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All of Christian life is founded upon the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Understanding that through a proper biblical framework will affect how we live, pray, read the Scriptures, fellowship with other believers and God, & preach the gospel. And if we are truly saved and strive to believe the essential truths of Scripture, we will walk worthy of our calling (Col 1:9-13; 2 Thess. 1:11-12) and be ready to give a proper defense of the faith (2 Tim. 2:25). But this salvation is not a salvation to be walked on our own. By God’s grace, He has blessed us with the means of grace by which we can edify one another and provoke each other to righteousness via the local church (Acts 2:42; Heb 10:24). I pray that this blog will do just that. And that by sharing this blog with your family, friends, and loved ones what is written here, that they will come to know the beauty of salvation by grace, being at peace with God, as well as grounded and edified in the Scriptures so that we can have assurance through Christ and fellowship with one another. Welcome to our common salvation.
I’ve been waiting to write this article for a while. But I have been eager too. Jude 7 is a go-to verse for annihilationists who assert that since Jude 7 seemingly speaks of “eternal fire” that rained down upon Sodom and Gomorrah, and that fire was not (and is not still) burning, therefore, the eternal fire in Matthew 25, or anything other semantical reference about hell’s fires burning forever, is false. And since also the parallel passage in 2 Peter 2:6 mentions Sodom being reduced to ashes, that pretty much seals the deal and destroys eternal conscious torment (pun intended). Not so fast though. There is a key linguistic feature in Jude that I have yet to hear being addressed in any of the articles or podcasts being written (even though I directly challenged Chris Date with this, and his answer was appalling). But before I reveal what that is, this will be a two part article. This first one is the easier-to-read-just-get-the-gist, kind of article that will be for those of us who do not fully understand linguistic terms. I will attempt to break it down so that almost anyone can understand. The next article will be more technical.
So what is this key? First, here is Jude verse 3 – 7 Continue reading
I keep saying over and over again that the annihilationism/conditionalism discussion would take on a different form if it wasn’t for all the heretics Rethinking Hell and others like them affirm, associate, and keep company with. As I pointed out in article 5a concerning the atonement, there are some very serious concerns that should be addressed, not just about the unsound biblical hermeneutics coming out of this camp, but also the corruptions these associations bring to the table. Saying this, have you ever taken a gander at Rethinking Hell’s list for “proponents” of conditionalism? I have. Seems overwhelming at first. It’s almost like so many orthodox scholars and preachers would adhere to this position. Well, I have watched videos and listened to podcasts where Chris Date touts some of these names when asked for scholars that believe in conditionalism. But are you aware of what some of these people believe about some of the essentials of the faith? Are you even aware of the names of the people that are being used in the Rethinking Hell articles, podcasts, books, and conferences? You should. Because some of these people stand out if you diligently seek to know those that labor among you (1 Thess 5:12). For some of these names, it didn’t take long before something damnably heretical turned up. For others, (some of which I was already aware of), I was surprised (but not really) that Rethinking Hell, which considers themselves within the bounds of orthodoxy, would list such heretics and not call them out as they are. But if you’ve read article 5a on the atonement and how Unitarians, Universalists, and those that deny penal substitution are on the approval list for even supposed gospel-centered Calvinist like Chris Date, then this article may not come as a shock to you. Let’s deal with a few of these men now.
1) Jeff Cook is listed as a modern and Professor at University of Northern Colorado. In an online debate with Preston Sprinkle (who also is a conditionalist), he writes some pretty disturbing things. To cut to the chase, he affirms monogamous same sex marriage as not immoral. He says: Continue reading
A father had a family of sons who were perpetually fighting among themselves. When he failed to resolve their disputes by his exhortations, he determined to give them a practical illustration of the evils of disunity. So one day told them to bring him a bundle of sticks. When they had done so, he placed a bundle into each of their hands, and ordered them to try and break it in pieces. They tried with all their strength, and were not able to do it. He then separated the bundle into individual sticks, one by one, and put them into his sons’ hands, upon which they broke them easily. So he addressed them in these words: “My sons, if you are of one mind, and unite to assist each other, you will be as this bundle when it’s together – uninjured by all the attempts of your enemies. But if you are divided among yourselves, you will be broken as easily as these sticks.”
Application: Who does not know the universal principle of strength in unity? Even the weakest strand ever created, when bound together as a rope, will serve as the best testament to this truth. It would be the best advice for all Christians everywhere to bind themselves together in gospel unity and Christ-centered theology so that we develop into one mind in Christ! (Phil 2:1-11) That way, when the world wishes to break us one by one, they would find it harder to break us because we are united in our love for one another (John 13:35; Eph 4:1-2 & 13-16).
A Charcoal Burner was working his trade in his home. One day he met a friend, a Fuller, and begged him to come and live with him, saying that they should be far better as neighbors so that their housekeeping expenses would be lessened. The Fuller replied, “This arrangement is impossible! Because as far as I am concerned, whatever I should whiten, you will immediately blacken again with your charcoal.”
Application: What impossibility is it for the wicked and the righteous to dwell together in unity? (2 Cor. 6:14) Though it may seem feasible for a season, most of the time will be spent in opposition because of contrary desires. For the Saint wishes to keep his manners, motives, and actions clean, while the wicked has not the slightest care concerning who or what they stain or even sense whether or not they must be clean themselves.
A Wolf, meeting with a Lamb astray from the fold, resolved not to lay violent hands on him, but instead found some strange reason to justify to the Lamb the his right to eat him. He thus addressed him: “Sir, um, last year you grossly insulted me.” “How?,” bleated the Lamb in a mournful tone of voice, “I was not born yet.” Then said the Wolf, “Well, um, you fed in my pasture.” “No, good sir,” replied the Lamb, “I have not yet tasted grass.” Again said the Wolf, “Very well then. You drink of my well.” “No,” exclaimed the Lamb, “I have yet to drink water, for my mother’s milk is both food and drink to me.” Upon this last statement, the Wolf seized him and ate him up, saying, “Well! I won’t remain supperless, even though you refuted every one of my allegations.”
Application 1: This is a perfect picture for those who wish to commit sin, yet try to find a reason to justify their sin. With every correction and rebuke from their conscience or God’s people, the wicked will bounce from one reason to the next, only to find themselves without excuse. Then, when the river of pretense runs dry, there is no other excuse for their sinful appetite other than they love and choose to do it, because it is their nature to do so.
Application 2: The False Teacher’s appetite to consume the sheepfold of God will never be tempered by correction. Regardless of how much folly you reveal in them, their nature will be to not spare the flock. This will be made plain the most by their ferocious behavior when they are challenged about their false doctrine.
No doubt many have run into an atheist who is adamant about the non-existence of God (usually, in a more specific sense, the Judaeo-Christian God of the Bible). Whether it is all religions or just Christianity in general, they tend to reject what they believe is blind faith and fairy tales. Of course, they are entitled to their opinion. And there is no small shortage of satirical and philosophical rhetoric that some of them use to “refute” the existence of God. But, if you pay attention to the arguments they use to defame, blaspheme, and misalign God, there is one thing that Christians can agree with them on – the god they believe doesn’t exist really doesn’t.
I have confronted multiple conditionalists about why Irenaeus didn’t believe in conditionalist/annihilationist doctrine, but they continue to spread this lie even after being corrected. And conditionalists wonder why I say some of their content is deceptive. What’s even more discouraging, is that Chris Date, even after an online debate with Jerry Shepherd, continues to spread this. I am grateful, though, to have come across a gem a few months ago, and have been meaning to share it.
I never read this online debate before writing my first two Irenaeus articles, but yet I was still able to come to some the same conclusions. Jerry Shepherd did what I would encourage many of you to do, and that is simply read the rest of Irenaeus’ work. But just like anything dealing with annihilationist doctrine, proper literary linguistics and context will overturn much of the rhetoric that come from this camp.
Not everyone consciously affirms the doctrine of election. The reasons for this vary and are definitely outside the scope of this particular article. But whether you don’t like it, don’t agree with it, or are simply neutral about it for the time being, predestination and election are concepts in Scripture that every believer will be confronted with. Even if you choose not to deal with it, the unbelieving world still has heard about it, learned it when they were in church as a kid, and/or logically deduces it through the knowledge that God knew before hand that man would fall, and yet still created us. So even if we bury our head in the sand and ignore this, the world will not let us. And, if we have faithful pastors and brethren in Christ who challenge, edify, and provoke us in godliness through the word of God, they won’t let us ignore this topic either.
Although you may hold to a more unique position concerning predestination and election, you will probably sympathize with one of these two views:
One of the things I am passionate about is closing the gap between Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers within the body of Christ. We have become so segregated in our roles that it is almost as if they never overlap. The Pastor is in charge of the sheep, and the Evangelist is in charge of bringing the lost sheep into the fold. My dear readers, this is wrong! Just as equally wrong is the idea that the Evangelist is incapable of preaching on any other topic other than evangelism, that the burden of biblical counseling should only be left upon the head Pastor, or that Eldership belongs only to the pastors or teachers of the congregation. In accordance with Ephesians 4:11-15, I would encourage all of us to view the roles/gifts these kind of men bring to our local congregations and the universal body of Christ.
I remember an illustration a famous preacher gave one time about how the sheepdog is like the Evangelist that barks at the sheep and the sheep run into the sheepfold. Meanwhile, the sheep are Continue reading