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Day 84: Your World View

Posted by undergroundchurch on January 12, 2016

Scriptural Nuggets Daily DevotionScriptural Nuggets Daily Devotion

Accidental evolution or Intelligently designed Creation? What happens when we die? Is there a God? Is morality absolute or is it subjective?

Questions like these are more philosophical than driven by data. There is an element of faith involved and can be birthed through your home environments or a personal experience in life.

Answers to these questions will also tamper with the way you look at world events. For example, if you do not believe in God, you might make life decisions that focus solely on the here and now, and death might feel like the finish line. If you do believe in God, then you might look at death as a “speed bump” more than a “terminal situation”.

A world view also drives our sense of purpose. Again, if we believe in God, we tend to see life events through the lens of the divine and less to randomness.

King Solomon, regarded by many as a pretty wise ruler, wrote an entire Book on the meaning of life. He starts his discussion…

Vanity of vanities, says teh Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What does a man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?  A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. – Ecclesiastes 1:1-3

He spends quite a bit of time basically saying that if your world view is that there is no God, then there is no purpose and why does any of this matter. But if there is a God, then there is a reckoning or final judgement one day and everyone will need to give account.

If we are wrong about there not being a God, then end the end we lose everything. If we are wrong about there being a God then we lose nothing because everything would have been meaningless anyway.

So as Solomon concludes,

The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of the man. For God will bring every deed into judgement, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. – Ecclesiastes 12:13-14


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Why does God Destroy Heaven?

Posted by undergroundchurch on August 16, 2010

I have searched for this answer, and I can’t find it anywhere in any commentary or blog I’ve seen.

What did Heaven Ever do to Deserve being Destroyed?

Revelation and Peter (2 Peter 3:7) both tell of God destroying heaven and earth in the end, but why both.  What didheaven do to deserve that fate?

Like me, you probably never even thought about ‘why’.  You just accepted the fact that God was going to do it to “start over”, so let me ask the question this way, “If heaven is so… uh, heavenly, why is it scheduled to be destroyed?  What makes it undeserving of a future as it is?

The answer might surprise you, and it can be found all over scripture from before man walked the earth through today to days yet to come.

Evil in Heaven

I really can’t say this any other way, “Heaven has known evil”. In fact, it is safe to say that evil is probably hanging out in heaven as you are reading this message.

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.

And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. – Job 1:6,7

In Job 1 and 2, we see Satan presenting himself a couple times before  God in heaven.  This is an interesting situation.  I mean, if you read Luke 10:18 and Revelation 12:4, you would think Satan was permanently out of heaven, but just because he was cast out, doesn’t mean he can’t return.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. – Revelation 12:10

Most would agree that God is in heaven right now.  We know that Jesus sits (and sometimes stands) at His right (Acts 7:55), but are you ready for this.  It looks as though Satan is in heaven too standing before God spending his entire time accusing us. The passage above hasn’t happened yet.

We know that there was a rebellion in heaven when a third of the angels followed Satan in his attempted takeover (Isaiah 14:13), So there has been strife and battles, sin and rebellion in heaven.

Only One Thing Makes it Through

Here’s your question; what is the one thing (not person) that makes it through the destruction of heaven and earth?

Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions…” (John 14:2)

The place Jesus is talking about is not heaven but the place where you will be living.  Revelation 21 tells you exactly where that is… the New Jerusalem.

This huge city with streets of gold and gates of pearl will be your eternal home. (Read the chapter yourself very carefully).

The New Home Never Saw Evil

The New Jerusalem is the one thing that makes it through to the end, and there is a really special reason why it is the only thing.

Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. – Revelation 21:27

This cannot be said about any other spot in all of creation… not heaven, earth, hell or anything.  Evil has entered everywhere except this special city.

Heaven must be destroyed because it has known sin, evil and the prince of shame and deceit.

Peter clarifies why….

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. – 2 Peter 3:7

He wraps both the earth and the heavens in the same judgement.  It is because of sin that Heaven must be destroyed.  The same reason that earth must be destroyed.  Just so you know, there will not even be a hint of sin anywhere in the new world to come.  That is some serious purging. That is far better than heaven, and it will be your new home if your name is found written in the book of Life

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What Happens in the End?

Posted by undergroundchurch on July 29, 2010

Had this discussion in our Sunday morning class, so I thought I’d walk it out here a bit.

We are not the center of God’s universe

Our self-centered nature shines through when we look at God from our vantage point with the thinking that His universe revolves around mankind.  He was here for eternity before we arrived and will be here for eternity to come; our world and existence is but a blip on that radar.

Do we really think that God was sitting around for eternity then one day decides, “I’m bored; I think I’ll create people?”

God’s Plan Rules

God had a plan that spans eternity to eternity. Our little minds can’t even fathom never having a beginning. It blows our minds because it’s against all our physical laws, but God didn’t start with our universe. He already was.

His plan “includes” people, but it also includes angels, demons, and even the devil himself.  It contains players we probably haven’t even heard about yet.  Point is that God is infinite in his majesty which means he was doing stuff before we came along.

Worlds that are Captured in the Bible

Just look at these things God has documented in Creation that directly affect us in the Bible. These are the worlds that we know of:

  • Created heaven in the beginning
  • Created Earth in the beginning
  • Created angels (and all the other spiritual beings mentioned in the Bible)
  • Angels fell / their kingdom shatters and Satan is born as the accuser
  • Created man to fill the Earth
  • Destroyed the Earth with water
  • Re-established man through Noah
  • Ushered in a Covenant through Abraham
  • Ushered in a New Covenant through His Son, Jesus
  • Jesus will rule this world for a 1000 years (A segment of believers will reign with Him) Revelation 20
  • He will destroy the heavens and earth again (Revelation 21)
  • Will rebuild both heaven and earth (notice from Revelation 21 that the only thing that makes it from the old heaven to the new earth is the New Jerusalem.

The New Jerusalem

In the New World, there is an interesting feature:

  • All the laws that govern that new world change (21:1 and 4)
  • The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into the New Jerusalem. (Rev. 21:24)

What does this mean? Who are the kings? What are the nations? What is God up to? Is he done, or does he have another part of his plan to unfold?

He has done this before. Remember the angels?  They were all created perfect, but then 1/3 fell with Lucifer. Jesus later says that hell was made for the devil and his angels – Matthew 25:41 (meaning hell was probably fashioned after the angels fell).

Now those good angels are ministering spirits to mankind at the bidding of God.

Food for Thought

What if He continues that trend.  What if we are going to be ministering spirits to whatever God has next like the angels are to us? One thing I’m pretty convinced of, we probably won’t be sitting around on clouds playing harps.

You never know what God has planned, but one thing is for sure. With God, all things are possible.

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About Hell: The World of the Dead

Posted by undergroundchurch on November 2, 2009

Hell Defined

The term “hell” evokes images of a burning lake of fire, smoke and eternal torment, and while these are true, the use of the term distorts the complete biblical description of hell.  The term itself comes from Anglo-Saxon and German roots and simply meant “underworld”.  Unfortunately for the English reader, the term often hides the original Greek and Hebrew words used in the Bible, so it becomes easy for the reader to get a distorted understanding.   It is important to look at the Hebrew or Greek word being used and the context in which it is used to get a more clear understanding.

The Introduction of Death

The world of the dead actually changes at least three times in the Bible, and each change comes from a key event that occurs between man and God.

The first change occurs in the garden east in Eden.  God tells Adam that if he eats from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he will die.  Death is first introduced here.

God originally intended that man would never die.  Death was not part of God’s “perfect” original plan.  We introduced it into our own lives through disobedience to God.  But now that man could die, he had to have a destination.  God told Adam that he was created from dust and so dust would be where he would return (Genesis 3:19).

Though the body dies and its molecules are spread throughout the earth, the spirit lives on, and so would need an eternal home.  Heaven was the first thing God created (Genesis 1:1), but was there another place?  Is heaven the only place for the souls of the dead to dwell eternally?

Strangely enough, heaven is not an Old Testament teaching of man’s eternal home.  Only two people were possibly caught up to be with God in heaven, and for the record, neither one of them died – Enoch and Elijah. The rest had a destination, but it isn’t where you might think.

The Land of the Dead: Adam to Jesus

The Old Testament does not really talk about “hell” in the manner most of us understand.  It speaks of a place called Sheol a bi-level subterranean cavity where the dead would go.  Sheol’s unique layout allowed for both the righteous and the wicked a place to go once they died.  Most writers understood that sheol was their resting place after death, and they knew that God would not leave them there (c.f. Psalm 16:10, Psalm 49:15).  A deep portion or “pit” (c.f. Psalm 30:3) existed for the wicked while sheol in general was for the righteous.

God didn’t created sheol or hell after the fall of man; it must have been a part of the original creation and most likely was not intended for man’s eternal abode anymore than heaven was intended for man’s eternal abode since the earth itself was made for him. So, technically speaking, both heaven and hell (as you may understand it) up to the time of Jesus were pretty much void of humans, sheol on the other hand, contained every human that ever died.

However, It was Jesus himself that gave us the best understanding of this place called sheol in the Hebrew and Hades in the Greek.

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘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.’

“But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

“Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

” ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

“He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ” – Luke 16:19ff

Jesus describes the land of the dead as a place that consists of a peaceful side and a place of fire and torment with a huge chasm that separated them.   They could even see each other and even speak to each other across the chasm.

Sheol or Hades is finally described just before Jesus dies on the Cross.  However, the death of Jesus would bring about a second change in the man’s destination in the afterlife.

Land of the Dead: Jesus to the Second Coming

Up until the death of Jesus, people were saved through the sacrifice of bulls and goats, but this sacrifice was not enough to take care of the original seed of sin within man.  Only through the death of Jesus would the payment be possible for every person to actually live with God.  Hades would not be the same once Jesus died.  Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:8-10 that Jesus went down to the depths of the earth and led captivity out.  He took those that we with Abraham in the “paradise” side of hades to heaven because only through the blood of His death could there be a reconciliation to God.

Those on the torment side of hades remained there and are still there to this day.  When you die now, your temporary destination is either heaven or hades’ bad side and it all hinges on your relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

A final configuration of the world of the dead will take place in the near future and the Bible once again shows how it’s going to unfold.

Land of the Dead: At the End of Time

There are two other terms in the New Testament translated as “hell” besides hades – tartarous and ghenna.

Tartarous is the place where the angels that sinned are kept in chains (2 Peter 2:4, Jude 6).  This place only contains the wicked angels that fell with Satan and/or the ones that mated with human women prior to the flood (c.f. Genesis 6:2).  Either way, it is a very deep part of “hell” and only contains angels.

The second word is the one we understand as the true “hell”.  Ghenna, which is defined as the second death (Revelation 20:14)… the lake of fire, where the worm does not die and the torment is eternal.

Nobody occupies ghenna yet.  In fact, the first inhabitants will be the antichrist and the false prophet (Revelation 19:20) After this, Satan is bound and thrown into Tartarous with the rest of the sinning angels.

About a 1000 years after the antichrist and prophet are cast into ghenna, Satan is release from tartarous and tries to battle God where he is quickly caught and thrown into ghenna.  The remaining people are judged and all those in Hades are brought before God. Anyone whose name is not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life is thrown into ghenna.  Therefore, Hades is emptied of the remaining people and ghenna is filled. (Revelation 20)

The final phase is for God to destroy heaven and earth and rebuild them both.  He then empties heaven of its human inhabitants, places them in the New Jerusalem, which he prepared for them and places it earth along with the believers where they will live with God for eternity.

So in the end, all is as God originally intended.  God is with man on earth as he was with Adam in the Garden, Satan is defeated and sin is no more.

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About Hell: The Reality

Posted by undergroundchurch on October 28, 2009

Hell: Arguably the most controversial subject when it comes to the afterlife.  Most people’s beliefs about hell come from what they learned through tradition, folklore, poor teaching, movies and general fear.  When it comes to hell, many people simply write it off as a myth or parable, and can’t imagine it as a real place that a loving God would actually send people.

To those that write it off, however, the real possibilities of hell come into play when you speak of Hitler, Mao Tse-Tung, Stalin, Charles Manson, mass murders and the like, because heaven certainly can’t be their eternal home. But at what point between the evil of a Hitler and the good of a Mother Theresa does one cross the boundary line of a path that leads to eternal destruction and one to eternal bliss because they were “good”? How many “bad” deeds disqualify you?  How many “good” deeds earn you a ticket?

The Bible lays out reality of hell, how to go there, how to avoid it and the role it plays in God’s eternal plan.

The Reality of Hell

Most people believe in a heaven.  Some believe in hell and few believe in nothing at all.  Sadly, it really doesn’t matter what we believe because belief never offsets reality.  From a practical point of view, the best avenue would be to look at it from a worst case scenario and approach life as if there is a heaven and hell.  If you are wrong, then you have nothing to lose.  But if you discount hell, heaven or both, and are wrong, then your eternity could be quite disappointing.

The Bible has quite a bit to say on the subject, and will look at it over the next couple posts.

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Heaven is not your home

Posted by undergroundchurch on June 1, 2009

Quick quiz – What are the streets of heaven paved with? If you said gold, you’d be incorrect.

I have a lot of favorite scriptures, but in the category of changing my understanding of what I thought I knew, today’s Biblegateway scripture is the ultimate shakeup.

I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. – Revelation 22:2-4

First off – I know the title of this rubs you wrong.  Because of traditions, we want to believe that heaven is our home. I still cringe when I say it is not our eternal home, but the truth is, you will not find anywhere in the Bible where Heaven is a believer’s eternal home.

In fact, heaven was never designed for you. I would go so far as to say that it’s not even perfect… I’ll get to that one in a minute.

God is your destination, Jesus your hope and by the power of the Holy Spirit, if you believe in the gospel which is Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection for your sin so that you might not perish, but have eternal life, then your home will be where God is. So the question is, “Where will God be”?

I know all those great songs we have sung over the years about “heaven being our home” have a great feeling of hope, but though their intention is good, their accuracy is a bit off.

To quickly put any doubts you may have to rest, there is a passage in the Bible that is very descriptive about where your eternal home is – Revelation 21.  The whole chapter is spent talking about where your are going to spend eternity. You are going to spend it in the New Jerusalem which will be located right back on a rebuilt earth.

God’s Favorite Word

I think God has a favorite word, and it’s found in this passage.  It’s a word that represents the realization of a dream.  It is a word that sums up His goal for man and His satisfaction when we actually understand something He’s been trying to tell us for years.  The word is “Now”.

“Now” is the word God spoke to Abraham after he offered his son as a sacrifice and God stopped him.  It became a turning point for Abraham’s walk with God – “Now, I know that you fear God” (Genesis 22:12).

You can almost hear the relief in God’s voice when he says it.  “Abraham, I’ve been trying to get you to this point for years, and NOW you get it.”

The word “Now” is also the key word in the passage in Revelation 21:2.  This is the moment God has been looking forward to since Adam sinned.

You see; God walked with Adam in the garden of Eden; He spoke to him face to face.  Something He has not been able to do since that day Adam ate the fruit from the forbidden tree, and thus, he severed the accessibility of his relation ship with God. From now one, man would need a mediator.

Jesus provided a path back to God, but like Paul says, it is like looking through dark glass.  Much better than the darkness we had before; but still, it’s not very clear.  But when the perfect comes, we will see clearly (1 Corinthians 13:12).  The relationship with God will be completely unhindered, pure and totally accessible.

God is saying in Revelation 2, “Now, finally, after all these years I get to live with the people I love.” Today, a believer is the temple of the Holy Spirit, but it is not enough for God.  He doesn’t just want to live in you; He wants to live with you.

Here is the little secret that changed my thinking about God.  The whole thing is not about me.  The Bible is not about me.  Nothing is about me.  It is only about God.

God wasn’t doing all of this to bring you to Him.  He was doing it to bring Himself to you.  It’s about where God wants to be, not where you want to be.  Your home is here, your citizenship is in heaven (at least for now), but you are not destined for heaven.

To clarify, if you die today, you go to heaven.  But it is only a rental, not your permanent home. It was made for the angels, and you are just visiting.

Adam was created and placed on a perfect earth – not in a perfect heaven.  Both heaven and earth experienced sin.  Earth experienced it when Adam fell.  Heaven experienced it when Satan fell. Both worlds changed, and both now have an expiration date where all things will be made new.

Look at Revelation 21:1

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.

God is going to destroy both heaven and earth and even rewrite the laws of nature (See Revelation 21:4, 5, 23 and 25).  Nothing but his angels and his believers will be around once it is all rebuilt.  God will then resume his original plan – to dwell with man.

Yep, you heard correctly, God’s place is with man, not the angels.  Pretty interesting isn’t it.  You thought you were going to heaven to be with Him and His angels, float on clouds, play harps and wear wings and halos.

Look at the points God makes in Revelation 21:

  • City coming down from heaven –  remember that Jesus went to heaven to build a mansion for you (John 14:2), well… it’s moving day.
  • The tabernacle of God is with men – similar to the tabernacle in the desert,  but this isn’t just a noun (a tabernacle building) but a verb (he is living with man)
  • He shall dwell with them – Second time it’s said (God living with, not just in you)
  • God himself with be with them – Third time.  God is really seriously making a point here. God is going to be with us, we aren’t going to be with God.

I know this flies in the face of years of traditions.  As good as some traditions may be, any that pull you from the truth of the existing Word of God really need to be reconsidered or even better, discontinued.

Many of the traditions we have come from art – e.g.  cherub babies, angels with two wings (when the bible describes them with 4 or 6 or none), the last supper with the disciples on one side of the table in chairs (they didn’t use chairs). Even believing that heaven has streets of gold and pearly gates with Peter next to it.  That’s all tradition, not Bible.  Heaven only has a few descriptions, and only contains the original Temple (the earthly one is a copy), a throne and a few odds and ends.

Other traditions come from songs and hymns, e.g. angels singing on high (actually, they never sing anywhere in the Bible).

So why does this matter.  It’s because truth matters; no matter how small. If we want to believe something just because it sounds good, but it’s wrong, how are people going to believe us when we try to speak the truth that really matters.

The point is, if it comes to what you think you know versus what the Bible reveals, I would err on the side of the Bible.  When you stand before God and He asks you why you did what you did, you will have a better defense if you use your Bible and not your hymn book.

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