Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Jesus Always Protects His Disciples from Hell


By:  Michael Kaplan, author of "7 Pillars of an Unshakable Christian Faith"


Jesus gave all who heard His voice a clear understanding of the risks, costs, and rewards of following Him. During His earthly ministry, Jesus fulfilled the mission given by God the Father: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). 

Many modern churches focus on Eternal Life without ever discussing the penalty for rejecting Christ. Many Christians joyfully discuss the Good News of the Gospel, without ever warning others of the bad news for making the wrong choice. Although the topic may be difficult to discuss, disciples of Christ must be willing to bring the truth to a world of non-believers.

If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as
a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and
cast them into the fire and they are burned.

~ John 15:6 ~

From the Gospel of Matthew (5:22) to Revelation (20:14), Scripture reveals Hell as a physical place with real consequences. In the King James Bible (KJV), the word “hell” appears 31 times in the Old Testament, and 23 times in the New Testament. When Jesus taught about Hell – a burning lake of unquenchable fire – what were the images in His disciple’s minds? The Old Testament gives a horrifying description of the image of Hell.

In fact, Hell is much worse than the description.

In the original language of the New Testament, the word “Hell” (γέεννα / GEH-eh-nah) means “lake of fire.” The visual imagery originates from the Old Testament, in a valley found south and west of Jerusalem: The Valley of Hinnom
Then the border went up the valley of Ben-hinnom to the slope of the Jebusite on the south (that is, Jerusalem); and the border went up to the top of the mountain which is before the valley of Hinnom to the west, which is at the end of the valley of Rephaim toward the north” (Joshua 5:8).
King Ahaz, a leader of the Jewish people, turned his back on God the Father and worshiped the evil god, Molech. His occult practices included idol worship and sacrificing human children.
Moreover, he burned incense in the valley of Ben-hinnom and burned his sons in fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord had driven out before the sons of Israel” (2 Chronicles 28:3).
King Ahaz died, and was eventually replaced by King Manasseh, whose evil rivaled that of Ahaz. His practices were equally horrific; the phrase “pass through fire” is a delicate way of saying “burning children alive.”
He made his sons pass through the fire in the valley of Ben-hinnom; and he practiced witchcraft, used divination, practiced sorcery and dealt with mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking Him to anger” (2 Chronicles 33:6).
King Manasseh’s practices were so evil before God, the Lord told Jeremiah He was changing the name of the valley from Ben-Hinnom to the Valley of Slaughter.
Therefore, behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when this place will no longer be called Topheth or the valley of Ben-hinnom, but rather the Valley of Slaughter” (Jeremiah 19:16).
In the middle of this succession of evil leaders, one righteous man before God took charge: King Josiah. By the Josiah began his rule of the Jewish people, the Valley of Slaughter became known as the Valley of the Drum. History records a time when so many infants and children were being sacrificed to the evil god Molech, drums were beaten 24-hours a day, 7-days a week, to drown out the sound of their screams.

The righteous King Josiah brought an end to this practice, and restored religious order for the Jewish people.
He also defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter pass through the fire for Molech” (2 Kings 23:10).
King Josiah converted this deep valley into a refuse and sewage dump for human waste, spoiled food and dead bodies. The rotting flesh and food couldn’t be buried; they had to be burned. The decomposing flesh produced methane gas that burned 24-hours a day, 7-days a week. The Valley of Slaughter became, quite literally, a burning lake of unquenchable fire.

Imagine the combined, documented history of these three kings, and the images it evoked in the minds of Jewish disciples that lived in the region and knew Jerusalem’s history:

1. Worship of the evil deity, Molech;
2. Witchcraft and sorcery;
3. Divination and evil spirits;
4. Human sacrifice;
5. Babies and children burned alive, 24/7;
6. Screaming and agony, 24/7;
7. The smell of rotting flesh, 24/7;
8. Thick, black clouds of putrid smoke, 24/7;
9. Methane gas fires with flames hundreds of feet high, 24/7;
10. An angry God punishing the Jewish people for turning their backs on Him, 24/7;

That’s a real scene from documented history; temporary, and happening in the world. Most Christians wouldn’t want to live near that type of place.

Now imagine the same scene, albeit indescribably worse. This time, you’re not living near it; you’re living in it. This time, it’s not temporal (your body), it’s spiritual (your soul). This time, it’s not temporary (a few hundred years), it’s eternal (hundreds of billions of years … and more). 

However, this time there’s one thing noticeably missing: God. There are no appeals, no petitions and no one to answer your prayers. The judgment is final and you’re on your own.

This is the imagery Jesus and His disciples had in mind when they preached the kingdom of Heaven, and the message of Salvation. This is the reason Jesus died for our sins, and took our place in Judgment. 

This is the reason faithful disciples of Christ sleep well at night: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

I pray that the Holy Spirit guides you in your studies, and brings you to a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.  Be Blessed.

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