Posted in Jude, Luke

Falling Away

“Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away.” Luke 8:13

Few things are as distressing to me as those who fall away from faith after once walking with Jesus. How can we help people get a firm root down, so that they don’t fall away when things get difficult? Instead of giving my opinion, I want to quote a man who led over a half million people to Christ in the 19th century. The notable thing about Charles Finney was that a survey taken at the time showed that 85% of those who responded to Christ in his meetings were still walking with the Lord ten years later. Compare these results to surveys of Moody’s converts that showed only 30% remained, and one survey of Billy Graham’s converts that showed only 3% were still faithful to the Lord a year after coming to the altar. Here’s how Finney preached the gospel:

“We should present to their minds the character of God, his government, Christ, the Holy Spirit, the plan of salvation, any such thing that is calculated to charm the sinner away from his sins, and from pursuing his own interests, and that is calculated to excite him to exercise unselfish and universal love. On the other hand, his own deformity, selfishness, self-will, pride, ambition, enmity, lusts, guilt, loathsomeness, hatefulness, spiritual death; all these things should be brought to bear in a burning focus on his mind.  Man’s depravity should then be held up against the great love, the infinite compassion, the meekness, condescension, purity, holiness, truthfulness, and justice, of the blessed God. These should be held before him like a mirror until they press on him with such mountain weight as to break his heart.” (Reflections on Revival Pg 40-41)

I will close with precious words from Jude 24: “Now to Him who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.”

Posted in 2Peter, Hebrews, Isaiah, Jude, Matthew, Revelation

Raising Hell – Part Three

“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.  Rather be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”  Matthew 10:28

As I have explored the church’s traditional view of hell, I’ve learned a lot about the power of confirmation bias.  Once we believe something, it’s hard for us to consider something that contradicts it, no matter how much evidence there is.  It leads us away from “believing what we read,” into a place where we only, “read what we already believe.”  It’s hard to learn or grow in this place because we already think we know how things are.

At the foundation of the doctrine of eternal torment is a belief that our souls are eternal.  The early church didn’t explicitly comment on this topic, but two later church fathers did.  Tertullian and Augustine both referenced our eternal souls, but as proof they quoted Plato, not Scripture! (Tertullian; Resurrection of the Flesh; 3; The Fire that Consumes; 300).  The Old Testament described man as a transient being: “For all men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:6-7)  Only Greek philosophy describes us as automatically having an eternal soul.

The New Testament gives many descriptions of what eventually happens to souls who reject Christ, if we will only listen:

  1. The body and soul will be destroyed. (Quoted above)
  2. The chaff will be burned up in eternal fire. (Matthew 3:12)
  3. The enemies of God will be consumed by fire. (Hebrews 10:27)
  4. The wicked will perish like beasts. (2Peter 2:6)
  5. The wicked will be burned to ashes like Sodom and Gomorrah by eternal fire. (2Peter 2:12; Jude 7)
  6. Those whose names are not in the book of life will experience the second death in the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:15)

This is what Scripture says, but if we believe the soul is eternal then destroy can’t mean destroy, consumed must not mean consumed, burned up doesn’t mean burned up, perish must mean something different then perish, and death can no longer mean death.