Eternity Factor- Psalms 16-17

“The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance”
(Psalm 16:5-6, ESV).

“Arise, O Lord! Confront him, subdue him! Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword, from men by your hand, O Lord, from men of the world whose portion is in this life. You fill their womb with treasure; they are satisfied with children, and they leave their abundance to their infants. As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness” (Psalms 17:13-15, ESV).

There’s a very important theological distinction in these two Psalms that can be used as the measure for the lives of human beings on this earth.  The Psalmist distinguishes a life in which “the Lord is my chosen portion” and has a heavenly inheritance from the lives of “men of the world whose portion is in this life” and  have no lasting inheritance.

For the men of the world their only reward is in this life (their wealth and their children of their lack thereof). Because, they leave all their wealth and their children behind when they die. But, the Psalmist confidently expresses in vs. 17:15 anticipation of eternal fellowship in God’s presence (when I awake is generally taken as implying from the sleep of death).

What’s implied theologically from these contrasting inheritances is that our life in this world is preparation for our life to come in God’s eternal kingdom.

God created us as creatures of eternity—eternal in union with Him or eternal in separation from Him. The inevitability that all human beings will enter eternity bound for life or condemnation should be factored into every person’s life.

Even the Old Testament writer’s understood this eternity factor.

Unfortunately, this eternity factor is often missing from many people’s outlook and world view. One reason for this omission or oversight may be that people do not like to think or talk about death even though most people believe in an” afterlife” and believe that their final destination in the afterlife is heaven.

But, the fact remains that heaven is not the default eternal destination.  Heaven is not automatic without a personal resolution to the problem of human sin and rebellion, which causes our present (and eternal) separation from God.

The distinction the Psalmist makes between those trusting in God and those trusting in the world indicates that God is not only concerned about our personal relationship with Him, but also about the expression of this relationship in action and behavior that will ultimately manifest itself in eternal life.

God wants to prepare you for eternal life and He wants you to begin to act and behave now according to the way that you will live in His Kingdom eternally. Because, what you are becoming in this present life is what you will surely be in eternity!

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. (Philippians 3:20-21, ESV)

In Defense of Hell – Romans 1:32

hellsflames“They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too” (Romans 1:32, NLT).

There’s been a lot of controversy lately among Christians on theological questions about universal salvation, hell, and who occupies it (or not). While an exhaustive discussion of these theological issues is beyond the scope of this blog (and beyond the capability of this amateur theologian), I would, however, like to submit a short defense of hell.

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The Good News and The Bad News – 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10

GoodNews_BadNews“This will take place at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with His powerful angels, taking vengeance with flaming fire on those who don’t know God and on those who don’t obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction from the Lord’s presence and from His glorious strength in that day when He comes to be glorified by His saints and to be admired by all those who have believed, because our testimony among you was believed” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10, HCSB).

Today I have some good news and some bad news to tell you.

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Don’t Go To Hell – Matthew 5:27-30

“You have heard the commandment that says, You must not commit adultery. But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. So if your eye—even your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your hand—even your stronger hand—causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell” (Matthew 5:27-30, NLT)

The Greek word for hell, gehenna, originally referred to a valley outside Jerusalem where some of the kings of Judah worshiped idols and performed human sacrifice by fire (2 Chronicles 28:3; 33:6; Jeremiah 7:31; 32:35). The site was eventually destroyed by King Josiah (2 Kings 23:10).

In the New Testament, gehenna refers to the place of eternal punishment by God.

In this and other related verses Jesus uses hyperbole to reinforce the the potential consequences of sin. It’s like Jesus is saying that the possibility of going to hell is of eternal significance, so do whatever it takes to avoid it–don’t go to hell!

The graphic images described by Jesus–gouging out your eye or cutting off your arm–call for radical separation from sin.

But what makes one sin more egregious than another, however, is really just a matter of degree, because all forms of sin and misbehavior are a result of the condition of the heart. Murder is the result of uncontrolled anger; adultery results from unrestrained lust.

So it is not murder but anger, not adultery but lust that violates God’s righteous standard.

It’s what is on the inside of a person that is integral to one’s spiritual formation and one’s eternal destination.

Our eternal lives are a matter of the heart and so the real issue with Jesus is not what kind of person you are, but what kind of person you are becoming.

And, according to Jesus, the condition of your heart has eternal consequences. Jesus doesn’t want you to go to hell!

“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way.” (Matthew 7:13, NLT)