Friday, June 23, 2006

The bible says that the dead are conscious of nothing at all, so then can you torment some one in a burning hell forever, if they are unconscious?

From time to time I receive questions regarding the Bible from some of my readers. Instead of trying to answer each one individually, I thought that I would try to deal with some of them on my blog. Show here is the first one…

tperrymandias writes: The bible says that the dead are conscious of nothing at all, so then can you torment some one in a burning hell forever, if they are unconscious? “For the living know they will die; but the dead do not know anything, nor have they any longer a reward, for their memory is forgotten.” (Ecclesiastes 9:5)

Personally, I do not believe that this scripture is meant to teach us that, once we die, we are unconscious of everything around us. This is certainly not what Jesus believed. In His teaching on Lazarus and the rich man, Jesus describes the condition of both men as the entered into Hades after their death.
“Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony.’” (Luke 16:22-25)
In this account, both men are very aware of their surroundings and are able to communicate, feel pain, and express emotions. Peter also reminds us that,
“Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah , during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water.” (1 Peter 3:18-20)
During the three days following Jesus’ death, He descended into Hades and preached the Gospel to those who had died before. Even the dead were given a chance to receive the Gospel. Three days later, when He rose from the dead, He took with Him those who believed. This is why many who had died were seen alive after Jesus’ resurrection. “The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many.” (Matthew 27:52-53) I think this is what Paul meant when he said of Jesus, “He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men.” (Ephesians 4:8) I believe that the captives He is talking about are those who had died and were being held in Hades. Either way, how could Jesus preach to those who where unconscious?

I believe that what King Solomon was trying to say is that the dead are unaware of what is happening among the land of the living. I honestly do not believe that my dead grandmother is in heaven looking after me. She is in heaven, but she is totally consumed with Jesus. There is, however, one who is watching out for me and that is Jesus.

I hope this helps.
David Robison

Love is not Provoked: Part 2


Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem to die. Along the journey He neared a city of Samaria and sent his disciples ahead to make arrangements for them to spend the night. “But they did not receive Him, because He was traveling toward Jerusalem.” (Luke 9:53) James and John, the “sons of thunder” were incensed and asked with anger, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” (Luke 9:54) But Jesus rebuked them saying, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them.” (Luke 9:55-56)

Why were the disciples so quickly provoked to anger? It was because of the rejection the felt from the Samaritans. The Samaritans not only rejected Jesus but James and John understood that they were rejecting them as well. It was this sense of rejection that provoked them to anger. Being provoked to anger by rejection is a common problem that goes as far back as Cain and Able. Cain and Able were commanded by God to bring an offering, yet “the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard.” (Genesis 4:4-5) Cain’s response was predictable. “So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell.” (Genesis 4:5)

We all will face rejection from time to time and, when we are rejected, we may be tempted to respond with anger, but Jesus showed us a better way. Speaking of His own life and death, Jesus said that the Son of Man must first “suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.” (Luke 17:25) Yet His response was not anger but forgiveness. As He hung dying on the cross, dying a death to pay the penalty for all our sins, He uttered these words, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) Jesus was rejected by His own, yet He still chose to die a death that would pave the way for all mankind to be reconciled back to the Father. It was His love for mankind that enabled Him to respond with forgiveness in the site of their rejection.

There is a secret to loving others in spite of their rejection. We must understand that Jesus never called us to be loved by all people but rather to love all people. Our life is not about being loved by others but rather showing the love of God to those around us. We need to settle it in our hearts that there will be some who will not appreciate us, who will not love and accept us, and who will reject us. However, there is one in heaven who will always love us and “will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Heb 13:5-6) Love is not about what you get but about what you give. We can love others, even the unlovely and the unlovable, because He has first loved us. If we have the God who is love living in us, then we can love others with that same love. It is this kind of revelation that will help us not to be so quickly provoked by the actions, attitudes, and words of others.

David Robison

Thursday, June 22, 2006

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David Robison

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Love is not Provoked: Part 1

While we have discussed this topic in other postings, specifically those in reference to “Love is Patient”, I would like to highlight some ways in which we are easily provoked and in which our love is often tested.

Failed Expectations

Naaman was the captain of the army of Aram. Naaman was a mighty and valiant warrior but he was also a leper. Naaman’s wife had a Hebrew slave, a little girl taken captive in battle with Israel. This girl told Naaman’s wife of the prophet Elisha. “I wish that my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! Then he would cure him of his leprosy.” (2 Kings 5:3) Naaman’s wife told Naaman, who in turn told the king of Aram. It pleased the king of Aram to send his servant to the prophet Elisha that he might heal him. The king of Aram wrote a letter to the King of Israel saying, “And now as this letter comes to you, behold, I have sent Naaman my servant to you, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” (2 Kings 5:6) This greeting frightened the King of Israel, “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man is sending word to me to cure a man of his leprosy?” (2 Kings 5:7) Yet, upon hearing of the request, Elisha agreed to receive Naaman that he might be healed. Finally Naaman arrived with his men, his horses, his chariots, and his gifts for the prophet, but Elisha refused to come out of his house. Instead, “Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, ‘Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored to you and you will be clean.’” (2 Kings 5:10) Naaman was incensed, “‘Are not Abanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?’ So he turned and went away in a rage.” (2 Kings 5:12) As he turned to go, his servant reasoned with him, “My father, had the prophet told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” (2 Kings 5:13) In the end, Naaman obeyed the prophet and was cleansed of his leprosy. It says that his skin was renewed “like the flesh of a little child.” (2 Kings 5:14)

Why did Naaman explode with anger at the prophet’s command? It was because of his preconceived expectations. “But Naaman was furious and went away and said, ‘Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.’” (2 Kings 5:11) Naaman had an expectation of how the prophet would heal him. He was expecting a grand display of authority and power, yet all he got a simple command “go and wash.” The prophet himself did not even show up but sent his servant. Naaman was a great man and he was expecting a great healing. When his expectations were not fulfilled he was furious and was ready to leave in a rage.

Our unmeet expectations are often a source of anger for us. When we hold tightly to our expectations of how things should be done, how others should act, and how we should be treated, we set ourselves up for failure. Our expectations can be a kind of shackle by which we hold others captive, with the punishment for failing to meet our expectations being our anger. Love seeks to free others from our expectations. Love desires to see others fulfill God’s desires for them rather than them being conformed to our expectations. When we free others of our expectations we not only free them to fulfill God’s will for their life but we also free ourselves to enjoy God. We are no longer dependent upon our expectations being met to be happy but we are free to experience the joy of the Lord, even if things do not work out they way we had planned.

More to come… David Robison

Monday, June 12, 2006

Love does not seek its own

We have discussed this topic in previous posts yet it bears repeating. Love does not seek its own. The command in the scriptures is quite clear. We are commanded to consider the needs and interests of others before our.
“Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.” (1 Corinthians 10:24)

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)
This was certainly the kind of life lived by Jesus. Jesus lived His life not for Himself but for those whom He came to server. Speaking of Himself, Jesus said, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45) Jesus did not gain personally from His ministry on the Earth, in fact it cost Him everything. Jesus sacrificed not only His life for us but also His relationship with the Father when, for a brief but excruciating moment, His Father turned away from Him while He hung on the cross. Jesus did not have to die for us but He chose to. What could motivate the pure and spotless Son of God to lay His life down for us? The writer of Hebrews tells us that it was, “for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2) His joy was seeing many sons and daughters brought into glory though His sacrifice. Jesus’ life of sacrifice is a clear demonstration of the love of God for us and for the whole world.

While, in previous posts, we have looked at some ways we can seek our own, there is one more that is worth mentioning. Speaking of Timothy, Paul says, “But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition. For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:19-21) With the early expansion of the church, many went out as ministers of the Gospel, yet Paul observed that, for many of them, their motives were not pure. They did not go out seeking to advance the Kingdom of God and the interests of Jesus Christ, rather they went out seeking to satisfy their own interests. They were motivated more by their own desires and interests than those of Jesus. In writing to the church at Galatia, Paul warns them of some who had come to “minister” in their midst. “They eagerly seek you, not commendably, but they wish to shut you out so that you will seek them.” (Galatians 4:17) They did not come to help the believers draw closer to Christ but rather to make a name for themselves. They wanted the love and affection of the believers for themselves rather than for Christ.

Timothy was one of the exceptions. Timothy had no hidden agendas. Timothy’s ministry and care for the Philippians was not a guise to gain an advantage over them. Timothy cared for them with the love and care of Jesus. His selfless sacrifice on the behalf of the Philippian church was a testimony to the love of Christ that dwelt within him. Timothy provides a standard by which we can judge our own ministry and service.

Living for others is not only the way of love but it is also the way of living an abundant life. Jesus taught us, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.” (John 12:24-25) If we want to live life and live it well, if we want to show the love of Christ to all around us, then we must first die to ourselves. We must die and burry our life into the kingdom of God. Only then will it sprout and grow and yield the fruit of the Spirit which is, above all else, Love.

David Robison

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Love does not Act Unseemly: Part 4

Social Rudeness

The church at Corinth, like many churches, had a diversity of people. Among them were the very rich and the very poor. Jesus told us that the poor would always be with us, implying that so would the rich. The problem at Corinth was not the disparity between the rich and the poor but the way the rich were flaunting their abundance to the shame of the poor. Paul writes to the church to correct them of their behavior.
“Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord's Supper, for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk. What! Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this I will not praise you.” (1 Corinthians 11:20-22)
Apparently, when they came together to share the Lord’s Supper, the rich would bring their food and eat it before those who had nothing. Paul chastises them for despising the church and shaming the poor. Paul rebukes them for their actions that were not in keeping with, or motivated by, love. Love would not act in a way as to bring shame on others, yet this was the very thing that the rich among them were doing. Paul also warned them that, not only had he judged them, but God had judged them as well. It was because of the judgment of God than many of them had become sick and some had even died.
“Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep.” (1 Corinthians 11:27-30)
This verse is often applied to our need to examine ourselves in reference to our own personal sin prior to partaking of the Table of the Lord. But Paul was speaking specifically of those who had “not judge the body rightly.” Another translator translates this verse as, “not discerning the body of the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 11:29 YLT) Those who were stuffing themselves and drinking themselves drunk were not discerning that even the poor among them were part of the Body of Christ. In bringing shame upon the poor they were also bringing shame upon the Body of Christ. When we despise and treat our brothers and sisters with contempt we are despising and treating with contempt the very Body of our Lord, and it was for this very reason that so many in the church had become sick and even died.

Paul concludes his rebuke with some very simple guidelines. “So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, so that you will not come together for judgment.” (1 Corinthians 11:33-34) In essence, Paul was counseling them to be considerate of others and to put the interests of others before themselves. Jesus put it this way, “You shall love your neighbor as your self.” (Matthew 22:39) In other words, “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.” (Luke 6:31)

Rudeness does not care about the feelings of others. Rudeness does not care how our actions affect other people. Rudeness cares only for itself. But love genuinely cares for others. Love understands how the rude actions of others affect ourselves and seeks not to do the same to others. Love treats others with the same kindness and consideration that we would appreciate. Love recognizes that we have a lot in common with others; we are all part of the human race, we are all sinners, and we are all in need of the love of God. More than that, we are all created in God’s own image. When we treat others with love and respect, we are showing love and respect to the one who created us. When we love others, we are also loving God.

David Robison