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HELL and the GOSPEL

Whenever the truth of the gospel is discussed, a basic understanding of God’s holiness, justice, and wrath comes up.  It’s not easy to wrestle with a REAL GOD, who doesn’t fit into our modern categories.
 
Hell is one of the most difficult doctrines of the Bible.  No one ever talks more about hell in the Bible than Jesus Christ, and without this doctrine,  what Jesus accomplished for us on the Cross is minimalized, or gutted of its significance. 
 
Pastor Tim Keller describes hell with an analogy to nature’s ecological balance.  Eliminate the nasty creatures and the “nice” ones starve.  Example:  in Vietnam, they killed off a Boa constrictor species, and the rabbit population exploded until there were so many rabbits they got diseased and starved.   Eliminate hell and the Love of God is diminished or even wiped out. 
 
Here’s CS Lewis’ attempts to understand and explain hell.  I have found these quotes helpful in understanding a God who is infinite in mercy and compassion, as well as infinite in holiness and justice. 
 
1) C.S. Lewis  In the long run, objectors to the doctrine of hell must answer this question: What are you asking God to do? To wipe out their past sins, and at all costs to give them a fresh start, smoothing every difficulty, and offering every miraculous help? But he has done so - in the life and death of his Son. To forgive them? They will not be forgiven. To leave them alone? Alas, that is what he does. (The Problem of Pain, chap 8, para 12, page 128.)

2) The Great Divorce MacDonald says of the peevish woman in Hell: "Ye misunderstand me. The question is whether she is a grumbler, or only a grumble. If there is a real woman--even the least trace of one still there inside the grumbling, it can be brought to life again. If there's one wee spark under all those ashes, we'll blow it till the whole pile is red and clear. But if there's nothing but ashes we'll not go on blowing them in our own eyes forever. They must be swept up."

"But how can there be a grumble without a grumbler?" the Narrator (Lewis) asks. MacDonald continues: "The whole difficulty of understanding Hell is that the thing to be understood is so nearly Nothing. But ye'll have had experiences ... it begins with a grumbling mood, and yourself still distinct from it: perhaps criticising it. And yourself, in a dark hour, may will that mood, embrace it. Ye can repent and come out of it again. But there may come a day when you can do that no longer. Then there will be no 'you' left to criticise the mood, nor even to enjoy it, but just the grumble itself going on forever like a machine."

3) Theology is not a wish list but a description of reality. "If Christianity was something we were making up," he says, "of course, we could make it easier. But it is not. We cannot compete, in simplicity, with people who are inventing religions. How could we? We are dealing with Fact. Of course anyone can be simple if he has no facts to bother about." (Mere Christianity).

Posted by Bob Myers with 0 Comments

Thankful for the Legacy of a Faithful Dad

I had a great Dad and on Father’s Days among other times, I miss him keenly.  He did so much right. I thought I’d devote a weekly column to some of the main things he did right that have stayed with me.  One vision I have for our church is that we produce dads who have these traits. 

  1. Faithful and always affirming expressing gratitude for my mom in their 62 blessed years.   Dads and moms love their children best by loving each other first.  The atmosphere of our home was set, secure, and grounded in faithful love.  (How am I verbalizing and making clear to my children that I love and am grateful for their mother?)
  2. Attentive and invested in the interests of his children.  He was keenly interested and up to date on what I was interested in, challenged by, or struggling with in terms of cutting edges of ministry in churches whose growth in numbers or in complicated problems to solve kept me always needing to learn. (How do I take initiative to enter into my childrens’ worlds, whatever their age and interests and circumstances?)
  3. Loved the Word of God. He left behind a few Bibles that were marked up, and many study notes, and notes to many sermons that he had digested and eagerly listened to.  In worship services, no one could doubt his keen interest in the Word, and his active singing of praise to God.  (What legacy of worship and the Word will I leave?)
  4. Community Involvement.  My Dad was all about improving the town he lived in.  He was civic minded and invested time and energy in making his community great.
  5. Ministry minded.  My Dad turned his hobbies into opportunities to minister to others, doubling the joy.  He led a Christ-Centered fathers and sons fishing ministry on a secluded island in Canada.  He loved to fish, but this ministry brought together an even greater love for ministering Christ to teens.  He was especially mindful of sons without dads that needed attention.
  6. Suffering.  My Dad suffered some difficult illnesses and trials.  And in the midst of them, he showed faith and calm surrender to Christ.   His words recorded in a testimony to his church shared what dominated his mind as he lay in a hospital bed after an optical stroke nearly blinded him in one eye:  

One thought continues to plague me. As I stood there in the hospital that night and looked and listened down the hallway.  There were so many others so much worse than I. How do they survive without the grace and presence of God in their lives, and the healing power of his Word at their hand?

A few months ago we had a sermon from Lamentation 3:19-31 about physical difficulties. What are we to learn from these physical difficulties that are cast upon us.  The answer is Discipline. The temporary value of this life is to prepare for the eternal life. God disciplines us so that we will turn to him in faith. We must turn to the Lord and receive the peace that God gives us. He is faithful to sustain us, even in our most difficult times. This is God's COVENANT COMPASSION for us. His word and His promises.  Nothing speaks to us like God's words reach out to us. He is faithful to deliver.

He's been with the Lord for these past two Father’s days.  I’m thankful for a Dad who loved Christ, who lived it out, and who left me some of his own words that point me to Jesus.   If you’re a dad, living this way is a privilege.  If you’ve known a father like this make sure you celebrate him in some way this Father’s day.

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