Sermon 7 questions – Part 2 on Forgiveness

Here are my final thoughts in response to Sunday’s questions:

Is unforgiveness sin?

Yes. We are commanded over and over in the scripture to forgive others. Consider Colossians 3:13: “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

How do you handle a friend who is divorced and in a relationship with another person who is also divorced but they are not married and having sex?

Sex outside of marriage is sin. It really is that simple. If we have a friend committing any sin, the loving thing to do is to confront that friend about their sin. We don’t confront out of pride or arrogance, but rather out of brokenness. We don’t confront to condemn but rather we confront to correct. Many adults in relationships are drawn into intimate experiences, but that does not make it right. When two people are dating who have been previously divorced, it seems to me the temptations for sex would be even greater than that experienced by two teenagers who have never had sex. It requires a real commitment to Christ and moral purity by both parties. When a friend is struggling in the spiritual life, we can step in to encourage them and help them by praying for them and talking with them about their spiritual commitment. We might could offer to help our friend do the right thing by agreeing to hold them accountable. The problem is that in our culture, many people do not see anything wrong with sex outside of marriage. We might should have a heart to heart talk with our friend to help them see how important it is to follow God’s plan outlined in the Bible.

When I forgive, am I condoning sin?

No. When you don’t forgive, you are practicing sin. When you do forgive, you are being like Jesus. Forgiving does not mean overlooking sin or not requiring change or accountability. All of those are different things. God has forgiven you, and He certainly doesn’t condone sin.

Does God really “forget” our sins since he’s all knowing?

The Bible states in Isaiah 43:25, “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins,” and in Hebrews 8:12, “For I will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” Finally Hebrews 10:17 says,. “And their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Consider this definition of forget: “to treat with inattention, overlook, or to disregard … intentionally or unintentionally.” If you consider the definition of remember, the opposite of forget, it means pulling something up to the front of your mind that has lain dormant in a memory data bank. It doesn’t mean the data is not there, but it does mean that you have not thought on it. It could be retrievable, but you have not retrieved it. So, God forgetting our sin does not mean He is not omniscient (knows everything), but it does mean he chooses not to pull up your sins and dwell on them because they have been washed clean by the blood of Jesus.

Sermon Questions on forgiveness (Part 1)

This past Sunday I preached the seventh message in this series, “God, I Have A Question.” I addressed the topic “Does it really matter to God how we treat each other?” Most of the questions submitted through our website were related to the topic of forgiveness. My message Sunday focused on why and how to forgive others. During the message, additional questions were submitted by text. While I answered some of the questions at the end of my message, I would like to respond to some additional questions now.

Jesus said to forgive 70×7 , does he mean to forgive 490 times?

I believe Jesus was using a figure of speech indicating our forgiveness should be complete and unlimited. I do not think He is saying to keep a record and once we hit 491 times, we are free to hold a grudge. The rest of scripture gives a picture of God’s unlimited and unmerited grace along with the admonition to forgive and release those who offend us. It might be like us saying “I’d ride the Batman ride at Six Flags a thousand times.” It’s not that when we get to 1001 we would stop. We would just be saying we would do it as many times as possible.

Should Satan be forgiven?

The only approach I can take toward this question is a biblical one. Nowhere in the Bible are we told to forgive Satan. We are told to be alert in regard to his deception and destruction (1 Peter 5:8), to fight against him (Eph 6:12), and to resist him (James 4:7). We are never told to forgive him. Satan is not a human and is not a part of God’s redemption plan. Also consider that God sees the end at the same time He sees the beginning. He knows Satan will continue to be the enemy and will not repent. I do not believe our relationship with Satan is anything like our relationship with other human beings (whom we should forgive). Since the Bible doesn’t tell us to forgive Satan, I’m going to answer this question wit h “no.”

Should truly all be forgiven, even the ones who commit terrors, hate, and evil?

Yes. I believe the Bible teaches that we are to forgive everyone. Romans 12:17-21 says that vengeance belongs to God, not us. Matthew 5:44 says that we are supposed to love our enemies, and Luke 6:27 goes a little further by saying we are supposed to do good to those who hate us. Also remember that while the one who has committed the offense can benefit from our forgiveness, the one offended benefits the most when we forgive those who have sinned against us. This is a very difficult thing to do, and really requires the supernatural grace of God in us. I believe there are some people in my life I can forgive only as I surrender my will totally to Jesus Christ, and I allow Him to forgive through me.

What if the person being forgiven doesn’t believe that wrong was ever done?

The Bible teaches that we are supposed to go to a person who has offended us and tell them about the offense. There are many times we are offended when the other person has no clue anything wrong has been done. Hopefully this kind of confrontation can end in repentance and forgiveness. In the event the other person does not repent and does not even admit that wrong has been done, we still must forgive in our hearts. The reason is because unforgiveness leads to bitterness and bitterness will destroy you. One reason God commands you to forgive others is so you will live in peace and joy.

How can I be forgiving without getting taken advantage of?

I really like this C. S. Lewis quote from The Four Loves: “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” I think his point is that no matter what we do, someone is going to take advantage of us. The choice we have to make is to either be cold, hard, and unbreakable or to be soft, warm, pliable, sometimes hurt/broken. The second option is the one where we find joy and peace. We find meaningful relationships and opportunities to share Christ’s love and grace with others. With that said, I do not believe God wants us to be gullible. Forgiveness does not mean stupid. From every circumstance of our lives, we can learn and grow. Whenever we are hurt by others, we can learn and grow from it. We learn to pick up on signs that more pain is coming our way, and we may be able to stop it. It is possible we can even help our friend or loved one stop before he or she inflicts the pain. I do believe we should always ask God for wisdom in regard to all the circumstances of our lives so we will know how to act and respond. Will we sometimes get taken advantage of? Probably. Should we forgive anyway? Yes.

What is the responsibility of the one being forgiven? Where does restitution come in to play and how important is it? Should we expect it?

The offender should take ownership of what he or she has done. Our tendency is to try to excuse ourselves or justify our actions. An important step to personal wholeness is taking ownership of our actions. So, first the offender should take ownership of what they did and ask for forgiveness. This will open the door for the process of restoration to begin. Note that I said it is a process. Restoration may take some time. A part of restoration may very well be restitution. If it is possible for something to be returned to the one offended, then certainly that should happen. When I was a teenager, I took my brother’s car without his permission. My friend and I had a wreck. My brother forgave me for doing this, but I still worked for months and paid him for his car. If someone really repents, then restitution should happen. Yes, we should expect it. With that said, whether restitution ever comes, we should still forgive. Remember (though I’ve said it a number of times), we are the beneficiaries of forgiveness.

Sermon 6 Questions – Creation/Evolution (Part 2)

Two Sunday’s ago I sought to answer the question – How did God create the earth? The topic came from a variety of questions about evolution. During the message I had additional questions texted in to me, and I addressed a few of those already. Here’s the final questions and answers for this topic.

Archeological remains indicate millions of years of existence of creation.  How long ago was Adam created and when did the dinosaur age happen?

We do not know for sure about this. There is much debate and little resolution about the carbon dating process along with other means by which scientists determine the age of the earth. I will say that the liberal media and the scientific establishment represented in many places of higher learning are biased toward evolution, regardless of the evidence, those who control media and education will always lean toward anything that supports evolution. I know this sounds like I believe it is all a conspiracy, but there is something to it. We have numerous examples of scientists who hold to anything but creationism even when the evidence supporting their theory crumbles. For example, Dr. Francis Crick, one of the scientist who discovered structure of the DNA molecule, made this statement, “An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going.” Because Crick believes there is no way life could have evolved on the earth because of the intricacies of his discoveries, he believes there has to be some other explanation for human life. He called it “almost a miracle,” but instead of taking the next logical step saying God created it all, he now says life had to come from another planet. It seems that scientists who refuse to believe in God will go to any length to avoid the obvious: incredible design requires an incredible designer. There are numerous interesting facts that would support a young earth. For example, scientist discovered through tests, etc. that DNA would break down after 10,000 years and not survive. The significance of this is that they were saying one would not find DNA molecules in ancient bones, etc. The problem with this declaration, from an old earth perspective, is that ancient DNA started turning up. Ancient dinosaur bones and foliage that was preserved somehow in strata that was said to be 17 million years old somehow had DNA. Scientists said DNA could not exist past 10,000 years. One could then deduce that the dinosaurs and the magnolia leaf, among other things, had to be 10,000 years old or less because of the existence of DNA. Instead of accepting this based upon valid tests, scientist jumped on another not proven hypothesis that these discoveries must have been preserved in something that halted the disintegration of the DNA. This is an example of the tail wagging the dog. Because these scientist are bent on the fact that the earth is old, when they discover something contrary to this theory, that must alter the discovery instead of change their theory. With all that said, I am comfortable saying we really do not know how old the earth is. I do not always trust scientific discoveries because many of them seem to have an agenda beyond science. At the same time, I do not think creation is dependent upon a young earth. The Bible, nor does science, support evolution, so regardless of whether God created the earth in a literal 6 days or in 6 epochs, He still created the earth. I personally believe in a literal 6 days which would make the earth 6,000 – 10,000 years old. Obviously dinosaurs became extinct in some way. It probably happened either before the flood, or immediately after the flood when the earth did not provide enough nourishment for them (I lean toward before the flood). We should not have such a hard time with an animal becoming extinct and dying out. It happens! You might enjoy reading this article and others on the Answers in Genesis website: http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/nab/why-christians-shouldnt-accept-millions

If Genesis says sin came into the world thru Adam, and death entered into the world due to sin…then does alternative creation theories that imply death in the world before Adam negate “original sin”?

If you mean alternative creation theories stating other human beings were made other than Adam, then yes, those theories would discount the biblical doctrine of original sin. I do not believe in alternative creation theories involving other people being created because the Bible is clear that Adam was the first man and sin came through him (Romans 5:12, 1 Corinthians 15:45).

Where did God come from?

The Bible says God is eternal – having no beginning or ending. Revelation 1:8 says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” Consider Psalm 90:2: “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” Frankly, this concept is difficult for us to grasp because from our perspective, everything has a beginning and an ending. I just accept the fact that God does not because the Bible says so.

 

Sunday’s Questions – Creation (Part 1)

This past Sunday I preached a sermon in our “God, I have a question” series on how did God make the world. Obviously the theme brings up the debate between creationists and evolutionists. You can hear the whole sermon by going to our church website. During the message, additional questions were submitted. I will begin answering them to the best of my ability:

If God created the world “by the word of His mouth” can we expect that same power in our daily life through His Word?

There’s really two key things we must consider when looking at the work of God. The will of God and the word of God. We cannot just take his word and apply it to any situation as if it is a magic formula. Many people think they can manipulate God with faith or scripture. This is not so. God does not bend to our will. With that said, God is the same today as he was 2000 years ago. God will act and move in our world and in our lives with the same power he had during and before the bible days. When we apply to the truth of God to the will of God, we will see the power of God!

Your key passage in Gen 1 says God created light.  Did God also create darkness, or is darkness simply the absence of light?

Yes, I believe that would be true. Genesis 1:2 says “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep…”

At the end of Genesis 1 God created man in His image and allowed them to be fruitful and multiply. In the beginning of Genesis 2 God created Adam and Eve. Aren’t there already people everywhere multiplying according to the end of Genesis 1? How are we all from Adam and Eve if there are people already created on earth?

I believe, along with many (if not most) bible scholars, that Genesis 2 is a passage giving us more detail into how God created mankind on day 6. I do not believe that Adam and Eve were secondary to other human beings created on day 6. If this were so, sin would not have passed down to all humanity through Adam. Romans 5:12 says, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.” The New Testament confirms that Adam was the first man in 1 Corinthians 15:45: “So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being…”

Which came first? The chicken or the egg?

The chicken

Where do dinosaurs fit into creationism?

I believe they were created on the 5th (water/birds) and 6th (animals) day. They died out just like many species have. I think they died out before the flood, but there is no proof as to exactly when this happened.

Were Adam and Eve cavemen

The bible does not use the word “caveman” to describe anyone. Even the concept of prehistoric could not apply because “prehistoric” means “before recorded history.” Obviously the bible records history before the world began. It is possible that Adam and Eve lived in a cave after the fall. Frankly, had I been around in that time, a cave may have been a cozy place to live. The concept of caveman leads one to think of man evolving, and evolution does not agree with the teaching of scripture. For that matter, the evolution of man does not agree with the findings of science. Consider these facts about supposed prehistoric men:

–          The Nebraska Man – The Nebraska Man was a fabrication created in the creativity of  a scientist who worked hard to turn a tooth, found in 1922, into a prehistoric family. Scientist applied their imagination and created a jawbone, skull, skeleton, body & fur and created the “Nebraska Man” all from one tooth. By the time the London Newspaper got it, there was also a picture of a “Nebraska mom.” Sometime after this discovery, an identical tooth was found attached to a skull and body of a wild pig. One writer said, “Ironically, while scientists were attempting to make a monkey out of a pig, the pig made a monkey out of the scientists.”

–          The Java Man was found on the East Indian island of Java in 1891, and the find only consisted of a skullcap, femur (thigh bone), & three teeth. The femur was actually found fifty feet from the skullcap a full year after the skullcap had been discovered. Worse than this, Eugene Dubois also found 2 fully intact human skulls in close proximity to his original finds, but these facts were not reported at the time.

–          Henry Gee,  Chief science writer for Nature:, summarized: “Consequently, human evolution is a completely human invention created after the fact, shaped to accord with human prejudices. To take a line of fossils and claim that they represent a lineage is not a scientific hypothesis that can be tested, but an assertion that carries the same validity as a bedtime story – amusing, perhaps even instructive, but not scientific.”

Where did Cain & Abel’s wives come from?

As I said Sunday, Cain never had the privilege of taking a wife. We do know the bible does not give us details of all of Adam and Eve’s children. Genesis 5:4 says, “After Seth was born, Adam lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters.” Cain’s wife may be the most talked about wife in history. William Jennings Bryan, the prosecutor in the Scopes trial in 1929 was asked this question, and he could not give an adequate answer. There is no indication how old Cain was when he married, so it is possible he could have been 50 and married a 25 year old sister. He could have been 100 and married a 50 year old niece. The only conclusion is that Cain married his sister or another relative. Cain’s wife suddenly appears in Genesis 4:17, but there is no indication exactly how much time has passed at this point. Evolutionists, like the famed Scopes Trial ACLU lawyer Clarence Darrow, seem to think this is a big deal that supports the possibility of other people evolving. The fact is that God gave us some detail about some births (Cain and Abel) while leaving out a lot of other detail (like Cain’s sister and following relatives).

If God created the heavens and the earth why did he not create life outside of earth?

He could have. I really do not believe that life in another galaxy would disqualify any of the teachings of the scripture. I don’t think He did, but I could be wrong. Obviously the Bible doesn’t give any indication He did.

Where did the water come from Genesis  in Genesis 1:2.

If you look carefully at Genesis 1:1, God created the heavens and the earth. When he began this process on day one, water was a part of that creation. We know that water is made up of two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen. God created the water as a part of the beginning of the creation process.  The scripture doesn’t go into great detail, it just indicates it was a part of the “earth creation.”

Sunday’s Questions – Heaven and Hell

I have done the best I can to answer the questions that were submitted to me during the sermon last Sunday. This posting concludes last Sunday’s topic. The topic was heaven and hell, and there were a lot of good questions. As with all of these weeks and topics, I do not presume to have all the answers. Sometimes the Bible gives a real clear answer, and sometimes there’s not a lot in the Bible to answer the question. Nevertheless, I’ve done the best I can. Please feel free to add your comments.

What will people do in Heaven?

There’s not a lot in the Bible that really answers this question. We do know that there will some incredible worship experiences. We can look back on Adam and Eve before the fall and get a little idea. They had responsibilities – like taking care of the garden, naming the animals, etc. They also fellowshipped with God. The Bible does hint to working or serving when it talks about reigning with Christ (2 Timothy 2:11-13). We can also look at God’s nature and character. He is a purposeful God and is always at work (John 5:17). I do not believe this will stop. While we do not really know the details, we can be sure that if this life has purpose, which it does, the one to come will be even more purposeful. If this life was challenging, exciting, and fulfilling, imagine how much more so will be the life to come.

Can you get kicked out of heaven after the rapture?

No. I do not believe that once a person a REALLY saved or becomes a Christian, he or she cannot lose their salvation. If you could get kicked out of heaven after the rapture, then John 3:16 and other verses would not be true. Satan was kicked out, but he is not a human being. His circumstance, then, is different than ours.

Do children who have not accepted Jesus yet or are too young to have done so go to hell?

You mentioned that the Bible says “The only way to heaven is through Christ”… What happens to children that die at a very young age and were never introduced to Jesus or had the chance to accept Christ as their Savior?

I do not believe so. I must point out that the scripture does not say either way. The only hint is in 2 Samuel 12:23 where David speaks of his dead son. He says, “He cannot come to me, but I can go to him.” If you think about God’s nature, which is love, grace, and mercy, it is hard to imagine God sending a child to hell who is psychologically and spiritually unable to understand sin and his or her need for salvation. I was raised hearing the phrase “age of accountability.” This phrase is not in the Bible, but I believe the concept fits with God’s nature. I do not believe there is a set age. For some children, that age could be six or seven while others it may be much older. I do know that children are not mentally able to grasp concepts until older childhood years. Salvation is more abstract than concrete, so God made a child unable to grasp his need for Christ until he or she would be somewhere around 10 – 12. That does not mean a younger child can’t be taught to understand enough to be saved younger than that.

Do you think there are different “stages” or “levels” of hell based on your sins on earth?

There is really nothing in the Bible to indicate different levels of hell. There are some places that refer to a “greater condemnation” (Matthew 23:14 for example), but we don’t really know what this means. We do know that James 2:10 says that if you commit one sin, you are guilty of all of them. The bottom line of sin is rejection of God. That is why people go to hell. It’s not really because they committed a particular sin but because they rejected God.

If Satan would have asked for forgiveness would God have granted it?

This is a great question, and I received a similar one from one of our children. I plan to mention this in a few weeks during my sermon. I think the answer would have to be yes. Of course all of this is hypothetical, and because God knows everything that will happen, he knows Satan will not repent. Still, the concept of God’s grace, I believe, would apply to Satan. That’s just my thought.

When you said when we get to heaven we will not be married why do we promise to God that we will stay with them through sickness and health and in the end we end up divorced?

The Bible clearly says that God hates divorce. I believe He hates divorce because he loves us so much. He knows that divorce scars us, and we (along with our children, friends, church, etc.) carry the baggage of divorce for the rest of our lives. Also, our marriages are supposed to be a picture to the world of God’s love for His church. When we divorce, we are marring the image of God to the world. I believe that regardless of the circumstance, a couple can work through their problems and honor the Lord with a life-long marriage. The bottom line answer of why we divorce has to be sin. It could be the sin of one person who will not repent thereby leading to divorce. Like in the case of marital infidelity – if a person does not repent and ask for forgiveness, God does give the other partner permission to divorce. Is this best? If there is not repentance, and this goes on and on, I do not believe that divorce dishonors the Lord. I do think people are too quick to go to divorce court. God commands us to stay with the husband/wife of our youth. Regarding marriage in heaven, Jesus does say we will not be married in heaven (Matthew 22:30), and I believe I addressed this earlier this week.

Questions regarding Heaven and Hell from Sermon 5 (Part 2)

Here’s a few more responses to questions submitted to me during my sermon last Sunday. The theme of that message was on Heaven and Hell.

If the dead could look into heaven, when we go to heaven will we be able to see friends and loved ones that are in hell?

There is nothing in the Bible that says we can. You may have noticed during the message on Sunday, Luke 16 does not say that Lazarus could see the rich man in hell. It seems to me that if it were possible for me to see loved ones in hell, it would be incredibly sorrowful. We do know there will be no sorrow in heaven.

You said people chose to go to hell, what about those who have never heard?

Will people that have never heard or not allowed to hear the word of Christ be allowed to go to heaven?

I addressed this a little bit on Sunday. I want to first say that I share a burden about this issue. I know the Bible says no one can come to the Father except through Jesus Christ. In my mind, it seems this means they will not only need to know that God exists, but they would need to at least know enough of the Gospel message to know they need to repent of their sin and place their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. With that said, I also fully believe the Bible. The Bible says in Romans 1:18-20 says, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” This verse clearly says several things. 1 – God has made what may be known about him plain to humanity. 2 – God’s qualities, his eternal power and divine nature, are clearly seen and understood from looking at and experiencing creation.  3 – Because of this level of revelation, people who reject God are without excuse. There is a missing element in this verse, but I still trust God with the issue. One cannot gaze at a sunset and know through this experience they must repent of their sins and trust Christ as their Savior. The way I sort through this is to know that creation alone is enough to prompt people to seek after God. While Jeremiah 29:13 was specifically written to a Jewish people in captivity, I believe the principle also applies to us: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” This say that if an individual begins to ponder his origins and the source of all life by experiencing the creation and he really begins to seek after God, he will find God. There may be additional things God does to reach across the chasm to make himself known, but the impetus for that search is God’s creation, which is available to all. Granted, those of us who live within Gospel rich societies certainly seem to have an advantage, but at the same time, God is not limited. If someone is seeking God, he can make himself known to that individual. I’ve heard and read many stories about God doing just that.

How do you know that “Abraham’s side” means heaven and not a holding place where Abraham happens to be (Abraham’s bosom)?

I think Abraham’s side could very well have been a holding place for believers as they awaited the resurrection of Jesus. I call it heaven because it could be considered pre-resurrection (Christ’s resurrection) heaven. The post-resurrection concept of immediately being in heaven and not in a holding place comes from several places. 1 – In Luke 23:43 Jesus told the thief dying on the cross “today you’ll be with me in paradise.” The thief did not have to go to purgatory or some holding place waiting on a more opportune time. It was to be instant. 2 – 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 clearly says there are two options for Christians: in the body and away from the Lord or out of the body and present with the Lord. 3- Ephesians 3:15 indicates we already have family in heaven.

Will Jews, the chosen people of God, get to be in heaven even though they never believed in Christ?

No. Jesus said “No one comes to the father except through me” (John 14:6). Jews fall under the “no one” clause. Eternal life requires salvation and that must come through Jesus Christ.

Will we eat in heaven?
I believe the answer is “Yes.” Jesus made reference to eating together in the Kingdom in Mark 14:25. Also Revelation 21 talks about fruit bearing trees that will line the river of life. I personally think Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice-cream will be like health food in heaven.:)

Will animals be in heaven?

The Bible does make reference to the lion lying down with the lamb in the millennial reign of Christ. It is also interesting to note that animals were a part of the creation of the world before the fall. The scripture also says the creation is groaning (Romans 8:22) in response to the broken state of our world. I do not believe our animals will be resurrected, so any animals that might be in heaven will be new. When I asked my mother this when I was a little boy, she asked me, “Will it take Prince being in heaven for you to be happy?” She then told me that God says I will be eternally happy in heaven, and if my eternal happiness depended on my dog’s presence, then he would be there. That comforted me as I stood by my little Prince’s grave, and the concept is true. Now, however, as an adult, I realize my happiness will not depend upon my dog’s presence.

Will there be our Earthly hobbies in heaven.

While we know heaven is going to be a wonderful and amazing place, we do not fully know what we will do. It seems we will work and have projects, etc. We do know there will some ruling going on during the millennial reign, but the Bible is not real specific. It seems to me that there will be a lot of really rewarding, fun, enjoyable things going on throughout eternity, so hobbies could very well fit into the concept. With that said, the Bible really does not give us an answer to this one.

If God knows the plans for our life does he know if we are going to end up in heaven or hell when we are born?

Yes. God knows everything. He sees the beginning at the same time he sees the end. We call this “foreknowledge.” God has foreknowledge, which means He knows ahead of time not only who will be saved, but exactly what is going to happen around us.

Do we keep our personalities in heaven

Jesus seemed to keep his in his resurrected form. The Bible really does not address this. My only thought is that God is a creative God, and part of His creativity is seen in our unique personalities. It does make life more interesting and varied. It seems to me there will be personalities in heaven.

Questions from Sunday (Sermon 5 on Heaven and Hell)

As in the past, questions were submitted on Sunday morning during my sermon that I was unable to fully answer at the conclusion. Each Sunday I am spending about 10 minutes at the conclusion of my sermon to address that questions that came in by text. Below you will find my thoughts to some of the questions that came in this past Sunday.

How can there be hell if the earth’s core is solid.

We really do not know where hell is located. Hell could very well exist on a totally different dimension that would be impossible for us to grasp with our human limitations. I do not believe the solid core of the earth has anything to do with hell.

If God knows all, couldn’t he have known that Satan was going to create Hell, and could’ve he prevented the evil of Satan and Hell? Why would God allow this?

For starters, Satan did not create hell. Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 25:41 –  “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” While Jesus didn’t say “the eternal fire I prepared for the devil…” I think his words obviously point out Satan did not create hell. I think the issue of God preventing evil goes back to our familiar friend “free will.” Relationship is a top priority for God. He does not want robots. With the option of obedience or disobedience comes the possibility of evil. While God did not create evil, he created the possibility of evil. He even knew we would sin, but the choice still had to be offered. It is all based upon God’s nature of love and love requires an object – us. If we did not have free will, we could not love God. The bottom line is that while God knew Satan would rebel, and he knew mankind would fall. He still made us because He is love.

Will other forms of believers be allowed to Heaven, such as Mormons, or other forms of Christianity?

I addressed this somewhat at the conclusion of the sermon. Only true born-again believers who surrender to Jesus Christ as the God of the universe and the Lord of their lives will go to Heaven. While I do not consider Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses Christians, I need to hasten to say that not all Baptists are Christians. Now by virtue of our doctrine, if you are a Baptist, you are supposed to be a Christian. This is different between us and Mormons. While Mormons say that Jesus became a God just like we can all become Gods, they deny that Jesus is THE God. You cannot be a Christian if you deny the deity of Christ. The only “form of believers” who will be in Heaven are the saved kind- that is the kind who have repented of their sins and surrendered the lives to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Will there be waiting in Heaven?

It depends upon what “waiting” means. When we wait for something, we endure the passing of time while longing for something to take place. Eternity is not limited to time as we know it, nor will we have a feeling that something is being delayed that we want. It is really difficult to answer this question because I do not believe we can understand what it means to exist in a timeless reality. It is interesting that numerous times in the Bible we find God telling us to wait (Psalm 5:3, Psalm 40:1, Isaiah 40:31). I guess my response is that while something may be delayed, we will not long for it as if God is late or we are being neglected.

Why no seas?

I do not think this means there will be no ocean or large fresh water bodies. I need to point out up front that we really do not know what this means. There are a variety of opinions; we must remember they are but opinions. The sea in the scripture presents a sense of danger or turmoil. It is possible the scripture is pointing to the fact that in Heaven there will be no turmoil. Whatever it means, it is pointing to something that is negative. The ocean to me is not negative unless I have a shark get a little too close for comfort while I’m scuba diving. Seriously, some scholars think the sea represented death as it was so dangerous in ancient times. These scholars think John was saying there is no more death. This may be one         question we have to save until we get there.

Will our earthly spouse and family be our “family” in heaven?

Matthew 22:30 says, “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.” Note this does not say we will be angels, but regarding the issue of marriage, we will be like the angels. This also does not say we will not know our spouses nor does it say we will not have close relationships. It does say that in heaven, marriage as we know it will not exist. There is nothing in the scripture that says we will not be close to our family in heaven. It is possible that we will have meaningful relationships and even unique relationships with our families. We just don’t really know how that’s going to be, but we can be sure that whatever God has made Heaven to be, it will be better than earth.

What if your spirit goes to heaven but your family doesn’t accompany you later?

I’m sure this happens all the time. It seems that if I have family members go to hell, I will be quite sad. The Bible teaches there is no sorrow in heaven, so I’m not real sure what we will know or not know.

Is the term “sheol” in the scripture a reference to hell?

Not necessarily. It means the place dead go (like the ground or a tomb). While it could just be referring to a grave, it could be referring to heaven or hell.

Where did Jesus go for the three days when he died on the cross?   Some scholars say he went to hell to preach to the lost souls.

I addressed this on Sunday. 1 Peter 3:18-20 addresses this. The Bible is not real clear exactly what this mean. This passage does say that he went to the imprisoned spirits. Again, we are not real sure who these people were. It does make a vague reference to people alive in Moses’ day. If Jesus went to those who rejected God and were in hell, this would be contrary to the rest of scripture. I think he went to followers of God who passed before the death and resurrection to tell them the anticipated sacrifice had been made and call them to believe in Him.