Friend,
[Edited for privacy.]
Yes, God is working.

I agree with you and I believe you have tried very hard to do what God wants you to do, particularly with your husband who you did covenant with (marriage). We know God considers covenants made before Him to be binding, unless He gives us a clear word to get out (because the other has broken it in some way).

I believe it is pride that makes someone think they are allowed to intervene in someone else’s covenant / marriage and try to make them divorce. To think one has the right to do that and control the situation and outcome is presumptuous. We can give advice, even strong advice, but to try to force a separation (and especially if one feels justified to lie to make it happen) is not anyone’s right. Jesus has told us that marriage is two becoming one in God’s eyes (Mt. 19:6) and “Therefore what God has joined together, let man [no person] separate.” (Same verse) It is incredulous that someone would work in taking another’s marriage into one’s own hands, when God is the only One who has that right.

Proverbs 26:17 says, “Like one who seizes a dog by the ears is a passer-by who meddles in a quarrel not his own.” In other words, it could very likely make things way worse and we better consider the consequences if we feel inclined to enter into a quarrel others are in. The one judging you should look at her own foolishness in the whole fiasco.

Not only can it escalate and/or increase problems, but interventions often brings in confusion for the person considering leaving the person she is quarreling with, especially if she feels bound by God in commitment / responsibility (whether it is leaving a job, church, or spouse). First of all, that person had no right to make you promise something that was not her right to make you promise. Does she not realize that you have the right to change your mind when you are in an abusive situation and thus a confusing situation? Any normal person would be confused as to what to do and it is normal that abused individuals feel one way one hour and one way another hour.

That person is being unjust and unfair to hold you to a promise you made while under duress. Therefore, it really wasn’t a true, or at least, deliberate lie, as she asserts. She apparently forced you to make the promise to her because she was scared herself, but even if you made it by your own will, that is how you felt (believed) at the time –that you wouldn’t go back. Abused people’s thinking is of course not calm and rational at all times. Do not let others put guilt on you when it is not from the Lord! You can accept that those are her feelings about it, but that she is nevertheless remaining in an inappropriate, unfair mindset. Accept that she is still angry, but that that is her choice, not an emotion you will allow to seep from her spirit into your spirit.

To treat you as she has and say the judging things she has said is abusive in itself. For victims to weigh pros and cons and choose to stay is anyone’s right –yours and also the others they include in their judging. (That man loves and appreciates his wife for many reasons in spite of his dismay that she is abusive too.) MANY people are abusive, and abuse comes in many ways, and most people put up with it if they can tolerate it –like on the job, on the highway or at the checkout (even from strangers), and in relationships of all sorts. It doesn’t help things to talk about others (especially those who are trying to do and think rightly) in a judging way. Everyone can, if they look hard enough, find something in anyone to judge them about. Why don’t we all see our responsibility to love, and after we’ve prayed –and if necessary, stated our opinion– just remain quiet after that and keep praying? We can say to these judges, “If you don’t agree with the relationship dynamics, then avoid involvement, but don’t think it is your right to intervene in someone else’s choices, and especially in one’s marriage covenant.”

I see you as a very strong person and I’ve told you that. I solidly believe that the Lord sees you as this also. Don’t let the words of those who do not know the Lord or walk close to Him speak anything into your life and spirit. You know and walk with the Lord, so listen only to His Holy Spirit and Word.

I feel very sad that you sometimes feel so beaten down, judged, and shamed. But may the Lord show you His great love and favor daily. I remind you to step into His Word’s promises, such as, “May the Lord bless and protect you. May His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.” (Num. 6:24-26) Say these verses to the Lord, personalized. And this too: “For the LORD God is a sun and shield. The LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly. O LORD Almighty, blessed is the person who trusts in You.” (Ps. 84:11,12) Say these verses to the Lord in faith, and I also will be praying these for you.

And this one: “‘The days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will fulfill the gracious promise I made to… [you].'” (Jer. 33:14) Look in the Word for all the numerous promises, grab ahold of the ones He leads you to, and remind Him that you will be waiting on Him to fulfill these for you personally. “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through Him the ‘Amen’ [‘So be it’] is spoken by us to the glory of God.” (2 Cor. 1:20) Do you understand the privilege this last verse is explaining to us?!

And yes, our Reward is Jesus Himself (John 17:3) –“our Shield and very great Reward” (see Gen. 15:1), as well as rulership in the next age. As Jesus has promised, “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with Me on My throne.” (Rev. 3:21) And, “To him who overcomes and does My will to the end, I will give authority over the nations… [and] I will also give him the Morning Star.” (Rev. 2:26,28)

There is definitely such great hope and joy and blessings for those who seek 24/7 to walk in obedience to the Lord!

Love you lots,
Rachel

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Friends,
“All Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Tim. 3:16) and is Jesus Himself who is the Word. (John 1:1,14) The Scriptures, then, are of Supreme Authority and must be honored, believed, and submitted to as the inerrant revelation that it is. Jesus Himself modeled this attitude and behavior for us and He quoted the Scriptures (which He had at the time –the Old Testament) as fully authoritative. In combating deception and falsehoods, as well as in teaching, Jesus would say, “As it is written…”

Sadly, many who claim to love Jesus and the Scriptures actually deny their claim through their dishonor of the Word of God. (Titus 1:16) For not only are they careless about studying it and obeying it, they literally reinterpret it to suit their pre-conceived ideas and those philosophies which make them, they imagine, more popular with the world. (John 5:37-47) Of course the world is not impressed with double-minded, inconsistent-minded Christians, but even more importantly, God considers those in friendship with the world to have hatred toward Him and to thus be His enemies. (Ja. 4:4) This should be warning enough to alert us to the futility of holding to the “foolish wisdom/philosophies of the world” (see 1 Cor. 3:19,20) which, cursed by God (1:19,20) can never enhance our faith (2:5) or our knowledge of the Truth. (1:21)

Thus we are warned, “Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a ‘fool’ so that he may become wise.” (1 Cor. 3:18) Whether or not the world calls us fools, we who have chosen to believe God’s Word over men’s words are those who are growing in wisdom, for we have the mind of Christ that can learn from Christ. (2:16)

In contrast, those “Christians” who run on in their own wisdom, or in that which they’ve learned from the world, are those who have stepped off the Path of Truth. 2 John 1:8,9 give strong warning: “Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may receive a full reward. Anyone who goes beyond and does not continue in [abide in] the teaching of Christ does not have God.” Are we not being cautioned that falling for false doctrine and refusing to repent of it exempts us from God and our reward? Verses 10 and 11 go on to say that welcoming such people is to share in their “wicked work.”

Why then is there so much camaraderie with those who teach falsehoods, especially when we are told to be separate? (2 Cor. 6:17) Is the admonition in 2 Pe. 3:17 rejected which warns, “You therefore, beloved, since you already know this, beware that you are not led away by the error of the lawless and fall from your own steadfastness”? Do we think that falling from the Truth is not possible? This says that it is possible, and the previous verse (v. 16) warns that distorting the Scriptures can reap for us destruction. Indeed, claiming that Jesus is one’s Lord, or doing certain works –well, neither of these is enough. (Mt. 7:21-27) Instead, it is only by persevering in the True Doctrine and applying it under the control of the Holy Spirit, that a person can be saved. (1 Tim. 4:16; see also Rom. 8:14 and 1 John 2:15-17)

And what is this “destruction” which is reaped because of sin, including the sin of bringing the way of truth into disrepute? (2 Pe. 2:1-3) Is it annihilation, as some teach? It would be foolish to gamble on that. Jude 1:12,13, when describing the destiny of self-centered, shameful shepherds (teachers), say that for them “blackest darkness has been reserved forever.” We are told in Rev. 19:20 that the beast and the false prophet “were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur” and in 20:10 we are told that the devil will be thrown there as well, this verse ending with, “They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” How can continuous torment be matched up with the doctrine of annihilation? Oh, some say, this is only for the worst. But is it? Jesus said that the rich (and neglectful) man, after he died, went to “hell, where he was in torment.” (Luke 16:23) The rich man himself referred to it as “this place of torment” (v. 28) and said, “I am in agony in this fire.” (v. 24)

2 Thes. 1:8-10 says that those who do not know God or obey the Gospel will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord. Jesus says that these who are shut out are cursed (Mt. 25:41) because of their neglect toward Him and others (v. 42-45) and will thus be assigned a place in eternal punishment (v. 46) in the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. (v. 41) Jesus says that even those who have once been His servants, if they turn wicked (24:46-49), will be “cut to pieces and assigned a place withe the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (v. 51) Jesus says that “at the end of the age, His angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and that all who cause sin and all who do evil will be thrown into the fiery furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (See 13:41,42,49)

Even so, there are many who are saying, “Let’s reinterpret what Jesus / the Word, is saying, for He couldn’t mean what it appears He means, because it’s just too harsh. God is a God of love.” Others say that at the very least we should not let unbelievers know we teach such things.

So, is God’s Word open for any interpretation, or is it crucial that we understand and adhere to what is actually being taught by Jesus, the Word? Scripture makes it clear that it is the latter. As Isa. 8:20 says, “To the Law and to the Testimony! If they do not speak according to this Word, they have no light of dawn.” And the next two verses, along with the context (v. 11-22), warn that those who follow the way and wisdom of the people, will reap a wandering distress until they are thrust into utter darkness. Truly, whatever anyone teaches must to be examined carefully against the Scriptures (Acts 17:11) for all of God’s words, unlike man’s words, are true, flawless, eternal, and trustworthy. (Ps. 12:6 & 19:7-10 & 119:160 // Luke 21:33) Knowing the Scriptures, believing them, and applying them is what is able to make the simple wise (Ps. 19:7), able to warn us and reward us (v. 11), and able to make us “wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim. 3:15)

So, are these true, flawless, eternal, and perfectly trustworthy words that make up Scripture a description of the New Testament only? This would be foolish to believe in light of the numerous instances that Jesus and His writers quoted the Old Testament, for in doing so they confirmed for us its correct theology and validated for us its account of history, including Genesis chapters 1-11, which “Christian” liberals distort in order to make it fit into their religion of evolution –that faith which teaches that life came from non-life and that if given enough time, one kind of creature can evolve into a very different kind of creature. (This they believe even though DNA information cannot increase with mutations, but only decrease.)

Jesus told us to understand and believe the Old Testament and He said that if we have trouble believing what Moses wrote, we will have trouble believing His words, even though He would rise from the dead. (Luke 16:29-31 // John 5:46,47) Jesus rebuked even those who were eager to believe in Him: “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” (Luke 24:25) “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.” (v. 27) Later “He said to them, ‘This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about Me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.’ Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” (v. 44,45)

Let us ask God to open our minds to His teaching, to clear out all the false philosophies of men, and to help us submit only to what Jesus, the Word, says is the Truth.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Our 2017

January 3, 2018

 

Friends,
I hope everyone’s 2018 has started off well and that God gives us all His favor as we listen carefully to His voice and heed it, following His instructions of how to do so.

I’ve been so thankful for the many kindnesses the Lord has extended to us in 2017, and all in all it was a pretty good year. There were exciting things, like while witnessing and conversing about the Lord, like my parents trying to adapt to two hyperactive kittens, and like my sister, her husband, and her three youngest kids moving here. In spite of being new to her school, Violet, my sister’s daughter, was voted into Homecoming Court. Everyone thinks she is so nice, because she is! Another highlight was that my mom’s sister, who is one of my prayer partners, came for a two week visit. Unfortunately, my parents did have several health challenges this last year, but we’ve had many praying friends… Even when it looked like my mom wasn’t going to be able to hand out the beautiful Christmas treat bags she had worked so hard on for months, God strengthened her, and she, I, two of my nieces and a friend were, a few days before the 25th, able to hand them out downtown at the bus stops. That was a big blessing!

Also, I’ve been very thankful for two different friends who have invited me often to ride their horses, though I realize I’m not as brave as I used to be, especially when we’ve done some training of one of the young fillies. Hiking has been a bit of a stress on the knees, but I’m thankful to my husband, and others, for going on treks with me to many different sites. I’ve loved viewing God’s beautiful creation of landscapes and trees and lakes.

Below are some photos from our year.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friend,
We should read something God recorded for us at face value the same as we read each other’s writings. We can tell when we are writing allegorically or poetically and when we are not.

To disbelieve parts of God’s Word is to do what the world does –pick and choose what to believe and what not to believe.

Jesus warned that if anyone is ashamed of Him and His words, He will be ashamed of that person when He comes in His Father’s glory with the holy angels. (Mark 8:38) Genesis is Jesus’ words because He is the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father (Isa. 9:6) and God in bodily form. (Col. 2:9) “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching…” (2 Tim. 3:16) and its accuracy is not reliant on the time frame it was written in. Believing this is what it means to believe God’s every word is true and flawless (Ps. 12:6 // Pr. 30:5) –not to be added to or subtracted from. (Pr. 30:6 // Rev. 22:18,19)

2 Pe. 1:20,21 contradicts what you are saying about Genesis being allegory and what the website you mention says. I did go to that site earlier and could not see why you would take what a follower of Judaism –many who do not believe Moses’ writings (John 5:46,47)– believes when they are those who reject Jesus Christ as the Messiah and cannot even interpret Isaiah 53 correctly. I also skimmed an article there where the writer is not even emphatic that one needs to believe in God to be in Judaism, so why would we esteem the views of this “scholar”?

So, 2 Pe. 1:20,21 say, “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” These two verses (and 2 Tim. 3:16 above) should give us great assurance that Scripture does not have error, while the following verses assure us that it will always endure:

“The Word of the Lord stands forever.” (1 Pe. 1:25)

“All Your words are true; all Your righteous laws are eternal.” (Ps. 119:160)

“I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” (Jesus’ statement in Mt. 5:18)

“My words will never pass away.” (Jesus’ statement in Mt. 24:35)

I submit to you that it is not just the Old Testament that you are doubting, at least in part, but also the New Testament. The latter confirms the former’s record of events, over and over. 1 Pe. 3:20 says, “…who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water…” Jude 1:11 says, “Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.” And in verse 7: “In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.” Verse 5 mentions the deliverance from Egypt, verse 9 the body of Moses, and verse 14, “Enoch, the seventh from Adam.”

Why would you doubt what God, through Moses, wrote down for us when the New Testament upholds it? Jesus expects us to believe Moses’ writings. As He said in John 5:46,47, “If you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. But since you do not believe what He wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?” For you to say we’d have more success evangelizing if we’d teach that Moses’ writings are not what they seem to be saying –well, this is foreign to what Jesus taught us. Wouldn’t a sensible person reason that if parts of God’s Word are inaccurate, then none of it can be entirely trusted and we’d just as well throw the whole thing out?

I could go on with how the New Testament confirms that the Old Testament’s record is accurate, for it quotes from all of them except Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. Hebrews chapter 11 mentions the names of many Old Testament saints and what they did to show their faith, and Jesus refers back to people like David, Jonah, the Patriarchs, Noah, and Lot and his wife. We also see Jesus confirm events recorded in Genesis such as in Luke 17:26-29 when He says, “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.” I cannot see how you can allegorize what Jesus treated as history.

Why do you keep saying that you are not letting men’s interpretations form your views of what God’s Word says when you often send me the quotes of men regarding how you interpret God’s Word?

As far as saying science says this or that, and so it is a fact, that is just incorrect. It is not fact at all. So much of “science” has proven false, has changed its claims, and cannot be observed or experimented on, which is what science must permit for it to be real science. We know very well that the “billions of years” theory does not permit this, so being that it was God, not men, who has always existed and knows all things, I choose to believe what God has said about His creation. If we believe God’s Word, we can study the sciences and the earth, the seas, and the heavens around us, and understand much better what we observe.

Sincerely,

with love,

Rachel

 

The Wise Seek Him

December 25, 2017

Friends,
There is a Christmas saying stemming from the account of the wise men who traveled a far distance to worship the baby King Jesus. It is, “Wise men still seek Him.” In other words, even in our generation, those who are wise do seek Christ.

So… do we? Do we seek Jesus –He who is the Truth, the Way, the Life, Immanuel, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father? (Isa. 9:6 // Mt. 1:23 // John 14:6) If we are wise, we do.

But how fervently? Is ours a true search, or are we merely half-hearted about it?

Ps. 119:2 says, “Blessed are they who… seek Him with all their heart.” And a few verses down, we read, “I seek You with all my heart.” (v. 10) But… do we? That is the question.

Jesus taught that His Kingdom must be sought after and valued above all else. (Mt. 13:44-46 // Luke 14:26-33) Do we follow His command on this? If we are wise, we do.

Ps. 119:30 says, “I have chosen the way of Truth.” Have we sought the Truth with intensity and are we walking consistently therein? If we are wise, we have and we are. Jesus says that all who live by the Truth come into the Light (John 3:21), so if we continue seeking to know the Lord better and better, and continue learning the secrets of His Kingdom and His Truth, Christ’s Light will grow brighter and brighter for us and we will be walking in Freedom. (Ps. 119:32,45 // Pr. 4:18 // John 8:31-36)

Those who walk in the Lord’s ways do nothing wrong. (Ps. 119:3) They are blameless (v. 1) and rejoice exceedingly in following God’s statues. (v. 14) They love God’s commandments and so reach out for them (v. 48), recite them (v. 13), meditate on them (v. 15), delight in them (v. 16), and their “soul is consumed with longing for God’s laws at all times.” (See v. 20) Does this describe us and our desires? If we are wise, it does.

Let’s seek to be wise. Let’s seek Jesus, His Word, His Kingdom, His Truth, His Light. And let us seek with all our heart.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
God’s Word is authoritative. It is to be believed, and believed because it is trustworthy and flawless. It is not to be apologized for nor is it to be twisted to fit into men’s philosophies. What God’s Word states is The Truth, and this includes what it says in regard to the history of mankind and the earth itself.

Surprisingly though, there are many who, even while believing God’s Word concerning Christ’s redemptive work on the cross, disbelieve what God’s Word states concerning creation and a literal world-wide flood. Trusting in men’s interpretations of what is observable to us, they accept that the earth is billions of years old. Often they point to what they see in rock layers, yet it seems strange that they do so in light of what we’ve observed after recorded earthquakes, flash floods, tsunamis, and particularly volcanic eruptions, such as that of Mt. St. Helens. Due to that eruption it has been observed that canyons were formed there in a matter of months, or even a single day –as was the case with “Little Grand Canyon”, and that rock layers and coal-creating deposits were formed in a day or a few weeks. And what about those petrified tree trunks we see in various places throughout the earth which stand vertically amid hundreds of layers of sediment? If those rock layers were each formed over millions of years, how could the tree not have decayed before a new layer formed to cover it? Does not logic and observation teach us that fossils are formed only by rapid burial?

Then there are those “old-earthers” who, while believing in Christ, or at least in God, believe that He created everything using evolution (meaning macro-evolution). However, though these people may consider themselves to be God-honoring individuals, how can they be –when God has told us differently of how He created the universe and everything in it? Moreover, there is zero evidence of simple things evolving into complex things or of one kind of creature evolving into another kind of creature. Zero. Zero in the fossil record and zero from breeding programs and experiments (such as those done on the poor fruit flies).

Some “old-earthers” believe in a literal Adam and Eve, yet these believe this while also accepting that God created this couple after there had been eons of violence, disease, suffering, and death on earth. But the Word of God tells us, such as in Rom. 5:12, that “sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men.” Verse 14 makes it clear that “death reigned from the time of Adam [not before] to the time of Moses…” and since Moses was a literal man, we must understand that Adam was as well. The same logic applies when we see Adam and Jesus compared in v. 15-19: Jesus was a literal man; so then was Adam. The same can apply when we read Jude 1:14: If “Enoch, the seventh from Adam” was a literal man, so then was Adam.

What does God, who has always existed and who has been around to observe all the universe’s history, say about creation? In Ex. 20:11 He says, “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but He rested on the seventh day…” Hebrew scholars tell us that the Hebrew word for day (yom) is never used for meaning anything apart from a 24 hour period if it is used next to a number. Furthermore, when Gen. ch. 1 keeps repeating “And there was evening, and there was morning –the ____ day”, should we not accept this as emphasizing six literal days?

Gen. ch. 1 shows us that God created by His will, using the water and dust He created, and His command, and Ps. 33:6-9 teaches us this: “By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of His mouth… He gathers the waters… For He spoke, and it came to be, He commanded, and it stood firm.” In other words, God did not need (or use) evolution to help Him create.

2 Pe. 3:5,6 teach us about these things as well when it says, “But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word, the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and with water. By water also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.” That the whole earth is being referenced here is revealed by the next sentence, for it says, “By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” (v. 7) This chapter not only tells us that everything in the heavens and the earth will be burned up (v. 10-12) and that God will create a new heavens and a new earth (v. 13), as Isa. 65:17 and Rev. 21:1 also state, but that God formed the earth using water and also judged and destroyed the world using water.

Let’s believe God’s Word. Let’s revere it as the authority that it is. Let’s take it literally, using the same rules of interpretation we’d use for any other written work. And let’s read and study God’s Word first and foremost, not the imaginations of men.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Hell: A Real & Horrific Place

December 12, 2017

Friends,
Who wants to believe in Hell? I sure don’t. But I do believe God’s Word and it speaks a lot about the reality of Hell. It tells us that it is a horrific place to be thrown into and, contrary to those who wish it means annihilation, it reveals that those who exist there are conscious beings. Believing in Hell is about believing God’s Word above men’s words. Believing in Hell propels us, or certainly should propel us, to warn, to go, to preach –to spread the Good News of salvation-from-condemnation across the earth, just as Jesus commanded us to do.

Jesus has warned us repeatedly about Hell. In Luke 12:4,5 He says, “I tell you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him [God] who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into Hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him.” Jesus is making it clear that we are to fear God because He is the One who throws people into Hell, and that being thrown into Hell is way worse in comparison to anything that can be done to our life or our body here on earth.

Jesus says it is better to gouge out our eye if it causes us to sin, than for our whole body to be cast into Hell. (Mt. 5:29) He warns that it would be better to enter Life maimed-in-body than to be thrown into eternal fire. (18:8) He warns that those servants who turn wicked (careless / unfaithful) will be cut to pieces and assigned a place with the hypocrites where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (24:45-51) If people are annihilated as punishment for being unrepentant, then how would they weep and gnash their teeth? Jesus says that when He sends away those who won’t make it, including those who ate with Him and listened to His teachings (Luke 13:23-27), “There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth…” (v. 28)

When Jesus tells us about the rich man and Lazarus existing in the afterlife, He focuses on what the rich man is experiencing –asking for water to cool his tongue “because I am in agony in this fire” (Luke 16:24), the knowledge that he is there because of his choices on earth and that there is no relief available (v. 25,26), and concern for his five brothers to be warned “so that they will not also come to this place of torment.” (v. 28) Does this sound anything like Hell being “a punishment of annihilation”? Not quite. And would Jesus give us this account if he was not warning us of an actual abode of the damned? Yes, the Lord loves everyone, but if a person deliberately keeps sinning against the Truth he knows, that person is casting off God’s love from himself and is incurring Hell. (Heb. 10:26,27)

Jesus has made it clear that we abide in His love through obedience to His commands. (John 15:10 // 1 John 2:5) If we are outside of His love, then we are under His wrath and remain condemned with the unbelieving world. (John 3:19-21 & 15:6)

So yes, God’s Word tells us that God is love (1 John 4:16), that He loves the world (John 3:16), and that while we were still sinners, He paid all people’s ransom. (Rom. 5:8 // 1 Tim. 2:4-6 // 1 John 2:2) This He did by becoming a sin offering for us (2 Cor. 5:21), thus buying us back, forgiving us, and reconciling us to Himself. (v. 19) Therefore, “how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life!” (Rom. 5:10) Unification with Christ in His death –AND in His life– is what saves us (ch. 6), and this means living our life completely devoted to God / doing what He commands 24/7 / pleasing Him in every way. (2 Cor. 5:15 // Gal. 2:20 // 1 John 2:6)

But, if we refuse to walk in this dedicated obedience to God, then we are rebelling. Continued rebellion prompts a person to deny the Truth and deceive himself (Ja. 1:22) –which incurs more delusion (2 Tim. 2:18 & 3:13), a return to vomit (2 Pe. 2:20-22), a shipwrecked faith (1 Tim. 1:19), and thus condemnation from God. (2 Thes. 2:10-12) Truly, it is God’s love which causes Him to hate sin and to punish those who refuse to live out the Gift of Christ’s holy Life.

Listen to Jesus’ words in Mt. 25:30 regarding the Master’s lazy servant: “And thrown that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” And in verses 41 & 46 concerning those who neglected others: “‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’ …Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” Jesus is definitely contrasting eternal punishment (in the eternal fire) with eternal life. He is stating that there are two destinations, two places of eternal existence. And that where the Judge sends them is based upon what they have done.

Hell is a real place. It’s a place of torment. Yes, it was prepared for the devil and his angels, but because most people are following the devil instead of Jesus, the people will wind up there as well. It’s their fault, not God’s fault, due to their resistance to walk in God’s love.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel