Thursday, 28 October 2010

The Iron Lady was right

As you may have gathered from my previous post, questions about our post-resurrection existence have been on my mind recently. In that post, I offered a Trinitarian solution to the question of whether everlasting punishment in Hell is fair or not. In a sense, the solution I offered there, focused on who God is.

I've been doing a bit more reading and I think, I can see another good reason related to our fallen state why everlasting punishment is just. If we as fallen beings need outside help to move from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light how much more will we need it then? Or putting differently, if the grace of God is the only hope for salvation now what hope then for those who spurning Christ have been banished to the fiery lake? If an individual clings to their sin right to the moment of death what remedy will suddenly cure them from such folly in the world to come?

It's instructive at this point to consider the rich man described in Luke 16 who post-death is shown to be in hell. Have you ever stopped to reflect on the kind  of assistance he asks for? This is what we read him saying

'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.'

Notice that all he wants is respite from his agony. He doesn't ask for help in turning to the Saviour.

I suppose all I'm saying is that continuing in sin now and dying in that state of sin offers no hope for someone suddenly turning to God in repentance in the afterlife, even if that were possible. In fact Scripture makes clear that the wicked are those who post-death continue rebelling against God even in the face of severe judgement. Thus for example we read in Revelation 16:9

They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him.

It seems to me therefore that everlasting punishment of the unrighteous in hell, is 'fair' in that the God's ongoing punishment in hell is not limited to just those sins committed whilst on earth, but will also be an expression of the on-going antipathy of the unrighteous towards God and their continuing sin. I wonder as well whether the phrase ‘gnashing of the teeth’ – a frequent expression of Jesus to describe the reprobate is an image of people grinding their teeth in rage or in helpless anger at God?

Put very simply the damned in hell persist in their sinning and therefore continue (in perpetuity) to incur God's wrath. The Apostle Paul was right all along: 

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Or to paraphrase the great Margaret Thatcher the people are not for turning

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

From love comes wrath

Many people decry the duration of hell. Even among Evangelicals I've heard the question asked as to whether it is fair that God inflicts everlasting punishment on people who have committed offences in this short and troublous life? One helpful way to resolve this apparent predicament is by embracing the Trinity. The mutual glorification within the Trinity, alerts us to the zeal with which each member of the Godhead guards each other's honour. For example we read in the St John's Gospel that the Father intends it 'that all may honour the Son' (John 5:23). The Son in turns honours the Father (John 13:31) and the Spirit glorifies the Son (John 16:14). It is also interesting to note that the stern warning against committing the unforgiveable sin: blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, provides us with a glimpse of the high honour that Son regards the Spirit. Set against this backdrop, the everlasting punishment of the wicked becomes more an expression of intra-Trinitarian love rather than an unjust expression of God's wrath. As Ralph A. Smith indicates in his excellent book on the Trinity (Trinity and Reality) God's wrath is an expression of a pure yet outraged love: 'it is the love of the Father for the Son that He will not allow His Son's name to be tarnished.' It is from such love that wrath flows.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Another gem from Herbie

A few months ago I spoke about the joys of reading poetry here. One of the poets I recommended in that post was the great Herbie aka George Herbert, 1593-1633). His works are not always easy to read/comprehend but when you get one that is understandable, boy what a gem it is... Well that intro, let me introduce you to Herbie's Grace

MY stock lies dead, and no increase
Doth my dull husbandrie improve:
O let thy graces without cease
                                       Drop from above!

If still the sunne should hide his face,
Thy house would but a dungeon prove,
Thy works nights captives: O let grace
                                       Drop from above!

The dew doth ev’ry morning fall;
And shall the dew out-strip thy Dove?
The dew, for which grasse cannot call,
                                       Drop from above.

Death is still working like a mole,
And digs my grave at each remove:
Let grace work too, and on my soul
                                       Drop from above.

Sinne is still hammering my heart
Unto a hardnesse, void of love:
Let suppling grace, to crosse his art,
                                       Drop from above.

O come!  for thou dost know the way:
Or if to me thou wilt not move,
Remove me, where I need not say,
                                       Drop from above.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Is this Proverbs 22:29 in action?

Collect for today

"...because the triune God is infinite, and the Second Person of that Trinity became one of us, insignificance and cosmic importance now indwell one another, world without end. Amen."

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Quote of the week

“Too little” means cleavage, vast expanse of thigh, that sort of thing. Women with this problem dress like a sale at J.C. Penney’s—forty percent off. 

From the legendary heavy D at Credenda/Agenda

Saturday, 9 October 2010

I want liberty of spontaneity

Preparing for services I always hanker after originality and freshness. Many a time I have wondered how those I admire lead worship so well all the while speaking edifying words spontenously. Well apparently there is a secret and it is for you, to prepare to be fresh. Read more about that here and to get you started, consider this brilliant quote

But before the message can be fresh, the man must be. Prepare the man before you prepare the message [...] confess sin, grow in grace, resist temptation, feed your soul something other than spiritual Doritos.