Sunday, December 23, 2012

Hell - part 2

A Common Question proposing the existence of an eternal Hell:
"Jesus himself clearly spoke and warned people about hell several times in the gospels. He calls it a lake of fire and a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth. He mentions hell in the story of the rich man and Lazarus but not at all in the parable of the lost son. Surely he would have made that comparison if that is how we are to understand it? Jesus makes “hell” sound like a terrible lot/ end, so it truly must be…. and hell does seem like a place (of spiritual death) to me. Luke 13:28 “There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out.
Please help me understand how these words don’t mean what they say."

Reply by Andre Rabe:

"Let me first say that although this writing focused on a hell and heaven that begins here and now, I believe it also continues in the hereafter. There are many pictures of hell that have not been informed by scripture, but rather by legends and human imagination. And so there are many assumptions that have no clear support in scripture. I believe Jesus meant exactly what He said … and His audience understood it in the context he spoke in.
The following is not a comprehensive teaching on hell, but just some guiding thoughts. Firstly ‘hell’ is an English translation that carries with it many pictures not present in the language Jesus spoke. The two words He used are Gehenna, which was a physical place outside Jerusalem. It had an infamous beginning during a time that the people fell away from God and burned their children as sacrifices to their idols. It is interesting to see what God thought of such a practice  “to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire [in honor of Molech, the fire god]–which I did not command, nor did it come into My mind or heart.” Jer 7:31
Later on this location became the rubbish heap outside Jerusalem, where there were continual fires to burn the rubbish and worms eating the leftovers. One of the worst judgements that a court could pass on a criminal, was that his body would not receive a proper burial, but simply be discarded in Gehenna. This was a judgement considered so serious that only the Sahedrin could impose it.
In this context Jesus said: “But I say to you that everyone who continues to be angry with his brother or harbors malice (enmity of heart) against him shall be liable to and unable to escape the punishment imposed by the court; and whoever speaks contemptuously and insultingly to his brother shall be liable to and unable to escape the punishment imposed by the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, You cursed fool! [You empty-headed idiot!] shall be liable to and unable to escape the hell (Gehenna) of fire.” Mt 5:22
To Jesus’ audience His words were very clear – He spoke about a real judgement that could be passed by the Sanhedrin …. not our concepts of an unending torture chamber.
Throughout the OT the Hebrew word Sheol was used, which is often also translated hell. However the OT does not have concept that Sheol is a place of eternal punishment. It was simply the place of the dead – righteous and unrighteous. Whenever the OT warned of judgement and Sheol, it spoke of imminent real destruction.
In the same way, many places where Jesus spoke about ‘weeping and grinding of teeth.’, he spoke about the literal destruction of Jerusalem that happened in 70AD.
In Mat 24:34 he specifically says: “this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place”
So in conclusion. I believe in a hell that begins here and and now and continues hereafter. However many of the concepts I’ve had of hell were not informed by the scriptures. Many of the places where Jesus spoke of ‘hell’ were relevant to the audience he spoke to and the literal destruction that was about to take place. I’ve heard people say before that Jesus spoke of hell more than anyone else. No He did not! (LOL - the funny thing is that if they are talking about finances they will also tell you that Jesus spoke more about Finances than anything else!!) Jesus did not speak about our traditional ‘concepts’ of hell. He spoke about Gehenna – a real physical place – and he spoke of Hades, the unseen realm.

To not know God, to not enter into what we have been designed for, is to destroy ourselves – there can be no greater hell than that. It is self-imposed … God’s arms are always open – He never changes

Please see my blog on Lazurus and the rich man for an Historic contextual understanding of this Parable: Lazurus and the rich man
Please also see my blog on the historic development of the word relating to "Eternity" in our english Bible Translations: To Infinity and Beyond!!!

Hell -part1

The following is written by Andre Rabe regarding  the traditional myth we have come to understand as "Hell".

I enjoy what Karl Barth had to say about it:“Should the teaching about hell be a part of the proclamation of the gospel? No, no, no! The proclamation of the gospel means, rather, the proclamation that Christ has defeated hell, that Christ suffered hell in our place, and that it has allowed for us to live with Christ and so to have hell behind us”- Karl Barth (Gesamtausgabe, 25:111)Amazing that Paul, who writes almost 2/3 of the new testament, does not devote one chapter to the subject … not even one paragraph! In fact he mentions hell only once: “O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory?” (1 Cor 15:55)

We don’t even have to theorize about the future, we can simply involve ourselves in the lives of people around us and know for certain there is a hell, a place of torment and suffering. However, I also know that whatever torment people are suffering is not a torment placed on them by God. He is consistent. He demonstrated in Christ that He would rather go to hell Himself than abandon us to it. So whatever hell people experience is a hell of there own making and it is as real as it is unnecessary.

So many think of heaven and hell as ‘somewhere else’ and ‘some other time’, namely, the hereafter. But there is a heaven and there is a hell that starts right here and right now.
When Jesus taught on prayer, He did not say: “Father, help us escape from this world and go to heaven where your will is done”. No! He said: “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” Mt 6:10
He had a vision of heaven coming to earth. The gospel is first of all not a message of how to enter heaven, but of how God emptied heaven to enter man!
The story of the lost son and his older brother is such a vivid picture of what heaven and hell is in the here and now. You can read the story in Luke 15 to get the context, I’ll get straight to the point.
The younger son wastes his inheritance and faces great hardship in a foreign land. He eventually comes to himself and realises that even the slaves in his father’s house has a better life than he does.
He starts imagining what to tell his father. During the the long journey home, he recites this story to himself. We pick up the story in verse 19: “I’ll say to him, Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand.’ He got right up and went home to his father.
“When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: ‘Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.’
“But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time!”
The father had a different point of view, a different speech, a different story that included restoration and a party!
Heaven begins for the younger son when he abandons his own point of view, his well recited speech, and simply flings himself into the arms of his father, accepting his point of view, his story. Heaven begins when we let go of every excuse we can think of, not to enjoy the father’s embrace. Heaven begins when we let go of the guilt and go with the flow of a party that we did not deserve, but nevertheless is the desire of our father.
Just let Him kiss you! Just let Him embrace you, and enjoy the party!
Let’s pick up the older brother’s story from verse 25: “All this time his older son was out in the field. When the day’s work was done he came in. As he approached the house, he heard the music and dancing. Calling over one of the houseboys, he asked what was going on. He told him, ‘Your brother came home. Your father has ordered a feast—barbecued beef!—because he has him home safe and sound.’
“The older brother stalked off in an angry sulk and refused to join in. His father came out and tried to talk to him, but he wouldn’t listen. The son said, ‘Look how many years I’ve stayed here serving you, never giving you one moment of grief, but have you ever thrown a party for me and my friends? Then this son of yours who has thrown away your money on whores shows up and you go all out with a feast!’
“His father said, ‘Son, you don’t understand. You’re with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours—but this is a wonderful time, and we had to celebrate. This brother of yours was dead, and he’s alive! He was lost, and he’s found!’”
The older brother also has a point of view, a perspective in which he saw himself as a diligent and hard working man, and deserving of much more than his younger brother. He does not see his father as generous towards him, or even as a fair man!
As with the younger son, the father tries to persuade him of a different perspective, a different view of himself and their relationship.
Hell is being with the father, yet not knowing him.
Hell is being at the party, but not joining in, sulking because of the father’s generosity towards the less deserving. It would have been less of a hell if it was somewhere else – the music, the smells, the joy in the air is what makes the older brother’s attitude so hellish!
Hell is possessing everything the father owns, but still slaving away, trying to gain what you think you don’t have.
Hell begins when you cling to your own opinion, your own point of view, when you refuse the father’s version of your story.
It seems that the more focused we are on a heaven and a hell that is somewhere else and some other time, the less involved we are in bringing heaven to earth, here and now."

Please also see Part 2 for some further things to consider.
Paul's words of exhortation about the Berians being very Noble because they actually made an effort to check up what he was saying to them rings true still today.
Many a time we keep" flogging our dead horse traditional theology" because we are afraid to step out of line from what others around us believe. We find our acceptance in others opinions of us instead of what our Dad thinks of us.
I sincerely encourage you to be "man-enough" to at least take the time and effort to look at the facts regarding our traditional "eternal hell" myth.  -Andrew 

Sunday, December 9, 2012 conform

Before Sin ever entered the scene, Gods mind was already made up about you. He already declared you to be holy, blameless and innocent. He has not changed his mind about you and never will!

Religion will always try to get you to to do something to "gain" a little bit more from God.... like: "read your bible more", "pray more", "Meet more", "sow more", "give more", "stir up more faith", "eat less"...

This type of thinking flat out denies the Gospel that God already Gave us everything - Himself!

Any message that requires people to perform in any certain way to "gain favor" from God is an ANTI CHRIST message.... it denies what Christ revealed to us about who God really is and who we really are being in His image and likeness.

Friends, please understand. We are NOT separate from God, trying to get him to draw near to us by the things we do - He lives IN US. We are His living temple, we contain the fullness of His person inside us - the two have become ONE and can never again be separated, he will never leave or forsake you.

When we fall for things like, "we must now all draw near to him in worship", we are falling into an Anti-Christ, un-renewed mindset because we CANNOT draw any nearer to him who is our very Life, through whom are all things held together and the One whom nothing in all of creation can separate us from. - He is not "far off" needing to be encouraged to draw near by our good behavior.(Remember, He made the first move..even while we were dead in our sins.... He raised us up TOGETHER WITH CHRIST and seated us with Him.)
To somehow now think that He needs to be begged through prayer or worship in order to come close to you or your lost friends is ANTI-CHRIST. (can you see this??)

A Good example: Its nearly that time of the year again when many will be "encouraged" to fast at the beginning of next year (and non-conformers will be frowned upon). Fast for a "favorable year ahead", for "direction", and to "cry out to hear his voice" - as if He is otherwise silent?? - but if you stop eating.... then He'll start speaking?? (what kind of a father does that???)

Didn't Jesus say "my sheep hear my voice...." And as far as I can see he didn't add on that we will hear his voice.... if we stop eating for a week (or 2 or 3). 
Friends... "My sheep hear my voice" - All sheep do all day is eat!! (and rest in between). They don't fast in order to hear their Shepard's voice to get direction. No, their Shepard leads them and cares for them. He remains faithful because He cannot deny Himself.

Didnt Jesus say that we have no need to fast while He - the bridegroom - is this us?
Is He not with us? Is He not living inside you? Or should we just carry on because that's what we always do and that's whats always be done?? 
You are holy and blameless! He has declared this from the beginning. Our harsh treatment of the body (such as fasting) does not impress our Father, it saddens Him that we ignore what Jesus did once and for all. He delights when we embrace our union relationship with him. When we feel the need to do religious stuff to draw near to him we deny the cross. 

The other day I heard of a discussion between two men I know. The one was trying to show the other what it looks like when we dare to take Grace to its logical conclusion instead of stopping short in order to sustain our religious protocols. The other responded by saying, "So you actually disagree with "So-n-so"!!??"
Friends, when the Gospel we hold to needs to match-up with whichever "big-name-pastor" we associate ourselves with in order to be valid, then we have ceased to think for ourselves and we are well on our way to re-establishing our very own Papal-Heirachy. 
When we fear that believing something different to our fellow brothers and sisters will somehow subtly excommunicate us we can be sure that we are a part of an exclusive religious club that holds zero value to the world that it is means to attract. 

Let Jesus lead us. He is your Shepard - you are His Sheep. "No longer should a man instruct his brother saying "know the Lord", but they will all know me from the least to the great" - that's Good News! You don't have to go through a fellow man's rules and regulations to have a relationship with God.

It is for freedom sake that he has set you free. therefore let nobody enslave you again to the principles of this world that rely on your effort to impress God.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Perfected in Love

By Colin Lagerwall


    Find Love first..then everything falls into place
    Seeing through the lens of fear brings foggy confusion
    Seeing through Love brings crystal clear persuasion

Many of us try and define Love firstly by scriptures, and then we add some personal experiences in the mix, and then a dash of others experiences and thoughts for seasoning, and then we hope we have successfully defined Love ......

When we go straight to the Source at the Eye of the Fountain where the waters are untainted by the trampled footprints of human activity and man's boxed-in-definitions of who He must be and what He must do, it is there that we discover Love that has no limits or boundaries; as we immerse ourselves in this Purest River, we find there is simply no definition that can ever define or limit Who He is....

            Then we realize why Love has defined Himself....

            I AM that I AM..........

            LOVE IS           ------------------>    anything else is an illusion !

In our quest to discover and uncover truth, there are going to be times when we are faced with extreme decisions as to what we hold onto and what we let go of .......and we might find that Truth does not exist on it's own, but rather, that Love defines what is Truth...

The stumbling blocks to us knowing Love are our own definitions of truth, and often those definitions of ours are based on our own preconceived or built on perceptions of what must be true, often acquired through 'teachings' and doctrine...

I think there will come a time in each one of us where we have to realize that there is nothing else but pure Love, and all these other notions of what must happen to ourselves and others are figments of our own judgements on ourselves and other people...

He said :

            "If you want me...look for Me with ALL your heart....and you will find Me"

            "If you want Love......look for Love with ALL your heart....and you will find Love"

And in that seeking, we will find that every single thought that is not of the purest LOVE has to be discarded; and if that thought is not discarded, that thought will be our judge, for even the vilest of persons can look into the Eyes of Love and will see no judgment.......

Love loves the least without prejudice, so in our quest for seeking Love, to really find and know Love, we will begin to see that no prejudice can remain in our own hearts and minds....If some thought of prejudice or fear of judgement for ourselves or others remain in our hearts and minds....we have yet to know Love....

Seek and you will find Love.....but the gate is narrow and you will have to leave behind everything that is not Love...There is no room in Love's universe for anything else but Pure Love.....

Love defines Truth..............anything else is Vain Imagination.........