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Monday, October 25, 2010

'Hell' is a present 'reality', and IS a 'place' of conscious torment...........( not forever, though )


'Don't Worry, Be Happy!' So go these these somewhat famous words that Bobby McFerrin popularized in the late 80s. Never minding the rest of his lyrics, or his motive behind writing and releasing them; he's got at least one thing right: we worry too much. As I've often pointed out; Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 6:25-34 that we shouldn't worry about our 'life, what you will eat, or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on...............' This is not to say that we are not to, or shouldn't concern ourselves with 'the things of this world' ( in context Jesus meant something quite different, relatively speaking ), in other, words, what is needful for our daily existence, food, clothing, a roof over our heads, etc; we should do what we can to ensure the safety of the stewardship that God has given us ( our family ) and their prosperity and health; but when we worry ( needlessly ) about how we're gonna pay the overdue bills while still putting food on our table, keeping a roof over our heads, and clothing on our bodies; we often create our own kind of personal 'hell'!

Those who have not fully put their trust in God for all these things, whether we are 'saved' or not ( and I speak from personal experience, and still experience, when I fail to remember ), are in, until and when they can 'Let go, and let God' ( I really don't like that phrase ), our own sort of 'hell'. Till we can stop worrying about our life, however bad our circumstances may 'seem' ( to us, or to others ); while not 'discounting', or seeming to be unconcerned about what we should be, or 'need' to be concerned with, being bound up by the fears and doubts that assail us everyday ( 'can 'I' do it?' 'can 'I' make enough to pay all the bills and put food on the table at the same time?' 'what if this or that happens; will I/can I ( how will 'I' ) 'make it'?' ), we
will be consciously tormented by these worried thoughts! As I noted above ( in parentheses ) in the title, this is not an eternal conscious torment, or at least, need not be, for the believer, anyway. Although sometimes even believers ( the strongest of us-Jesus cried out on the cross, 'Father; why have you forsaken Me?!' ( Matthew 27:46 ( Psalm 22:1 ) 'feel' as though God has forsaken us, and have doubts and fears; through the strength that God has given us, we remember that 'it is not forever' ( James 4:14 ), and that 'joy comes in the morning' ( Psalm 30:5 ), and, as one of my favorite passages of Scripture ( Romans 8:28 ) says, in other words; 'it's all good': sometimes we don't see it, or recognize it as good, but we can take comfort in the very fact that God says that it is, it's how we look at it, how we 'choose' to face our 'problems' that determines whether it 'feels' like we're spending '90 minutes in Hell', or whether we realize that we were in 'Heaven' all along, and that it only 'felt' like 'hell'!

Now; before I get too far, and some start to wonder if I'm trying to tell people that 'Heaven', as 'Hell', is all in their minds/'heads'/'hearts', and therefore, at the extreme extent, 'is God then, just a figment of our imagination?'; let me just say; I believe, and it should be very obvious, that God is Who He says He is, but that, as Jesus told the Pharisees, and assures us, in Luke 17:21, 'the Kingdom of God ( 'Heaven'/heaven ) is within you', and as Jesus comforted, and still comforts, His disciples in John 14:23, 'if anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him'.

In the Old Covenant Scriptures; 'hell' is often an obvious reference to circumstances like those I outlined above, as when David declared, in Psalm 18:5, 'the sorrows of Sheol surrounded me', and in Psalm 86:13, 'You have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol' ( May we all prayerfully realize this when confronted by 'the floods of ungodliness'! ). Solomon warned his son, in Proverbs 5:5, of the 'harlot', saying 'her feet go down to death; her steps lay hold of Sheol', while God told His people, in Isaiah 28:15, 'your agreement with Sheol will not stand'. The prophet Jonah, from the belly of the 'great fish', 'cried out from the belly of Sheol', but passages like Ezekiel 32: 22-27 describe Sheol, or 'the Pit', as the grave, where physical bodies literally 'return to the dust' from which they came ( Genesis 3:1 ). There are passages, like Isaiah 14, that 'seem' to speak of a consciousness in this 'hell', but I believe that, in context, these references will be seen as speaking of the torment that the wicked king of Babylon received in consequence of the suffering that he had caused to others, although reference is made here, as well, to the grave.

As I pointed out in a previous article, though; Revelation 20:14 reveals that 'Death and Hades ( Greek version of Sheol ) were cast into the Lake of Fire'. So, given that this is one of the implications of 'Fulfilled Eschatology' ( and by the way; we know that physical death and the physical grave are not what Jesus came to destroy ( John 11:26 ), or else, in the view of believers in fulfilled eschatology, neither should exist anymore, and we know that they do, for we have all had experience with both, to one extent or another ), we need fear neither 'death' nor 'hell' any longer, either physically speaking or spiritually. The only 'hell' that we must deal with, and for the believer, God has taken care of this, is the 'hell' that we too often find ourselves in, when we ( temporarily ) forget the blessings that we have been given, indeed, the blessings that we've always had, in Christ, and find ourselves focusing rather, on 'the waves of adversity' ( Matthew 14:30 ) that are swirling ( sometimes very tempestuously ) around us!

May God give you comfort with these words, and may they cause many to realize the Truth and Reality of the full implications of what God has blessed us with!

In His service, and for His Kingdom,
Charles Haddon Shank



2 comments:

Micah Martin said...

Charles,

Thanks for linking this. I really enjoyed it.

Blessings,
Micah

Charles Shank said...

You're welcome, Micah; praises be to God, I'm glad you enjoyed it!:)