• How will we be able to enjoy heaven if we know loved ones who are in hell?

    The question always comes up when Christians think of hell “How will we be able to enjoy heaven if we know loved ones will be in hell?”. This is one of the hardest questions I get asked. Over at Christianity Today the great theologian J.I. Packer answers this question. Here is the main part of his answer:

    Significantly, this is not a Bible problem; instead, Scripture rules out all thought of it ever becoming anyone’s problem. For it tells us that God the Father (who now pleads with mankind to accept the reconciliation that Christ’s death secured for all) and God the Son (our appointed Judge, who wept over Jerusalem) will in a final judgment express “wrath” and administer justice against rebellious humans. God’s holy righteousness will hereby be revealed; God will be doing the right thing, vindicating himself at last against all who have defied him, and there is no hint that this hurts the Judge more than it hurts the sinner. (Read through Matt. 25John 5:22-29;Rom. 2:5-1612:192 Thess. 1:7-9Rev. 18:1-19:320:11-35, and you will see that clearly.) God will judge justly, and all angels, saints, and martyrs will praise him for it. So it seems inescapable that we shall, with them, approve the judgment of persons—rebels—whom we have known and loved.

     

    That sounds appalling; how can it be? Remember, in heaven our minds, hearts, motives, and feelings will be sanctified, so that we are fully conformed to the character and outlook of Jesus our Lord. This will happen at or before our bodily resurrection. How we shall then think and feel is really beyond our knowing, just as a chrysalis could not know what it feels like to be a butterfly till it becomes one.

     

    But certainly the promise that God will wipe away every tear from believers’ eyes (Rev. 7:17) will find its fulfillment as one aspect of this transformation. In heaven, glorifying God and thanking him for everything will always absorb us. All our love for and joy in others who are with us in heaven will spring from their doing the same, and love and pity for hell’s occupants will not enter our hearts. Their hell will not veto our heaven.

     

    What do you think of his answer. It rings true but still there is something in me that still hurts. Which may be the right response to thinking about hell and loved ones. We probably should feel pain, pain that moves us to act in love and to pray and tell the gospel.

    Read the whole article here

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  • What we are saying when we don’t share the Gospel

    It is very easy not to tell people about Jesus isn’t it? We have every excuse in the book don’t we? But have you ever considered what you are saying when you choose not to share the gospel?
    My dad grew up in Denmark after the 2nd world war. He once told me a true story that chilled me to my bones.
    At a church that was near where my dad grew up there was a young minister in charge of his first church. The church was just across the road from a train station where Nazis used to put Jews on trains bound for Auschwitz. It just so happened that the trains would leave the station at 9:10am on a Sunday morning. So just as the church was singing its first couple of songs the train would leave and the passengers who were going to Auschwitz would scream. As you can understand this would destroy the vibe of the singing in church!
    So the minister called his bishop who came and led next Sundays service. The singing started, the train went, the screams rose and the singing went down in volume. To which the bishop exclaimed “Just sing louder!!”
    Are you kidding me? Just sing louder so that singing of songs to God drowns out the screams of people going to their impending death.
    We are outraged and rightly so.
    But have you ever thought that every time you decide to not share the gospel with someone because of those reasons we all have what you are really saying to yourself is “Just sing Louder!!” Because aren’t you letting the reasons in your head block out the thought of this person going to hell?
    Do you really want to say to yourself “Just sing louder?”
    What motivates you to share the Gospel more freely?
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  • Why young reformed guys suck at preaching hell

    There has been a lot of press on hell this year. With books by Bell, Chan and everyone else it seems if it is a hot button topic. It was weird when Love Wins by Bell came out because it felt like some of us young  Reformed guys had restate the doctrine of hell so passionately that it seemed like we were glad that people were going to hell.  I think this has to do with young guys (myself included) and our fight mentality. See, when people are attacking a biblical doctrine we want to fight back but in doing so we can come off sounding calloused and unloving. I think we young reformed guys generally suck at preaching hell. Here are three reflections on hell and our preaching of it:

    When I read the book of Jonah I am blown away by how much this book slaps us young reformed guys in the face. Here is Jonah who cares more about a plant than a whole city of people going to hell (Jonah 4:10-11). But we see in these same verses (and in the rest of the book) God has great compassion on the great city of Nineveh.  We young reformed guys suck at preaching hell when we don’t have Gods tears for the lost.

    Secondly, hell is neither the motivation nor the highlight of our preaching. Paul says it is the love of Christ that compels him (2 Cor 5:14). The love of Christ displayed in the gospel is not only the motivation for preaching but it is the thing we are trying to win people to. Do we preach hell? Yes we do but it is not our greatest weapon for converting people. Our greatest weapon is the love of God. We young reformed guys suck at preaching hell when we use hell as a stick with which we get people into the kingdom.

    Hell is also used as a deterrent to sin. We are told that we should cut off our hand rather than face the fires of hell (Matthew 5:27-30). So hell is used as a deterrent for believers to sin. This means that we use hell in our lives to see the gravity of our sin and therefore our need to take drastic measures to stop sinning. We young reformed guys suck at preaching hell when we don’t see it as confronting us in our sin just as much as it confronts anyone else in theirs.

    Do we need to preach hell? Yes but lets have tears for the lost as we do it. John Blanchard in a book called Whatever Happened to Hell tells this story:

    Dense fog covered the M25 freeway a few miles south of London on 12th December 1984. The hazard warning lights were on but were ignored by most drivers. About 6.15 am, a truck carrying huge rolls of paper was involved in an accident. Within minutes the freeway looked like a bloody battlefield. Dozens of cars were wrecked. Ten people were dead. A police patrol car was soon on the scene. Two policemen ran up the freeway trying to stop the oncoming traffic. They waved their arms, shouting loudly, but most drivers ignored the warning and raced towards the disaster. The policemen were so exasperated that they picked up the traffic cones on the road and flung them at the windscreens of cars to warn the drivers of the danger. One policeman told of the tears that streamed down his face as cars raced past and he waited to hear the sickening thud of impact as they hit the mass of wreckage down the freeway.[1]

    When we preach hell we need to be like those policemen, pleading with tears in our eyes, praying and preaching so that our listeners will not go to hell. When we preach hell like that us reformed guys won’t suck at preaching hell.


    [1] John Blanchard, Whatever Happened to Hell? (Durham, England: Evangelical Press, 1993), 297