Skeptics Answered: What About Hypocrites in The Church?

Skeptics Answered: What About Hypocrites in The Church?
“I would never become a Christian! Look at all the hypocrites in the Church! Look at all the scandals of tele-evangelists, the Health and Wealth preachers, the ‘Name it! Claim it! Frame it!’ Hyper-faith prosperity preachers, two-faced frauds and con men! I don’t want to be part of hypocrisy!”

Hypocrisy offends God
God is far more offended by hypocrisy than you are. The Bible contains the greatest condemnations of hypocrisy ever recorded. The Apostle Paul wrote about: “False apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ…For satan transforms himself into an angel of light, therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness…” 2 Cor 11:13-15.

Scripture condemns it
 Paul also wrote of: “false brethren secretly brought in…” Gal 2:4. The Apostle Peter taught that we are to lay “aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy and all evil speaking.” 1 Pet 2:1. The writer of Hebrews exhorts us to: “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience…” Heb 10:22.

God demands our honesty
Our Lord Jesus Christ exposed and condemned hypocrisy most famously in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 6:1-6; 16-18; 7:1-5). Matthew 23 records our Lord’s devastating condemnation of hypocrisy: “All their works they do to be seen by men…woe to you…hypocrites! For you shut up the Kingdom of Heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in…hypocrites!

For you devour widow’s houses…hypocrites! You make him twice as much the son of hell as yourselves. Woe to you, blind guides… fools and blind!…Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!…Full of extortion and self-indulgence…woe to you…hypocrites! For you are like white washed tombs which appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.

Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness…serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?” Matt 23:1-33.

God clearly demands honesty and sincerity. Our yes must be Yes, and our no, No! Hypocrisy is consistently condemned throughout Scripture.

Hypocrites are found everywhere
There are of course hypocrites and charlatans in the medical profession too, who violate their Hippocratic Oath to never give an abortifacient to a pregnant woman, nor to do anything to harm a patient. There are innumerable scandals of organ harvesting from prisoners in China to provide kidneys, livers and hearts for transplants to patients willing to pay enough. Doctors who kill babies through abortion and elderly people through euthanasia. However, none of us would allow the presence of tens-of-thousands of hypocrites in the medical profession to stop us from going to trusted doctors and dentists when we are ill.

There are many counterfeit banknotes, but that doesn’t stop any of us from using genuine notes. We have heard the reports of hamburgers contaminated with, amongst other things, the ecoli virus, but people still eat burgers.

Jesus Christ alone is perfect
The Church is not perfect. But Jesus Christ is perfect! Jesus Christ is probably the only person who has perfectly lived what He preached. He said what He meant. He meant what He said. He did all that He promised. He perfectly lived up to God’s standards of righteousness. You can point out many failings, and even frauds, in the established Church. However, nobody could ever point out any such failure or fraud in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Typically, hypocrisy in the Church is used as an excuse for not repenting of our sins or surrendering our lives to Christ. By pointing out the sins of others, we try to justify our own sins.

Sinners are in church too
It needs to be noted out that not everyone who attends church services is a true Christian. Many have no saving knowledge of Christ. The true Church of Christ consists of born-again believers regenerated by God’s Holy Spirit. By definition a Christian has to admit that he is a sinner and is not good enough for Heaven. By virtue of being a Christian one has to acknowledge one’s sinfulness and depravity. That one deserves the wrath of God in hell. The Christian Church requires a public acknowledgement of sin as a condition for membership. The very ordinances of the Church make this clear. Baptism is for the forgiveness of sins, symbolising burial and resurrection. The Lord’s Supper reinforces this, emphasising that we are sinners needing God’s mercy and salvation by blood Atonement. The Lord’s Prayer includes the petition to forgive us our sins. The Apostles Creed includes the forgiveness of sins. The regular reading of the Ten Commandments in our churches reminds us of God’s standards and how we have failed.

The grace of God
The Church has never claimed to be a fellowship of perfect people. That would be hypocritical. The Church is a fellowship of sinners who acknowledge their complete dependence upon the mercy of Almighty God to forgive and transform them.

That is what grace means – God’s undeserved favour. The Apostle Paul claimed: “I am the worst of sinners.” Authentic Christians claim to be so bad that they deserved to be sentenced to hell forever. John Newton’s popular hymn begins: “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.” Christians acknowledge they are imperfect – hence why they need a perfect Saviour. The Gospel we preach is perfect, and mankind will stand before a perfect Judge.

Acknowledging we are sick
It may be a good thing that there are hypocrites in the Church – they may hear the Gospel, repent of their hypocrisy and be saved. We don’t criticise hospitals for being full of sick people. That is exactly what hospitals are built for!

No one condemned hypocrisy more effectively than Jesus Christ. No one has lived a more sincere and righteous life than Jesus. Therefore it is not logical to use the existence of hypocrites in the Church as an excuse to reject Jesus Christ. No one could ever accuse our Lord Jesus Christ of being a hypocrite!

If you allow a hypocrite to come between you and God, then the hypocrite is closer to God than you are! If you boycott church because you hate hypocrisy, then you could end up spending all eternity with all the hypocrites in hell.

Observing hypocrisy in the world
There is a lot of hypocrisy in this world. Islam claims to be a peaceful and tolerant religion, while many of its members declare Jihad, issue death threats, murder and mutilate vast amounts of people in the name of their religion. Newspapers claim to stand for freedom of speech while censoring pro-life obituaries. Communists condemn oppression and uphold themselves as ‘liberators’ and ‘champions of justice’ while communist regimes have been the most oppressive in all of history. No other regimes have imprisoned as many people, executed as many victims, deliberately starved so many millions, erected such huge institutions of oppression, employed more secret police, imprisoning whole nations behind an Iron Curtain of barbed wire, mine fields, electric fencing and machine gun towers. Just in the 20th Century over 160 million people were killed by communist governments, even while they claimed to be devoted to ‘World Peace’!

Bizarre hypocrisy
The African Union continually talks about democracy and human rights whilst the vast majority of government leaders represented at the AU are dictators. Many in our own country condemn racism while consistently supporting an extremely racist regime, Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF in Zimbabwe. Humanists claim to stand for ‘tolerance’, yet are thoroughly intolerant of Evangelical Christians.

Humanists champion ‘diversity’ and ‘pluralism’ and yet they work steadfastly to exclude Christian views from the public sphere. Teachers who believe in the sanctity of marriage are expected to go against their own conscience to teach their students ‘Situation Ethics’ and perverse ‘Alternative Lifestyles’. Evolutionists who claim to be for ‘freedom of speech’ regularly ban any dissension, or discussion, and fire those scientists who question Darwinian Evolutionism, or who seem to consider Intelligent Design. The fact is humanism is the most destructive religion of all time, and the most intolerant.

Return to God
Even amidst the original twelve Disciples of Christ, there was Judas – the ultimate hypocrite and traitor. Yet that has not stopped millions of Christians, throughout the ages, from finding grace and peace at the foot of the Cross.

If you have been let down or betrayed, by a professing Christian, do not let that come between you and God. Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Him. (John 14:6).

Many people despise and reject what they think is Christianity when they are merely rejecting the hypocritical churchianity that our Lord Jesus Christ Himself rejected and condemned. Do not let the counterfeit and the false keep you away from the genuine and the real.

by Peter Hammond

Motivational Gifts

Our motivational gifts come from God.
Romans 11:29
For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
Romans 12:6
Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us
prophesy according to the proportion of faith;
Ephesians 4:7
But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
James 1:17
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights,
with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
• Our gifts, callings, and ministries were placed in us before we were
Jeremiah 1:5
Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou came forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
Isaiah 49:1
Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The Lord hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name.
Isaiah 49:5
And now, says the Lord that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, and my God shall be my strength.
Galatians 1:15
But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,
Psalm 139:14
I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knows right well.

• Our gift can be seen in us when we are children.

Proverbs 22:6
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
• Motivational Gifts
1 Peter 4:10
As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
Romans 12:3-8
For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. [4] For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: [5] So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. [6] Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; [7] Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; [8] Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.
• Descriptions of Motivational Gifts
Administrator is found in Romans 12:8.  It comes from the Greek word “proistemi” (4291) that means to stand before, to be over, to rule, to maintain, to practice, or to preside.

Other titles are:
Leader       Director   Overseer
Organizer   Pioneer    Visionary

Thorough     Objective          Responsible
Organized    Goal-oriented    Efficient
Compassionate person
Compassionate person is found in Romans 12:8.  It comes from the Greek word “eleeo” (1653) to compassionate by word or deed (by God’s grace), have compassion, pity on, have (obtain, receive, show) mercy (on).
Other titles are:
Comforter      Counselor  Helper
Mercy giver    Feeler        Builder of broken relationships
Cheerful     Practical    Personal
Emotional   Joyful       Joyful eagerness

Giver is found in Romans 12:8.  It comes from the Greek word “metadidomi” (3330) to give over, share, or impart.
Other titles are:
Steward of God’s resources          Financial manager
Delegate finances and resources   Supporter
Volunteer                                    Strong belief in tithing

Generous    Loving   Resourceful
Hospitable   Frugal   Careful

Exhorter is found in Romans 12:8.  It comes from the Greek word “paraklesis or parakaleo” (3870,3874) a calling to one’s side to aid.
Other titles are:
Encourager          Helper          Builder of people
“People” person    Counselor     Opportunist

Edifying      Encouraging  Uplifting
Expectant    Vibrant         Positive

Teacher is found in Romans 12:7.  It comes from the Greek word” didasko or didasklia” (1321,1319) to teach or to give instruction.
Other titles are:
Researcher                 Lecturer        Instructor
Good communicator    Presenter       Preparer
Logical                       Systematic     Searching out and validating truth
Loves to research, read, and study    Checking out facts
Objective                    Factual
Server is found in Romans 12::7.  It comes from the Greek word “diakonia” that means to be an attendant or a minister, to use the office of deacon, and relief.
Other titles are:
Servant          Volunteer   Finisher
Benevolent     Worker       Follower
Practical       Observes other’s needs  Meticulous
Organized     Detailed      Loves to entertain

Prophecy (Perceiver)
Prophecy (Perceiver) is found in Romans 12:6.  It comes from the Greek word” propheteia ” (4394) that means an inspired speaker.

Other titles are:
Spokeman    Speaker    Declarer
Inspired teacher  Inspired speaker    Prophet
Exhorting      Instructing       Proclaiming
Warning        Judging            Sensitive
Discern God’s plan    Seeing right or wrong     

To do a test go to the following websites below:

What the Lord Jesus Teaches on Hell

What the Lord Jesus Teaches on Hell
Unpopular and Misunderstood
Rob Bell’s no hell teaching has brought the subject up for international discussion. There is no doubt that the doctrine of Eternal Judgment is the most unpopular subject in the world. Whatever we say on the subject is bound to be misunderstood and misconstrued.

From the Lips of Christ Our Lord
Most of what we know about hell comes from the lips of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Jesus Christ preached more on hell that He even did on Heaven.

Jesus taught: “Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 13:40-42

“So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 13:49-50

In his devastating condemnation of the scribes and pharisees, the Lord Jesus exclaimed: “How can you escape the condemnation of hell!?” Matthew 23:33

In Matthew 25:41 the Lord Jesus teaches that, on the Day of Judgment, He as the Son of Man: “will also say to those on the left hand, depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels…”

The Lord described Hell as “outer darkness” Matthew 8:12; and “where the worm does not die, and the fire isn’t quenched.” Mark 9:44

A Glimpse of Hell
In Luke 16:19-31 the Lord Jesus relates the story of the rich man and Lazarus. This is plainly not a parable, as it specifically names names: Lazarus and Abraham. The Lord presents this as a historic event. In this teaching, the Lord makes clear that Hell is an actual place of eternal torment. The rich man who died and was buried, lifted up his eyes in Hell, and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus with him. He cried to Father Abraham to send Lazarus with some water to cool his tongue, “for I am tormented in this flame.”

Abraham responds: “Between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.”

The rich man begged Abraham to send Lazarus to his father’s house to warn his five brothers “lest they also come to this place of torment.”

Abraham responded that they have the Scriptures. The rich man pleaded that if someone rose from the dead, they would repent. Abraham declared: “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.” Luke 16:31

Here the Lord Jesus pulls back the curtain to give us a glimpse of what lies beyond the grave.

An Appointment None of Us Will Miss
“And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the Judgment.” Hebrews 9:27

There is no mention of a delay in punishment. There are no interim states such as the Roman Catholic concepts of limbo, or purgatory, mentioned. Nowhere in the Bible are such places mentioned. The Lord Jesus never even hinted at the possibility that a person who died unsaved could have another chance.

Fully Conscious
This man that the Lord Jesus referred to was fully conscious both of his own physical torments, and the implications for his five brothers. He recognizes Lazarus, and knows who Abraham is. He remembers his brothers. He knows that they have not repented. He longs for a drop of water to cool his tongue. He hears the voice of Abraham answering his requests from Heaven. He remembers that he never helped that poor man Lazarus at his gate.

There is no indication that this rich man in hell had changed his nature. While he regretted the consequences of his actions, there is no indication that he is repentant for his sins against God. Nor is there any indication that he wanted to do restitution towards those that he had harmed. His concern is still for his own personal bodily desires, and for his own family’s welfare. However, there is no indication that he now loves God, or is even truly repentant.

A Day is Coming
The Lord Jesus taught: “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth – those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.” John 5:28-29

Jesus warned: “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.  But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28

The fact of eternal judgment is stressed throughout the Scriptures. The Creator is the Eternal Judge. The day will come when all the dead shall rise and stand before Almighty God. Each one of us will be judged in accordance with what has been recorded, according to what each one of us have done. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life will be case into the Lake of Fire.

People who refuse to believe in Hell, or who think that denying its existence will make it go away, are deceiving themselves. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself, more than any other person in Scripture, warned of the awful reality of eternal judgment in Hell.

God Doesn’t Believe in Atheists
It is hardly charitable to encourage the unrepentant to suppose that there is any chance that God does not mean what He says. Refusing to believe in Hell makes about much sense as somebody denying the reality of the law of Gravity. The reality will not change no matter how many people say it isn’t so. God, and His Word, and His world, are not affected by whether people believe in Him or not. There are millions of people in Hell today, who, while on earth, closed their minds to its reality.

Diabolical Deceptions
From the Garden of Eden, and to this day, the devil has been busy inciting men and women to rebel against God. The best argument that the devil can bring to entice people to sin is to suggest that God does not punish sin. “You shall not surely die…”

It serves the purposes of satan to persuade people that there will be no eternal consequences for their sins. If people can be made to believe that there is no Hell, or that Hell is only figurative, not a literal place, or that they may have another chance to be saved after death, or that, after all, God is too good to condemn unrepentant sinners to an eternity in Hell, then the devil can accomplish his purpose. People can continue to revel in sin, to rebel against God, to refuse to repent, and ultimately to roast in Hell for all Eternity.

Refusing to Face the Facts
The refusal to face up to reality of Hell, is all part of that movement that denies that people are inherently wicked. Those who deny the Deity of Christ, the Blood Atonement and the inspiration of the Bible, those who believe that mankind is a product of evolutionary chance and getting better all the time, will naturally refuse to believe in eternal consequences for violating God’s holy character and Laws.

God’s Rubbish Dump
One of the terms our Lord Jesus chose to describe Hell was Gehenna. This referred to the huge rubbish heap outside the walls of Jerusalem which was continually burning.

It is a sobering thought that most of the valued and coveted, even expensive items which so consume so much of our societies today will end up on the rubbish heap. All the toys, the magazines, CDs, DVDs, cell phones, computers, cars, and most of the buildings are going to end up on the rubbish dump within the next hundred years. Very few will ever make it to a museum. So much of what people covet, envy, strive for, steal, fight over, prize and idolize is transient. It’s going to end up broken and abandoned on some garbage dump.

In some ways, Hell is God’s rubbish dump. Those who have no place for God, those who hate God, those who despise His Word and steadfastly refuse to repent will suffer the eternal consequences of their lifelong choices. Those who reject and turn their back on the Eternal Creator will find themselves in Gehenna – God’s rubbish dump.

“And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the Lake of Fire.” Revelations 20:15

The Fruit of Sin
On earth, we see the principle that what we sow is what we reap. Sin regularly puts people into hospitals with diseased bodies. Alcoholism and drunkenness causes innumerable car accidents, drownings, violence and murders. Immorality has led millions to contract AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. Crimes frequently result in individuals being locked away in jail. Sin breaks homes, brings disease, death and destruction. Throughout history, and in everyday life, we see the principle that whatever a man sows that shall he also reap.

Just as the fruits of sin are seen in trouble and tragedy, heartache, death and destruction, we may be sure that in the next world, God’s Laws about sin will not have changed. The torments of Hell are the fruits of sin.

Much Given – Much Required
The Lord Jesus warned that the Day of Judgment will be worse for some than for others. Indeed, the Lord Jesus said that Sodom, Tyre and Sidon would find it more tolerable at the Day of Judgment than Capernaum, Chorazin, Bethsaida and other cities that had rejected the Gospel from the lips of Christ Himself.  Evidently, the greater the privilege and opportunity, the greater the punishment will be – if one rejects God’s grace.

Obviously, some people are more wicked than others, and some have greater opportunities than others. Each one of us will be fully accountable.

“For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much is been committed, of him they will ask the more.” Luke 12:48

Censoring the Gospel
General Booth of the Salvation Army warned over a hundred years ago that a time would come when there would be those who would preach Christ without a cross, salvation without repentance, Christianity without holiness, and Heaven without Hell!

Rescue the Perishing
We need a vision of Hell to energise us to “rescue the perishing, care for the dying, snatch them in pity from sin and the grave; weep over the erring one, lift up the fallen, tell them of Jesus the Mighty to save.”

The Broadway to Hell
Jesus warned us to: “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few that find it.” Matthew 7:13-14

Two Ways
Jesus taught that there are two ways: The broad way and the narrow way. There are two gates: The wide gate and the narrow gate (Matthew 7:13-14).

There are two types of people: The wise and the foolish. They build two types of houses, on two different foundations. And the house that is built upon the rock of God’s Word will stand – even amidst the floods and the storms. However, the house that is built upon the sand of human effort will crumble and be swept away when the rain falls, when the floods rise, and when the winds blow and when the storm rages (Matthew 7:24-27).

There are two types of trees, the good and the bad tree. One can tell what type of tree one has by its fruit. The fruit of the flesh are obvious: envy, malice, covetousness, greed, lust, pride and selfishness. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

Two Destinations
The Lord Jesus made it clear that there are two ultimate eternal destinations: Heaven, or Hell.

In the Light of Eternity
“Only one life, it will soon be passed, only what’s done for Christ will last.”

We need to re-evaluate our relationships, our habits and our lifestyle in the light of Eternity.

Jesus said: “I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:3

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’, shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in Heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your Name, cast out demons in Your Name, and done many wonders in Your Name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practiced lawlessness!’” Matthew 7:21-23

“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” Mark 9:36

The Lamb of God
The first time the Lord Jesus came to this earth He came as the Lamb of God, the Saviour of sinners, the Redeemer to pay the price for our sins.

The Lion of the Tribe of Judah
The next time Jesus Christ comes to this earth it will be, not as a Lamb, but as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. As the King of kings and the Lord of lords, the Eternal Judge.

Every Knee Shall Bow
The question is not: will you bow to Christ?; but: when will you? For the day will come that “at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in Heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:10-11

We can bow before the Lord Jesus and submit to Him today in the Day of Grace when forgiveness is freely offered and receive Salvation at the merciful hand of our Redeemer.

Saviour or Judge?
However, if we refuse to repent in the Day of Grace, the day will come when we will be compelled to bow down to Jesus Christ, not as our Redeemer, but as our Eternal Judge. On that day it will be too late for forgiveness and mercy. However, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. When will you submit to Christ? Today in the Day of Grace? Or on the Day of Judgment?

The Beginning of Wisdom
Jesus Christ taught that we should not fear man who can only kill the body, and after that can do nothing else. Rather we should fear God, who is able to destroy both body and soul in Hell, forever.

The simple choice is before us: turn or burn.

Boycott Hell: Repent!

Dr. Peter Hammond is a missionary, author and conference speaker.
Tel: 021-689-4480 E-mail: Website:

Father’s Teach Your Children

Father’s Teach Your Children
The fourth chapter of Proverbs contains a beautiful picture of three generations of fathers passing along Godly wisdom to their sons: King Solomon taught his sons, and he remembered his father, King David, who taught him at a tender age. Each was taken under wing by a loving father and given instruction to prepare him for manhood. “Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding.  I give you sound learning, so do not forsake my teaching.  For I too was a son to my father…Then he taught me, and he said to me, ‘Take hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands, and you will live’.” Prov 4:1-4.

Cherish wisdom
Proverbs is especially useful to prepare young men starting out in life, but we can apply it broadly to any parent-child instruction. A few years ago, author Gordon Dalbey led a men’s retreat and he told us a story about a Catholic nun who worked in a men’s prison. One day, she said, a prisoner asked her to buy him a Mother’s Day card for his mother.

She did, and the word got out to other prisoners, and pretty soon this nun was deluged with requests, so she put in a call to Hallmark Cards, who donated to the prison several large boxes of Mother’s Day cards. The warden arranged for each inmate to draw a number, and they lined up through the cellblocks to get their cards.
Weeks later, the nun was looking ahead on her calendar, and decided to call Hallmark again and ask for Father’s Day cards, in order to avoid another rush. As Father’s Day approached, the warden announced free cards were again available at the chapel. To the nun’s surprise, not a single prisoner ever asked her for a Father’s Day card.

Where are the fathers?
Before his passing last year, Irving Kristol quoted the startling fact that almost two-thirds of rapists, three-fourths of adolescent murderers, and three-fourths of long-term prison inmates were abandoned by their fathers. Another study revealed that 92% of prison inmates hated their fathers.

This is a grim picture. Something has gone terribly wrong. Why are there so many deadbeat dads? Why have so many young men and young women been wounded by the absence of a father – a father who has been either physically or emotionally absent, perhaps both. Others have been deeply hurt by the presence of an abusive father.

Dalbey refers to this phenomenon as the ‘father wound.’ I believe that many of us have been wounded to some extent by one of our parents, because none of us had parents who loved us perfectly.

Throughout Proverbs it may be seen that two schools are vying for the hearts of your children. One is the School of Godly wisdom and the other is a School of Folly, which is full of the world’s wisdom.

There is a lot at stake, because enrolled in the School of Folly are those who want to take your child for a fast ride downtown – on the broad way that leads to destruction. They are the party crowd, the drug dealers, and gang members.

Through peer pressure and the bombardment of the media, it’s very difficult for your child to avoid this crowd, which presents a ‘counterfeit masculinity’ and ‘counterfeit femininity’.

Identifying the counterfeits
Counterfeit masculinity says, “You need to drink a six pack to be a man. You need a sexual encounter with a woman – even if you don’t know her, even if she’s just a fantasy image on your phone or computer.”

Counterfeit masculinity says that to be a man you need to buy a gun or have a fast car. You need someone to blame if things don’t go right in your life. To be a man you need to make a lot of money.

Counterfeit femininity says you need the right figure before you go out in public, wear the right labels, shop at the right stores, marry a man with lots of money. Counterfeit femininity says you should dress in a revealing way to attract a man. And you should go to bed with him to seal the deal.

In Proverbs parents have been given an instruction manual to help counteract the counterfeits. In Proverbs four we read of the fathers instructing their sons in God’s ways. They tell their sons how to recognise those who will harm them and those who will help them.

Training your sons and daughters
In Proverbs 22:6 Solomon tells us, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” But what happens if you did all the right things, you did your best as a parent, and your child goes astray? The first thing to realise is that Proverbs are not promises, they are probabilities. Proverbs 22:6 is not a promise from God. It describes what usually happens if you train your child in God’s ways.

But your child also has a free will. Despite your best efforts, he/she can choose to go down the path of folly.

Godly wisdom brings about that result through the best means possible. Solomon became one of the wisest men who has ever lived. But he was not born that way. As a result of his father’s teachings, apparently Solomon felt he needed wisdom, so he asked for it (1 Kings 3:5).   
It is estimated that Solomon was about 20 years old when he prayed this prayer. Now how many of us, if God asked us at age 20 for anything we wanted, would ask for wisdom?

Failing to teach your children, leads them along the wrong path
If you are a father, recognise that the dark side wants to step into the void with your son or daughter if you’re absent. A loving mother counts for a lot, but she can never be a father. That’s why men in the church need to reach out and help support single moms by coming alongside their sons.

There comes a point in a boy’s life, about 12, 13 or 14, when he needs other men in the church or the community to pull him into the world of men. He needs other men to train him in some life skills. He needs a father or a father-figure to tell him he has what it takes to be a man.

Some men wait for validation by their fathers into their twenties or thirties. Not getting this, they enter into a prolonged adolescence. They fill the void with other things.

Family devotions
I started leading family devotionals in our home when our boys were small. When our son Sam was 14 and his brother, Nate, was 11 or 12 we had a devotional every Saturday morning on the Book of Proverbs. Family devotions can be challenging, to say the least. There were many times I could tell they didn’t want to be there.

Later on as teenagers, they would plunk themselves down on the couch, slink down, pull the hood of their sweatshirts over their heads so I could hardly see their faces…and I wondered to myself, ‘Is this doing any good?’ I called Sam this week and asked him if he could remember anything from that study we did together on Proverbs (It was 10 years ago, so I wasn’t expecting too much). He thought for a minute. Then he said, “I remember talking about the sluggard…that it’s important to work. I remember we talked about what to look for in a woman, from Proverbs 31.”  The fact that he remembered this truth after 10 years made me very happy.

The father’s responsibility
Fathers, you have been given a responsibility to teach your children. Moses gave the command in Deuteronomy 6: “These words which I command you this day shall first be upon your heart; and then you shall teach them diligently to your children.” He said to talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road. My wife Sally and I would look for teachable moments. If we had an argument with them or there was a power struggle going on, that would not be the time to teach or preach at them. A much better opening was in the moments before they went to sleep at night. At this tender, more vulnerable part of the day, perhaps a morsel of truth could be imparted.

Fathers, don’t leave this responsibility to the school system. Don’t leave this responsibility to the pastors of the church, no matter how gifted they are. If a son or a daughter doesn’t have your engagement and involvement and tender embrace…if they don’t hear the words “I love you,” your distance will cause them to act out in inappropriate ways.

The only memory of my father actually saying the words, I love you, was when I was 49 years old, lying in a hospital bed. Fathers, don’t wait that long to tell your sons and daughters you love them.

There came a point in my thirties when I became aware that I had some issues related to my father’s emotional distance. I found a pattern repeating itself, because I was fighting to overcome the urge to withdraw from my own sons. I reached a point where I needed to forgive my parents for any wounding they might have caused me and move past that. The problem, I discovered, is that bitterness and unforgiveness can create a toxic stew in the body that leaves you stuck in life, unable to love others and move forward in total freedom.

The wonderful thing is that you and I – with God’s help, can stop the generational cycle of physical and emotional abandonment. It’s never too late with God to start anew, to re-engage with your kids, and to begin to love them with the Father’s love.

Modelling the Father’s love to your children
What does the Father’s love look like? For many years that seemed mysterious to me. But Jesus said, “If you have seen Me you have seen the Father.” If we want to know more about how to impart the Father’s love to our children, we need to study Jesus. This week I attended a class and watched the instructor  do something I had never seen before. He said, “I’m going to stand in the place of your father and ask you for forgiveness on behalf of your fathers.” He knew that for some, their fathers might never arrive at the place to do this themselves. Some in the class had fathers who were dead.

He said, “Will you forgive me for any word curses I spoke over you, such as telling you you are lazy or stupid or fat? Will you forgive me for abandoning you emotionally? Will you forgive me for not validating your masculinity?”

It was a powerful moment as some students realised their need to forgive their parents for hurts that had been buried at a very deep level, hurts that kept them in a place that made them stuck. They were able to forgive and move on.

Fathers, parents, examine your hearts today. Have you been too busy to teach your children? Are you imparting Godly wisdom to them? Are you preparing them to leave your home? Have you wounded them or blessed them for life?

by Mark Ellis

A Cruel Punishment

Years ago I preached in Zaire. At the close of the sermon, one of the team members said to me, “Reinhard, you should meet a local pastor from one of the churches…He’s someone special.”
I knew instantly that I had seen the man before, but I could not recall the incident. He rushed across the distance between us and threw himself to the ground, wrapping his arms tightly around my legs. “Bonnke,” he cried, “I am here because of you. You saved my life.” He brought himself up and looked at me, tears streaming from his wonderful eyes. He said one word to me, and then I knew him, “Bukavu.”

Going to the forgotten towns
My memory rushed back. It was twelve years since I saw him. “Richard…the last time I saw you, you could not speak English, you did not have a gold tooth and you were filthy.” I took his arms and pushed up the sleeves of his fine maroon suit coat and saw the evidence I remembered most. Yes, this was the same man. And now tears spilled from my eyes…
In the late 1980s, one of our crusade scouting teams searched the back roads of the far eastern Congo. As they came near to the border with Rwanda, they discovered Bukavu, a place with 500 000 citizens who had never seen an evangelistic crusade.
“No-one comes here to Bukavu” my scouting guide Stephen said. “We will see tremendous results. It will be glorious.” In 1989, I flew there to preach. The next day, I asked to be driven around the city to see the people I would preach to.

Cruel punishment for prisoners
At one point in the tour we came to a prison. It was simply a cage for humans near the edge of the city. There were no cells, just a large brick room with a prison yard attached, surrounded by razor wire. “What are those people doing outside of the prison yard?” I asked. “Those are the prisoners’ family members. If they don’t feed the men, they will die of starvation. The government makes no provision for feeding men they intend to kill.”
“All these prisoners will die?” I asked. “Yes, all of those ones you see in shackles are condemned to die. Every month, a hangman comes from Kinshasa…The condemned men are all brought out to the tree and a rope is thrown over the big branch with a hangman’s noose tied to the end. The people of the city are invited to watch, and many do. For some, it is the local horror show.
When the man is cut down, the hangman hacks off his hands and feet with an axe so that the shackles can be removed. Unless the family comes to claim it, the body is tossed onto a cart, and dumped in a grave. There is no lock, when a condemned man is brought here, he is taken to a blacksmith shed over there. His shackles are welded shut on his arms and legs.”
Appalling conditions
“The men receive horrible burns. It is part of the punishment. The empty shackles taken from a dead man are opened up with a cutting torch and prepared for the next condemned man. And on it goes. Many of the men die from infections as a result of being burned.”
“But, there is good news,” Stephen offered. “I’ve been visiting here and several of the condemned men have accepted Jesus.” We got out of the car. Immediately, a strange sound came to my ears. It was the rhythmic jangle of chains mingled with the chant of male African voices. “Hear that?” Stephen asked, with a knowing smile. “Those are your brothers.
They are singing songs of praise to Jesus. Songs we taught them. They are using the only musical instruments they have.” “Their chains,” I whispered, with realisation.

A word from the Holy Spirit
I was appalled by the conditions in the cell. The men slept on filthy mattresses; the place was crawling with vermin. Flies swarmed over them. Yet the men continued to praise with the jangle of chains. Their leader was a man of average build with a big smile and a missing front tooth. The minute I saw him, the Holy Spirit spoke to me, “Tell that man he will be set free.”
“Lord, pardon me, but it would be cruel and unusual to say anything if I heard You wrongly just now.” I said. “Tell that man he will be set free,” I heard again.

Condemned men praising God
We were introduced to the group of condemned men. I gave the whole group a salvation sermon through the interpreter. A few of them responded, accepting Jesus for the first time. Then I turned to Stephen, “tell that man who was leading the singing that I would like to speak to him in private.” It was an honour to shake Richard’s shackled hand. “Tell Richard that the Lord has spoken to me today. The Lord says that he will be set free.” The interpreter hesitated. I nodded.
“Repeat my words exactly,” I said. Richard reacted, looking away toward the hanging tree. When he looked back at me, his eyes had filled with tears. He spoke through the interpreter. “Three times I have waited in line. Three times the hangman grew too tired to hang me. The last time he was here, I was the next man to die. The hangman glared at me like he wanted to see me dead. Then he threw up his hands and went home.”

Trying to set the captive free
“Jesus preserved you, Richard,” I said. “And now He says you will be set free. What is your crime, Richard? What are you guilty of?” “Murder.” He answered. “You do not look like a murderer. How did it happen?” “We were in a bar, and a fight started.” He explained. “Did you start the fight?” I asked. “I did not. But I did kill the man.”
“Richard, if what you say is true, we do not call that murder. It is called self-defence. Did you have a lawyer?” Richard paused for a long time. He looked away at the tree again and said nothing. Then the interpreter spoke. “If a man you kill in self-defence is from a wealthy family, Reverend Bonnke, there are many in Bukavu willing to swear testimony for money.”
We left prison and I never saw Richard again. As I prepared to leave, I asked Stephen to arrange one more meeting for me with a local politician. When we arrived at the politician’s mansion we were ushered into a waiting area. We were kept waiting for a long time. Finally a secretary emerged and told us that the politician I wished to see was not available. Instead of seeing him, we would be allowed to meet briefly with his wife.

Pleading for justice
I had come to plead for the release of Richard. I described him to her, and I recited his story of the crime for which he was sentenced to die. I suggested to her that a competent lawyer would surely have made a case for self-defence. At least a good lawyer would have found a way to avoid the death penalty for Richard. Then I told her of Richard’s conversion, and of the way he led the singing among the condemned men in the prison. She listened carefully to all that I said.
Then she stood and excused herself. She said that she would see about what could be done, but condemned prisoners were never released from Bukavu prison once the courts had spoken. After another long time of waiting, she returned, she asked that all of the other guests be removed from the room. At last it was just the two of us. She stood before me very close. “Reverend Bonnke,” she said, quietly.
“You are a very powerful man from Germany. Your organisation is large, and your following is wide. You want my husband to do something for you. I would like you to do something for me. Do you understand?”
“Certainly,” I said, “I will do whatever I can.” “Do you have children, Reverend Bonnke?” “Yes, I do.” I replied, puzzled.

Leaving with a heavy heart
 “I have two children preparing to attend university. Here, we have only the National University of Zaire. My children have not been able to get the necessary scholarships to the school we would choose abroad. I would like you to provide those scholarships, Reverend Bonnke.”
I was saddened, though not truly surprised. In a land where money could buy a death sentence, surely a bribe could obtain freedom. “I am sorry,” I said, “but this, I cannot do. I am a man of God. I will not strike a bargain to obtain justice of any kind. My answer to you must be no.” The woman instantly whirled to leave the room. I feared greatly for Richard. As she reached for the door, I nearly shouted her name. She stopped and looked back at me for one moment.
I pointed my finger at her. “God has told me that Richard will be released. God has spoken. Do not stand in His way.”
I left Bukavu with a heavy heart. I feared that I had left Richard as I had found him, a dead man walking.

A life redeemed
Two years passed. I was in Germany when someone reported to me that Richard had been set free. I shouted with joy to hear of it. To this day, I do not know what happened, or what triggered his release. I only know that all the glory belongs to our Father in Heaven.
Meanwhile, Richard began a new life as a free man in Bukavu. He told the pastor of the local church where he attended that he wanted to go to Bible College in Kenya.
He wanted to become a pastor, and he was determined to learn to speak English. When word of this got back to me – well, that was one scholarship I was more than willing to provide. Christ for all Nations paid for Richard’s expenses through Bible College. Years later, I heard the news of his ordinations. I sent him my best wishes and congratulations, and that seemed a fitting end to it.

God watches over His Word
Twelve years later, in August of 2001, he stood before me in Kinshasa, a sponsoring pastor for a Christ for all Nations Crusade. He was wearing his maroon double-breasted suit, speaking English, his gold tooth shining, his eyes bright with the joy of the Lord.
We embraced again. I can tell you, this evangelist slept so very well that night. Two long years of waiting passed in this story before I learned about its happy ending. How did I handle it in the meantime? I have learned that when we speak the word that God has whispered in our hearts, we don’t have to handle it – He does. The Scripture says that He watches over His Word to perform it, so we can rest easy.

David and Bathsheba

David and Bathsheba
Surrounded in darkness, David poured out his soul before the Lord, his face burning from crying for the life of his newborn son. He was alone, floored by an emptiness that numbed him.

Sprawled on the dark tiles, David writhed at the thought of his child, deathly sick in Bathsheba’s arms. He could do nothing to save him.

I’m the ruler of Israel, David tortured himself, a fighter of unmatched skill. Yet I can’t save my son from the claws of death. It broke him to be so helpless.

 “Wash me completely from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin,” David screamed into the blackness of the room. “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.” David scraped his nails against the cold tiles as he curled his fingers into tight fists.

“Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Behold, You desire truth in the inner being; make me therefore to know wisdom in my inmost heart,” he moaned in agony. The pain was too much. It had been seven days, and still he wept before the Lord. His advisors begged him to eat, but he fasted. How could he eat? His sin had tainted him with death. “Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness and be satisfied; let the bones which You have broken rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my guilt and iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right, persevering, and steadfast spirit within me. Cast me not away from Your presence and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted and return to You. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness and death, O God, the God of my salvation, and my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.” [1]

His entire being bled with the horrors he had committed. Yet, God had been merciful in sparing his life.

If only You will not take my son, he prayed, clamping his eyes shut, oh God, if You would take the consequences of my sin from me—from my wife.

“Where’s my husband?” Bathsheba wept over the still body of her child in her arms. Her lips twisted in anguish when she couldn’t feel his chest move against hers, her tears dripping onto the boy’s bluish face.

“It was a child conceived in sin,” Bathsheba keened, throwing her head back. “But I love him.” She clung to the tiny baby as if there was nothing else left for her. Her world had died with the boy.

Where was her David? She had not seen him since the birth of their son.

I cannot deal with the pain alone, she thought, tasting bitter tears on her lips, I need him.

Bathsheba shook her head vehemently as she moaned, her face breaking against her lamenting.

Suddenly, David stood in the doorway. He looked like a ghost. There wasn’t a sign of tears on his face. He was strong, and she ran to him.

David clenched his eyes shut as Bathsheba sank into his embrace, shaking with bitter weeping. His face was thick from fighting tears.

“The child is no more,” he murmured. “Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.”

Holding her tightly, David whispered to her, “I love you.” As she looked up at him, she saw the pain of a father in his eyes, tinged with guilt, and she adored him.

Bathsheba kissed him deeply.

David looked into Nathan’s eyes, and he couldn’t help but remember the power he had seen in the prophet’s expression when he had delivered God’s message. But now his eyes were gentle.

David savoured Bathsheba’s touch as she leaned closer to him. They didn’t know what Nathan wanted to tell them, but he understood the fearful energy that stiffened her body. The pain of their child’s death was still fresh, and the journey of healing with God, still lay ahead.

 “David, you know as well as I, that each one is tempted by his lusts, being drawn away and seduced by them. Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin. And sin, when it is fully formed, brings forth death.[2] But God loves you, He saved you from the claims of sin, though not from its consequences,” Nathan said, and Bathsheba turned her head from the old man. “But God is grace, and with the Lord, there is restoration and gentle healing. There is a relationship, and He sees our hearts, and blesses us.” Bathsheba looked at the prophet suddenly.

“God still loves me,” she breathed the words.

Nathan smiled.

“Wife of David, you are with child.”

Bathsheba gasped, burying her face in her hands. She wept.

David was like a statue, a single tear running into his beard as he thanked God.

“And Jehovah will love him,” said the prophet.

David took Bathsheba’s hand in his. Wiping away her tears with a hand, he savoured the elation glimmering in her eyes.

“We shall name him Solomon,” David said proudly.

What is Universalism?

What is Universalism?
Of late, the term universalism has been bandied about theological circles. As people depart from a Biblical worldview and embrace humanist thinking, so principles of universalism spread. According to theologian JJ Packer, “a Universalist is someone who believes that every human being whom God has created or will create, will finally come to enjoy the everlasting salvation into which Christians enter, here and now.”

Many ways to God
This challenge to sound Biblical theology goes right back to the days of Origen in the sixth Century A.D. He taught the universal return to God and restoration of all souls, known as the Doctrine of Apokatastasis. He was declared a heretic by the Early Church at the Council of Constantinople in AD 553, his doctrine completely rejected and the Biblical teaching of eternal damnation reaffirmed.

Sadly, some Christians have continued to hold universalistic opinions. In a recent poll conducted by Barna Research, 57% agreed that all faiths teach the same basic lessons and there are many ways to God. Jesus is just one of them.

No absolute Truth
How did the Church move from sound Biblical doctrine as taught in the Inspired Scriptures to religious philosophies that fly in the face of much that Jesus taught?

Modernism challenged Christianity in the 18th Century. In essence, it insisted that logic was the answer to life. Faith and experience were to be considered suspect and human reason was supposed to bring about a better life for all. Frederick Nietzsche, patron saint of what is known as Post-Modernism, introduced his theory of Relativism or ‘Perspectivism’ in the 19th Century. He taught that all knowledge (including science) is a matter of perspective and interpretation. There is no absolute truth and what is true for you may not be true for me. Everything is relative to one’s belief and ideas.

Post-modern thinking soon began to influence Christian thinking as sections of the Church attempted to become acceptable in an age that condemned Christians as intolerant, arrogant, bigoted and out-of-date.

The ‘Emerging Church’
The ‘Emerging Church’ movement of the 20th Century attempted to accommodate Christian beliefs to so-called modern thinking. “A conversational, grassroots movement to contextualise the Gospel for the changing world of the 21st Century”, it embraces all kinds of unbiblical teaching and behaviour. It has been described as the latest version of Liberalism (a free way of thinking and acting).

Universalistic in outlook, the Biblical doctrine of hell is roundly condemned by the Emerging Church movement as being anathema to the Heart of God, whose intention it is to restore all things to Himself in eternity.

Rob Bell’s popular book ‘Love Wins’, published in March 2011, talks about ‘recapturing the Gospel’ and emphasises that the loving nature of God means everyone will ultimately be forgiven and saved. He writes that Christianity has a “wide variety of perspectives” on judgement and reconciliation and Christians should be open to the possibility that ‘repentance’ can come after death. For him, the concept of ‘hellfire and brimstone’ is toxic and misguided and an affront to a just and holy God.

Individual choice
Described by Time Magazine as “one of the 25 most influential Evangelicals in America,” Emerging Church leader, Brian McLaren, has defended Rob Bell’s book with passion. God’s Book – the Bible – declares that hell is a very real place. God loved the world so much that He did everything in His power to prevent people from spending Eternity in this place prepared for the devil and his angels. (Matthew 25:41). This life is mankind’s one chance of taking advantage of so great a salvation because “it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the Judgement” Heb. 9;27. There is no second chance.

Universalism appears to rest on an insistence that there is no absolute truth, especially in matters of religion and spiritually. Nothing is absolute. Everything falls into the category of individual choice or group cultural norms. You are welcome to believe whatever you like, so long as you don’t insist it is absolutely true and expect others to follow the same practice or belief. It seems the only ‘absolute truth’ allowed by this movement is that “there is no absolute truth”!

Post-modern doctrines
Basically the doctrines of the post-modern Emerging Church that open the door to an acceptance of universalism include the following:

Denial of the Authority of Scripture.  Brian McLaren declares we should shy away from describing the Bible as “the authority”, “infallible” or “inerrant” (without error). (Generous Orthodoxy). Biblical doctrine is viewed as divisive and modified so as not to offend. Bible Prophecy is despised and rejected. Bible studies and sermons are replaced by leaders’ handbooks and methods. Emerging Church leaders admit they have no idea what “most of the Bible means” (Rob & Kristen Bell, Christianity Today article, Nov. 2004). The fact that Jesus declared “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” Matt 24:35 carries no weight in post-modern thinking
Questioning of the Divinity of Christ. It should not shake our faith if we find the Bible inaccurate. e.g. If we found out “that Jesus had a real earthly, biological father named Larry…and that the virgin birth was just a bit of mythologising the Gospel writers threw in.” (Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis). The One who is declared to be “The Way, the Truth and the Life” John 14:6 becomes “A Way, A Truth and A Life”. The ‘authority’ of the accepted leaders propagating this religious philosophy is, however, non-negotiable
Denial of Hell. The church should be ‘inconclusive’ about the eternal destiny of non-Christians and should change its historic belief in hell. Universalism allows us to discredit and ignore the teaching of the Eternal Son of God
Re-Interpretation of the Gospel. We should not be so concerned with ‘being saved’ or finding ‘right answers’ and ‘any Christian who sees a difference between us and the world is probably arrogant’. Following Christianity (as defined by post-modern thinking) is a better ‘alternative lifestyle’. Truth is replaced by tolerance and ‘seeker-friendly’ ministry. Sharing the Gospel becomes a ‘conversation’ about our personal religious beliefs and a sharing of ideas. e.g. Rob Bell’s popular NOOMA videos
Re-interpreting the Meaning of the Cross. The substitutionary nature of the Cross is flatly denied. We believe in ‘a form of cosmic child abuse’ if we say Jesus died to pay the price demanded by His Father’s holy wrath. Sin and repentance are outmoded concepts. We no longer live in a culture of animal sacrifices to the gods. The Biblical understanding of the Cross belongs to a primitive cultural world we no longer inhabit
Denial of the Sovereignty of God.  Because truth is relative, our future lies in our own hands and God has no authority over or even knowledge of the future. He is dependent on our choices
Evangelism and Missions replaced by Pluralism and Syncretism. No one can claim his or her religion is true and another false and we should accept and learn from other religions (Pluralism). All have truth inherent in them and merging of ideas, beliefs and philosophies (syncretism) is acceptable
Mysticism and Eastern Religion acceptable. Faith is replaced by ‘feeling’ and ‘experience’
Loss of Discernment. The Bible has no authority to say how we should live. Everything is a matter of personal interpretation. e.g. The Church should consider taking “a five-year moratorium on making pronouncements” against homosexuality. (

The results of universalism are seen globally today as a powerless church preaches a powerless message that is highly tolerant of alternative viewpoints and behaviour.

The Gospel of Christ
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the One who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the Gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from Heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! Galatians 1:6-10, 4:16

by Val Waldeck

Identify Your Gift

Identify Your Gift
Over the last few editions, we have been looking at the seven motivational gifts in detail. It is important that every Christian understand their role in the Body of Christ, and identify the specific giftings the Lord has given them – so that they can contribute accordingly. A Christian can exhibit one or several of the following gifts (that are given freely by the Holy Spirit): prophetic (perceiving) gifting, teaching gifting, gift of serving, exhorting, ruling, giving and mercy. See 1 Corinthians 12:7-10 for details.
In Scripture we are taught to:

“Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.” 1 Cor 14:1

 “For you brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love, serve one another.” Gal 5:13

“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord not to men.” Col 3:23

“Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Col 3:16

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matt 28:19-20

“Exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today’.” Heb 3:13a.

“But exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” Heb 10:25b

“Give and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38

“Freely you have received, freely give.” Matt 10:8b.

“Distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.” Rom 12:13

“One who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence.” 1 Tim 3:4.

“A wise servant will rule over a son who causes shame, and will share an inheritance among the brothers.” Prov 17:2

“He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” Prov 16:32

Show mercy
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” Gal 6:2

In Jesus, we see each motivation:
1. Prophet
“But when Jesus perceived their thought, He answered and said to them, ‘Why are you reasoning in your hearts?’” Luke 5:21-22

“Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops.” Matt 10:26-38

2. Servant
“After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.” John 13:5

 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, and to give His life a ransom for many.”  Mark 10:45

3. Teacher
“Then He went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and was teaching them on the Sabbaths. And they were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with authority.” Luke 4:31-32

“Then He opened His mouth and taught them.” Matt 5:2

4. Exhorter
“But when Jesus heard it, He answered him, saying, ‘Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well.’”  Luke 8:50

Story of the woman caught in adultery: “She said, ‘No one [is accusing me] Lord. And Jesus said to her, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.’” John 8:3-11

5. Giver
“And I will give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” John 10:28

“And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven.” Matt 16:19

6. Ruler/Administrator
 “Then He commanded them to make all sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in ranks, in hundreds and in fifties. And when He had taken five loaves and the two fish, He looked up to Heaven, blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and the two fish He divided among them all.” Mark 6:39-45

“So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, ‘Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost.’” John 6:12

7. Man of mercy
“When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, ‘Do not weep’.” Luke 7:13. “But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them; because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.” Matt 9:36

by Paul Daniel

Erasing Hell by Francis Chan

Important message from Francis Chan, Hell: We can’t afford to get it wrong.
Erasing Hell will be coming out July 5th.


Rob Bell: No Hell

Rob Bell: No Hell
The Evangelical movement erupted in controversy recently in reaction to Rob Bell’s new book, ‘Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived’. Bell is being both defended and demonised by passionate evangelicals. The conversation has reached volcanic proportions which could benefit Bell greatly in the sale of his book.

Rob Bell’s background
Rob Bell was born in 1970. His father was a judge appointed by Ronald Reagan to the federal judiciary. Bell grew up in a traditional Christian home; he attended Wheaton College and later achieved a Master of Divinity Degree from Fuller Theological Seminary.

Bell shot to world fame through his innovative techniques in presenting the Gospel – namely through his 15 minute NOOMA DVD film clips. Bell and his wife Kristen started and run Mars Hill Church, named (ironically) after the place in the New Testament where Paul declared “I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown God.” (Acts17:23) Mars Hill sees nearly 10 000 people on a Sunday.

The theological beliefs on the Mars Hill website are written in narrative or story form (unusual for any church). They affirm a belief in the inspiration of God’s Word and the sacrifice of Christ. Their emphasis is on relationship. There is no mention of ‘hell’ and it appears they promote strongly the idea that the primary reason for the sacrifice of Christ is to restore relationship both to Him and among ourselves. There is also no mention of ‘sin’. The narrative does indicate that the children of Israel disobeyed God and neglected the poor and ‘mistreated the foreigner’. 

A literary storm
The controversy regarding Bell’s latest book involves his leanings toward universalism. If your ultimate goal is to appeal to the masses, especially youth, then universalism is the way to go. I’ve discovered in my teaching of apologetics and in my conversations with youth that well over 50% of them have no problem with accepting the idea that Jesus saves not only Christians but also Muslims, Buddhists, etc. They are either unaware of or they easily slough off, the verse found in John 14:6 “Jesus said unto him, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man comes to the Father, but by Me.”

The Universalist believes that all men will be saved in the end. But Jesus taught us to “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matt 7:13-14. ”

Universalism and pluralism
Many Christians are pondering the absence of hell in Rob Bell’s theology. The logical conclusion is that Bell is a Universalist (though he claims not to be). If God eventually saves all men there is no need for a hell. They believe if there is a hell, then it is temporary, even earthly. Those in hell experience judgement for their sins, but finally, God’s love wins – hell is emptied as each and every suffering soul responds to the grace of God. This teaching clearly contradicts the teaching of Christ. “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matt 25:46.

Pluralism is the belief that there is legitimacy in all religions and belief systems. Every major religion prepares a person for an eternal existence with God. Notably, Rob Bell has stated, “I affirm the truth anywhere in any religious system, in any worldview. If it’s true, it belongs to God.” I too believe that all truth belongs to God. But, I believe in a hell and hell is full of God’s truth but hell is a curse, not a blessing. Though there may be some truth in every religious system, it definitely doesn’t mean that system is of God. Indeed, many religions that oppose Christianity were specifically designed to draw people away from Christ, not to Him! It seems Bell is promoting universalism and pluralism.

People attempting to redefine God
Truth is not something we can just pick and choose. Post-modernists would like to decide for themselves just what is and is not truth. The belief in hell is particularly despised in today’s culture and the argument goes something like this: God is so good he couldn’t possibly send any one to an eternal torment. (This view is cleverly and subtly espoused by Bell in his book).

A multitude of modern theologians have run to the defence of God; they believe God’s reputation has been sullied by traditional theologians who through the centuries have attributed the existence of hell to Him. Our omniscient, all-wise, all-knowing God is in no need of being defended by the puny minds of men.

It is incomprehensible that men who would bring mega-destruction over the last few decades, men who would allow multimillions of babies to be aborted, men who would delve into a lifestyle of immorality and unbelief think it their duty to demand that God answer for the existence of hell and redefine Himself to suit their whims.

Hell clarifies the love of God
This failure to recognise hell is non-sensible. If there is light, there must be darkness. If there is good, there must be evil. If happiness exists then sadness must also exist. Is light not defined by darkness and good by evil and happiness by sadness? If you ask the typical fellow today if there is a Heaven, he will say ‘yes’. But if you ask if there is a hell he will say ‘no’. If there is a Heaven must there also not be a hell? Is one not defined by the existence of the other?

The removal of hell from our theology will change who God is. There must be equilibrium in our understanding of God. When we choose only to see the love of God we tend to diminish the justice of God. The existence of hell clarifies the love of God. God sent his only begotten Son to deliver us from such a place.

If hell doesn’t exist, then what has Christ saved us from? I’m not sure if those in Heaven can peer into hell but if they can, would they not be even more convinced of the love of God?

by Kevin Probst