Tag Archives: judgment

My Thoughts About The Spiritual Discussions Surrounding The Death Of Robin Williams

 

Robin WilliamsThe death of Robin Williams is certainly the topic of conversation for the moment.  I was attending a baseball game with my daughter when my iPhone flashed the news of his death.  My first thought upon reading the news was thinking how ironic it was that I was also attending a baseball game a few years ago when my iPhone gave me the story about Michael Jackson’s death.  Since that moment, the Internet has been ablaze with people giving their thoughts about the comedian’s passing.  Yesterday, I saw countless “R.I.P., Robin Williams” and “Make God laugh in heaven, Robin!” posts on Facebook.  I also saw several Christians talk about whether it is appropriate to talk of Robin Williams spending eternity in heaven, considering that he committed suicide and especially since he spent all of his adult life saying and doing many things which God says are sinful in his Word.  By the end of the day, I also saw several instances of people scathingly rebuking anyone who would dare to even suggest that Robin Williams would not go to heaven.  There were lots of “Who made you the judge?” and “How unchristian of you!” accusations thrown around.

Here are my thoughts.  God is the judge, not us.  That said, he has given us the standard by which he will judge us, which is his Word (John 12:48).  As Christians, we are to preach that Word at every opportunity as God has told us to do (2 Tim. 4:2).  We are to do so because God will judge us all, and will condemn those who do not obey his Word (2 Cor. 5:10-11).  The only way anyone will know more about the Word of God is if we tell them, and we are to take every opportunity available to tell them (Gal. 6:10).  

Like it or not, Robin William’s death by suicide is what people are thinking about and talking about right now.  From what I’ve read about him, the man made a lot of people laugh and brought a lot of smiles to a lot of faces, which is a good thing…except for the many times when he did so by using comedy which was vulgar in nature, according to what God says (Eph. 5:4).  The interviews I’ve seen in which he espoused his religious and spiritual views show me, when I compare them to God’s Word, that he was not a Christian as God defines it.  IF (and I stress IF) that is true, then according to what the Bible says about the standards which God will use to judge us all he died in a lost state.  Therefore, according to several passages all throughout the Bible, he in fact would not be resting in peace.  

Now, do I know that for a fact?  No, because I don’t know everything that was in his heart; God does.  For all I know, the man obeyed the gospel a month ago and was biblically saved, and was out of his mind due to clinical depression on Sunday night when he chose to take his life.  That said, for all I know the man never obeyed the gospel and thus died outside of Christ when his depression led him to take his own life.  I don’t know either way, and neither does anyone else.  God does, and he will make the call, not us.

Here’s what I do know.  Christians are commanded to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15).  No one should basically judge this man into hell because we don’t know for sure the condition of his soul and heart at the time of his death.  However, the opposite of that is equally true.  No one should preach him into heaven either.  Like it or not, that’s exactly what is happening when Christians and non-Christians go around telling this man whose public life all the way up to the time of his death in many ways was the exact opposite of how God tells Christians to behave to “rest in peace” and “Can’t wait to see you in heaven.”  If we want to speak the truth, nothing more needs to be said other than this:  Robin Williams is in the hands of a just God who will render to him according to his works, as he will do with us all (Rom. 2:6-11).  

His death and the conversations it has sparked present an opportunity, in my view a great opportunity, for Christians to teach what the Bible actually says about these matters and encourage people to get ready for the day death comes for them and they enter into eternity.  So I’m glad some Christians are respectfully speaking out and asking questions about the usage of “R.I.P.” for just anyone who passes away.  Doing so will get some people to think.  Now, will people be offended?  Sure, but some will be offended no matter what you do.  Some will be offended if you question the appropriateness of saying “R.I.P” to a man who committed suicide and whose public spiritual views did not coincide with Scripture…but guess what?  If you stand on the opposite side of the fence and shout about how wrong one is to “judge” Robin Williams by even suggesting that he is not in heaven, you also will offend some people.  (Ever think about that?) 

Nonetheless, God wants us all to, to the best of our ability, use every opportunity we have to bring people closer to him if we can.  So I’m glad the discussions about suicide, the appropriateness of the usage of “R.I.P.”, and other matters surrounding his death are being discussed by Christians who bring what the Bible says into the conversation.  Some will be offended, but other will start to think.  Some will even start to think about their own soul’s situation.  In the end, that’s what it’s all about. 

God said through Solomon a long time ago, “It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart” (Eccl. 7:2).  In other words, the death of someone you love – whether it be a loved one, a good friend, or a beloved celebrity like Robin Williams – is a reminder of how we all have an appointment with death and judgment (Heb. 9:27).  It holds the potential to motivate those of us who are still living to get ready for the day we meet death ourselves and get prepared to meet our God.  So I’m glad Christians are taking this opportunity to use Mr. William’s death as a means to bring up what the Bible says one must do in order to truly “rest in peace.”  If even one soul responds by honestly examining themselves and obeying the gospel, it will be worth the countless others who are offended.

Whoever Hears My Word And Believes Him Who Sent Me Has Eternal Life…

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

John 5:24 – Scripture of the Day (January 21, 2014)

To pass “from death to life.”  To not “come into judgment,” which means to not come into what the Greek calls krisis, condemnation.  To have the “eternal life” that is God’s free gift rather than the second death of hell which we deserve because of our sin (Rom. 6:23; Rev. 21:8)!  What a high, undeserved honor!  What a wonderful thing it will be to hear those sweet words from the King of kings:  “Well done, good and faithful servant.  You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much.  Enter into the joy of your master” (Matt. 25:21).  Do you want those wonderful words to be said to you?  I know I do…

Look very carefully at what the Master says in today’s Scripture of the Day.  These blessings of eternal life and the passing over of judgment from death to life come to “whoever” does two things:  the one who “hears my word and believes him who sent me.”

The Psalmist wrote that the “blessed” man “who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers” is one whose “delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Ps. 1:1-2).  The apostle wrote that Christians are to long for “the pure milk of the Word” like a newborn longs for milk (1 Pet. 2:2), and that we are to diligently grow in “knowledge” if we are to have that “entrance into the eternal kingdom” provided for us (2 Pet. 1:5-11; 3:18).  The faith which pleases God (Heb. 11:6) and saves us (John 5:24; 3:16) comes from hearing “the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17).  Friend, how well do you hear God’s Word?  How often do you meditate upon it?  Day and night…or once a week for a couple of minutes?  Have you ever read the entire Bible?  If not, why?  If you want to escape the judgment of God and walk into an eternal life of bliss, take Jesus’ promise to heart.  Hear his Word.

Not only that, but believe in the God who sent Jesus.  This faith consists more of a belief in the existence of God, but also that he “rewards those who seek him” (Heb. 11:6).  It must be stronger than the faith of demons, for they too believe in God (James 2:19).  No, this belief in God consists of such a strong spiritual, mental, and intellectual conviction and trust that it prompts unhesitating obedience (James 2:14-26).  It was this kind of faith that prompted Noah to obey God in building an ark (Heb. 11:7), Abraham to obey God by moving his family to places unknown and being willing to sacrifice his son (Heb. 11:8-10, 17-19), and Moses to give up “the fleeting pleasures of sin” in Egypt in order to serve God by leading Israel out of slavery through the Red Sea (Heb. 11:24-29).  It is this faith that will prompt you and me to obey the will of our God as revealed in his Word, no matter what the cost.

Do you want eternal life?  Hear, believe, and obey…

You Are Peter, And On This Rock I Will Build My Church…

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Matthew 16:18 – Scripture of the Day (January 20, 2014)

Such an encouraging verse with a powerful, uplifting promise!  And yet, due to translation error and false teachings this powerful passage is misunderstood by so many!

For example, “the gates of hell” should be more accurately translated from the Greek “the gates of Hades.”  Hades and hell are actually two different words in the Greek which describe two different places, but many think they’re the same thing due to many English translations translating Hades as hell, which in turn is due to the translators being influenced by the erroneous teaching that Hades and hell are the same.  Hell is gehenna in the Greek (Matt. 5:22, 29-30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15, 33; Mark 9:43, 45, 47; Luke 12:5; James 3:6).  The word originally referred to the city of Jerusalem’s garbage dump, and then was used to symbolically refer to the eternal lake of fire reserved for Satan and his followers after judgment.  Hades is where the dead wait for judgment.  The rich man was in torment in Hades, although several translations erroneously translate the word as “hell” (Luke 16:23).  However, Jesus and the thief whom he forgave were also in Hades after they died, in the part referred to as Paradise or Abraham’s bosom or side (Acts 2:27; cf. Luke 23:39-43; 16:22-24) which is separated from where the rich man is tormented by a gulf or chasm (Luke 16:26).  Thus, Hades is a place where both the righteous and unrighteous dead are, unlike hell which is reserved for the unrighteous for all eternity.  On the day of judgment, Death and Hades will deliver up the dead that are in them and then be cast into the lake of fire which is hell, after which all who are judged by God to be condemned will also be cast into hell, along with Satan (Rev. 20:10-15).  Thus, Hades and hell are two different places.  By telling Peter that “the gates of Hades” shall not prevail against the church, Jesus was in effect promising that the church would not die.

Another misunderstanding many have about this passage revolves around the mistaken notion that one church is just as good as another.  This ecumenical mindset ignores several biblical points about the church:

  1. When Jesus spoke of building his church in this passage, notice that he spoke of the church in a singular fashion, not as pluralistic.  In other words, he said, “…I will build my church.”  He didn’t say, “…I will build my churches.”
  2. This is because the New Testament reveals that there in fact is only one church.  Paul spoke of the body of Christ as being his church (Eph. 1:22-23), and then specifically said that there is only one body, as well as only one faith (Eph. 4:4-5).  If the body is the church, and there is one body, then there is one church.  One church, one body, one faith.  Compare that to the thousands of different denominations, sects, and cults which all believe different things while claiming to all follow Christ…even though Christ’s New Testament specifically commands Christians that “…all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10; cf. John 17:20-23; Phil. 2:1-2).

Another misunderstanding many have about this passage revolves around the Roman Catholic doctrine of apostolic succession which teaches that Peter was the first Pope.  This verse is commonly cited by Catholicism to mean that Jesus was saying that the church was built on Peter.  However, this notion is mistaken for two reasons:

  1. Peter could not have been the first Pope, because Peter was married (Matt. 8:14-15; 1 Cor. 9:5) and Catholic doctrine teaches that the Pope and other bishops must be celibate, even though the New Testament specifically states that bishops must be married (1 Tim. 3:2; Tit. 1:6).  (With this in mind, compare Catholic doctrine to the prophecy of Paul in 1 Timothy 4:1-3.)
  2. It is well known that “Peter” means “rock,” and so the assumption is made that when Jesus said, “…you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church…”, he was saying that the church would be built on Peter.  However, a study of the Greek words used in Matthew 16:18 reveals that Jesus actually used two different words here.  When he said, “…you are Peter…”, he used the masculine Greek word Petros, which refers to a rock or stone.  However, when he then said, “…upon this rock…”, he used the feminine Greek word petra, which refers to a large rock or stone, or a cliff.  The two similar but different words show by definition that Jesus had two similar but different concepts in mind when he spoke this sentence.  The church would not be built upon the rock of the apostle Peter (Petros), but upon a large rock or cliff (petra).  Contextually, the only thing Jesus could have in mind in reference to the petra would be the confession Peter had just made that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God (Matt. 16:16), which of course we know is the foundation of faith upon which the church is built (cf. 1 Cor. 3:11).

Thus, today’s Scripture of the Day records a promise Jesus made to Peter, the other apostles, and us that gives me comfort every time I read it.  He promised to build his church, of which there is only one, upon the rock of the confession of faith in him as the Son of God, and that his church would never die and thus be overcome by the gates of Hades.

Are you a part of his church?  The Bible specifically states that he is the Savior of his church (Eph. 5:23).  Do you want Christ to be your Savior?  Be a part of his church, not some man-made denomination.  Make the same heart-felt confession of faith that Peter made (Matt. 16:16; Rom. 10:9-10), choose to repent of your sins (Luke 13:3; Acts 3:19), and wash your sins away via immersion into the body of Christ, his church (1 Cor. 12:13; cf. Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38).