Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Hell series #1 Why Do We Have a Problem with Hell?

Eternal damnation of the lost in hell fire is a joke with the average man.  They mock the idea of hell and punctuate their conversation with the word “hell” dozens of times a day. In fact, the typical unsaved person uses the word “hell” far more each day than we Christians who believe in the awful reality of Hell fire.   

Eternal damnation in Hell fire is  a troubling doctrine for most of us Christians.   We don’t even like to think about it and most of us preachers take no pleasure in  preaching about it.  We Christians know many friendly, kind, thoughtful  neighbors, relatives and friends who have never trusted Christ, and we find it very difficult to approach and warn them about an eternity in Hell.   We are far more concerned with how they will regard us than we are in warning them to flee from the wrath to come.   

If a neighbor’s house were burning and we knew they were inside asleep, we would make every effort to awaken them.  We would pound on their door,  shout at the top of our lungs,  break their windows or break down their door in order to warn them to flee from a horrible death in the flames.   Yet, when it comes to warning them to flee from the wrath to come, we get cold feet.    

Down deep in our hearts, we Bible believing Christians; though we believe the doctrine of Hell, try to ignore and even reject the thought of our good relatives and friends who have never put their trust in Christ spending eternity in a molten lake of fire and brimstone. It seems to our minds to be far too severe.  We have no problem with the goodness of God, as declared in Romans 11:22, but we have a problem with the severity of God as taught in the same verse.  

Though we Christians love the Lord and believe His Word, we find it impossible to think and judge as God thinks and judges.  That’s understandable.  God  explains to  us in Isaiah 55:8-9 ” For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways, My ways, saith the Lord. For as the Heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”     

When I think on these thoughts,  I am comforted in knowing that Abraham had the same concerns; but when he realized that God was going to rain down fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah where his nephew Lot lived, he declared and we can declare with him in Genesis 18:25, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Of course He will. I am also comforted knowing with Ezekiel,  “God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked.” Ezekiel 33:11 

So if I find Hell so difficult and uncomfortable to think about, why do I preach it?  I preach it because the Bible clearly warns about it and God has already proven His severity in His dealings with sin when in a world-wide flood, He drowned the entire population of the earth; except for Noah and his family who were safe in the ark.  He also showed His severity when He sent down fire from Heaven and destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah for their sins.  Peter reminds us of this in II Peter 2:4-6 and 3:3-18.    

We Christians need not be depressed by the reality of Hell.  What we need, rather, is for our hearts to be broken for the lost who will spend eternity in Hell unless we warn them to flee from the wrath to come.  Paul shares with us  in Romans 9:1-3  and 10:1-4  his broken heart and burden for his own people who in spite of their religious zeal are lost and bound for Hell.   

Follow along with us over the next several weeks as we bring summaries from a series of messages we are preaching on hell from Luke 16:19-31.  In our next article we will, Lord willing, explain some names related to Hell.  Then we will deal with the story Jesus told of the rich man and beggar, Lazarus.  In another article we will deal with Hell’s evangelist.  Finally we will consider why Jesus makes a point of telling us that the rich man went to Hell, while the beggar went to Heaven.  Why would Jesus make such a point?

January 26, 2008 Posted by | HELL | Comments Off on Hell series #1 Why Do We Have a Problem with Hell?

Hell series # 2: Names for Hell

SHEOL is the Hebrew name for Hell.  It is found throughout the Old Testament and is a two compartment abode of the souls of those who have died.  One compartment, Abraham’s Bosom, is a place of comfort and blessing where those who have died in faith in God’s promise to Abraham of his coming SEED,  the Lord Jesus Christ. Trace the following Scriptures for a study of this theme.  Genesis 12:1-3,  chapter 15 and 17. Romans 4 and Galatians 3. 

  

The other compartment of Sheol is a place of fiery torment.  Read of these two compartments in our text in Luke 16:19-31.  We will say more about these two compartments.

   

HADES  is the Greek name used in the New Testament  for Sheol.

   

THE PIT is another name and description  of Sheol.   It shows us that hell is in the heart of the earth.  Read the story in Number 16 of the uprising of three men against the leadership of God’s anointed leader of Israel.  These three men, Korah, Dathan and Abihu dared to rebel against Moses.  God showed his fierce anger towards their rebellion by opening the earth and swallowing them and all that they owned. These three men died.  Their bodies were buried alive and their souls went down into the Pit.  The Hebrew name Sheol is used here.

   

DID JESUS GO TO HELL?

  

When Jesus died on the cross, He shed His blood in full payment for the sins of the world.  As He was dying He cried out in victory,  “IT IS FINISHED!”

  

I used to think and preach that after His death He was buried and  He went down into Sheol (Hades)  to suffer the full penalty for our sins.  Being God in human flesh, His three days in Hell could fully pay the penalty  for our sins.   As I’ve continued to study this, I am convinced I was wrong.  I no longer preach that.  I believe Jesus shed blood alone was sufficient to pay the full debt of our sins.

  

When the Bible says Jesus went into Sheol, it was not to pay for our sins. Rather He went into the compartment known as  Abraham’s Bosom and delivered the righteous saints there and they rose with Him from the dead.  Read that very interesting detail found in Matthew 27:51-53.  Very little is said about this. Perhaps they are a first-fruits of all those saints who are yet to rise from the dead one day.  All we know for sure is that many bodies of these Old Testament saints, rose and were seen by the people of Jerusalem.  No doubt, these saints went with Jesus when He ascended back to Heaven.  Perhaps they were a first-fruits of the Resurrection which is yet to come for all the saved. Paul also refers to this resurrection of saints from Hades in Ephesians 4:8-10  and it is prophesied in Psalm 68:18

  

Another name for Hell is GEHENNA.  The Valley of Hinnom, from which Gehenna gets its name,  lies just southwest of the city of Jerusalem.  It is the garbage dump of the city where all the refuse, including the carcasses of animals were dumped.  This refuse burns day and night.  In that sense, hell is like that garbage dump where Christ-rejecters will  burn for eternity.

  

Today when Christ-rejecters, as well as Christians die, their bodies are buried, awaiting the final resurrection at the end of time.  The souls of Christ-rejecting sinners goes to the place of torment called hell or Gehenna.   The souls of those who have received Christ as Saviour, go immediately into the presence of Christ in Heaven.  For God’s assurance on this matter read II Corinthians 5:6-8 and Philippians 1:21-23

  

So prayers and the lighting of candles for the dead are of no avail.  Pray for the lost while they are living and have the opportunity to be saved.  Make certain that you are saved. When you die it will be too late to change your eternal destination. All the prayers in the world will not help then.

  

One last name for hell is THE LAKE OF FIRE.  That’s what hell is called in Revelation 19 and 20.   At the present time, the bodies of both saved and unsaved are buried in the earth or perhaps in the oceans or cremated.  Most bodies of the dead have long since turned to dust or ashes.   The souls of these departed are either in Heaven or in Hell. 

  

Resurrection has to do with bodies only.  Souls don’t die, and thus  do not need to be  raised from the dead.  So far, the only body that has ever been raised from the dead is that of Jesus, and evidently some Old Testament saints, as I referred to earlier in this article.  Oh, Lazarus and several others were temporarily raised from the dead during the ministry of Jesus, but they died again and were buried.

  

Jesus’ resurrection is referred to as the FIRST RESURRECTION.  The next phase of the first resurrection will take place when Christians rise bodily from the dead when Christ returns for us.  That is commonly known as the Rapture.  It is described in I Corinthians 15:50-58  and I Thessalonians 4:13-18.  There will also be people converted to Christ during the Tribulation on this earth. They will also be part of the First Resurrection.  The Apostle John writing in Revelation 20:6 says, “Blessed and holy is he that has a part in the First Resurrection. On such the Second Death has no power.”

  

The SECOND RESURRECTION is described in Revelation 20:11-15  This is the awesome terrifying moment when the body  of each unbeliever from the beginning of time to the present is resurrected from the dead and is joined with the soul to be condemned to the Lake of Fire, a place of eternal torment for both body and soul.

  

The first inhabitants of the Lake of Fire are the Anti-christ and his false prophet who rule during the seven years of Tribulation.  You read of their eternal destiny in Revelation 19:20.   The second inhabitant of the Lake of Fire is Satan who is cast into the Lake of Fire in Revelation 20:10. This takes place after the Millennium, the thousand year reign of Christ at which time, Satan is in the bottomless pit.  Note that this Lake of Fire  is the place where the anti-christ and his false prophet have already been living in torment for one thousand years.

  

Then in Rev. 20:11-15 we read of the bodily resurrection of all the unsaved of all time. They are condemned to the Lake of Fire and join the Anti-christ, the false prophet and Satan himself and are in torment for eternity.   For more details on all of this, go to my series on PROPHECY on this web site.

  

Dear reader, have  you come to the place where you recognize yourself as a guilty sinner before God, helpless to save yourself? All your religious efforts are not going to save you.   Do you understand that Jesus bore the full penalty for all your sins on the cross? Your sins have already been paid in full. The only way you can be saved is to simply bow your heart before the Lord Jesus and thank Him for dying for you.  Receive this wonderful gift by faith this moment and I promise you, based on God’s promises, that you will never spend a moment in hell. When you die, you will be instantly with Christ in Heaven for all eternity.   Why will you reject Christ and spend eternity in a lake of molten fire and brimstone with no hope of ever escaping that torment?  Trust Christ right now and discover instant peace with God,  forgiveness of sins and a new life in Christ.  Go to my link on SALVATION now and  settle this crucial matter.

  If you have just now received Christ, rejoice and tell others what Christ has done for you and what He will do for your friends and loved ones.  I encourage you to start seriously studying the Bible. Use this web site to help you get grounded in God’s Word.   

January 25, 2008 Posted by | HELL | Comments Off on Hell series # 2: Names for Hell

Hell series #3: A description of Hell

I have no desire nor ability to try to describe Hell.  I leave that with Jesus. If what He says is true, we had better take heed.  If He is lying about Hell, then He is not worthy of our consideration.  If He is lying about Hell, He is not a good teacher.  If He is lying about Hell, He is worse than a beast to be teaching such things.

 As I Corinthians 2:9-10 tells us, no human being has the ability to describe Heaven, much less Hell.  So let’s read what Jesus has to say about hell. 

In Matthew 5:21-22 Jesus warns us of the danger of being punished in Hell Fire. 

In Matthew 5:29-30 and in Matthew 18:8-9 Jesus is not teaching us to mutilate our bodies in order to stay out of Hell.  Rather, He is teaching that if out eyes or hands are getting us involved in sin, it would be better for us to live without our eye sight or without our right hand, than to be cast bodily into hell 

In Matthew 10:28 Jesus teaches that both body and soul will suffer in Hell. 

In Matthew 22:13 Jesus teaches that hell is a place of outer darkness where there is intense agony described as weeping and gnashing of teeth. 

In Matthew 23:33 Jesus warns the pious, self-righteous Pharisees of the damnation of hell. 

Five times in Mark 9:42-48 Jesus warns of hell being a place of unquenchable fire. 

In Luke 16:24 Hell is described as a place of intense thirst, where there is not so much as a drop of water. 

In Luke 16:25 Hell is described as a place where we will remember our opportunities to be saved and they will haunt us throughout eternity. Jude, John and Peter also have something to say about Hell. 

Jude 13 describes hell as a place of absolute loneliness. There will be no parties and no socializing in hell. Those in hell are described as “wandering stars to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.”  

The last invitation in the Bible is found in Revelation 22:17 where we are invited to drink the water of Life freely.  Isaiah 55:1 prophesies of this. In John 4:1-26 Jesus describes everlasting life in Heaven  to a sinful Samaritan woman, as drinking the water of life which He offered her. 

Those who refuse this cup of salvation are warned in Revelation 14:9-11 of being forced to drink the cup of the wine of God’s wrath described as eternal torment in fire and brimstone with no rest forever.  In II Peter 2:17 hell is described as “the mist of darkness forever.” 

In Revelation 1:18 we learn that Jesus alone has the keys to Heaven and Hell. Satan is not the King of Hell.  Satan is not even in Hell presently.  He has been active on this earth since the creation as the “god of this world” influencing people to sin and blinding them to the light of Gospel of Christ”  II Corinthians 4:4. One day Satan himself will be cast alive into the Lake of Fire forever. 

The first inhabitants of the Lake of Fire will be the beast (Anti-christ) and his false prophet, Revelation 19:20.   The next one to be cast into the Lake of Fire will be Satan himself. Revelation 20:1-10.   Then all the unsaved of all time, will be resurrected from the dead and will stand before Christ to be condemned to this Lake of Fire and Brimstone for eternity. Revelation 20:11-15 

Is your name written in the Book of Life?  Revelation 20:15 Make sure about your salvation today.  You can only be saved as God draws you to Himself. John 6:44  If He is drawing you, go to my SALVATION link and settle your eternal destiny today.  

January 24, 2008 Posted by | HELL | Comments Off on Hell series #3: A description of Hell

Hell series #4: Two Men Who Died

Recorded in Luke 16:19-31 is a true story Jesus told of two men who died. One had been a rich man and the other, Lazarus,  had been a beggar who came daily to eat from the garbage of the rich man.  The bodies of both of these men were buried, certainly in separate funerals.   

Jesus tells of their eternal destinations. Lazarus went to Heaven, known as  Abraham’s Bosom prior to Christ’s resurrection. The rich man went to Hell, The reason I believe it to be true and not simply a parable is because the one who went to Abraham’s Bosom was named, Lazarus.  Jesus did not name the man who went to hell, perhaps to spare his family further grief.   

Because this took place prior to Christ’s resurrection, the eternal souls of these two men both went to Sheol which had two compartments. Hell and Abraham’s Bosom, which were separated by a wide gulf. Though his body had been buried, his eternal soul, his real essence, was able to feel, speak and listen, just as though he had his body.    

Lazarus is described as comforted and blessed in Abraham’s Bosom.  Prior to Christ’s death and resurrection, all of those who had faith in God’s promised Seed, Jesus, were blessed with Abraham.  To understand this blessing related to Abraham, go to my link on FREEDOM and read # 13.     

The unnamed rich man went to the other compartment of Sheol, called Hell, a place of eternal, fiery, indescribable suffering.  If you’ve not yet read the earlier articles in this series, it would be helpful for you to do so now, in order to make sense of all these terms.   

When Jesus died and was buried in the tomb, He went into Sheol and delivered those in Abraham’s bosom and later took them to Heaven. 

Those in the compartment of Sheol known as Hades or Gehenna, are still in hell today and will be until the Great White Throne Judgment described in Revelation 20 when the contents of hell will be emptied at the event known as the Second Resurrection.  That’s when all the lost of all time, stand before Christ for the final White Throne Judgment and are cast into the eternal Lake of Fire.  More on this event under the PROPHECY link.   

Since the Resurrection of Christ, whenever a Christian dies, he is buried, but at the moment of death his soul goes into the presence of Christ in Heaven. For clear teaching on this go to II Corinthians 5:1-8   and Philippians 1:21-23.    When one who has rejected Christ dies, his body is buried and his soul goes directly to hell where the rich man and all those from the beginning of time who have rejected God’s promised Saviour continue to suffer. Read Luke 16:22-23.    

WHAT WAS THE FORMER RICH MAN’S EXPERIENCE IN HELL?   

In hell, he was able to see and speak to Father Abraham, earthly father of all Jews. As a Jew, he spoke to his father Abraham, begging for a drop of water to relieve his fiery thirst.  Note, this former rich man did not speak to God.  He had no relationship with God, as is the case of all who reject Christ as Messiah and Saviour.   Note also that the man in hell had a memory of the past.  Abraham reminds him of his past and of God’s goodness to him.  One of the worst things about hell will be that the sufferers will have an eternal memory of God’s goodness to them and their past opportunities to receive Christ.    

Note that the rich man is hell is now the beggar and the former beggar in Heaven is now living in splendor and blessing such as he never knew on earth.  The man in hell begs for Abraham to send Lazarus to him with a drop of water to touch his tongue. Abraham rejects his cry for help, letting him know it is too late for mercy.    Then the former rich man thinks of his brothers and is concerned that they will one day join him in this awful place of agony. In his torment, he comes up with a way he thinks his brothers can be spared his fate.  Lord willing, we will deal with that next time when we study  Hell’s Evangelist.

January 23, 2008 Posted by | HELL | Comments Off on Hell series #4: Two Men Who Died

Hell series # 5: Signs and Wonders

In the last article we left the rich man in Hell begging for a drop of water.  When that was denied, he begged Abraham to send Lazarus back home to his brothers to warn them not to end up in Hell with him.  Though he was not converted to Christ and had no love for God, yet he knew he did not want his brothers facing  the torment he was experiencing in Hell.  Though he was lonely and would have appreciated seeing a familiar face, as any hardened criminal in a penitentiary, he wouldn’t wish his fate on anyone he loved.

  

Note also that the rich man in Hell did not attempt to address God.  As a Jew, he addressed Abraham who is the father of all Jews by blood.  He did not address God because he had no relationship with God.  In fact, he hated God.  Read Revelation 16:8-11 to see the hatred that the natural, unconverted man has for God. You see that same hatred for God in His enemies today who blaspheme His name daily. In this passage you see  the hatred for God by sinful man on earth during the Tribulation. How much worse it will be in Hell.

  

ROLES REVERSED

  

Would you also notice that the roles are now reversed between the rich man and Lazarus?  On earth the  rich man had everything his heart desired.  Now he is a beggar in Hell begging Abraham for a drop of water and for Lazarus to warn his brothers not to join him in Hell.   The beggar on earth is now with Father Abraham, enjoying the wealth and blessings of Heaven.

   

SIGNS AND WONDERS DON’T SAVE

   

Note the former rich man’s request of Father Abraham.  It is basically to convince  his brothers with  signs and wonders.  In fact he even tried to convince Abraham that if he would send signs and wonders to his brothers they would repent. This rich man who had never repented on earth, had the audacity to tell Abraham what would work.

  

Where did the former rich man get this idea?  He got it from Satan himself who uses signs and wonders to deceive people.  Have you ever thought that if someone would come back from Heaven or Hell, that would convince people to trust Christ and be saved?  I’m sure we’ve all thought that sometime in our past.  Jesus understood the depravity of the human heart.  He said in John 4:48 “Except you see signs and wonders you will not believe.”

  

When God used Moses to  command Pharaoh to allow Israel to go free from their bondage in Egypt, as recorded in Exodus 7,  God gave Moses the power to do miracles to convince him to allow Israel to go free.  However, whenever Moses performed a miracle, Satan gave the  Egyptian magicians the supernatural power to counterfeit the miracles.

  

In the days before the Bible was completed, II Corinthians 12:12  and Hebrews 2:3-4 tell us that God gave signs and wonders to identify and confirm His true Apostles.  According to I Corinthians 1:22-26 the Jews required signs and the Greeks were impressed with human wisdom.

  

After the Bible was completed and after the last of the twelve Apostles had died, God caused signs and wonders to cease.  They are no longer needed.  They are inadequate to convince sinners.  Human wisdom cannot convince sinners.   Signs and wonders and the ability to speak supernaturally in unknown languages were for the infant church before they had the completed Word of God.  But after the Bible was completed, these passed away.  That is the message of Paul in I Corinthians 13:8-11.   

   

God still performs miracles in answer to the prayers of His Church, but God is not in the business of proving He is real through showing signs and wonders. Oh, I think there are exceptions in heathen lands where the people do not yet have Bibles. I’ve heard missionaries give reports of this and I believe them. But in America and other nations where the Bible is available, those who reject the Bible to  follow after signs and wonders are going to be misled.  Those who saturate their minds and hearts in the Word of God are going to be protected from Satan’s deceitful tactics.

    

GOD’S ONLY SIGN TO THIS EVIL AND  ADULTEROUS GENERATION

   

Getting back to the story in  Luke 16 of the former rich man in hell, notice that he asked Father Abraham to send Lazarus back from the dead to convince his brothers to repent so they would not join him in Hell.  Note Abraham’s answer to him.  He refuses to send Lazarus.  His answer to the man in hell was, “They have Moses and the Prophets. Let them hear them.”   Moses and the Prophets was Abraham’s way of referring to the Old Testament which was completed.  Today, we have the whole Bible.  If Abraham were speaking today he would answer, “They have the Bible. Let them read it and be convinced.”

  

How did the man in Hell respond to that?  He replied to Abraham,  NO!!!  He hated the Bible.  He refused to hear it.  He refused to believe it.   He is like the atheists with whom I have tangled who want me to prove the truth of God, but want me to do it without any reference to the Bible. They despise and scorn the Bible just as much as they defy the Author, God Himself.

   

Do you understand the power of the Bible?  Do you wonder why I refer to the Bible throughout this entire web site? It’s because I have absolutely no confidence in my power to persuade.  The only tool I have ever used in my fifty-two plus years of ministry, has been the dynamite of God’s Word.  I have absolute confidence in the power of the Bible to convict and convince the hardest of sinners.

  

Read in Jeremiah 23:28-32  as God contrasts the dynamic power of His Word with the impotence of the dreams and visions of the false prophets.   Read in I Peter 1:23 of the dynamic sperm of God’s Word to bring about the new birth in a sinful heart.  Dreams, visions, signs and wonders are powerless to change lives.   God’s Word alone has that wonderful saving power.

  

Now listen to what Jesus has to say in Matthew 12:39-40  about signs and wonders. In verse 38 it is recorded that a Pharisee approached Jesus and asked for a sign to convince him that He was the true Messiah.   Pay close attention to what Jesus answered this skeptical Pharisee.  An evil and adulterous generation  seek after signs, but there shall no sign be given unto it but the sign of the Prophet Jonah.”

  

First of all, note carefully who seeks after signs.  Godly people do not seek after signs.  Godly people do not flock to meetings to see signs and wonders.   Rather, an evil and adulterous generation seek after signs and wonders.  What are you seeking after?  What are you seeking in a church?  Signs, wonders and exciting emotional experiences, or the faithful preaching of God’s Word?

   

Listen carefully to what Jesus says here.  The only sign that Jesus is going to show to prove His deity is the sign of the Prophet Jonah.   What sign was that?   Do you even believe the Old Testament story of Jonah, the disobedient prophet who was swallowed by a fish for three days and three nights and then thrown up on shore to go to preach to Nineveh.  If you deny that story, you have denied Christ.  If the story of Jonah is a fairy tale, then Jesus was a liar and the whole Bible crumbles and there is nothing to Christianity.  It’s all just a pack of lies.

   

But if the story of Jonah is true, (and I am convinced it is, or I would have gotten out of the ministry long ago), then the fact is that as Jonah was in the great fish’s belly for three days and three nights, so Jesus after His crucifixion was in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights and then rose again in a glorified body, thereby proving that He is the Son of God and that His death and resurrection were powerful enough to  save from sin those who trust Him.

  

By the way, if you have a problem with Jesus being crucified on Friday and being in the grave for three days and three nights and rising early Sunday morning,  I too had that problem.  Careful study of God’s Word settled the problem for me.  You can find a solution to the problem by going to my link on RESURRECTION  and reading my article,  Jesus, Our Passover Lamb.

  The bottom line is that those who seek signs and wonders are part of this evil and adulterous generation.  They will never be convinced.  Those who seek to know Christ through His Word, the Bible, will never be disappointed.

January 22, 2008 Posted by | HELL | Comments Off on Hell series # 5: Signs and Wonders

Hell #6: Wealth, Poverty, Heaven or Hell

In the story found in Luke 16:19-31 why does Jesus make a point telling us that the poor beggar went to Heaven and the  rich man went to Hell?  Is this a law or principle of God that all rich people go to Hell and poor people go to Heaven?  Of course not.  But the fact is that there will be more poor people than rich people in Heaven.   That is what Jesus declared in Matthew 19:16-24.    

But don’t draw any false inferences or conclusions from this. Wealth won’t send you to Hell. Poverty won’t get you into Heaven. Wealth and poverty are neither good nor bad. Wealth and poverty are neither moral or immoral. It is how we become wealthy or use or misuse our wealth that evidences the condition of our heart. Our morality will not make us fit for Heaven, for Romans 3:23 tells us that we have all fallen short of God’s perfect standard.     Only Christ’s righteousness can make us fit for Heaven. Salvation is a free gift of God’s grace.  It costs us nothing.  It cost Jesus everything. That’s the message of Isaiah 55:1-3, Ephesians 2:8-10,  Titus 3:5-6.   Having settled that salvation is determined by our response to God’s Gift of His grace, there are several obvious Biblical truths concerning poverty, wealth and morality. Let’s look at them.   

FACT # 1   Although there are some marvelous exceptions, generally speaking, the evil and oppressive of the world are wealthy and the righteous are generally found among the poor of this world.  James 2:5-7,   5:1-6   

Whereas the wealthy are motivated and they devote their lives to becoming wealthy often at the expense of the poor; the righteous are usually found among the poor and they devote their lives to bringing glory to God.     

I think of two outstanding examples in the Bible.  In the Old Testament, the widow of Zarephath, starving and ready to die, gave her all to God’s prophet, Elijah, as recorded in I Kings 17:8-24  Read this wonderful story with a happy ending.   In the New Testament, Jesus calls attention to a widow who gave two mites, all she had, to God’s temple.  Read that story in Mark 12:41-44.   

Though these two examples illustrate a general truth about the poor and wealthy, there are some exceptions.  Some of the most wicked people are poor and some of the richest people are godly and sacrificial and use their wealth to honor God and bless others.  Two examples of wealthy, God fearing people are Job and King Solomon.      Job experienced both extreme wealth and poverty as God tested him.  Read his story. It’s a wonderful encouragement for those going through severe testings.   King Solomon started out well as he asked God for wisdom.  God gave him both wisdom and wealth.  The sad thing is that Solomon forgot God, turned to a life of sin and ended up making a fool of himself.  In Ecclesiastes, he reflects on his wasted life.    

FACT #2  God blesses those who seek Him.   

God blesses those who seek Him and trust Him and do not forget Him when He blesses them.  That’s the messages of Deuteronomy 8:10-20      God blesses the righteous with all spiritual blessings and  He blesses them materially with all that they need and often with more than they need.  Psalm 112:1-3  Philippians 4:19   Psalm 112:9 and Proverbs 13:7 teach that such  blessed men or women use their wealth to help the poor, often to the point of making themselves poor,  that is, depriving themselves of luxuries they don’t really need.     A godly man blesses his family both spiritually and materially according to Proverbs 13:22.   In fact, often God transfers the wealth of the ungodly into the hands of trustworthy, faithful Christians who use it for His glory.  That also is the teaching of Proverbs 13:22.    But because God blesses, don’t get the idea that Christians get a free ride through life.    

FACT # 3 We each have the responsibility of bearing our own financial burdens.   

Every young person needs to seek God’s will as to how he or she is going to provide for his or her own needs.  Young men who are thinking about marriage, need to consider how they are going to provide for their families.   We can’t just float through life, work free, expecting God to supply our needs.     

I once met a pastor with a large family who had no church and no job and very little food in his rented house, who could not even afford furniture.  When I visited him he was sitting dreamily on a wooden bench in his kitchen, smiling as he strummed his guitar, assuring me that God would provide for all his needs.   Last I heard of that man, his family had been scattered and he had nothing.     

The Bible teaches in II Thessalonians 3:7-12 that every able-bodied man is to work to supply his own needs.   If he is not willing to work, God says he should not eat.  So we are not to support lazy bums who have no desire to work.     

As a pastor over the past fifty plus years of ministry in churches, I have had some financial dry times when I had to find a job for a few months to meet my needs.  I’ve worked nights as a janitor in a department store,  I’ve sold cars, sold insurances, done substitute teaching in public schools, and driven school buses;  whatever I had to do to meet my needs.  Don’t expect God to meet your needs if you are not willing to work.  If you are a preacher needing money, don’t think it beneath your dignity to take a minimum wage job if necessary to meet your needs.  

One warning from Proverbs 13:11, beware of so called easy money schemes that require no work and beware of gambling.  They lead to poverty.    

Fact # 4  We have a responsibility as stewards of all God has given us, to be faithful in the handling of our time, energy, money and resources.   

Luke 12:48 reminds  us that to whom much is given, much is required.  I Corinthians 4:2 teaches us that the most important quality of a steward is faithfulness.  I Corinthians 10:24 teaches us the responsibility of seeking the good of others.   You can get more information on stewardship by going to my link  STEWARDSHIP.   

Facts # 5 We are warned of the ever present danger of riches.   

Think about this,  when you are handling riches, you are handling a powerful tool or weapon that can bless or destroy you and others.  Read Paul’s warning to Timothy, his son in the Faith. I Timothy 6:8-19.    The condition of your heart will determine how you view your possessions and how you spend and invest your money.    But your relationship with Jesus will influence the condition of your heart which will determine whether you spend eternity in Heaven or Hell.        

January 21, 2008 Posted by | HELL | Comments Off on Hell #6: Wealth, Poverty, Heaven or Hell

Divorce and Remarriage

 

As we approach the thorny divorce issue, let’s consider:

 

1. God’s plan for marriage from the creation of the earth.

 

2. God’s laws concerning divorce.

 

3. God’s hatred of adultery and divorce.

 

4. Then why does God permit divorce?

 

5. Divorce and remarriage questions

 

6. Standards for Christian leadership.

 

7. Some practical conclusions

 

 

 

GOD’S PLAN FOR MARRIAGE FROM CREATION

 

 

God’s plan for marriage is given in Genesis 2:19-25 It involves one man married to  one woman for as long as they live.  According to Matthew 22:23-30 Jesus teaches that there will be no marriage relationships in Heaven.  Marriage is only for life on this earth.

 

 

When my wife and I started courting some 54 years ago, we settled this matter of divorce.  We knew we would have differences and even be angry with each other at times; but we promised each other that divorce would never be a consideration.  It never has.  True, our marriage has not always been a “bed of roses”,  but both of us love each other far more deeply than we did on our wedding day.

 

 

In Ephesians 5:21-33 Paul likens marriage to the Christian’s relationship with Christ as His bride.  As a husband and wife are mysteriously one flesh;  so Christians are mysteriously one with Christ.  As wives are to submit themselves to their own husbands, so we Christians are to submit ourselves to Christ who died and rose again to save us. Husbands are to love their wives with a totally unselfish love as Christ loves us with His agape, unselfish,  self-giving love.

 

 

According to II Corinthians 6:14-18  Christians are to marry only Christians.  To break that command is to invite a lifetime of sorrow and a lack of true oneness in Christ.  However, if you as a Christian find yourself married to an unbeliever, you are taught in I Corinthians 7:10-16 to stay with your unbelieving spouse.  As long as they live with you, there is a chance they may be saved.   If the unbelieving spouse chooses to leave you, let him or her go.  Though you sinned in marrying him, it is not a sin to let him go if he insists.

 

 

 

GOD’S LAWS CONCERNING DIVORCE

 

 

 

God’s plan for divorce is laid out in Deuteronomy 24:1-4.   Jesus explained  in Matthew 19:7-8  that His plan of divorce was given for one reason only; because of their hardened. sinful hearts.

 

 

From the Deuteronomy passage we learn the following facts about divorce.

 

 

1. It is a PERMANENT severing of the marriage bond.

 

 

2. One may divorce for any reason, but it must be recorded legally.

 

 

3. Once remarriage has taken place, one can never again return to the divorced spouse.

 

 

 

Jesus explained in Matthew 19:7-9 that since execution of adulterers is no longer carried out, that one is permitted to divorce a spouse who is guilty of adultery or any other sexual perversion.  The word fornication in the Greek applies to all forms of sexual perversion.

 

 

GOD’S HATRED OF ADULTERY AND DIVORCE

 

 

From Malachi 2:11-16  we learn that God hates divorce.  So should we as Christian hate this commonly accepted sin, even among Christians.  Look  how it tears the heart out of families.  It has to be one of the cruelest, most selfish, most thoughtless, most childish decisions a parent ever makes. . 

 

 

God also hates adultery, a common reason for divorce and the only Biblical grounds for divorce.  God hates adultery so much that in Deuteronomy 22:22-27  adultery was not a ground for divorce.  It was a capital offense. Adulterers and fornicators were executed by stoning along with murderers and other heinous criminals.

 

 

IF GOD HATES DIVORCE, WHY DOES HE ALLOW IT?

 

 

When the Pharisees  tried to entrap Jesus by asking Him why divorce was permitted under the Old Testament Law,  He explained in Matthew 19:3-9  that God permitted it because of the hardness of their hearts. But He reminded them that this was not God’s original  intent for marriage.  God’s plan from the beginning was for one man to be married to one woman for life.

 

 

 

WHAT ABOUT REMARRIAGE AFTER DIVORCE?

 

 

 

In Deuteronomy 24:2  it is clearly stated that remarriage is permitted.

 

 

In Mark 10:11-12  Jesus gives a general ruling that remarriage is not permitted after divorce.  Those who do are guilty of adultery.   For example, if one divorces his wife on the ground of incompatibility and remarries,  he is an adulterer.

 

 

In Matthew 19:7-9 Jesus clarifies this issue further.  He adds the exception clause. He says, ” whosoever shall put away his wife, EXCEPT IT BE FOR FORNICATION, and shall marry another, commits adultery.”  Then he talks about the adulteress spouse who has been divorced.   “Whosoever marries this adulteress commits adultery.”

 

 

 

WHAT ABOUT PASTORS, ELDERS AND DEACONS?

 

 

 

Should one who has been divorced hold these offices?  For a complete answer  go to my link CHURCH  and read  “Standards for Church Leadership”.

 

 

 

 

SOME PRACTICAL CONCLUSIONS

 

 

 

The purpose of this study is not to help us find loopholes for divorce and remarriage, but to guard against divorce.  Marriage is for life.  Incompatibility and other lesser reasons are no Biblical grounds for divorce.  In fact incompatibility as a ground for divorce would be laughable if it were not so disgusting.   Incompatibility with others is a part of  life!  Quit feeling sorry for yourself. Learn to live with it and grow up!  Incompatibility is just selfishness. 

 

 

 

Quit thinking that marriage is a 50/50 proposition.  It is not.  If you adopt that false philosophy, you could spend your life arguing with your spouse whether he or she has given their 50%.   No, marriage is not a 50/50 proposition. Marriage is a 100% proposition.  I give 100% and my wife give 100% and I give it regardless of whether I think my wife is giving her 100%.

 

 

 

You can get lots more information on this topic by going to MARRIAGE on this web site.

VIRTUOUS WOMAN also has further information concerning marriage.

 

 

Christian couples must never consider divorce for any other reason but adultery. Even in the case of adultery, the innocent partner has the right to forgive her adulterous spouse and take him or her back.   But the innocent partner should never be pressured by her judgmental  family or church to take him back. Rather we should be there for the one whose heart has been shattered.

 

 

Though one has the right to remarry in such a situation,  I would join the Apostle Paul in encouraging that he or she remains single. See I Corinthians 7:27-28. Though the unrepentant adulterer should be removed from church membership and from church fellowship according to I Corinthians 5,  the innocent partner should experience the love and encouragement and fellowship of his or her church family.

 

 

We are living in the midst of heathenism in America today just as the early Christians in Paul’s day came out of  a heathen culture.   With heathenism comes the baggage of all sorts of complicated marital issues, including polygamy.   Paul in I Corinthians 7 sorts through many of those issues and questionable matters.  Where the Bible speaks clearly and decisively, let us be clear and decisive.   But like Paul in I Corinthians 7 let us speak with grace, humility and  gentleness;  without dogmatism and judgmentalism with those who are sorting out their confused lives.

 

 

 

January 19, 2008 Posted by | Divorce | Comments Off on Divorce and Remarriage

Little Boy in a Wedding

A little boy was in a relative’s wedding. As he was coming down the aisle he would take two steps, stop and turn to the crowd (alternating between bride’s side and groom’s side). While facing the crowd, he would put his hands up like claws and roar. So it went, step, step, “ROAR,” step, step, “ROAR,” all the way down the aisle. As you can imagine, the crowd was near tears from laughing so hard by the time he reached the pulpit. The little boy, however, was getting more and more distressed from all the laughing, and was also near tears by the time he reached the pulpit. When asked what he was doing, the child sniffed and said, “I was being the Ring Bear.”

January 15, 2008 Posted by | A Merry Heart | Comments Off on Little Boy in a Wedding