"THE EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS" Chapter Six OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THE CHAPTER 1) To understand the responsibilities of children and their fathers 2) To suggest how principles governing servants and masters can be applied to employees and their employers 3) To see the need to adorn ourselves with the whole of armor of God, that we might be strong in the power of His might, and not just our own strength SUMMARY The final chapter begins with what might called an exhortation to "walk in familial harmony." Children are told to obey their parents, while fathers are instructed not to provoke their children to wrath but bring them up in the Lord's nurture and admonition. As many households in the first century A. D. contained servants, commands are also given on the duties of servants and their masters (1-9). The last major section of this epistle is a call to "walk in victory", with a charge to stand strong in the power of the Lord's might. To be able to withstand the wiles of the devil and spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places, Christians needs to adorn themselves with the whole armor of God. This armor includes such elements as truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith, salvation, and the Word of God. Standing strong also requires fervent and watchful prayer, not just for one's self, but for all Christians. Even Paul solicits their prayers that he might be bold as an ambassador in chains as he makes known the mystery of the gospel (10-20). A brief explanation is then given concerning Tychicus, who is to let them know how Paul is doing. The epistle then concludes with a prayer for peace to the brethren, love with faith, and grace for all who love the Lord Jesus Christ in all sincerity (21-24). OUTLINE I. A CALL TO WALK IN FAMILIAL HARMONY (1-9) A. DUTIES OF CHILDREN (1-3) 1. To obey their parents in the Lord (1) 2. To honor their father and mother, the first commandment with promise (2) 3. That they may enjoy the promise of the commandment (3) a. To do well b. To live long on the earth B. DUTIES OF FATHERS (4) 1. Do not provoke their children to wrath (4a) 2. Bring their children up in the training and admonition of the Lord (4b) C. DUTIES OF SERVANTS (5-8) 1. Be obedient to their masters according to the flesh (5-6a) a. With fear and trembling b. In sincerity of heart, as to Christ c. Not with eyeservice, pleasing only men, but as servants of Christ 2. Do the will of God from the heart (6b-8) a. Doing service with good will b. Serving as to the Lord, and not to men c. Knowing that whoever does good receives the same from the Lord D. DUTIES OF MASTERS (9) 1. Treat their servants in the same way (9a) 2. Do not threaten their servants (9b) a. For their own Master is in heaven b. And there is no partiality with Him II. A CALL TO WALK IN VICTORY (10-20) A. STAND STRONG IN THE POWER OF THE LORD (10-13) 1. A call to stand strong in the Lord, in the power of His might (10) 2. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may stand against the wiles of the devil (11) 3. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against... (12) a. Principalities and powers b. The rulers of the darkness of this age c. Spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places 4. Therefore take up the whole armor of God (13) a. That you may be able to withstand in the evil day b. Having done all, to stand fast B. EQUIPPED WITH THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD (14-20) 1. Therefore stand fast with the armor of God, which includes... (14-17) a. Your waist girded with truth b. The breastplate of righteousness c. Feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace d. The shield of faith above all, to quench the fiery darts of the wicked one e. The helmet of salvation f. The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God 2. Praying always, being watchful (18-20) a. Praying with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit b. Being watchful with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints c. Praying for Paul 1) That utterance may be given to him 2) That he might speak boldly, as he ought to speak a) To make known the mystery of the gospel b) For which he is an ambassador in chains III. CONCLUSION (21-24) A. TYCHICUS AND HIS REPORT (21-22) 1. Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will let them know how Paul is doing (21) 2. He has been sent to comfort their hearts (22) B. PARTING WORDS OF PEACE, LOVE, AND GRACE (23-24) 1. Peace to the brethren (23a) 2. Love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus (23b) 3. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus in sincerity (24) REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - A call to walk in familial harmony (1-9) - A call to walk in victory (10-20) - Conclusion (21-24) 2) What responsibilities do children have toward their parents? (1-2) - Obey their parents in the Lord - Honor their father and mother 3) What promise comes with the commandment to honor one's parents? (3) - "That it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth" 4) What responsibilities does a father have toward his children? (4) - Not to provoke them to wrath - Bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord 5) In what way are servants to be obedient to their masters? (5-7) - With fear and trembling - In sincerity of heart, as to Christ - Not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers - As servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart - Serving with good will, as to the Lord and not to men 6) What should motivate a servant to this kind of service? (8) - Knowing that what good one does will bring about the same from the Lord 7) How were masters to treat their servants? (9) - In the same way servants were to serve their masters - Without threatening 8) What ought to motivate masters to treat their servants kindly? (9) - Knowing that their Master is in heaven, and He shows no partiality 9) In what are Christians to be strong? (10) - In the Lord and in the power of His might 10) How can we stand against the wiles of the devil? (11) - By putting on the whole armor of God 11) Against what do we wrestle, if not against flesh and blood? (12) - Principalities and powers - The rulers of the darkness of this age - Spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places 12) What benefit is there to take up whole armor of God? (13) - May be able to withstand in the evil day - Having done all, to stand 13) List the armor of God as described in verses 14-17 - Waist girded with truth - Breastplate of righteousness - Feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace - Shield of faith to quench the fiery darts of the wicked one - Helmet of salvation - The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God 14) What else should we add to this armor? (18) - Praying always with watchfulness, with perseverance making supplication for all the saints 15) For what did Paul ask that they pray for in his behalf? (19-20) - For boldness to make known the mystery of the gospel 16) How did he describe himself? (20) - An ambassador in chains 17) Who was going to tell them more about Paul's condition? (21-22) - Tychicus 18) How is this man described? (21) - A beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord 19) For what does Paul pray as he closes this epistle? (23-24) - Peace to the brethren, and love with faith - Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity
"THE EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS" Chapter Five OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THE CHAPTER 1) To see the importance of walking in love, light, and wisdom 2) To understand the responsibilities wives and husbands have toward each other 3) To appreciate the high esteem and great love the Lord has for His church SUMMARY Paul continues to exhort Christians to walk in a manner worthy of their calling (cf. 4:1). Having described the need to walk in unity and in purity, he now urges them to imitate God and "walk in love" with Christ as their example. Such love requires that all forms of immorality and filthy speech not even be named among them. Since the wrath of God is to come upon the sons of disobedience, Christians must not be deceived by nor partake with those who engage in such evil deeds (1-6). Having passed from darkness to light in coming to Christ, we should also "walk as children of light". This includes producing the fruit of the Spirit such as goodness, righteousness and truth, thereby demonstrating what is acceptable to the Lord. We cannot participate in the shameful works of darkness, but instead must expose them. This we do by letting Christ's light shine in us, for such light will naturally make the darkness manifest by way of contrast (7-14). As the days are evil and the time is short, Christians must "walk as wise" and make the best use of their time. This requires an understanding of the Lord's will. Christians are also to be filled with the Spirit, as evidenced by singing together, praying with thanksgiving, and submitting to one another in the fear of God (15-21). The chapter ends with what we might describe as a call to "walk in matrimonial harmony". Wives are exhorted to respect their husbands, submitting to them as to the Lord. Husbands are commanded to love their wives as Christ loved the church, and even as they love their own bodies. In the course of such instructions Paul takes the opportunity to reveal the Lord's desire to present to Himself a glorious church, holy and without blemish, which is why He gave Himself for it (22-33). OUTLINE I. A CALL TO WALK IN LOVE (1-7) A. AS CHRIST LOVED US (1-2) 1. Be followers of God as dear children (1) 2. Walk in love as Christ loved us (2) a. Who gave Himself for us b. As a sweet-smelling sacrifice to God B. NOT IN IMMORALITY AND WORLDLINESS (3-7) 1. Things which should not even be named among saints (3-4) a. Fornication b. All uncleanness c. Covetousness d. Filthiness e. Foolish talking f. Coarse jesting -- Rather, giving of thanks 2. For such have no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God (5) a. No fornicator or unclean person b. No covetous man, who is an idolater 3. Upon sons of disobedience will come the wrath of God (6-7) a. So don't let anyone deceive you with empty words b. Do not be partakers with them II. A CALL TO WALK AS CHILDREN OF LIGHT (7-14) A. AS THOSE WHO ARE NOW LIGHT IN THE LORD (7-10) 1. Though once darkness, they are now light in the Lord (7a) 2. They should walk as children of light (7b-10) a. Bearing the fruit of the Spirit (or light) in all goodness, righteousness and truth b. Proving what is acceptable to the Lord B. HAVING NO FELLOWSHIP WITH WORKS OF DARKNESS (11-14) 1. Instead expose them (11-12) a. For they are unfruitful b. It is even shameful to even speak of those things done in secret 2. Which shall be exposed (13-14) a. When made manifest by the light b. Thus we should be the light which Christ gives us III. A CALL TO WALK AS WISE (15-21) A. WALKING CIRCUMSPECTLY (15-17) 1. Not as fools but as wise (15) 2. Redeeming the time, for the days are evil (16) 3. Not as unwise, but understanding the will of the Lord (17) B. FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT, NOT WINE (18-21) 1. Singing (19) a. Speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, spiritual songs b. Making melody in your heart to the Lord 2. Giving thanks (20) a. Always for all things b. To God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ 3. Submitting to one another in the fear of God (21) IV. A CALL TO WALK IN MATRIMONIAL HARMONY (22-33) A. DUTIES OF WIVES (22-24) 1. Submit to their own husbands, as to the Lord (22-23) a. For the husband is the head of the wife b. Even as Christ is the head of the church and the Savior of the Body 2. Be subject to their husbands in everything, just as the church is subject to Christ (24) B. DUTIES OF HUSBANDS (25-32) 1. Love their wives, as Christ loved the church (25-27) a. He gave Himself for it b. This He did that He might: 1) Sanctify and cleanse the church through the washing of water by the word 2) Present it to Himself a glorious church a) Having no spot or wrinkle b) Holy and without blemish 2. Love their wives as their own bodies (28-32) a. For he who loves his wife loves himself b. For no one hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it 1) Even as the Lord does His church 2) For we are members of His body c. For in marriage man and woman become one, just as with Christ and His church C. SUMMARY OF DUTIES (33) 1. Let each man love his wife as himself (33a) 2. Let the wife respect her husband (33b) REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - A call to walk in love (1-7) - A call to walk as children of light (8-14) - A call to walk as wise (15-21) - A call to walk in matrimonial harmony (22-33) 2) What are Christians to be? (1) - Followers of God as dear children 3) How are we to walk (live)? (2) - In love, even as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us 4) What things are not fitting for saints? (3-4) - Fornication - All uncleanness - Covetousness - Filthiness - Foolish talking - Coarse jesting 5) What is fitting for saints? (4) - The giving of thanks 6) Who has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God? (5) - No fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous person 7) Of what is a covetous person guilty? (5) - Idolatry 8) What is to come upon the sons of disobedience? (6) - The wrath of God 9) What are we now in the Lord? How then should we walk? (8-10) - Light in the Lord - As children of light, proving what is acceptable to the Lord 10) What is the fruit of the Spirit (light)? (9) - Goodness, righteousness, and truth 11) What are Christians to do regarding unfruitful works of darkness? (11) - Have no fellowship with them - Expose them 12) How else are Christians to live? Why? (15-16) - Circumspectly, as wise, redeeming the time - Because the days are evil 13) What other responsibilities do we have as Christians? (17-18) - To understand the will of the Lord - To be filled with the Spirit 14) What is either the means or the evidence of one filled with the Spirit? (19-21) - Speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs - Singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord - Giving thanks for all things to God the Father in the name of Jesus Christ - Submitting to one another in the fear of God 15) What are the responsibilities of wives toward their husbands? (22-24) - To submit and be subject to their husbands, as to the Lord 16) What is revealed about the relation of Christ to His church? (23) - He is the head of the church and the Savior of the body 17) What are the responsibilities of husbands toward their wives? (25-31) - To love their wives as Christ loved the church - To nourish and cherish their wives, as they do their own bodies 18) Why did Jesus love and give Himself for the church? (25-27) - That He might sanctify and cleanse the church - That He might present it to Himself a glorious church - That it might be holy and without blemish 19) What is Paul's summation regarding marital responsibilities? (33) - A husband is to love his wife as himself - A wife is to respect her husband
"THE EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS" Chapter Four OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THE CHAPTER 1) To see the importance of walking in unity and purity 2) To appreciate the gifts Christ has given the church for our edification, and the need for each one to do their share SUMMARY Beginning with this chapter and proceeding through the rest of the epistle, Paul exhorts the Ephesians to walk in a manner worthy of their calling. Having described earlier how Jesus attained unity between Jew and Gentile through His death on the cross, Paul now pleads with them to "walk in unity". With humility, gentleness, longsuffering, forbearance and love, they should be diligent to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. The unity of the Spirit is then defined as consisting of one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God (1-6). Perhaps as motivation, Paul reminds them of the gracious gifts Christ gave His church following His ascension to heaven. Such gifts included the offices of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, which are designed to equip the saints for ministry and bring the body of Christ to maturity. In this way, it should not be misled by false doctrine, but instead by speaking the truth in love should grow in Christ as each member does it share (7-16). The last half of this chapter addresses the need to "walk in purity". Contrasting how they once walked as Gentiles in licentiousness and greediness, they are reminded of the truth which is in Jesus. This truth calls upon them to put off the old man with its deceitful lusts, to be renewed in the spirit of their mind, and to put on the new man that is created in righteousness and holiness. Therefore they are called upon to put away lying, anger, theft, and all forms of evil speaking, lest they grieve the Holy Spirit by whom they were sealed for the day of redemption. Instead, they are to speak with truth and grace, work hard to help those in need, and be kind, tender-hearted, and forgiving just as God has forgiven them in Christ (17-32). OUTLINE I. A CALL TO WALK IN UNITY (1-16) A. PRESERVING THE UNITY OF THE SPIRIT (1-7) 1. To walk worthy of our calling (1) 2. With the proper attitudes (2-3) a. Lowliness and gentleness b. Longsuffering, bearing with one another in love c. Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace 3. The unity of the Spirit defined (4-6) a. One body b. One Spirit c. One hope of your calling d. One Lord e. One faith f. One baptism g. One God and Father of all B. EDIFYING THE BODY OF CHRIST (8-16) 1. For to each one grace was given as measured out by Christ (8-10) a. As foretold in Scripture b. Having ascended far above all the heavens to fill all things 2. Gifts Christ gave to His church (11) a. Apostles b. Prophets c. Evangelists d. Pastors e. Teachers 3. Purpose of such gifts (12-16) a. Equipping the saints for the work of ministry b. Edifying the body of Christ, till we all come to: 1) The unity of the faith 2) The knowledge of the Son of God 3) A perfect man 4) The measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ c. That we might no longer be children... 1) Tossed about by every wind of doctrine 2) Tricked by the cunning craftiness of those who lie in wait to deceive d. That we speak the truth in love... 1) So we may grow up in all things into Christ, the head 2) To cause growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love a) As we are joined and knit together by what each joint supplies b) As every part does its effective work in doing its share II. A CALL TO WALK IN PURITY (17-32) A. NOT AS THE GENTILES WALK (17-19) 1. Who walk in the futility of their mind (17-18) a. With understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God b. With ignorance, because of the hardening of their heart 2. Who have given themselves over to licentiousness (19) a. Being past feeling b. To work all uncleanness with greediness B. BUT AS LEARNED FROM CHRIST (20-32) 1. Having heard and been taught by Him, and the truth which is in Him (20-24) a. To put off the old man which grows corrupt in its deceitful lusts b. To be renewed in the spirit of one's mind c. To put on the new man which was created according to God in righteousness and holiness 2. Therefore putting away things of the old man (25-31) a. Such as lying, instead speaking truth b. Such as anger, giving place to the devil c. Such as stealing, instead working to give to those in need d. Such as corrupt speech, instead speaking with grace to edify those who hear e. Such as grieving the Holy Spirit, by whom we were sealed for the day of redemption f. Such as all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, evil speaking, all malice 3. Instead be kind to one another (32) a. Tender-hearted, forgiving b. Just as God in Christ forgave us REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - A call to walk in unity (1-16) - A call to walk in purity (17-32) 2) How is the Christian to walk? (1) - In a manner worthy of our calling 3) What attitudes are consistent with the Christian walk? (2-3) - Lowliness, gentleness, longsuffering, bearing with one another in love - Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace 4) What seven facets make up the unity of the Spirit? (4-6) - One body, one Spirit, one hope of our calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all 5) What gracious gifts has been given by Christ to His church? (7-11) - That which enabled some to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers 6) What is the purpose of such gifts or functions? (12-14) - To equip the saints for service - To edify the body of Christ - To help all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God - To help all mature and no longer be children, troubled by false doctrine 7) As we speak the truth in love, what are we to be doing? What assists us in this? (15-16) - Growing up in all things in Christ - Our connection to Christ as the head, and the effective working of every member doing its part 8) How should we no longer walk? (17) - As the rest of the Gentiles 9) How are those in the world walking? Why? (17-19) - In the futility of their mind and being past feeling, they are given to licentiousness, uncleanness and greediness - Their understanding is darkened, being alienated from God because of the ignorance in them due to the hardness of their heart 10) In contrast, what truth have we learned from Christ? (20-24) - To put off the old man which grows corrupt according to its deceitful lusts - To be renewed in the spirit of our minds - To put on the new man that was created by God in righteousness and true holiness 11) What sort of things are we to therefore put away? (25-32) - Lying, anger, theft, corrupt and evil speech, bitterness, wrath 12) What sort of things should we be doing instead? (25-32) - Speaking with truth and grace, working to help those in need, being kind, tender-hearted, forgiving others as God in Christ forgave us 13) Why should we be concerned about doing such things? (30) - Lest we grieve the Holy Spirit, by whom we were sealed for the day of redemption
You Have Only One Shot
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
The present pluralistic climate that prevails in American culture has disastrous implications. To suggest that all religions, all ideologies, all philosophies, and all beliefs are of equal validity, and ought to be tolerated as such, is to generate social anarchy and the destabilization of society that can end only in national suicide. Unless a single value system remains substantially intact in any given civilization, that society will lack the necessary “glue” to hold together. But even more tragic are the eternal implications for those who reject the truth regarding the only moral and spiritual reality, i.e., the Christian system.
For example, take the notion of reincarnation, a belief that permeates Hinduism, Buddhism, and New Age philosophy, and thus characterizes the thinking of upwards of two billion people (for brief discussions of reincarnation, see Valea, 2006; “Recarnation,” 2007). Here is a sinister doctrine that robs those masses of their one and only opportunity to prepare for afterlife. Reincarnation is the idea that at death, all human souls (according to some, animals as well) simply “recycle” into another body on Earth, and that this rebirth process is repeated over and over again until the individual eventually reaches the ultimate spiritual condition—nirvana and enlightenment.
Such a viewpoint inevitably must bring a sense of false comfort to the individual who embraces it. He or she naturally is not overly concerned with moral behavior and life choices. After all, multiple opportunities to live life over again are forthcoming. Herein lays the tragedy. The fact of the matter is that a human being has but “one shot” at life (Miller, 2003). Every person lives but one life on Earth and then must face death and Judgment (Hebrews 9:27). At death, a person’s spirit enters the Hadean realm to await the final Judgment and is unable to return to Earth (read Luke 16:19-31; cf.Miller, 2005). Consequently, it is absolutely imperative for every human being to examine God’s Word (the Bible) to ascertain how life is to be lived in view of eternity (cf. Butt, 2003). Millions of people literally are squandering their one and only opportunity to prepare themselves to secure everlasting happiness, and so will be consigned instead to everlasting torment (Matthew 25:31-46). Any doctrine that softens a person’s will to be conscientious regarding morality and behavior is a sinister doctrine that ought to be exposed and repudiated (Ephesians 5:11; 1 John 4:1).
[NOTE: For an audio sermon on what happens when we die, click here.]
Butt, Kyle (2003), “Reincarnation and the Bible,” [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2298.
Miller, Dave (2003), “One Second After Death,” [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2244.
Miller, Dave (2005), “Afterlife and the Bible,” [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2672.
Valea, Ernest (2006), “Reincarnation: Its Meaning and Consequences,” [On-line], URL:http://www.comparativereligion.com/reincarnation.html.
“Reincarnation” (2007), Wikipedia, [On-line], URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reincarnation.
Does God REALLY Know Everything?
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
Numerous passages of Scripture clearly teach that God is omniscient. The Bible declares that God “knows the secrets of the heart” (Psalm 44:21), that His eyes “are in every place” (Proverbs 15:3), and that “His understanding is infinite” (147:5). Of Jehovah, the psalmist also wrote:
O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.... Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there (139:1-4,6-8).
The New Testament reemphasizes this truth: “God is greater than our heart, and knows all things” (1 John 3:20, emp. added). Not only does He know the past and the present, but the future as well (Acts 15:18; cf. Isaiah 46:10). According to the Bible, there is nothing outside of the awareness of God.
Atheist Dan Barker, however, alleged in his February 12, 2009 debate with Kyle Butt that the Bible paints a contradictory picture of God and His knowledge. Whereas some scriptures indicate that God knows the future, supposedly, the God of the Bible cannot exist because other passages reportedly teach that God does not know the future. Twelve minutes and 54 seconds into his first speech, Barker exclaimed:
Look what God said after he stopped it [Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac—EL]. He said: “Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for I know now, I now know, that you fear God, seeing that you have not withheld thy son.” I know now? I thought God knew everything. The Bible says God knows the future but here He is saying, “I didn’t even know.” The Bible even says that God searches and understands all the imaginations of the heart. The God of the Bible knows the future. The God of the Bible does not know the future (2009).
Is Barker correct? Does the Bible paint a contradictory picture of God’s knowledge? Do some passages testify to the omniscience of God, while others indicate that He is finite in His understanding?
The kind of language found in Genesis 22:12 actually is present throughout Scripture. As early as Genesis chapter three, God asked Adam, “Where are you?” (3:9). In Genesis four, He asked Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” (4:9). The book of Job reveals that at the beginning of God’s first speech to Job, God asked the patriarch, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?” (38:4, emp. added). Are we to assume questions like these or statements like those found in Genesis 22:12 and 18:21 (“I will know”) imply a lack of knowledge on God’s part?
First, one must acknowledge that questions often are asked and statements frequently are made for a variety of reasons. Are we really to assume that the Creator of heaven and Earth was ignorant of Adam’s whereabouts when He asked him, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9)? Are we to believe that God did not know where Job was when He made the world (Job 38:4)? Certainly not! What father, having seen his son dent a car door, would imply ignorance by asking, “Who did that?” Obviously, the father did not ask the question to obtain information, but to see if the son would admit to something the father knew all along. On occasion, Jesus used questions or made statements for the same purpose. When He questioned the Pharisees’ disciples and the Herodians regarding whose inscription was on a particular coin, it clearly was not because He did not know (Matthew 22:15-22). Likewise, when Jesus asked the multitude that thronged Him, “Who touched Me?” (Luke 8:45), it was not because the woman who touched Him was hidden from Him (Luke 8:47). Jesus knew the woman who was made well by touching His garment before she confessed to touching Him (Mark 5:32). His question was intended to bring attention to her great faith and His great power (Mark 5:34). In no way are the questions God asks or the statements He makes an indication of Him being less than omniscient.
Second, the term “know” (Hebrew yada, Greek ginosko) or one of its derivatives (i.e., knew, known, etc.) is used in Scripture in a variety of ways. Several times it is used in reference to a man and woman having sexual intercourse (Genesis 4:1,17,25; Judges 11:39; 19:25). Jesus used the term to refer to His regard for His sheep (i.e., people—John 10:27). In contrast to the way of the wicked that will perish, the psalmist wrote that God “knows” (i.e., approves, takes delight in, etc.) the way of the righteous (Psalm 1:6). Paul used the term “know” in Ephesians 3:19 in the sense of knowing “experimentally what intellectually is beyond our powers of knowing”—the love of Christ (Jamieson, 1997). The fact is, like so many words in Scripture (and in modern times) the word “know” has a variety of meanings. What’s more, neither Dan Barker nor any Bible critic can prove that the term “know” in Genesis 22:12 directly contradicts God’s omniscience.
Third, the Bible’s usage of phrases such as “now I know” (Genesis 22:12) or “I will know” (Genesis 18:21) in reference to God actually are for the benefit of man. Throughout the Bible, human actions (such as “learning”) frequently are attributed to God for the purpose of helping us better understand His infinity. When Jehovah “came down to see the city and the tower” built at Babel (Genesis 11:5), it was not for the purpose of gaining knowledge. Anthropomorphic expressions such as these are not meant to suggest that God is not always fully aware of everything. Rather, as in the case of Babel, such wording was used to show that He was “officially and judicially taking the situation under direct observation and consideration” (Morris, 1976, p. 272). Almighty God visited Sodom and Gomorrah likely “for appearance’ sake, that men might know directly that God had actually seen the full situation before He acted in judgment” (p. 342). “These cities were to be made ensamples to all future ages of God’s severity, and therefore ample proof given that the judgment was neither rash nor excessive (Ezek 18:23; Jer 18:7)” [Jamieson, 1997]. Similarly, in the case of God testing Abraham regarding Isaac, although God already knew what Abraham would choose to do, there still was a reason to allow Abraham the opportunity to actually show his great faith and know that God indeed had witnessed (in real time and not just in His foreknowledge), Abraham’s actions. God came “to know” of Abraham’s faith by actual experiment. The meaning of the phrase, “now I know” (Genesis 22:12), therefore, “is not that God had, by the events of this probation, obtained information regarding Abraham's character that He did not previously possess; but that these qualities had been made apparent, had been developed by outward acts” (Jamieson, 1997).
Similar to how God instructs man to pray and make “known” to Him our petitions for our benefit (Philippians 4:6), even though He actually already knows of our prayers and needs before they are voiced (Matthew 6:8), for our profit the all-knowing God sometimes is spoken of in accommodative language as acquiring knowledge.
Butt, Kyle and Dan Barker (2009), Does the God of the Bible Exist? (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Jamieson, Robert, et al. (1997), Jamieson, Fausset, Brown Bible Commentary (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Morris, Henry M. (1976), The Genesis Record (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Comical Contentions on the Ear by Evolutionists
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
Humans are proficient masters of self-deception. Many tend to believe what they want to believe, and see what they want to see. Especially when it comes to our own actions, we generally believe and defend those ideas that enable us to behave the way we choose. “I desire to engage in same-sex relations—so homosexuality is genetic;” “I don’t want a child—so a ‘fetus’ is not a human and abortion is okay;” “I want another woman—so God will accept my divorce.”
The essential contention of evolution is that the God of the Bible does not exist and, therefore, the Universe and all life forms came about gradually by blind, non-intelligent, non-purposive, mechanistic forces over millions and billions of years. Hence, all value—including moral value—is merely and strictly the product of subjective human inclination. Right and wrong are purely relative. Such thinking is attractive and convenient to some, since it allows man to think and act as he pleases, without any interference from a higher Power.
Yet, with all their intellectual prowess, academic attainment, and sophisticated scientific jargon, the evolutionists frequently express themselves in such a way that the honest person of average intelligence can see the foolishness of their theory. Indeed, the theory of evolution is downright laughable. Take, for instance, the explanation advanced for the evolution of the human ear. Renowned evolutionist Richard Dawkins is typical of the comical contention of evolutionists that the human ear evolved over millions of years by means of the chance, mindless, naturalistic forces of evolution: “If you think about the evolution of a really complex adaptation like an eye or an ear, then preciselybecause it cannot have come about as a single chance step it had to have come about as a gradual improvement” (see Brown, 2004, emp. added). It could not have just happened on its own—“a single chance step.” So with what options are we left? An all-powerful, transcendent God? Absolutely not—not even an option! So it just had to have come about gradually by multiple chance steps. A single chance step? Impossible. But multiple chance steps? Certainly! Rational, or comical gobbledygook?
Consider the claim by two evolutionists at Uppsala University in Sweden: “The structure that became the sound-conducting middle ear of land animals began as a tube that permitted ancient shallow-water fish to take an occasional breath of air out of the top of their heads” (Brown, 2006). Sounds reasonable—the nose became the ear. Why not? Given enough time, maybe your nose will do the same.
Then we have an article, appearing in a Turkish newspaper, by evolutionist Veysel Atayman claiming that “[o]ur hearing organ, the ear, emerged as a result of the evolution of the endoderm and exoderm layers, which we call the skin. One proof of this is that we feel low sounds in the skin of our stomachs” (1999, emp. added). The BBC televised a special on “The Human Body” advancing the notion that the common evolutionary ancestry of man and fish is seen in the evolution of the human ear from the bones associated with the gills of fish (“Evolutionary Tell...,” 2002).
And we mustn’t omit the shrewd observation by Michael Benton who holds the Chair in Vertebrate Paleontology at the University of Bristol, England: “At a certain point, in the Late Triassic, the reptilian jaw joint had shifted function. We can still detect the legacy of this astonishing transition: when you chew a hamburger, you can hear your jaw movements deep inside your ears” (2001, emp. added). Did you catch that? You hear yourself chewing because parts of your hearing structure evolved from reptilian jawbones.
Let’s recap: the human ear evolved from a breathing tube. No, it was from skin layers connected to the stomach. No, it was from fish gills. Wait a minute, actually your ear came from a jaw. It all makes perfect sense—if you’ve been educated beyond your intelligence. Observe that evolutionists not only disagree among themselves on such matters as the evolution of the ear, the sheer speculation they advance consists of very specific scenarios in which they describe imaginary events as if they really happened. Even then, often their conjuring is laced with very telling admissions that concede their lack of substantive evidence. For example, consider the admissions that riddle an article titled, “The Evolution of the Human Ear,” by the “Senior House Officer” at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, England: “Much of the story of the evolution of the human ear is controversial” (Bhutta, 2004, 13:50, emp. added); “These early steps are conjecture” (13:50, emp. added); “Evolution is a poor method of design” (13:50, emp. added); “We actually know little of the early amphibian ear” (13:51, emp. added); “Why this change occurred...is a matter of debate” (13:51, emp. added). Observe: the evolution of the ear is controversial, conjecture, and a matter of debate. Yet we are supposed to be assured that it nevertheless happened.
This is self-delusion—not science. The explanation of the Bible is sensible and rational: “The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord has made them both” (Proverbs 20:12).
Atayman, Veysel (1999), “Maddeci ‘Madde,’ Evrimci Madde” (“Materialist ‘Matter,’ Evolutionist Matter”), Evrensel Newspaper, June 13, [On-line], URL:http://www.darwinismrefuted.com/irreducible_complexity_08.html#359.
Benton, Michael (2001), “Evidence of Evolutionary Transitions,” American Institute of Biological Sciences, [On-line], URL: http://www.actionbioscience.org/evolution/benton2.html.
Bhutta, Mahmood (2004), ENT News, 13:50-52, November/December.
Brown, David (2006), “Evolution of Ear is Noted in Fossil,” Washington Post, A03, Thursday, January 19, [On-line], URL: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/18/ AR2006011802159.html.
Brown, Doug (2004), “Richard Dawkins: The Biologist’s Tale,” Author Interviews, [On-line], URL: http://www.powells.com/authors/dawkins.html.
“Evolutionary Tell Tales from BBC (2)” (2002), September 25, [On-line], URL: http://www.darwinism-watch.com/bbc_evolutionarytales_02.php.
Controversy About Hell Continues
|by||Caleb Colley, Ph.D.|
A 1999 Gallup poll showed that only 56% of Americans held a firm conviction in the existence of hell (1999, p. 30). When Pope Benedict XVI stressed that impenitent sinners risk “eternal damnation,” his remarks received coverage from many major media outlets (see Lyons, 2007). Perhaps modernity is so inundated by political correctness that it no longer concerns itself with the eternal consequence of sin, even though the Bible emphasizes it (Matthew 5:22; 8:12; 25:41-46; Mark 9:43; 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9).
Now the biblical doctrine of eternal punishment is back in the news. On July 8, 2007, ABC’s Good Morning America reported that a well-known evangelical preacher, Carlton Pearson, lost his ministerial position at a large Tulsa, Oklahoma church because of his unconventional stance on hell. Pearson became convinced that hell is temporary and, in fact, not external to earthly existence. “I couldn’t reconcile a God whose mercy endures forever and this torture chamber that’s customized for unbelievers,” Pearson told ABC (quoted in “A Question...,” 2007). “You can’t be happy. And how can you really love a God who’s torturing your grandmother?” (“A Question...”).
After reaching the conclusion that the Bible is merely the work of uninspired, primitive men prone to “mistranslations” and “political agendas,” Mr. Pearson watched a news report about human suffering in the Third World and thought he heard God telling him that hell is earthly, human existence (“A Question...”; cf. Weir, 2007). Pearson summarized his newfound position: “We may go through hell, but nobody goes to hell” (quoted in Weir, 2007). “The bitter torment of the idea of an angry, visceral, distant, stoic, harsh, unrelenting, unforgiving, intolerant God is Hell,” Mr. Pearson concluded (“A Question....”). He proceeded to describe this notion to an ABC interviewer: “It’s pagan. It’s superstitious. And if you trace its history, it goes way back to where men feared the gods because something happened in life that caused frustration,” adding that people who believe in hell create it for themselves and others (“A Question...”).
Mr. Pearson’s story prompted ABC to develop a 20/20 report on various ideas about punishment in the afterlife. Bill Weir reported that when Mr. Pearson began teaching that hell is on Earth, “[i]t wasn't long before Christian magazines demonized him. The denomination that made him a bishop officially labeled him a heretic. His assistant pastors quit, and his congregation dropped from 6,000 to fewer than 300” (2007). Pearson enjoyed association with such prominent denominational ministers as Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and Oral Roberts, and a popular appeal that earned him the opportunity to counsel Presidents Clinton and Bush on faith-based initiatives (2007). However, Pearson so dedicated himself to an odd doctrinal position as to warrant his removal from an “evangelical empire built over a lifetime” (Weir, 2007).
The denial of eternal punishment certainly is unoriginal with Pearson. There always have been those who rejected the doctrine of hell by insisting that it in unreasonable. The idea that the souls of the faithful are immortal, while those of the unfaithful perish at their physical death is known as annihilationism. Gnostic groups have taken this position for hundreds of years. “There is no literal hell in the Gnostic tradition. It is a state that exists for people here” (Pierce, 2007; cf. Hoeller, n.d.). Certain Gnostics and other religionists may, like Mr. Pearson, have alleged that the traditional doctrine of hell is founded solely in the imagination of men, but their sentiments are antithetical to the plain teaching of Scripture.
In the July 1852 issue of Christian Magazine, a popular preacher from Nashville, Tennessee, Jesse B. Ferguson, asked: “Is Hell a dungeon dug by Almighty hands before man was born, into which the wicked are to be plunged? And is the salvation upon the preacher’s lips a salvation from such a Hell? For ourself [sic], we rejoice to say it, we never believed, and upon the evidence so far offered, never can believe it” (1852, p. 202). In a Christianity Today article titled “Fire, Then Nothing,” 135 years later, denominational scholar Clark Pinnock suggested that the souls of the wicked are annihilated at physical death (1987). In his book, The Fire That Consumes, Edward Fudge taught the same concept when he wrote: “The wicked, following whatever degree and duration of pain that God may justly inflict, will finally and truly die, perish and become extinct for ever and ever”(1982, p. 425). John Clayton, known for his numerous compromises of the Genesis Creation account, reviewing Fudge’s work, commented:
One of the most frequent challenges of atheists during our lectures is the question of the reasonableness of the concept of hell. Why would a loving, caring, merciful God create man as he is, knowing that man would sin, reject God, and be condemned to an eternal punishment? I have had to plead ignorance in this area because I had no logical answer that was consistent with the Bible.... I have never been able to be comfortable with the position that a person who rejected God should suffer forever and ever and ever (1990, p. 20, emp. in orig.).
Fudge’s influence was felt far and wide, and continues today. Writers such as F. LaGard Smith and Homer Hailey have propagated annihilationism, and Apologetics Press has dealt directly and decisively with the false idea that the Bible teaches a temporary punishment or instantaneous annihilation of the soul (see Lyons and Butt, 2005a; Lyons and Butt 2005b). Dave Miller discussed the numerous Bible passages that clearly teach the reality of “the vengeance of eternal fire” (2003a; Jude 7).
In the process of denying the eternality of hell, however, the disenfranchised Oklahoma preacher made additional, significant allegations against Christianity. Do Pearson’s emotionally-charged, philosophic complaints against divine punishment merit our endorsement?
IS THE BIBLE MERELY A PRODUCT OF MISGUIDED MORTALS?
The Bible militates against Pearson’s doctrine about hell, so Pearson saw the need to discredit the Bible by stating that it is not from God at all, but rather from the pens of troubled men who were prone to make outlandish claims. For Pearson, a man claiming to be a minister of the Gospel, to deny the authority of the Scriptures out-of-hand is astounding, and contradictory to the mountain of evidence for the Bible’s inspiration. Among the facts about the Bible are the following.
It is a matter of historical record that Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible (see Lyons and Staff, 2003). Would Mr. Pearson challenge the character or ability of Moses, the historical giant of faith who led an entire nation for 40 years? Moses is far from being the only author of the Bible. It was written over the course of approximately 1,600 years by over 40 men from different places and backgrounds, and yet it flawlessly tells one epic story without once contradicting itself. Against which of these inspired men would Mr. Pearson hurl the accusation that his writings are the product of gross incompetence, frivolous emotionality, or political mindedness? Kyle Butt noted:
To say that the writers of the Bible were diverse would be an understatement. Yet, though their educational and cultural backgrounds varied extensively, and though many of them were separated by several centuries, the 66 books that compose the Bible fit together perfectly. To achieve such a feat by employing mere human ingenuity and wisdom would be impossible. In fact, it would be impossible from a human standpoint to gather the writings of 40 men from the same culture, with the same educational background, during the same time period, and get anything close to the unity that is evident in the Bible. The Bible’s unity is a piece of remarkable evidence that proves its divine origin (2007b, emp. in orig.).
For generations, men have attempted to find places in the sacred text where an inspired writer contradicted himself or another of the Bible’s writer, but they have come away empty (see Jackson, 1983; Lyons, 2003; Lyons, 2005). Unless Mr. Pearson can explain the unity of the Bible apart from divine inspiration, his allegations against the Bible crumble. Considering that no one in history has accomplished this, it seems infinitely unlikely that Mr. Pearson is up to the task.
The Bible contains scientific foreknowledge that would be absent if the men who wrote the Bible lacked divine guidance (see Butt, 2007a). One such instance of profound scientific foreknowledge centers around the administration of circumcision.
In Genesis 17:12, God specifically directed Abraham to circumcise newborn males on theeighth day. Why the eighth day?... On the eighth day, the amount of prothrombin present actually is elevated above one-hundred percent of normal—and is the only day in the male’s life in which this will be the case under normal conditions. If surgery is to be performed, day eight is the perfect day to do it. Vitamin K and prothrombin levels are at their peak (Thompson, 1993, emp. in orig.).
If the Genesis author (Moses) lacked divine revelation to inform him of the correct day on which to perform circumcision, how else could he have known it? Equally powerful examples of scientific foreknowledge abound throughout the pages of Scripture (see Thompson, 2003, pp. 48-62). Before Mr. Pearson dismisses the Bible’s inspiration, he will have to explain the scientific foreknowledge that leaps off its pages and convinces its readers. Mr. Pearson cannot. Furthermore, the Bible contains hundreds of predictive prophecies, all of which were fulfilled in every minute detail (see Butt, 2006;Thompson, 2003, pp. 42-48). Does this, or the fact that the Bible is completely accurate in its report of facts, jibe with Mr. Pearson’s contemptuous characterization of the Bible writers (see Jackson, 1991;Thompson and Lyons, 2004; Thompson, 2003, pp. 33-42)?
IS THE TRADITIONAL CONCEPTION OF HELL ONLY A PRODUCT OF MEDIEVAL SUPERSTITION?
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), considered by many the finest poet of the middle ages, created a vivid, poetic portrait of eternal torment in The Divine Comedy. While a literary analysis of Dante’s work is beyond the scope of this article, the multitudes of Dante’s readers, from medieval times until now, have understood that Dante’s use of poetic license means that the details of his comedy are figurative approximations of what hell may be like; not definitive explanations of the nature of hell. Dante clearly advocated the reality of eternal punishment. John Ciardi, in his essay titled “How to Read Dante,” which introduces his translation of The Divine Comedy, stated: “Dante writes of Hell as a literal place of sin and punishment. The damned are there because they offended a theological system that enforces certain consequences of suffering” (Alighieri, 2003, p. xiv). Those professing Christianity in the middle ages had a general understanding that hell represented separation from God (see Russell, 1968, p. 57).
Noting that Augustine (A.D. 354-430), Dante (1265-1321), and Milton (1608-1674) all wrote in the same general theological tradition, John Hick commented:
The doctrines which lie behind these great works of art were normative within the church until recent times and broadly represent what the rest of the world, looking at Christianity as a whole over its two thousand years of existence, sees as its teaching concerning the life to come (1976, p. 198).
So, while Christian writers throughout history have commented about hell with greater or lesser degrees of adherence to the biblical description of that place, their basic notion of eternal torment was derived ultimately from the Bible. The traditional conception of hell certainly was not a novel one. No medieval writer ever sat down and thought, “Today, I’ll invent a place where God punishes people,” because the existence and characteristics of that place already had been divulged in holy writ. Medieval thinkers thought about hell largely for the same reason we write about hell today: God has revealed certain details about it. It would be interesting to learn whether Mr. Pearson did serious research concerning medieval tradition prior to making his allegation that those in the middle ages concocted a new, terrifying notion of hell. Mr. Pearson is the one who seems extremely and irresponsibly creative with his theology.
COULD AN ALL-LOVING GOD PUNISH PEOPLE?
The Bible teaches that God is both loving and just. “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; mercy and truth go before Your face” (Psalm 89:14). A primary argument against the existence of the God of the Bible is that the biblical portrait of God is contradictory; an all-loving God could not punish people by condemning them to an eternal hell. Is it possible to reconcile the notion of eternal punishment with the God described in the Bible? Certainly. Consider, among others, these reasons:
Love does not require the absence of discipline. For example, a mother of a small child may punish a small child for mischievous and dangerous acts. Such correction may be painful, yet necessary. The problem of the magnitude of eternal punishment persists, however. Here, we must consider the justice of God, which Mr. Pearson has maligned and/or ignored.
While love defines God (1 John 4:8), he also is characterized by justice. Psalm 89:14 states that “righteousness and justice” are the foundation of His throne. Justice demands that each person gets what he or she deserves. Those of us who live in civilized society realize that order and peace are impossible without justice. If God had no way of carrying out spiritual consequences of disobedience, He would lack the quality of justice. Because God is a “righteous judge” (2 Timothy 4:8), and knows everyone’s heart (see Colley, 2004b), He makes no judicial errors (see Butt, 2002, pp. 129-130). Furthermore, God has given every guilty human the opportunity to avoid eternal punishment. God hopes that all humans will take advantage of the salvation He offers (2 Peter 3:9). God is infinite in love, mercy, and justice, so we may depend on His infinite capability to make righteous judgments and mete perfect punishments (see Colley, 2004a).
DOES HELL EXIST ON EARTH?
Mr. Pearson admits that his notion of hell existing on Earth came through what he believed to be a special, personal communication with God. It is outside the scope of this article to address whether God communicates directly and personally with people today, but we have proved elsewhere that He does not (see Miller, 2003b). Observe that Pearson offered no scriptural basis for his doctrine of a present hell. This is necessarily the case for, if Mr. Pearson studied the biblical data on this topic of hell at all, he should have realized that there is no scriptural basis for his doctrine. Furthermore, in order to tell Mr. Pearson that hell is not a real place, but rather a state of earthly frustration or disappointment, God would be forced to contradict what He already revealed (see Lyons and Butt, 2005a, Lyons and Butt 2005b).
There is, however, historical precedent for Mr. Pearson’s imaginative notion that hell exists on Earth. Unification Church members (popularly called “Moonies” due to their allegiance to Sun Myung Moon and his Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity) taught that hell exists on Earth and eventually will be transformed into the kingdom of heaven on Earth (“Building...,” n.d., Gruss, 1994, p. 196; cf. McDowell and Stewart, 1983, pp. 99-104). Hell becomes very inconsequential if it merely is mixed with the vast collections of experiences, thoughts, and emotions of which life consists, and eventually will transform into heaven. By partnering with the cult leader Moon in subscribing to this false doctrine, Mr. Pearson has opened the door even further to all manner of unscriptural approaches to fundamental theological principles.
CAN SAINTS BE HAPPY WHILE SINNERS ARE LOST?
Geisler observed: “The presupposition of this question is that we are more merciful than is God” (1999, p. 314). Christians wish damnation upon no one, but they also understand that God is perfectly merciful, desiring that everyone should be saved (2 Peter 3:9). Mr. Pearson has implied a distorted conception of Christian happiness. Christians are joyful not because souls are lost—or because of any negative circumstances such as sickness and death—but rather because Jesus has provided eternal salvation. Among other spiritual blessings, Christ offers providential care whereby even painful circumstances can be worked out for the ultimate good of His followers (Romans 8:28).
Christians certainly are not pleased by tragedies such as the eternal loss of souls. They mourn over sinful choices and consequences (Matthew 5:4). At the same time, however, their relationship to Christ brings the “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). Paul expressed this overriding, perpetual happiness: “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13). Paul suffered his share of disappointment, as he watched some of his companions forsake the Lord, and prophesied of a great apostasy (1 Timothy 1:19-20; 4:1-5). Yet, Paul maintained a joyful spirit: “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). In the end, Christians will be happy in heaven, despite the fact that others, even loved ones, will be lost (see Revelation 21:4; cf. Jackson, 2003).
As Carlton Pearson’s arguments crumble before a consideration of biblical principle and historical analysis, we do not judge his motives, but rather pray that he will repent and obey the Lord (Matthew 7:21). If people such as Mr. Pearson are lost eternally it will be because they, having been warned about the danger of damnation, have chosen to live out of harmony with God’s will. Jonathan Edwards’ comment on this topic is pertinent:
It is a most unreasonable thing to suppose that there should be no future punishment, to suppose that God, who had made man a rational creature, able to know his duty, and sensible that he is deserving punishment when he does it not; should let man alone, and let him live as he will, and never punish him for his sins, and never make any difference between the good and the bad. . . . How unreasonable it is to suppose, that he who made the world, should leave things in such confusion, and never take care of the governing of his creatures, and that he should never judge his reasonable creatures (quoted in Geisler, 1999, p. 315).
Hell is devoid of grace, the saving power God extends while we live on Earth (Romans 1:16). We must encourage all to appropriate God’s grace to their souls by obeying the Gospel—the only way to avoid the vengeance of God (2 Thessalonians 1:8).
Alighieri, Dante (2003 reprint), The Divine Comedy, trans. John Ciardi (New York: New American Library).
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Clayton, John (1990), “Book Reviews,” Does God Exist?, 17:20-21, September/October.
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Colley, Caleb (2004b), “The Omniscience of God,” [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2562.
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Thompson, Bert (2003), In Defense of the Bible’s Inspiration (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Thompson, Bert and Eric Lyons (2004), “Is Scripture a ‘Faithful Record’ of Historical Events?—A Reply to ‘Who Killed Jesus?,’ in Newsweek Magazine,” [On-line], URL:http://apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=13&article=1085.
Weir, Bill (2007), “‘Nobody Goes to Hell’: Minister Labeled a Heretic,” 20/20, [On-line], URL: http://abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=3362554&page=1.