Thursday, March 13, 2014

Your only hope

Bush River Church, est. 1771
When I was seven years old, Mr. Thomas Daum, the pastor at Bush River Baptist Church, came to see me. I had been asking a lot of questions about the Lord and salvation, and my folks felt it was time I talked with the pastor. He sat in a straight back chair in the den and asked me a long list of questions while I sat on the hearth and answered them. 

I don’t remember the questions, but I knew one important thing.

Monday, March 10, 2014

What will the redeemed do in the New Heaven and New Earth?

English: Binkley Chapel at the Southeastern Ba...
Binkley Chapel at the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC. (Wikipedia)
(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

What will we do in heaven? The Revelation affirms that we will (1) rest (Rev 14:13), (2) worship (Rev 15:2-4), and (3) serve (Rev 22:3) God and others. We may be given (4) stewardship over the new creation as we were the old one. Could that be part of ruling and reigning with him? 

If God had given up when Adam and Eve failed at the cultural mandate (Gen 1:28), why did he repeat the command with Noah after the flood (Gen 9:1)? What God-honoring works of art, technology, building, even sports might we develop? Remember, the Lord created us in His image, and He is a creator. If we can create and solve mysteries and cure diseases in our current sinful, depraved minds and bodies, what could we create and develop in a creation without sin? 

Friday, March 07, 2014

How the Bible describes the New Heaven

(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

How does the Bible describe the New Heaven and New Earth? Despite the fact that no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him, He has revealed it to us by his Spirit (1 Cor. 2:9). We can get a glimpse of what heaven is like. Here are a few images that Scripture supplies:

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

A New Heaven and New Earth

(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

Most cultures have a belief in the afterlife, but our contemporary culture has more than ever lost any real vision for heaven. John Lennon urged people to imagine there is no heaven. The Christian music group MercyMe even says, “I can only imagine,” underscoring the deep need for the teaching of a living, powerful, Biblical, and passionate doctrine of heaven.We have lost sight of the wonder and glory of heaven, and we cannot imagine life much better than we have it here. 

We in the West have a joyless view of heaven. Perhaps we have lost the sense of the transcendence of God and therefore heaven. Perhaps we are so self-absorbed and wealthy in the West that we honestly cannot imagine

Monday, March 03, 2014

What is Heaven like? (Part 2)

The Transfiguration Lodovico Carracci 1594
The Transfiguration Lodovico Carracci 1594 (Wikipedia)
(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

Do people have intermediate bodies in the present heaven? God and angels are in essence spirits (John 4:24; Heb 1:14), but human beings are by nature both spiritual and physical (Gen 2:7). God did not create Adam as a spirit and place him in a body. He first created a body and then breathed into a spirit. We cannot, it seems, be fully human without a both a spirit and a body. 

We don’t know for sure, but between our bodily death and our bodily resurrection, God may give us some

Friday, February 28, 2014

What is Heaven like? (Part 1)

Look at Earth from the Heaven

(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

God created heaven. Therefore, he did not always dwell there. He chooses to dwell there, but He needs no dwelling place. Finite humans do. Since God needs no accommodation, it would make sense that heaven is accommodated to furnish us after death. One day in eternity we will dwell in a physical new earth, but until then we must dwell in heaven.

A dangerous unbiblical idea crept into the church through the Greek philosopher Plato and the teachings of the Jewish writer Philo (c. 20 BC – A.D. 50) and the Christian writer Origen (A.D. 185 – 254). It is the worldview teaching that immaterial things such as the soul are good and material things such as our bodies and the earth are

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Did Christ descend into hell?

Russian icon with 5 themes. Fragment: Adam, Ev...
Adam, Eve and others follow Jesus from Hell to Heaven. Russian icon (Wikipedia)
(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

Did Christ descend into hell? Yes, if you mean Hades. The reference at Ephesians 4:8-9 mentions that Jesus led captives in his train, i.e., he captured and led in a Roman-style triumphal procession the evil principalities and powers (demonic forces; Col 2:15; 1 Peter 3:22). He also gave gifts (of the Holy Spirit) to men. He also “descended to the lower, earthly regions.” Some interpret this phrase to mean either Christ’s life on earth or the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, but it is best to understand it as a reference to Hades, the underworld. 

Christ went there following his death on the cross to

Monday, February 24, 2014

Is purgatory real?

Deutsch: Johann Tetzel
Johann Tetzel (Wikipedia)
(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

The most important word in the Old Testament for the intermediate state is Sheol, found 65 times, variously translated as grave, pit, hell, place of the dead. Sheol is mostly known as the abode of the dead. It is the OT designation of the intermediate state, that time between physical death and physical resurrection. A shadowy understanding may contribute to an assumption of

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Is it unloving to talk about Hell?

Mountain road to Lysebotn
Mountain road to Lysebotn (Wikipedia) 
(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

If you were giving directions to Charlotte and you knew one road led there but a similar dangerous road ended at a sharp, steep cliff, would you only talk about the safe road? No, especially if the dangerous road was wider, broader, and more people traveled it. 


Would a doctor be unloving if a she told you that you had a potentially fatal cancer? No, she would be doing her job. Would she be more loving if she knew about the cancer and did not tell you? No, then she would be derelict.

There are only two destinations in this life: Heaven or Hell. Each is real. Each is eternal. Though it was not created for us, we are all headed to Hell unless we surrender our lives to Jesus Christ. The most loving thing to do is to

Friday, February 21, 2014

Does God choose to send anyone to hell?

Sky over ELWA beach in Liberia
(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

Does God choose to send anyone to hell? No. Heaven and hell have differing purposes for God. God created man in His own image to enjoy His presence forever. Hell was not created for man. It was prepared for the devil and his angels/demons (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 20:10). It is not his will that anyone should perish (2 Peter 3:9). God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezek 33:11). Hell is a destiny chosen by

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Will Hell's torment last forever?

Tormented Figure, Baltimore, MD
Tormented Figure, Baltimore, MD (Grufnik)
(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

Annihilation is the teaching that Hell will eventually burn out, and therefore, its inhabitants will not suffer forever. Those holding to annihilation are General Baptists (1660), Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the well-known evangelical scholar and commentator John Stott. Extinction is the idea that those who reject God cease to exist at death. Scripture, however, teaches the soul’s survival after death (Luke 16:19-31; Num. 16:30; Rev. 14:9-11)

Why would sinners be eternally kept in existence to suffer?  At issue is

Monday, February 17, 2014

Why does Hell exist? What is it like?

Loose icon in Gelati monastery shows somewhat ...
Hell: Loose icon in Gelati monastery. (Wikipedia)
(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

Hell was not created to punish human beings. God created hell to punish those angelic beings which rebelled against him. There is no possibility of redemption for them. Though hell was not created for human beings,

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Does Hell really exist?

Scream Cropped
Scream Cropped (Wikipedia)
(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

The New Testament teaches that sin has consequences in this life of punishment after physical death. It has images of unquenchable (Matt. 3:12), eternal (Matt. 25:41, 46; Jude 7) fire (Matt. 5:22, 29,30; 18:8-9) and phrases like “lake of fire” (Rev 20:15; 21:8) and “second death” (Rev 20:6). It is described as a place of darkness (2 Peter 2:17; Jude 13; Matt 8:12), weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt 13:42, 50; 22:13), and separation from God (Psalm 9:17; 34:15-16; 2 Thess 1:9; 1 John 1:5) with continuous torment (Matt 3:12; 25:41; 2 Thess 1:9; Jude 7) and conscious agony (Matt. 10:28; Rom 8:29; Jude 7), perhaps with degrees of punishment (Mark 12:40; Luke 12:48).

However, many, even some who claim to be evangelical, deny the reality of hell. Some believe that 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Hell

Dante And Virgil In Hell by William-Adolphe Bo...
Dante & Virgil In Hell (Bouguereau) (1850) (Wikipedia)
(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

The Bible teaches that there is coming a final resolution of history when God will stop all evil and establish perfect peace and righteousness. While Hell is the default post-Fall destination for everyone, ultimately it is the destination of those who reject God’s offer of redemption found only in Christ Jesus

Most people believe they are going to heaven, but this optimism is in contrast with

Friday, February 07, 2014

What happens when infants die?

firefighter carrying the dying baby
Firefighter carrying a dying baby (Wikipedia)
(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

It is hard to think of anything more tragic than the death of an infant or a young child. For parents, the grief can be overwhelming. They say that one never gets over the death of a child, but one only learns to live with the pain. They console themselves that their precious little one is in a better place. Some believe their child has become an angel, “God must have needed another angel in heaven.” Surely their little one is in heaven with God. Are those consolations true?

For those who live under the authority of the Word of God, sentimentalism and emotional hopes are not enough. We must know if God’s Word has said anything about this. Do those who die in infancy or as children go to heaven? How do we know? What evidence is there to support such a conclusion?  If we are sinners from birth (Psalm 51:5), then how can infants who die in infancy be saved?

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

What happens after we die? Part 2

English: The Shade of Samuel Invoked by Saul Р...
The Shade of Samuel Invoked by Saul Русский: Аэндорская волшебница вызывает тень пророка Самуила (Wikipedia)
(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

The prior post looked at five questions about what happens when we die. Today we look at five more.

Do we become an angels after we die? No. We will be like angels only in that we, like they, will no longer die (Luke 20:36). Angels are actually lower life forms than human beings who are made in the image of God.[1] Angels are created beings as servants of those who are redeemed (Heb 1:14). They are of differing makeup, do not have access to redemption, and are only following along as servants wanting to know what is taking place (1 Peter 1:12). Why would one want to step down in created order from the grace of redemption and authority over the earth (Gen 1:26-30).

Will we be judged when we die?

Monday, February 03, 2014

What happens after we die? Part 1

Jesus Christ Bobby
(Wikipedia)
(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

Paul felt it was important to know what happens when we die (1 Thess. 4:13). Just after we die we enter what is called the intermediate state, the time between physical death and Resurrection (2 Corinthians 5:1-8). What is it like? What happens? Well, it depends on whether you are a

Saturday, February 01, 2014

February Top 5

English: beginning of the Gospel of Luke
The Gospel of Luke (Wikipedia)
The most popular posts on Sunday in the South in the past month:

1. Luke 6:17-49 - Sermon on the Plain
Posted: Feb 26, 2012
2. Luke 6:1-16 - Lord of the Sabbath
Posted Feb 26, 2012
3. Luke 2:21-40 - The Presentation of Jesus
Posted Jan 1, 2012
4. Luke 14:1-24 - The Great Banquet
Posted Oct 14, 2012
5. Isaiah 58 - True Fasting
Posted Jan 9, 2011

What about near-death experiences? Part 2

Photographic illustration of a near-death-expe...
Near-death-experience (Wikipedia)
(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

So how do we evaluate near death experiences? The most common response among conservative evangelical leaders is to view them as drug-induced lucid dreams or even demonic in origin. Certainly if one looks at the direction many of these near-death researchers have taken, most of them have moved into the occult (Lev. 19:31; 20:6; Deut. 18:10-13; Rev. 21:8). 

Perhaps the light people see is

Thursday, January 30, 2014

What about Near Death Experiences? Part 1

Paradise: Ascent of the Blessed
Paradise: Ascent of the Blessed (Wikipedia)
(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

There are those who claim to have temporarily died and been revived. Medical advances beginning in the late 20th century have given us the luxury of studying those judged dead by some medical standard and later revived

Many who have “died” have undergone cardiac arrest and were later revived with some type of CPR measures. Well-known books about this phenomenon have been Raymond A. Moody, MD’s Life After Life (with an introduction by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross), the best seller by Betty Eadie, Embraced by the Light, and an evangelical surgeon Maurice Rawlings, Beyond Death’s Door. In the past few years in the evangelical community, a book by Nebraska Pastor Todd Burpo has become a New York Times best seller Heaven is for Real, describing the story his son, Colton.


Most of the accounts involve the experience of being out of their body, encountering light or a being of light, and sensing a review of their lives before being called back to this life. One nearly universal effect of this experience, says Moody, is that almost every person says he or she is no longer

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Hospice and the Dying Process

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (Wikipedia)
(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

In Genesis 48, Joseph receives word that his father is ill, and fearing his imminent death, he goes with his sons to see his elderly father. Jacob musters his strength to see his son and grandsons. Notably, his mind is concerned with reviewing his life (Gen. 48:3-4), the future after he is gone (Gen. 48:5-6), and those who are waiting on the other side (Gen. 48:7). Despite his body’s deterioration (Gen 48:8), his focus is on his family (Gen 48:9-16), and their future provision (Gen 48:17-22).

Death is an enemy, not a friend (1 Cor. 15:26). However for those who are saved, death is no longer an enemy to be feared, for the Lord Jesus has conquered it and now controls its power in the lives of His people (Heb. 2:14-15; Rev. 1:18). Death is the way we leave this world, both unsaved and saved (Luke 16:22; Phil. 1:19-24). A few have avoided it (Gen. 5:24; Heb. 11:5; 2 Kings 2:11), and others will avoid it when the Lord comes (1 Thess. 4:13-17), but everyone else will die (Heb. 9:27).

For most of human history, death

Monday, January 27, 2014

Hope beyond death

English: Resurrection of Christ
Resurrection of Christ (Wikipedia)
(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

The Old Testament teaches that there is a personal consciousness after death. The Prophet Samuel surprised the witch of Endor by actually appearing from the dead (1 Sam.28:8-19). Asaph sang of consciously longing to be with God after death (Psalm 73:23-26). Ecclesiastes is sure of a conscious judgment after death of every deed (Eccles. 12:14). 

The OT also teaches

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Did plants and animals die before the Fall?

Book of Genesis, Fall of Man.
Book of Genesis, Fall of Man. (Wikipedia)
(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

Was there animal and plant death before the Fall? Some say yes. They say that God created meat-eating animals, that Adam seems to have understood the word “death” (Gen. 2:17), and that while the man, woman, serpent, and ground were cursed in the Fall, there is no curse on the plant or animal kingdoms. But there are problems with this understanding. 

First, there is no mention of

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Where death came from

Exodus-Death-of-the-First-Born
Exodus: Death of the First Born
(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

Defining Life to understand Death

Knowing what the Bible defines as life helps us to understand what the Bible teaches about death. While the field of medicine increasingly views humans and life in only physiological and chemical terms, the Bible views people holistically. The Bible has a very high view of the body, but it does not view the body as possessing life itself. Rather, life and death happen to the body. There is something else that possesses life.

In Genesis 2:7, we have an important point for understanding life. The body is inert until

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Death and the life hereafter

Monument voor Thomas a Kempis bij de ingang va...
Monument voor Thomas a Kempis bij de ingang van Begraafplaats Bergklooster in Zwolle. (Wikipedia)
(Part of a series on death and the hereafter)

Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:19 that if we have hope in Christ only for this life, then “we are to be pitied more than all men,” because Jesus promised tribulation in this world and the reward only after death (John 16:33; Matt. 5:12). Thinking about the end of life is not morbid, but actually quite spiritually healthy. 

Thomas a Kempis writes in the most widely read devotional of all time, The Imitation of Christ,

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

How Mary and Eve compare

c. 1437-1446
c. 1437-1446 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Eve dealt with fallen angel Lucifer. Mary dealt with Archangel Gabriel.

Eve listened to the serpent and was disobedient. Mary listened to the angel and was obedient.

Through Eve came sin. Through Mary came the Savior.

Eve brought death into the world. Mary brought the Conqueror of death into the world.

Eve's disobedience destroyed hope. Mary's obedience brought forth Hope. 

Eve was the mother of the living. Mary was the mother of Life.

Eve’s disobedience put us out of fellowship with God. Mary’s obedience birthed the opportunity for fellowship with God through Jesus Christ.

Eve’s work put us out of paradise. Mary’s work prepared the way for us to enter paradise.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

US: Where we live and who we are

Diversity index of the contiguous United State...
Diversity index of the contiguous United States by block (Photo: Eric Fischer)

Half Of The United States Lives In These Counties, and if we place one dot on the map for in a color showing the ethnicity of every person who registered in the 2010 US Census (The Racial Dot Map), we see a much more colorful map than three decades ago.

Are we using this 2010 Census data to inform our North American church planting efforts?

We are not a nation of one language. This map illustrates: