Posts Tagged ‘ Teaching ’

Don’t Fear the Reaper

I am doing a short series! We are going through some of the sayings of Jesus that can be … confusing … difficult … misapplied … whatever!

What does this mean? I will look at passages that I have personally heard misapplied, misunderstood, or simply confusion expressed over what Jesus meant.

Also, one of these should be appearing on The Domain for Truth later this month to help out SlimJim with some coverage of his blog while he travels. (No worries. I will share it here on this blog when it happens!)

Two weeks we looked at blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.

Last week we looked at Jesus saying Christians should be perfect.

Now, what is our next passage? (Maybe you already have an idea based on the title.)

Fear the One Who Gives a Damn

“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.
“So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Matthew 10:24-28, ESV

Firstly, thank you in advance for your forgiveness for my play on words, but it is appropriate. Because we are discussing the one who literally damns people to Hell.

Secondly, if you search the simple man of God posts, you will find strong evidence that I am a big fan of – not so much Blue Oyster Cult who sings “Don’t Fear the Reaper”, though I do appreciate their talent – Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. That is the source of my quote for the title of this post.

Why do I like those movies?

I am a huge sci-fi nerd, and I also like making connections with the gospel. And, if you click on the titles of the movies up above you will see how I did that with these movies.

The connection today, though, is that our society has a tendency to misconstrue our fear of death.

Whether it is the personification of Death as the Grim Reaper or some other source, we are often told to have a fear of what is to come after this life if we are apart from Christ.

And the biggest source of fear that even many churches have preached?

Satan.

The Devil.

Lucifer.

Beelzebub.

Choose your name/title.

Perhaps you have heard people speaking of watching out that the Devil could drag you to Hell, or maybe that (like in Bogus Journey) the Grim Reaper will lead you either to Heaven or Hell.

Well, guess what. Neither of those are true in the least.

Firstly, we have two concepts of Hell that we need to deal with:

  1. The idea we have of a malevolent being taking us to a fiery (or frigid) place to be tormented comes largely from Norse mythology. We got a slight glimpse of this from Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok a couple of years ago, when Thor’s half-sister Hela appeared. This was a twisting of the original mythology, because Hel was really the one who was half dead/half alive (look it up, if you can stomach it) who was a trickster and liked to torment people in a place of rivers and fire.
  2. Christianity does have something that we expect to see that is similar yet also quite different:

    2 Peter 2:4For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;
    Jude 1:6And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day.

    When Peter said “hell” it was the Greek word “Hades”. The Hebrew equivalent is “Sheol”. So the current place we think of as Hell is a prison for fallen angels. (Think back to Genesis 6, those few verses before Noah is mentioned.)

    And secondly: Revelation 20:7-15 discusses that Satan, the Antichrist, the False Prophet, Death, and Hades are all thrown into the Lake of Fire, the place of eternal torment. Oh, and it finishes with all those who are not found in the Lamb’s Book of Life being thrown in, as well.

What does this mean?

Notice, the Devil is not dragging people into Hell. He, and many others, are thrown in. Either they are in chains now, or they are in the burning lake of fire in eternity.

Who does the throwing?

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 10:29-33

The Lord Himself casts those who rebel against Him into eternal torment.

Therefore, when Proverbs says repeatedly something along the lines of “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge,” it is very literal.

We should begin with a fear (yes, a dread) of God, because we are sinners in need of forgiveness.

Then, our fear can turn to that respect and awe when we realize the Christ was sacrificed so that we could have that needed forgiveness. All we must do is repent (change our entire way of thinking) and believe. (And the Holy Spirit helps with these, too!)

Don’t fear the reaper. Or the Devil. Or anyone else.

Only fear God.

And I pray that fear leads to the knowledge of the Son of God and His work on the cross for your salvation.

VerseD: Matthew 18:6

but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
Matthew 18:6, ESV

We must be careful how we live and teach, for we are just as culpable in others’ salvation as our own. If we push people away from God through our actions and teachings (that do not conform with Scripture), we are guilty.

(He still shows grace, if we turn and repent!)

Be careful how you live.

VerseD: Proverbs 22:6

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6, ESV

In general, how you raise your children is how they will live their lives and raise their children.

What do you teach the next generation is important? Is God even a part of it?

VerseD: 2 Timothy 3:16-17

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16‭-‬17, ESV

God moved through men to write the Bible. Every word of it can be used for teaching, preaching, correcting sinful behavior, and growing closer to God.

This is why we want to read it regularly. (Daily, if possible!)

The Church: What is it?

“I do not need a church. I can worship on my own.”

So, say … many people. But what is the Church? 

There does seem to be some confusion about what church is. Whether we feel like we do not need to attend a church (because we are each the temple of the Holy Spirit of God – which is true) or that the church should be meeting our needs (which, to a point is true) or that we have been wronged by the Church (read the two letters to the Corinthians as well as Galatians. Paul understands!), there are many grievances people have about the Church. 

However, these come from misunderstandings about the Church.  

Likewise, some people assume the Church should be making all the calls about society. While this is technically true, we have plenty of historical evidence to show how this should not be done. (Look at much of the Middle Ages through the Renaissance to see how the Roman Catholic Church and other church-led states messed that up.) Yet, people still think the Church should simply lead government. The US was built on seeing how governments led by religion can mess up societies and religions. Hence the separation of Church and State (to be discussed in greater detail another time!) 

This is a good time to address the other issue: that religion/the Church only made things worse. Again, these are largely based on misunderstandings. 

So, what does the Bible say the Church is? (This will not be an exhaustive survey!)

Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Matthew 16:16-18, ESV

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:18-20, ESV

For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.

Ephesians 3:1-12, ESV

These explain pointedly that the Church is to spread the truth of Christ.

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
Matthew 18:15-20, ESV (as well as much of 1 Corinthians, especially chs. 5-6 (5:12-6:11))

The Church is meant to rout sin and hold each other accountable; that we judge each other within the Church based on God’s Word, and lovingly call each other to account and uphold justice. Why?

1 Corinthians 3 tells us we are individually and collectively the temple of God, where the Holy Spirit dwells. Not a building, per se. And as Hebrews 10:19-25 reminds us, we meet together to ensure we remain strong in the faith, we have the true gospel, and can encourage each other through troubles and into good works. Such that …

But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.

My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

James 5:12-20, ESV

The Church is for confession, prayer, and anointing – the calling of sinners to repentance, praying for healing and repentance, and anointing for healing and ministry. 

Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Galatians 2:10, 6:9-10

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

James 1:27

The Church is to take care of the poor, widows, and orphans. First within the Church, so world may see how we care for family, then in the world, so they may see we love all people.

In summary: 

The Church is the temple of God – the people – who spread the Gospel, encourage each other through teachings, rebukes, confessions, prayer, and good works, and do good things for each other and the world. 

Nowhere in there does it say the Church is for making us feel good or giving us all that we desire in this life. (In fact, 2 Timothy says that these teachings are a sign of the End!) Instead, Philippians 2 reminds us to look to meeting others’ needs before our own, to share the same love Christ shared through the Cross. 

What are your thoughts? Do you think I should have mentioned something else? Comment below (or at the video) or e-mail us at Together@asimplemanofgod.com.

VerseD: Psalm 32:8

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Psalm 32:8, ESV

God desires to teach us in how to live, and He has given us to primary sources:

  1. His Word (the Bible, but also Jesus),
  2. His Church.

Listen to both to live rightly.

VerseD: 2 Timothy 3:16-17

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16‭-‬17 ESV

The Father inspired every word in the Bible. It is not just to give us comfort. God desires to reveal and remove our sin to then make us more like His Son through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Honestly, this often is not comfortable.

But it is worth it.