Jeffrey B Krall

3 Difficulties of Being From the Future

Future


 “I have declared the former things from the beginning; they went forth from My mouth, and I caused them to hear it. Suddenly I did them, and they came to pass. Isaiah 48:3

Perhaps every human has some desire or capacity to see something come to pass that doesn’t exist now. It could be a better toaster, a safer car, a better curriculum, a better relationship, a new medicine, a better fuel or smarter cell phone. Maybe because we are created in the image of the Creator-God we can’t help but see things as they should be and try to bring them to pass through our God-given creativity and ingenuity.

This is even truer for Christians who have been reunited with the Creator through Jesus Christ. As the years pass we will see different needs around us that need filling. Over time we may recognize we have a unique way in presenting Christ and His kingdom to meet those needs. I mention in Roadkill Seminary we discover we all have “the message” (the Gospel) to tell the world, but we also have “a message” (our testimony) to tell the world as well. I think we all have a heavenly “FEDEX” package we are called to deliver, incrementally, throughout our time here on earth. We each possess a particular aspect of the “Word” that is becoming flesh in us, and we are the delivery system.

Our gifting motivation may be that of a giver, a server, a teacher, a facilitator, or a mercy person. Our dominate role may be that of a pastor, an evangelist, a homemaker, an attorney or a plumber, but something deeper is being exchanged. Some heavenly substance or DNA is mysteriously being transferred from God’s realm through the “modem” of our being into this realm. This is what makes “Thy kingdom come here on earth as it is in heaven” an emerging reality.

The Way We Think God is Using Us and the Way He is Actually Using Us

Through the benefit of hindsight we can recognize how the Lord is using us more than we used to. Our interpretation of what we were supposed to do for God can be shortsighted. We grow in our understanding of what kind of instrument we are in His tool belt; as well as understanding when He is taking us out of His toolbox to use us and when He wants us to stay quietly in place. God’s patience is immeasurable.

One Aspect of Prophetic Ministry is Seeing Part of the Future

I say all that because my FedEx package from heaven has a prophetic aspect to it. The Lord showed me over 35 years ago, albeit through a glass darkly and a slow mind, what has been gradually transpiring over those years. This is a burning message that I cannot shake or suppress, no matter what I have tried. Similar to the calling of John the Baptists, I have desire to see God’s people overcome every mountain of opposition and every valley of excuse, to make straight the way of the Lord in our generation…to see believers “grow up” into the Lord’s Prayer in John 17. Seeing believers mature beyond denominational loyalty and move toward oneness (not sameness) in our communities is what I saw so many years ago. Although we are not there yet, I could go on and on for hours about how things have changed over the years. The conversation and connectivity around the Kingdom of God has never been so widespread and fruitful. It is happening as you read this. It may not be as big or visible as we would like, but God’s best works are often done in a way where believing is seeing.

How about you? Do you see something from the future that God wants to do or is doing? But like you I’m sure the thing you are contending for has at times created certain barriers or burdens in your life. Here are few difficulties of being from the future that you may wrestle with.

#1 – You See Dead People

One of the burdens of being from the future is that most of the people you and I are sent to speak to seem dead to what we are talking about. They don’t know where we are coming from and why we are coming from there in the first place. This is especially true of the time we are living in. There is much slowness of heart and dullness of spirit in our nation today. Many once fired-up believers have wander from the way of life and have settled for “dead” knowledge. Proverbs 21:16 says it like this; A man who wanders from the way of understanding will rest in the congregation of the dead. Yes, there are a lot of dead congregations out there.

Dead peopleWhen Isaiah saw the Lord on the throne and received his great call into ministry he was also sent to a “zombie” nation… Israel. God told him; “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ “Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and return and be healed.” Isaiah 6:9, 10. Sometimes we are called to speak things to people who will not receive us nor our message. Our ministry may be more about our testimony being read back to certain people in heaven’s courtroom on judgement day. The good news is, what you are I are facing today is nothing new to God or humankind. Our task is to faithfully convey what we see from the future leaving the results to God.

#2 – You Can Feel Alone

Even though John 17, 1 Corinthians 2, Ephesians 4,  and other Scriptures clearly state the Lord’s intention for unity, I have had leaders in Body of Christ tell me for over 35 years, “it will never happen”. Being from the future can give you the sense of being alone on your mission from God. It’s not actually true, but like Elijah in 1 Kings 19:10, we can Alonefeel like we are the only ones standing in the gap between the way things are and the way they should be. In one sense being alone is what is called for in certain circumstances. After all, if you are a plumber on a house call, I don’t think you would be sad by the fact there aren’t more plumbers at the house. That would be bad for business. I guess what I am trying to convey is that some of what we are called to do requires are aloneness because of the unique way in which God has made us for a particular situation and time. It takes a while for us to realize this, but sometimes we may have something from heaven that not everyone else in the room has. We may feel alone in our specific situation, but just like Elijah we need to remember there are 7000 who haven’t bowed their knee to Baal throughout our community. We should always remember that we are not ‘the” part of what God is doing, we are “a” part of what He is doing.

#3 – It’s Difficult Challenging the Status Quo

One of the more frustrating burdens of being from the future is communicating what we see is really coming to the world or the Body of Christ. (An example of this can be found in what I saw In The Year 2023). For example, one of the things from the future I have seen is the reality of Jerusalem Cities and Antioch Cities, where the Body of Christ in our America cities are recognized more by its geography than the individual signs over our buildings. Where the Church, in one accord, works together with apostolic, prophetic, evangelistic, pastoral and teaching ministries in a given geographic region. (For more insight into this see God’s Ministry Assembly Line or the Top Ten Reasons We Should be Working Together). I see Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done here on earth as a prevailing reality, not just some cute Sunday school memory verse.

Status quo 3In the past, when I spoke about becoming the people Jesus prayed we would be I would get looks from believers and especially leaders, as if I was speaking an ancient dialect they have never heard of. They often looked like they were saying; “Why aren’t you helping me build my church/kingdom instead of this nebulous talk about Christ’s kingdom”? To help believers understand this contemporary blindness I wrote the Epistle to the Church of Sanford to help Christians in my city see what the Apostle Paul would say to us if he showed up in town today.

I think we are experiencing the same thing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. felt in Mississippi in the 1960s, when he said that change was coming to America. He was telling people about a dream he had that one day blacks will be accepted in every walk of life and one day there could even be a black president of the United States. The prevailing culture of his day thought he sounded crazy, someone who was out of touch with reality. But thank God Dr. King was from the future and in touch with a greater reality.

If you and I are following the Lord’s call on our life, we will inevitably be bringing things from heaven, things from the future that this world hasn’t seen or experienced yet. That is why serving God always has a sense of newness about it; because it’s a flowing river of new life from Him that hasn’t been here yet. This is why His mercies are new every morning. Let’s encourage one another to keep saying what we are seeing in the future.

For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Isaiah 46:9, 10

This is Where God Speaks to You about Everything

And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel. Exodus 25:16-22; 37:7

CaptureWith over 800 verses dealing with the Tabernacle, and the Bible declaring it was modeled after the one in heaven, I think we can conclude that God is trying to communicate something important to us. In fact, I believe this is where the believer can enter the “sweet spot” of Christianity; that is if they are willing. It is here, in this place, where we will find the answers about life. As one of the most overlooked roadmaps in the Bible, our book The Inner Journey helps believers understand the 3 stages of spiritual growth described in the Tabernacle. This journey leads to a place the Lord is beckoning all of us to reach. Today this “meeting place” takes place inside our soul, in the Spirit. Everything that touches our lives presents an opportunity for us to access this holy place. Be encouraged, over time, God will come into focus. This is the place where God communicates with us, here on earth…about everything!

In summary, in the third level of spiritual growth we see the Ark of the Covenant or box containing the Ten Commandments of God, where He “lays down the Law”, even writing them in stone. Here sin is judged by a sin-hating God. Yet on top of the Ark of the Covenant we see the Mercy Seat and two cherubim, the merciful side of God. Covering the Mercy Seat we see something red and astounding. We see blood all over the place, but not just the blood of bulls and sheep. This is in reality, Jesus’ blood. Jesus presented His blood in the temple in heaven at His ascension in Hebrews 9:24.

Notice that God doesn’t do away with the Law written on stone tablets. He doesn’t explain away and remove or diminish the parts of the Bible like some in the liberal side of the Church tend to do. Also notice the mercy and forgiveness He offers us through His shed blood. He doesn’t categorize certain sins as unforgiveable as some in the conservative side of the Church tend to do.Ark

The In-Between Place

Furthermore we see God speaking to us from above (the box) the Law and the Mercy seat, from between the two gold cherubim. These guarding cherubim protect the parameters of the conversation. These two cherubim were hammered out of one piece of gold so they would face each other and the Mercy Seat.  This shows us that God speaks to us about an issue when we are “hammering things out” face to face, over His throne of Law and Grace.

God speaks somewhere between and above Law and Mercy. We need to pay close attention here. . This is where our solutions will be found! Seeing Jesus shedding His blood, suspended between heaven and earth, gives us a picture of how expensive and precious this in-between place can be.

Not the Middle Ground

It is also important to note here, we are not talking about the “middle ground” but the “in-between” place. This isn’t about being a moderate. The Spirit of truth speaks to us within these Biblical parameters. Like playing a guitar, the music may require a different movements between the bridge and tuning keys. It may be necessary to lean to one side or the other periodically. This is where the binary thinking of unregenerate humans often miss potential solutions because they are looking for a black or white, either or scenario. Yet we serve a trinary God, Who speaks from the Law and Grace as well as from the in-between places.

ContrastTo help illustrate this we’ve included 24 Biblical contrasts found in the Scriptures. It seems in order for the Lord to communicate eternal spiritual truths from His dimension, He has to use parables or juxtapose contrasting examples to lead us to the in-between places where He speaks. This is where the Lord seeks to teach us to discern between the Good & Evil, the Holy & Unholy, the Clean & Unclean and the Right and Wrong. See Leviticus 10:10; Ezekiel 22:23-26; Hebrews 5:12-14.

24 Biblical Contrasts

  1. Tree of Knowledge & Tree of Life – Genesis 2:8-17; 3:1-24
  2. Cain & Abel – Genesis 4:1-15
  3. Abraham & Lot – Genesis 26:27-32; 12:1-9; 13:1-18; 14:1-24; 19:1-38
  4. Ishmael & Isaac – Genesis 16:1-15; 17:1-27; 18:1-15; 21:1-21
  5. Abraham & Isaac – Genesis 22:1-19
  6. Esau & Jacob – Genesis 25:20-34; 26:32-35; 27:1-46; 28:1-22
  7. Jacob & Israel – Genesis 32:1-32; 33:120
  8. Joseph & Brothers – Genesis 37-50
  9. Joshua/Caleb & 10 Spies – Numbers13:1-33; 14: 1-38
  10. Saul & David – 1 Samuel 1-8 – 2 Samuel 2
  11. Israel & Judah – 2 Samuel; 1 Kings – 2 Kings
  12. Righteousness & Justice – Psalm 89:14
  13. Mercy & Truth – Psalm 25:10; 61:7; 85:10; 86:15; 89:14; 100:5; Prov. 3:3; 16:6; 20:28
  14. Wise Builder & Foolish Builder – Matthew 7:24-27
  15. The Four Soils – Mark 4:1-20
  16. Five Wise Virgins & Five Foolish Virgins – Matthew 25:1-13
  17. Martha & Mary – Luke 10:38-42; John 11:1-44
  18. Prodigal Son & Older Brother – Luke 15:11-32
  19. Sheep & Goats – Matthew 25:31-46
  20. Moses & Jesus – John 1:17; Romans 2-8; Galatians 3; Hebrews 8:1-13; 10:1-4
  21. Barabbas & Jesus – Matthew 27:15-26
  22. Hagar & Sarah – Galatians 4:21-31
  23. Christ & Anti-Christ – 1 & 2 John
  24. Harlot & Bride of Christ – Revelation

The City Altar

Pray

The latest spiritual-sociological evidence reveals that the “community altar” (the place where people gather to offer themselves and their time and money) affects the spiritual atmosphere of a city or nation. It appears that whichever “altar” (God’s or the Demonic) is most active determines what kind of culture we will have (see The Sentinel Group for more information). In the ancient world people wouldn’t ask you “What god do you believe in, but rather which god do you actually sacrifice to?” (Also see “Prayer Altars” by John Mulinde and Mark Daniel). This makes us confessing Christians take inventory about what we are really giving ourselves to, doesn’t it?

When people here on earth spend or “sacrifice” to the over-sexualized, God-mocking music, concerts, television and movie industries, when they support political and corporate corruption, they are offering a piece of themselves upon the same unseen altars of ancient pagan deities. Unbeknownst to the typical American is that in spite of the lustful desires or greed they are trying to satisfy, they are also empowering unseen evil spirits to traffic in our dimension to suppress the truth of God’s loving goodness. This pollutes the atmosphere which results in people being less open to understanding the truth of the glorious Gospel of the Kingdom.

Pray 4Some may ask, “What’s the big deal about meeting together for prayer; doesn’t everybody do that on Sunday?” It’s true that some Christians meet every Sunday at their local church to pray. However the City Altar isn’t about prayer taking place within individual churches or ministries. It’s about the Body of Christ coming together in a community. Yet even as church attendance numbers have diminished in recent years something more critical has been occurring. More of the population is meeting together to offer themselves to ungodly activities in greater numbers with the full endorsement of educators and the media within the culture. The Lost are gathering together more, while the Body of Christ remains isolated from each other. The Church’s “business as usual” mindset is no longer sufficient to counter the darkening spiritual atmosphere and the growing militancy of those who reject God’s rule in their lives. We thought things have gotten bad, but who knows what evil “worm hole” is about to be opened.

Some have noted that the recent decrease in Church attendance could be a good thing. There may be a divine pruning away of those who have a superficial relationship with God. Perhaps God is mercifully removing the branches that are not bearing fruit so that the faithful remnant (the healthy stock) can receive more vine-life for the new fruit that’s about to take place.

The Biblical counterpart to our time may be similar to when Elijah confronted apostate Israel and the 450 prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18:25. This spiritual showdown at the “OK Corral” may be upon us again. Sadly when Elijah asked the people of God “How long will you falter between two opinions. If the LORD is God follow Him; but if Baal follow him”? The people answered him “not a word”. Wow! Never has silence spoken so loudly. It appears that the people of God seemed to need exposure to some kind of supernatural phenomenon to break them out of their spiritual stupor and the cultural stalemate. Evidently this paralizing silence is once again present among the people of God today. Some even suggest God is using the boldness and fearlessness (or vulgarity) of an ungodly Donald Trump as a “Trumpet Call” for the cowering Church to speak up against the political correctness currently silencing the people of God.

pray 5

So Why Aren’t Believers Meeting Together at the City Altar?

  1. They don’t believe that their prayers will make a difference. Most won’t admit it but they don’t really believe prayer can make a difference with such entrenched generational problems. We have been trying to fix the problems for so long in the natural that we lost sight of the supernatural ability of God. This reveals why community revival tarries, because its starts with individuals experiencing it for themselves.
  2. They don’t know how to relate to or trust the convening leaders of the City Altar. Many believers have been taught to only recognize the leaders in their “home” ministry. They have difficulty recognizing God’s leaders in the community that are not from their network or denomination.
  3. Sometimes these kinds of prayer meetings are well-meaning but narrowly-focused. Some leaders who try to facilitate city-prayer meetings unknowingly “push” their way or style of doing prayer meetings. Instead of something that integrates the Body of Christ, it becomes an extension of their own church service.
  4. Their eschatology prohibits them from believing and working towards the betterment of their city or nation. Some believe the Bible teaches society has to get worse before Jesus comes back; therefore any effort to make things better would be contradicting the Scriptures. Others teach the Lord will not return for generations and therefore lack the sense of urgency needed to overcome their uncomfortableness with working with believers from other tribes.
  5. They are simply tired from the grind of trying to make a living. Many believers are stuck in the trap of making “bricks for Pharaoh” and simply don’t believe God or His present day leaders can bring a solution to such long-standing problems. It’s not until they seek “first” the Kingdom of God that they will truly see God provide for them and free them from slavery to the world’s system.

So What Kind of Believers Attend a City Prayer Meeting?

  1. Believers who believe in the Supernatural. They recognize the futility of trying to put Christian morality on a society that isn’t Christian. They believe the contest between competing cultures is at a tipping point in history where the unbelieving and compromising believers must see evidence of a supernatural God if they are going to switch sides. They remember that every generation that experienced a move of God in history had a tangible spiritual component to it.
  2. Believers who are Spent. Those who have been around for a while. They’ve seen every program and hype offered by man. They themselves have run to and fro trying to make things happen in their strength; but now they are simply out of gas. Yet the one thing they do have is that they remember where to get the gas. They have returned to the filling station of the ancient paths of persistent, prevailing corporate prayer. According to Jesus, this kind of prayer is the proof of the kind of faith He will look for when He returns (see Luke 18:1-8).
  3. Believers who are Serious. This kind of prayer attracts spiritual opposition of the highest order. This is more than praying about the success of an individual church or ministry. This prayer is about birthing movements in a region. This is about transforming cities and even nations through diligent intercession whereby the power of God comes to bring a spiritual paradigm shift to the region.
  4. Believers who are Sacrificial. There is a great inconvenience to this kind of prayer, especially for community leaders. It takes them away from pursuing success for their organization or ministry. Yet prayer meetings like this is how we prove that we no longer are relying on business as usual as we join other believers in our community to stand in the gap between the Lord and cultural apostasy.
  5. Believers who are Sensible. They recognize that sometimes people unknowingly use prayer meetings to mask unbelief and inactivity. That’s why believers who come to the City Altar recognize they need to live out what they are praying in practical, every day life.

Pray 2There may be prayer gatherings like this already taking place in your community. Believers from different denominations having Bible studies and prayer meetings are increasing in number across the country. Some estimate that the exodus from traditional churches has created over 225,000 home churches in America. We believe that these individual groups will increasingly find themselves discerning the “unity of the Spirit” and uniting with other groups as they all gravitate towards their City Altar before the next soul-saving cloud of God rains down on us.

Something special is percolating within the underground Church in America. Black, brown and white believers from every denomination are praying together with greater fervency. Perhaps you are becoming the kind of believer who desires to pray at the City Prayer Altar in your city. You may even be someone from one of the tribes of God’s holy nation called to rebuild your community altar.

Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the Lord, which had been torn down. Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come…With the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord. 1 Kings 18:30, 31

Who’s Right About The End Times? 10 Reasons Why They Are Convinced

EndtimesA common debate among Christians is how the end times will work themselves out before Jesus returns. There are compelling reasons why some Christians cling to their particular end-time world view. I’ve highlighted some of the key points that resonate with them. I suppose it is predictable that believers can look at the same Scriptures and come away with different interpretations. Witnesses often can’t describe the same car accident to authorities. Some say Bible prophecy isn’t important. Yet with almost a quarter of the Bible dealing with prophecies this is something God definitely wanted us to study. There are many points of view on this subject, and how you and I interpret these Scriptures affects how we will view many other scriptures. While some groups are content that God will work things out in His timing, there are two groups that seem to disagree the most. I have generalized (even over-simplified) these two points of view for those who are new to the discussion. I give some suggested reading at the end of the article as well.*

So let’s look at two belief systems that often clash with each other. The Premillennial/Futurist view refers to the millennial reign of Christ that takes place in the future after a great tribulation (Christ’s kingdom comes in the future). The Postmillennial/Preterist view states the reign of Christ has begun and the apocalyptic events of the last days of the Old Covenant were experienced in Jerusalem in 70 A.D (Christ’s kingdom is here now).

Here are some reasons why their followers can look at the same Scriptures but come away with a different End Time point of view…

  1.  THEY BOTH BELIEVE BIBLICAL PATTERNS AND CONTEXT IS VITAL

Premillennial / Futurist View They follow the Biblical pattern of fulfilled prophecy which had a partial immediate fulfillment yet will have a secondary ultimate fulfillment centuries later.

Postmillennial / Preterist View They follow the Biblical pattern of fulfilled prophecy. Jesus was speaking only to His generation. Historical records back it up.

  1.  THEY BOTH BELIEVE THEIR VIEW IS A SIMPLE NARRATIVE TO FOLLOW

Premillennial / Futurist View They believe the world gets worse, the Church gets persecuted more, and then Jesus comes back.

Postmillennial / Preterist View They believe the Church advances the Gospel to all nations more, and then Jesus comes back.

  1.  THEY BOTH ARE COMFORTED SEEING THE SCRIPTURES CONFIRMED TODAY

Premillennial / Futurist View They are comforted knowing the Bible is validated by so many prophetic current events happening right in front of them in the News.

Postmillennial / Preterist View They are comforted knowing the Bible is validated despite the sensationalism of the News; the actual data shows the Church is advancing.

  1.  THEY BOTH BELIEVE THE OTHER GUYS ONLY LISTEN TO ONE SIDE OF THE STORY

Premillennial / Futurist View They see the other guys as pie-in-the-sky idealists refusing to acknowledge the bad news.

Postmillennial / Preterist View They see the other guys as insecure, fear-based humans only acknowledging the bad news.

  1.  THEY BOTH BELIEVE THE OTHER GUYS CAN LOOK BAD

Premillennial / Futurist View The other guys sound like Israel refusing to listen to their prophets’ warning about impending doom by discounting the signs as silly or impossible.

Postmillennial / Preterist View The other guys have predicted the end of the world in every generation for the last two thousand years without ever acknowledging their errors.

  1.  THEY BOTH BELIEVE THEIR VIEW IS A MOTIVATION FOR MINISTRY

Premillennial / Futurist View The sense of the time being short and imminent judgment motivates believers to repent and spread the Gospel with missionary zeal.

Postmillennial / Preterist View The sense of destiny to take the nations with the Gospel motivates believers to take dominion in every sphere of life with missionary zeal.

  1.  THEY BOTH BELIEVE THEIR VIEW TAKES FAITH FOR WHAT’S COMING

Premillennial / Futurist View They believe we need to prepare the Church for the terrible times about to take place on planet earth to test every believer.

Postmillennial / Preterist View They believe it doesn’t take faith to watch things get worse; things do that all by themselves. Advancing the Kingdom of God takes faith.

  1.  THEY BOTH USE THE NEWSPAPER TO INTERPRET THE BIBLE

Premillennial / Futurist View They use today’s New York Times to confirm their interpretation of the Bible.

Postmillennial and Preterist View They use the Jerusalem Times of 70 A.D. to confirm their interpretation of the Bible.

  1.  THEY BOTH BELIEVE THERE IS AN ANTICHRIST

Premillennial / Futurist View They believe an antichrist will appear in the last days, during a one world government to declare himself as God before Jesus comes to set up His kingdom for thousand years.

Postmillennial / Preterist View They believe John identified Nero Caesar as the antichrist who appeared in the last days of the Old Covenant and declared himself as God as Jesus set up His kingdom forever.

  1.  THEY BOTH BELIEVE IN A VICTORIOUS ESCHATOLOGY

Premillennial / Futurist View They believe that despite the Antichrist, the persecution and the Tribulation, Jesus returns and defeats all His enemies and wins in the end.

Postmillennial / Preterist View They believe that despite the antichrist spirit, the persecutions and the tribulations, Christ’s enemies are made His footstool and He wins in the end.

As you can see there are real reasons why different Christians believe what they believe. Is there be a place to meet in the middle or can there be a synthesis of the two points of view? I think there are strengths and weakness in both points of view. Let us loving work together to find common ground without demonizing the other guys. That way we will fulfill Ephesians 4 and “grow up into all things into Him who is the Head – Christ”.

*For those who were brought up listening to Hal Lindsey, Jack Van Impe, Tim Lahaye, Ed Hinson, Irwin Baxter, John Hagee, Grant Jeffery, or Perry Stone you may want to read some books from guys on the other side. Here are a few suggestions. You can start with a free online version of Raptureless by Jonathan Welton. Also The Last Days According to Jesus by R.C. Sproul, Victorious Eschatology by Harold Eberle and Martin Trench, Before Jerusalem Fell by Kenneth Gentry, Days of Vengeance by David Chilton, Unraveling the End by John Noe and Revelation for Everyone by N.T. Wright.

 

Why Does it Seem like God is Hiding from Us?

HidingAs we read the Bible it seems as if God regularly appears to the saints of old. By the time we get to Israel leaving Egypt God is showing up almost daily to these wandering Jews. But as you read on it wasn’t all that great for God or His people. Just as God found it nearly impossible to live among sinful people, the Israelites found it nearly impossible to live with a holy God in their midst. They even turned down the opportunity to talk to Him, preferring Moses meet with God on their behalf (Exodus 21:19). We see that even though God dwelt in their midst in the Tabernacle, fed them daily with Manna, led them by a cloud and pillar of fire, executed instantly those who rebelled, and gave them a meticulous code of ethics called the Law, they still lacked faith and obedience…which is what God was looking for in the first place. Their true condition made it virtually impossible to be near God. Some kind of greater work or transformation needed to be done to their souls.

Even those of us who want God to reveal Himself with supernatural signs and wonders must admit that the fireworks of Moses, Elijah and Elisha were just a blip in Israel’s history that produced little lasting faith. We submit that the miracles in Egypt, the supernatural victories during the wars of Israel, the awesome ministry of Elijah and Elisha, and the signs and wonders of Jesus and His disciples had more to do with them dispossessing the power of the Devil than trying to prove God’s existence and create faith in God’s people. Jesus Himself even said in Matthew 16:4, “a wicked and adulteress generation seeks after a sign.” In effect He was saying, “You won’t be faithful to me unless I give you an incentive to be faithful.” Try telling that to your spouse and see how long your marriage will last.

You see, when God tried to reveal Himself, He was often misunderstood in the eyes of a sinful people. Sin keeps us from seeing God with eyes that can behold and understand Him as He truly is.

His Presence Would Overwhelm UsHiding 2

God also seems to limit His exposure to us so as to not influence our behavior in His favor. Take the story of Job for example. God didn’t sit down with Job and explain the existence of a terrible Devil who desired to destroy him, although most scholars believed the ancients knew of the Devil from the oral traditions passed down from Adam. God simply allowed Job to be free to respond to his circumstances according to his own will. God gave Himself no advantages.

Philip Yancey says it like this, “The gambler would say God stacked the deck against Himself. The cynic would say the Creator is taunting and toying with His creation”. But only an all-knowing God truly knows the delicate balance between revealing Himself and holding Himself back in order to produce true obedience in the heart of the believer. Remember, God has had a plan from the foundation of the world that we free-will, yet sinful humans would stand before Him blameless and in love. (Ephesians 1:14). Somehow He will make us blameless and we will truly and freely love Him.

This seeming unwillingness for God to reveal Himself fully to us can be better understood in a story told by one theologian about a King who was in love with a humble maiden. Yancey quotes the story about a King in love.

The King of the Universe Falls in Love

“There once was a King like no other King. Every statesman trembled before his power. No one dared breathe a word against him, for he had the strength to crush all opponents. And yet this mighty King was melted by love for a humble maiden.

loveHow could he declare his love for her? In an odd sort of way, his very Kingliness tied his hands. If he brought her to the palace and crowned her head with jewels and clothed her body in royal robes, she would surely not resist — no one dared resist him. But would she love him? She would say she loved him, of course, but would she truly? Or would she live with him in fear, nursing a private grief for the life she had left behind? Would she be happy at his side? How could he know? 

If he rode to her modest forest cottage in his royal carriage, with an armed escort waving their bright banners, that too would overwhelm her. He did not want a cringing subject. He wanted a lover, an equal. He wanted her to forget he was a King and she a humble maiden and to let shared love cross over the gulf between.

The King, convinced he could not elevate the maiden without hurting her and crushing her freedom, resolved to descend. He clothed himself as a beggar and approached her cottage incognito. It wasn’t just a disguise but a new identity he took on. He renounced the throne to win her hand.” (Philip Yancey, Disappointment with God. Zondervan 1988 p.103, 104).

This love story gives new meaning to the following Scripture.

Who being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Philippians 2:68

During the Old Testament, anytime God appeared to man He would have to tell those He was speaking to, to “fear not”. Through Jesus, anybody could walk right up to God Himself, shake his hand, walk right on by, or spit on Him. The humiliation God has gone through to relate with us and reveal His love for us is staggering to comprehend.

As much as we want God to reveal Himself in a big way, through signs and wonders, we should remember “The Big Picture”. Our God wants genuine love from us because of who He is, not because of how powerful He is. It is really to our advantage that God limits the physical revelation of Himself so that we might choose Him as a person and not His power. It is as we embrace the characteristics of God will we be prepared to meet Him face to face.

Another reason we need to recognize for God’s apparent hiddenness is because He is communicating to a deeper part of our being. He is speaking to us but He speaks in the spirit realm. You can learn more about how He does this here… Be Encouraged, God Will Come into Focus.

Excerpt from “It Really Is God’s Book”

Expectation versus Expectancy

ExpectancyEvery believer will need to sort out the difference between expectation and expectancy during their lifetime. The way that leads to life in this world is often narrow and requires balance to avoid the ditch on either side. This is similar to the distinction we need to make when we discern the difference between Self-Sacrifice and Sacrifice of Self.

In a nutshell, when we have a certain “expectation” it may come from a sermon or teaching that arouses our faith or we have a great need to believe God for something specific. This is when our circumstances require us to believe that God is going to do something. However the potential for a setback and an offended heart lies at the door of this scenario. It’s because we often imagine how God will do this miracle and we inadvertently put our faith in the “thing” we imagined more than in God Himself and His will in the situation. This is called putting our faith in our faith. It also reminds us why God didn’t want us to make any graven “images” of Him in the Ten Commandments. Images carved in stone or carved into our minds almost always keeps us away from Him Who is the eternal, uncontainable Spirit. There is a big difference between serving the God we want and serving the God Who is.

This wrong focus often happens when we use the Bible selfishly as a “utilitarian tool” instead of a love letter that leads us to the heart of God. We see countless disillusioned believers who put their faith in what they believe God is going to do versus putting their faith in Who the miracle worker is. There is a difference between believing in healing and believing in the Healer; believing in salvation and believing in the Savior. Disillusionment is a good thing in some cases because we need to be removed from some of our illusions.

We initially don’t recognize there is a difference between expectation and expectancy until we don’t get what we are praying and believing for after an extended period of time. This brings us to a fork in the road where we must choose between our belief in the thing we want to happen and our belief in the Lord Himself.

How do I know the difference? One sure way to recognize if your faith is in the wrong thing is to inventory your thoughts when the thing you are believing for doesn’t come to pass. Are you insulted or offended? Are you bitter or resentful? Have you secretly disengaged from the fight? Are you just going through the motions? Do you have a secret accusation against God?

An Idol of Expectation. I remember several occasions being so angry with God about my circumstances not changing. I thought I was faithful; I was living right and I was standing in faith yet with no results. I didn’t recognize I was secretly offended and was developing a cold heart. I also didn’t realize the source of my offense was because I placed my faith in the scenarios I constructed in my mind in the first place. I even thought I was being so generous to God. After all, I even gave God 3 or 4 different scenarios that He could use to answer my prayer. Wasn’t that so benevolent of me? I was so proud of how humble I was. Yet God is His wisdom and mercy had to let me experience the death of my expectations so I would be free from putting my faith in my “image” of answered prayer; in my ability to intellectually devise a scenario for God to work.

An Attitude of Expectancy. I am learning to keep and attitude of expectancy in my life. When I do, I am more peaceful and relaxed as I am more willing to go with the pace of grace. My faith is in the goodness of God as I remember He always has my best interest at heart (see Jeremiah 29:11). I now know God is always good and has an agenda of abundant life planned for me. I am beginning to appreciate the “journey as the destination” with God. He could make everything we need appear instantly but He has predestined us to be “conformed” to the image of Jesus. Sometimes delay isn’t denial, it’s just God’s wisdom at work. Besides, regardless of whatever I am believing for, it is always a lessor thing compared to the glorious relationship we have with Him as we are travel on this journey. This realization becomes real after our imposed deadline for what we are expecting passes or our faith expires. Then we often see God turning circumstances around in way that had nothing to do with what we imagined in the first place.

In our early years it seems almost impossible not to construct some idea of what it will look like to believe God in a particular area of our lives. We all try to imagine how a particular answer to prayer might turn out. It’s not easy telling a young person that the latest thing or boyfriend they want so badly isn’t really going to make them happy in the end, because it’s what they “imagine” will make them happy. We only come to appreciate this when we don’t get what we want and God gives us what is best for us. He reminded Israel of this in the book of Isaiah.

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says 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. Isaiah 55:8, 9

It is a painful lesson to be circumcised or pruned from our way of thinking but the result is a more intimate relationship with the Lord. So if you are not receiving from God what you are expecting remember what Garth Brooks said in one of his songs… “Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers”.

We can keep an attitude of expectancy with God because He is faithful to His word and He loves us enough to sacrifice His own Son for us.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

In The Year 2023 – The Gospel of Grace Meets The Gospel of Repentance

2023As a person with a prophetic disposition I sometimes receive words or subtle indications from the Lord about a variety of subjects and issues. I am sure it may also be the pizza I had the night before. I have been wrong before. I often wrestle with what I should share and what I should keep to myself. This time I sense it is for the Church to consider. I suppose when these impressions are from the Lord it is only one part of many parts for us to gain a perspective for where we are personally or corporately. That’s why I love working with the different tribes of the Body of Christ…I get to see the pieces from each stream coming together to reveal a high-definition picture of the Lord.

Recently I have been getting an impression that another Scriptural emphasis is coming our way that may seem at odds with the “present truth” of the much-needed “Grace Message”. First of all let me state here that I love the Gospel of Grace (see Acts 20:24). For those in the know, this message of emphasizing the unmerited favor of God has been sweeping the world over the last several years. Never before has there been such an acceptance of focusing on our identity in the last Adam, instead of who we were in the first Adam. It is a sweet and refreshing wind from the Spirit of God releasing His people from striving and struggling to earn what has been freely given through Jesus Christ. Focusing on Jesus and what He has accomplished for us is what transforms us and gives us true liberty and freedom. Freedom is not the absence of something but the presence of Someone! (See 2 Corinthians 3:17). Some trace the recent resurgence of the Grace Message to the prince of this movement…Joseph Prince from Singapore.

I have enjoyed watching all kinds of ministers throwing out old tapes and CDs from their teaching library that focused on our subtle but very real strivings, to earn our righteousness. Some prominent prosperity and faith teachers are changing their sermon topics to grace. More Grace Churches are springing up as well. I have even seen some “hell fire and damnation” preachers allow for the occasional addition of the Gospel of Grace in their repertoire of sermons. Much of the Church still hasn’t discovered the fullness of His grace but that is changing every week.

Some who may misunderstand the Gospel of Grace will say this “easy-believe-ism” message is condoning sin and removing the necessary guard rails of the Law that keeps believers from sinning. The apostle Paul was slanderously accused of the same error in Romans 3:8. In fact, when was the last time our preaching of the Gospel got us accused of having a reputation of saying sinning is OK? Are we preaching the same Gospel Paul preached or some hybrid? Something to think about.Grace 2

The Gospel of Grace maybe like other teachings that dominated the conversation in years past like; the Holiness movement of the 1940s, the Healing movement of the 1950s, The Charismatic movement of the 1960s and 70s, the Word of Faith and Prosperity movement of the 1980s and 90s, the Apostolic or Kingdom movement of recent years. Some of these may be the winds of doctrine spoken about in Ephesians 4:14. It is important to note the Ephesians text doesn’t say all these doctrines were error, just that they should all lead us to maturity in Jesus. Verse 15 admonishes us to grow up into “ALL” these things into “HIM” who is the Head – Christ.

What About The Year 2023?

But back to the year 2023. I believe I see a new spiritual emphasis coming to the forefront of the world. I don’t know if 2023 is the beginning, middle or end of this movement. The only way I know how to describe this emphasis would be a great move of Repentance.  What I saw in my mind’s eye was as if the greatest news to multitudes of people is that someone is giving them a new opportunity to repent of their lifestyles in order to connect with God, who they have been ignoring. For our discussion here I will call it the “Gospel of Repentance”. In 2023 I see it becoming recognized as an effective movement or teaching in Europe and then spreading to America and around the world. I run a risk here of trying to explain this phenomenon instead of just simply stating what I see. Please allow me to be fallible here.

I sense this Repentance emphasis will seem strange to many believers who will have difficulty reconciling it with what they have been hearing over last 20 years. We rarely hear strong messages to repent and turn from our sinful ways anymore. Some even infer that the “act of repentance” is unnecessary today, because it indicates we are subtly engaging in a type of self-effort to be righteous.

But the results of this message of repentance will be remarkable and difficult to dismiss. Just as the masses are now accepting the Grace message, I see multitudes accepting the “Repentance Message” (a God-given eagerness to repent and fully surrender to Him). I sense a younger man will be the initial figure-head of this emphasis, but many will take up this mantle. I am puzzled because I don’t see what Scriptures they are using or what kinds of sermons are being used, but I see amazing results. I see a new zeal in these repentance ministers but I don’t see what the “secret sauce” that is in their message. I think this is more than the axiom of Grace to the believer and Law for the sinner at work here. It is as if the whole world is ready to repent…like they really want to.

With so much of the Church in the West in retreat and unfettered licentiousness spreading throughout our culture this may seem improbable. Yet the freedom to sin with who and with as many people as they want, appears to cause the culture to reach a tipping point. It is as if the lost themselves will become deeply sickened by their own lifestyles. They will be filled to brim with their own lustfulness and the lifeless consequences that comes with it. Their cup of iniquity will become so full,  they will become desperate for the lifeline of the Gospel of Repentance. I see parts of the earth so ripe for harvest that the fruit almost falls to the ground of its own accord. It will seem as if any Christian reading the “phone book” before a group of lost people is enough for an altar call almost anywhere.

RepentanceThis Gospel of Repentance may have some of the same DNA of ministers like George Whitefield, John Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, Evan Roberts, D L Moody, Billy Sunday, Charles Spurgeon, William Booth and countless others. It’s important to remember, that although today the Gospel of Grace appears to be a superior revelation than what these men preached in the past, their results were unmistakably Biblical. The high retention rates of their converts, the high percentage of those converts called into ministry, the godly lives they lived and the godly families they produced as a result of their preaching is unequaled in the Church. Their message caused the powerful cultural changes of the 1st and 2nd Great Awakenings. Are we on the verge of a 3rd Great Awakening in America?

Will the Church rediscover the Biblical purpose of grace? Listen to Titus 2:11-12; For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly in this present age… Here we see that Biblical grace instructs us to deny sin, not accommodate it. The current sin-level in the Church may be an indication that some of the current “grace messages” are a counterfeit gospel. Something to think about.

Perhaps the Grace Revolution is just what the doctor ordered for the people of God suffering from dead religion, so they could enter Christ’s rest and find His strength for the Harvest to come. Perhaps the Repentance Revolution is what the world desperately needs as it discovers its dream of a world free of Jesus and Christianity has turned out to be a nightmare of artificial freedom leading to slavery to the very things they thought would bring them happiness.

This takes me back to the first sermon Jesus preached in Mark 1:15;

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

 

The Epistle to the Church of Sanford

BibleEpislte

CHAPTER 1

Our Common Salvation

Paul, an apostle and bondservant of the Lord Jesus Christ. To the saints of Sanford and surrounding region who are in Christ Jesus. To the city the whole world watches, to see what will become of the races in your country.

  1. Grace and peace from God, the Father of Jesus Christ who has begotten us by His grace, through the blood of his only begotten Son. We give thanks for each of you praying always that the Lord will continue to give you revelation of His love for us, to Him who is eternal and true.
  2. Whose kingdom is coming in ever increasing power and glory. May your sanctification be evident to all before His coming.
  3. I write to you to remind you of those things, which were spoken by the prophets and the apostles and the Lord Jesus Himself.
  4. Those things concerning our Lord, which He prayed on the night of His betrayal.

Don’t Be Deceived by Satan

  1. For I fear for some of you who may have fallen asleep and have forgotten your first love and have accepted the serpent’s substitute for Christ.
  2. You may have a form of godliness and religion, yet deny the power of God in your midst as if it were something to be ashamed of. I beseech you to not allow the wisdom of this world to sway you from the simplicity of Christ, lest the message of the cross be of no effect.
  3. For the power of God is in proclaiming Jesus Christ crucified, buried and raised from the dead, not with persuasive words of man’s wisdom.
  4. For we are not ignorant of the devil’s devices in which he seeks to fix our attention onto lesser things and not the supremacy of Christ. Yes the enemy of our souls will seduce us with the things of God as long as we are not worshipping God Himself.
  5. This has been his most effective deception as he seeks to enslave believers in religious pursuits for righteousness as he blinds their minds to the finished work of Christ on the cross.
  6. Believing they are gaining the approval of God, they are driven to and fro; to everywhere, except to the costly sacrifice God has provided for their lost souls.
  7. And even some of the very elect have fallen into this delusion as they continue in lifeless religious traditions and the pursuit of reputation among men.

CHAPTER 2

Remember the Power of God’s Might

Therefore, when I saw that this was so concerning some of you, I believe it was needful for me to address those obstacles presently besetting the advancing Church of Christ in Sanford, according to the grace I have received.

  1. For you know perfectly well how the enemy is like a cunning serpent, twisting the purposes of God in the earth.
  2. But our weapons are mighty to tear down these strongholds. Therefore let us not be afraid to fight the good fight.

The Sins of the City Are Widely Known

  1. It is reported and known abroad that Sanford has been struggling to rise up out of its poverty and the past wounds of racial injustice, which hinders the unity of the Church of Jesus Christ.
  2. The root of bitterness has been allowed to defile many. Instead of receiving the Lord’s healing, some who try to honor the suffering of their forefathers have unknowingly passed on this wound from generation to generation.
  3. This “victim identity” impoverishes people and withholds from them their true identity in Christ that leads to abundant life and joy in the Lord.
  4. This is the same slave mentality that kept the children of Israel from possessing the promise land, and caused them to waste away in the wilderness.
  5. Some even teach their disciples to remain separate from members of His Body because of the color of their skin. They forget that it was God who reconciled Jew and Gentile to Himself and made all peoples from one blood.
  6. It has also been reported that some of your shepherds are sexually immoral as were the sons of Eli, causing the people to despise the house of the Lord and no longer assemble with the saints.
  7. Others have greedily run after profit as Balaam, prophesying to those with itching ears for worldly prosperity.
  8. I rejoice in the Lord for those who have been faithfully praying for Sanford to rise up and become the city of light set on a hill.
  9. I call upon you “Friendly City” to remember your first name in which you were called the “Gate City”. For through you many have entered the central regions of Florida looking for hope and purpose.
  10. And yes, people arrived through your River Gate, through your Railroad Gate and Airport Gate. The Gates of the County seat still sit on the shores of Lake Monroe. Truly you are a gate city and the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church of Jesus Christ in Sanford.
  11. Let us go forward in the full assurance of God’s power to root out and to pull down, to destroy and throw down, and to build and to plant.
  12. Let us obey the Lord’s command to remove the altars and sacred pillars, the mental images of anything that exalts itself above the knowledge of Christ’s victory and His prayer for us to be one in Him.
  13. If there is any teaching that draws men to principles instead of to the person of Jesus Christ, then let us rise up and confront it in His name. If there are leaders who are living contrary to the Scriptures, let us confront them in love, rebuking those who resist the truth.
  14. Let us hear the admonition to speak the truth in love. Let us no longer just think the truth. Now is the time to shout it from the housetops.
  15. It is time for the Church to come out of her closet. The voice of one crying in the wilderness is once again preparing the Bride for her Bridegroom.
  16. No longer will the Church in Sanford be subservient to the controlling spirit of religious and cultural traditions.
  17. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty, and liberty is what the truth produces in those who know and obey it.

CHAPTER 3

Confronting Religious Control

Let us remove those strongholds that are hindering the glorious manifestation of the Lord Jesus Christ through His Body in Sanford.

  1. Do not forget our Lord’s Prayer that we would be one as He and the Father are one. Herein the lost will acknowledge that God truly sent Jesus to save the world, when they see us as one. Let not the Gospel fall on deaf ears because our lives contradict what we preach.
  2. Therefore we confront the sin of religious control that forces the people of God into sectarian groups, making disciples of ourselves that are isolated from the rest of the Body.
  3. We charge those who shepherd the flock to edify and work to join and knit the Body of Christ together, so every part does its share.
  4. We confront the error that teaches we are only responsible to build our group without any thought for the whole Body.
  5. Don’t become a cancer, a tumor growing without regard for the rest of the Body. Let him who thinks he stands, take heed lest he be found outside saying “Lord, Lord, didn’t we do all these things for you?”
  6. We are not speaking about “sameness” but about “oneness”, otherwise where would the foot, or the eye or the ear find their purpose?
  7. If Christ is your head and He is building a Body of every tribe, tongue and nation, then work out that purpose in Sanford. Confront everything that exalts itself against His Lordship over His Body?
  8. Truly are we not to pray that His Kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven?  Are we not to expect it to be manifested here in our generation? Anything less would be unbelief and vain repetition that displeases God.
  9. Who has bewitched you to depart from the unity of the Spirit that already exists? Why haven’t you worked with the elders of the Lord in your city?
  10. How is that you can strain at nat-size doctrinal differences while swallowing a camel-size Church divided against its self?
  11. Are you building your kingdom in Jesus’ name? Is it really the Lord you are bringing people to, or is it to your own enterprise you are bringing them to? Consider this and the Lord will give you wisdom.
  12. Remember that each tree will bear its own fruit. Is there liberty and life in your tree? Does the fruit of your ministry tree heal the tribes and nations in your city and your country?
  13. Let us consider one another and provoke one another to work the works of Jesus. He who has called us is faithful who will perform it.
  14. Herein is the love of God, that we love all the brethren. By this the world will know that we are His disciples.
  15. Therefore I beseech all the servants of God to break out of the religious traditions and isolationism that works against our Lord’s Prayer, lest you be disqualified on the Day when Christ will judge the secrets of all men.

CHAPTER 4

Test and See If You Are of the Faith

Brethren examine yourselves to see if you are in the faith before the Lord comes.

  1. When we are received into the glories of heaven we will all be of one mind and one spirit because we shall see Him as He is.
  2. Let us provoke one another to consider how we can see Him that way now in the Spirit.
  3. The shepherds of God must model this reality for the flock to follow. What we will be in heaven we must be now in the earth.
  4. Those who discern the presence of the Lamb that was slain throw their crowns at His feet. Those who proudly cling to their titles or positions haven’t seen the Lord.
  5. Remember that the Kingdom of God births the Church. When we live from the life of the King and His Kingdom we become the true Ecclesia that represents the King. Greet one another as fellow citizens of the Kingdom.
  6. Know this, the Lord Himself is coming to His Church in power before He comes for His Church in glory.
  7. To the only wise and omnipotent God and Savior, Jesus Christ, be all the praise and glory forever and ever; Amen.

The Beauty of Hell

Hell 3We fear it. We hear horror stories about it. Hell is the place nobody wants to go to. Can such a scary place really exist? It is popular today to question how a loving God could ever send somebody to a place of torment… especially forever. Critics say that religious leaders use the concept of hell to scare people so they can control them and their wallets. Others question if Hell is real, is it forever? Others believe Hell is a place where the last ounce of energy to resist God is expended and people finally succumb to God’s love…which never fails; this is called “Hopeful Inclusivism”. Some say hell is a place of annihilation (the end of existence). Articles like “Why Hell Is Not in the Bible” helps us understand why some scholars don’t believe in a literal eternal hell. Explaining all the different doctrines about hell can leave one lost in a theological abyss. Explaining it Biblically is much easier. Regardless of its duration or dimensions, it is not a place any sane person wants to go to.

The scholars who believe in a traditional hell believe God knows how to faithfully judge and determine the fate of all those who have never heard the Gospel? He determines their fate by their conscience amidst the knowledge they do have? He decides what to do with aborted babies and children before the age of accountability by His foreknowledge (or Middle Knowledge; a Molinist View) by how they would have lived (see Romans 2:14-16, 26-27).

It is interesting to note that the same Greek word used for eternal or everlasting life is used to describe eternal or everlasting fire or damnation. I guess if we are questioning if damnation is forever we may need to rethink if our salvation is forever as well. In any event, we sometimes forget that the Good News Jesus told us to proclaim to the world is good news because the bad news is so bad. Jesus came to save us from Gehenna; the smoldering “garbage dump” of His day. Many believe this represents the spiritual garbage heap in the afterlife.

Some say that God allowed humans to kill Jesus on the cross was for the purpose of revealing how bad the depravity and cruelty of sinful man is. Others see it as God’s way of describing how terrible hell must be must be by how much Jesus was willing to endure to save us from it. This innocent God-man suffered so much because He wanted to save us from something so terrible and so horrific, it is beyond words. Perhaps that’s why Jesus warned us so much about a place called hell.

This is where the critics of Hell are met with a dilemma. You see, the greatest human who ever lived (Jesus), talked more about Hell and judgment than anyone else. The plain reading of these texts, are inescapability clear; this is a place you don’t want to go to. Listen to a few things He said…

And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. Matthew 5:29

And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: Matthew 25:41

So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades. Luke 16:22-23

When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,  when He comes, in that Day. 1 Thessalonians 1:6-10

Some say these Scriptures metaphorically refer to the consequences of sin in this life. Yet it makes one wonder, why does some concept of Hell exist in almost every culture on earth? It maybe because we humans somehow instinctively expect there must be some accounting, some reckoning for acts of evil if there truly is a just God-afterlife. There must be a heavenly Judge Who cannot be bribed or manipulated, Who will bring righteous judgment to all the evils in the world. One thing is for sure…God will not put anyone in a “headlock” and force them into heaven.

So what is so beautiful about Hell? Have the scholars who believe in a traditional hell found any meaningful reasons why a loving God would allow for a place like this? Here are three possible things to consider.

1 – Could Hell Reveal How Loving, Wise and Merciful God Is?Hell 2

I know that may sound strange; but think about it for a moment. If God truly gave us a free-will to choose to love and serve Him or reject Him, there also would have to be a real place to go for those who would refuse Him. It would be cruel and merciless to force someone into heaven if they didn’t want to be there. If they didn’t love God, love His people, love His ways or love intimate communion with the Creator, why should they be forced to live in heaven? It would also be unfair to the multitudes who wanted to be with God. Why should they be subjected to an “eternity with angry house guests” who are hostile to God and His ways; that wouldn’t be paradise to them either? That’s how we can be in heaven and be cool with people in hell; even our loved ones. When you realize that they are rejecting the Creator and Author of life, separation from them is not only required but welcomed (see Luke 14:26). Jesus said, compared to our love for Him our affection for others would look like hate.

I know before I became a believer, hanging around Christians, Bible reading, a worship service, a prayer meeting or mission work would be hell for me. I wanted to be as far away as possible from God’s light and His life. I resisted Him. However now that I’ve been born again those things are like air in my lungs…the very things that gives me joy and purpose for living. I can’t get enough of His presence.

The loving thing for God to do for those who love God and those who don’t is to make a place for each of them. Our time here on earth, provides us with a complete vetting process and clarifies our choice before a just God.

2 – Could The Fact that a Place Without God Being so Terrible Mean that God’s Presence is so Awesome?

HellSome may ask; “Why does Hell have to be such an awful place?” First of all we need to realize that wherever God’s presence is absent, there you will find Hell! The heroin addict, the pimp, the prostitute, the gangster, the corrupt businessman, the hate-filled terrorist, the cold–hearted homemaker all experience this emptiness whether they will admit it or not. People often overlook the fact that God is the Author of life, liberty, glorious light, health, wonder, beauty, boundless love, mercy, acceptance, unending joy, unspeakable peace and goodness. If you don’t want to be around Almighty God, you’ll be separating yourself from these attributes and benefits as well.

But why would God make it a place of gruesome fire? Scholars differ as to the reasons. As we said before, it may not be any of God’s doing. It may simply be just an unavoidable by-product of God’s absence and so many godless people in one place. However some scholars believe the fires of Hell could actually be a result of God’s mercy at work. The very flames themselves could be God’s way of crippling or restraining the ability of the stronger and more-wicked rebels from inflicting greater torment on others.

For example, if you were put in jail for DUI you would probably appreciate the insane ax-murderer in the cell with you being securely handcuffed to the opposite wall so they wouldn’t be able to hurt you. The flames of Hell and the Lake of Fire may be there to keep them from tormenting each other. Some believe that those in Hell will suffer proportionally to the level of sin and rebellion they lived on earth. Likewise those in heaven will be rewarded according to their works on earth. Jesus indicated these differences when He said, it would be more tolerable in the day of judgment for those in Sodom and Gomorrah than those cities in Israel who rejected the Gospel. The more knowledge one has the greater the condemnation.

3 – Could Hell be a Place You Have to Actually Fight to Get Into?

BattleThat’s right. Nobody gets into Hell unless they want to be there. You have to battle your way into this place. You have to fight past every obstacle God puts in your path. You have to fight to ignore the hundreds if not thousands of signs and indicators from creation revealing the goodness and glory of God (Romans 1). You have fight to ignore Christians witnessing to you. You have to refuse the Good News coming from the ministers on TV, radio, newspapers, your friends, relatives and the guy at work. You have to ignore scenes in movies that depict God’s invitation to be saved. You have to ignore this article. You have to fight the voice of your conscience. You have to fight the still small voice of the Holy Spirit convicting you of refusing the God Who created you. Yes, you have to fight with every ounce of energy you have until your last breath to get into Hell.

C. S. Lewis suggested that there is a way for people in hell to leave but they inevitably always end up choosing to stay there because separation from God is worth more to them than the suffering it causes. In any event, regardless how you define Hell, it was never intended for mankind; it was prepared for the devil and his crew (Matthew 25). If you don’t want to go to a place like that, ask Jesus Christ to come into your life and save you from your sins and their consequences… surrender all you are to Him…Let Him be your Lord. You will truly see why the Good News is so good!

See also; The Beauty of Doubt and The Beauty of Failure