Hell is real. That’s not a popular belief, but the validity of hell’s reality is not dependent on its acceptance. This realm set aside for those who, having not been forgiven of their cosmic rebellion against God and therefore will be eternally separated from Him, is real because the Bible says it is in various places (Matt. 10:28; Matt. 25:41; Jude 1:7; Rev. 21:8).
Hell is real whether or not we want to admit it is. But frightening as it is, the reality of hell is actually good news. Here are three reasons why:
1. Because it means Jesus is trustworthy.
Though the Bible talks about hell lots of times and in lots of contexts, many of them come from Jesus Himself. In fact, perhaps the most vivid description comes one of Jesus’ parables about a man who lived on the lowest rung of the ladder in life and another who lived in luxury. But when both died, their positions were reversed with one existing in eternity in heaven and the other languishing in hell.
If hell were not real, then Jesus was badly mistaken. And if Jesus were badly mistaken about something as important as this, how can He be trusted when He tells us anything else?
That’s the first reason the reality of hell is good news – it’s because it once again reminds us of the trustworthiness of Jesus Christ.
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By Tim Challies — 3 months ago
As I think about the first 20 years of modern worship and the song that got it all started, I can’t help but wonder when churches last unplugged their instruments to let their people just sing. I can’t help but wonder how many churches actually could. The organic and entirely unprofessional moment that contributed to the beginning of the movement gave way to an obsession with excellence and professionalism. What got lost along the way is that the heart of worship is not a great band, a perfect key change, or a soaring chorus, but human voices lifted together to God.
I had been lost in a kind of daydream and snapped back to reality with the realization I had been singing “The Heart of Worship.” It surprised me to learn I know the song by memory, and since I was already well into it, I kept on going. You probably remember the chorus: “I’m coming back to the heart of worship, and it’s all about You, Jesus.”
It was 20 years ago that Matt Redman penned this song, which means it was 20 years ago that the modern worship movement emerged from the UK and swept across the world. The groundwork laid through the Jesus movement of the 70s and the million-and-one choruses of the 80s led to the rise of Redman and Tomlin and Delirious? and Sonicflood and so many others in the 90s. There is no objective way to define exactly when the movement began, but I say it was the day Mike Pilavachi, pastor of Soul Survivor church, in Watford, England, pulled the plug on his band.
Here’s the story: Soul Survivor church was doing well, drawing people, enjoying success. They were gathering as a church every week, singing loud songs, and having a good time. But the leaders couldn’t shake the growing conviction that for all the good they were seeing and all the fun they were having, they had completely lost track of what it is to worship. So one week Pilavachi unplugged the sound system and had the band leave the stage. For a time they sat in awkward silence until finally they began to raise their voices unaccompanied by instruments, amplification, and lights.
Redman later reflected on that experience and penned “The Heart of Worship” which immediately became a smash hit and a worldwide worship staple. It is certainly not one of the great songs of history, but it was the song for a moment. It was a song of confession, a song of commitment, and in some ways a song of hope. “When the music fades, all is stripped away, and I simply come / Longing just to bring something that’s of worth that will bless your heart / I’m coming back to the heart of worship, and it’s all about You, Jesus.”
By Mike Ratliff — 4 weeks ago
No one will ever reach spiritual perfection in this life, but we are called to pursue it. Don’t wait for your pastor or church elders to say it’s time to do this. God works one-on-one with each of His children. We are all unique so our paths to the way of the cross may differ somewhat, but Christ will be the center of each of those ways and they will all be in the shadow of the cross.
11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child. When I became a man, I did away with childish things. 1 Corinthians 13:11 (LSB)
When the Lord circumcised my heart in August 2004, I was truly amazed at the level of spiritual discernment that came with that blessing. Leading up to this, God had drawn me ever deeper into our relationship. I had been in a deep, close, intimate walk with Him over a period of several weeks. I was fasting from anything that distracted me from my devotion to Him. I was praying, worshipping, studying my Bible, and researching doctrine, all in obedience to His drawing me to Him. Just a few days before Labor Day in 2004 I woke up one morning and knew that everything had changed. It was probably the most joyous and humbling experience I have ever had. I realized right then that I no longer cared for anything except to do His will. His glory was paramount. For someone who was had been in bondage to self-focused, flesh oriented, desperate pursuits for self-gratification for over 50 years, this was a genuinely miraculous thing.My level of spiritual discernment was beyond any previous experience I have ever had up to that time. I would be right in the middle of a conversation with my pastor and realize that he was completely blind to what I was trying to convey to him. There were a few others at our church who seemed to be on the same path as me. They did understand what I was talking about. There was no fear of the unknown in our little group. We were all terribly excited about the daily changes God was doing in our hearts. The problem was that this little group of sold-out believers was seen as radical and trouble makers at our church. The leadership just could not understand, refusing to believe the truths we were sharing with them were from God. I had one of the men there tell me that I was just excited and would eventually get over it.
There are some common denominators that I have noticed with all of the believers I have encountered who are on this narrow path. Each of us are committed to God’s glory. Each of us see man-focused religiosity as a complete waste of time. Each of us see spiritual maturity as key. Christlikeness is far more important than being part of a huge growing church. We all have a deep desire to see the Church repent, become pure and 100% focused on God as it obeys the Great Commission. Also, those whom God has awakened to this level of walking blameless before Him, have spiritual discernment that is completely outside of their own abilities. It is supernatural to be able to see the spiritual blindness in most professing believers. I can listen to someone speak on things spiritual or read what they write and know within a very short period whether that person is tenderhearted towards God and, therefore, not spiritually blind, or he or she is hardhearted towards God and, therefore, spiritually blind as a bat.
Does this mean that I can strut around showing everyone how spiritual I am. Oh, my Lord no! May it never be! Quite the opposite in fact. The closer I get to God the more I see how utterly helpless I am without Him. Any spiritual advances I have made are really His work. All I have done is obey Him and remain faithful as I abide in my Lord. Without Him I can do nothing. Humility is the marker of all who walk this narrow way of the cross.
What are the markers of those who are not walking this walk by Faith? Well, only the humble can do it consistently. That means that the prideful cannot do it at all.
By Kevin Morse — 11 months ago
The idea that God whispers about sexual sin in his Word is nuts! In some ways, one can say that what God says about sex in the Bible is deafeningly loud!
This past Sunday in my church, I spoke about Bill C-4 that passed in Canada, and about the city ordnance that is being proposed in Indiana on how people can counsel when it comes to homosexuality. I told my church that I think this is the issue where many people, Christian or just conservative, are going to compromise because it is such an emotional question, based on personal experience (which has become sacred to the cultural worldview).
These are the three books I wish every Christian would read now to educate themselves on this Biblical truth. Taken together, these books provide a great foundation for a biblical and winsome understanding of what we believe about this sin and its relationship to the Gospel.
First, What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? By Kevin DeYoung. This is a clear and engaging little book that answers this question so well.
Second, Transforming Homosexuality: What the Bible Says about Sexual Orientation and Change by Heath Lambert and Denny Burk. This book is very helpful and relevant to the conversation about the Canadian Bill and the city ordnance in Indiana because it addresses precisely the question of whether homosexuals can change. It also clarifies the difference between the classic understanding of conversion therapy and gospel transformation.