Posts Tagged cross

Live Like Hell…Matters

Hell is real, and Hell matters.

If this were not the case, then the recent controversy surrounding Rob Bell’s book, Love Wins, is totally ridiculous (click here for Pastor Jake Johnson’s helpful review of Bell’s book). But Hell truly does matter—and not for just theological reasons, but practical ones also. Believing that Hell is real should impact your life.

So, here are four practical ways that believing in Hell should affect your life here on Earth:

1. It should give you greater love for what Jesus accomplished on the cross

Jesus did not die merely to save you from feeling bad about your unfulfilling life. He died to save you from his Father’s wrath against sin and then bring you into a relationship with him that could never be broken.

One of Hell’s greatest horrors is being cast away “from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his might” (2 Thess 1:9). If everything good and perfect comes from God (James 1:17), then to be shut out from his presence means solitary eternity without good—nobody to laugh with, nothing beautiful to admire, nobody to sympathize with your pain, no taste of food or drink, and no longing for friendship fulfilled.

In contrast, Jesus’ death accomplished eternal life—and all that goes with it: friendship (with God himself), camaraderie, singing, eating, drinking, working, delighting, laughing, and rejoicing—all centered and focused around Jesus and what he won for you. This new life with God begins now, and you should enjoy it.

2. It should give you a greater appreciation for what Jesus experienced on the cross

Jesus’s death on the cross was violent and awful. It was torture. But it was torture for two criminals next to him as well. What made Jesus’s crucifixion truly hellish was that he was experiencing separation from his Father—a taste of Hell. Let’s be clear: Jesus did not go to Hell when he died to suffer more there (he told the repentant thief, “Today you will be with me in paradise”). But Jesus’s suffering on the cross was a taste of the agony of Hell. The weight and guilt of sin crushing down on him while his Father turned his face away. The Savior you treasure has tasted Hell for you.

3. It should remind you that even the smallest of sins sent Jesus to the cross

Jesus mentions Hell twelve times in the Gospels. A number of these times warn of the seriousness of sin. In Matthew 5:22, Jesus declares that it’s not just murderers who deserve Hell, but those who angrily say to a friend “You fool!” One of the major themes of Jesus’ teaching on Hell—appearing five times (Matt 5:30, 18:9; Mark 9:43, 45, 47)—is that sin is so serious that it would be better to lose a body part causing you to sin than to keep it and go to Hell. Thus, Hell instructs us to fight sin with an amputation-level seriousness.

4. It should propel you into conversations about Jesus’s cross

The Bible says that those who reject Jesus will “perish” (John 3:16) and that “the wrath of God remains” on those who do not obey him (John 3:36). In other words, the stakes are high. People need to hear the good news about Jesus’s saving death. If you believe that being with Jesus is the most delightful thing you could experience and that those without him will experience a solitary eternity of misery apart from him, then you must offer the only hope—the cross of Jesus Christ. To say you believe in Hell but don’t ever talk about Jesus with those who are going there is, at best, inconsistent hypocrisy and, at worst, hate-filled indifference. This is why even Penn Jillette, a committed atheist, can applaud a Christian for genuinely sharing Jesus and ask, “How much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”

Do you believe in Hell? If so, then let it transform the way you adore Jesus, the way you fight disobedience to Jesus, and the way you talk about Jesus.

What are some other practical reasons that Hell matters? What would you add?

 

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“If I have you by the hand, death is nothing but sleep.” -Jesus

Tim Keller, King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus, pp. 67-69, commenting on Mark 5:38-42:

Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement.

Do you think it is odd that when Jesus arrives at Jairus’s house he says that the girl is just sleeping? The parallel account of this story in Matthew and Luke’s Gospels make it clear that Jesus understands she’s dead. She’s not mostly dead; she’s all dead. Then why does he make that reference to sleep?

The answer is in what Jesus does next.

Remember, Jesus sits down beside the girl, takes her by the hand, and says two things to her.

The first is talitha. Literally, it means “little girl,” but that does not get across the sense of what he’s saying. This is a pet name, a diminutive term of endearment. Since this is a diminutive that a mother would use with a little girl, probably the best translation is “honey.”

The second thing Jesus says to her is koum, which means “arise.” Not “be resurrected”: it just means “get up.” Jesus id doing exactly what this child’s parents might do on a sunny morning. He sits down, takes her hand, and says, “Honey, it’s time to get up.” And she does.

Jesus is facing facing the most implacable, inexorable enemy of the human race and such is his power that he holds this child by the hand and gently lifts her right up through it. “Honey, get up.”

Jesus is saying by his actions, “If I have you by the hand, death itself is nothing but sleep.” . . .

. . . There’s nothing more frightening for a little child than to lose the hand of the parent in a crowd or in the dark, but that is nothing compared with Jesus’s own loss.

He lost his Father’s hand on the cross.

He went into the tomb so we can be raised out of it.

He lost hold of his Father’s hand so we could know that once he has us by the hand, he will never, ever forsake us.

HT: Justin Taylor

Click here for additional resources by Tim Keller.

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It Was Finished on the Cross

Our church experiences the rare and tremendous blessing of having an extremely gifted songwriter, Kristie Braselton, who writes original songs that we sing together on Sunday. Kristie writes a variety of excellent songs, but her “wheelhouse” seems to be writing modern hymns (including “Wondrous Things” and “Christ Has Conquered All“). This Sunday we’ll introduce her latest song and I trust that all who hear and sing it will be wonderfully blessed. Even reading it will encourage your soul. Here you go:

It Was Finished on the Cross
By Kristie Braselton

Once we all stood as captive slaves
The bonds of sin and death our chains
But he with blood our freedom bought
It was finished on the cross
It was finished on the cross

The weight of sin, the sting of death
Were swallowed up by righteousness
Vanquished by the Son of God
It was finished on the cross
It was finished on the cross

Chorus
And we rejoice in victory
We lift our eyes to Calvary
Before the battle has begun
By Jesus’ blood it has been won
It was finished on the cross

And while our hearts have turned from sin
This flesh is waging war within
Though sin remains, our guilt is gone
It was finished on the cross
It was finished on the cross

His gift of grace our heart betrays
With urge to merit or repay
We need not live to pay the cost
For it was finished on the cross
It was finished on the cross

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Death by Love: Addiction and Atonement

On this Good Friday, I want to recommend a wonderful teaching by Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church, “Death by Love: Addiction and Atonement.” This audio was recorded at a past conference for CCEF, one of the best organizations when it comes to equipping counselors and others who help people.

In this message, Driscoll discusses how the atonement frees us from addiction and provides a number of helpful lenses through which to find help.

I was particularly blessed by a story he tells about how one husband responded to news of his wife’s past adultery (you’ll have to listen to hear it!).

Driscoll also wrote a terrific book on this topic, Death by Love. One of our Community Groups went through this book last summer and it proved to be very fruitful.

Click here to listen to the audio.

Click here for more information about the CCEF podcast.

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Rejoicing in the Cross

This past Sunday, we took a Journey to the Cross which culminated in reading the story of the crucifixion of Jesus and making a few observations (listen here).

Here were some of the observations we made. Take a moment and rejoice (again!) in the love of Christ for you.

  1. Jesus received the robe of mockery so that we could receive the robe of righteousness.
  2. Jesus could have saved himself and lost his people. Instead he lost himself and saved his people.
  3. Jesus offers radical grace to those who have no hope without him and no opportunity to repay him.
  4. Jesus was forsaken by his Father so that we could be adopted by the Father.
  5. Jesus’ sacrifice rips open access to the presence of God.
  6. Jesus, the truly innocent one, was crucified so that we, the truly guilty ones, could be forgiven.

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VIDEO BLOG: Sunday Preview – Journey to the Cross

Here’s a sneak peek at what we’ll be doing together this Sunday. I hope you’ll join us. Also, be sure to come to the baptism afterward.

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Set Your Mind on Christ Challenge – Day 6

Well, the challenge has come to an end. I hope it was as refreshing for your heart as it was for mine. And, if you made it all the way through, congratulations! Be sure to leave your comments on what you learned today (Luke 22-24), as well as from this whole experience.

Observations:

  • Jesus does not see any conflict between the absolute sovereignty of God that determines things to take place and the human responsibility of people to do what is right (22:22).
  • At the very end of his ministry, Jesus is still teaching his disciples that greatness in his kingdom is defined differently than the world. They, like us, seem to be slow learners (22:26). [This is also an encouragement in ministry that you need to say the same things over and over and it will take many people a long time to get it]
  • Jesus has obvious love for his disciples (22:28-30, 32).
  • Jesus’ death is a fulfillment of Scripture and prophecy (22:37).
  • Jesus surrenders to his Father’s will (22:42).
  • Even those who are strongest and closest to Jesus will still have times of profound failure (22:60-62).
  • Jesus, the true King of Kings, is mocked as though he weren’t king at all. Ironic (23:11).
  • Jesus was not guilty (23:22).
  • Jesus is willing to forgive even those who are unjustly killing him (23:34).
  • Grace is amazing, undeserved, and available to even the most surprising people (23:39-43).
  • Jesus saw the whole of Scripture pointing to himself (24:27) [Wouldn’t you love to have a recording of that conversation?!?!]
  • Jesus rose with a real, tangible, able-to-eat-fish, physical body (24:39-43).
  • Jesus sends his people out with a message: “repentance and forgiveness of sins” (24:47).

How would I be different if this truth were explosively alive in my innermost being?

  • I would be thankful, humble, and eager to follow the Savior into any path of suffering or difficulty for the sake of others. His grace is awesome, in every conceivable way. I would also be assured of our victory in Jesus and bold to live out of the strength and power he supplies.

What about you? How is God using this passage in your life? Questions or Comments?

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