Sunday, February 05, 2012

The Reality of Eternal Death

Slowly but surely the whole world is gravitating toward death. Eternal death. I know it seems so surreal and mythical compared with the modern and sophisticated taste. Our eyes and ears are directed toward entertainment, sports, politics, and the latest earthly story of some intrigue. But the dull and unmistakable drone of death continues to await the coming masses. Oh it seems just so many words.
Everything is at stake for everyone. But since the human spirit is drawn by the sirens of today, the things of eternity are rarely considered outside some fallen theories that seem to include almost anyone. Even the word death has been confined to the cessation of a heartbeat, and a declaration of a doctor. But death is much deeper and with much greater consequences than that scenario and it is beyond our capacity to imagine.
In order to clarify this issue the Scripture refers to the second death which separates it from the physical death which all will walk through. But in reality, no one ever really dies and disappears from the reality of existence. No one. One million man years from now everyone who reads this will still exists in a conscious state in the realm of the eternal. A new body for sure, but still alive. And there are only two places of existence on the other side of death.
You may call them what you will, but one place is with the Creator while the other place is eternally separated from all that is God. Heaven, paradise, Beulah Land on one side and hell, Hades, and the lake of fire on the other. No human words can sufficiently illuminate these places. One is the unfathomable glory of God’s dwelling place, while the other is the unsearchable torture of being separated from God’s dwelling place, forever.
Jesus Himself tried repeatedly to warn people about the existence of hell as well as its eternal horrors.
Matt.5:29-30 - 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.
30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, 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.
esus frequently employed the literary device some call Hebrewism which is using an exaggeration in order to make a very important point. Here the Master says that avoiding hell is so important that even dismemberment would be preferable to being cast in hell. Pretty strong words. But juxtapose the words and passion of Jesus against the tepid, unconvincing, and infrequent mention of that eternal place of judgment by so called preachers. In fact, it has become theologically acceptable to question the very existence of such a place.
Lk.12:4-5 - And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.
5 But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.
he fear of God has become passé and somewhat Neanderthal in this modern age of spiritual enlightenment. Sunday after Sunday after Sunday the people make the trek to church and sing songs, talk with friends, support the building program, and listen to a man tell stories that are supposedly based upon the Bible. Then they all leave tearless and absolutely unafraid of anything but having to wait in a long line at the restaurant. I mean let us be painfully transparent, either the Bible is not true or we have constructed an ecclesiastical structure which has nothing to do with God’s Word.
Rev.1:17-19 - And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:
18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
19 Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;
ake no mistake, Satan does not have the keys to hell, Jesus does. I have heard many people say that God does not cast anyone in hell, they do it themselves. While it is surely true that a person’s unredeemed sins will decide their eternal destination, it is also true that God is still eternally in charge. This modern milquetoast Jesus has no resemblance to the one before whom the Apostle John fell. And if John, who loved Jesus and rested his head upon the very bosom of the Incarnate Christ, if he was so moved by the Risen Christ that he fell at His feet like he was dead, well, my friends, do you think we will have any less reaction?
The fear of God has given way to a new and man made religion that worships a caricature rather than the august Lord of All Lords. And in so doing much spiritual truth has been sucked out of the visible church until we have settled for a religion whose power and purpose centers around helping and aiding the western culture. Even the short term mission projects, although beneficial on some level and sometimes can change hearts, have become a satisfying entertainment to the congregation. Many are proud of their teenagers rather than broken for the lost of this world who are in grave, eternal danger.
Rev.20:10-15 - And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
ow either these words are true or they are mythology. And if they are true than we know that human words cannot do the truth the justice it deserves. And if sinners will be cast into the Lake of Fire forever, I ask you, how can that not bring us at least some nights of sleeplessness? And if we ever pray more than a Polly want a cracker prayer, how does God not prick our hearts deeply about the eternal prospect of lost souls, even ones we know and love?
Awake, thou that sleepest and Christ shall give you light. The things we say we believe are not only incredible and profound, if they are to be believed they should be massively distressing. Come on, eternity is at stake. Eternity!? If indeed eternity is a reality, and all who die live in one of two places forever, and if indeed we have the only answer for lost mankind, then what in God’s dear name are we doing??
How have we slipped into this comfortable and relevant Christianity while hell burns? Paul wished himself in hell if it would save his brethren. Are we even willing to be inconvenienced to help save some. And don’t hide behind the tired “You don’t save anyone only God can save”. We all know that but that phrase is nothing more than an embarrassing excuse for our lack of vibrancy and passion in our witnessing. The fact remains, there are sinners headed for hell who need to hear about Jesus. What are we willing to do about it?
Are we willing to jump start our pitiful prayer lives and find new and explosive power in prayer that both affects others and changes us? Are we willing to allow God to break our hearts for others? Are we willing to beseech God tirelessly to change our church services so they may be a more accurate reflection of the presence of God? Are we willing to spend less on ourselves so that we can give generously to missions of all kinds?
Are we willing to embrace the reality of eternity with such passion that our lives become gospel lights along the darkened path toward the reality of the second death?


Rick Frueh said...

From my post:

" In fact, it has become theologically acceptable to question the very existence of such a place." Thank you for providing evidence of my assertion.

From the Word:

I Tim.2:11-12 - Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.
12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.

Anonymous said...

Hi Rick,
I asked an old pastor friend about that once - that a woman shouldn't teach. I was writing a "history behind the hymns" column for the church bulletin at the time. That probably wasn't "teaching". But sometimes they really were more teaching than history. It concerned me that I was stepping out of line.

He showed me passages where women seemed to be teaching - Priscilla, for one. There were others.
It left me confused.

Paul seems pretty plain here in what he means. And for a wife to be submissive to her husband - it wouldn't go hand in hand with having a teaching sort of role in the church.

Rick Frueh said...

Lisa - My comment was in response to a lady why commented that there was no hell. I acciddently erased it.

The context seems to indicte a usurping of authority rather than just a generic teaching.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I noticed that the first post was gone.
the difference between usurping authority and teaching.
So...since the pastor approved and encouraged my column and helped me when I had questions - and my husband had no problem with it - then it's ok in God's eyes?

I just didn't want to be out of place in what I was doing. It's too late now since that column doesn't get written anymore - but in the future.

There was a case, actually, where my uncle was seeking the Lord and I prayed that God would use me if He willed and He did. I ran it past my husband and pastor first - the letter I wrote. My uncle died soon after reading it and his daughter has it now. That was teaching. I'll send it to you privately, if you wish, so you could read it, too.
It seemed that the Lord wanted me to do this...

Rick Frueh said...

I would say it was acceptable unless it was in direct contrst with church teaching.