Quiet…

I’m a big fan of Ecclesiastes.

I like the Psalms, and Proverbs is an awesome book, but I really, really dig Ecclesiastes, man. Every time I start thinking that life is getting ready to kick my butt, I can open up Ecclesiastes and see that no matter what’s going on, Solomon already got his butt kicked—and he was the (second) wisest man ever born!

So, some of y’all may have noticed that I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time getting into the minutiae of an apologetic debate. A couple of weeks, actually. And it has been brought to my attention—by both human and supernatural sources—that I’ve let this debate steer me away from the primary purpose of this blog: the exhortation and fellowship of my church family.

So, I’m done with the debate. I think we made our point—Scripture trumps intellect—but it would be foolish for me to believe that I’m going to be able to peel the scales from peoples’ eyes. So, for those of you that were bored to tears by the last two weeks’ posts, my apologies.

But back to Ecclesiastes. There is one passage in this book that has always held a certain fascination for me: Chapter 9, vv. 13-18:

Also this I came to see as wisdom under the sun, and it impressed me. There was a small city with a few men in it and a great king came to it, surrounded it, and constructed large siegeworks against it. But there was found in it a poor wise man and he delivered the city by his wisdom. Yet no one remembered that poor man.

So I said, “Wisdom is better than strength.” But the wisdom of that poor man is despised and his words are not heeded. The words of the wise heard in quietness are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.

Time for me to quit shouting, and listen to what the Word is trying to tell me this week. How about you? Have you taken some quiet time recently?

So He said, “Go forth, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing.

And it came about that when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Advertisements

Response to Glenn (annihilationist)

Ah, see, now I’m having fun. Nothing like spending 6 hours manually fact-checking an ancient language. Then again, some folks have accused me of having wayyyyy too much time on my hands.

Sorry I’m late again, though. All this research is time-consuming.

Before I get started: I’ve had some very kind and encouraging comments come in since I closed the “Annihilationism and Universalism” thread to further discussion. I’ve also had some pretty snarky ones. I greatly appreciate the former, and I thank those responsible for the latter (I needed a good giggle– it’s been a long week).

Now, on to the grist…

Glenn

Consider that the verb for “destroy” in Matthew 10:28 is apollumi. That’s what God will do to body and soul in gehenna. Now, consider the fact that every other time the synoptic authors use that word to describe the actions of one person or agent against another, it always refers to literal killing.

Take care of the fallacy of trying to crack open a word’s widest possible semantic range so that you can select a meaning that conforms to your theology. What you need to ask is not “What is this word capable of meaning,” but rather “given the evidence that we have from this author, what is this word’s likely meaning here?” Hope this helps.

This was addressed obliquely in my responses to Tom McLean, but since the question here takes a slightly different tack, I’d like to address it again. McLean’s first mistake was to ignore the word, “death,” as used in ancient Hebrew, until he able to find a use of the word that supported his view of what he argued was “meaning derived from ‘first use’.” He claimed that the “first use” was in Genesis 21:16, whereas the actual “first use” is in Genesis 2:17! As I said of Matthew 10:28 to Mr. McLean:

However, in the original text, Christ uses two different words for “death” within the same verse:  And do not fear those who kill (apokteino) the body, but are unable to kill (apokteino) the soul; but rather fear Him who has the power to destroy (apollumi) both body and soul in hell.” It doesn’t stand that Christ would use the separate words—each of which carries its own connotations—unless He meant to make the distinction.

So while your advice on, “trying to crack open a word’s widest possible meaning,” is spot-on, you fail to take your own advice by either ignoring the context, or by taking it for granted that what someone else told you is correct. In Matthew 10:28, the context mitigates against the annihilationist argument—not for it.

You’re also making a very large mistake by saying that the word, “apollumi,” is only used in reference to literal killing in the synoptics.

The word, “apollumi,” more properly rendered, “perish,” is the middle voice of the Greek “apolo,” which is variously rendered as “destroy (the most frequent usage), “abolish” (as in Matthew 5:17), and “to kill” (Matthew 21:41). The synoptic authors use it to describe amputation (Matthew 5:29, 30), dying (Matthew 8:25, Mark 4:38 Luke 8:24) [metaphorically] of hunger (Luke 15:17); broken wineskins (Matthew 9:17); being lost (Matthew 18:14); being damaged (Luke 21:18) and being killed (Matthew 26:52).

Greek words used in the New Testament to render “destroy” or synonyms of “destroy” include:

–       apolo: destroy, destroyed, destroyeth, destroyest (29 times)

–       apoleia: destruction (4 times)

–       thanatos: death (44 times)

–       nekros (noun) or necroo (verb form): dead (65 times)

–       variations of “die” (13 times):

o      thnesko (to die, be dead)

o      apothnesko (to die off, die out)

o      sunapothnesko (to die with, die together)

o      teleutao (to end [as in one’s life])

o      koimao (to fall asleep)

o      apoginomai (to be away from)

–       Variations on the word, “kill” (55 times):

o      apokteino (to kill)

o      anaireo (to kill, not used metaphorically)

o      thuo (offer firstfruits, sacrifice by slaying a victim)

o      phoreuo (to murder)

o      thanatoo (to put to death)

o      diacheirizo (to lay hands on with intent to kill)

o      sphazo (to slay, slaughter, esp. for sacrificial purposes)

–       variations on “perish” (18 times)

o      apollumi: perish (middle voice of “to destroy”)

o      sunapollumi: to perish together

o      apothnesko: perished

o      aphanizo: make unseen

–       chorizo: to put asunder

–       phoneus: murder (6 times)

–       anthropoktonos: murderer (5 times)

(counts apply only to the Synoptic Gospels, and Acts)

So you see, it isn’t as easy as picking up your handy NIV and counting how many times a word appears, and then applying the same meaning to the word every time it appears in English. Unless you go back and check it in the original Greek (as I did, for every one of these examples), you have no idea what you’re really arguing. So when you say, “What you need to ask is not ‘What is this word capable of meaning,’ but rather ‘given the evidence that we have from this author, what is this word’s likely meaning here?’” it might be a help if (paraphrasing a certain amazing and omniscient Teacher I know) you get the log out of your own eye, before you try to take the speck out of mine.

Be blessed, everyone! See you Monday (ish)!

 

EDIT: I knew there was something I was forgetting to add… in the process of checking all of these various words and phrases, I thought that– in the interest of fairness– I would see how many times the Bible uses the words, “annihilate,” and/or, “annihilation.”

In both the Old and New Testaments, the number was: 0.

 

That is all. See you Monday!

Response to Tom McLean (Annihilationist)

My earlier post about Annihilationism and Universalism apparently ruffled some feathers. The discussion thread was spammed by responses from an annihilationist group that was begging responses to their arguments; since it was the weekend and I’m the sole moderator on this site, (I have help with content, but at present I am the only author and admin) I was unable to answer all of the posts (at one point there were 12 comments from these guys awaiting moderation, most over 1000 words and all of them begging responses to multiple objections).

Because I wasn’t responding fast enough for them (and their real intent wasn’t actually discussion, but rather to direct people to their website, where they hoped to promote this heresy), one of the annihilationists who had been responded to decided it would be a good idea to do an end-run around me by copying his comrades’ responses into his own.

As a result, I was forced to lock the thread and delete the discussion. I don’t have a problem with discussion, but there is a certain amount of etiquette that one can expect in a real debate, even on the internet.

As a matter of courtesy, and because I believe that this is an important issue that should be addressed, I have taken the time to respond to the most pressing of the annihilationist arguments; the responses will be posted as individual posts to each of the people involved.

These threads will not be open for discussion, as a result of what happened with the Annihilationism and Universalism article. 

 

Tom McLean- “If you were to insert the word separation or transition into the vast majority of the places the word death is found in the bible, they simply would not make sense. The word “separation” is found in the bible 26 times and it has nothing to do with death. The word transitioned is not found in the bible.”

If you were to exchange the words in the English translation, this would most often be true. However, we aren’t talking about the English translation’s meaning; we are talking about what the text means in its original form. What might be nonsensical in English could very well have made perfect sense when used in the original language. One of the reasons that various translations disagree in the particular use of certain words and phrases is that the people doing the translation are trying to find what their idea of the best way to phrase the passage would be. For instance, the word “dog” may mean an animal, “to relentlessly pursue,” or “an unscrupulous or immoral man.” It all depends on the context; however, the same word, “dog,” is likely to have completely different connotations in Russian, aside from the original meaning of a four-legged animal of the canine species.

Attempting to force modern English context onto ancient Hebrew or Greek words in order to make them fit a desired meaning is just poor exegesis.

T.M.- “…in the New Testament the word death is found 124 times and again I found nowhere that it was called “separation”. The majority of the time the Greek word that is used is as follows:
άνατος
thanatos
than’-at-os
From G2348; (properly an adjective used as a noun) death (literally or figuratively): – X deadly, (be . . .) death.

“First mention is important in the Bible;
Gen 21:16; Here we see the first mention in the Bible of the word death and following is the meaning in Hebrew –
mâveth
maw’-veth
From H4191; death (natural or violent); concretely the dead, their place or state (Hades); figuratively pestilence, ruin: – (be) dead ([-ly]), death, die (-d)

“As one can see there is no mention of the word separation in the Bible’s first mention. 
Additionally, the majority of the time when death is used in the Old Testament it uses this word “maw’-veth”

Actually, the first use of the word “death” (mahwet) is in Genesis 2:17, in which God warns Adam not to eat from the Tree of Life; in this passage “death” is almost universally accepted to mean “spiritual death, separation from God,” as well as its standard meaning of man’s natural death on earth. In this case, “first use” actually illustrates that the word is used in both respects. Dependence on “first use” as an argument here fails to support the annihilationist argument.

T.M.- “Sometimes the word for death in Hebrew is
mûth
mooth
A primitive root; to die (literally or figuratively); causatively to kill: – X at all, X crying, (be) dead (body, man, one), (put to, worthy of) death, destroy (-er), (cause to, be like to, must) die, kill, necro [-mancer], X must needs, slay, X surely, X very suddenly, X in [no] wise. An example verse for this is Ex 21:12 Again we see no word “separation”.

This is a red herring. The use of the word in this context is clearly in reference to the physical, temporal death of humans in this life—the murder victim (murdered) and the murderer (executed by other men).

T.M.- “Maybe I was not clear when I listed Rom 2:7 etc, but five times God used the word “immortality” in scripture.”

Three of those five times in the New Testament (1 Timothy 1:17; 2 Timothy 1:10 and Romans 2:7), the word “aphthartos/aphthasia” is rendered in the KJV as “immortal;” in more modern translations it has been correctly rendered “incorruptible.”

T.M.- “I simply wanted to show that when God uses the word immortality in his holy word he never says the unsaved receive immortality… you will see I referenced all of chap 15, That is because the context of I Cor 15 clearly shows God is talking to Christians, and the context I Cor 15 in no way teaches that all men will receive immortality.”

This argument is specious; in the same way that annihilationists would claim that this chapter provides no evidence of immortality for all of the risen dead, there is absolutely nothing in the chapter that indicates that the risen wicked are annihilated—it’s an argument from silence. Taken as a whole, the text (in context with both Paul’s discussion, and the rest of Scripture) supports the orthodox view of the wicked being raised to immortal, ever-lasting shame and contempt.

T.M.- “Destroy – Strongs – apollumi
ap-ol’-loo-mee
From G575 and the base of G3639; to destroy fully (reflexively to perish, or lose), literally or figuratively: – destroy, die, lose, mar, perish. The complete Word Study Dictionary – Spiros Zodhiates Th.D.
Spoken of eternal death, i.e., future punishment, exclusion from the Messiah’s kingdom. In this sense it has the same meaning as apothnesko (599), to die (Matt 10:28)
Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible – Matt 10:28 Destroy = to lose off or away, destroy

“Here we have 3 different Greek renderings, and in addition to Vine’s we have 4 that do not completely agree on everything. The point is, as it is with various Bible translations and Bible scholars so it is with the Greek, there are various translations and various scholars and they don’t always agree.”

However, all 4 also have points of agreement, which annihilationists would appear to have ignored.

T.M.- “Vine has one view, but there are also Greek scholars who support the Conditionalist view.” 

As well as secular Greek scholars that define the word as: “leave behind, abandon; leave over; lose a possession; kill (a man); destroy; be killed (of an animal); perish; ruin, undo a person” (Enoch, “Lexicon to Herodotus;” emphasis mine). Here you can see that “separation” is in fact a very plausible meaning to extract from the word.

T.M- “The context of Matthew 10:28 indicates a soul can be killed by God and destroyed in hell.”

However, in the original text, Christ uses two different words for “death” within the same verse:  “And do not fear those who kill (apokteino) the body, but are unable to kill (apokteino) the soul; but rather fear Him who has the power to destroy (apollumi) both body and soul in hell.” It doesn’t stand that Christ would use the separate words—each of which carries its own connotations—unless He meant to make the distinction.

T.M.- “See also Ezek 18:4 & 20,”

As I pointed out in the “first use” argument: either meaning of the word “death” (physical or spiritual [in the sense of separation from God]) can be applied.

T.M.- “…James 5:20″

And again, the implied meaning is open to interpretation, although on balance the similarities in various translations (in regards to their points of agreement, and the overall context of Scripture) lean heavily in favor of the traditionalist view.

Of course, if one is unwilling to deal with the semantics of arguing over which translation should be more authoritative, we can always go back to the original church fathers; until Arnobius, 200 years after the Crucifixion, they were in complete agreement with an eternal hell.

T.M.- “Souls are not inherently immortal and not all souls live forever, some die the 2nd death. Rom 6:23”

Again, this doesn’t support the annihilationist claims based on both the translations and the “first use” argument, and the nearly universal recognition that the “second death” refers to eternal separation of the soul from God. “Separation” requires “being;” annihilation posits that souls are not separated, but cease to be. Something cannot be separated from nothing.

T.M- “…Rev 21:8”

This verse fails the annihilationist test because it specifically references the lake of fire, in which the condemned will be tormented “forever and ever.”

T.M.- “Yes it [the crucifixion of Christ] was horrid and terrible, beatings, whippings, humiliation, and excruciating crucifixion. The worst death one could die, however the actual duration of his suffering was but a very short time compared to say – eternity.”

This is a category mistake. It isn’t the duration of suffering; it’s the quality of the person doing the suffering. In the Old Testament, we see God refuse the sacrifices of the Israelites because they have stopped offering Him the best of what they have– lame lambs, sickly oxen, etc.  (Mal. 1:6-14). Jesus, being perfect in every respect, shed His blood for the redemption of all sinners. It is an individual decision to accept or reject this gift of forgiveness, but it is through this sacrifice that Death and Sin have both been defeated; and both will be cast into the lake of fire before the White Throne judgment. This being the case, the annihilationist argument that “death” refers to “annihilation” at the Second Ressurrection ignores the fact that there will be no more physical death— it will be consigned to the lake of fire, where it no longer has any power over men.

This argument also misses the point of the sacrifice by substituting the duration of the suffering for its magnitude. Jesus bore the penalty for every sin ever committed and ever to be committed until the end of the current earth in one single act, and was forsaken by the Father (“ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?”) in retributive justice, which Jesus bore in Himself all at once as a substitution on our behalf. It was through the quality of the sacrifice and the magnitude of the penalty borne that we are saved. Trying to tie salvation and punishment to the duration of the sacrificial act is degrading to the sacrifice made and denigrates Christ’s love and actions for us.

 Hey, there’s a Dude standing on that hill…

Today we’re going to get uncomfortably personal. Just so you know.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

I had nothing left; no will, no desire, no hope, very little love for others, and none for myself; Christ filled me.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

I hurt children, a lot of them—my own son included—by selfishly pursuing immoral relationships with no regard for the impact it would have on the kids. Eventually it caught up with me, and my sorrow for those children still haunts me… but Christ is a comfort and a companion.

Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.

I was violent and cruel. I looked for employment that would give me opportunities to hurt people; I scorned anyone that was not part of my immediate circle; I invented my own morality. I was a hard man—Christ softened me.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

I pray on my knees every night to be made clean again, to be given the strength to resist temptation, to have the wisdom and the grace to be an example to others. God forgave me.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

I have forgiven those that I felt had hurt me, whether justified or not. Sometimes I feel like the old hatreds are trying to creep back in, but Christ gives me the strength to respond to hatred—even hatred within myself—with love. I ask for His mercy every day. Every day, I receive it.

Every day, the Lord blesses me. Sometimes I don’t see it until much later; I am certain that there are things I have experienced that I won’t see the results of for a long time (God willing). But I try never to take Him for granted, anymore. He has done too much to take a broken, empty life and fill it to overflowing.

Today, I’ll ask each of you to sit down and reflect on what Christ has done for you. Just take a few minutes, and go through what blessings you had today, this week… maybe it’s been a hard week, but if Christ knows you, and you seek Him, something positive happened to you this week. Don’t let the negatives obscure the gifts of God…

When you’re done, take another minute or two, and reflect on what you have done for Him, this week. Was it enough? Is it ever?

If you haven’t formed a relationship with Jesus, yet, maybe now would be a good time to say “hi.” Strike up a conversation with Him; it doesn’t have to be formal, it doesn’t have to be scripted. Jesus loves you, and He wants you to be you, just… happier.

Heck, I call Him, “Dude.” (I always capitalize it, though.) Be respectful. Be sincere. Christ wants to know you, He wants to invite you into His home, He wants to make you a part of His family. He wants to see you happy. And He has the power to make it happen.

So maybe you should ask Him if you could hang out, for a while. Tell Him you know you have done things that weren’t “right.” Tell Him that you understand that what you’ve done has hurt Him, and that you don’t want to do that, anymore.

Tell Him you’re sorry.

Ask Him to forgive you.

And tell Him you believe.

If you do this, sincerely, with repentance in your heart, one day Jesus will stand beside you and say, “Pops, this one here is righteous. He’s one of mine.”

I like to think that God will look down and say to me, “Dude! Awesome! Welcome home.”

(But then again, I’ve never been one for formalities.)

Have a great weekend! See you Monday!

“Dude, get some rest…”

My bones suffer mortal agony

            As my foes taunt me,

saying to me all day long,

“Where is your God?”

Why are you downcast, O my soul?

            Why so disturbed within me?

Put your hope in God,

            for I will yet praise Him,

            my Savior and my God.

 

                        ~Psalm 42:10,11

 

All of this writing and research on the subject of hell has started taking a toll on me; I think we’ll be taking a break from it for a few weeks. I’ll come back to it once I’ve experienced a little bit of spiritual recovery.

The entire subject, once one finds himself immersed in it over a more or less longer period, is quite draining, spiritually and emotionally (not to mention intellectually, when you get down to it; some of the more metaphysical stuff can be tough to wrap your head around).

In any case, starting Thursday, we will be going on to some more cheerful topics. Something hopeful, or inspirational. I’ll use the next day or two to see what the Spirit tells me… I actually had something of a testimonial that I was thinking of passing along that might do for others what it has done for me.

In the meantime, I’m going to let my troubled spirit rest a bit, and give all of you awesome readers out there a chance to sink your teeth into something other than eternal torment, for a while. I’ve had some things that the Lord has been trying to tell me, and I haven’t been hearing Him all that well; Pastor Reggie finally hammered the message home for me when he told us that God said to Elijah, “Dude, get some sleep. Seriously. You’re taking things way too seriously.”

Speaking of which, it’s really, really late as I write this, so I think I’m gonna take that advice, myself. See you folks on Thursday. Be blessed, and be a blessing to others—but get some rest, too.

 

Annihilationism and Universalism

Today we’re going to run through annihilationism and universalism. I had previously intended to do a full evaluation of each of these doctrines, but they are both heretical doctrines that have no founding in Scripture. I think we are all better served as long as I can inform as to what to be on the lookout for.

Annihilationism: Annihilationism (sometimes also called conditional immortality) is the idea that when a non-believer dies, their soul, rather than suffering an eternity of torment in Hell, is simply snuffed out of existence. Most annihilationists believe that there is an actual Hell, but they deny that its punishments are eternal; rather, they say that Hell is a giant incinerator, where the souls of the wicked are consumed and utterly destroyed. Others hold that there is no intermediate state (that of a disembodied soul) after death; the souls of the wicked simply cease to exist when the body dies (similar to the view of death held by atheists).

The annihilationist view has been embraced by such evangelical leaders as John Wenham, John Stott, Basil F.C. Atkinson, and Edward Fudge. (It is also noteworthy that annihilationism is a doctrinal teaching of the Jehovah’s Witness, the Socinian heretics, and materialists.)

Annihilationists use various biblical verses to justify their claims. Rather than list them here, I will simply comment that in reading through the annihilationist’s claims it becomes increasingly clear that their arguments boil down to theological hair-splitting. Even those passages that can be seen as somewhat ambiguous—and therefore supportive of annihilationist views (and they are precious few)– cannot be held up in light of the rest of Scripture as supportive of the doctrine of conditional immortality.

The biggest problem with the annihilationist view, however, is that it attempts to elevate itself to a moral high ground above that upon which sits the Word of God. Take the following quote, from annihilationist supporter Clark Pinnock:

Everlasting torment is intolerable from a moral point of view because it makes God into a bloodthirsty monster who maintains an everlasting Auschwitz for victims whom he does not even allow to die. How is one to worship such a cruel and merciless God?

In response to this comment, Millard J. Erickson said, “… he had better be very certain he is correct. For if he is wrong, he is guilty of blasphemy.”

Universalism: Universalism is the belief that all people—saved and un-saved alike—will be redeemed at some point. The un-saved will spend their intermediate state in Hell, where God will essentially “turn the screws” on them until they finally get the message, repent, and accept Christ. There are other flavors of this doctrine—including one espoused by John Hick—maintaining that “all roads lead to God” (a theology known as religious pluralism).

The foundational belief of universalism is that God’s plan of salvation cannot be completed until all men are saved; as a result, temporal death does not represent the end of a person’s chances to repent. In other words, Hell (if it exists at all) is really nothing more than a dungeon of God’s Divine Inquisition, into which the unrepentant are thrown and tortured (!) until they recant. Again, this belief stems from non-biblical sources and pre-conceived notions of the nature of God, which are then read into the texts, rather than read out of them. Pluralism even goes so far as to incorporate teachings from the Tibetan Book of the Dead. These ideas, again, presuppose that the human idea of mercy, love, and God’s Divine Nature are more moral than the clear teachings of Scripture.

The dangers of these teachings (annihilationism and universalism) are many, but it could be argued that the greatest of these dangers (to the human spirit) is that by teaching these false doctrines, many theologians are giving people a “get out of jail free” card to commit sin. In the case of annihilationism, the concept is, ”Well, if I sin too much, and I don’t accept Jesus before I die, then I’ll just take a forever dirt nap.” For universalism, the argument is, “If I sin too much, and I don’t accept Jesus before I die, the Big Guy will give me another chance. I’ll just recant before they get the oven doors opened!”

If we were to ignore all other teachings of the Scripture, Hebrews 9:27 defeats both views: “And inasmuch as it was appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment,” (NASB, emphasis mine).

Those interested in further reading on this subject can find excellent information in the following:

–       Norman Giesler, Systematic Theology, Chapter 81: Annihilationism

–       Cristopher W. Morgan and Robert A. Peterson (editors), Hell Under Fire (this is a collection of essays written by leading fundamentalists theologians, defending the orthodox Christian view of Hell)

–       Robert A. Peterson, Hell On Trial

 

And that’s it for today’s post! See you Monday, folks! Have a blessed weekend!

Changing subject for a minute…

Hello again, Brothers and Sisters!

I decided that today, we’re going to take a quick break from the discussion of Hell. For one thing: annihilationism turned out to be a bigger subject than I expected, so I need a couple of extra days to make a good case against it. Second, all this reading about just one subject is leaving me a little burnt out, and y’all deserve better.

(Pause for dramatic effect)

(cue crickets chirping)

Okay fine, it was a horrible pun, but I know what some of y’all are thinking, and that’s not nice.

So anyway…. Today we’re going to start with a quick bit of encouragement to start the week off right. Let’s take a look at something Solomon has to say, in Ecclesiastes, chapter 5:

Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat, to drink, and to enjoy oneself in all one’s laboring which he toils under the sun during the few years of his life which God has given him; for this is his reward. Furthermore, as for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, He has also empowered him to eat from them and to receive his reward and rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God. For he will not often consider the years of his life, because God keeps him occupied with the gladness of his heart. (5:18-20)

 

In chapter 6, v. 12, Solomon says,

For who knows what is good for a man during his lifetime, during the few years of his futile life? He will spend them like a shadow. For who can tell a man what will be after him under the sun?

 

Now, I’m just going to give you my impression of what these verses mean; maybe you’ll take something else from them, but to me this says, “Live for today. Don’t worry about your ‘legacy;’ don’t worry about tomorrow; give God everything you have right now.

God will take care of the rest.

In Psalm 49 (one of my favorites), the psalmist says:

Why should I fear in days of adversity,

When the iniquity of my foes

            surrounds me,

Even those who trust in their wealth,

And boast in the abundance of their

            riches?

No man can by any means redeem his

            brother,

Or give to God a ransom for him—

For the redemption of his soul is costly,

And he should cease trying forever—

That he should live on eternally;

That he should not undergo decay.

 

For he sees that even wise men die;

The stupid and the senseless alike

            perish,

and leave their wealth to others.

Their inner thought is, that their

            houses are forever,

And their dwelling places to all generations;

They have called their lands after their

            own names.

But man in his pomp will not endure;

He is like the beasts that perish.

 

This is the way of those who are foolish,

And of those after them who approve their words.

 

(vv. 5-13, emphasis mine)

Once we’re gone, we’re gone, folks! We shouldn’t worry about what we’re going to leave behind; going back to Solomon, it’s all “vanity and striving after wind.” Best to live for God, now. As Pastor Reggie said on Sunday, we should live with a sense of expectancy that Christ is coming back today; so why would we hold back our best?

I’ll close with what Jesus had to say about the matter:

… seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matt. 6:33,34)

Have a great week brothers, and sisters! God bless us, every one.

See you Thursday!