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Posts Tagged ‘hell’

When I first encountered this atheist graphic, I experienced a moment of heart sickness because there are Christians out there who actually think like this.

I see this kind of horrific mindset every time someone who claims to follow Jesus Christ (whom serious Christians believe is the divine Son of God) almost gleefully tells gay people or atheist people that they’re going to burn in hell.

it’s almost as if they think God WANTS some people to burn. Not only is that a sickening thought, it’s also wrong, wrong, wrong.

Here’s the truth, according to the Bible:

  • God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him would not be lost, but have eternal life. (That’s from a section called ‘John’, one of four accounts of Jesus’ physical life on earth.)
  • God is being patient with you. He doesn’t want anyone to be lost. He wants everyone to change their ways and stop sinning (from a section called ‘2 Peter’).
  • God wants everyone to be saved and to fully understand the truth (From ‘1 Timothy’).

Does any of this sound like God is holding a lighter, just itching to turn you into a screaming torch?

These Bible quotes point to an important bottom line: every person on this planet has done wrong and failed to do right. No exceptions. And this is serious business because according to the Bible, God is perfect and that’s His standard for judging all of humanity (see ‘Matthew’, another biography of Jesus).

When this life is finished, a section of the Bible called ‘Hebrews’ says every one of us will appear before God and have to somehow explain away all the wrong things we’ve done and the right things we’ve failed to do.

I guarantee you it’s not going to go well. But God offers a solution: Jesus Christ. When Jesus was found guilty of ridiculous, trumped-up charges and crucified on a Roman cross, that death paid the penalty you and I would have to pay for our sins. He took our punishment on His shoulders.

I call that an extraordinary, life-changing gift. And that gift is available to EVERYONE. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done (or not done). As author Philip Yancey put it so well in What’s So Amazing About Grace, “God gave up His own Son rather than give up on humanity”.

How can you get in on this gift? Just accept it. That’s all.

When you believe that Jesus took the penalty for your sins and decide you want to follow Him, He’ll come into your heart and start a life-long process of making you the person God created you to be. And when this life ends and you stand before God, the only thing God will see is His Son’s perfection.

Are you interested? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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ChristeningI find it hard to believe that anyone still thinks like this. But sadly, there continues to be parents who believe that dipping their baby in water at a church will keep the little beaner out of hell.

That’s why, when I saw this graphic in an atheist community, I saved it for Frank’s Cottage. This is a good opportunity to tell you the truth about christenings, baptisms and many other traditions associated with the Christian faith.

Let me make it absolutely clear (and I’m supported by the Bible): christenings and baptisms don’t save you from ANYTHING. They save you from ZERO. Nothing.

In fact, they are as essential to Christianity as a screen door is to a submarine.

So what’s the point?

If christenings are done with the right motivation and understanding, then they serve to make a public statement on behalf of parents: they tell a church congregation that the parents are committed to raising their child with Christian values and with a full understanding of who Jesus is and what He continues to accomplish in this world.

In other words, it’s a commitment that, in Bible-believing churches, will hold the parents accountable for how their raise their child. From this perspective, a christening is absolutely a good thing.

Baptisms? This is also public statement, making it clear to everyone who witnesses the ritual of immersing your entire body in water that you have washed away the “old” you to make way for the “new” you.

This new you believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He died to make up for all the wrong things you’ve done and all the right things you’ve failed to do.

This might seem just symbolic, but consider this: Jesus Christ Himself insisted on getting baptized. At first, the man who baptized Jesus insisted he wasn’t worthy. Here is Jesus’s response, recorded in a section of the Bible called ‘Matthew’: But Jesus insisted. “Do it. God’s work, putting things right all these centuries, is coming together right now in this baptism.”

And so it was done. But please note, this still doesn’t mean getting baptized is the key to Heaven. Baptism happens as a result of a change of heart and mind. It’s evidence of what has already happened. And that certainly applies to the baptism of Jesus.

In fact, while Jesus was on a Roman cross, dying for all the wrong things we’ve done and all the right things we’ve failed to do, a section of the Bible called ‘Luke’ records a robber being crucified on a cross next to him.

As they died together, the robber said “Jesus, remember me when you enter your kingdom.” [Jesus] said, “Don’t worry, I will. Today you will join me in paradise.”

Notice what didn’t happen? There was no baptism. The man on the cross recognized his failures, recognized who Jesus is and what Jesus’s death could do for him and did the only thing he could do: speak his hopes to Jesus. The result? Jesus gave that robber a place in Heaven.

So, set aside any strange Christian traditions you might have heard about. Concentrate on the good news for YOU. Jesus is God’s gift to YOU. Will you accept that gift? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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Bizarro GodThe first thing I did when I saw this cartoon in the newspaper was whip out my iPhone and make a photo. I knew it would be the inspiration to reveal the truth about God. And it is.

No doubt about it, our culture portrays God as “damning” souls to Hell. It’s the easiest and fastest way to figure out “religion” (especially Christianity) and requires the least amount of thought.
But is it the truth?

Consider these facts about the God of the Bible:

1. God is perfect. Many, many people will disagree with this, but that doesn’t change the truth. And that perfection is exemplified through Jesus Christ, whom serious Christians believe is His divine Son.

One section of the Bible, called ‘Psalms’, states it this simply & clearly: “God’s way is perfect”. In another section, ‘Matthew’ (one of four accounts of Jesus’ physical life on earth), Jesus tells his followers, “What I am saying is that you must be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

Jesus’ exemplifies that perfection. Here are two Bible quotes that serve as illustrations: “He [Jesus] never sinned, and he never told a lie.” (1 Peter); “There is no sin in Christ” (1 John).

2. God’s standard for all humanity is perfection. A Bible quote that backs up that statement: “Be holy in everything you do, just as God is holy. He is the one who chose you. In the Scriptures God says, ‘Be holy, because I am holy’” (1 Peter).

3. We cannot achieve God’s standard and get into Heaven on our own. I don’t think a single Bible quote is needed to prove that point.

4. In the end, we don’t have to be perfect. When we become followers of Jesus Christ — His teachings, His sacrificial death (to make up for all the wrong things we’ve done and the right things we’ve failed to do) and glorious resurrection, God no longer sees our sins. He sees only His Son’s perfection.

This is a gift, offered to every person on this planet. It doesn’t what they’ve done (or not done). Their gender and age don’t matter. Their skin colour doesn’t matter. Their status in society doesn’t matter.

The gift is offered to EVERYONE, with no strings attached. And in my mind, this shows how much God loves me, YOU and every other human being.

So, who does the damning? Maybe it’s everyone who simply will not accept that gift. They declare there is no God, there is no Jesus and there is no gift. By doing this, they can continue living the way they please with no thought to any consequences.

The result is pretty obvious. When this life is done, you come before God — with every single wrong thing you’ve done and every single right thing you’ve failed to do — utterly exposed. And as a result, you fall far, far short of God’s qualification for spending eternity in His presence.

Is this you? Are you choosing to damn yourself by declaring there’s no God and no gift? Maybe that’s how all your friends and loved ones think. But look beyond them; is this really what you want to do?

Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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WindowForTruth 3.15Sometimes I’m bursting with appreciation for the graphics that atheist people post on the Internet. They often present Heaven-sent opportunities to tell people what God and Jesus Christ are all about.

This is one of those glorious opportunities. Here we go:

1. God sends NO ONE to Hell. People send themselves to Hell through the wrong things they’ve done and through the right things they’ve failed to do.

That includes kicking God out of our lives and turning our backs on His gift of Jesus (whom serious Christians, and many others, believe is His son).

2. Even if you ignore my first point, who says God sends everyone to Hell for having an abortion? This graphic conveniently ignores the fact of forgiveness.

Why do I call it a fact? Because the Bible is quite clear about it (and Christians take the Bible seriously). A section called ‘1 John’ says “if we confess our sins, God will forgive us. We can trust God to do this. He always does what is right. He will make us clean from all the wrong things we have done.”

Please note: this isn’t a scam we can pull on a dimwitted creator. This is serious business and I explain it in detail here: http://wp.me/p2wzRb-8n.

3. “Kills His only Son”. First of all, it was Roman authorities who did the killing. They were urged on by manipulative religious authorities who felt threatened by Jesus, His popularity and His disregard for their petty religious rules and regulations.

Secondly, God allowed Jesus to die because a significant part of Jesus’s mission — many Christians would declare it was the most important part — was to be a sacrifice that would make up for all the wrong things we’ve done and all the right things we’ve failed to do. Well, it would do that for everyone who accepts the gift of Jesus.

For the people who accept that gift, who declare Jesus to be their lord, their saviour and their best friend, God no longer sees our “sins”. He sees only the perfection of His Son.

Why was a death necessary? Because this “sinning” business is deadly stuff, far more lethal than most of us truly understand. And nothing we can do or say or think or pray can make up for all the wrong things we’ve done and the right things we’ve failed to do. All our efforts will always fall short. Always.

So God did the heavy lifting for us by offering the gift of His Son and his sacrifice. So carefully consider everything our culture tells you about life, about right and wrong, about how we should live and about what happens after this life ends. Does it make complete sense in light of a God that loves YOU, offers the gift of Jesus to YOU and wants YOU to spend eternity in Heaven with him?

Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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Bill MaherIf anyone knows how to stimulate conversation, it’s militant atheist and U.S. talk show host Bill Maher. That said, I’m not sure Bill ever thought this quote would be used to explain a truth about the Christian faith.

Bill asks a great question here. It’s a question I asked before and after I decided to become a Christian more than 10 years ago.

After making that decision, I held up Bill’s question to the hard light of examination. And I pondered the nature of all us human beings. Then the answer came to me.

  • What message am I sending when I selfishly refuse to talk to my wife if I don’t get my own way?
  • What message am I sending when I use all my tax return for vacations or electronic toys instead of putting some aside for charity?
  • What message am I sending when I’m driving to work and I give someone the one-finger salute because I don’t care for his or her driving?
  • What message am I sending when I pay a contractor under the table and avoid the taxes I should be paying?

It’s the same message every time. And it’s this simple: “God, don’t even lay one finger on the devil”.

When I do wrong and/or fail to do right, I’m telling my creator that I’m siding with His opponent. In fact, let me go so far as to write that I’m informing God that I like the devil more than I like Him.

If you’re a little disturbed, good. I’m certainly disturbed when I find my actions broadcasting that message. And yet, I seem to do it almost as often as breathing. In fact, when I live my life without acknowledging God and His gift to everyone who will accept it (Jesus Christ, whom serious Christians, and many others, believe is God’s son), I’m goose-stepping to the beat of His opponent.

Now take my “sins” and multiply them by, oh, a trillion. Now you can see why God doesn’t just defeat the devil. Because the actions of all humanity tell Him, with numbing frequency and nauseating volume, that we don’t want Him to. And so He doesn’t.

There is a way out of this deeply vicious cycle. A way to ensure that my actions don’t help fill up the bottomless sea of ugly messages to God. And that way is to accept His gift.

Tell God you’re sorry for the bad things you’ve done and the good things you’ve failed to do. Tell him you accept Jesus Christ as your saviour and acknowledge His death wipes your past, present and future slate clean. And invite Jesus into your life.

If you’re serious about this, then watch things start to happen. Amazing, life-changing things.  You’ll never be the same. And you won’t be siding with God’s opponent anymore.

Does this make sense? Yes or no, type your comment below and let’s have a conversation.

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The Challenge Of HellSo what’s the deal with Hell?

That’s a question I’m sure you’ve asked yourself at least once. I used to ask it frequently before I became a Christian more than a decade ago.

Do I understand everything about it? Not in the least. I doubt anyone does. But I have come to know that the truth about Hell is not at all like the graphic you see here (kindly provided by an Internet atheism community.)

First of all, Hell was not created for human beings. Erwin McManus, a pastor, notes God created Hell for Satan (what’s the deal with him? That’s a topic for another essay).

So why does God “send” people there? Well, God doesn’t send anyone there. We send ourselves there.

Ponder these ideas, as presented by Mark Mittelberg (and based on excerpts from the Bible) in his book The Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask:

  • God is perfect and, as a just judge, He has to condemn sin, not overlook it.
  • God doesn’t owe anyone a second chance and yet He gives us repeated opportunities to turn our lives around and look to Jesus (whom serious Christians, and many others, believe is His son) for guidance.
  • God has given us this planet, with all its beauty and diversity, and we have abused it as if we are accountable to no one.
  • We treat our fellow humans with disregard, even though God loves them as much as us.
  • We fool ourselves about where we are on the moral spectrum, thinking we’re just fine and ignoring the bad things we’ve done and the good things we’ve failed to do.

Now, consider this: Jesus is God’s gift to everyone who will accept him. Jesus died to make up for the sins of everyone who believes in Him and follows Him.

Jesus came back to life to show us God’s power and, in the succinct words of the wiki.answers.com website, to show us “He is not an ordinary human, but divine. He triumphed over the grave for all who would accept Him as saviour”. It’s also a testimony of what will happen to everyone who follows Jesus – not death, but eternal life with Him.

As with any gift, the gift of Jesus must be accepted. If it’s not, then God looks at us and sees the ways we’ve misused the talents and abilities He’s put in us. The ways we’ve lived as if He doesn’t exist. The ways we ignore the needs around us. The ways we live for more money, more power, more toys – all things that are, in the end, meaningless. And that’s what we’ll be judged on.

So, as Erwin McManus explains it, God “will not stop us from going to Hell if we insist on it. It is a choice to live a life that’s wasted because you’re not living the life God created you for. Hell is a place where you say ‘no – I don’t want Your love’.”

Does this make sense? Yes or no, write your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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HeavenAndHell2Now this is a curiosity.

I wrote a Frank’s Cottage essay about a survey indicating the promise of Heaven is far more motivating than the fear of Hell in encouraging church attendance and prayer.

Kinda makes sense, right? The tasty carrot is better than the nasty stick, goes the thinking.

Then I heard from an old friend, Tim Callaway, who’s doing university research and stumbled upon statistics that indicate a very different story.

These stats are by no means a definitive indicator, but they are consistent. In the 1930s and ’40s, surveys of 100 to 200 students somewhere in North America (sorry, this ancient stuff has no further details) consistently indicated fear of Hell was far more motivating to become a Christian than the love of God. In many of those years, the numbers were so lopsided that the love motivation was less than 10 per cent.

Huh? The huge difference between then and now is so puzzling that I bounced this disparity off a pastor buddy, Ross Carkner, to get his feedback.

“I wonder if the change has more to do with the nature of society at large,” Ross emailed me. “I think in the 1930s and ’40s, there was a different mindset.  The world had just come through one war and was posturing or in the middle of another.  The planet was covered in gloom.”

Between the wars and the ruined dreams of the 1930s Great Depression, Ross wondered, “If there was a sense that all you could do was make the most of what you had. This was the builder generation. Work hard and you might get by. This is very different than the baby boomers … the builders were set on making the most of what they had, the boomers were about getting more.”

This makes sense to me. As Ross put it, “I think against that kind of a backdrop, perhaps the builders were open to hearing that ‘things could get worse’ [i.e. the nasty stick of Hell], while the boomers wanted to hear about how ‘things could get better’ [the tasty carrot of Heaven]”.

If this assessment is accurate, then it comes with a subtle suggestion: many people’s ideas about God depend on the world around them. That’s not surprising, but then I remember something I read in the Bible: “Jesus doesn’t change—yesterday, today, tomorrow, he’s always totally himself.”

I also think of a Bible story about Jesus defending a woman who was brought up on charges of adultery. He told her accusers, who wanted to stone her to death (fooling around on your spouse was serious business in the ancient world), that anyone who’d never done anything wrong could go ahead and throw a stone.

Eventually, all of the woman’s accusers walked away. That left Jesus to do nothing more than tell the woman to go home and don’t commit adultery again.

For me, this event is a powerful example of who God is. And when I realize that he doesn’t change, I see that the ultimate picture of God is incredibly positive. And that’s a picture I want to keep, no matter what happens to me or to the world.

So if you believe in God, what’s your ultimate picture of him? And does it motivate you to do something about your spiritual life?

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