Sunday, February 26, 2012

Brief Thoughts on Hell

Hell has made a comeback in evangelical circles—at least in overt attention—these days. To give you the short version, some folks don't think the classic theological position that non-Christians remain there for the rest of eternity after they enter is correct. They believe it wouldn't be loving for a compassionate God to consign the vast majority of those who have ever lived to hell forever. In its place they say:
1. either sinners are mercifully destroyed after a period of suffering for their sins
2. or sinners eventually leave hell and enter heaven after a period of suffering for their sins
There are some problems with these views. The first view is built on pretty shaky New Testament ground. It involves the translation/interpretation of αἰών (forever/age) that most of Christianity has rejected. The second view has two problems:
A. There is nothing in Scripture to suggest that suffering (however "suffering" is defined) in hell changes a person's character, disposition and nature. A person enters hell and he doesn't exit a Christian. The suffering isn't redemptive but punitive. Besides, a guilty person cannot atone for his sins like the sinless Christ did for sinners.

B. There is nothing in Scripture to suggest that a person stops sinning after he enters hell. He continues to rebel against God's will and, thus, lengthens his "list of crimes" in hell. With his forever expanding record comes endless punishment.
It is tempting to think God's love, mercy and grace covers everyone. However, think about it for a second; if a person doesn't want to live for God here on earth why would he want to live in God's presence for all of eternity? Wouldn't heaven be a kind of hell for him, if you will? We know from the witness of the Scriptures that when sinners become aware of God's presence they recoil in fear/guilt. Imagine that for all eternity!

In a very real sense, hell is God's mercy for those who refuse to live for him and don't want to live in his presence.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

John Wesley Raised a Man From the Dead



Here is the account from Wesley's Journal:
When I came home, they told me the Physician said, he did not expect Mr. Meyrick would live till the morning. I went to him, but his pulse was gone. He had been speechless and senseless for some time. A few of us immediately joined in prayer: (I relate the naked fact:) Before we had done, his sense and his speech returned. Now, he that will account for this by natural causes, has my free leave: But I choose to say, This is the power of God. [i.406]
Praise God!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I'm Preaching at Browns Creek Church of God This Sunday!

I will fill Dad's pulpit for him this Sunday morning, February 19th, at the Browns Creek Church of God. If you don't have a church family come and be a part! Morning worship begins at 10:45 AM.

Browns Creek Church of God
2550 Browns Creek Road
St. Albans, WV 25177


From U.S. Route 60 (Coal Mountain)

Turn onto Browns Creek Road (CR-1) and drive 2.7 miles. The church will be on your left.

From Coal River Road

Turn onto Browns Creek Road (CR-1) and drive 2.1 miles. The church will be on your right.

GPS Coordinates to Browns Creek Church

N 38°21.950'
W081°53.671'

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I'm Preaching at Fifth Avenue Church This Sunday

Pastor Rod Campbell graciously has asked me to fill his pulpit for him this Sunday morning, February 12th, at the Fifth Avenue Church of God. If you don't have a church family come and be a part! Morning worship begins at 11 AM.

Fifth Avenue Church of God
200 5th Avenue
South Charleston, WV 25303

UPDATE: I forgot to bring my digital recorder with me to church; thankfully the soundman recorded my message! I'll upload the sermon for your playback or download when a burned copy is given to me.

Monday, February 6, 2012

John Wesley on Justification's Results.

And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, (Romans 4:5 ESV)
John Wesley did not believe that a person can be justified by faith—declared "not guilty" in God's celestial throne room—and then go live anyway he wants. The Methodist explains in his Notes on the New Testament:
But to him that worketh not - It being impossible he should without faith. But believeth, his faith is imputed to him for righteousness - Therefore God's affirming of Abraham, that faith was imputed to him for righteousness, plainly shows that he worked not; or, in other words, that he was not justified by works, but by faith only. Hence we see plainly how groundless that opinion is, that holiness or sanctification is previous to our justification. For the sinner, being first convinced of his sin and danger by the Spirit of God, stands trembling before the awful tribunal of divine justice ; and has nothing to plead, but his own guilt, and the merits of a Mediator. Christ here interposes; justice is satisfied; the sin is remitted, and pardon is applied to the soul, by a divine faith wrought by the Holy Ghost, who then begins the great work of inward sanctification. Thus God justifies the ungodly, and yet remains just, and true to all his attributes! But let none hence presume to "continue in sin;" for to the impenitent, God "is a consuming fire."
Do you see Wesley's chain of events? Hard upon the heels of the forensic declaration of "Not Guilty" God immediately begins "the great work of inward sanctification."

We were justified so as to look like Christ, not to excuse us of looking like the devil.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Free Full-Length Sermons by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones!


From the MLJ Archive (formerly Living Grace) is the official podcast for the late preacher, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981). It is now offering a free full-length mp3 sermon each week! Previously Living Grace offered half a sermon weekly so it took two weeks to get the entire message.

Click on this link to From the MLJ Archive to download this week's sermon; there are a few past full-length sermons in the archives that can be downloaded as well.

***NOTE: Lloyd-Jones is one of my favorite preachers but understand that he was a Welsh Calvinistic Methodist with more in sympathy with George Whitefield, Howell Harris and Daniel Rowland than John Wesley. (But MLJ was quite magnanimous toward the Wesley brothers and John Fletcher, an attitude that I fear is lacking at times on both sides of the aisle today.) Take the best of his Methodism while discerning his Calvinism.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Free Kindle W. T. Purkiser and Uncle Bud Robinson!

Amazon.com is offering two free kindle ebooks that may be of interest to you! One is by the Nazarene scholar Westlake Taylor Purkiser (1910-1992); click on Security: The False & the True to visit the site.

The other book is by the folksy Nazarene preacher Reuben "Uncle Bud" Robinson (1860-1942); click on My Objection to a Sinning Religion to get it for free!

I don't know how long these kindle books will be available for free so grab 'em!

Competition

A while back I saw this sign outside of a congregation. It gave me pause and I snapped a pic. The sunlight makes it a bit hard to see but this church was going to begin a new contemporary worship service.

It bothered me. Not because this church has contemporary worship because I am a product of my times and enjoy contemporary worship. No, it was something deeper. They were advertising (and advertising is fine) to the community around them: "We have contemporary worship!"

I looked at it from the standpoint of a sinner, one outside of a relationship with Christ. Would such a sign mean anything to him? Remember Ted Haggard's viewpoint from an earlier blog entry:
...most non-Christians can't even imagine what they view as "exciting" going on inside a church.
Could most sinners even imagine what "contemporary worship" is, anyway? Do they even have a category in their minds to file this new piece of data?

My question is this: Is this sign effectively targeting sinners who the church is trying to win or unwittingly tempting Christians from other churches who are unsatisfied with the "boring" worship services being offered in their services?

I am not impugning the character or integrity of the congregation or the pastor; I don't know the motivations that went behind posting the sign. It just gave me pause; that's all. There is a wider issue that this sign touched off in me. Are we churches as a whole looking to do the hard work of changing goats into sheep [evangelism and discipleship] or are we content with stealing sheep from other congregations' flocks?