In continuing this discussion of Service versus Teaching — and that is really what I am speaking of here — please, allow me to clarify a few things.
The church has shifted its priorities away from seeking the Lord and teaching His word to something else.
Much of the church’s emphasis today is in trying to reach the kids. Trying to do things and say things that are “relevant” to the young adults. So that, when they are old enough to be on their own, they won’t leave the church.
Continue reading “Servants R Us: Part 1”
In this life, there are things we are able to straighten out; and many we cannot.
Failures, bad decisions, lost opportunities, harsh words spoken and relationships that are beyond mending. Life has many such things.
But this will not always be the case. There is coming a day when the LORD will make all things new. When we will see Him as He is and we shall all be changed.
While trying to draw Annihilationism to some sort of conclusion (for the time being), I realized just how deeply this whole doctrine goes. It deserves far more discussion than has been done here.
So, I’ve decided to conclude with a few thoughts gathered from various online sites and books on this subject. Especially in relation to the mindset that is behind this doctrine.
A mindset which is based on a false perception of the character of God and the authority of His word.
The Pied-Piper Principle
Any of us could start a “movement”. All you need is a persuasive voice and a bunch of people to follow you. Plus a talent for telling people what they want to hear.
Like a politician gathering a consensus of voters. He figures out what people want and then promises to give them those things.
Oh yeah, then he promotes legislation that takes stuff away from the people that don’t support him; and gives that same stuff to the people that do.
And there you have it. Modern political practice in a nutshell.
No extra charge for that.
The Absence of Biblical Authority
Popular Christianity is no different. Everybody wants something. Many people will follow a leader who will tell them what they want to hear.
The Bible warns us about such supposed Christians; ” … the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears…” (II Timothy 4:3) This is an accurate description of our modern religious culture.
The Seduction of Annihilationism
Annihilationism promises an easy-way-out for those who reject Jesus Christ as their Savior. Yet, no support for Annihilationism is found in the scriptures. The only verses that have any relevance are random Old Testament verses that deal with how a dead person has no knowledge of what is happening on earth.
The Annihilationist tries to mold those verses into a doctrine about the cessation of consciousness at death. Basically claiming that the spiritual existence of the unbeliever will have an end.
But that is simply a grasping at straws. It is an argument without biblical authority.
We Cringe from the Idea
The real strength of this limited-suffering belief lies in its emotional appeal.
None of us wants to think about people suffering horribly. Nor do we want anyone to suffer forever. Such things are too horrible to contemplate.
As men, we do not understand this idea of eternal suffering. It is beyond our comprehension. This physical world so confuses our understanding that we cannot fathom most of the eternal things that the Lord tries to reveal to us.
No true believer, who loves the Lord, should ever have a cavalier or holier-than-thou attitude toward those that are lost. Nor should he desire to see the destruction of another person. Yes, we desire to see the end of a person’s wicked activity. We desire justice upon the earth but not the destruction of a person’s soul.
Because every soul is precious to God. He died for every person. His blood was shed for us all. He suffered an eternal agony to pay the price for every soul’s forgiveness and new birth. Christians, have no right to take pleasure in the death of an unbeliever.
Because the Lord Himself doesn’t take pleasure in judging a lost soul.
“Say unto them, As I live, saith the LORD God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live…” (Ezekiel 33:11).
Think about that. The Lord does not enjoy the thought of someone dying outside of His forgiveness. His joy does not come from the pain or punishment of men.
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (II Peter 3:9).
So here, once again, we see that the Lord wants no soul left behind. His deepest desire is that every soul He has ever created would come to Him and be with Him forever in heaven.
Painting God into a Corner
Which is where one of the many mysterious aspects of God’s character comes into play. His hatred for man’s sin is set against His love for man’s soul. Both are infinitely deep.
The same is true of His Holy character, His Justice, His Mercy and His Love.
All of these qualities are mixed with His Wrath. And this wrath extends to all who reject Him. Who choose a way that His nature cannot help.
Modern religious man seeks to present God’s love as superseding all other aspects of His nature. Denigrating His Holiness, His Purity, and His Justice as secondary aspects of His nature.
Which is not how the Bible reveals Him.
The Emergent Church, for example, tries to paint God into a corner. Interpreting all things in the scriptures as subservient to God’s love for man. And therefore, removing the absolute necessity of faith in His Son as the only remedy for God’s wrath against iniquity.
God’s Infinite Presence
Saving Some With Compassion Or Saving Some With Fear
We do no one a service to tell them that God loves them as they are. Without Jesus Christ as their Savior, they walk on this earth under the wrath of God.
They exist in a state where God hates their iniquity but, for the moment, holds back His judgment upon them. Hoping that they will turn to Him for salvation in the last remaining moments they have upon this earth.
Without Christ, they are in a terribly dangerous state. Where only a heartbeat separates them from an eternity of suffering.
Annihilationism denies this serious situation. And it provides comfort to those who need to be uncomfortable. It encourages a false hope in those who desperately need to see the stark reality of a horrible eternity spread out before them.
The universe will one day be filled with the unhindered, infinite purity and glory of God. It will be wondrous and joyous for those who know the Lord as their Righteousness — basking in His love and presence forever.
But for those who reject Him, their suffering will be unimaginable. Forever.
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (I John 2: 15-16)
I have seldom heard “the pride of life” explained in a sermon. Yet, it provides a critical clue toward unraveling the mystery of eternal life.
This “pride of life” indicates that every man takes pride in his own existence.
What strikes me is how foundational this idea is to understanding our modern culture. Constantly we are told that people need to be good to themselves. To express themselves. To know themselves. To love themselves.
In reality, men have no trouble loving themselves. In stark contrast to all the self-esteem propaganda that children are subjected to from earliest childhood, the apostle Paul, had something quite different to say about this love of self.
Man does not want to face the depths of his own sin.
Nor does he want to deal with the problem of iniquity.
Both are impossible for a man to fix by moral discipline, religious devotion or other means.
Because of this inescapable problem, there will always be attempts to change the rules which God has established. To exchange biblical reality with man’s wishful thinking. Or to change the gospel and the plan of salvation in order to accommodate the iniquity of the soul.
Annihilationism is all about accommodation.
A false doctrine called, Annihilationism, is growing in popularity within Christian circles.
It is the belief that those who are spiritually lost will not face eternal punishment.
This doctrine claims that a lost person might face God at the last judgment but will not suffer for all eternity. Instead, that person will be destroyed once and forever with no further consciousness.
No everlasting fire, pain, regret, torment, hell, nor Lake of Fire. Just lights out and good night.
Although sometimes known by other names, this has long been a popular belief held by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Seventh-Day Adventists and others.
The doctrine of eternal punishment has always been a big problem for Christian apologists. It is one of the most common excuses that people use for rejecting the gospel.
“If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3)
The foundation is the word of God. The word of God is comprised of God’s specific, written, inerrant words.
Consider the importance of God’s specific words. “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” (John 14:23) He continually talks about the keeping of His words. Many think this is just about His commandments or His teachings or His general ideas.
But the Bible is consistently specific about the importance of the actual words that have been written. As if specific words were the indispensable foundation blocks of His teachings.
The modern Evangelical church really doesn’t believe this. Oh, they say they do. But not really. They think it is the teachings or principles that are the foundation as opposed to the words themselves. Or the “essence of the word” that is important.
Whatever the heck “essence” means.