Posted tagged ‘hell’

Did Jesus Talk more about Gehenna than He did about the Kingdom from Heaven?

January 18, 2016

Walvoord—All the references to gehenna, except James 3:6, are from the lips of Jesus Christ himself…” [ “The Literal View” in William Crockett (ed.), Four Views on Hell (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992), 19-20.]

Glenn Peoples—“all the instances” of gehenna, in the Gospels actually amounts to very few. As it is a very Jewish word (a Greek term derived from a Hebrew word referring to the Valley of Hinnom),

Matthew 7:19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” Glenn Peoples– I’m inclined to think that it’s not even a reference to the afterlife, but to the false teachers in Judaism who are going to be cut out of the kingdom in a judgement culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem. But – in spite of no obvious indicators in the context – let’s say that it’s a reference to punishment in the afterlife. If that’s what it is, then bear in mind that there’s also teaching here about acceptance in God’s kingdom too—“the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

Matthew 13:30, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.” In verses 44 and 45 Jesus gives a couple more parables of the kingdom of heaven where only the positive side is mentioned. Then in the same chapter, in verses 47-50, Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to a fishing net that caught good and bad fish. The good fish are kept and stored, but the bad fish are thrown away. Jesus says that this is like the way the evil will be thrown into a “fiery furnace.”

In Matthew 22:1-14, Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to a wedding feast…. Most of the people in the story get to remain at the wedding banquet. But the king orders his servants to take one guest and “cast him into the outer darkness.”

In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), two of the master’s servants, who used what he had given them wisely, are told to enter the joy of their master. The last one is sent “into the outer darkness.”

At the conclusion of the story of the sheep and goats, we read of the two types of people, “and these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into the lasting life of the age to come,

That’s five examples, plus the four contexts where the actual word gehenna is used, so we have nine in total. For three years of public teaching, nine times is not very often. Jesus taught on final punishment, but he didn’t say about it what many evangelicals believe about it.

It would hardly be fair to do a search for a subject in the letters of John and a search for a subject in the Gospels to see who cared more about a subject– John or Jesus! Jesus taught more about most of the things that he taught about than he did about hell, things like showing love to our neighbor, for example, or the importance of concern for the poor and outcast, the way we use money, or even the historical judgement of God that was about to come upon Jerusalem.

Glenn Peoples–“It’s a very Stoic sounding approach—not only did Jesus talk more about hell than other people, but also Jesus talked more about hell than about the kingdom of resurrection and lasting life and His gift of the forgiveness of sins, The beatitudes of Matthew 5 alone would tip the scales heavily. Then we have the treasures in heaven that \in Matthew 6, in others Gospels we have the party thrown for the returned prodigal son…””

Mark McCulley: Preachers (often more into rhetoric than truth) beat their chests and say, “I don’t like it either but it’s the truth.” Most of the preachers, including the “Reformed”, justify it all by saying that God also desired the salvation of the non-elect, and that Jesus was “available” to everybody but that “hell was the default” unless you “accepted Jesus”. Saying that Jesus talked about the destruction of the non-elect more than Jesus talked about resurrection life is NOT THE TRUTH!

Jesus talked more about gehenna than the apostle Paul did because the apostle Paul never talked about gehenna. But almost every reference by Jesus to gehenna in Matthew’s Gospel is coupled with a reference to entrance into the kingdom. Repent, the kingdom is at hand! So the count is about even between blessing and curse when we add up the texts that do refer to gehenna. But there are plenty of other texts that refer to God’s gift of salvation to the elect. For example, the non-elect are not even mentioned in texts like Romans 5 or in Romans 3:22-24. When we think of “judgment”, we must not only think of the condemnation of the non-elect but also about the fact that God’s justification of the elect is also “judgment”

John 5:21 And just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so the Son also gives life to anyone He wants to. 22 The Father, in fact, judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 so that all people will honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. 24 “I assure you: Anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life. 25 “I assure you: An hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For just as the Father has life in Himself, so also He has granted to the Son to have life in Himself. 27 And He has granted Him the right to pass judgment, because He is the Son of Man.

Immortality for the elect alone

December 3, 2014

I Corinthians 15: 51 We will not all fall asleep,
but we will all be changed,
52 in a moment, in the blink of an eye,
at the last trumpet.
For the trumpet will sound,
and the dead will be raised incorruptible,
and we will be changed.
53 For this corruptible must be clothed
with incorruptibility,
and this mortal must be clothed
with immortality.
54 When this corruptible is clothed
with incorruptibility,
and this mortal is clothed
with immortality,
then the saying that is written will take place:
Death has been swallowed up in victory.

There was dust here on earth before there was a “living soul”. There was God’s breath (spirit) before there was a “living soul”. But there was no pre-existing “soul” before and without the dust and the breath (life). To be a soul, you need a body. To be a living soul, you need life from God. But life from God is not immortality, and that immortality will only be given to those who God justifies.

Immortality is God’s gift for those God loves.
I Timothy 6: 12 Fight the good fight for the faith;
take hold of lasting life
that you were called to
and have made a good confession about
in the presence of many witnesses.
13 In the presence of God, who gives life and of Christ Jesus, who gave a good confession before Pontius Pilate, I charge you to keep the command e until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 God will bring this about in God’s own time. God is the blessed and only Sovereign,the King of kings, and the Lord of lords, 16 the only One who has immortality,

II Timothy 1:9 God saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,

The punishment of the non-elect sinner is not preservation in torture but death. The punishment is loss of life forever. But those who teach that some sinners will sin forever and be tortured forever seem to have such a low view of life that they deny that death is even a punishment.

For God, “death is the last ENEMY”. I Corinthians 15. But for the “death is not enough justice” folks, no period of punishment is ever long enough. While they allow that there may be “degrees of punishment”, they teach that each non-elect sinner will be punished forever, not by being dead forever after death but by still being alive in misery “somewhere” after death. Don’t call it life, they say call it “merely existing.”

Romans 6: 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Revelation 20: 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Matthew 10: 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in gehenna

It is one thing to experience death that lasts forever. It is another thing to experience torture forever but never to die. But the “death is never enough” folks point out that those who die a death that lasts forever do not have to experience dying forever—they claim that the non-elect dying in a moment in history (even perhaps after a period of judgment and punishing) is not enough to satisfy the justice of God.

But since we can all perhaps agree that only the death of Jesus is ever enough to satisfy the justice of God, this means that neither the torture of the non-elect forever or the death forever of the non-elect will satisfy God’s justice. But many folks don’t think the death of Jesus is what actually satisfies the justice of God either. Some Roman Catholics think that the continuing sacrament is the continuing dying of Jesus Christ which is still satisfying the justice of God. Some Protestants think that the vicarious law-keeping of Jesus is what helps to satisfy the justice of God. They explain that, even though the period of time in which Jesus kept the law on earth was finite, that Jesus as a person is infinite and therefore that those years of law-keeping help satisfy God’s justice. And many professing Christians put the accent on the three hours of suffering Christ experienced before His death–again they explain the legal satisfaction by the “infinity” of Christ’s person.

God’s Love is not the Whole Story? Rob Bell and the Gospel Coalition

March 14, 2011

Since I was saved about ten years ago from the false good news of universalism, I am glad to see Deyong’s negative review of Bell’s book. But I can’t help notice the inherent Arminianism of the Gospel Coalition’s brand of evangelicalism.

gc: It reminds me of the T-shirt, “Jesus Loves You. Then Again He Loves Everybody.” There’s no good news in announcing that God loves everyone in the same way just because he wants to. The good news is that in love God sent his Son to live for our lives and die for our deaths”

mark: notice what gospel coalition does not say, will not say about election: that God does not love everybody, that God did not die for everybody. They will only deny that the love doesn’t need Christ’s death. They still retain the old formula retained by Dordt (sufficient for everybody).

What’s with the ambiguity of “just because he wants to”?
1. God loves the elect in a holy way, not just any old way, yes.

2. But does this deny that God loves “just because he wants to”? God loves because He wants to, and His nature requires justice for all those He loves. There is no love apart from Christ and His substitution for the elect. Christ has no love for the non-elect.

I take sides with John Owen against John Calvin on God’s justice, and thus the necessary nature of Christ’s death, but that does not deny the sovereignty of God’s love. God does not love the non-elect. That’s a little different from the Packer nuance, which says “God’s love is not the whole story” when it comes to the non-elect.

But this is something you can’t say, when you are on the same side with Arminians against the universalists.

Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames

July 1, 2009

Letter to My Local PCA Pastor

Dear ——:

Last night I went to see Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames for myself. What I saw and heard was a false gospel and a false Christ.

  1. The cross was presented as something that the devil did to Jesus. There was no presentation of “sin” as that which demands the justice of God so that God gives the Son to satisfy justice for the sins of His people.
  2. The cross was presented in the fist five minutes as something that MADE NO DIFFERENCE at the end. Since it was clearly said several times that Jesus died for every person, nobody in the audience could conclude that the difference between heaven and hell was what Jesus did on the cross. (big deal! he died for those in hell too) The difference was said to be what the listeners did. So there was no good news at all last night, but only commands to believe in a false Christ and a false gospel.
  3. In the end Satan gets people for whom Jesus died. That ideas brings dishonor and reproach to Jesus and His work. Care you more for the approval of men then do you do for the honor of Christ?
  4. The entire presentation was one long appeal to the flesh, to the natural mind. Sample statements:

    You all got a “knower”.
    You got to humble yourself.
    You got to have the courage to say the prayer.
    It’s up to you in the next 60 seconds.
    He’s the path, but you are the chooser.
    You got to really mean it.
    If you will stand up, you will be a “special person”.
    God will not throw it in your lap.
    It’s God’s gift, but your accepting the gift is the difference.
    If you say this after me, your name will be written in the book.
    And most infamously: “just do it!”
    And then people clapped when they did it.

  5. And I cried. Before, when I was a proud Calvinist, convinced that I was more theologically sophisticated than other folks, I would have simply been outraged. But I cried, helpless, not knowing what to do or to say. “God, do you want me to stand up and interrupt when they say that Jesus died for those who go to hell?” Maybe I should have. I don’t want to be a fatalist; I don’t want to shirk my responsibility. But then again, I want people to be offended at the gospel, not at me.
  6. The trouble is that you don’t preach the gospel because you don’t preach particular redemption. Thus you avoid the offense of saying that the difference between saved and lost is the death of Jesus (and that all those for whom Jesus died will be brought to faith in the true gospel and saved from the sin of idolatry involved in believing the false gospel.) You may occasionally talk in code language that reassures some people that you believe what the WCF says about particular redemption, but you avoid the antithesis. Thus you avoid the truth. You agree that you only have another interpretation but speak peace to those who say that God is neither wise nor holy nor just in saving all for whom Jesus died.
  7. How did I get from 1-5 to 6? I think you tolerate and sponsor what you really believe. If you think of Heaven’s Gates as the gospel, or even as “pre-evangelism”, then you do not really believe the gospel. “Unconditional grace” without preaching the imputed righteousness of the effective death of Christ is not the gospel, but merely lawlessness. Romans 1:17–“in the gospel a righteousness is revealed”…
  8. What was “sin” in the presentation? Doing drugs, social drinking, not going to church, and, ultimately, not accepting Jesus. But Romans 10:3 teaches us that it is sin to try to establish our own righteousness instead of submitting to the righteousness of God. The righteousness of God is not out there to be taken at people’s discretion. The righteousness of God demands that those for whom Christ died will not only stop hating God and His righteousness but also that all of the elect be forgiven for their sin of hating God and His righteousness. When you abridge the gospel, you substitute your own wisdom for that of God.
  9. What am I to do when ninetween clergymen say to the town in which I live that this is the gospel. I am not a pessimist: I do not believe that Satan rules the world. But I know that Satan is behind the presentation I saw last night. Satan does not wear a red cape. He substitutes a false gospel for the real one and calls it grace.

Mark McCulley