An Atheist “Church” (and Others)

The Sunday Assembly is a non-religious gathering co-founded by stand-up comedians Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans in January 2013 in London, England.  The gathering is mostly for non-religious people who want a similar communal experience to a religious church, though religious people are also welcome.

The Public Charter for the Sunday Assembly includes the following:

– The Sunday Assembly is a godless congregation that celebrates life.  Our motto: live better, help often, wonder more.  Our mission: to help everyone find and fulfill their full potential.  Our vision: a godless congregation in every town, city and village that wants one.

– We are here for everyone who wants to: 

— Live Better.  We aim to provide inspiring, thought-provoking and practical ideas that help people to live the lives they want to lead and be the people they want to be. 

— Help Often.  Assemblies are communities of action building lives of purpose, encouraging us all to help anyone who needs it to support each other. 

— Wonder More.  Hearing talks, singing as one, listening to readings and even playing games helps us to connect with each other and the awesome world we live in.

– The Sunday Assembly
1. Is 100% celebration of life.  We are born from nothing and go to nothing. Let’s enjoy it together. 
2. Has no doctrine.  We have no set texts so we can make use of wisdom from all sources. 
3. Has no deity.  We don’t do supernatural but we also won’t tell you you’re wrong if you do. 
4. Is radically inclusive.  Everyone is welcome, regardless of their beliefs – this is a place of love that is open and accepting. 
5. Is free to attend, not-for-profit and volunteer run.  We ask for donations to cover our costs and support our community work. 
6. Has a community mission.  Through our Action Heroes (you!), we will be a force for good. 
7. Is independent.  We do not accept sponsorship or promote outside businesses, organizations or services. 
8. Is here to stay.  With your involvement, The Sunday Assembly will make the world a better place. 
9. We won’t tell you how to live, but will try to help you do it as well as you can. 
10. And remember point 1… The Sunday Assembly is a celebration of the one life we know we have. 

What should you expect from a Sunday Assembly event?

Just by being with us you should be energized, vitalized, restored, repaired, refreshed and recharged.  No matter what the subject of the Assembly, it will solace worries, provoke kindness and inject a touch of transcendence into the everyday. 

But life can be tough…  It is.  Sometimes bad things happen to good people, we have moments of weakness or life just isn’t fair.  We want The Sunday Assembly to be a house of love and compassion, where, no matter what your situation, you are welcomed, accepted and loved. 

Most of all, have fun, be nice and join in. 

Unfortunately, this is not much different than many churches.  For a moment, put yourself in the mindset of what most churches advertise.  Now, let’s read back through the above, removing only the (three) parts not claimed by most churches:

– The Sunday Assembly is a godless congregation that celebrates life.  Our motto: live better, help often, wonder more.  Our mission: to help everyone find and fulfill their full potential.  Our vision: a godless congregation in every town, city and village that wants one.

– We are here for everyone who wants to: 

— Live Better.  We aim to provide inspiring, thought-provoking and practical ideas that help people to live the lives they want to lead and be the people they want to be. 

— Help Often.  Assemblies are communities of action building lives of purpose, encouraging us all to help anyone who needs it to support each other. 

— Wonder More.  Hearing talks, singing as one, listening to readings and even playing games helps us to connect with each other and the awesome world we live in.

– The Sunday Assembly
1. Is 100% celebration of life.  We are born from nothing and go to nothing. Let’s enjoy it together. 
2. Has no doctrine (unfortunately, true of many churches) We have no set texts so we can make use of wisdom from all sources. 
3. Has no deity.  We don’t do supernatural but we also won’t tell you you’re wrong if you do. 
4. Is radically inclusive. Everyone is welcome, regardless of their beliefs – this is a place of love that is open and accepting. 
5. Is free to attend, not-for-profit and volunteer run.  We ask for donations to cover our costs and support our community work. 
6. Has a community mission.  Through our Action Heroes (you!), we will be a force for good. 
7. Is independent.  We do not accept sponsorship or promote outside businesses, organizations or services. 
8. Is here to stay.  With your involvement, The Sunday Assembly will make the world a better place. 
9. We won’t tell you how to live, but will try to help you do it as well as you can. 
10. And remember point 1… The Sunday Assembly is a celebration of the one life we know we have. 

What should you expect from a Sunday Assembly event? 

Just by being with us you should be energized, vitalized, restored, repaired, refreshed and recharged.  No matter what the subject of the Assembly, it will solace worries, provoke kindness and inject a touch of transcendence into the everyday. 

But life can be tough…  It is.  Sometimes bad things happen to good people, we have moments of weakness or life just isn’t fair.  We want The Sunday Assembly to be a house of love and compassion, where, no matter what your situation, you are welcomed, accepted and loved. 

Most of all, have fun, be nice and join in. 

It’s difficult to tell this atheist church from most churches in Christendom.

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Christianity According to Tony Soprano (and Others)

I enjoyed The Sopranos, but Tony Soprano had a warped view of Christianity.  Unfortunately, much of Christendom shares his worldview:

– When Christopher got shot, Tony said, “How could this happen?”  He never considered the consequences that one’s actions bring upon himself.  He was more than willing to be a thug and a gangster, but he didn’t understand how he could be forced to deal with the likely outcome.

– In praying for Christopher when he got shot, Carmella said, “Help us carry on in service to you.”  What was she thinking?  That while she was a partner in crime with Tony, and living the good life on his stolen money, that she was somehow simultaneously in the Lord’s service because she considered herself to be a good person and she sometimes had good intentions?

– Tony, expressed that the kind of people who go to hell are:  “The worst people; the twisted and demented psychos who kill for pleasure; the cannibals; people who molest and torture little kids; kill babies; the Hitlers.  The evil deserve to die.”  He never considered his own sins of bribery, extortion, and murder of being just as deserving of hell.  Of course the truth is that the kind of person who goes to hell is the one who rejects the saving faith of Christ Jesus who died for his sins–regardless of the degree or sin or evil.  To God, sin is anything that misses the mark of His perfect righteousness.  Yet the prevailing worldview (especially expressed in Tony’s Catholicism) is that some sins are worse than others and we can each decide which ones are deserving of hell, and we can set the failing boundary just below what we have personally done.

Tony considered himself to be a soldier–a Mafia soldier–and soldiers don’t go to hell.  It’s just business.  His Mafia family had order and codes that weren’t to be broken.  He was deserving of heaven because of his code of honor, his loyalty, his family (although with no loyalty to them), and his guts.

Tony, on Chris’s death, “He was just starting his life.”  Actually, he was about half-way through a normal life expectancy.  In another episode, he virtually condoned abortion–a death that truly is just at the beginning of life.

Tony:  “Life is a series of distractions til you die.”

Tony’s psychiatrist:  “Who knows where you’d be without medication.” (Would he have been better or worse of without it?)

Tony:  I try to do what’s right.  I’m not perfect, but I do right by my family.

A rival mafia boss:  All of a sudden, holding your kids, my grandkids in my lap is very important to me.  (How touching, for a professional gangster and murderer.)

Tony:  It’s against our principles–a sin.

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Our Failing Churches

In his book, “Why Jesus?” Ravi Zacharias makes some startling observations about our churches:

– Churches that do justice to the message of Christ and his claim upon our lives are rare.
“Churches,” said one critic to me, “are country clubs for the nice people… they re really
not so nice to everyone else.”  I have to admit that I’ve personally sat through some large
gatherings of Christians after which I have walked out and wondered what I would have thought of Christianity if that was what I had heard before I came to Christ.  For the most part there is a huge gap between the preaching and worship of today and what faith in Christ and the worship of God were intended to be.

– I am afraid that the forms and the programs have commandeered the message of Jesus into a kind of show and entertainment mold, where the congregants are merely spectators who have come to watch a show.

– The legalism of the Church has disenfranchised so many that the Church has found itself speaking to just the handful who still agree with its castigations and have lost the many who need its healing message of love.

– Our individuality is suppressed.  People are forced to think collectively.  Christianity teaches a direct, personal, two-way link between the individual and God, unmediated by the collective, and unsubordinate to any other human being.

– We have moved from silence (quietness, solitude, and meditation) to noise.

– The institutionalization of Church made it vulnerable to all of the abuses we now see.

– (Churches falsely and) simply yield to the large majority and the prevailing worldview.

– (Churches don’t teach the truth because they are afraid of being called exclusive.)  Jesus proclaims the truth–that is why it must exclude all that is contrary to it.  Worldviews begin by definitions.  Definitions create boundaries.  Violations of those boundaries elicit condemnation.  That condemnation itself excludes.  It is impossible to sustain truth without excluding falsehood.  All religions are exclusive.  What else can be expected but exclusivity when truth claims are expressed?  All religions are exclusive.  Truth by definition excludes.  Truth excludes the denial of what it asserts.  All designations exclude something else–one’s ethnicity, language, or education.  (Churches don’ want) to preach a destiny that excludes anyone else, so we reserve the description of evil for only the most heinous.

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Trump’s Tax Plan – Rates And Dates

What we need concerning Trump’s tax plan are the details.  I’m less concerned with how many jobs he thinks it will create and what incentives, write-offs, and loopholes he’ll provide for corporations, small businesses, and billionaires than I am about what my individual rates will be.  He campaigned on a tax plan that would have married couples paying 0% tax on their first $50k and only 10% on the next $50k–only $5K (5%) on the first $100K.  Then their rate would jump to only 20%, and 25% was the most it would ever be.  However, it sounds like he has already backed off on that:  The new hype is doubling the standard deduction, which would give couples 0% tax on only the first $24K, and taking away some deductions (local taxes, etc.).

In addition to the rates, I want to know when it would be effective.  For tax year 2017 (the next time I file), or not.

If I were a protester, my chant would be:  “What do we want?  Rates and Dates.  When do we want it?  Now.”

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What’s Worse Than Cops Killing Children?

The results of a web search for “children killed” includes articles such as “The 14 Teens Killed by Police Since Michael Brown.”  Most of the children in this article were 18-year-olds.  I found the use of the word “children” a little puzzling here.  Some of us would include 18-year-olds as children, and some of us wouldn’t.  The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child defines “child,” in general, as “a human being below the age of 18 years.”  The killing of these teens by police seems even more tragic when we consider them as children.  How horrific for police officers to kill children, even if they weren’t all so poor and innocent.

But what’s even worse than cops killing 14 children, at least some of whom were probably innocent?  That would be the killing of one million unborn babies each year in this country through abortion.  The arguments for this conclusion include the following:

1) The sheer number of deaths by abortion is thousands of times larger than deaths by police.

2) While some of these teens were not innocent, all of those killed by abortion are, in fact, completely innocent.  There’s no doubt that they have done NO wrong.

3) At least we have laws against the unlawful killing of these teens by police officers.  However, this slaughter by abortion is completely legal.

4) At least these teens were able to live out about 20% of their lives, which were cut short by some 60 or 70 years.  The babies killed by abortion are denied their whole self-sustaining lives on this earth–even their first breath.  Their lives are cut short by some 70 to 80 years.

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The Most Important Verses

The most important verse in the Bible for unbelievers is John 3:16:  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”  The most important verse in the Bible for believers is 1 John 1:9:  “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Once a believer has entered into eternal fellowship with God by believing in Christ (John 3:16), he soon realized that he still has the flesh (the old sin nature).  So, he must maintain his temporal fellowship with God through regular confession of all known sins (1 John 1:9).  Only then, through the fellowship and power of the Holy Spirit, can he produce divine good through the successful exercising of his spiritual gifts.

I learned this from Dr. John Danish.  This is why I lovingly like to refer to this latter verse as 1 John Danish 1:9.

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Is China Tricking Us?

I voted for President Trump, but I think he’s being played by China.  During his campaign, he was very aggressive and tough with China, but now that he’s president, he’s backing off.  Here’s what I think happened:

China heard Trump’s campaign rhetoric, and when he got elected, they had to figure out how to make him back down.  President Xi Jinping traveled to Florida to play golf with President Trump, so that Jinping would appear to be buddies with Trump.  So, Trump backed off of his economic demands of China.

Then, since China is so tight with North Korea, Jinping (privately) had North Korean President Kim Jong-un perform some missile tests, knowing that this would stir up President Trump.  This allowed Trump to appear tough by moving some ships to the North Korea region.

Now China will (publicly) have Kim Jong-un back down.  This will boost Trump’s ego even more and make him feel like he got the best of China, so he’ll be even more lenient in future negotiations with them.

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Is Continual Prayer Worth it?

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells us to “pray continually,” or “without ceasing.”  Let’s first look at what this verse actually means.  It doesn’t mean that you never have anything on your mind except prayer.  Obviously, we have other responsibilities in life.

The word “continually” can mean:  very often; at regular or frequent intervals; habitually; without cessation or intermission; unceasingly; or, always.  Similarly, the word “continuously” can mean:  uninterrupted in time; without cessation (e. g., continuous coughing during a concert); being in immediate connection or spatial relationship (e. g., a continuous series of blasts, or a continuous row of warehouses).

It’s sort of like when a person is on the phone.  He isn’t necessarily talking or listening every second.  There may be lulls in the conversation, or he may also be multi-tasking:  texting, typing on his computer, watching television, or thinking about other things.  When a person prays without ceasing, he always has a line to God open, even though he may be temporarily preoccupied with his job, his family, etc.

What 1 Thessalonians 5:-16-18 actually says is this:  “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  The key words here are:  rejoice; pray; thanks; God; and, Christ Jesus.  We are commanded by God to follow His will through Jesus Christ by continually sharing our joy, thanksgiving, and supplications with Him.  If we have anything to rejoice about or to be thankful for, or if we need anything, we’re told to share it with God.

But is continual prayer worth it?  While driving today, I approached an intersection that can be dangerous due to having two left-hand turn lanes when drivers often fail to stay within the dotted lines of their lane throughout the entire turn.  As I do almost every day when approaching that intersection, I prayed that God would keep me safe and accident-free throughout that turn, and after He did, I prayed again and thanked Him for it.  On some days I forget to pray before I reach that intersection.  I don’t think of it until afterward, but then I thank Him for keeping me safe.  Then on other days I’m preoccupied and don’t pray at that intersection at all.

Now, I’m sure that many other drivers breezed through that intersection today without an accident–and without prayer.  They were kept safe, so was my prayer really worthwhile?  It would be difficult to convince an unbeliever of this, but here’s how I look at it:

1) I believe that God has filled me with a desire to pray.  I love to be in fellowship with God.  It’s not a burden.  It’s something that I like to do anyway.

2) On the practical side, is it worth it to pray hundreds of prayers every day and tens of thousands of prayers every year?  After all, think of all the other things I could have been doing (or thinking) otherwise.  Well, what if only one of those 10,000 prayers was answered?  Regardless of whether or not all of the other prayers went unanswered, what if He really did keep me safe in His divine providence instead of allowing me to be involved in an accident?  Even if nobody was hurt and the accident wasn’t serious, the hassle would be overwhelming–involving policemen, other drivers, witnesses, traffic tickets, court appearances, judges, insurance companies, repairs, auto rentals, being late for work, bosses, etc.  That one accident could seemingly ruin my whole year.

For me, I liked the other 10,000 prayers anyway–having fellowship with God.  So, that one in 10,000 was definitely worth it, even if I don’t credit Him for keeping me safe all those other times.

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Do Unbelievers Spend Eternity in Hell?

Where Will Unbelievers Spend Eternity?  In hell, or in the lake of fire?  And, where are these places?

In the article “Do Believers Spend Eternity in Hell?” we learned that hell is not where Satan, fallen angels, demons, and unbelievers will spend eternity.  That place is called the lake of fire.

The location of hell is probably the center of the current earth.  Whenever people died prior to Jesus’ ascension, they are said to have gone down.  The only place down from the earth’s surface is under the earth.  The earth’s core is molten, fitting the description of flames.

The Scriptures do not say where the lake of fire will be.  It will probably have to be in a completely different place than the new earth and the new universe, since those new places will be completely free from sin and its remnants.

However, I can propose a new possibility.  We know from the Bible that both hell and the lake of fire are places of suffering and torment (Revelation 14).  We also know that those there have no rest day or night, from which we get the familiar saying, “No rest for the wicked.”  This speaks to their inability to escape the continual (daily) suffering.  Also, there will be fire, brimstone (sulfur–a nonmetallic element), and smoke there.  We also see that people in hell will mock new arrivals, and probably mock each other daily (Isaiah 4:9-11).  This behavior causes emotional pain to the ones being mocked and it causes a measure of sadistic delight for the ones doing the mocking.

Well, what place do we know of that has these things–fire, sulfur, smoke, and sin?  I propose that the lake of fire (for eternity) could be the current earth.  Revelation 21:1 says that a new earth is where believers will live with Christ forever, and the first earth passed away.  Maybe that doesn’t mean that it is destroyed.  Perhaps it means that the current earth (and the sin upon it) will continue to exist, but then in complete separation from God, good, and believers.

Due to the fall of man into sin, the current earth is already a place of suffering and torment.  Much of the population of the earth works all day, seemingly to no peaceful end, and has trouble sleeping at night.  And, we cannot escape it.  We already have fire, sulfur, and smoke, and perhaps those forces will be magnified due to the earthquakes and volcanos in the book of Revelation, bringing the molten center of the earth to the surface.  We certainly already see how detestable sinful people treat each other, mocking each other and inflicting emotional pain upon others, and taking delight in doing so.

Perhaps hell is currently at the center of the earth, and in eternity, that hell (physical, mental, and spiritual) will explode and be expanded to the earth’s surface, eternally separated from God.

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Do Believers Spend Eternity in Heaven?

Most popular concepts about heaven and hell do not come from the Bible, but from Greek philosophy and medieval writings like Dante’s Inferno.  Many Christians believe that heaven is a place where they will spend eternity.  However, the Bible indicates that the eternal home for believers will be on the new earth, specifically in the holy city called New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:1-4).

The Bible Refers to Three Heavens – Not Just One

In the Bible, the word “heaven” often refers to the atmosphere, or the sky or the air, where the birds fly (Matthew 6:26, 8:20).  This is the first heaven.  The second heaven is outer space, where the sun, moon, planets, and stars are (Hebrews 1:10-11, 2 Peter 3:7-12).  The third heaven is the place where God’s glory is localized, and where departed believers await Christ’s Second Coming (2 Corinthians 12:2-4, Revelation 4:1-11, 8:1-6, 16:11).

The Current Heavens Will be Destroyed

The Bible says that heaven will pass away, meaning the first and second heavens.  The entire universe, except for the third heaven, will be destroyed, along with the sin in it (which is why we need a new universe).  Then a new untainted universe will be created, including a new earth with the New Jerusalem (Matthew 5:18, 24:35, 2 Peter 3:10, Revelation 21:13).  Neither the Lord Jesus Christ (currently in Heaven) nor His believers will spend eternity in the third heaven.  Instead they will spend eternity on the new earth (Revelation 21-22).

God’s Plan for Man

God created the earth and then he created man for it–to live on it and fill it; i.e., he gave us bodies and a planet on which to use those bodies.  If Adam and Eve had not sinned, this present earth is where they would have spent eternity.  However, since man chose to sin and taint the earth, a new one will be required for his eternal dwelling.

The New Earth

The new earth will be a wonderful and beautiful place where we will serve Christ forever (Revelation 21-22).  It will have streets and buildings of gold and precious stones, and the New Jerusalem will be the world capital.  It will be perfect, with no more death, no more pain, and no more tears.

Heaven

It is correct to say that God and His Son Jesus currently live in heaven, that believers go to heaven when they die, and that believers who have died are now in heaven with Christ, but it’s a temporary dwelling place.  We have trouble explaining concepts about eternity.  It’s difficult to put into words because of our concepts of reality here on earth–physical and scientific concepts, the first and second laws of thermodynamics, etc.  Eternity is an existence not restricted by space or time, and it’s hard for us to understand.

For example, look back at the first sentence of the previous paragraph where I used the words “currently,” “when,” and “now.”  All of these words deal with time, and we can’t imagine writing or speaking about an existence where there is no time.  Yet, in eternity, somehow, it’s like everything happens all at the same “time.”  Likewise, we would have difficulty talking about an existence where there is no space.  The words “here,” “there,” and “place” wouldn’t apply because somehow all of that stuff that’s happening at the same “time” is also happening in the same “place.”

Hell

According to medieval literature, hell is a place where people’s skin is on fire; fire shoots from people’s noses, mouths, eyes, and ears; the physical pain is worse than any torture in this life; and, that pain is intolerable and never lessens.  However, the truth is that the torments of hell are never described in the Bible.  The Bible contains three key passages on Hell:

1) The Rich Man, Lazarus, and Abraham (Luke 16:19-31)

All we know is that the rich man is in a fiery environment, but we really don’t know the level of his torment.

2) The Smoke of Their Torment Ascends Forever (Revelation 14:11)

All who take the mark of the beast during the Tribulation will be tormented, the smoke of their torment ascends forever, and they have no rest day or night.  The torment in the lake of fire for unbelievers from the Tribulation will be eternal.  We don’t really know the nature or extent of their suffering, whether it will fluctuate in magnitude, or whether the torment will vary from person to person.

3) Mocking New Arrivals in Hell (Isaiah 14:9-11)

It seems that people in Sheol mock each other daily, and forever, in the lake of fire.  While being mocked, they will feel emotional pain, but perhaps while mocking, they will feel some sadistic delight, distracting them from their pain to a degree.

Where is Hell? 

Hell is not where Satan, fallen angels, demons, and unbelievers will spend eternity.  That is called the lake of fire.  The location of hell is probably the center of the current earth.  Whenever people died prior to Jesus’ ascension, they are said to have gone down.  The only place down from the earth’s surface is under the earth.  The earth’s core is molten, fitting the description of flames.

The Scriptures do not say where the lake of fire will be.  It will probably have to be in a completely different place than the new earth and the new universe, since those new places will be completely free from sin and its remnants.

Two Extreme and Unbiblical Views About the Nature of the Suffering in Hell

Extreme View #1:  The Suffering Will be Intolerable

Many Christians listen to preachers who have a medieval view of hell as a place of intolerable pain, worse than anything ever suffered here on earth.

Extreme View #2:  No Humans Will Experience Any Suffering in Hell

Although the Bible teaches eternal torment for some, many cannot imagine that God would allow for eternal suffering.  Some teach that all unbelievers will be annihilated, or completely destroyed (annihilationism).  They will cease to exist.  Others teach that the torment of unbelievers will be eternal, but that people have the opportunity to hear and believe the gospel after they die (postmortem conversion).  So, although the lake of fire will be a place of eternal suffering, most people won’t go there.  Still others teach that no human being will have the lake of fire as his eternal abode (universalism).  Another view is that the suffering will be unconscious.

The Truth:  The Torment in the Lake of Fire Will be Tolerable

One view says that the torment in the lake of fire will be mental and spiritual, but not physical.  It will consist of mental and spiritual anguish, regret, an abiding sense of loss, and permanent separation from God and all that is good, but it will not in any sense be physical.

A more accurate view is that the torment in the lake of fire will be physical, mental, and spiritual torment, but that all of it will be bearable (Matthew 11:22-24).  (However, I don’t think this matters much.  Eternal suffering is eternal suffering.)

The Lord taught both degrees of joy in the kingdom and degrees of suffering in the lake of fire.  God is not going to give unbelievers an eternal experience that is unbearable–constant maximum suffering with no breaks or escape.  Such suffering could not be described as “tolerable” or “more tolerable.”  The degree of torment may be based in part on how much revelation from God a person rejected.

Practical Concerns about Hell

If we teach that the torment in the lake of fire will be worse than what the Bible says, these practical problems result:

1) We hinder our evangelistic efforts with some (unless we do not share our view of the lake of fire).  If we present a view of hell that is far worse than the Bible portrays, unbelievers may be repelled from Christianity entirely.  They rationalize that nothing could be worse than what Hitler, Stalin, or Pol Pot did.

2) The teaching of hell is normally not coupled with the message of justification by faith alone.  Instead, it is routinely joined with a call to turn from one’s sins, give one’s life to Christ, follow Him, and serve Him.  The message of an intolerable eternity fits well with works salvation, but not so well with justification by faith alone.

If our view of hell is too lenient, there are also practical concerns:

1) If we were to teach annihilationism or no conscious torment, unbelievers would be less concerned about their eternal destiny and the possibility that they may be wrong, than they would be if they had been presented with a biblical view of hell and the lake of fire.  Many people are not too bothered by an eternal loss of consciousness or ceasing to exist.

2) Unbelievers might doubt the truthfulness of the Bible.  If they know that the Bible speaks of eternal torment, and yet we say that there is not eternal torment, then how does he know if anything else in the Bible is true?

Conclusion

Heaven has three main meanings in Scripture:  the sky, outer space, and the place where God’s shekinah glory is and where believers who have died currently are.  The third heaven will not be the eternal dwelling place for believers.  We will spend eternity on the new earth with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Prior to Jesus’ ascension into heaven, hell (Sheol, or Hades) was the place of all who had died, both believers and unbelievers.  Since Jesus’ ascension, there are no believers in hell/Sheol/Hades.  It holds only unbelievers who have died.

The current experience of unbelievers in hell is bad, but bearable.  Unbelievers will spend eternity not in hell, but in the lake of fire.  The eternal experience of unbelievers in the lake of fire will be bad, but tolerable.

Primary Source: “Clearing up Confusion about Heaven and Hell” by Bob Wilkin, Grace in Focus, March / April 2017

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