Author: Douglas S. Winnail
Source: TomorrowsWorld.org – 2003 January-February
Television, movies and the Internet are having an effect on mankind that would have been unimaginable even a century ago. The media—print and electronic—shape our lives and our minds in ways that most fail to realize, and with sobering effects!
Television, radio, movies, the Internet and print extend their influence upon our culture, our behavior and our brains! What is behind the powerful force of modern media?
We are witnessing a major cultural revolution that is having an incredible impact on our society. Yet, despite numerous warnings, few seem to understand what is really going on or where this surging wave of social change is taking us!
In the last 50 years the electronic media—radio, television, movies, video games and now the Internet—have enveloped the globe and transformed nearly every aspect of our lives. More than a decade ago, educator Neil Postman described the ascendancy of the Age of Television and the decline of the Age of Print as “the most significant American cultural fact of the second half of the twentieth century” (Amusing Ourselves to Death, p. 8). Modern media executives acknowledge that “television is undeniably the most powerful influence in our society today… we can communicate anything we choose almost anywhere in the world… instantaneously, in a puff of electrons” (Down the Tube, Baker & Dessart, pp. x, xiv). Educator Vincent Ruggiero has described the modern electronic media as “the most powerful force that has ever influenced the human mind and heart” (Nonsense Is Destroying America, p. 95).
However, this incredible power has a darker side. Because of its tremendous potential to influence culture, television is the most “effective propaganda vehicle” available today (Redeeming Television, Schultze, p. 49). Communication professionals lament that the average person is “remarkably naïve” about how mass media operates, the personal agendas of scriptwriters and producers, the ultimate consequences to society of what is portrayed on the screen and how watching hours of television affects the developing human brain. Yet that information is available.
Many assume today that when and what we watch is merely a matter of personal taste. Some claim that only “extreme right wing religious fanatics” become upset over the content of films and television and that “mature” individuals prefer the “adult content” of modern media entertainment. However, these assumptions are self-serving myths unsupported by the actual evidence! In fact, knowledgeable members of the media and communications fields are increasingly vocal about the extremely detrimental effects of this modern electronic revolution. You need to understand how the media molds the world and the potential consequences of indiscriminate viewing on yourself, your children, your community and your country—because there is more at stake than many critics realize!
Profits, Pleasure and Propaganda
Just how did the electronic media take over the world? What drives the spread and acceptance of this powerful medium? The bottom line is: money! Some of the first radio stations in America were founded by department stores that made money selling radios. The major television networks in America are owned by large corporations that are in business to make money. The goal of film studios is to generate profits through box office receipts. Television studios make money by attracting sizable audiences and “selling eyeballs” to advertisers. This is one of the reasons sex and violence play such prominent roles in films and television. Sex and violence sell—they attract audiences—and that translates into cash!
Another reason for the popularity of films and television is that viewers seek things that provide immediate gratification—pleasurable entertainment! Television and movies are easy to watch—and most people find initial viewing relaxing. The cares, worries and routines of life can be forgotten—momentarily. When the human mind is constantly bombarded with images it is unable to think and reflect. The immediate availability of novelty, excitement and titillating thrills provide a pleasurable escape for people who find their existence boring, empty, lonely or frustrating.
A third factor influences the content of modern films and television—the personal agendas of writers and producers who desire to reshape society along the lines of their preferences. The movers and shakers in the media industry “are generally liberal… inclined toward secularism… left of center… [with a] radical bent for shaking up the status quo” (Schultze, pp. 151, 156). Surveys indicate that 90 percent of Hollywood executives favor abortion, more than half feel that adultery is not wrong and almost 75 percent see nothing wrong with homosexuality (ibid.). Nearly 45 percent of this group claim no religious affiliation, and 93 percent seldom or never attend church. Entertainment created by such individuals is often in direct conflict with Judeo-Christian values that have anchored western societies for centuries. Film critic Michael Medved explains that this small group of liberal-minded social revolutionaries has turned the Hollywood dream factory into a “poison factory” that attacks religion, assaults the legitimacy of the family, promotes sexual perversions and glorifies ugliness (Hollywood vs. America, p. 3). When we view entertainment, we enter a world created by people whose values are often totally at odds with our own—we should be alert!
Social Pathologies Are Increasing
The last several decades reveal the tragic consequences of this attempt to use mass media to remake society. While Hollywood denies that violence on the screen makes society more violent—the facts indicate just the opposite! Researcher James Hamilton notes that “large literatures exist on the impact of television violence on society… the laboratory evidence firmly establishes that violence on television causes children to be more aggressive… children learn scripts of behavior from television that lead them to be violent in later life” (Channeling Violence, pp. 6, 30). More than 1,000 studies have established links between television violence and behavior that emerges later in life (U.S. News & World Report, Sept. 11, 1995, p. 66). When entertainment industry leaders deny that violent entertainment spawns violent behavior, it is like tobacco company executives denying that smoking causes cancer—they are simply ignoring the facts!
Today we are witnessing the horribly tragic results of such misguided thinking. Increasingly, younger children are killing their peers and others who get in their way—then laughing and bragging about their exploits. Press reports repeatedly document the direct link between violence on the screen and human behavior. When television films on teen-age suicide were aired, researchers noted a significant increase in the number of teen suicides or suicide attempts (Boston Globe, Sept. 11, 1986). Films depicting characters playing Russian roulette with a loaded gun have inspired children to imitate this deadly game (Arizona Republic, March 16, 1998). A teenager who watched extremely violent videos killed a classmate—with a machete, while wearing a mask—just like a character in one of the videos (Boston Globe, Dec. 19, 1988). Recently in France another teenager killed a school friend with a knife while wearing gloves, a black cape and a mask like a movie character. After watching a horror film he commented: “I just wanted to kill someone” (Irish Times, June 6, 2002). When children watch more than 100,000 acts of violence on television before leaving elementary school, it has an effect! Continuous exposure to violence hardens us. Growing children, “bombarded by violence… begin to view life as cheap and expendable” (Atlanta Journal, March 18, 1992). This has serious implications for society.
The story of sex on the screen is similar. While Hollywood claims that only religious fanatics object to sex on television and that it merely gives society what it wants, studies show that more than 70 percent of Americans feel there is too much sex and vulgarity on television (Medved, p. 4). While writers and producers suggest that their films and programs only reflect society, they ignore that they are profoundly influencing the values of society. One college educator addressing the question “Is TV corrupting our kids?” states that “because much of the content of television and other mass media involves issues of sexual conduct, the potential for influence in this area is especially great” (Atlanta Journal, May 24, 1992). Another professor observes that “the media are so compelling and so filled with sex, it’s hard for any kid, even a critic to resist… I think of the media as our true sex educators” (USN&WR, Sept. 11, 1995)—yet films and television rarely show the serious consequences of promiscuous sex. The continuous portrayal of promiscuity as exciting, adultery as natural and divorce as acceptable plays a powerful role in molding attitudes and behaviors. It has a devastating effect on traditional Judeo-Christian moral values.
More than 150 talk shows are viewed by millions of Americans every week. For many, this is just part of the way to spend a day. However professional psychologists are concerned that “talk shows contribute to and even create more problems than they solve” (Tuning in Trouble, Heaton & Wilson, p. 4). To attract viewers, these shows focus on the bizarre and promote a distorted view of what it means to be “normal.” They offer unrealistically simple solutions to complex problems, dispense dangerous advice and ignore the off-camera consequences for guests who have been encouraged to “courageously” reveal deeply personal aspects of their lives. Regrettably, millions of children who watch these programs “are soaking up the same doses of pathology, perversity and interpersonal aggravation that their adult counterparts tune in to every day” (ibid., p. 169). Topics and behaviors presented on talk shows are eroding the foundations of a morally and mentally healthy society.
Today the average child watches between 25 and 30 hours of television a week. Yet Dr. Jane Healy warns that our “changing lifestyles may be altering children’s brains in subtle but critical ways” (Endangered Minds, p. 9). Neuro-anatomists know that the internal structure of the brain is modified by how it is used. Visual experiences register primarily in the right side of the brain. Language and reading exercises are focused in the left side of the brain. When children watch television several hours a day (where little conversation or thinking is involved) and read only 5–10 minutes a day, experts fear a detrimental effect on brain development. Since reading and watching television make very different demands on the brain, extensive television viewing could “reduce stimulation to left-hemisphere systems critical for development of language, reading, and analytical skills… may affect mental ability and attention by diminishing mental traffic between hemispheres… [and] may discourage development of ‘executive’ systems that regulate attention, organization and motivation” (ibid., p. 209). Watching television can also be addictive (cf. Scientific American, February 2002).
These fears correlate with what teachers observe in the classroom. Students today have shortened attention spans; they struggle with reading and writing assignments, exhibit less creativity, are easily bored and distracted, lack perseverance, give up easily and have difficulty remembering instructions and thinking through problems (ibid., pp. 13, 42). A Canadian study reported that these problems increased noticeably in communities after the introduction of television (see The Impact of Television, Williams). This study also found that “television may have a negative impact even for adults on creative problem-solving performances and persistence” (ibid., p. 124); many would rather escape from problems than find solutions! However, research also indicates that better students watch less television, and that “personal interaction with adults is critical” for the development of problem-solving, language, and listening skills (ibid., pp. 198, 266). Dr. Healy relates that “children who have been talked to [and asked questions] and had stories read to them are at a real advantage” because “they’ve learned how to listen and pay attention”—and learned how to think (Healy, p. 80). We can understand the serious consequences of watching too much television when we realize that the brains of children who watch less television may actually develop differently than the brains of their couch-potato peers!
What does the future hold for countries whose citizens watch 20 to 30 hours per week of entertainment saturated with sex, vulgarity and violence? What will come of a nation whose people get most of their news from television, where the average story gets 30 seconds of coverage? What happens to a nation when its scriptwriters and producers deliberately undermine the moral values upon which it was founded? Perceptive observers see danger ahead! Ken Burns, award-winning producer of the PBS series The Civil War, believes that “television is rapidly eroding the strength of our republic from within” (Atlanta Journal, March 13, 1991). In a column titled “Television and the Slide of Civilization,” writer William Murchison laments the modern “inability not just to distinguish between [good and bad, beauty and ugliness, truth and falsehood] but even to admit the possibility of a distinction” (Dallas Morning News, October 13, 1993).
Nearly 20 years ago, Neil Postman stated that “television has culture by the throat… when a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is re-defined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public discussion becomes baby-talk, when… a people become an audience and their public business becomes a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; cultural death is a clear possibility” (USN&WR, Dec. 23, 1985, p. 59; Postman, pp. 155–156). Postman also warned that, because of our constant exposure to the present-centered medium of television, “we are being rendered unfit to remember” (ibid., pp. 136–137). This is sobering when historians point out that “in the great empires of history we see a picture of our own world… virtually every one of the symptoms of decline that can be detected from history is present in this nation today… to ignore such lessons is to court disaster” (When Nations Die, Black, p. 4). Columnist John Leo observed similarly that “we are living through a cultural collapse” (USN&WR, March 27, 1995, p. 16) and that the media are often guilty of “cheerleading for the unraveling of the social structure” (USN&WR, June 1, 1992, p. 19). Judge Robert Bork has warned that “television is showing the end of western civilization in living color” (Slouching Towards Gomorrah, p. 335). Do we grasp what is being said?
But why would individuals in the media seek to undermine the foundations of a society where they enjoy more freedoms than ever before? Why would nations tolerate films and programs that sow seeds of self-destruction? Why do we ignore obvious lessons of history as we gorge ourselves on trivial amusements? Film critic Richard Grenier believes we have allowed a small class of self-proclaimed intellectuals who dominate the electronic media to “capture” our culture. The ideas of this reactionary group that disdains the fundamental ethical values of western Judeo-Christian culture “come spewing forth out of every TV” and permeate the scripts of nearly every film—that we watch by the hour (Capturing the Culture, pp. xx–xxi). Television critic Medved makes the perceptive observation that Hollywood is “following its own warped conceptions of artistic integrity, driven by some dark compulsion beyond simple greed” (Medved, p. 286).
In our modern, politically correct culture, certain topics are carefully avoided—especially theological topics that hearken back to an earlier “pre-enlightened” era. Yet these intellectually taboo topics hold real answers to the questions that we have just raised. The Bible, a book held up to ridicule by many in the media, explains why the most powerful and influential means of communication yet devised has been used to such warped and perverted ends. The Scriptures reveal this world is actually under the sway of an extremely cunning spirit being—Satan the devil. The Bible refers to Satan as “the god of this world” who has blinded the minds of those who do not believe (2 Corinthians 4:4). He is also called the “prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2). The name Satan means “adversary”—and Satan has been in rebellion against the way of God from time immemorial (Isaiah 14:12–15; Ezekiel 28:14–18). This is the dark force who works through people to generate and promote the warped content of the media that degrades the values and behavior of our modern world—yet many do not even believe that Satan exists!
When we compare what is projected on the silver screen with what the Bible reveals about Satan’s influence, the connection is obvious. The Bible explains that when people reject God and His ways, God gives them over to a “debased [Satan-influenced] mind” which revels in sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, murder, strife and all kinds of evil—including homosexuality and other perversions (Romans 1:18–32); an accurate description of modern media entertainment! God also allows us to reap what we sow (Jeremiah 2:17–19). We are told that, because our society has forgotten God and rejected the ethical values of the Bible, “in the last days perilous times will come”—people will be selfish, materialistic, callous, brutal, “despisers of good… lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:1–5)—again, a dead-on description of our age! Isaiah describes the society of modern Israelite nations as “sick” from head to toe (Isaiah 1:3–6), where people are determined to “call evil good, and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20). God proclaims through the prophet Hosea: “My people are destroyed for lack of [right] knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you from being a priest for me; because you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your children” (Hosea 4:6). These are sobering warnings to a society that has been willingly misled by the corrupting influence of modern, misguided media.
A Better Way
How can you survive a cultural collapse? How can you live and raise children in a society where religion has been watered down and corrupted, and moral values are under constant attack by the most powerful medium ever invented? What hope is there for the future? Again, the Bible provides informative answers.
The Apostle John reveals where our human civilization is heading. He writes that “the world is passing away, and the lust of it, but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17). The Apostle Paul admonished Christians in the vulgar, secular city of Corinth to “come out from among them and be separate” (2 Corinthians 6:14–18). Peter urged his listeners to “repent” so they might “be saved from this perverse [corrupt, misguided] generation” (Acts 2:38–40). Repentance is turning with sorrow from a way of life that you realize is wrong, and following God’s instructions. Those instructions provide guidelines for living in our media-saturated age—if we will use them.
David knew that he had to “turn my eyes away from looking at worthless things” (Psalm 119:37). Isaiah wrote that “he who walks righteously [according to the commandments of God—Psalm 119:172]… stops his ears from hearing bloodshed and shuts his eyes from seeing evil” (Isaiah 33:15). Paul admonished the Corinthians to “flee [avoid] sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:12–18). These are biblical guidelines for dealing with the sex and violence that permeate the media today—such degrading amusements should be avoided! This requires thinking and decision-making on our part—the very activities that watching television tends to discourage!
The challenge for parents in this age of media is still to “train up a child in the way that he should go” (Proverbs 22:6). This does not happen when television is used as a babysitter. If children watch television or videos, adults should be present to provide guidance and perspective. It is even better if adults can show—through instruction and by example—there is an exciting real world beyond television, movies and video games. Libraries are full of books about animals, science, geography and literature, and of biographies of people who have learned powerful lessons about life. Encourage children to be physically active and to think about what they want to do with their lives (Proverbs 4:26). Help them to see the needs of others, to discover their own talents and to develop skills and abilities to serve other human beings. Teach them the benefits of living according to the laws of God (Deuteronomy 4:1–9), and that consequences come from rejecting and violating those laws. Encourage children to use their time wisely (Ephesians 5:15–16), and to focus on things that are true, noble, just and pure (Philippians 4:8) so they can avoid the pitfalls of this age.
The real hope for anyone with the courage to come out of this world and believe the Gospel of the coming kingdom of God (Mark 1:14–15) will be the opportunity to work with Jesus Christ and the saints in re-orienting our misguided society and restoring true values. The Bible indicates that when Jesus Christ returns there will be a “restitution of all things” (Acts 3:19–21), the saints will become the teachers of God’s way of life (Isaiah 30:20–21), and the laws of God will be proclaimed from Jerusalem to the whole world (Isaiah 2:2–4). This is what Tomorrow’sWorld.org is all about. This message of God’s way is what modern religion has forgotten, and the secular media has replaced with sex, violence and trivia.
In the Millennium, the media will proclaim God’s way of life to every human being. You can have a part in this mission if you resist being molded by the media of our present age and develop your own talents and abilities to serve your Creator.
Where will you go when you die?
The world is full of people who believe they will go to heaven. Tragically, churches are also full of people who believe they are going to heaven. The truth is….heaven is one of two possible places people go when someone dies. The other place many people go when they die is hell.
2 Thessalonians 1:8 – “…in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Let’s face a stark reality about our day. Hell is not a popular subject, but it’s one that demands our attention. Unfortunately it is a subject rarely discussed in churches today. That is a shame, given the eternal consequences and the reality of hell.
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“Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 24:45)
Let’s begin by looking at what the world thinks and what a majority of churches teach about the reality of hell. Then we’ll look at what the word of God tells us about hell and how our view of hell shapes the way we live and interact with others. The world has many false notions regarding hell and here are just a few ranging from pop-cultures view right down to the average Joe on the street.
Here are some common misconceptions:
“A loving God would never send people to a horrible place like that.”
“I don’t think I’ll go to hell because I’m a pretty good person…I believe I’ll go to heaven.”
Here are some quotes from famous people:
Bonnie Raitt: “Religion is for people who are scared to go to hell…spirituality is for people who have already been there.”
Mark Twain: “I don’t like to commit myself about heaven-hell, I have friends in both places.”
Katy Perry: “I don’t believe in a heaven or a hell, or an old man sitting on a throne. I believe in a higher power bigger than me because that keeps me accountable.”
ACDC “Highway to Hell” lyrics: “Goin’ down, party time…My friends are gonna be there too. I’m on the highway to hell. On the highway to hell. Highway to hell…I’m on the highway to hell.”
People have all sorts of false notions about hell. We have all seen the cartoons with the devil in his red tights and pitchfork prodding the cartoon character to get back to work. Some apostate teachings offer ways to avoid or dismiss the possibility of hell all together.
Roman Catholicism teaches that a sinful life can be remedied in a place called purgatory…a place the Word of God never mentions. This false teaching is deceiving many people by offering an alternative atonement for sins…an atonement other than the atonement Jesus Christ purchased for us on the cross.
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I want to briefly mention the fact that hell is a subject that’s not being preached in a majority of churches today. Jesus spoke about hell and eternal punishment over forty times in the gospels. I don’t understand why hell – a reality of eternal consequences – isn’t being widely preached or taught in many churches today. Especially when the Lord Jesus Himself taught about hell so often.
Maybe it’s because hell isn’t a popular, feel good message. Or it isn’t the kind of subject that we feel will keep visitors returning. Those notions fly in the face of what Jesus, the early church, and saints through the centuries have taught.
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The message of judgment, hell, repentance, and atonement may not fill the largest section of the “Christian” bookstore or fill the largest churches, but that message is what matters for eternity. Many fellowships are ignoring subjects of eternal significance, focusing on seeker sensitive messages, and teaching a different gospel that is “me” focused…not Christ focused.
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Churches aren’t supposed to be life enrichment centers, they are supposed to be places where people hear the undiluted gospel message. Here is what some teachers and evangelists from the past have said about the importance of teaching about hell; God’s judgment; our hopeless state without Jesus; and repentance:
John Wesley: “I desire to have both heaven and hell ever in my eye, while I stand on this isthmus of life, between two boundless oceans.”
Charles Spurgeon: “If hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.”
Jonathan Edwards: “Unconverted men walk over the pit of hell on a rotten covering.”
A. W. Tozer: “The vague and tenuous hope that God is too kind to punish the ungodly has become a deadly opiate for the consciences of millions.”
Thankfully some churches in our day still teach about the reality of hell. Although it’s an unpleasant subject, the message of salvation must involve an understanding that our sin is an affront to a holy God and His righteous judgment. The Biblical gospel of Jesus Christ is a message which produces godly sorrow which leads to genuine repentance. Marriage seminars, youth rallies, and men’s conferences are all just fine, but our primary task is to go preach the gospel. Without it, all we are engaging in is temporary behavior modification.
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A. W. Tozer sums up the eternal tragedy of a “religious experience” without repentance:
“It is my opinion that tens of thousands of people, if not millions, have been brought into some kind of religious experience by accepting christ [sic] and they have (not) been saved.”
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Eternity is rushing upon people and every day tens of thousands enter it without a Savior because they believed they were good people. I’ve known pillar of the community and salt of the earth types both inside and outside of church. These are the folks others speak of and say, “He/she would give you the shirt off of their back.” The fact is even our best works and efforts are soiled without Jesus — we are lost for eternity without Him.
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Isaiah 64:6 – “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”
Romans 3:10 – “As it is written: None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
The world needs to hear about the love of Jesus, His grace, mercy, and gentleness. But your words will fall on deaf ears if they aren’t taught in light of His holiness, glory, and coming judgment. Heaven is the eternal reality for everyone who is saved. Hell is the sad eternal reality for those who remain unrepentant.
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There has been a lot of nonsense published in recent years about people visiting heaven and hell. In light of this, let’s see what the Bible says about the reality of hell:
Revelation 21:8 – “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
Matthew 13:49 – “The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
2 Thessalonians 1:8 – “…in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Matthew 13:41 – “The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Matthew 25:41 – “Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
Most Bible teachers agree hell is a place of eternal conscious torment. As Christians, we must warn people about hell, God’s wrath, and coming judgment. In Ray Comfort’s excellent book God Has A Wonderful Plan For Your Life he describes the fallacy of having people accept Christ. Throughout the book he drives home the point that we are churning out false converts if people don’t see their sin as an offense before a holy God and come to repentance. He provides a quote from D. L. Moody regarding godly sorrow and conviction:
“It is a great mistake to give a man who has not been convicted of sin certain passages that were never meant for him. The Law is what he needs…do not offer the consolation of the gospel until he sees and knows he is guilty before God. We must give enough of the Law to take away all self-righteousness. I pity the man who preaches only one side of the truth – always the gospel, never the Law.”
How does the reality of hell and eternity affect the way we live today? It should affect the ways we live our life and interact with people. We are all sinners and deserve God’s righteous judgment in hell, but thanks to his unmerited grace and mercy Jesus paid for our sins on the cross. If we repent and follow Jesus as our Lord, His blood covers our sins and we are adopted into God’s family. We will be His sons and daughters – no longer enemies.
Many people wonder how a loving God could send people to hell. I included Matthew 25:41 above and the section which says that eternal fire is prepared for the devil and his angels. I highlighted this fact because God intended hell to be a place for that purpose. People freely choose to go to hell by remaining unrepentant and rejecting the salvation that only Jesus offers.
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2 Peter 3:9 – “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”
Romans 5:8 – “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Why does the reality of hell matter? It matters a great deal because unsaved people need to know of the eternal danger they are in. It matters because the reality of hell affects the way we present the gospel and as individuals…the way we witness to others. It may be easier to tell someone about your church, great youth group, or just try to win them through relationship. Those things are all good, but over the years people are becoming less responsive to these methods just as Ray Comfort mentioned in his book.
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We must present the reality of an eternity away from God in hell and the wicked condition of the human heart apart from Jesus. It’s not an easy message to share with people, but it is the only message that will matter to them 100 years from now.
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What does hell and repentance have to do with Bible prophecy? The reality of hell has everything to do with Bible prophecy because whether Jesus returns in our lifetime or not, we are all going to meet Him soon either as our Savior or Judge. Some religious people accuse Christians of teaching an antiquated “fire and brimstone” message regarding hell. This comes from a gross misunderstanding of how much is eternally at stake and an underestimation of God’s holiness.
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It is a loving thing to warn people about God’s soon coming judgment and His salvation through Jesus on the cross. Heaven, hell, and the reality of a long eternity is a sobering prospect for people when they are finally told the truth. Jesus is coming soon, but for the person who dies today eternity is instant. If you are a Christian, engage people with a renewed fervor to tell them about the soul saving and life changing gospel.
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Hebrews 9:27 – “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.”
If you are reading this article and don’t know Jesus as your Lord, please come to Him while the door is still open. If you do….you will be His and be with Him for all of eternity. If you reject Him, you will face Him as Judge when He returns or when you die. If you have questions about what it means to follow Jesus…click here.
All for Him,
Please view this short excerpt of a sermon by Bro. David Wilkerson:
“Lord, teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)
How has the past five years passed so quickly? My 15 year old son was just ten. I turn around and the daughter that was as high as my belt not long ago is now as tall as I am.
Where is life going? Where has it gone? How have the past 50, 30, 20, 10, 5 years passed so quickly? What have I done? What is the present counting for? What does the future hold and how long do I have? If the next 10 years pass as quickly as the previous ten, I find that I am, at times of weak faith, actually scared or at least very sobered by it all; what can I do to redeem my remaining time? What can I do to have no regrets when I am dying? Such thoughts often fills the mind of one who is in the second half of life.
O, how fast is life. It is a vapor, a mist, a disappearing cloud; it is churning away and passing like a bullet toward its target- eternity. The brevity and speed of this life reminds us, as dear Geoff Thomas says, that we are not here to stay but we are here to go, and while we are in this world we are strangers on a swift journey. This certainly becomes more real with each passing year, especially when birthdays come around.
Birthdays, for younger folk, are times of celebration and encouragement, with feelings that are affirming and uplifting. You are glad to be getting older and feel that you have 500 years to yet live. But not so for those who are getting older. When people get into their forties, fifties and beyond, birthdays become a different thing altogether. They are not the fun things they were when young, but rather are sobering reminders that the days have quickly turned into years and you are feeling the great reality – “I don’t have many years before it will be my funeral that others will be attending and I will not be here– I will be in eternity.” This is what becomes more and more real with second-half birthdays. By second-half, I mean birthdays that come in the second half of life. The second half has become very, very real to me.
If we are realistic, when one turns forty, he is already in that “second-half”, because Scripture promises three score and ten — 70 years; but we all know that it is not a promise that is certain for all believers; there have been many wonderful Christians who have died before the age of ten, twenty, thirty, and forty. So those thirty-nine and older ought to welcome themselves into the second half of life. Everyone’s life is passing away and will soon be gone.
We tend to live life before fifty as if we are never going to die; intellectually, we know we will die, but we don’t feel it and we certainly don’t dwell on it enough; it is not real to us; we don’t prepare for it like we ought to; we don’t meditate on itenough and develop an eternity-conscious mentality. Then when our later years are upon us, we are not ready for the reality that comes with it– “O my, I am approaching sixty– seventy– where have the years gone? what have I accomplished? What do I do now? How can I best use the few and fleeting years I have left, whatever that might be?” This can bring with it a dampening, depressing feeling which can cast one down for months if they are not mindful of it and don’t guard themselves against it.
What is the remedy for such a trap? It is the Bible. And more specifically, particular needed graces that the Bible alone and Christ alone gives — an eternal perspective, a deeply satisfied heart that is satisfied in Christ alone, and a life that is truly kingdom-centered. Any heart that is attached to this world will feel sadness as they realize that before long they will be leaving it. But the heart that is in heaven, that has its mind set on things above, that longs for Christ, that sees this vile world for what it is — temporal and passing vanity — such a heart will not continually be cast down with the passing of time and the second half of life. Each passing day, month, and year brings the true Christian closer and closer to being with their Saviour forever and forever. Can you imagine the moment when you actually see Him and know that you are now with Him forever?
More and more, I find myself saying to my close friends, “It won’t be long before one of us will probably be standing at each others’ funeral.” We know it’s coming. At that time, as someone has said, I seriously doubt that anyone on their death bed will ask, “Would you read me the amount I have in my bank savings account and the summary of my financial port folio?” No one will be asking that. Rather, all earthly things are behind them and they are starring death and eternity in the face big time. Then — at that moment — nothing except Christ Himself will matter. That day, the day of our death, is fast approaching for you and for me. We ARE going to die. John Wesley was right, “This life is only a dressing room for eternity.”
I must confess that I at times feel dread at the though of dying and leaving my children and grandchildren in this world without me. It casts me down at times. But then I remember that, though every Christian must pass from this life, the God and Father of that Christian lives on and He can and will work in the lives of those descendants of ours we love so much. I can trust Him with their future here without me. I can’t keep them now; I can’t protect them now; so why should I worry about their future life when I am gone? God is real; He is able; He is the everlasting God and Father. I can trust Him with their lives present and future.
It ought to be our continual prayer: “Lord, teach me to number my days and teach me to apply my heart to wisdom; give me enabling grace to redeem whatever days and years I have left and fit me for eternity, as well as enabling me to leave a Christ-fragrant legacy behind when I am gone.” It was just such a person with such a perspective who wrote:
“Only one life Twill soon be past; Only what’s done For Christ will last.
And when I am dying How glad I shall be, That the lamp of my life Has been burned out for Thee.”
For those who want to learn to number their days and apply their hearts to wisdom, Isaac Watts is always a help:
O God our help in ages past, Our hope for years to come; Our shelter from the stormy blast, And our eternal home.
A thousand ages in Thy sight Are like an evening gone; Short as the watch that ends the night Before the rising sun.
Time, like an ever-rolling stream, Bears all its sons away; They fly, forgotten as a dream dies at the opening day.
Any funerals to attend soon? Yes, O yes, for each of us. And precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.
From a dying friend to a dying friend, hopeful that we will spend one bright eternal day forever together.
Promoting Genuine Biblical Revival.
Author: J. Robert Smith
Source: American Thinker – 04.08.2015
Let’s not hear this insipid and misleading talk from Washington Republicans anymore: “Barack Obama is incompetent and naïve.” That better describes them.
Barack Obama is a committed leftist working through his agenda to “transform” America. Washington Republicans do injury to the cause of liberty with timid language. That the president and the left bungle or misstep at times detracts little from their successes. In terms of advancing leftist aims, the Obama presidency is historic.
Remaking America didn’t start with Obama. It won’t stop without him, either, unless the left is stopped, period. Split differences with this foe? How so when the left works to erode liberty and pursues policies damaging to national security? We’ve entered days of the starkest differences between the left and us — days that demand from us hard-eyed appraisals and resolute action.
The left has been marching through America for decades, destroying traditional America as it goes. Ransacking our institutions. Torching our values and virtues. Shredding constitutional rights and undercutting the rule of law. If it’s possible to ransack, torch, shred, and undercut by enfolding actions in the language and symbols of traditional America, and the language of “compassion,” the vintage left did so. The telling contrast is that today’s left is dropping the cloak. It still pays lip service to compassion (toss in fairness and equality). But the modern left’s approach contains stridency, brazenness – open brutality… more of the naked iron fist.
Brutality – in service of a cause. Brutality – in the pursuit of power. Leftism and statism go hand-in-hand. Statism and truncheons go… hand-in-hand. Obama isn’t shy about forcing his will on the nation. Ditto the left. Obama imposes his will through executive action. He unfetters federal bureaucracies and agencies. He’s doing so through foreign policy. He did so with help from the last Democratic Congress, which legislated a landmark health care law against majority will. He roughs up Republican Congresses.
Let’s start with Obama’s dealings with Iran over its nuclear weapons development program. In a trenchant column, Wesley Pruden, the Washington Times’ emeritus editor, stated:
“Describing Mr. Obama as an appeaser, in the tradition of Neville Chamberlain caving at a similar nexus of history in 1938, misses the point. Mr. Obama may not be appeasing at all, but enabling. Everything about Barack Obama suggests that he believes America must be cut down to size, that it’s the arrogance of thinking America is something special, the exceptional nation, that is the source of intractable trouble in the world. Once America is brought to heel, men of wisdom, brilliance, kindness, intelligence and good will — rare men just like himself — can make the rough places smooth and forge a lasting peace.” [Emphasis added]
If Pruden is correct, the president, along with the rest of the left, wants an enemy to develop nuclear weapons in order to diminish the U.S. Iran is developing ICBMs, too. The implications are stunning. Any deal Obama strikes with Iran will only be about forestalling nuclear weapons attainment.
The consequences of Obama humbling his own nation: a nuclear armed Iran sparks a Middle Eastern nuclear arms race. (Sunni Saudi Arabia won’t tolerate Shia Iran menacing it.) Iran, with delivery capability, can strike targets in the U.S. Thirty-six years of hatred toward America, and calling for America’s death, by Iran can’t be shrugged off.
Obama’s Iranian gambit is a type of brutality. It’s violence against U.S. national interests. Doing so imperils Americans.
Now let’s jump back to ObamaCare. Liz Peek wrote for Foxnews.com in 2013:
“Are you afraid of the Obama White House? If you challenge the president’s beloved health care plan, maybe you should be. Consider the fate of William White, the Washington, D.C. Insurance Commissioner, who voiced skepticism about President Obama’s hastily assembled “fix” for the millions losing their insurance policies.
A day after suggesting that the new demands on insurers could destabilize the marketplace and lead to even higher premiums, White was canned.”
Telling the truth about ObamaCare is risky.
We see bullied government officials. Bullied health insurers and providers. Even a stage-four cancer patient, Edie Sunby, who had the nerve to recount in an op-ed that the ACA cost her insurance coverage, was bullied by the White House. Sunby was one of millions of Americans forced out of insurance policies.
There’s the Ferguson, Missouri, racial strife. About that, the executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, Jim Pasco, had this to say last August:
“I think what he has to do as president and as a constitutional lawyer is remember that there is a process in the United States and the process is being followed, for good or for ill, by the police and by the county and by the city and by the prosecutors’ office […]”
Pasco should know that constitutional processes matter less to Obama and the left than results. The Constitution was declared “living” during the New Deal. It lives as left-wing judges want it to. Increasingly, it lives as the president wants it to.
Peter Kinder, Missouri’s lieutenant governor, criticized the Obama administration for “[inciting] a mob” in Ferguson recently:
“It’s bad enough the [Ferguson] protesters were behaving that way, but we have a right to expect much more from the attorney general, the head of the Justice Department of the United States, and the president of the United States. And instead, what we got too often from them was incitement of the mob, and, uh, encouraging disorder in Ferguson and disrupting the peaceable going-about of our daily lives in the greater St. Louis region.” [Emphasis added]
Welcome to the new world of leftist brutality, Lieutenant Governor, where cause trumps law and order; where nothing is abstract about the violence that a leftist president and his attorney general are glad to fuel or provoke.
We can go on, discussing the harm done through the president’s lax borders and amnesty efforts. There’s violence along the nation’s southern border and higher crime in U.S. cities thanks to illegals. Violence being done to the nation’s fabric; injury to the rule of law. All to achieve a political end: to expand and nourish (at taxpayer expense) constituencies for the Democratic Party.
Lastly, Memories Pizza in Walkerton, Indiana. The pizzeria’s owners were threatened and intimidated by leftist and homosexual jackboots and fellow travelers. Threatened because they answered a reporter’s question consistent with their religious beliefs. Where was Obama’s and Holder’s outrage at the violence done to small business owners exercising their rights to conscience and religious freedom?
About Indiana, Memories Pizza, and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Clarice Feldman wrote for American Thinker:
“They [public accommodation laws] need to be pared back if we are to continue as a free people with the right to free speech, free association, and the freedom to practice our religion. If we don’t, we open the doors to totalitarians that decide what we can do and mobs like the Chinese Red Guards enforcing this week’s cultural fashion.”
That’s the point, isn’t it? The left doesn’t really want a free people. It wants power — power to radically change America. Laws that enable the left to do so are exploited. Laws that don’t are ignored and actions taken to secure the desired end… nowadays, with brutality… more and more.
Author: Andy Coticchio
All of us are worthless in and of ourselves, for by our sin nature we fall short of God’s holy standards and He cannot have us in His presence. It is only through Christ and in Christ as the perfect sacrifice, which allows us to go into God’s presence for eternity. The only things of lasting value are those the Lord deems so, and only in Christ do any of us have any value, any worth in the eyes of God.
So we are all worthless when taken into account on our own standards. Now that may sound like horrible news, but it is actually incredibly good news.
Our worth, our sustaining eternal worth anchored in Christ and not in ourselves, allows us not to worry about losing our worth through anything we do (or fail to do). Our talents, skills and abilities (which by the way are God-given) are not being used of themselves to measure our worth, our standing with God; measured in Christ alone and found worthy of eternal redemption and presence with the Lord.
Yes, we need use those God-given gifts of talent, skill and ability in ways that are God honoring and seek to grow His kingdom, but they will not save us, being designed to allow us to work for Him to His glory.
The reason so many rage against the Name of Jesus is self-pride (one of the truly great worthless attributes of sinful humanity). To be expected to accept one’s own worthlessness and complete dependence on Jesus grates against the self-pride and self-will of the sinner, which means of all of us. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Believing in God’s existence—that’s okay for many, and the concept of a supreme being (which many in their sin make and model into something they can tolerate and live with and under) is fine.
But to accept Jesus as God Himself and to acknowledge one’s sin nature and helplessness, one’s worthlessness and need for Jesus as the only means of salvation—really sets a lot of people off. It makes Jesus offensive in their eyes. It makes Him intolerant and exclusionary. They choose to ignore just how inclusive Jesus is.
Yes, He is the only way (John 14:6), but He is available to any and all who seek Him. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) But the rage stoked by sinful self-pride that can fester in all of us and requires that the Holy Spirit draw us to Christ (because we are truly worthless and incapable of turning to Him otherwise; the dead can do no deeds to bring them to the land of the living).
It is so easy to get, just believe in Jesus (faith and trust) and accept the gift of eternal life freely offered. But look around the world today (and I do believe it has been true for just about any day since Jesus offered Himself in sacrifice for our sins), and see how few are willing to reach out and grasp what is freely given. In this case, we shouldn’t feel that something freely given is worth what we paid for it, because God paid a tremendous price for that free gift.
The Son freely offered His life, innocent yet willing to bear all sin. The Father sent His Only Son to die and left Him alone on the Cross to be crushed by the weight of the world’s son. A tremendous price paid, so dear that only God Himself could bear the cost, which He counted and willingly paid.
The God of infinite worth is holy and just and is merciful and gracious. He paid the price for all of us; worthless beings who only have to reach out and trust in faith in Him. For that is how much God so loved the world (John 3:16). Only a truly loving and gracious God could cherish the worthless and would seek to redeem them at such a cost.
Rafter Cross Ministries