Recently I had a conversation with a man of God who we invited to speak at our church. He is a passionate sold-out Christian who is a full time evangelist. When he preaches it makes you want to leave in the middle of the sermon to hand out tracts, talk with strangers, or anything just to get the gospel out.
I decided that I wanted to make a video featuring evangelism, and it would use his sermons like my previous videos. I sent him an email asking his permission to post it online. I was genuinely shocked when he refused. Because the purpose of the video was to motivate Christians to share the gospel I couldn’t think of a reason he wouldn’t allow it to be put online.
His reason: “I noticed on your site that you have a bunch of Calvinist videos. I do not agree with the teachings of calvin. they are unbiblical.”
I agree with him. I believe Calvinism is unbiblical. But seriously? I don’t have Calvinist videos on my site. I have videos that have Calvinists in them, but the videos have nothing to do with their doctrine.
The early Church had a ton of differences to deal with. Read this article on why Paul and Barnabas separated. And furthermore they were molding together people from all over the world, both Jews and Gentiles. There’s a lot that wasn’t covered in scripture to face what they were about to go through.
Here is another issue they addressed:
“Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind.”
Paul did not say that one was right and the other was wrong. He didn’t say that one man had received Christ while the other was an immoral pagan who deceived other into thinking he was a Christian.
This does not concern immoral practices, which no Christian should commit, but is dealing with doctrine.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ will bring living water to a soul. Doctrine will determine how salty that water is.
Example. I believe that Paul Washer is a man of God. But he’s Calvinist. I don’t question his living water, I question his salt. I accept his teachings, and I admire his passion. But I don’t agree with this particular belief of his.
The man I mention earlier was in the wrong. Not because he believed Calvinism was wrong (Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind), but because he was unwilling to “accept the one who is weak in faith”.
Don’t let your doctrine become your Gospel.
-Cullen J Webb
I haven’t forgotten about the “Questions about Hell” articles I promised. I’m still planning on it, but want to know what the next question to be answered should be. Leave your suggestion in the comments or email me.
I want to start writing sermons on a regular basis to get myself into the practice. And so here is the first in what I hope to be a regular flow of sermons-turned-article. As practice I’m going to start with the one I spoke to our youth group at camp.
Communicating with God
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any [man] pluck them out of my hand.”
He is why we are here. He created us, and He gives us purpose. Therefore communicating with Him is incredibly important. Something that should be noted about the verse above, is that we are compared to sheep. I owned sheep once. Sheep are stupid. Vulnerable. Completely dependent on the Shepherd. We ought to go to him for everything.
Today we are unable to communicate with God as we were meant to. We cannot hear him with our physical ears anymore (With the very rare exception). I find it important to give an overview of why and how we got where we are today.
6,000 years ago
God created the Earth. It was perfect. God then created man. We were perfect. God gave man a spirit, also perfect.
So, here in the beginning of time we have things as they ought to be. A perfect spirit, in a perfect body, in a perfect world. Zero separation from God. He was able to literally speak with Adam and Eve. They had no sin, and could therefore endure his presence.
We had no sickness, no death, and perfect communication with God.
But it didn’t stay that way. (more…)
There has been a lot of discussion concerning Hell at our church in recent months. That, paired with the writings of C.S. Lewis, has stirred me to write about Hell.
Please note that little of what I have to say in this post has anything to do with essential doctrine. That is, you don’t need to know these things or even think about these things to obtain salvation. These are simply thoughts about what the Bible calls Hell, and looking into the deeper questions concerning it. I will be writing about these questions one at a time.
#1 – Where is Hell?
There is some division over this within the church. Some claim that it is located in the center of the Earth, others claim it dwells in the dimension of Eternity.
I believe both.
Here is an image to depict the location of Hell here in time:
As you can see, the circle in B.C. is divided. Let me explain why with the following verse:
“And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. ”
My Father pointed out that this was no parable. This was an actual event that Jesus is giving account of. If it were a parable, the scriptures would have told us so as with all the other parables.
From Luke we learn that Abraham’s Bosom and Hades are located next to each other. More on this a little later. Read the following verse concerning their location:
“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.”
So we have learned the location! But, why was both Abraham’s Bosom and Hades in the center of the Earth? Because they were temporary locations. When God created us 6’000 years ago, He gave us perfect spirits and perfect bodies. We corrupt our spirit with sin. In order to redeem us, God had us prepare sacrifices as a substitute for a perfect sacrifice: Jesus Christ. And so, those who honored God’s law and kept his commands and sacrifices went to Abraham’s Bosom to await true Salvation from the Lamb.
Similar is so for those who go to Hades. The word used for “Hades” is the same word used for the garbage dump outside of Jerusalem. This is where the corrupt souls go to await judgement day. Once Christ died salvation was obtained immediately by those who were in Abraham’s Bosom, so it was removed from the center of the Earth. However, the souls within Hades have not been judged yet. We are still awaiting Judgement Day, and until then they shall remain within Time in the center of the Earth.
Another verse that convinced me of this is the following:
“And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
This was said to the Thief on the cross. The Thief would go on to spend 3 days in Abraham’s Bosom and then be taken up into Heaven once Salvation was complete by the resurrection.
It should be noted that Jesus Warned that evil would increase after his death. A little bit of me thinks this is because Hades isn’t confined by Abraham’s Bosom any longer. But this is pure speculation, and is not at all backed by scripture.
#2 – Where is Hell going to be?
This new Hell is what the scripture calls “The Lake of Fire.” It is composed of supernatural elements ( i.g. liquid fire that produces no light) and it lasts forever, so it must therefore reside in eternity.
Here is another image to pull it all together:
“And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.”
This describes the end of Judgement Day, in which Hades (the Earthly Hell) is cast into the Lake of Fire (the Eternal Hell).
Revelations 20 also tells us that during the Thousand Year Reign of Christ, Satan will be cast into a bottomless pit before eventually being cast into the Lake of Fire. I am unsure of whether that is located within Time or Eternity, but such an infinite prison is probably in Eternity.
All questions and comments are welcome. However it should be noted that such an optional teaching shouldn’t provoke anger.
Thank you for reading,
-Cullen J Webb
Did you brush your teeth this morning? Probably without thinking. When you woke up did you have to ask your stomach if it was time for food? I doubt it.
We are creatures of habit. Things become natural for us after a short while, and we often do them without thinking. This can be a good thing: routinely cleaning your body is essential. But it can also be a bad thing. We must never stop asking ourselves this simple question when in regards to our obedience to Christ: why?
When you read your bible in the morning, stop and ask yourself “Why?” When you attend church on Sunday, when you sing hymns and worship songs, when you kneel at the alter, and when you pray ask yourself “why?”
Don’t let your worship become a monotonous activity. Worship Him because He is worthy, and has plucked you out of the fire.
Don’t read the Word because you are required, or to fill a daily quota. Read the Word because you are hungry for Bread.
Don’t attend a church because “it’s the right thing to do”. Go because you are strengthened through fellowship with your brothers and sisters in Christ.
Never stop examining yourself. Begin with the question “why?”
1 Corinthians 11:28
“But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.”
I’ve been in many different types of churches, and many different denominations. Most of them have rules for worship: what instruments they can use, what hymnals they sing from, whether or not you’re allowed to clap, how you may dress to attend worship, and the list goes on.
Are we God that we may decide how worship is to be conducted? Having a musical preference is only natural; I would even say it’s required to have any personality at all. However, when somebody creates a rule book because anything other than their preference is apparently “evil”.
I’m not an emergent, a seeker friendly, or lightweight Christian. I believe that God has required much of us, and will hold us accountable for everything we do or say. But you’ve gone too far to preserve a useless tradition within your church if you consider drums evil.
Don’t just take my word for it. Read what King David had to say:
“Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.”
That isn’t worship because it’s a song written a long time ago, because it’s found in hymnals, or because of the instruments used. It’s worship because the lyrics are lifting God up and putting ourselves in our rightful place at His feet. It’s worship because it coincides with the Psalm we just read.
Now, let me introduce you to some more worship. Watch this video:
Why is that any different? Our Pastors say the same thing but slower. In fact, he made good use of the cymbals, and remember that’s the only instrument mentioned twice.
There are more arguments against contemporary music, but I don’t care about them. I’ve read through them and they don’t have a sentence of un-contorted scripture to back them up. Some believe it’s wrong simply because of the beat. How silly.
Worship Him constantly. And when necessary, sing too.
Have you considered that the thing which we pray to be delivered from is, in some cases, sent by God?
“When Jesus heard [that], he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.”
There are several reasons that sickness, grief, pain, and tragedy in general befall our lives. First and foremost: we are cursed. There’s no away around the fact that we are a dying people because we broke a simple and straightforward command. We get sick. Be break. We die. Nothing can change that.
But today I am writing about one reason in particular that we experience tragedy: growth.
My Grandmother has spent several days in the hospital recently due to a broken hip. While she was there she told me an analogy (on accident) about apple trees.
Apparently if you had an apple tree that had stopped producing fruit, you took an axe to it. Not to chop it down, just to take a hunk out of the side. This forced the tree into a state of emergency to repair itself, while at the same time producing fruit again.
Tragedy can pull us out of contentment and place us into a state of emergency and reliance upon God. Then we produce fruit.
Examine yourself before the next time you pray for deliverance. God may be trying to tell you something.
It’s odd that, despite all the technical things of Christianity that I am comfortable writing about, I find it difficult to write about grace. It’s the most fundamental and foundational aspect of my belief system, yet I don’t know very much about it at all. Perhaps it is because grace is so unnatural; so contradictory with human nature.
I have been convicted lately due to the amount of emphasis I have placed upon my own works. Somehow I transitioned to a place where I was a Christian based upon what I did and didn’t do, and how often I failed or succeeded. I know, based upon scripture, that this is not true Christianity.
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;”
It’s hard for me to grasp the fact that God doesn’t need me to do good things to grant forgiveness. This is totally incompatible with our social structure. Imagine what would happen if nobody had to show up for work to receive their pay checks?
Grace works though. It doesn’t result in thousands of sinning and apathetic “saints”. Why? Because anyone who is truly saved and redeemed will become a new creation, and live to please God. It’s like getting a check in the mail, then going to work to see what the Boss wants you to do that day; because He deserves it, without demanding it.
I see many people abusing this precious gift, though. Claiming redemption when their lover is the World, and feeling justified because they prayed a little prayer and cried a little tear. That’s getting a check in the mail and, without showing up to work, seeking employment elsewhere to get a bonus.
This is where works comes in.
“Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”
Repentance leads to salvation. Salvation leads to a new creation. The new creation, by it’s new found nature, will do good works. Not because we have to, or to fill a quota, but because the desire of our heart has been changed.
This isn’t to say that you will be without sin. No, the war is far from over. The Devil is still upset about losing you.
Christ has purchased me. He knew I was a sinner. He knew I deserved the deepest, darkest, flames of Hell. Yet He came, and payed a price I could never dream of paying myself.
Humbled by Jesus,
This wasn’t meant to be a serious post. I just saw a very funny video by Julian Smith that I wanted to post with a few scripture verses.
“For thou hast trusted in thy wickedness: thou hast said, None seeth me. Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, it hath perverted thee; and thou hast said in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me.”
“But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.”
I have been struck by the incredible amount of knowledge available today. You would think we’d be a very smart people because of it. But for some reason we haven’t tapped even a fraction of the information available to us. I believe that if you gave a determined person access to Google or Wikipedia they could obtain the equivalent to a college degree in a very short time.
80% of the world’s total knowledge has been brought forth in the last decade and 90% of all the scientists who have ever lived are alive today.
It’s all at our fingertips now.
During on of our youth groups bible studies, a question regarding the Trinity came up. This led to a short discussion about how God can inhabit three Persons and still be one. I realize I have never written about this before, so I thought now is as good a time as ever. I have a simple understanding of the trinity which has been enough for me over the years.
This is not an explanation to non-Christians about the Trinity. There is no comprehensible way to explain it without delving into spiritual matters that they do not believe in. So, in order for a non-Christian to understand he must also choose to believe.
Exhibit A: The Common Mousetrap
It has many pieces, which all serve totally different purposes, but for a common goal: to catch a mouse. You cannot have the base without the latch, or the latch without the spring and bar.
Exhibit B: The Egg
I was talking with Mike W at church this morning and he brought up this example that fits perfectly. What is an egg without a shell? Or a shell without egg white? What is egg white without the yolk?
Jesus Christ, Jehovah, and the Holy Spirit are all one. Just as the mousetrap is a mousetrap, and an egg is an egg. They exist in perfect unity, with different purposes, but towards a common goal.
Let me explain them a little bit further individually.
#1 – Jehovah
Jehovah is the foundational member of the trinity. He is the omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient one. Where the Holy Spirit cannot go or what Jesus cannot do, the Father can.
He is called the Father for a reason. He has authority over the other two, thus producing unity. Where there is no authority, there is no unity. This is one of the reasons I had a problem with “The Shack.” It blatantly stated that there is no authority of one over the other in the trinity, when all this would produce is chaos. To say such a thing is in complete disregard to the scriptures and God’s creation. Observe marriage, nature, and civilization and you will recognize the creation called “authority.”
#2 – Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ is no less important than Jehovah. However, He is fully man and is dependent upon the Father. He did not heal the sick, or multiply the loaves, or raise Himself from the dead. His Father did that. But there is something He did that the Father could not do. He fulfilled the law.
Jehovah requires sacrifice for the atonement (pardon) of sins. And although He accepted for thousands of years the sacrifice of lambs and other burnt offerings, these were imperfect sacrifices. They could not enable human beings to have complete and unhindered communion with The Father, as we were created for.
So, The Father sent Jesus, The Christ, to take our place on the cross so that His spirit could dwell with us.
#3 – The Holy Spirit
Also known as The Holy Ghost. Like Jesus, the Holy Spirit is no less important. God’s primary method of communication and leadership in our lives is through His Spirit. However our sin blemished and separated us from Him. This is why The Holy Spirit is not heard of much in the Old Testament, before Jesus.
Notice how in the Old Testament it was not only acceptable to cast lots, but it was also encouraged by God. He often altered History by changing the outcome of the cast.
Why? Because He could not communicate with us directly. He had to use barbaric forms of communication until He could break the barrier between Him and us.
Also, take note that there is only one time that the church uses lots in the new testament, after Jesus.
“And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.”
Many believe it was a mistake for them to cast lots instead of consulting the Holy Spirit, as we never hear of Matthias again. Perhaps they would have chosen Paul?
I hope you have learned a little something from my writing. I can only hope I helped clear things up a little bit in a subject that is notoriously confusing.
Thank you for reading.
My father and Woody C have both been encouraging me to read the Bible front to back in recent months. So, a couple weeks ago during my early readings in Genesis I was reminded of a supposed contradiction in the Creation account. Here it is:
24 - And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.
25 - And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that [it was] good.
26 - And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth
This is the Sixth day. Man is created after the Earth, trees, birds, and animals. But many claim the Genesis contradicts itself when it lists things in a totally different order.
1 – Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
5 - And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and [there was] not a man to till the ground.
7 - And the LORD God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
8 - And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
9 - And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Here we have Man created followed by the beast and the trees. But if you look at verses 1 and 5 you’ll notice that everything is done. Chapter 2 is an overview of what happened on day 6!
God created the entire Earth, including trees, fish, and birds, and then He devoted an entire chapter to what He did on day six. He created Man, then a garden, and then the animals and trees to fill the garden.