Sunday, November 30, 2008

Hell, It's Not THAT Bad...Right? -Pt. 1

What exactly is hell? Ask 50 different people and you would probably get 50 different answers. Most people would probably give a description similar to the picture to the left; souls being tormented by red devils with horns, wings, and pitchforks with fire all around. Most paintings and images of hell we see are of this nature. From these images, we imagine hell being a place that we can see and touch, but how accurate are these depictions of hell? Do we even have a clear picture of what hell is?

The Merriam-Webster's Dictionary defines hell as:
(1): a nether world in which the dead continue to exist : hades
(2): the nether realm of the devil and the demons in which the damned suffer everlasting punishment :a place or state of misery, torment, or wickedness : a place or state of turmoil or destruction
This definition seems to be right in line with the cultural view of what hell is. But, as I have said in a previous post, we cannot just stop with the modern definition because the meanings of words change. So, as before, we are going to look at some of the more clear verses in the Bible so we can get a Biblical view of what hell is, and also see if what we find is at all a reasonable punishment from God.

"33 For a burning place has long been prepared; indeed, for the king it is made ready, its pyre made deep and wide, with fire and wood in abundance; the breath of the LORD, like a stream of sulfur, kindles it." -- Isaiah 30:33 (ESV)

"14 The sinners in Zion are afraid;
trembling has seized the godless:
'Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire?
Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?'" -- Isaiah 33:14 (ESV)
The prophet Isaiah starts us off with two verses that describe hell being a place of fire. In the first verse, Isaiah tells us hell's fire is kept burning by God's very own breath. The fire that God kindles is described as a "consuming fire" and "everlasting burnings" in the second verse, and the godless are terrified knowing what is to come.
"12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire." -- Matthew 3:12 (ESV)

"50 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." -- Matthew 13:50 (ESV)

"13 Then the king said to the attendants, 'Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'" -- Matthew 22:13 (ESV)

"13...for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever." -- Jude 1:13 (ESV)
These next four verses open our eyes a little more about the fire of hell and some other aspects of it. The first two verses from Matthew describe again the fire of hell as a "furnace" and the fire being "unquenchable." As we all know furnaces burn with intense heat, but this heat, as we remember from above, is intensified by God's very own breath! In the second and third verses Jesus describes that there is "weeping and gnashing of teeth" combined with the "unquenchable fire." The third and fourth verses also bring in another element of hell - darkness. Jesus describes it as "outer darkness" and Jude as "the gloom of utter darkness." This implies that all the fire that is burning like an unquenchable furnace does not give off any light. Jude describes the darkness as "gloom." The Greek word used is zophos, which is defined as "gloom (as shrouding like a cloud)". So, the "gloom" Jude was referring to is an encompassing darkness.

"3 and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him..." -- Revelation 20:3 (NKJV)

"...and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever." -- Revelation 20:10 (ESV)
In this first verse from Revelation, we are given yet another element of hell. It is a "bottomless pit." So, now we see hell as a free floating experience. There is no sure footing, no walls to brace yourself, and nothing solid for stability. The second verse describes the souls in hell being "tormented day and night forever and ever". This is self explanatory.
"23...being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.'" -- Luke 16:23-24 (ESV)

"9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might," -- 2 Thessalonians 1:9 (ESV)

"10 he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb." -- Revelation 14:10 (ESV)
In the verse from Luke, Jesus is telling a parable. We see that the man crying out is conscious and well aware of the torment, fire, and anguish. This shows that the souls in hell are aware of all that is going on. The verse from Thessalonians reinforces the eternality of hell. Laced throughout the verses that I have laid out, there is the concept of hell being eternal. The souls in hell will always be there, they will not be let out or annihilated after a period of time. The verse from Revelation, again, reinforces torment by fire, but also revels to us that hell, and everything about it, is "God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger"!

"41 Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels." -- Matthew 25:41 (ESV)

This verse from Matthew tells us that hell was not originally made for humanity, but rather for Satan and his fallen angels. So, if hell was made initially for Satan and his angels, who goes there now?

"4 Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die." -- Ezekiel 18:4 (ESV)

"15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." -- Revelation 20:15 (ESV)

"10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever." -- Revelation 20:10 (ESV)

"'8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.'" -- Revelation 21:8 (ESV)

These verses briefly and concisely show who is headed for hell. This is not a full description. For the list that God will use, look at Exodus 20:2–17. These are the Ten Commandments, I will some time in the future dig into these.

We now have an idea of what hell is; eternal, conscious, torment in a lake of fire, like that of a furnace that is kept blazing by God's breath. Free floating, falling, no stability, nothing solid to grab hold of. Oppressive darkness all meant solely for Satan and his angels. Why would a "loving" God create and send people to such a place? This does not seem reasonable - or is it? Do we have a warped sense of God? This sounds like an angry and hateful God. In my next post I will lay out from the Bible God's character and nature and see if hell is reasonable and if we have a correct view of God. Before I go, I have one more verse for you to think about:

"2 but your iniquities have made a separation
between you and your God,
and your sins have hidden his face from you
so that he does not hear." -- Isaiah 59:2 (ESV)
Please leave comments on this, I really do want to hear them!

-- The Wretch

Monday, November 24, 2008

Next Post

I am currently working on my next post. And from the initial research that I have done, well this may be a two-part post. I am working on defining Hell: what it is and if it is reasonable. This has turned into a BIG project. So please be patient with me. Here is a video for you to enjoy, it has a little to do with why my post will take longer and be in two parts. This sermon was by S.M. Lockridge, it is called My King.

-- The Wretch

Sunday, November 23, 2008


I just read The Law Man Chronicles latest post, wow. Read it here:

Tell me what you thought of this.

-- The Wretch

Saturday, November 22, 2008

So...Just Who Is This Wretch?

Well, I think it is time for me to tell you who the Wretch was, is now, and is striving to be like.

I thought I was a Christian for twenty-one years. When I was four years old, my mother tells me she prayed a prayer with me, and that was when I "accepted" Jesus. I know now that I was a false convert. I had no idea what I was doing, I don't even remember it. It was pretty easy to live thinking that I was a Christian, I grew up in a Christian home and went to church every weekend. When I was eight years old, my mom married a wonderful man who adopted me. His ambition was to be a pastor, and he eventually became a part-time pastor at our church. I was now a PK (preacher's kid). No pressure! I was inoculated to the Gospel, I never once doubted my salvation. I knew I had to act a certain way, not out of compulsion, but because I knew how a Christian was supposed to act. I was part of all the youth group functions and I went to every teen conference. I got fired up and loved being with the other youth group members from all over the denomination's northwest region. But the "high" would last only so long. I longed be with the people and the excitement. Still, I never questioned my salvation. Then came high school and the more "exclusive" high school summer Leadership Training camps. I definitely knew I was a Christian. Would a non-Christian go to lean how to share their faith or be so moved to the point of tears at the emotionally driven worship times? Our youth group went to Downtown Denver multiple times to go witnessing. I was even the "right-hand man" for the youth leader. Only true Christians did these things. This whole time not one person ever questioned my salvation or even suggested that I examine myself " see whether you are in the faith." (2 Corinthians 13:5 ESV.) Everyone accepted my story.

In the fall of 2002, I left home for collage after taking a year off to work. This is when my true nature finally broke through. I am not going to go into the gory details. I do not want to boast in my sins. I was still so blind to my condition and I still thought I was a Christian, just backsliding. My dad did start to wonder about my lifestyle and once confronted me about certain things, but I just blew it off. Not long after that, I took off from campus and did not tell anyone. I had run off to Idaho with my then girlfriend (now my wonderful wife), but I did not tell anyone for a week where I was. I got married to my wife and we continued living in sinful and debaucherous ways. My dad was faithful and would still ask about my spiritual life and encourage us to go to church. I still thought of myself as a Christian! Oh, the arrogance and pride!

Things started to change when we started to attend a church in September of 2007. I had not attended a church service in five years. God started to work on me and sometime in October I came to a terrible realization. (To give some background, the church we went to taught that you could leave, not lose, your salvation.) I realized that if I had been a Christian, I was a blasphemer of God's Holy Name. I lived my life claiming to be a Christian, but all I was doing was dragging His name though the mud and the filth and holding it up and proclaiming to the world that this is what the God of the universe is like! I was undone. I was terrified to see how offensive I had been. I cried out to God and repented of my sinful blasphemous life and trusted in our Savior Jesus Christ! I soon learned better theology and understood that I had been a false convert. Since then, my love for the things of God has exploded! I love reading His Word and learning more about him!

How Great Is Our God?! He saved me! He saved a lying, thieving, blasphemous, fornicating, God-hating, idolatrous, covetous, drunken, wretch! I deserve nothing more then what is promised in the Bible for the unrepentant, eternal damnation, but my God not only gave me His amazing Mercy (not giving what is deserved), but also His amazing grace (unwarranted favor) as well and now I can be accepted into His presence for eternity! All the debt that was accrued by my transgression was paid in full by my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ's atoning death on the Cross.

And now I am striving to be more and more like Christ!

To my Lord and my God: Thank you for saving a wretch like me!

-- The Wretch

Friday, November 21, 2008

I Need Your Help!

I have SO many ideas that I want to do for my blog here, but I do not know what topic to do next. I want to continue doing a "Line in the Sand" series; the next topic I will probably do will be the sanctity of life. I also want to do a post on my testimony, is hell reasonable, what is the Gospel, and a series breaking down The Ten Commandments, looking at each one individually. I probably have more rolling around in my head, just can't think of them. So, I would love to hear what ideas you have about my next post! Please I need your help, I need to get these out of my head before it explodes! Thank you!

-- The Wretch

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Line in the Sand -- Marriage

My first line in the sand that I am drawing is the one about the sanctity of marriage. What is marriage? Marriage means different things to different people, but what you or I think about marriage does not matter. What matters is what marriage is. According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary marriage is “the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law.” That definition nails down what marriage might be a little more, but still a dictionary gives definitions to what words mean to people today. History shows us that the meanings of words change, i.e. "neck" used to mean "parcel of land" (as in neck of the woods) or "awful" meant "deserving of awe". These examples show us that we can not trust a dictionary to tell us what marriage is, it can only show us what today's interpretation is.

So, where do we go to define what marriage is? Our current system of marriage is a contractual (a covenant) relationship. Where did we get this design for marriage? That's right. From the nation of Israel in the Old Testament and continued in the New Testament. Agree with the design or not, that is where our current system of marriage was based from. What does the Old Testament say?
“Then the LORD God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." -- Genesis 2:18 (ESV)

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” -- Genesis 2:24 (ESV)

Here in Genesis, God establishes the first marriage. There is reason a God that made us man and woman. We compliment each other! Men have their strengths and weaknesses just as women do, but when we marry, our flesh combines as one and we are complete! Now, what does the New Testament say about marriage?
“23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” -- Ephesians 5:23-32 (ESV)
Here in this verse, Paul is showing how marriage is more than a just covenant between two people; it is a picture of Jesus' relationship to Church. We husbands have a huge role to play in our marriage! We are to represent Jesus Christ's attributes in our relationship. And wives, you are supposed to treat your husbands like the Church is supposed to treat Jesus. How high and holy an image do our marriages represent! The writer of Hebrews tells us how we should view this:
“Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.” -- Hebrews 13:4

Here the writer God sees adulterers and the sexually immoral as defilers of marriage. I think we can all agree what adultery is (sex outside of marriage,) but what are the sexually immoral?
"24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

"26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error." -- Romans 1:24-27 (ESV)

"A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God." --Deuteronomy 22:5 (ESV)

"If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination..." -- Leviticus 20:13 (ESV)
Let me say this LOUD and CLEAR - I do NOT hate homosexuals. I do however believe that God sees homosexuality, bestiality, and adultery as a abominations. Remember, the writer of Hebrews told us that the marriage bed should not be defiled. I think a logical line can be drawn to say that such abominations are a defilement.

As a Christian, I believe that the Bible is the infallible, inerrant, and sufficient Word of God. Agree with the Bible or not, it is plain that marriage was based on Biblical principles. Careful study and an open mind shows us that marriage is between a man and a woman.

If you see that I have erred in any way, please do not hesitate to tell me. If I have not rightly handled the Bible and used it out of context, PLEASE tell me! I do not want to blaspheme the name of God by misusing his Word.

-- The Wretch

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Stay Tuned!

Well, I think it may be time for me to draw my line in the sand. There are many contentious issues facing us Christians today. From where I stand, I see the world falling down. I will be posting soon about my stand on an issue, it will not be received well by some. That is not my intention for the post, my intention is to draw my line and defend it Biblicaly. So, stay tuned!

Monday, November 17, 2008

That Time of the Year

Well it is that time of year again, Thanksgiving. Today marks a day my wife and I really do have a lot to be thankful for. One year ago today, we found out that we were going to be parents! After almost five years of heartache and trying we were finally going to be parents! On July 18, 2008 we welcomed our son, Robert Deane Marshall, to the world. How great is our God! Not only does he demonstrate to us Christians His mercy by not giving to us what we deserve, hell and eternal damnation; He shows us his amazing grace by giving us that what we do not deserve!

We as Americans have a lot to be thankful for this time of year! All we have, no matter how small and insignificant, we have only because of God's Amazing Grace! When we examine what we deserve for our wickedness, we should tremble in thanksgiving to God for the breath that has just passed our lips! This goes for the Christian as well as the non-Christian. We are in an age of Grace. God has stayed is wrath, for a time.
"45...For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust." -- Matthew 5:45 (ESV)
This time of year always makes us think about what we are thankful for, which is good. But what are we thankful for? Are they superficial things? Are they just the positive things (i.e. pay raise)? I think us Christians should look a little deeper at what we are thankful for. And should this time of year be the only time that we think about these things?

"16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." -- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV)

Here in 1 Thessalonians, Paul tell us that we should be continually be rejoicing, praying and giving thanks. At church this week we were looking over this verse. I think we need to be thankful in all things good and bad. All that happens to us God is using for His purposes and Glory.

Starting today I am not going to "try," I am going to everyday give thanks to my Lord, my King, my Savior for all things. First and foremost, His shed blood on the Cross which was the propitiation for debt against God the Father! I want to thank Him for all the blessings in my life, the ones I know about and the ones that, in my sinfulness, I am unaware of. But I also want to thank Him for the process of sanctification, in which He molds and shapes me to be more like Christ.

I challenge you all, do the same. Let us remember who we serve and how great our God is!

-- The Wretch

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A new chapter in life

Time to start a new chapter in my life, it is time for me to become a blogger. I have been putting it off for a while; well, no more excuses here I go! I want to start off this blog with the reason I am doing this.

I was recently on my way to work and was praying. I was praying for the persecuted Church in the world. I was thanking God for giving them boldness in the face of their persecutors, and for their sacrifice for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I was convicted while praying, these Christians who face danger EVERYDAY still share the Gospel, even to their persecutors,even while they are killed, beaten, raped, homes destroyed, and humiliated! Here is the contrast: when I "make a stand" the persecution I get is teasing, mockery, and maybe hurt or lost relationships. I have to freedom (for now) to proclaim Jesus Christ and not have to worry about being arrested, beaten, or even killed.

What have I been doing this past year for the Lord? Do my friends know that I have been regenerated, that I am a different person now? I think of what our Savior did on the Cross for all sinners, what is my life as a sacrifice in comparison? I believe as Christians we need to draw a line in the sand, we need to show the world that we are different. We need to proclaim the Word of God. First and foremost, the Good News of Salvation though Jesus Christ. We need to base our world view on the Bible and proclaim what it says about the issues of today.

This is why I created this blog. I am going to post my take on things going on in the world. I am going to do my best at being as Biblical as I can in my responses. If anyone thinks that I may be off base, especially Biblically, I would love to here from you. I want to be kept accountable.

I am excited to start this new endeavor and look forward to comments, good and bad!

--The Wretch