Tag Archives: Hell

Jesus Said It

Jesus Preaching the Sermon on the Mount - Gustave Dore

                 Jesus Preaching the Sermon on the Mount – Gustave Dore

Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.   (Matthew 24:35)

The general conception of Jesus, if He is thought of at all, is that He was a nice guy, a good teacher, and perhaps a miracle worker. A lot of what He said are words to live by, like, “all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matthew 7:12), and “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1 – taken out of context, a great verse for Christian bashing). There is no doubt that Jesus taught many things that benefit when applied to every-day life. Those kinds of teachings find general acceptance by all, but Jesus also said many things that many in this politically correct culture would find offensive.

Jesus said, “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Repent? Many today who, like Donald Trump, believe they have done nothing from which to repent. The Bible says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), and “the soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4, 20). Jesus said, “Repent”!

Jesus said, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28). What man alive can claim innocence of that sin? These days, the same could be said of woman. Along with that He said, “whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery” (Matthew 5:32). With today’s high rate of easy divorce, to how many does this apply? Speaking of adultery, Jesus said marriage is between one man and one woman: “But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Mark 10:6-9, emphasis mine) – so much for same-sex unions.

Many think of Jesus as peaceful and gentle, but Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). Why is that? To His followers Jesus said, “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake” (Matthew 10:22, emphasis mine). “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18).  Jesus said, “And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household” (Matthew 10:36).  “And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death” (Matthew 10:21).  Jesus said, “For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law” (Matthew 10:35); so “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:37-38). However, He offers this promise: “he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:39).

Jesus wants total allegiance; He wants first place in our lives. The reward is eternal life, but it is not without cost. Some will protest, and rightfully so, “Salvation is a free gift. It cannot be earned, Ephesians 2:8-9!” True. The “wages of sin” (Romans 3:23) were paid by Christ on the cross, but along with accepting the free gift comes the responsibility that goes with it. The Christian life is not one of ease, a life of “do as you please,” but the Christian has the promise of the Savior who says “my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30) because He becomes your “yoke partner.”

Jesus said that the Global Flood was real: “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be (Matthew 24:37-39). Jesus said that the Jonah “fish story” was true: “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40). He said this in foretelling of His own death, burial, and resurrection which He fulfilled at His crucifixion.

Jesus said hell is real. He spoke of those within the church – “tares” – that by all appearances look like genuine Christians, but are not. Of these He said, “As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:40-42, emphasis mine). He spoke of the kingdom of heaven being like a net cast into the sea (the “sea” is often used as a metaphor for “the people” of the world) and gathered in by the angels who separate the good from the bad. “So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:49-50, emphasis mine).  Jesus said that if your hand, foot, or eye causes you to sin, you should get rid of them, for it is better to enter into heaven maimed than to be whole and “to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:43-48, emphasis mine). Notice that Jesus stressed the eternality of hell; “never” means NEVER.  Jesus spoke of hell as a real place. He told the true account of a rich man and a poor beggar who both died and stepped into eternity (Luke 16:19-31).  The rich man ended up in hell, “And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments” (Luke 16:23, emphasis mine). Hell is real. Jesus said it.

Just as hell is real, Jesus said heaven is real. “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3, emphasis mine). That place has dimensions: “And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal” (Revelation 21:16).  A furlong is 660 feet. Twelve-thousand furlongs would be 7.92 million feet, and divided by 5280 feet (i.e. one mile), that is equal to 1500 miles. That is about the distance from Dallas, TX to New York, NY. Now imagine that in the size of a cube. It is not a small place! And that is just the “New Jerusalem.” There is no telling just how large the rest of heaven is, but with all that space, it is a very exclusive place. Jesus said, “Enter ye in at the strait [narrow/tight] gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13-14, emphasis mine).

Many today appeal to the “love” of Jesus suggesting that a “loving God” would not send anyone to hell. Even the Pope has boarded that band wagon claiming that all roads lead to God. Those who appeal to a loving God are partially correct; God sends no one to hell. They end up there by their own choice. Those who claim John 3:16 fail to read any further. Two verses down, John 3:18 says, “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (emphasis mine). In my Bible, those words are written in red; Jesus said it.  God is not swayed by popular consensus. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6, emphasis mine). There is no other way. Jesus said it.

Jesus taught many good lessons that when taken to heart prove beneficial to our day-to-day lives. But He also taught some very hard lessons that, when ignored, lead to eternal damnation. It’s tough to hear, but Jesus said it.

If you are unsure of your eternal destination, you alone can do something about it. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8). Jesus said it.

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False Religion: Jehovah’s Witnesses

Watchtower

And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God (John 20:28)

Almost any Saturday you will find them walking the neighborhoods in pairs smiling and handing out their literature. If you happen to have a face-to-face encounter with the Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs or Witnesses), you may get the impression that these are really Christians, albeit with a few strange ideas. They quote Scripture, and they seem to be in agreement with some general tenets of Christianity, but do not be fooled, the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watchtower Society is a false religion.

As with my last post, False Religion: Mormonism, I will not spend a lot of time reviewing the history of this false religion, although it is very colorful to say the least. For an in-depth study of the Witnesses, I highly recommend The Kingdom of the Cults by Walter Martin (1985) from which I will quote from time to time. While the history of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is a worthwhile study, my main concern is to show how the Witnesses meet the criteria for a false religion: (1) Deny or reject the God of the Bible, (2) Deny or reject the deity of Christ, (3) reject the Bible as the inerrant, infallible Word of God, and (just to add a fourth characteristic of a false religion) (4) they teach salvation through the works or efforts of the believer.

The Witnesses have other problems besides the four “biggies.” JWs reject the doctrine of an eternal hell. They believe that a lost person, one not destined for heaven, i.e., eternal life, is annihilated, that is, they just cease to exist. “To the average Jehovah’s Witness, then, Hell (sheol) is literally ‘the grave,’ the place where mortals wait the resurrection” (Martin, p. 101). The Witnesses contend that the Greek word Gehenna, translated “hell” in English, means “everlasting destruction” (annihilation). “This is indeed a bold-faced misrepresentation of the Greek language and certainly ranks next to the ‘a god’ fallacy [to be discussed later] of John 1:1 as an outstanding example of complete falsehood. There is no evidence that Gehenna ever means annihilation in the New Testament but rather abundant evidence to the contrary” (Martin, p. 102). From the JWs perspective, “The doctrine of a burning hell where the wicked are tortured eternally after death cannot be true, mainly for four reasons: (1) Because it is wholly unscriptural; (2) it is unreasonable; (3) it is contrary to God’s love; and (4) it is repugnant to justice” (Martin, pp. 55-56 quoting Let God Be True, p. 99). By the way, JWs are not the only ones that are repulsed by the doctrine of an eternal hell. Many, both Christians and non-Christians alike, take offense to the doctrine of eternal hell. See my articles “You Don’t Go to Hell Because You’re A Sinner” and “The Book of Life.” While this is a significant problem, it is not the worst problem with this false religion.

Another curious teaching of the Witnesses concerns who will enter “the Kingdom of Heaven.” According to Watchtower literature, “Who and how many are able to enter it [the Kingdom]? The Revelation limits to 144,000 the number that become a part of the Kingdom and stand on heavenly Mount Zion…” (Martin, p. 56 quoting Let God Be True, p. 136). According to http://www.jw.org/en/jehovahs-witnesses/, there are currently 7,965,954 Jehovah’s Witnesses in the world. A little simple math reveals that only about 2% of them will make it into “the Kingdom of Heaven.” So what happens to the other 98%? With those odds, a Jehovah’s Witness is no better off than an atheist who basically believes in annihilationism. At least the atheist does not have to work as hard to achieve that status. The prospect of not making it in is probably the greatest motivator that keeps the JWs on the streets passing out their leaflets. From their perspective, the harder they work and maintain a “holy” life style, the better their chance of being numbered among the 144,000. This fervent work activity is one of the characteristics of false religion (the forth on my list).

Now let us look at why the Jehovah’s Witnesses is a false religion. The Witnesses reject the God of the Bible primarily by their rejection of the Trinity or the triune nature of God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Some astute Witness may point out that the word “Trinity” appears nowhere in the Bible, and they would be correct. Tertullian first used the word in the early part of the third century to describe the triune nature of God. Jehovah’s Witnesses accuse Christians of believing in three gods or “three gods in one,” but Christians “do believe that there are three Persons all of the same Substance, co-equal, co-existent and co-eternal. There is ample ground for this belief in Scriptures, where plurality in the Godhead is very strongly intimated if not expressly declared” (Martin, p. 61). The very first verse of the Bible expresses this. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1, emphasis mine). The Hebrew word translated “God” is ‘ĕlôhı̂ym, a plural, masculine noun. The Hebrew word translated “created” is bârâ’, a singular, masculine verb. Under normal circumstances, the subject and predicate must agree in number and gender, but here they do not indicating that the plural subject acts as a single entity. Just a few verses down we have: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” (Genesis 1:26, emphasis mine). Again we have the plural ‘ĕlôhı̂ym with the singular verb ‘âmar (“said”). In addition we have the Godhead speaking within Himself, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” indicating the plurality of the Godhead. This plurality is also seen in Genesis 11:7 at the Tower of Babel: “let us go down, and there confound their language…” (emphasis mine). In Isaiah’s great vision of God upon His throne we hear the Godhead speak, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” (Isaiah 6:8, emphasis mine) Note how the uni-plurality of the Godhead is demonstrated here. Besides the physical manifestation of the Trinity at Jesus’ baptism (Matthew 3:16-17) there are several examples of the Trinity in the New Testament (See John 14:16; 15:26). More could be said on this, however, it ties into the second reason why the Jehovah’s Witnesses is a false religion.

The JWs deny the deity of Christ. “When Jesus said, ‘My Father is greater than I,” He spoke the truth, for in the form of a servant (Philippians 2:7) and as a man, the Son was subject to the Father willingly; but upon His Resurrection and in the radiance of His glory taken again from whence He veiled it (verses 7, 8), He showed forth His Deity when He declared, “All authority is surrendered to me in heaven and earth” (Matthew 28:18); proof positive of His intrinsic Nature and Unity of Substance. It is evident then that the Lord Jesus Christ was never inferior, speaking of His nature, to His Father during His sojourn on earth” (Martin, p. 63). One of the silly arguments offered by JWs against the deity of Christ concerns His time in the grave. “Who ran the universe the three days Jesus was dead and in the grave?” they say (Martin, p. 62). This reasoning comes from their curious idea that death is the extinction of consciousness. Naturally, if God is unconscious, how can He possibly run the universe? But Scripture clearly affirms the deity of Christ. Consider the following from the Old Testament Scriptures:

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel [“God with us”] (Isaiah 7:14, emphasis mine).

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6, emphasis mine).

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting (Micah 5:2).

These descriptions of the coming Messiah clearly show Him to be God: Immanuel (meaning “God with us”), mighty God, everlasting Father, “whose goings forth have been…from everlasting,” i.e., eternity past. Does that sound like any other mortal man? Of course there are many affirmations to Jesus’ deity in the New Testament, but probably none more poignant than Thomas’ confession, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:18). It is remarkable that Jesus did not correct him or reprove him of blasphemy, but rather accepted the worship. “Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29). Yet, the Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe and this makes it a false religion.

Jehovah’s Witnesses reject the inerrant and infallible Word of God so much so that they have rewritten it in the form of The New World Translation of Holy Scriptures (NWT) to support their heretical teachings. Most of the changes are designed to deny the Trinity as a whole, but the deity of Christ in particular. One prime example is in their translation of John 1:1. Their translation reads:

In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god. (emphasis mine).

Witnesses have been taught that “a god” is the proper translation because there is no definite article (i.e., “the”) preceding god (theos) in the Greek. I do not want to go into an in-depth study of Greek syntax. Rather, I would simply point out some inconsistencies in their translation were they translate the same Greek construct, i.e., the missing article before “god.”

There arose a man that was sent forth as a representative of God: his name was John (John 1:6 NWT, emphasis mine).

Happy are the peaceable, since they will be called ‘sons of God’ (Matthew 5:9 NWT, emphasis mine).

No one can slave for two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stick to the one and despise the other. You cannot slave for God and for Riches. (Matthew 6:24 NWT, emphasis mine).

And the young child continued growing and getting strong being filled with wisdom and God’s favor continued upon him (Luke 2:40 NWT, emphasis mine).

These are just some examples; there are many more, but in each of the above, the Greek text uses theos alone without the aid of the definite article. If the translators had been consistent in the translation of the NWT, each one of the above examples should have read “a god” not “God.” What this indicates is that they have made a distinction when this Greek construct is referring to Jesus thereby denying His deity. Furthermore, they have ignored Scripture’s stern warning against tampering with the Word of God.

So, to recapitulate, the Jehovah’s Witnesses is a false religion because they deny the God of the Bible when they deny the triune nature of God, they deny the deity of Christ, they deny the inerrant, infallible World of God, and they teach a works based salvation. Again, this was a very brief overview. For an in-depth study, I recommend, The Kingdom of the Cults by Walter Martin.

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