Don’t Ignore God. There is a Hell!

By Dr. Mark Creech – June 23, 2019

There is a matter that somewhat afflicts my spirit every day. It is the observation that so many of the people with whom I associate hardly ever give God a thought. When it comes to the way they live, God is not a part of the equation. Not only do they never think of him, (unless thrown into some trouble from which their abilities can’t rescue them) but they don’t fear him.

There is a final destination for people like this: hell.

Samuel Gordon once wrote:

“Philosophically there must be a hell. That is the name for the place where God is not; for the place where they will gather together who insist on leaving God out. God out! There can be no worse hell than that!”

 

The beloved Christian writer, Max Lucado, summarized the greatest horror of hell. He wrote:

“God isn’t there.”

Certainly, hell is the just deserts of those who owe God for every good thing in life but want nothing to do with him or his ways.

Hell is real. It’s not simply a state of being, the Bible describes it as a place of consciousness (Lk. 16:23, 24), a place of eternal torment (Lk. 16:23, 28), a place of darkness, (Mt. 8:12), a place of eternal separation from loved ones who believed (Lk. 13:28), a place without the slightest hope of relief or release (Mt. 25:46, Heb. 6:2), and a place of regret and torturous memory (Lk. 16:27, 28).

A few months ago, I spoke with a woman who told me her husband had a realistic and terrifying dream about crossing a river in a valley. She said he wept for a half hour afterward. In the dream, there were demon spirits that blinded and transformed people into wicked beings themselves, who consequently blinded others, all of whom were enslaved forever.

I felt the dream had spiritual significance and explained that it matched much of what the Bible says about dreams with divine messages, the devil, demonic influences, spiritual blindness, sin, and judgment. I urged both of them to act on the dream’s biblical message and be sure of a right relationship with God through Jesus Christ. However, I don’t think either of them has decided anything on the matter.

Their situation reminded me of a story from the Eighteenth Century about a resident from Glasgow, Scotland, whose name was Archibald Boyle.

Boyle was a leading member of an organization called “The Hell Club.” The club was well-known in its day for its immoral excesses.

One night after much debauchery at their annual meeting, Boyle dreamed that he was riding home on his black horse, when an unknown figure appeared from nowhere, seized the reins from him, shouting:

“You must go with me.”

In an attempt to wrest back the reins, the horse reared, and Boyle fell, down, down, with ever-increasing velocity. He looked and next to him was the fearful attendant who had commandeered his horse away from him. Boyle cried out:

“Where are you taking me?”

To which the unrelenting entity replied:

“To hell.”

When they reached hell’s floor, Boyle said he immediately heard echoes from the groans and yelling of frantic revelry. He entered through a grand archway, where he saw hell’s inhabitants chasing the same sinful pleasures they had pursued in life, but were now like phantoms.

Boyle soon perceived he was surrounded by people he had known on earth. There was a woman, an acquaintance, who was absorbed in a card game of gambling. When he saw this, he relaxed and said:

“If this is hell, what a devilish pleasant place it must be.”

When he proceeded to ask the woman if she might provide a tour of hell’s pleasures, she shrieked:

“THERE IS NO REST IN HELL!!!”

The woman then unclasped the vest of her expensive robe and displayed to Boyle’s shuddering gaze a coil of living snakes, writhing, darting, and stinging her bosom – the very seat of her emotions and affections.

Others whom he knew in hell also revealed similar pangs of the soul, but worse still, he witnessed a hopeless agony of regret in everyone. They laughed, sang and spoke irreverently, just as they had on earth, but they could never rest from it – not the slightest moment of reprieve was granted. They could never do right. They could never change and experience the sweetness and the blessedness of a godly life. They could never know the tenderness of God’s grace and mercy. They could never know forgiveness nor give it. They were forever bound to each sinful way to which they had tenaciously held onto in life. Except in hell, their libertinism had turned into bitter chains of constant anguish.

“These are the pleasures of hell,” an earthly voice mockingly boomed.

Terrified at what he was seeing, Boyle begged his companion:

“Please take me from this place. By the living God whose name I have so often outraged, I beg you, let me go!”

His guide replied:

“Go then; but, in a year and a day, we meet to part no more.”

Despite his resolution to never again attend the Hell Club, Boyle was drawn back. His friends intensely pressed him, and though his conscience weighed heavily on him, he feared their sneers more than he feared God.

At the next annual meeting of Hell Club, which Boyle attended, every nerve in his body seemed to thrash him at the first sentence of the president’s opening address:

“My friends, this is leap year; therefore it is a year and a day since our last meeting.”

After the meeting, Boyle mounted his horse to ride home. The following morning, however, his horse was found quietly grazing by the roadside. Just a few yards in the distance lay the stiffened corpse of Archibald Boyle.

The Scriptures solemnly warn:

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (I Cor. 6:9-11).

The list above is not meant to be an exhaustive catalog of people who will find themselves in hell one day. Revelation 21:8 includes something similar, adding:

“But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone” (Rev. 21:8).

I’ve included both of these texts because much of what’s listed is celebrated and lauded today, not repudiated as it should be. Don’t be fooled! Even though some churches have hailed these behaviors in recent years, the end for those who characteristically live this way is one of eternal damnation.

Still, let me make it abundantly clear. You don’t have to be grossly wicked to go to hell. All that’s necessary is to ignore God’s claim on your life. Don’t make him a part of the equation, rarely think of him, leave him out, don’t surrender control to him as the Lord, your God, don’t fear him, and to your surprise and dismay, although you thought of yourself as a pretty good person, at the end of life, you’ll find yourself in that terrible place.

There are two lives that you can live – life your way or life God’s way.

There are two leaders that you can follow – yourself or God. There are two decisions that you can make – to receive God’s salvation through Christ or to reject him.

Every person must make a choice. Even choosing not to make a choice is a choice made against God. There is no neutrality. Either we acknowledge God’s sovereignty over us, trust his means of redemption from the penalty and power of sin, which he provides in Jesus Christ and by his Holy Spirit, or we are eternally left to our own devices and land in hell.

Admittedly, as the Great Reformer, Martin Luther said, it’s very difficult to know and understand all of what hell is;

“Only this we know, there is such a sure and certain place.”

 

Original here

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Mother’s Day: Honoring Moms,Teaching the Next Generation ‘The Noblest and Most Precious Work’

May 10, 2019 By John Stonestreet

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On Mother’s Day, most of us take intentional time and effort to show our moms how much we love and appreciate them, and how much we’re thankful for their love and sacrifice. I’m not always as intentional as I should be about honoring the moms in my life, especially the one who gave me life and the one who’s currently doing the really heavy lifting caring for our kids.

But especially in this cultural moment, Christians should be the first, not only to honor current mothers, but also to celebrate and encourage future mothers.

Andrea Burke, writing at For the Church, suggests that we’re not always very good at this. As a result, for too many young Christians, cultural attitudes toward motherhood are setting the tone. And it’s not a positive tone.

Burke calls motherhood “the one life dream that makes a girl blush.” In her work directing her church’s women’s ministry, Burke regularly sits down with single, young women to talk about the future. They often confess that although they could pursue further education or a successful career in any number of fields, what many of them want is to get married and raise a family.

By Burke’s account, these young women are smart and accomplished. They don’t have to prove anything to anyone. Still, they regularly talk as if choosing to be a wife and mom is a silly cop-out—somehow a waste of their lives. “When a 21-year-old sits across the table from me and tells me that she wants to be a mother,” Burke writes, “she blushes and gives a thousand caveats as to why she knows it’s not the optimal choice.”

Where do young women get this low view of motherhood? Well, look around. According to a New York Times article last year, the average age at which women become mothers is now at a record high—30 or older in some parts of the country. The Times reported this as if it were a good thing, talking up the wonders of a “fulfilling career” and all-but-openly suggesting that the only reason any woman would have children young is because she couldn’t achieve the ideal professional life, and needs a substitute rite of passage to adulthood.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the average birth rate failed to rebound after the Great Recession, and now sits at a rock-bottom 1.77 children per woman on average—that’s down over 16 percent from a decade ago.

So now there’s a gap in our culture between the number of children women want to have, and the number they end up having.

The Times explains, “it’s unlikely any future baby boom will be able to fully offset the baby bust of the last 10 years.” This means that “millennial women are likely to experience the largest shortfall in achieved fertility verses their stated family desires of any generation in a long time … .”

What does all this have to do with young women embarrassed about wanting to become mothers? Well, they need honesty from us—specifically from their parents, that whatever society says about the wonders of a successful career, they’re statistically likely to regret prioritizing promotions over parenthood.

At BreakPoint.org, my colleague Shane Morris recently wrote a beautiful letter to his six-year-old daughter, in which he encouraged her to think of marriage and motherhood as callings worth pursuing, not as afterthoughts. Shane described how his daughter already is in the habit of tucking her little brother’s trucks to bed. Shane is right in seeing in those nurturing instincts things worth celebrating and cultivating.

His letter reminded me of Martin Luther’s praise for nurturing tendencies in his commentary on Genesis: “How becomingly even little girls carry infants in their arms,” he wrote. “And how appropriate are the gestures with which mothers dandle the little ones when they hush a crying infant or lay it in the cradle … .” Elsewhere he says: “In all the world this is the noblest and most precious work.”

If you’ve got daughters (like I do) or granddaughters or even nieces, proudly tell these young women that if motherhood is their dream, they’ve got nothing to be ashamed of.

John Stonestreet is President of The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview and BreakPoint co-host.

https://www.cnsnews.com/commentary/john-stonestreet/mothers-day-honoring-moms-teaching-next-generation-noblest-and-most

Hills and Valleys

Psalm 22:1- My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?

It seems to me that our Christian culture has made it a sin to despair, to question God, to be just downright sad. However, the Bible is filled with mighty men of God who struggled with God, who questioned God, sought their own way, or just had down days. I don’t feel like Christianity should promote despair, but I also don’t think that it should try to make it seem like everything is awesome, every day of the week. This is an unrealistic goal which can cause us to be frustrated when we cannot achieve it, or to ignore these thoughts and push them away without dealing with them directly.

Now before we continue, I am not talking in this post about clinical depression that needs treatment from a licensed clinical psychiatrist, which I am not. Depression is a real struggle for many and I will not claim to have all the answers to it.

Let’s look in the Bible where men of God questioned God and their circumstances:

• John the Baptist was in prison and questioned if Jesus was the Messiah even after proclaiming it at Jesus’ baptism (Matthew 11:2-3)

• Habakkuk 1:2- O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save?

• Moses was frustrated with God and the Israelites many times. In Numbers 11:11 he said to the Lord, “Why are you treating me, your servant, so harshly? Have mercy on me! What did I do to deserve the burden of all these people?

• Many of David’s psalms were filled with sadness and discouragement including Psalm 22

• In Psalms 73, Asaph questioned God about the prosperity of the wicked

• After the defeat of the prophets of Baal, Elijah suffered from despair, even wishing to die. In 1 Kings 19:4 he said “I have had enough Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.”

• Jonah rebelled against God, but after the successful saving of Nineveh, Jonah became bitter telling God “Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” Jonah 4:3

Now it’s easy as Christians to quote the Bible where it says “the joy of the Lord is our strength” and “rejoice in the Lord always”. I’m not saying that these are not good goals, but as fallible humans we need to understand that we will have good and bad days, we will have strong faith mixed with weak faith, we will question God and we will be without any doubt. There are high and low points in our “climb up the mountain” as Christians. Just read Pilgrim’s Progress…

Martin Luther, the great reformer, struggled with doubt. It’s one of the key drivers of him questioning the church at the time to lead the reformation. At one point his doubt led to such great a depression that he wrote, “For more than a week I was close to the gates of death and hell. I trembled in all my members. Christ was wholly lost. I was shaken by desperation and blasphemy of God.”

What is our end goal when we despair? If we question God or have sadness what do we do? We do not live in that state, we use it to propel us forward and out of it. We seek help, read the Bible, pray to God, and ultimately stand firm in our faith in who God is. It is important to not go through this alone, we need to find fellow believers we can be accountable with and who we can call up when we are struggling.

Feel free to read my previous post on “Wrestling with God.” God is a big God and He can handle our doubts, worries, anxieties, fears, and sadness. If we give them over to God, He can handle them where we, in our own strength, cannot. Once we rest in God’s sovereignty, we can realize that we do not have all the answers, and that is ok.

Back to Psalm 73, it is my favorite Psalm. The first half is the authors frustration’s with the wicked, but by the end it brings him to a place of confidence in God and His ultimate plan. How he may not understand everything fully, but his ultimate trust is in God.

23  Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
24  You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
25  Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26  My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
27  Those who are far from you will perish;
you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
28  But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.

May the same be said of us, that we can use our dark times to help illuminate God and His power, that we can rest in the fact that He has everything under control. Our doubts and fears are not sinful in and of themselves, we should not feel unworthy for having them. But after we push through, get everything out in the open, and fall back on God’s sovereignty, we can get back to pursuing God. We can then truly claim that “The Joy of the Lord is my Strength” (Nehemiah 8:10)

Discerning Reflection: What do I do when I am sad, when I question God? Do I pray and turn to Him or do I turn away from Him? Do I feel shame for having those thoughts? How can I quickly turn around from these thoughts and who do I need to be accountable with to help me?

Prayer: Lord help me seek after you in the good and the bad times, help me understand that I will have high and low points and to not despair but to trust that you have everything under control.

Hills and Valleys