Soul Saving and Spirituality


Is the church’s single-minded emphasis upon rescuing souls hampering the growth of the church?

For many individuals this will seem like a very controversial question and whom would say that obviously the more souls that are saved, the larger the growth of the church. However, I would like to question that assumption and suggest that this mindset hampers an individual’s spiritual growth.

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SINKHOLE


An analogy on current events:

“A boy is trapped in a sinkhole. As a result of his cries for deliverance a man approaches the edge of the hole and sees the child’s predicament. However, upon the return of the man, the boy is presented with, not a rope, but canned food and other elements of survival. The man then returns home to tell his family about the brave lad in the woods who has decided to turn from the limits of societal norms and haters to live in a hole. Naturally, the story spreads and soon the boy is being interviewed and making national headlines for is bravery in discovering who he really is. Eventually, the boy becomes proud of who he is and inspires others to live in holes, too.”

Written By Caleb Boutell

5 Important Truths we Forget


As a Christian in America, I can easily become distracted from the important things. I’ve been realizing how easily I can forget important principles and truths from Scripture. So, I’ve compiled a quick list of 5 things we Christians often lose sight of and forget: 

  1. “My hope is built on nothing less, Than Jesus blood and righteousness, I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly trust in Jesus name” ~ Cornerstone, Hillsong Worship
    1. All too often we put our hope in something other than Christ. I often put my hope in the political outlook or in a candidate. Many people put their hope in finances or in having a good job. Others put their hope in relationships. Let’s remember to put our hope in Christ first. “Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.” ~ Psalm 130:7
  2. “The devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” ~ 1Peter 5:8
    1. As human beings, we have a disadvantage of not being able to see the spiritual realm. Because of this, we often forget that there is a spiritual war being fought all around us. God’s angels are valiantly fighting the Devil’s minions in an epic war. Our disadvantage is that we are a part of the war. But, being unable to see it makes it very difficult to participate. We need to be aware that the Devil is trying to destroy us and is constantly out to oppress us with his demons, and to tempt us with sin. We need to take of the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, and use it daily in our fight against evil (Ephesians 6).
  3. “This world is not my home, I’m here for a moment…I’m bound for glory.” ~ Bound for Glory, Vertical Church Band
    1. Those of us who live in the Western world, and in a first world country, probably struggle with this concept more than those who don’t. Jesus said it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven (Matthew 19:27). It is very easy to let the comforts of our lives, and the good gifts God has given us, to become too comfortable for us and for us to trust them for our salvation. We need to remember that we are only here for a short time, and the comforts and joys in heaven will far outweigh what is good here! Let’s fix our eyes on things above (Colossians 3:2)!
  4. Persecution is a Privilege, Suffering is a Given
    1. We are guaranteed to suffer in this life (1Peter 4:12-19). God tells us throughout Scripture that difficult trials that we face are given to us in order to refine us and mold us to be more like Christ. We need to redefine how we think of “good”. Rather than it being what we deem as enjoyable and comfortable, we need to realize “good” means whatever draws us closer to God. We also need to realize that not all of us will be given a chance to experience hardcore persecution. Scripture teaches it is a privilege. Some of us will sigh in relief… But we need to remember that “a good follower of Yesu (Jesus) is like the ox – ready either for the plow or the alter, for service or for sacrifice.” ~ Safely Home, Randy Alcorn pp.347
  5. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” ~ Ephesians 6:12
    1. The political authorities in this world who are doing evil, the mean kid at school, the bad cop who is racist, all of these people are really just puppets for the Devil. They have souls, and Jesus died for them. Our fight is not with them; it is with the Devil. So let’s pick up our Sword, and our quiver of Prayer, and not spend our time fighting them, but fighting the enemy.

 

The Gravity of Temptation


The danger of sin is that anyone can fall, no matter how spiritually strong they are. Danger is not in making the big mistake, but rather making the small ones leading up to the big mistake. We should not be worried about being presented with a big sinful temptation and falling into it, but rather the indifference towards sinful patterns leading up to the temptation (not to say when you are tempted you are sinning, but rather when you fall to the temptation, perhaps you had been sinning prior.)
 
Take King David for example. His big mistake, was arguably his adultery with Bathsheba. David didn’t randomly give into sin… He ALREADY had been giving into sin. He was supposed to be out fighting with his men, not staying home. Had David been presented the temptation in any other situation, I believe he would have resisted the temptation and not committed adultery. But he gave into temptation earlier and thus numbed his heart towards the Holy Spirit, so that when the next temptation came, and one on a larger scale, he did not respond to the dulled voice of the Holy Spirit.
 
Applications to this are many. We need to not only pray that God will deliver us in time of great temptation, but also ask his help to say no to the small temptations. This is why I believe we need to bring EVERYTHING to God in prayer. Not just the big things, we need to bring the tiny, small things to Him too. Perhaps this is why Paul urges us to pray without ceasing.
 
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13

Who Goes to Hell?


What is Hell? For centuries, the idea of hell has fascinated people. Everyone who has lived has clearly wondered what happens when they die. Throughout the Western World during the Renaissance, there were three varied views about this: the view of the Greeks, the ideas expressed by Dante, and the Christian view of the Bible. Predictably, some of the ideas in these views are similar, although very different in matters of who is there and what their punishment is. They have progression in matters of why people are there, and what the levels of punishments are, but none of them show the Christian view.

In the Greek view, all are punished. Equally, everyone goes to hell. Even the mightiest of heroes go there, as readily shown by Hector’s death in the Iliad, “The shrouds of death enfolded him, whereon his soul went out of him and flew down to the house of Hades” (Illiad 22.371-72).  Every soul goes to hell, even those who are the greatest by Greek standards. Having traversed there, their sentence is then pronounced by judges. Everybody is judged to be punished, from the good to the evil. If you had lived an extraordinary life, you went to the best part. However, most of the dead souls end up as shades, floating around eternally like leaves because of their mediocre lives. Obviously, Greeks believed that everyone went to Hell and were judged according to their deeds.

In Dante’s hell, a slightly different view of Hell is expressed: all who were not baptized went to Hell with progressive punishments. In Dante’s Inferno, it says, “That they sinned not; and if they merit had, ‘tis not enough, because they had not baptism” (IV. 34-35). If one who was not baptized died, that person went to Hell, no matter how they had performed during life because they had not entered into the realm of God via baptism. Having been decided their eternal place of residence, they were subsequently judged by Minos, the former King of Crete. “Seeth what place in Hell is meet for it; girds himself with his tail as many times as grades he wishes it should be thrust down” (Inferno V. 10-12). Everyone is judged by Minos to see where in Hell they belonged. If their sin was small, their punishment would be small. Likewise, if their sin was excessive, so would would their punishment. In Dante’s view, all unbaptized went to Hell, with sin being punished according to severity.

In the final view, Christianity, all the unrighteous are punished in Hell, and punished equally. “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20.15). Every person who has not accepted God’s free gift of eternal life with Him will consequently be sentenced to an eternal separation from Him which is called Hell. All sinners are judged equally based on this status. They are then thrown into the burning pit called Hell and eternally separated from God because of their unbelief. If one is not a Christian, they are unsaved and must dwell in Hell for eternity.

In the Greek view, everyone went to Hell and were judged according to works. Dante’s view was slightly different in the fact that only the unbaptized went to Hell. Clearly, their precise level of punishment is still determined by their deeds, however. The Christian view holds that those who are unsaved go to Hell, and are punished because of their rejection of life with God and their unrepentance of sins. Although these views are somewhat similar, it is obvious that the Greek view and Dante’s view differ from the Biblical one. Their punishment is the greatest deciding factor because of their greatest difference. How is this? While the Christian and Dante’s view both restrict the occupants of Hell, Dante’s limits it even more by requiring baptism. In the Bible, it says nothing about needing to be baptized to be saved, but only that it is a symbol of the faith. Only God can save a soul from Hell.

Two Artists, The Renaissance, and God


During the Renaissance, man saw everything in relation to himself.  Man conquered all. Man measured all. Man made his own worldview.  Why should they not be able to ?  God became irrelevant because of this pride.  Predictably, this quickly caused humanism.  Every man was affected by this mind set, which spread like a disease .  Two contemporaries, Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, show this mindset well.  Although they possessed distinctly different views about man, they had the same basic assumptions.

Michelangelo, like most other men of the time, believed the self to be the most important thing.  Clearly, this is evident in many of his greatest works.  His statues of men tearing themselves out of rock depicts this idea well.  Working on his own, man could liberate himself from the bonds of the world.  Because of this, man will always be victorious.  If man could fully tear himself out of solid rock, how could he ever fail at anything? However, Michelangelo’s most excellent example of humanism is found in his greatest work of art.  David was the humanistic ideal.  This man, who was perfect, was the man of tomorrow.  When looking at this statue, one would have confidence in what man could do because of his greatness.  However, in Michelangelo’s later works, human pride seems lessened, even to the extent of putting his own face on the man holding the dead Jesus.  Despite this, it can be concluded that he once thought that man was everything like every other man of the day.

Leonardo da Vinci, however, foresaw the problem of man, but failed to do anything about it.  By only looking at particulars, man would never decipher any meaning or absolutes.  Man was like a machine.  Seeing this, Leonardo tried to paint absolutes, which was what man could not figure out.  However, Leonardo still tried to find them in himself and what he observed.  Because of this, he failed in his attempts.  How could he think that he could find the answer to a problem without addressing it in himself?  Leonardo correctly assessed the problem of man, but ultimately failed to change it in himself because of his personal pride.

During this period of the Renaissance, man was everything.  Although Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci lived during the same time, their responses to this were very different as revealed by their art.  Michelangelo embraced human pride at the beginning of his life, but his later works revealed that he thought less of humanism toward the end of his life.  Leonardo da Vinci, however took an distinctly different approach.  Starting with the belief that humanistic particulars would go nowhere, he attempted to find absolutes like Plato of old.  Unfortunately, he tried to find these within himself, which resulted in failure.  Both men tried and failed to make a coherent man-centered view.  What was the reason for their failure? The Bible clearly explains that it was so because the only way to find meaning in life is through God.  Clearly, human pride has no room in God’s word.

Pastorship


“Every Christian needs to be a pastor. They need to be able to study and teach God’s Word just as well as a pastor does. Not every Christian should be a pastor. What I mean by this is that not every Christian should pursue a pastoral occupation.” – Hudson Farrell

Fathers and Mothers need to especially be able to teach God’s Word to their children. Every person needs to be able to help another believer study the Bible, and should also be able to clearly lay out the Gospel to a non-believer. Are you prepared?

Reading the Bible is our primary way of listening to God… he speaks to us through the Bible. Sometimes He clearly speaks to us while we are reading it, but often he speaks to us later as we are doing our thing. Often He will remind us of something we read. Like if I’m getting angry, He may remind me to dispel an argument with peace and not animosity.

So, you may be praying, but are you listening? Read your Bible. Remember its a relationship and not a religion. And if you aren’t in a relationship you may be more religious than you realize.