Hell: The Real House of Horrors


Growing in Faith Through Christian Brotherhood, Part 1 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #28)

Pilgrim's Progress According to the Bible

PART A

Download MP3 Subscribe to this Podcast

PART B

Download MP3 Subscribe to this Podcast

TEXT: 1 John 3:13-18

As we continue our series, allow me to read from the story of Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan as a prelude to our topic for today. Christian has now come out of the Valley of Humiliation, and as he proceeds on his journey, he meets another believer who is also walking the straight and narrow way. Bunyan writes:

Now as Christian went on his way, he came to a slight ascent which was specially designed so that pilgrims could more easily see ahead of them; therefore Christian went up and, looking forward, he saw Faithful in the distance intent on his journey. Then did Christian call out loudly, “Here, here, look here. Wait, let me catch up and I will be your companion.” At this Faithful looked behind him, causing Christian to again cry out, “Wait, wait till I catch up with you.” But Faithful replied, “No, I travel with my life at stake, and the Avenger of Blood is close behind.”

This reply somewhat moved Christian, so mustering all his strength he quickly caught up with Faithful and in fact raced past him so that the last had become first! As a result Christian smiled with a sense of self-congratulation; he felt proud of now being ahead of his brother. Yet not paying attention to his feet, he suddenly stumbled and fell to the ground, and was unable to get up, that is until Faithful came up to help him?

Then I saw in my dream that both of them went on very lovingly together; and they had delightful conversation about all of the things that had happened to them on their pilgrimage.

You’ve heard it said many times that everybody needs somebody. When Christian left his home in the city of Destruction, he left alone, but he did not stay alone for long. All along the way to the Celestial City, he met and conversed with other servants of the King who helped him on his way. And, the fact of the matter is, none of us can make it on our own either. We need the friendship and companionship of other believers to help us grow and become stronger in the Christian faith. Today, I want to share with you one of the main reasons why this is the case.

One of the reasons why you need Christian friendships is because the world will not be friendly to you if you are a Christian. The apostle John writes, “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.” Yes, the world will hate those who are committed to Jesus Christ. Don’t be shocked, don’t be stunned if the world hates you. Once you become a follower of Christ, you are no longer a part of the world. You are no longer a part of Satan’s family. You are a part of God’s family, and the two are sworn enemies.

You need Christian friendship and companionship in order to live and grow as a Christian. One of the first things Jesus Christ did when He began His public ministry is he gathered twelve others around Him to work with Him. Even He did not try to go it alone. When Jesus Christ sent His disciples out to preach on their own, he sent them two-by-two. He did not send them out alone.

One of the basic marks of a follower of Jesus Christ is that he or she has a love for the church and other believers. Our passage states, “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.” You ought to want to be around other believers. You ought to want to fellowship with other believers. If you do not love your brothers and sisters in Christ — if you would rather hang out with worldly people than with other believers — then you ought to examine yourself to see if you are truly saved. John states, “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.”

Your love for your brothers and sisters in Christ ought not to be perfunctory, and it ought not just to be shown by your words. John tells us that we show our love for other believers through our actions. Using Jesus Christ as the ultimate example of someone who showed love by His actions, he states, ” Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” The word “perceive” means to know. We know that God loves us not just because He tells us so, but because He demonstrated that love by sacrificing His Son on the cross. The basic point of this verse is that believers ought to help other believers. We ought to care for each other and supply each others needs if we are able to do so. Verse 17 reads, “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”

Part of the reason why Jesus Christ established the church is so that believers might have a place of friendship, companionship, and refuge in a hostile world. Jesus told His disciples, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” Jesus’ words let us know that we will be hated by the world simply for the fact that we choose to identify with and follow Christ. If you try to walk in the world and among worldly people as a Christian, one of two things will happen: Either you will slowly but surely slip back into worldliness in order to fit in and receive the approval of the world, or you will be isolated and ostracized if you refuse to backslide and instead point out the evil in the world. Oftentimes, the result of this isolation, especially if you do not have a community of believers around you, is depression and growing weary in well-doing.

John Bunyan, the writer of Pilgrim’s Progress, was a Puritan preacher. The Puritans placed a high value on sharing their experiences with other believers in order to build each other up and strengthen each other in the faith. Richard Sibbes, an Anglican theologian, wrote: “For our better encouragement in these sad times, and to help our trust in God the more, we should often call to mind the former experiences, which either ourselves or others have had of God’s goodness, and make use of the same for our spiritual good. We should take notice of God’s dealings with us in sundry kinds; how many ways he hath refreshed us, and how good we have found him in our worst times. This hath formerly been the custom of God’s people, ‘Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.'”

The experiences we share in the body of Christ are part and parcel of being a Christian. Hebrews 10:25 says, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” We live in perilous times. As the second coming of Jesus Christ draws near, times will get harder and harder for Christian people. This world is not our home and it is not our friend. Satan’s influence in the world seems to get stronger and stronger as our society is turning away from basic moral principles and Judeo-Christian values. Things which would have been unspeakable just a few decades ago are commonplace and celebrated today: atheism, homosexuality, transgenderism, secularism, sexual relationships between students and teachers, just to name a few. The battle lines between the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light have been drawn starker than ever before. The middle ground is shrinking. You must be on either one side or the other. And, if you are on the side of Christ and the church, you will be hated by the world which is controlled by Satan.

That is why we need each other. It can be a lonely world for a Christian who tries to walk the straight and narrow way on his own. He can easily become discouraged and frustrated. But, when we have each other to lean on, and when we can encourage each other with our shared experiences, we gain the strength to continue on our journey and to not grow weary in the faith.

There’s a hymn that expresses the unity that ought to exist among believers. It was written in 1782 by John Fawcett — “Blest Be the Tie that Binds.”

Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.

Before our Father’s throne,
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one,
Our comforts, and our cares.

We share our mutual woes,
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.

When we asunder part,
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be joined in heart,
And hope to meet again.

Have You Been Broken? Part 3 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #27)

Pilgrim's Progress According to the Bible

PART A

Download MP3 Subscribe to this Podcast

PART B

Download MP3 Subscribe to this Podcast

TEXT: 1 Corinthians 10:12-13: “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

As we continue our series on Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible, allow me to read from the story of Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan as a prelude to our topic for today. As you may recall, Christian was in the Valley of Humiliation when he was approached by Apollyon. Apollyon began to attack Christian with his fiery darts. Christian used his shield to deflect most of the darts, but Bunyan tells us that he was wounded in his head, one of his hands and one of his feet.

Then Apollyon, espying his opportunity, began to gather up close to Christian, and wrestling with him, gave him a dreadful fall; and with that Christian’s sword flew out of his hand. Then said Apollyon, “I am sure of you now.” And with that he had almost pressed him to death, so that Christian began to despair of life; but as God would have it, while Apollyon was fetching of his last blow, thereby to make a full end of this good man, Christian nimbly stretched out his hand for his sword, and caught it, saying, “Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy; when I fall I shall arise.”

And with that gave him a deadly thrust, which made him give back, as one that had received his mortal wound. Christian perceiving that, made at him again, saying, “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us”. And with that Apollyon spread forth his dragon’s wings, and sped him away, that Christian for a season saw him no more.

We have already learned that one of the reasons why we need to be humbled and broken is so that we will be spiritually vigilant so that we will not fall into temptation. We also learned that we need to be humbled and broken so that we will grow stronger in our Christian faith by applying what we have learned and using the tools that we have been given.

Today, I want you to notice that we need to be humbled and broken in order to realize that it is only through God that we will be victorious over the enemy. Our passage states, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

Notice that God is the one who provides a way of escape for us out of our temptations, trials, and difficulties. We like to think that we are able to make things happen ourselves, that we can find our own way out of trouble and distress. Most of us are not eager to lean on God or anybody else. One of the qualities that people have hailed about America is that of being able to “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.” Well, with God, it doesn’t work that way. When we get in trouble, we have to humble ourselves and depend on Him to get us out of it.

We see this in the story of Moses. Moses thought he could deliver the children of Israel his way. He went out among his people, saw what was going on, got angry, and ended up killing an Egyptian. God had to put him in the desert for 40 years. Once, he was the prince of Egypt; now, he was a fugitive helping to take care of sheep in the wilderness. What was God doing to him? God was humbling him and breaking him down. God was letting him know that he couldn’t do things his way. God was saying to him, ‘If the children of Israel are going to be delivered and freed, it is going to happen My way, Moses, not your way.’ God was not finished with Moses. God still planned to use Moses. But God needed to help Moses understand some things first. When Moses went back to Egypt to deliver the Israelites, he did it with God’s power, not his own.

He often has to do the same thing with us. When we face our trials and difficulties in life, our first instinct is to employ the human knowledge and capabilities that we have in order to get out of that situation. However, God wants us to not depend on our human capabilities, but to depend on Him and what we have learned from His word. In today’s reading from Pilgrim’s Progress, how did Christian defend himself and defeat Apollyon? He used the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. Those weapons were his “way of escape” and they had been given to him by God.

One commentator wrote, “The Valley of Humiliation in The Pilgrim’s Progress represents our coming face to face with the reality of our own neediness. We are humbled when we cast down pride and recognize that we are undone before God and bring nothing to the table that would commend us to God.”

The only way we can be delivered from our trials, be victorious over our temptations, and successfully pass our tests is if we depend on God for the way of deliverance. And, in order to do that, we must be broken and humble before Him. We must be willing to no longer do things our way, but His way. We must take the way of escape that He has provided us. Matthew Henry said, “There is no valley so dark but he can find a way through it, no affliction so grievous but he can prevent, or remove, or enable us to support it, and in the end overrule it to our advantage.”

All things work together for our good. Even in the difficult moments of trial and temptation, or when we are going through a desert experience like Moses, God is working so that we will become humble and broken people who are vessels that God can use for His glory.

Have You Been Broken? Part 2 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #26)

Pilgrim's Progress According to the Bible

PART A

Download MP3 Subscribe to this Podcast

PART B

Download MP3 Subscribe to this Podcast

TEXT: 1 Corinthians 10:12-13

12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

As we continue our series on Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible, allow me to read from the story of Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan as a prelude to our topic for today.

Now, in this Valley of Humiliation, poor Christian was hard put to it; for he had gone but a little way, before he espied a foul fiend coming over the field to meet him; his name is Apollyon. Then did Christian begin to be afraid, and to cast in his mind whether to go back or to stand his ground. But he considered again that he had no armor for his back; and therefore thought that to turn the back to him might give him the greater advantage with ease to pierce him with his darts.

Therefore he resolved to venture and stand his ground; for, thought he, had I no more in mine eye than the saving of my life, it would be the best way to stand.

So he went on, and Apollyon met him. Now the monster was hideous to behold; he was clothed with scales, like a fish, (and they are his pride,) he had wings like a dragon, feet like a bear, and out of his belly came fire and smoke, and his mouth was as the mouth of a lion. When he was come up to Christian, he beheld him with a disdainful countenance, and thus began to question with him.

Last time we saw Christian, he was on his way into the Valley of Humiliation. And, in that valley, he met the great enemy of every believer — the devil, here given one of his many names, Apollyon. Christian’s first test was whether or not he would turn and run or face his foe. And that provides a great starting point for our message today.

Last week, we learned that one of the reasons why we need to be humbled and broken is so that we will be spiritually vigilant so that we will not fall into temptation.

Another reason why we need to be broken and humble is so that we will grow stronger in our Christian faith by applying what we have learned and using the tools that we have been given. Our passage states, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” Now, the word “temptation” involves not only an invitation to sin, which we dealt with last week, but a test or a trial. Continue Reading…

Have You Been Broken? Part 1 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #25)

Pilgrim's Progress According to the Bible

PART A

Download MP3 Subscribe to this Podcast

PART B

Download MP3 Subscribe to this Podcast

TEXT: 1 Corinthians 10:12-13: “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

As we continue our series on Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible, allow me to read from the story of Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan as a prelude to our topic for today.

Then Christian began to go forward, but Discretion, Piety, Charity, and Prudence would accompany him down to the foot of the hill. So they went on together, reiterating their former discourses, till they came to go down the hill. Then said Christian: “As it was difficult coming up, so far as I can see, it is dangerous going down.” “Yes,” said Prudence, “so it is, for it is a hard matter for a man to go down into the Valley of Humiliation, as you are doing now, and to catch no slip by the way.” Therefore, said they, “are we come out to accompany you down the hill.” So he began to go down, but very warily; yet he caught a slip or two.

Christian had just had a wonderful time at the Palace Beautiful. He had come up the Hill of Difficulty, was well rested, and had received a new suit of armor and provisions for his journey. However, as he sets out once again to go to the Celestial City, he learns that he must travel through the Valley of Humiliation.

Think about the word “humiliation” for a moment. What kind of thoughts or feelings come to mind when you hear that word? No doubt, you have a negative reaction to the word “humiliation.” When we think of humiliation, we think of being embarrassed or put to shame. We think of failing in a very public and noticeable way. We think of being laughed at. We think of walking into a room and immediately people start whispering because of something we said or did in the past. One dictionary defines humiliation as “the abasement of pride, which creates mortification or leads to a state of being humbled or reduced to lowliness or submission.”

Even though we may think negatively of the idea of humiliation, lowliness, submission, or brokenness, the Bible is replete with the importance of this subject in God’s eyes. The more common term in the Bible is humility. Notice these verses: Continue Reading…

The Armor God Supplies for the Christian, Part 10 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #24)

Pilgrim's Progress According to the Bible

Download MP3 Subscribe to this Podcast

TEXT: Ephesians 6:10-18

In Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, the main character, Christian, receives a suit of armor to put on as he prepares to continue his journey to the Celestial City. Bunyan writes, “The next day they took him and had him into the Armory, where they shewed him all manner of armor, which their Lord had provided for Pilgrims, as Sword, Shield, Helmet, Breastplate, All-prayer, and Shoes that would not wear out. And there was here enough of this to harness out as many men for the service of their Lord as there be stars in the Heaven for multitude.“ We, too, face enemies and danger in our walk with Christ, and God has given us armor to put on. So far, in this series, we have looked at six pieces of armor that God has supplied for us as we face spiritual battle every day :

1. The belt of truth.
2. The breastplate of righteousness.
3. The shoes of the Gospel of peace.
4. The shield of faith.
5. The helmet of salvation.
6. The sword of the Spirit — the Word of God.

After a very detailed discussion on the pieces of armor that a Christian needs to put on, one might think that that is all there is too it. But it isn’t. There is one more thing we must do in order to be battle ready. No, it is not another piece of armor. But, based on the way Paul talks about it, it is extremely important. It is prayer.

Three times in a single verse, Paul urges us to engage in prayer as part of our warfare. First, he says we ought to be “praying always,” that is we ought to be in a constant spirit of prayer. We ought to pray “in every season” and at “every opportunity.” Second, he says, “with all prayer,” that is with all forms of prayer which we will discuss shortly today. Third, he says, “and with supplication,” that is to make our requests, in the name of Christ, for things that are in God’s will.

In his commentary on Ephesians, John MacArthur writes, “All the while that we are fighting in the girdle of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, we are to be in prayer. Prayer is the very spiritual air that the soldier of Christ breathes. It is the all-pervasive strategy in which warfare is fought.”

Because spiritual warfare is a constant struggle, we ought to be constantly praying. The Bible commands us to “pray without ceasing.” But, what does it mean to pray with “all prayer and supplication.” This means that we should not hesitate to engage in prayer in all its forms — whether alone or with others, in private or in public, silent prayer or praying aloud — all prayer is to be engaged.

Scholars have found in the Bible eight types of prayer. Allow me to share them with you.

1. The prayer of faith. This is a prayer for something that is in God’s will, but is yet to come to pass. In this prayer, you express belief in the power of God to bring things to pass. James 5:15 says, “The prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.”

2. The prayer of agreement or corporate prayer. This is simply praying with other believers. In Acts 1:14, we find that Jesus’ followers “all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication” in the upper room before Pentecost.

3. The prayer of request. When Paul used the word “supplication”, he was talking about this kind of prayer — asking God for your needs and desires. Philippians 4:6 teaches us to “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” John R. Rice said, “Prayer is simply asking and receiving.”

4. The prayer of thanksgiving. This is a prayer of gratitude to God for what He has done for you. This is a prayer you pray after God has answered your prayers. Philippians 4:6 says we ought to offer “prayer and supplication with thanksgiving.”

5. The prayer of worship. This is a prayer of praise to God where you aren’t asking or thanking Him for anything specifically, but you are just worshipping Him because of who He is. In Acts 13, we read of early Christians who were “worshipping the Lord and fasting.”

6. The prayer of consecration. When something or someone is consecrated, it means that they are set aside to do God’s will and be used for God’s purposes. Jesus Christ prayed a prayer of consecration in the Garden of Gethsemane when He told His Heavenly Father, “Not my will, but thine be done.” Jesus also taught us to pray this way in the Lord’s prayer which says, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”

7. The prayer of intercession. This is when we pray for the needs of others. In 1 Timothy 2:1, Paul says, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men.” You ought to always have in mind someone you can pray for other than yourself.

8. The prayer of imprecation. These are prayers that invoke God’s judgment on the wicked. David and others prayed these types of prayers in the Psalms. However, Jesus teaches us as Christians to pray for blessings on our enemies, not cursing. He said in Matthew 5:44, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Of course, that is often a hard thing to do, but we can do it through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Those are the eight types of prayer found in the Bible. When we “pray always with all prayer,” we are engaging, at different times, in all types of prayer.

As a final command regarding spiritual warfare, we are told that we ought to be “watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” This means that we must be alert and we must be watching in order that we might pray. We ought to be on the lookout for saints who are faltering that we might lift them up in prayer. We ought to be on the lookout for sinners that we might lift them up in prayer, asking God to deliver them from their spiritual blindness. We ought to be ready to pray for people and situations at a moment’s notice.

John Piper describes this wonderfully when he calls prayer our “war-time walkie-talkie.” He said prayer “is mainly for those on the front lines of the war effort to call in to headquarters to send help. One of the reasons our prayer malfunctions is that we try to treat it like a domestic intercom for calling the butler for another pillow in the den rather than treating it like a wartime walkie-talkie for calling down the power of the Holy Spirit in the battle for souls.”

That is what we need prayer for in spiritual battle — to ask God to step in and defeat the enemy through the power of the Holy Spirit. In other words we need air power through prayer power. Throughout this series we have mentioned numerous times how that we are not fighting this battle in our own strength, but in the strength of “the Lord and the power of His might.” And the only way to call down the power of the Lord into our present-day spiritual battles is through prayer — so pray always!

Page 10 of 54« First...«89101112»203040...Last »