind of fruit am I in the life of those around me?  If we are to do well this year then we must turn our roots towards the waters of life, and not the stagnant waters of this world.  Then we will be fruitful and beneficial to those whom God has put in our life.

 Walking with the Lord also makes one to prosper.  “Whatever he does shall prosper.”  With so many teachers talking about prosperity, it would be good to pause and remind ourselves of what prosperity is and what it is not.  For many it only means to be financially wealthy and physically healthy.  However, in pursuing these things we can often be feeding the lusts of our own flesh.  We can promote greed, selfishness, lack of discipline, and idolatry as we try to prosper.  We cannot serve God and wealth!

Instead, the New Testament emphasizes spiritual prosperity above material prosperity (I did not say instead of).    It is not that God will not take care of our material needs, but that our flesh gets too attached to material prosperity at the expense of spiritual prosperity.  Thus we are called to be thankful and content with whatever material things God supplies, be it little or much.  We are to be other-focused and become spiritually beneficial to people around us, and, as the Lord directs and supplies, materially beneficial to them as well.  Ultimately we worship God and serve Him, rather than dollar signs and looking good in front of other people.  If we are to truly be prosperous this year, then we will need to break down the idol in our hearts that wants to be rich and satisfy all the desires of our heart.  Then we will truly prosper.

Verse 4 reminds us that if we don’t walk with the Lord the effects will be negative.  The ungodly will not be like a tree that has plenty of water and bears good fruit.  Though the psalmist could have stuck with the tree imagery and said that they produce poisonous fruit, he doesn’t.  We switch to another metaphor, that of wheat.  The wheat metaphor makes it clear.  The ungodly will perish.

Wheat has a hard shell that must be broken off of it in order to get to the useful food beneath.  The broken remnants of these shells are called chaff.  It was common to crush the wheat and then throw it into the air.  The wind would blow the light and insubstantial chaff away, but leave the heavier, good wheat behind.

This metaphor can be taken two ways.  First, all the trials and difficulties of this world have the effect of separating us into two categories.  We are either wheat that will be gathered into God’s barn, or we are chaff that the wind of God will blow away.

Second, we can also recognize a further truth that all the trials and difficulties of our life are testing and breaking the chaff off of us.  If we will allow Him, God will use those pains and hurts to break off the hard shell around our heart and remove it far from us.  We can become that which is good and the bad part will be blown away by the wind of God.  Though this image doesn’t bring up the sense of God’s love for His people and His desire to be loved by them, its lesson is still important.  God is always working to remove the bad and protect the good.  If we are to do well this year then we must learn to cooperate with this work in our life.  Quit worrying about those who reject God.  Even if they seem to prosper and seem to be so substantial in this world, the day will come when the wind of God will blow them away and they will perish.  Don’t seek to be like them, rather seek to tell them about God’s love for them.

The psalm ends with the warning that the ungodly will not stand in the Day of Judgment.  We will all one day stand and give account to the God of heaven, specifically Jesus Christ.  In that day those who have walked with Him will be blessed and enabled to stand, but those who have rejected His ways, mocked and derided them, will recognize their folly too late.  Don’t be such a person and don’t make such mistakes.  In fact, be a tree of life that when such a person crosses your path, you have enough power of Christ within you to get their attention.  If we are to do well this year, then we need Christ to help us offer something helpful to the lost world around us.

May this year be a year in which you walk with the Lord and are truly blessed.

Walking with the Lord audio

Tuesday
Sep182018

Your Personal End Times: What is after death? III

Various passages.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on September 16, 2018.

Over the last several weeks we have established that all people will face their physical death and that what they experience next will be one of two possible situations.  Keep in mind that we are not dealing with the special case of those who are alive at the resurrection.  Those who belong to Christ when they die will immediately go to be with Christ in heaven at the right hand of the Father.  Those who do not belong to Christ go to torments in Hades, or The Grave.  There are other beliefs that are floating around out there, which I believe to be in error.

Soul Sleep

There are many passages throughout the Bible that use sleep terminology for physical death.  Even the resurrection is spoken of in Daniel 12 as waking up out of the dust of the earth.  There are some who teach that these verses prove that the soul or spirit is not conscious during death.  A person would simply die and then the next thing they would experience is the Resurrection day.  There are also some verses that seem to imply that the dead are not aware.  However, these verses are saying that they are not aware of earthly things, not that they are unaware of the spiritual place in which they find themselves.  The imagery of sleeping is not used to teach that such is happening.  It is a euphemism that is typical when speaking of the dead.  Other passages make it abundantly clear that they are conscious and aware of the spiritual things around them.

Next we will deal with the most abundant belief about the afterlife that has no biblical basis.

Is purgatory a biblical teaching?

First let’s explain just what purgatory is.  Purgatory comes into play when a believer dies.  It teaches that sin after salvation can be absolved or forgiven, but the guilt cannot.  Thus all believers who die are saved, but many are not pure.  The pure go immediately into the presence of God and Christ, as we have already said.  However, Christians who are not pure go into a temporary place of fiery pain until they have been “purged” of all their guilt.  Then they will be allowed to go into the presence of God.  Purgatory is not the same as the place of torments in Hades, but sounds an awful lot like it.

It is also taught that certain prayers, righteous works, and even monetary gifts that are given in this life can lower the amount of time that we will have to spend in purgatory, perhaps even lower it to zero.  These are called indulgences.  In fact, a person can obtain indulgences on behalf of family members and other believers who have passed away and may still be in purgatory.

This teaching was one of many that Martin Luther opposed in the 16th century when he nailed his 95 theses to the Wittenburg Castle church door.  He quoted a popular jingle of the day, “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul out of purgatory springs.”  Of course, such teachings led to all manner of corruption in the name of bringing money into the treasury of the Roman Catholic Church, and in the name of rich people being able to indulge themselves in sin due to the fact they could purchase indulgences against any guilt.

It is important to note that this was a doctrine that was particular to Rome and the western Churches.  When the Eastern Orthodox churches and the Roman Catholic Churches separated in AD 1054, 400 years followed of trying to reconcile their differences, which was never accomplished.  The teaching of purgatory was one of these doctrines that the Eastern Church never adopted.  Martin Luther and the other Protestant Reformers also came to reject this teaching.

Rome puts forth several defenses of this teaching, which were found lacking by all the afore mentioned parties.  Let’s look at a couple of the passages put forward.  The first is 1 Corinthians 3:12-14.  It is said that the testing fire in this passage is purgatory.  This is an untenable interpretation for several reasons.  Paul is talking about the work that is done to build the Church of Jesus Christ.  If anyone builds on anything other than Jesus Christ, it is compared to using wood, hay, and stubble for building materials.  The passage does emphasize that this judgment does not affect salvation, but notice just what is subjected to the fire.  The person is not subjected to the fire, but rather the works that we have done for Christ are tested.  That which is according to Christ is rewarded as precious gold and silver, but that which is founded upon our own thinking, or the thinking of others besides Christ, will not survive and will not become reward to us.  However, some will protest that verse 15 uses the phrase, “he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”  Both the English translation and the Greek language use the word “as,” which is used to introduce a simile or comparison, not a literal teaching.  This judging fire isn’t literal.  It is symbolic of Christ’s judgment of our works and the rewards or lack thereof that will be given to us.  It, in no way, teaches that the soul spends an amount of time in purgatory so that guilt can be purged.

Another passage used is 1 Peter 3:18-22.  Here Peter makes a comparison between Jesus and Noah’s ark.  In Noah’s days, God was patient with the wicked giving them opportunity to respond to the preaching and life-testimony of Noah.  Only those in the ark were saved from the waters of judgment.  Similarly, we are in a time in which God is being patient with the world and allowing people opportunity to enter Christ through faith and water baptism.  In this case Christ becomes a spiritual ark.  Yet, note verse 19.  Here it says that by the Spirit Jesus went and preached to the spirits in prison (clearly intended to be Hades).  The wicked are in prison in the sense that they are being punished and awaiting judgment.  The righteous are in prison in the sense that they can’t get out without God’s help.  Note our previous sermons on what the righteous experience in Hades. 

Pro-purgatory interpreters see the term “preached” as an offer of salvation.  Thus they see people in a prison who are given an opportunity to get out.  This is not quite what purgatory teaches, but even then that is not what is meant.  The word “preached” does not mean “to offer salvation.”  It simply means to proclaim.  When we proclaim the Gospel to people on this earth, it includes an offer of salvation.  However, if Jesus proclaims anything to those in Hades, it is his victory over death.  This would be bad news to the wicked in Hades, and good news to the righteous.  The righteous will now be allowed to go with Christ into heaven, but the wicked remain.  It is one thing to use human logic and reasoning to make sense of what is clearly taught.  It is quite another to use human logic and reasoning to promote something that is not clearly taught.  This passage in no way pictures the righteous paying for their guilt and getting out when they have paid it off.

Lastly, there is a passage in the apocryphal book of 2 Maccabees that describes Judas Maccabees having a sacrifice offered on behalf of some Israelites who had died because they found out after their deaths that they had objects dedicated to false idols on their persons.  Judas hopes that the offering will offset their sins and buy them grace from God.  Now 2 Maccabees is not Scripture, nor does it explicitly or implicitly say that it is a word from the Lord.  Just because someone in Israel believed something and the priests of his day went along with it, does not mean that God would honor it.  Nor that these souls were actually in a place of purging.  If anything, it is a religious “Hail Mary” that would help everyone feel like they did the best they could in light of a horrible revelation.  Even more powerful than what I have just stated, is the fact that Jesus rejected most of the teachings and beliefs of the Israelites of his day.  Whether Sadducee or Pharisee, Samaritan or Jew, Jesus spent most of his career correcting their false ideas.  Thus, even if 2 Maccabees taught a doctrine of purgatory (which it clearly does not) that would not mean we would automatically adopt it without a word from Christ or His Apostles.

Faulty interpretation is not the only problem with the doctrine of purgatory.  The adoption of it creates difficulties in other doctrinal areas that are clearly taught in the Bible. This doctrine rejects the final and full sufficiency of Christ’s once-for-all atonement.  In fact 1 Peter 3:18, a passage cited above, starts out with the words, “Christ also suffered once for sins,” that is our sins.  Isaiah 53:5 states that the Messiah was wounded for our transgressions.  He was bruised for our iniquities.  The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.  It is clear that the death of Christ was a suffering and painful experience that made for us peace and healing.  Thus the belief in purgatory diminishes the work of Christ on the cross to merely making it possible for us to pay for our sins, which is heresy.

The doctrine of purgatory also creates an unbiblical idea of penalty and guilt.  This doctrine divides the forgiveness of God into two categories, absolution and expiation (removing guilt).  Although both concepts are biblical, they are simply two ways of looking at a singular process of forgiveness.

Another problem with the doctrine of purgatory is this.  It distorts the biblical teaching of grace by infusing human merit into it.  It ends up creating a system of self-atonement works, both in this life and in purgatory.  Either we have received all of God’s grace as a gift, or it is not grace, but a payment.  You can’t have both and remain orthodox.

Lastly, it confuses the judgment of God by creating the concept of a remedial punishment.  Christ takes our punishment and judgment upon Himself that we might become the children of God, not that we might remediate our own punishment.

These last four points are not original to me.  So I am crediting Michael F. Ross of Christian Research Institute for them.  An article of his on the subject can be found at: http://www.equip.org/article/is-purgatory-a-biblical-concept/ (as of 9/18/2018).

What about conditional immortality or annihilationism?

Quickly I will point out another issue that is brought up by people regarding our experience after death.  Annihilationism is the belief that those who do not belong to Christ are annihilated, i.e. go out of existence spiritually, either at their physical death or at a spiritual death in the Lake of Fire.  A related, but somewhat different view called conditional immortality ends up at the same place as annihilationism.  It says that humans do not inherently have immortality.  A person goes out of existence unless God intervenes and gives them immortality.  Thus they see all the righteous being immortal, but all the wicked as being annihilated.

The problem with these views is Scripture itself, especially the teaching of Christ.  In Mark 9:43-44, Jesus says,

“If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.  It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands to go to hell (Gehenna), into the fire that shall never be quenched—where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.”

 He repeats this formula two more times, but changing it to your foot causing you to sin, and then your eye.  Here we can see that Jesus emphasizes that Gehenna is a fire that shall never be quenched.  Why would we fear going into  the fire that is never quenched if we are just going to be annihilated?  He is clearly not talking about Hades here (Revelation 20:14 states that Hades will be thrown into the lake of fire), but rather the Lake of Fire (also called the Second Death).  Jesus also quotes from Isaiah 66:24.  The imagery there is that the wicked will be thrown into a fiery place where the fire is never quenched and their worm never dies.  What is meant by this phrase “their worm never dies?”  Some see it as a reference of their body and soul.  Others believe that it refers to their death.  Just as the flames are never quenched (i.e. never run out of fuel) so the worms never die because they never run out of flesh to eat.  This metaphor could be taken both ways.  Either the person is never completely destroyed by this destructive death, or the destruction they face is simply far worse than what is in this life.  Yet, note that nothing is said to “declare” that the soul goes out of existence.  Alongside of this in Revelation 21, Why would God resurrect sinners bodily just so that He can make them instantaneously go out of existence when they are thrown into the Lake of Fire?  Couldn’t that have been done in their spirit state?  Another point, Daniel 12 states that some will awaken from the dust of the earth to everlasting shame and contempt.  How can they have everlasting shame and contempt when they no longer exist?  The Church has always held that even the souls of the wicked will be conscious and await judgment.  To teach otherwise is to fight against the clear teaching of Scripture.

Let me close this by recognizing that the most important thing in all of this talk is the assurance that we can prepare ourselves now to avoid a bad situation after death.  If you haven’t made your peace with God, I challenge you to hear His offer of salvation and turn to Him in repentance and with faith in Jesus.  Flee to Jesus today.

Purgatory audio

Tuesday
Sep112018

Your Personal Endtimes: What is after Death II?

Luke 16:19-31.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on September 9, 2018.

Today we will continue looking at the end times from a personal perspective rather than a global one.  In other words, we are looking at how our own personal world will end.  Up to now we have emphasized the biblical teachings that we are given one life to live on this earth and then we die.  At death those who belong to Christ go to be with Him in heaven at the right hand of the Father and in a disembodied state.

Today we are going to look at what happens to those who die, but do not belong to Christ.  As we will see, there is a heaven to gain and a place to be avoided or shunned.  So as we look at the Scripture today, ask yourself these questions.  Do I belong to Jesus?  Have I repented of my sins and put my faith in Jesus as the Forgiver of my sins (Savior) and the Leader of how I live my life (Lord)?  If the answer is not affirmative then give serious consideration to doing so today.  Don’t put it off.  However, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ then recognize the true fate of those you may be tempted to walk by without even a word of warning.

The unrighteous go into the grave awaiting the Judgment Day

In our passage today, Jesus warns his hearers that this life is not all that we have to deal with.  We do not merely go out of existence.  Rather, a good or bad fate awaits us on the other side of death.  Those who have lived their lives for themselves, and not for God, will go into the grave and await the Judgment Day.  This was part of Paul’s message among the Gentile nations in Acts 17:30-31. 

“The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent, because He has fixed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom He has appointed; and of this He has given assurance to all by raising Him from the dead.” (NKJV)

In our story there are two individuals who physically die.  However, they do not cease to exist.  The spiritual component to humans continues to exist within the spiritual realm, after physical death.  Throughout the Bible the fate of man after death is described as being held in The Grave (Hebrew- She’ol, Greek- Hades) and in a conscious state.

Another point to recognize is the unfortunate historical reality that early English Translations of the Bible used the English word Hell to translate 3 different Greek words.  Modern translations may still use the term hell in places, but give a footnote describing the underlying Greek word.  This conflation of three Greek terms into one English term has helped promote fuzzy thinking about what the Bible is really saying.  In our passage the place where dead spirits go is called Hades.  It is synonymous with the phrase The Grave.  Though the phrase can refer to the physical hole the ground, it typically is used of a spiritual place where spirits are held until Judgment Day.

Now, even though the Bible uses the Greek word Hades here, it does not mean that the Bible supports everything the Greeks believed about Hades.  It simply means that it was the best equivalent to the already existing Hebrew word/concept She’ol.  So what do we see here?  Lazarus goes to a good part of this spiritual place, and the rich man ends up in a bad part.  He is technically not in Hell yet.  However, it is clear from their experience in Hades what their judgment will be.

I will also remind you of a point that I made last week.  Until Jesus paid the price for our sins on the cross, the righteous could not immediately ascend into heaven.  They were held in the grave, but in a place of comfort and relief from all sorrows.  Once Jesus died and went into the grave, He was able to empty the good side of the grave and take all righteous spirits into heaven with Him.  So technically there are no righteous people in Hades today, like we see in this story.

Just as Lazarus was conscious and comforted, Jesus points out that the rich man is in conscious torment.  This is a term that can be used for torture.  However, we do not see torture devices and demons with bull whips here.  This word was also used for the torment of sickness or disease.  So the torment comes from his place and condition more than from any active torturers.  We are told that flames were part of his torment.  Now, the rich man is a spirit, i.e. he does not have a physical body.  Thus the flame is a spiritual equivalent to a physical flame in this world.  This brings up the point that spirits are able to “see” the spirit world and “sense” spiritual things without a physical body.  Though this makes sense intuitively, it does beg a question.  Just how does that work?  Of course Scripture does not satisfy our curiosity there.  So we see the rich man is in a place that is compared to a place of fire that leaves the inhabitants thirsty and without relief.  Thus they are in torments.

A point could also be made that the rich man also suffers from what we would call psychological torment.  Over and over again he would think of the many opportunities that he had to avoid this horrible fate and yet passed it up.

Throughout this story, Jesus hammers home the point that a good or bad experience in this life does not guarantee the same in the life to come.  Take time to think about how much of our life is spent pursuing material comforts and pleasures.  Was the rich man’s fate simply because he was rich?  Notice that Abraham is in the good side of Hades and yet he was a rich man.  Similarly, the thieves on the cross most likely became thieves because they were poor and saw an easy way to get money.  Yet, they both had very different fates.  The point Jesus is making is not just that all rich people go to Hades and are tormented.  Rather, it is that comfort in this life does not guarantee comfort in the life to come and a life that lacks comfort is not guaranteed the same in the life to come.  It was taught and believed by many that riches were proof of God’s blessing and therefore a type of assurance that one was okay with God.  Definitely riches can be a blessing from God.  But, if they pull our heart away from Him, or have been our desires all along, then they really are a curse.  The rich man did not really put his trust in the God of Abraham.  If he had, he would have been helpful to men like Lazarus. 

We can be guilty of the same today.  Are you taking your spiritual future for granted?  Most people think that they are righteous enough to make it to heaven, even if they aren’t Christians.  Yet, even if we call Jesus our Lord and Savior, it is only helpful to us if we actually believe him and follow him.  We cannot lie, lust, and blaspheme the name of Jesus as we pursue the pleasures of this life and think that things will go good for us in the life to come.  Beware that the judgment of ourself is often selfishly motivated and can set us up for a fall. 

Only the words of Jesus and his apostles can pull us back from the brink of self-deception and destruction.  We see this at the end of the story.  The rich man begs Abraham to send Lazarus back to warn his 5 brothers (Abraham doesn’t actually have that authority, only God).  It is interesting that he asks for this because Jesus himself would be executed later and then come back to life from the dead to preach the truth about Hades.  Abraham tells the rich man that the written Scriptures are enough to give us faith in God.  If a person won’t listen to the Words of God then they won’t respond positively even though a person comes back from the dead.  God is going to hold us all accountable for what He has revealed to the world about our coming fate.  No justifications or excuses will work when we stand before Him.  I encourage you not to label Christians as “crazy” and shut out God’s warning to you.  Otherwise the day of your death may come and go, and it will be too late to heed the warnings of Scripture.

How can I avoid this fate?

John 3:16 is the famous salvation verse which reads, “For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son that whoever believes on Him would not perish, but have everlasting life.”  First notice that if we do not believe on Jesus we will perish.  That is because we are sinners.  Before you can embrace Jesus a person must admit that they are a sinner who is in need of being saved.  Once we realize that we are a sinner and own up to it then we believe on Jesus (i.e. put your trust in Him).  I am trusting that Jesus pays the price for my sin and that His teaching will help me to please God in this world.  He alone knows how to live this life in a way that is pleasing to God and does not surrender to Satan.  We cannot live however we please and label it as believing in Jesus.  Such a charade will not work on Judgment Day.  Lastly, we must confess Jesus as our Lord and Savior publicly before this world.  Those who do so will avoid a time of torment in Hades after this life.  They will go immediately into the presence of Christ and God the Father in heaven.  May the Lord grant us repentance from a life of taking our eternity for granted.  Listen to God’s Word today!

What is after death II audio