• 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 Everybody Ought to Know About God’s Judgement

    Why does God judge? Is it because he is capricious or judgmental? And how can we reconcile a loving God with a God of judgement. This quote from Miroslav Volf goes a long way to to answering these and more questions about God and judgement:

    God will judge not because God gives people what they deserve, but because some people refuse to receive what no one deserves; if evildoers experience God’s terror it will not be because they have done evil, but because they have resisted to the end the powerful lure of the open arms of the crucified Messiah.

    The violence of the Rider on the white horse (Revelation 19), I suggest, is the symbolic portrayal of the final exclusion of everything that refuses to be redeemed by God’s suffering love.

    Should not a loving God be patient and keep luring the perpetrator into goodness? This is exactly what God does: God suffers the evildoers through history as God has suffered them on the cross. But how patient should God be? The day of reckoning must come, not because God is too eager to pull the trigger, but because every day of patience in a world of violence means more violence and every postponement of vindication means letting insult accompany injury. – Miroslav Volf,  Exclusion and Embrace, 298

    God judges because he hates violence and injustice. That is why he will judge the world because he will rid the world of anything that can and will harm people.

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  • Why the reaction to Pipers talks in Australia has frustrated me.

    Let me be very clear about a few things before I start.

    1. I think we need to discern and sift teaching to see if it is legit. I think to do so would be absolutely irresponsible for Christians especially Pastors. So I don’t have any issue with anyone lovingly critiquing Piper’s talks in fact I will be doing just that this morning with my staff team. As Piper said we should be good Bereans!
    2. I love my heritage, I am grateful for growing up in an Anglican church and so thankful that I went to Moore college even though I am not an Anglican now by choice. The tweet I put up about Sydney Anglicans was rash and from the gut and sinful and I ask if you have been offended that you would forgive me as I am very sorry for that asinine tweet.

    Here is my issue with the response to Piper’s talks. Piper made it abundantly clear that he was not equating his joy or love for God as a work. He even said that if people took him that way they were ‘wilfully sinning” therefore I was surprised, shocked and annoyed when I saw a post claiming Piper’s soteriology might be Catholic. This frustrated me because the writer obviously didn’t listen to the many times Piper qualified what he was saying but also that he used the one of the most derogatory things a Sydney Evangelical can say about another Evangelical brother. He said the Piper might be Catholic!! Using this word denies what Piper has written and denies his theology it also makes us who don’t want to be Catholic weary of Piper instead of engaging with him. Painting him with the Catholic brush and makes us think that he is a bit off and we should keep him at arms length.

    We need to critique but let’s do it hearing a brother out properly and not misrepresenting him. Also lets not label him /catholic or charismatic or whatever just to be controversial and get people to read our blogs. Aren’t we too old for that?

    The other thing I am frustrated by is our negativity towards teaching from outside. I have been in many conversations about Piper and his preaching and most of the feedback is negatively geared. This is human nature on one level but verbalizing all the things we didn’t like about something will automatically skew our perception of the thing we are critiquing. Piper said a bunch of brilliant things. I think we should be emphasizing what God spoke to us through Piper and once we have thanked God for this great man and his talks then we can move onto lovingly discussing those areas we need clarification or modification. This is how we should talk about a brother in Christ.

    P.S. I lumped Michael Kellahan’s critique of Piper in with my criticism on Friday. This was wrong, his blog was done generously and lovingly. It had all the hallmarks of a good, fair and loving critique. I apologize to Michael for sinning against him and I ask for his forgiveness.

     

  • Sometimes I don’t live in reality

    Go, my people, enter your rooms
    and shut the doors behind you;
    hide yourselves for a little while
    until his wrath has passed by.
    See, the LORD is coming out of his dwelling
    to punish the people of the earth for their sins.
    The earth will disclose the blood shed on it;
    the earth will conceal its slain no longer.

    Isaiah 26:20-21

    Amongst other things I read in the Bible this morning was Isaiah 26 which is a passage chock full of imagery that speaks of God and his salvation of the righteous and his destruction of the wicked.

    But it was the two verses above that really hit me. This passage hit me again in the heart about how God is going to come back to save some people and punish others for their rebellion against him.

    That is reality

    I prayed that God would give me a renewed sense of reality and went out of my office to buy a heater and it hit me in a real way.

    The guy who I bought the heater off if he doesn’t know Jesus he is under God’s terrible judgement!

    The woman pushing that pram if she doesn’t know Jesus she is under God’s terrible judgement!

    The funky looking girl reading a book in the cafe if she doesn’t know Jesus she is under God’s terrible judgement!

    Then I thought about my friends and family, if they don’t know Jesus they are under God’s terrible judgement!

    And the only thing that can save them is the gospel!

    This is reality

    It hit me how much I really don’t live in reality. Of course I know intellectually about the reality of the coming judgement. I know intellectually about the reality that salvation if found only in Jesus. But I go through my day without ever thinking about reality. I go through the day without letting reality shape my day.

    I don’t let reality inspire me to pray

    I don’t let reality give me courage to tell my friends about Jesus

    I don’t let reality impinge on how I use my time

    I don’t let reality push me to use my money generously

     

    My prayer is that I will live in reality every moment of every day.

     

    Are you living in reality?