Tag Archives: Hell

As Followers of Christ We Must Realize the Logic of Our Beliefs

The more I study the Christian belief system, the more I am amazed at the illogical stance of mainstream Christianity’s beliefs.  It is no wonder to me, anymore, why many of the world’s peoples look upon Christians as duped and ignorant, unwilling to see the logic of what they espouse.  Most of my former “Christian friends” in the reformed tradition (specifically Baptist) rail, as I did, against anything mystical, yet then support their whole belief system by mystical things.  For instance, I used to deny the validity of any Christian writer who claimed to be inspired by God to write things that were not spoken about in the Bible.  Yet, I had easily believed that the books written in the collection of 66 books we call the Bible today were not only inspired, but totally infallible and inerrant in every jot and tittle penned.  Logic tells us that God used more than just a few men to speak inspirationally to all mankind throughout all of history.  And, though I may not be understood in the last statement by all who read this, and my belief in God may be questioned, I would like you to seriously read the blog article in the following link, as this will hopefully open a few minds up to what I am driving at.

Gary Amirault has written an article the other day and posted it on his Tentmaker.org blog site.  I provide the link here called Spiritual Rape.  Think about the logic of what he says in this article.  Get your mind past an “offensive” statement he might make that cuts across your feelings.  It is a short 4 paragraphs long and will take you a couple minutes, at most, to read.  the implications are very stark and applicable to all who call themselves Christians.  Take off your denominational, or non-denominational denomination glasses, and THINK!

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Most Christians Deny the Power of God

4 I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus, who is going to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom, 2 preach the word, be ready in season and out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all patience and instruction. 3 For there will be a time when they will not put up with sound teaching, but in accordance with their own desires, they will accumulate for themselves teachers, ⌊because they have an insatiable curiosity⌋, 4 and they will turn away from the hearing of the truth, but will turn to myths.  (2 Tim 4:1-4, LEB)

I have preached this text a number of times over 15 years of pastoring churches and preaching sermons.  In the beginning it was more toward those who spoke of a call to the preaching ministry (being a pastor as they call it).  I exhorted those men to always be ready to preach, never turn down an opportunity.  I also taught those same men to preach the whole counsel of God (the whole Bible, not just pet doctrines or passages) and not only the easy passages.  In these “last days”, I taught, people won’t want to hear the truth and will only follow after those they agree with.  They will even try to get rid of you as a pastor if you don’t preach what the congregation wants to hear (boy, did I verify the truth of that statement in my own ministry!!!).  The people in church, you know, the Christians, will even begin following after the likes of Joel Osteen, and Joyce Meyers, the feel good preachers of health and wealth.  The only way to combat this was to keep preaching the truth and God will change their minds when He is ready.  But, we pastors should not “go easy” on them but keep telling the Christians the hard truths, like turn from your sin and false teaching or burn in hell forever.

Well, here is my truth statement:  Most Christians deny the power of God!

Listen to what Paul says in 2 Tim 3:1-5:

3 But know this, that in the last days difficult times will come, 2 for people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, arrogant, slanderers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 hardhearted, irreconcilable, slanderous, without self-control, savage, with no interest for what is good, 4 traitors, reckless, conceited, loving pleasure rather than loving God, 5 maintaining a form of godliness, but denying its power.  (2 Tim 3:1-5, LEB)

As I have been misled and deceived by one church leader after another , this list of Paul’s truly showed me that this is an apt description of many Christians today, not just people outside the church.  As I have been thinking lately, something struck me hard, right between the eyes, as they say.  Most Christians deny the power of God.  How, you ask?  Most Christians are trying to maintain a form of godliness, following the laws laid down before them (the 10 commandments, the by-laws of the church they are members of, membership rules, any other legalistic do’s and don’t’s church leaders can come up with).  And, on the outside they look and feel like godly people.  They look good, smell good, but they still deny God’s power.  Again, how, you ask?

They deny God’s power by saying or believing that God is not able to save all mankind (all people who have ever lived, past, present, and future).  They say that God is loving yet most of mankind will be consigned to an “eternal hell!”  They say that God is omnipotent (all-powerful) yet He can’t stop people from going to an “eternal hell,” forever separated from God and His loving presence.  My God is capable of saving all mankind and in fact will save all mankind because His Word says so.  Take a look at 1 Tim 4:10 for yourself (10 For to this end we labor and suffer reproach, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of believers.)  This is one of many verses supporting my claim, that God will save all His creation, including all His people, you know, His image-bearers.  Your challenge today, is to comment and ask me to supply you with further evidence of my claim.  Should you  accept my challenge, you may come to an understanding that the reason my theology changed was due to overwhelming evidence contrary to what I had been taught for so many years.

Let me know your thoughts on this statement and the supporting verses!

God’s blessings to you and His peace to you as well!

Craig

 

 

 

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If Hell Is Eternal Separation From God, Then…

God cannot be omnipresent.  The modern church believes that God is everywhere and there is no place where God is not.  David supported this teaching when he said,

“(Psa 139:7) Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?

(Psa 139:8) If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!”

(NOTE:  The whole chapter is worthy of your time and meditation!)

Yet, the modern church also believes that eternal conscious torment in hell is away from God’s presence.  They say, as I did for many years, that hell is eternal separation from God.  How can this be?  This is an oxymoron.  The term oxymoron is an oxymoron (composed of two words meaning sharp and dull, implied that one thing is both sharp and dull at the same time).  So, my question to the modern church is this; how can God be omnipresent yet be eternally separate from hell?  Is there anything God created outside His presence and control?  If you wrestle with these things let me  assure you that God is not a liar, nor is there anything He created outside His presence nor is the modern concept of hell as eternal separation from God true.  It is false and that itself should give you hope, and the knowledge that God is not  a monster but a lover of His creation who only has the best in store for it (them).

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If Evil Were Eternal God Would Be An Inexcusable Monster

I have been reading a series by Martin Zender on Romans 5 that I have found very interesting.  In this series, I have picked up little nuggets of truth that I have not heard before and they blow my mind (I know, small explosion, but still!).  I read the most recent article and wanted to comment on something he said that struck me hard.

“If evil were eternal, then its entry into the universe via God’s hand – Isaiah 45:7 – would be inexcusable.”

[My insert for the benefit of the reader] (Isa 45:7) Forming light, and preparing darkness, Making peace, and preparing evil, I am Jehovah, doing all these things.’ YLT – Young’s Literal Translation

“But evil is not eternal, it’s temporary.  The eternality of evil is the worst teaching imaginable…Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:26 that, “the last enemy is being abolished, death.”…If death is the last enemy abolished, then every other enemy – every other evil – will have gone before.  This is pure logic.  God created evil to do its nasty but necessary work of revealing all things good.  When all things goodare finally and fully bloomed, God dismantles forever the scaffolding – evil – used to produce them. 1 Corinthians 15:26 proves it.  Christianity knows nothing of this joy. They love evil too much.  The prospect of evil being forever abolished makes them sad.  They want their enemies to be eternally tormented.  They want to watch.”

Zender goes on and gives an example saying, “God’s use of evil can be likened to a human using fire to purify gold.  When the gold is purified, the fire is abolished.”  In other words, the fire (hell, evil) has a purpose.  If it had no purpose other than for retribution, it would deny its being formed and the form-er, God, the creator of all things, would be nothing more than a monster, a maniac, a murderer, a being worse than any terrorist walking the earth today.

Thankfully, the Bible denies that God is anything but a loving Creator with a purpose that defies our own logic and reason.  Paul explains that we see through a dim glass, an opaque glass, that only yields, at best, shadows of great things to come.  What greater thing than the salvation of all people could there be that is yet to come?  Friend, do you still want to cling to your traditional, anemic view of God that has Him saving less people than Satan brings destruction upon?  Is Satan greater than Jesus?  Did Jesus ‘ coming into this world truly lead to the destruction of death through His own death on the cross?  Was this good news of great joy for all people really so-so news for some people?

No, and thankfully no my friend.  Jesus defeated death and now we have nothing left to fear.  All people are in Christ, or will be in Christ, and because of Jesus’ own words, about saving all mankind in John’s writings especially, we can truly celebrate His birth as GOOD NEWS OF GREAT JOY WHICH WILL BE FOR ALL THE PEOPLE!  Blessings to you all on the Christmas eve.  Let me know what you think about Zender’s comments.  I agree with him, maybe you don’t  If not let us dialog lovingly about it.  Until then, be at peace in the joy of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Craig

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Why Didn’t God Tell Adam and Eve About Hell?

I was discussing some biblical things last night with my youngest daughter and I told her one of the turning points in my beliefs about God and the outcome of man was this one:  If hell is eternal conscious torment forever (I know tat is redundant!), and it is the most horrible outcome that a person could suffer, why didn’t God tell Adam and Eve about it?  All we have recorded on this important topic of what would happen if they sinned was that in the day they sinned they would surely die.  Not one word about hell.  We have a few words about the pain they would suffer in this life and the fact that they would one day die physically, but not one word on hell.  Curious, isn’t it?

If you answer that in the Old Testament everyone who died went to Gehenna, or Abraham’s bosom, a kind of holding place or, if you will, a kind of purgatory, (not the Catholic one where people are waiting to progress into a better state due to prayers and giving of their still alive loved ones) why didn’t God command the New Testament authors to include hell as part of their preaching of the Gospel.  I have heard preachers say that the Good News (of the Gospel) can’t be good unless there is also some bad news for those who refuse the good.  Not one of the sermons by the Apostles nor any of the recorded disciples in the New Testament ever warn us about hell for those who do not accept the Gospel of Christ.

Yes, I know the hell-teachers of today will quote many verses that they support the teaching of eternal conscious torment ( I have addressed many if not all of them in my book review series that is still incomplete, Hell Under Fire on this blog).  However, why don’t they ever offer some explanation of why we teach the “turn or burn” Gospel today?  Why did that come up and where did it begin (hint:  go back to the days of Augustine, because I think we have him to thank for it, though it was not really taught before him, and yes, the soon-to-be Roman Catholic church took his teachings and ran with them for awhile)?  For awhile I thought pretty highly of Augustine, especially when I was so steeped in more traditional reformed theology.  However,  after re-considering who Augustine was, looking over seminary notes on church history and reading many other church history works, Augustine was not, and is not, someone we want to hang our theology on!  I encourage you to read about his life and decide for yourself if it was wise historically to put so much trust in his teaching.

Anyway, just wanted to give you some food for thought on this Monday morning.  Have a blessed day and remember, we are free in Christ to relish the grace given to us and to give it out super-abundantly to others.  For you believers, the summary of our lives in Christ is this; we confess Jesus is Lord, we love God with all our being, and we love our neighbor as ourselves (as we want to be loved).  Much more than that is typically legalism run amok!

Blessings to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Craig

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Think Deeply About the Following Quote

I am posting a quote here that really stood me up and caused me to stop and think deeply about the ramifications of the thought, and especially how many non-Christians view God.  I exhort you to really think about what is being said about God in this quote and to also consider the basic tenets of Christian/Evangelical Universalism.  If you do not know what that belief system is, comment and I will respond personally to you.  Also, if you would like the info on the quote, who posted it and where, send me a comment and I will post that info here.  Here is the quote:

 

“I love you so much.  Let me save you from what I’m going to do to you if you don’t let me save you.”

 

I look forward to your comments.  I especially challenge those of you who have commented on this blog and support hell as eternal conscious torment to respond and give me your explanation/defense of this attitude.  Blessings to you!

Craig

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Hallelujah in Hell Video by Peter Hiett

I watched this video today and found myself very emotional over it.  What do you think of this proposal?  Please watch with an open mind and with the thought of what God’s love can do to even the hardest of hearts.  Let me know what you think.  Agree?  Disagree?  Let’s talk!

 

 

 

 

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From Tentmaker.org – Honest Questions and Answers About Hell

I have so much information from various sources on Christian Universalism and wanted to share some with you, some you may not venture off to get yourselves, but may help you understand more of why I believe what I believe today.  This is a post found at Tentmaker.org run by Gary Amirault.

 
Honest Questions and Answers about Hell

By Mercy Aiken and Gary Amirault

(My note:  You may find this article at the following address: http://www.tentmaker.org/ifhellisreal.htm )

The case against Hell: Did you know that there is a solid scriptural case to be made against the idea of Hell? Many non-Christians have rejected the concept of Hell, but it may come as a surprise to learn that there is a growing number of Bible-believing Christians who also reject the notion—not in spite of Scripture but because of it! This short study is meant only to raise some questions and provide brief answers. For further study, please refer to the links at the end of the article.

An open and unbiased study of the Bible, including many key Greek and Hebrew words as well as Church history will reveal some surprising things.

For instance, did you know that……..

“Hell” Is Not an Old Testament doctrine:

Popular myth: Hell is an established Biblical doctrine that is in the Bible from start to finish. This is not true! Two thirds of the Bible (the Old Testament) do not mention Hell at all. (“Sheol,” the Old Testament word that is sometimes translated as Hell, only means “grave” by definition, and it is where everyone in the Old Testament went when they died–good or evil, Jew or Gentile). Thus the Old Testament does not contain the concept of Hell!

Think about it………
If Hell is real, why didn’t God make that warning plain right at the beginning of the Bible? God said the penalty for eating of the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was death–not “eternal life” in fire and brimstone.

If Hell is real, why wasn’t Cain warned about it, or Sodom and Gomorrah, or any of those who committed the earliest recorded “sins?”

If Hell is real why didn’t Moses warn about this fate in the Ten Commandments or the Mosaic Covenant consisting of over 600 laws, ordinances, and warnings? The Mosaic Law simply stated blessings and cursings in this lifetime.

If Hell is real, why are its roots in paganism, rather than the Bible? Many nations surrounding Israel in the OldTestament believed in Hell-like punishment in the afterlife, for they served bloodthirsty and evil “gods,” while Israel simply taught the grave (sheol) and a hope of a resurrection. If Hell is real, why was the revelation of it first given to pagan nations, instead of God’s covenant people? Did God expect Israel to learn about the afterlife from the Pagan Gentiles? If so, why did He repeatedly warn Israel to not learn of thier ways?

If Hell is real, why did God tell the Jews that burning their children alive in the fire to the false god Molech, (in thevalley of Gehenna) was so detestable to Him? God said that such a thing “never even entered His mind” (Jer. 32:35). How could God say such a thing to Israel, if He has plans to burn alive a good majority of His own creation in a spiritual and eternal Gehenna of His own making?

**FACT: The King James Bible erroneously translates the word “Sheol” as Hell a total of 31 times in the Old Testament, thus setting a foundation for that doctrine in the New Testament as well as the majority of Bible translations to follow the KJV. Even so, most new translations have completely eliminated Hell from the Old Testament, as honest and better scholarship has demanded. The Jewish version of the Old Testament (the Tanakh) has no concept of Hell in it. The importance of this fact cannot be over-emphasized. If a doctrine does not appear as seed form in the books of the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms, it cannot fairly be taught as a major biblical doctrine, if indeed it can be taught as biblical at all!

Hell Is Not a New Testament Doctrine:

Popular myth: Jesus spoke of Hell more than He did of Heaven. This is not true! Jesus warned the Jews many times of impending destruction, both nationally and individually. He used several different terms to refer to punishment/destruction, some of which were erroneously translated as the same word, “Hell” by Bible translators. We do not deny that God will indeed judge the whole world, and nor do we wish to make light of His judgments. Rather, we are challenging the belief that His judgment on sin and unbelief is eternal torment/Hell and never-ending separation from God. Certainly, Jesus spent a lot of his ministry warning people to repent or reap the consequences, (particularly “Gehenna.”) But could we be reading more into His warnings than He originally intended?

Think about it…….
If Hell is real, why were most of the warnings pertaining to punishment/Gehenna directed to Israel, particularly the Lord’s own disciples as well as the Pharisees? The first great cluster of references to Gehenna, are found in the Sermon on the Mount (Mat 5:22, 29, 30), Jesus’ great sermon to His disciples in which He warned that one was in danger of Gehenna for the likes of calling someone a fool. This is a far cry from our modern Evangelical interpretation that says not accepting Jesus as your Savior is what sends someone to Hell. Are we perhaps missing the symbolism that Jesus originally intended?

If Hell is real, aren’t we taking verses out of context when we warn sinners/outsiders of Hell, when in the original context they were directed to covenant people?

Since the concept of Hell doesn’t exist in the Old Testament, how could Jesus and his disciples teach that salvation was deliverance from a place that is not even found in their Scriptures? And if He was introducing the subject for the first time, why did He do it so casually, as though His listeners already understood what He was talking about?

If Hell is real, since some English translations use the word Hell for the Greek word “Gehenna,” in the New Testament, why didn’t this same place (Gehenna) get translated Hell in the many places where it appears in the Hebrew form “ga ben Hinnom” in the Old Testament?

If the Jews did not understand “Gehenna” as a symbol of everlasting torture, but rather as a place of shame, filth, and defilement (where Israel participated in the grossest form of idol worship), why does modern theology ascribe more to the word than the original meaning did? The teaching of Gehenna has evolved in Jewish teachings to include punishment in the afterlife; but even today, Gehenna still does not mean “endless” punishment to the Jews.

If Hell is real how could the Apostle Paul (who was especially commissioned by God to preach the gospel to the nations) say that he had declared the entire counsel of God (Acts 20:27), when indeed he never warned of “Hell” in any of his letters? If Hell is real, wouldn’t Paul, of all people, warn of it repeatedly?If Hell is real, the sin/death of Adam has had a far more powerful effect on the world than the resurrection life of Christ! And yet Paul declares in Romans 5 that Christ’s victory is far greater than Adam’s transgression! Listen to Paul’s confidence in the work of Christ! If Paul believed in eternal hell for the majority of men, how could he write the following verses?

“…Just as the result of one trespass (Adam’s) was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness (Christ’s) was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:18,19).

“Since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.” (1 Cor. 15:22)

“For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe” (1 Timothy 4;10).

(The above verses are just a few of the many verses where Paul writes of a pre-eminent Christ that far transcends the traditional Christian view. This article is full of many more New Testament references by Paul that display his views of the Christ triumphant, unlimited, all-powerful, all-conquering, and victorious).

If Hell is real, why is it that the only time Paul even mentioned “Hell” in any of his epistles, was declare the triumph of Christ over it? (1 Corinthians 15:55). The word “Grave” in the passage is the Greek word “Hades.”

If Hell is real, why is it not mentioned once in the book of Acts in any the evangelistic sermons that were recorded by the early Apostles?

If Hell is real why do some of the best Bible scholars and Bible teachers say it is not in the Greek or Hebrew text? (William Barclay, John A.T. Robinson, Lightfoot, Westcott, F.W. Farrar, Marvin Vincent, etc.)

If Hell is real, why does the word itself come from the Teutonic “Hele” (goddess of the underworld “Hell” of northern Europe). The description of this ancient mythological place has very little resemblance anymore to the modern Christian image of Hell. See any encyclopedia or dictionary for the origin of the word.

FACT: The apocryphal books of the intertestimental period had a tremendous impact on the Jews in the time of Christ. It is from these books, especially the book of Enoch, that many of the Jewish myths and fables concerning Hell, heaven, demons and angels and many other fables first became a part of Judaism and from there became a part of Christianity. The myths and fables of these books came from Pagan influences (namely Zoroastrianism), during and after the Babylonian captivity of Israel. In fact, Zoroastrianism looks more like modern Christianity in many ways than ancient Judiasm does!

If Hell is real, why did Paul warn Timothy repeatedly to stay away from Jewish myths and fables, the likes of which were influencing many in the early church? Rather than affirming such doctrines, Paul declares them to profane fables.

Hell Contradicts The Work of the Messiah:

Popular myth: Jesus came to save the sinner from his destination of everlasting Hell. Not exactly true! Hell was never a place that the Jews were hoping to be saved from, since they didn’t even believe in it! But they did need to be saved from their sins and consequences of them; namely death. Jesus came as the Anointed One to fulfill all of God’s plan for the earth—that through Him might come the salvation, deliverance of sin, peace, kingdom of God and all that God had promised through the Old Testament scriptures. There is much we can say here, but for the sake of brevity we will limit our points to a few key passages. Please take the time to look up the verses that are referenced.

Think about it…..
If Hell is real, why does Psalm 22 (one of the most prophetic passages in scripture concerning the Messiah) promise that because of the cross, “All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will worship before You. For the kingdom is the LORD’S and He rules over the nations. All the prosperous of the earth will eat and worship, all those who go down to the dust will bow before Him, even he who cannot keep his soul alive” (Psalm 22:27-29 NASB).

If Hell is real, did Jesus fail in His mission? He said, “I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world” (John 12:47).

If Hell is real and most find their way to it, was Jesus lying when He said He said if He was lifted up (crucified) that He would “draw” (“drag” in the original Greek word, “helkyo”) all mankind unto Himself? (John 12:32)

If Hell is real, how can the Scriptures speak of the gathering of all things into Christ? (Eph. 1:10)

If Hell is real, how can all things be subdued unto Christ? (1 Corinthians 15:28, Philippians 3:21, Hebrews 2:8).

If Hell is real, how can it be that the scriptures promise that every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord? (Isaiah 45:23, Romans 14:11, Philippians 2:10).

If Hell is real, how will Jesus ever see the travail of His soul and be satisfied (Isaiah 53:11)? If the traditional understanding is correct, most of those He came to save will never experience His salvation. Do we believe that this would be satisfying to Jesus?

If Hell is real, and God sent Jesus came to save people from it, can we really say that the will and pleasure of God has prospered in His hand, since, according to traditional theology, only a few will ever be saved? (Isaiah 53:10, and 55:11).

If Hell is real, and the devil is the one who deceives people into going there, isn’t he ultimately the winner in the war for souls? After all, traditional interpretation of the Bible says that more people will end up in Hell than in Heaven. If so, how can we really call Satan the defeated enemy and Christ the victor?

If Hell is real and most of mankind will remain in an eternal deathlike state of torment with no chance to repent or escape, how exactly are we to understand and rejoice in the fact that Jesus destroyed death and him that had the power of death (Satan)? (Hebrews 2:14-15, 1 John 3:8, Hosea 13:14, 1 Corinthians 15:55, 1 Corinthians 15:26 etc.)

If Hell is eternal, how can the increase of Christ’s government and of peace have no end? (Isaiah 9:7).

FACT: The term “saved” has evolved in Christianity to mean something different than it did to the original readers and hearers of Scripture. The Greek words, “sozo” and “soteria” embrace the broad meaning of being rescued, delivered, healed and saved from danger. These words were applied in a variety of ways throughout the New Testament. There is much more to the salvation of Christ than most Christians know. Sadly, much of the church is robbed of fullness of their salvation by embracing a limited and futuristic view of what it actually means– (i.e. “going to Heaven when they die”).

Popular Myth: “Eternity” is a theme that is throughout the entire Bible, including eternal punishment. Not exactly true! We are not denying that the New Testament is full of warnings of judgment, and that the words, “everlasting” and “eternal” appear often in most translations. However, a careful study of the words that are translated to mean forever or everlasting, will prove that they have been mistranslated. The question is not whether or not God will punish sin and rebellion, but rather how He does it, and for what purpose.

Think about it……
If Hell is forever, why does the Hebrew word Olam which has been translated to mean “eternal/forever” used in so many verses where it clearly does not mean “everlasting? A few examples: “Everlasting” is applied to the priesthood of Aaron; to the statutes of Moses; to the mountains and hills; and to the doors of the Jewish temple, to the length of time that reproach and shame should be upon the Jews. The word “forever” is applied to the duration of man’s earthly existence; to the time a child was to abide in the temple; to the continuance of Gehazi’s leprosy; to the to the duration of a king’s life; to the time a servant was to abide with his master; to the duration of the Jewish temple; to the time David was to be king over Israel; to the throne of Solomon; to the stones that were set up at Jordan; and to the time Jonah was in the fish’s belly. It should be obvious from the context that olam merely refered to an indefinate period of time–not forever!

Aion and related words (aionian and aionios) are the Greek equivalents of olam. Aion, literally means “age,” from which we get our English word, “eon.” Aion/age/eon, is merely a period of time. “Aionian and Aionios” are words that refer to the ages (plural) or pertaining to the ages. As long as time is being measured, it cannot be referring to eternity, which is a realm beyond the measurement of time. If “Hell” is forever, why is it described by words that pertain to the ages?

If the Greek word Aion and its derivatives meant eternal as some Bible scholars insist, why did contemporary Greek usage of it, at the time the New Testament was written not carry with it the idea of endless eternity? (Works by Plato, Aristotle, Homer, Hippocrates and many others use the words in a limited, not an eternal sense).
If Hell is forever, how do we explain the fact that aion/olam did not mean eternal/unending to the original writers and hearers of Scripture?

FACT: Some would argue that if aionian and related words do not mean eternal, then God cannot be eternal, for these words also describe Him. To this we say, that just because God is described as the God of the eons, does not mean that He is not the God who also transcends the eons. In the same way, just because He is called the God of Israel, does not also mean that He is not the God of all the other nations. Also, there are other Greek words used to refer to the unending power and life of God. They are, aptharsia/apthartos, which means imperishableness and immortality; amarantinos/amarantos which mean unfading, without loss of pristine character; and akatalytos, which means indestructable and unstoppable. They are usually translated as immortal, or incorruptible. Please refer to the following verses for reference: Hebrews 7:15-16, 1 Peter 1:3-4, 1 Peter 5:4, 1 Timothy 1:17, Romans 1:23, 1 Corinthians 9:25, 1 Corinthians 15:51-54, Romans 2:7, 1 Corinthians 15:42, 2 Timothy 1:10, and 1 Timothy 6:16.
Popular Myth: One’s fate is sealed after death. If this is true, how do we deal with the following scriptures that indicate the opposite?

Think about it…….

“Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him” (2 Samuel 14:14).
“The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave (sheol), and bringeth up.” 1 Samuel 2: 6
“See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand” (Deuteronomy 32:39).

“I will ransom them from the power of the grave (Sheol/Hell); I will redeem them from death. O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave (Sheol/Hell), I will be your destruction!” (Hosea 13:11-14).

“For men are not cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men. (Lam 3:31-33)

“Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny” (Matthew 5:25-26).

If Hell is a place of no escape, why did the early church teach Jesus went to Hell (Hades), preached to them and led captivity captive? (Eph. 4:8,9; Psalm 68:18; 1 Peter 3:18-20)

If Hell lasts forever, why the Psalmist confidently speak again and again about being rescued from it (sheol)? (Psalms 16:10, 30:2-3, Psalm 49:15, 86:13, 116:3-8, 139:8).

If Hell is real, how can Solomon teach that the spirit of man will return to the God who gave it? (Ecc 12:7).

If the grave settled the matter forever, why did the early Christians offer up prayers for the dead? Why were they baptized for the dead? (1 Corinthians 15:29).
“Hell” Was Not a Doctrine of the Early Church:

Popular myth: Universalism was recently introduced to Christianity in the 1800’s as the church became more liberal and modern and began to abandon their true biblical foundation. This is not true! A belief in the restitution of all things was a standard view in the early church, held by the majority of early Christians. It has also been held by a minority throughout all of church history.

Think about it……

If Hell was real, why did the first comparatively complete systematic statement of Christian doctrine ever given to the world by Clement of Alexandria, A.D. 180, contain the tenet of universal salvation?

If Hell was real, why did the first complete presentation of Christianity (Origen, 220 A.D.) contain the doctrine of universal salvation?

If Hell was real, why do neither the Apostles Creed, nor the Nicean Creed, two foundational “doctrinal statements” for the early church, contain the concept of Hell?

If Hell was real, why did Church leaders as late as the fourth century AD acknowledge that the majority of Christians believed in the salvation of all mankind?

If Hell was real why did the early church appoint an avowed universalist as the President of the second council of the church of Constantinope in the fourth century? (Gregory Nazianzen, 325-381).

If Hell was real why did not a single Church council for the first five hundred years condemn Universalism as heresy considering the fact that they made many declarations of heresy on other teachings?

If Hell was real why didn’t Epiphanius (c. 315-403) the “hammer of heretics” who listed 80 heresies of his time not list universalism among those heresies?

If Hell was real, since most historians would acknowledge today that Origen was perhaps the most outstanding example of universalism in the church, when Methodius, Eusibius, Pamphilus, Marcellus, Eustathius, and Jerome made their lists of Origen’s heresies, why wasn’t universalism among them?

If Hell was real and found in the original Greek manuscripts of the Bible, why is it that it was primarily those church leaders who either couldn’t read Greek (Minucius Felix, Tertullian), or hated Greek as in the case of Augustine, that the doctrine of Hell was advocated? Those early church leaders familiar with the Greek and Hebrew (the original languages of the Bible) saw universal salvation in those texts. Those who advocated Hell got it from the Latin, not from the original Greek and Hebrew. Who would more likely be correct–those who could read the original languages of the Bible or those who read a Latin translation made by one man (Jerome)?

If Hell was real then why did four out of six theological schools from 170 AD to 430 AD teach universal salvation while the only one that taught Hell was in Carthage, Africa, again were Latin was the teaching language, not Greek?

If Hell was real and a serious heresy, why was it not until the sixth century when Justinian, a half-pagan emperor, tried to make universalism a heresy? Interestingly, most historians will acknowledge that Justinian’s reign was among the most cruel and ruthless.

*The historical facts documented in the above section can all be verified through the book, “Universalism, the Prevailing Doctrine of the Early Church for the First 500 Years” by J.W. Hanson.

Hell does not reflect the heart of God:

Popular myth: The justice of God demands a place like Hell in which the wicked shall be eternally punished for their sins. Not true! The justice of God demanded a perfect sacrifice for sin, and that man was Christ Jesus. The justice of God will certainly come to every person, and God may deal severely with our sins as He subdues and gathers all things to Christ, but to punish people endlessly for crimes committed in a short human lifespan defies all logic and justice.

Think about it……..

If Hell is real and all things were made for God’s pleasure (Rev. 4:11), is it conceivable that God would derive pleasure from seeing those He created endlessly tortured? God says He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ez. 33:11).

If Hell is a real place of endless torment, and God didn’t want anyone to end up there, why didn’t God just kill Adam and Eve and end the long terrible chain of misery that passed to their offspring before it began? After all, the Scriptures say that all died because of Adam. (Rom. 5:18)

If Hell is real, if God loves His enemies now, will he not always love them? Is God a changeable being? (James 1:17)

If Hell is real, if you had sufficient power would you not deliver all men from sin? If God would save all men, but cannot, is He infinite in power?

If Hell is real, and God can save all men, but will not, is He infinite in goodness and mercy?

If Hell is real, since God will have all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:3 KJV), does that mean God’s power is not strong enough to have His will fulfilled?

If Hell is real and Jesus teaches us to forgive seventy times seven and yet He Himself will never offer forgiveness to anyone after they die, does that not make Him a hypocrite?

If Hell is real and God’s wrath abides upon billions of human beings forever, doesn’t that violate the Scripture which says His anger will come to an end? (Isaiah 57:16-18)

If Hell is real and God only loves those who love Him, what better is He than the sinner? (Luke 6:32-33)

If Hell is real, since some people receive many chances to “get saved,” some receive only a few chances and billions have never even received one chance, does that make God a respecter of persons? (Acts 10:34, James 3:17). After all, billions of people have been born and died on this earth without a chance to ever hear the name of Jesus, the “only name under heaven by which men may be saved.”

If there is a Hell and all who have sinned are destined to go there (which is everyone) unless they figure out how to avoid it, does that not consign all aborted babies and non-Christian children to Hell? (While some denominations teach a so-called “age of accountability,” it is not found anywhere in the Bible. It is just some people’s way of trying to make God more humane than the Hell teaching makes Him out to be).

If Hell is real, does that mean that motherly love is more powerful and enduring than God’s love? Do you know of normal parents who would endlessly torment most of their kids? Why do we believe our heavenly Father, who is millions of times more loving than all of us combined, could do such an evil, wicked thing?

If Hell is real, why does the human spirit writhe under the horror of wars and prison camps, torture chambers and dictators? How can we judge these things as wrong, if Hell is real? After all, Hell far eclipses these earthly torments which came from the most sinful and beastly part of humanity. We say God is grieved by man’s violence and disregard for life, and yet believe that He Himself enforces the same principles for all eternity!

If Hell is real, would endless misery benefit the Almighty, as the inflictor? Would endless misery benefit the saints, as spectators? Would endless misery benefit the sinner, as the sufferer?

If Hell is real, how does the threat of endlessly torturing us convince us that God loves us and that we should love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength?

FACT: While the church has gotten used to thinking of God as Someone who was forced to design a grandiose punishment called Hell, and against His own will sends the majority of His creation there, this concept of a God “who did the best He could” is totally against the Scriptural view of a God who is absolutely soveriegn, powerful, all-wise and all-victorious. He never had to come up with a plan B or C, for Jesus is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. It is time to give Him the glory He deserves for our God is truly awsome and wonderful far beyond the limited, and man-centered views of Him!

Come Up Higher!

Beloved, what is the “lens” through which you are interpreting the Bible? Traditional doctrines teach us to interpret the “victorious” scriptures in the light of the “judgment” scriptures. But what if God wants us to see it the other way around? What if we are to interpret the “judgment” scriptures in the light of the “victorious” scriptures? Is not Christ’s victory the greatest revelation in the Bible? Standing on this highest peak—that is, the finished work of the cross, causes us to see a much larger and far more beautiful panoramic view of God’s plan throughout the ages. We do not throw out one set of Scriptures in favor of another. Rather, we seek to harmonize them…For man shall live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

In the time of Christ most of Israel completely missed the Word of God when He was in their midst. They were too busy with their nose in the book, to perceive the Word Himself as He came and dwelt among them! Certainly the masses must have thought…..”But none of the teachers, Pharisees, or priests believe that Jesus is the Messiah! And they know the scripture better than me! ” That fact alone kept many Jews from daring to believe in Jesus. To do so was heresy and to admit faith in Him was basically asking for scorn and rejection. We have always been so quick to point the finger at the Pharisees, and not realize that we as the church are in the same boat today. Are we going to play it safe and side with the majority, who are clinging to their traditions and what their teachers have taught them, or will we risk it all and step out and follow Him?

The facts presented in this article should at least cause every reader who is truly hungry to know God, to search the scripture to see if these things be so. If what we are presenting here is false, it needs to be disproved. And if it is true, it cannot be ignored.

It is time to stop ignoring the parts of the Bible that do not fit in with our theology. And if, like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, our theology is not big enough to hold the entire counsel of Scripture, perhaps it is time to expand–lest we once again miss God!

And so we ask you again, beloved Christian, to ask yourself…

If the traditional teaching of Hell is real….

How can mercy triumph over judgment? (James 2:13)

How can it be true that, “where sin abounded grace did much more abound?” (Rom. 5:20)

When will all flesh come to God? (Psalm 65:2-4)

When will the poor of the earth be avenged and comforted by God? (Psalm 113:7, Psalm 140:12, Proverbs 14:31, Proverbs 19:17, Proverbs 31:9, Isaiah 11:4, Isaiah 61:1, Jeremiah 22:16 etc.) (Bear in mind that most of the poor of the earth throughout history have not had a chance to accept Jesus as their savior).

When shall it come to pass that: “On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine- the best of meats and the finest of wines. On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The LORD has spoken” (Isaiah 26:6-8).

When and how will “all nations” praise Him, come to Him, serve Him, be blessed in Him and bow to Him? (Psalm 45:17, Ps. 86:9, Isaiah 62:11, Daniel 7:14 Ps 66:1, Ps 72:11, Ps 102:15, Jer. 3:17, Ps 72:17, Isa. 2:2, Isa. 11:10, Isa. 52:10, Rev. 5:13 etc.)

How can the world be reconciled to God? (2 Corinthians 5:19, Romans 11;15, Romans 5:10).

Why would Paul the apostle say the goal of God’s creative plan was to ultimately be “all in all?” (1 Cor. 15:28)

How can it be true that God, who works all things according to the counsel of His will, shall gather together all things in Christ, in the fullness of the times? (Ephesians 1:9-11)

How can Paul insist that “For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things” (Romans 11:36).

How can the most often-repeated Biblical description of God be true? “His mercy endures forever” (literally, “His mercy/lovingkindness endures for the ages”). Certainly, as long as there are ages, and people in need of mercy, God’s mercy will endure.

How and when can there ever be a “restitution of all things?” (Acts 3:21)

A Final Test

We have tested the doctrine of Hell against many different Biblical topics and concepts and found it wanting. When scrutinized in the light of the entire counsel of Scripture, the doctrine of Hell is found to be full of holes. Now, test this doctrine against your own heart and see whether it can stand. Please take some time and prayerfully ask yourself these questions:

If there is a Hell and according to most denominations of Christianity the majority of mankind will go there, could you really enjoy heaven knowing your mother or father or children or best friend are suffering everlasting tortures the likes of which would make the Holocaust seem like a picnic?

If Hell is real, will you judge your mother, son, or other non-believers to Hell? “Do ye not know that the saints “shall judge the world”? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?” 1 Corinthians 6:2-3

If Hell is real and a place of terrible, unending pain, could you even send a dog to such a place?

If Hell is real and universalism is a heresy, why is it that those who believe God loves all and will save all find it easier to love all people than those who believe most people are going to Hell? (Think this through very carefully.)

If Hell is real, can you honestly rejoice in the victory, love, and wisdom of God, knowing that somewhere in His beautiful creation there will always be a black and stinking hell-hole crammed full of tortured souls who have no chance for relief or forgiveness–or even death? Even if there was only one person left in such a state, how could all of Heaven—or you—rejoice for all eternity knowing that there was still one soul who had not been touched by the victory of Christ and was suffering alone?

Is it good to desire all men to be saved? “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim.2:3,4).

• Do you ardently desire the salvation of all men?
• Is it true that God “openeth his hand and satisfieth the desire of every living thing?” — (Ps. 145:16)
• Do you fervently pray for the salvation of all men? (1 Tim. 2:1)
• Do you pray in faith, nothing doubting? (James 1:6)
• Are you aware, “that whatsoever is not of faith is sin?” — (Rom 14:23)
• Would God require us to pray for all men, and to pray in faith, unless He intends all men should be saved?
• If you believe endless misery to be the truth of God, why should you desire and pray that it may prove false?

We hope that this information has raised enough questions for you to pursue further study on this subject. For more information on the history of the doctrine of Hell, the Lake of Fire, Studies on Biblical words that are often translated as eternal, everlasting, etc. and many other teachings pertaining to this subject, please visit www.tentmaker.org/ScholarsCorner.html

Some of these questions were taken from a much larger list compiled in an article entitled Is Salvation a Deliverance From Hell or Eternal Death?” by Gary Amirault.

The painting at the top of this page is a scene from “The Damned” by Michelangelo. His paintings of Hell and the damned, like much Christian art of the time, was influenced more by Greek mythology of the underworld, than by the Bible.

Who are we? Tentmaker Ministries and Publications is a Christian ministry committed to sharing as best to our ability our understanding of God’s plan for the ages to reconcile all things to Himself through Jesus Christ. (This view is also known as Ultimate reconciliation or Christian universalism, which is a very different thing than Unitarian Universalism). We believe that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, the only way to the Father, the only begotton Son of God, and that there is no other way to everlasting, “aionian” life but through Him. We believe He is king of the universe, and owner of all Creation, and that His purpose is to bring all things under His government and reconciled with Himself. “…And for this we labor and strive, that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe” (2 Timothy 4:10 ).

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A Video Concerning Rob Bell and Paul Young

Here is a video by Gary Amirault of Tentmaker Ministries

It concerns Rob Bell’s Love Wins and Paul Young’s The Shack.

Check out the full length video (31:47) at Love Wins Videos –

Love Falls Short in Rob Bell’s Love Wins and The Shack by Paul Young

 

 

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Hell Under Fire Book Review – Chapter 8 – Universalism: Will Everyone Ultimately Be Saved? Part 12

Examining Universalism III: The Universalist Thesis

Phil 3:19

(Php 3:15) Therefore as many as are perfect, [let us hold this opinion], and if you think anything differently, God will reveal this also to you.

(Php 3:16) Only to what we have attained, to the same hold on.

(Php 3:17) Become fellow imitators of me, brothers, and observe those who walk in this way, just as you have us as an example.

(Php 3:18) For many live, of whom I spoke about to you many times, but now speak about even weeping, as the enemies of the cross of Christ,

(Php 3:19) whose end is destruction, whose God is the stomach, and whose glory is in their shame, the ones who think on earthly things.

(Php 3:20) For our commonwealth exists in heaven, from which also we eagerly await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,

(Php 3:21) who will transform our humble body to be conformed to his glorious body, in accordance with the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

Paul here explains that “the many” are enemies of Christ.  He says their end is destruction (meaning ruin or loss).  They will be ruined or suffer much loss.  That Paul is referring to physical things is given since the next clause states as much.  They are ruined by following after their own appetites, whether in food or in licentious behavior (whose God is their stomach and whose glory is in their shame).  And, so no one will mistake what he is speaking about, Paul states that these ones are thinking on earthly things.

Paul is contrasting the believers who should be focused on heavenly things rather than the unbelievers whose focus is on earthly things.  Why do so many teachers of the Word try to squeeze out of these verses that the destruction is spiritual?  I think it is because far too many Christian teachers have an agenda that they must fit these teachings into, to make their theology work.  How unfortunate this is, as I have so often stated in this review!

1 Tim 4:16

Although this passage has nothing to do with final destruction, it does bring out a point that I am emphasizing in this book review. Read the following few verses from this chapter and you will get my point.

(1Ti 4:4) For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with thanksgiving.

(1Ti 4:5) For it is sanctified through the word of God and prayer.

(1Ti 4:6) If you instruct the brothers of these things, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished in the words of the faith, and of the good doctrine which you have followed.

Here Paul is saying that the false teachers who will spring up will not teach these things. This is how to identify them. But believers will teach what these verses say. Godliness, Paul says, is profitable for everything (vs. 8) and that statement is trustworthy and worthy of believing (vs. 9) Then we read verse 10, which is passed over by most Christians today because of what it teaches (universal salvation!).

(1Ti 4:10) For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we have set our trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.

Why should the believer be striving toward or acting godly? Because, God is the Savior of all people! Paul emphasizes that the subset, especially those who believe, are a subset of all people. God will one day save all people, but there is a special set of people who in this life believe, and that subset, especially should practice godliness NOW because they believe NOW. Others will come to belief after this life when sin will not be a present issue for them, yet they were still not hearing or understanding salvation in Jesus. One day God’s love will penetrate their hearts and convert them.

Then Paul finishes this teaching by commanding that this be taught (godliness should be pursued by those believing ones and that God is the Savior of all people, vs. 11) . Practice godliness (vs. 15) that others may see your actions. By doing these things (godliness), you will save (deliver, protect, preserve) yourself and those who you are around and teaching. (vs. 16) There is no talk about salvation in Christ, or being saved and believing versus not being saved and being an unbeliever. It is about practicing godliness and recognizing that God is the Savior of ALL PEOPLE! It is about things going well with you by recognizing who God is and honoring that with our lives. It is not about FINAL DESTRUCTION!

I will say this. I am very glad that God rescued me out of the denominational, institutional churches that I was a part of, that had taught me so much error in regards to God and salvation. I am now seeing God in a much more glorious way than ever before and beginning to understand that all the works that we do, thinking we are pleasing God, were nothing more than filthy rags. God is never disappointed with me or you because of what we do or don’t do. He loves us because He knows who we are and what His purpose was for us all along, and He looks forward to the day when He will be all in all and all His image bearers will be worshiping Him!

Praise Him!

1 Tim 5:24

Real quickly, this passage does not speak about final destruction either, but a quick comment is in order.

(1Ti 5:24) Some men’s sins are evident, preceding them to judgment, and some also follow later.

This judgment is a temporal judgment in this life. Some sins get judged in this life and even after the judgment and apparent penalty is paid, the effects go on afterwards. The evidence of sin does not always disappear with the remediation of the sin. The consequences of sin may be evident throughout this life. This is all that is being spoken of here.

1 Tim 6:9

(1Ti 6:1) All those who are under the yoke as slaves must regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, lest the name of God and the teaching be slandered.

(1Ti 6:2) And those who have believing masters must not look down on them because they are brothers, but rather they must serve, because those who benefit by their service are believers and dearly loved.

(1Ti 6:3) If anyone teaches other doctrine and does not devote himself to the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that is in accordance with godliness,

(1Ti 6:4) he is conceited, understanding nothing, but having a morbid interest concerning controversies and disputes about words, from which come envy, strife, slanders, evil suspicions,

(1Ti 6:5) constant wrangling by people of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who consider godliness to be a means of gain.

(1Ti 6:6) But godliness with contentment is a great means of gain.

(1Ti 6:7) For we have brought nothing into the world, so that neither can we bring anything out.

(1Ti 6:8) But if we have food and clothing, with these things we will be content.

(1Ti 6:9) But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and a trap and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge those people into ruin and destruction.

(1Ti 6:10) For the love of money is a root of all evil, by which some, because they desire it, have gone astray from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pains.

Paul, again, takes up the topic of godliness here, just like he did in chapter 4 and 5. The ruin and destruction of verse 9 are again, temporal (this life). I need say nothing more about this passage, other than my opinion, that it is pretty ridiculous that teachers of the Gospel (like Packer and all who have written articles for this book!) get so much of Scripture wrong following after there own presuppositions and/or to continue to be paid for their labors. Being paid for laboring in the Gospel falsely is abhorrent to me and should be to you. God sees the motivation of their hearts and I pray that He corrects them in this life and spares them much pain in the life to come. Friends, brothers and sisters in the Lord, pay close attention to what you are being taught. As Paul warns, there are many deceivers and false teachers who have gone out into the world. Don’t buy into their ungodly teachings!

I will stop here for today.  The next few verses will come from Hebrews and Peter and will take a few pages in themselves.  I trust the Lord will bless you through the study of His Word and pray that He will use what I have written to bring glory to Himself and praise for Him into our hearts.  I look forward to your comments and suggestions to this post.

In Christ,

Craig

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