Do you believe in Hell?

CO:

Do you believe in hell?

WTOP asked it readers this, what do you think:  http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2011/03/24/fear-hell/#

Oh by the way, a pastor was expelled, seems he didn’t believe in hell, either, oops:  http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2011/03/24/fear-hell/#

James:

According to the bible Hell obviously exists (Mark 9:45); so, since I utterly believe everything that is stated in scripture, I believe in Hell.
Incidentally, hell itself is taken and tossed into a lake of fire where there is everlasting torment, this is then the final place for all unbelievers (Revelations 20:14). Also, there are different degrees of punishment in hell (Luke 10:12). Obviously people that don’t believe in hell also don’t believe in the bible to which I’m tempted to inquire how they account for whatever morality they profess or expect others to abide by.

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Biblical instructions for doing Apologetics from 2 Timothy 2:25

The last thing that skeptics need is more evidence; what they really need is worldview surgery! A person’s worldview is the “lens” by which he/she will interpret any evidence presented. Many Christians spend their time arguing with unbelievers over the “evidence” perceived to be for or against their worldview. Is this how the bible informs us to carry out apologetics? Of course not (Colossians 2:8)! Does the fact that scientific studies of DNA seem to show that all men that have ever lived can be traced back to a single male and all women likewise to a single female, prove that the bible’s account of creation is true? NO.

The astute unbeliever is not ready to give up their worldview based on a single piece of seemingly damaging evidence; rather, the astute unbeliever will inevitably invoke a rescuing device. Perhaps all men do go back to one male, and all women to a single female but that doesn’t rule out the possibility that the male (called y-chromosome Adam) and the female (called mitochondrial eve) weren’t contemporaries. Perhaps, they were lone survivors of a larger group of people that existed back in pre-historic times etc.; therefore, this evidence does not necessarily prove the biblical account of origins provided in the bible’s book of Genesis. So what do you do now? More evidence is not the answer.

In 2 Timothy 2:24-25 (…the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, able to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth) we are told that biblical apologetics involves demonstrating to the unbeliever that their worldview is ultimately a contradictory one. Incidentally, there is no reason to think that Paul is only singling out a particular group of unbelievers. Any departure from scripture will ultimately lead to a contradiction since logic is a reflection of the way that the biblical God thinks and any ideas that do not coincide with biblical truth are thus antithetical to the way God thinks. Since the verse above defines “those that need repentance to the acknowledgement of the truth” as those that “contradict themselves”, we must conclude that the unbeliever is always transgressing the laws of logic when it comes to the worldview they profess.  In other words, when you perform an internal critique of the unbeliever’s worldview it will always lead to a contradiction; the only question is: how many contradictions will you find?

Paul demonstrates this technique when he delivered the gospel to the Athenian Epicurean and Stoic philosophers at Mars hill. Apparently, the Athenians were fond of idol worship and held the notion that the gods were graven idols of gold, silver and stone (Acts 17:29). They even had an altar with the inscription: “TO THE UNKNOWN GOD” which apparently was a devotion to the living God of the bible who they only knew in ignorance. As Paul is giving his presentation of the biblical God, he quotes a saying from one of their poets in order to demonstrate a contradiction in their worldview. What was the contradiction? The Athenian poet claimed (in regards to the “UNKNOWN GOD” of the bible Who lives) “for we are also His offspring” yet the Athenians simultaneously held the view that their gods were tangible entities (i.e. statues made from lifeless material). How could they be the offspring of man-made statues of stone, silver or gold? Secondly, they used their hands to create and worship their gods,  but Paul points out that the “UNKNOWN GOD” of the bible Who exclusively created all things is neither created nor worshiped with men’s hands.
Paul exposes these contradictions to them in order to demonstrate that their worldview had some serious problems. As a result of Paul’s apologetic method, we are told that God gave some of the Athenians repentance to the acknowledgement of the Truth (Acts 17:34).

One of the most common contradictions unbelievers employ is their insistence on using biblical standards and presuppositions in order to mount an attack on the bible. If you (as an unbeliever) do not believe that the biblical God exists then stop using His standard of goodness or evil to present an argument against Him. Come up with your own standards based on your Godless worldview. If you disbelieve in the biblical God then stop trying to use logic to construct an argument against Him. The laws of logic have no basis outside of the biblical worldview but especially in an atheistic worldview where typically matter is all there is. After all, can the immaterial laws of logic be detected using any scientific method or apparatus? Why should a law of logic in my mind that I adhere to (i.e. the law of non-contradiction) conform to a law in your mind since we are each composed of different matter and have different chemical reactions? Is scholarship as we know it even possible in a logic-less (and thus God-less) worldview. Again, don’t appeal to the bible’s code of moral conduct when accusing the biblical God of being unkind, uncaring or evil; if the biblical God does not exist then why on earth is it wrong for a person to dash infants into pieces just for sport (especially if doing so benefits that persons perceived survival value)? In summary, if you’re an unbeliever and can follow the preceding lines of argument, then you have been found guilty of using the laws of logic to comprehend and consume this information. You should now either switch sides or refrain from stealing presuppositions from the biblical worldview. On the other hand, outside of the biblical worldview, ultimately, there is nothing wrong with stealing; so carry on.

It is always the case that the unbeliever has no rational defense for their position and must utilize biblical presuppositions to present arguments against the bible.  So the next time someone accuses the bible of having contradictions, before trying to explain or clarify what is probably a misunderstanding of one or more biblical passages (i.e. what they perceive to be a contradiction is not really a contradiction), consider using the following reply: Why it is wrong to embrace ideas that contain contradictions since in a Godless worldview it is impossible to account for the laws of logic? Their response (if any) will ultimately betray their crutch to be something that we call the biblical worldview.

Re: Pope Forgives Jews for Killing Jesus

CO:
James:
I apologize in advance (if I hurt the feelings of any of my catholic friends) as the following email is very candid but ultimately in love.
The Pope doesn’t have to ‘exonorate’ the Jews for killing Jesus since the death of Christ was planned by God before the foundation of the world (Revelations 13:8) and the group of Jews that hated Jesus themselves acknowledge that they were responsible for His death (Matthew 27:24-45, 1 Thessalonians 2:14-15).
However, (and tangentially) the Catholic Church should apologize for putting Mussolini, Hitler and many more horrendous leaders into power and being responsible for killing more Christians than any other institution on the face of the earth (massacred Christians include but are not limited to: Huguenots, Albigenses, Bogomils, Brethren, Cathari, Hussites, Vaudois, Waldenses, St Bartholomew’s Massacre in France, victims of the inquisition etc).
The damage that the CC has done over the years is a lot worse than many people think. The CC was actually against the 1948 re-nationalization of Israel even though this event was prophesied in scripture (Amos 9:14-15, Jeremiah 16:14-15). This is probably due in part to the fact that the Catholic church thinks that they have replaced Israel as God’s chosen people; in fact, they took the names that God gave to Jerusalem (i.e. The city of God, the Holy city, the Eternal City) and instead applied these names to Vatican city (we can thank St. Augustine for some of these contributions to ‘Replacement Theology’). 
They have produced more child molesters than any institution on the face of the earth forcing them to fork over 1 billion+ in out of court settlements for permanently damaging the lives of countless unsuspecting victims. The bible calls the Catholic Church “the mother of harlots.” What else would you expect as a title for an institution that has single-handedly empowered and sustained the brothel industry by it’s unbiblical rule of mandatory celibacy for its priests.
My boy, MB wants me to demonstrate why I thought that the Mormons were not nearly as bad as the Catholics to which my reply is:
It is not even a competition, granted the Mormons also spew heresy (eg. the Mormons say that Jesus and Satan are brothers while the Catholics Supreme Pontiff is actually Satan masquerading as Jesus) and also rely on extra-biblical material, but the only violence from the Mormons I can think of that merits mentioning is the Mountain Meadows Massacre of 120 men, women and children by the Mormon militiamen and Paiute Indians on Sept. 11, 1857.
On the other hand, what I have mentioned above regarding the Catholic Church probably constitutes less than 10% of the evils perpetrated by that institution (I came up with this figure based upon the shear number of atrocities that I am solidly familiar with). I mean, the Mormons don’t have Popes that:
 (1) claimed they were God, (2) toasted Satan, (3) were murdered in bed by their mistress’ angry husband who caught them in the act – this happen to at least two different Popes, (4) put six other Popes into power under the influence of a mother and daughter harlot team, (5) produced fraudulent documents and forgeries for the purpose of acquiring filthy lucre, (6) raped women visiting St. Peter’s, (7) ran a harem in St. Peters Palace, (8) blinded and murdered friends and foes, (9) deposed and installed emperors throughout history or (10) that died in the Papal bedroom while being sodomized by a male page.
I only stopped at ten because I don’t have anymore time to spend on this rsponse. All the claims that I have made above concerning the CC have their basis in hundreds of historical accounts that provide details concerning these atrocities. Among my favorites are: A Woman Rides the Beast by Dave Hunt, Papal Power: Its Origins and Development by Henry T. Hudson, Ecclesiastical Megalomania: The Economic and Political Thought of the Roman Catholic Church by Dr. John Robbins (I have all of these books if anyone is interested in reading, I even have some on audio book); even the Catholic Encyclopedia also contains details of these monstrosities. Another good source is the Patrina Logia (Writings of the Church Fathers) or the following website: http://www.thebereancall.org.
A common reply to these accusations (usually by Catholic apologists) is to suggest that all this behavior is comparable to the biblical King Solomon having hundreds of wives and mistresses, but this reply is just silly. Sin is still sin, God warned Solomon not to have more than one wife (Deut 17:17) but he decided that he would disobey God to his own demise. Likewise, the collective sins of the popes and the church will lead to the destruction of this vile vessel of Satan that claims to hold the only road to salvation, contrary to what we find in scripture (Titus 3:4-5).
As God promises to destroy the Catholic Church in Revelation 17, the Pope and his church are definitely in for it. All I can do is echo the same cry that Christ had for the poor souls that are unlucky enough to call themselves Catholics; Come out from her (the Catholic Church), my people, so that you do not be partakers of her sins and her punishment (Revelations 18:4).
Incidentally, I just finished reading an excellent article entitled: “Israel and Prophetic Proof Part 1” (http://www.thebereancall.org/node/7745) and I highly recommend this article!

Westboro Baptist Church

Friend:
So, are these really Christians that go to funerals and say “fags” are going to
hell and that God loves dead soldiers.  I see where the Supreme Court upheld
their right to say these things—and per the Bible, homosexually is an
abomination.  So, is this group really behaving as “good” Christians?

James:
Their behavior (and some of thier messages) is certainly not Christian. It is true that the bible says homosexuals are going to hell (1 Corinthians 6:9) but the bible compels Christians to communicate this message gently and in love (1 Peter 3:8, James 3:17, 2 Timothy 2:24-25). A more profound question that arises from their (WBC) signs is: Can or does God actually hate certain people? It is not a simple answer. God certainly and unconditionally loves everyone (all humans); He demonstrated this by dying on the cross for EVERYONE’s transgressions of His law (2 Corinthians 5:19). According to the Bible, the greatest demonstration of love is to give one’s life for a friend (John 15:13). God outdid this pinnacle by dying for us (Adam’s children) while we were alienated from Him and enemies with Him (Romans 5:10). On the other hand, He does hate those that reject Him but I should probably qualify this assertion with verses from scripture before I develop the idea any further.

It is probably better to say that God loves and hates the unbeliever simultaneously. This is not a contradiction since He doesn’t love and hate them in the same way. He gives unbelievers an earthly life that includes the free (contrary to what the Catholic Church teaches) offer of salvation and everlasting life (which requires no human effort) and it is available to all (Titus 3:4-5). On the other hand, God’s wrath abides on all those who have not believed the gospel (John 3:36).

Have we fogotten about the Rapture?

Friend:
May be a good topic for your blog. Why is it that the Mormon Church, Jehovah Witnesses, etc. seem to hold to a higher standard than evangelical Christians? Are we willing to do for the truth what others will do for a lie? Are there any Christian colleges or universities that have and HOLD to a similar code of conduct?
http://msn.foxsports.com/collegebasketball/story/byu-honor-code-dismissal-of-brandon-davies-deserves-praise-030311

James:
While I was somewhat inspired by the article you linked to, If your assessment is accurate, I think one of the reasons is due to the fact that those worldviews are works-based while the Evangelicals rely on the finished work of Christ on the cross. I also think that a lot of what passes for evangelical Christianity is actually not.
As far as its blog worthiness, how do you suggest that I demonstrate your proposition that the Mormon Church, Jehovah Witnesses, etc. seem to hold to a higher standard than evangelical Christians? In, other words, how did you reach this conclusion, that way I won’t appear to engage in mere speculation.

Friend:
Thanks for reading and responding. The article’s intent was not to inspire per se. I think evangelical Christians should rely upon the finished work of Christ but that does not exclude works that are done by the empowerment and guiding of the Holy Spirit. I think James 2:14-26 gives a good picture of how faith brings about works.

James:
Well, it inspired me nonetheless. By the way, I did not say that the Finished Work excludes the good works that we are called to do.

Friend:
I don’t have empirical evidence to offer at the moment but I don’t ever remember representatives from a local church knocking on my door (except for the church I am currently attending after we visited for the first time). I have however had Muslim, Mormon and Jehovah Witnesses knock on my door to share their religious views.

James:
You say that you don’t have any empirical evidence to offer, then in the very next sentence you offer empirical evidence. I think I’ll let that one slide 😉

Friend:
The blog was just a conversational thought and not meant as an action item. I think the action item is for us to continue living the life for Christ and sharing the Gospel message.

James:
All the same, I still think that my request (that you provide substantiation for your claim) was legitimate. It was also a trap to get you to think about the nature of evidence but for the time being I’m going to let this one slide as I see that you have introduced a softball (later on in your reply) that I would like to hit out of the park.

Friend:
Since you are downtown now, perhaps we can have an eBible study via conference call or Skype, etc. As mentioned before, I would be glad to host you ….)

James:
It is always enjoyable to engage in dialogue with someone who makes the time to flip through scripture; I suspect that for many Christians this is a burden (to be undertaken only on Sundays) rather than a delight. I would be happy to set up the remote bible study you requested.

Friend:
Keep living the life and looking forward to the 2nd (and final) coming of our Lord and Savior (or for you millenialists, the next coming before the final coming ☺). Have a blessed week and make it a point to tell someone the Good News!

James:
(as a Scripturalist – not a millenialist?) It’s nice to know that I won’t be hanging around on earth waiting for Christ’s final return during the seven year unveiling of God’s wrath known as the great tribulation; which incidentally, the bible calls the worst period to ever occur in human history (Matthew 24:21, Luke 21:25-26). Furthermore and perhaps more importantly, you too should be looking forward to the comfort afforded by the blessed hope (Titus 2:13, 1 Thessalonians 4:18, 1 Thessalonians 5:11) that we call the Rapture, instead of trying to wait it out until the second coming of Christ. For although the Rapture is not the same as Christ’s 2nd coming, Christ does return transiently to scoop up His people as he promised in John 14:3, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, and 1 Corinthians 15:23-51-52. During this brief appearance, Christ’s foot never touches the ground since the rapture takes place in the air and believers (the dead in Christ that are resurrected and we Christians who remain on the earth) will meet Him in the sky, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. This event contrasts the 2nd coming when Christ feet will touch the ground at the Mount of Olives splitting that bad boy into two (Zechariah 14:4).

According to scripture, we know that during Christ second coming (which occurs at the end of the great tribulation) He does consolidate His “elect” from all over as mentioned in Matthew 24:31 and Mark 13:27. The word “elect” in the bible refers to both Israel and the Church (Isaiah 45:4, Isaiah 65:9, Matthew 24:31, 1 Peter 1:2, Colosians 3:12). However, Jeremiah 9:25-26 suggests that Isreal (and not the Church) will be the elect entity that must endure the great tribulation.
Therefore, since the Church is already in heaven attending the Wedding that occurs during the great tribulation (Revelation 19:7-8); and since God said that in that day (when Christ returns in wrath), no Jew would be left outside Israel: “I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them [among other nations] any more” (Ezekiel 39:28, cf. Isaiah 27:12; Amos 9:9); it seems reasonable to interpret Matthew 24:31 in light of God’s promise to gather Israel from all ends of the earth.

Notwithstanding, we also know for certain that Christ comes for the church before the great tribulation because of the aforementioned verses and by other compelling evidences in scripture. For instance:

1 Thessalonians 1:10 tell us that believers are waiting for Christ, who, from heaven delivers us from the wrath (the great tribulation) to come. 2 Peter 2:9 reminds us that God knows how to deliver the godly (believers) out of temptation. The greek word “peirasmos” translated as ‘temptation’ is a perfectly good interpretation but in today’s parlance the word ‘temptation’ has lost its archaic semantic range. A contemporary substitute, with the same meaning as the archaic sense of “temptation” is “adversity” or “evil experience.” As if further proof was required, the five verses that precede 2 Peter 2:9 provide two examples of God doing just that; delivering the godly out of adversity and evil experiences that are brought upon the world’s inhabitants. Also, in Revelations 3:10 Christ promises to protect the eschatological Church of Philadelphia from “the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth”; this obvious reference to the great tribulation also translates the same greek word “peirasmos” as “temptation.” Finally, the parallelism employed in the Lord’s Prayer (…lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil) conveys what is sometimes contextually meant by the word temptation, namely, evil. The take home message is simple; God knows how to deliver the godly out of the tribulation that He has planned for the unjust.

Jude 1:14, 1 Thessalonians 3:13 and Zechariah 14:5 tells us that when Christ comes back to open up a can of “you know what” during the battle of Armageddon, that He is accompanied by all His saints. I wonder how this can occur if they (His saints) still remain on the earth waiting for His return or if their bodies (especially in the case of “the dead in Christ”) are not yet resurrected which is also a prerequisite (Isaiah 26:19-21, 1 Corinthians 15:52, 1 Thessalonians 4:16).
Also, what would be the purpose of Christ taking some folks and leaving others behind (as we are told in Matthew 24:40-41 and Luke 17:35-36) during His second coming since this is the last coming? After all, why would God wait until the second coming to rescue the saints that are supposed to be accompanying Him at the start of His second coming? Why allow the saints to undergo this wrath that is purposefully meant for those that did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness (2 Thessalonians 2:12)? This is akin to watching your wife get violently beaten up and then coming in after the ordeal is done to give her a hand, when all the while, you had the means to prevent her from undergoing the pain and anguish in the first place. In contrast, God’s great tribulation brings a lot more than just pain and anguish, it brings inescapable torture. I say this because the bible indicates that during the great tribulation, earth’s tormented inhabitants will try to kill themselves to escape the wrath of God (Revelations 9:6, 1 Thessalonians 5:9) but will be unable to die (on their own terms anyway); they will pray for the mountains to fall upon them and put them out of their misery but to no avail (Revelations 6:6). Now why would Christ voluntarily allow His bride (the church) to undergo all of this?

Incidentally, I’m not sure how the marriage of the Lamb (Revelations 19:9), which is supposed to take place in heaven during the great tribulation, can occur if the Lamb’s bride, the church of believers (Ephesians 5:24-27, 32, Romans 7:4, 2 Corinthians 11:2, Revelation 19 7-9), is still down on earth enduring the unbridled wrath and condemnation of God. That they should endure this ignominious judgment also flies in the face of verses like Romans 8:1, 1 Thessalonians 5:9 and John 3:36 which state that the believer is not appointed unto wrath or condemnation.

I leave you with a song that my mom taught me when I was young:

I’ll be caught up to meet Him in the air
No more sorrows will I have to bear
Cause in the twinkling of an eye
He’s gonna take me through the sky
I’m going back, I’m going back,
I’m going back with Jesus when he comes

P.S. Life can’t be too tough for a sinner saved by grace

Friend:
Looks like you are trying to start a blog nonetheless!  You responded to everything but whom you shared the Good News…sometimes we miss the simplest elements of our salvation and calling.

James:
So you want to know who I shared the Good News with? You should already know that! I shared the Good News (that believers will be delivered from the wrath to come) with my friend (you!) who apparently doesn’t believe that to be the case. After, all, isn’t that (being spared from God’s wrath) also part of the Gospel (John 3:36, Romans 5:9).

I haven’t missed any elements of my calling; that is precisely why I have a blog called ChristPlusZero.org that puts the Good News (i.e. The Faith) on blast 24 x 7.

The simplest elements of our calling (i.e. presenting someone with the Good News) require that we ourselves have salt within us (Col 4:6). We have to study to show ourselves approved workman that can instruct those that contradict themselves by rightly dividing the Word of truth (2 Ti 2:15,25); but how can you perform the simplest elements of your salvation and calling if you yourself use man’s wisdom (i.e. appealing to the evidence outside the bible) to answer questions about the bible that are sure to come once you start sharing the good news? If your way of contending for the faith is to appeal to man’s ability to interpret some circumstantial evidence you present him with, how do you expect that person’s faith not to rest in the evidence you provide instead of the power of God which is found in His Word? It’s easy to share the Good news. It’s a little harder to reprogram ourselves from using man’s way of contending to God’s way of contending.

Next time, A better exhortation would be to encourage your brothers in Christ to make sure they are cracking open the word on a daily so they can always be ready to drop the good news on someone in a way that is meaningful.

Friend:
Works-based Christianity?

James:
Bible-based Christianity!