Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Christ's Descent Into Hell

In our church, we recite the Apostles' Creed. What does it mean when we confess that "He descended into hell?"  1 Peter 3:19 says of Christ, "He went and preached to the spirits in prison," which some believe occurred when He literally went to hell.  The following devotional from Ligonier Ministries corrects this notion and explains that Jesus did not literally descend into hell between his death and resurrection, but precisely the opposite.

Christ's Descent Into Hell

Throughout the course of church history, many people have taught that Jesus’ spirit descended into hell after His death on the cross. Basing this idea on Ephesians 4:8–10 and 1 Peter 3:18–20, most of those who have taught that Jesus’ spirit went to hell after His death have said that He went there to proclaim judgment to sinners and/or rescue the saints of the Old Testament. Today, many in the heretical Word of Faith movement teach that the crucifixion was insufficient to atone for our sins and that Jesus also had to suffer three days of torment in hell.

Faithfulness to all of Scripture, however, requires us to deny that Jesus’ spirit went to hell after He died. First, Jesus told the repentant thief on the cross that he would be with Christ in Paradise on the same day of their crucifixion (Luke 23:39– 43). Second, nothing in Ephesians 4:8–10 says Jesus descended into hell; Paul means only that Christ descended into the grave. Third, 1 Peter 3:18–20 likely refers to the Son of God preaching by the Holy Spirit through Noah to the people of Noah’s day. Finally, Jesus finished His atoning work on the cross. The New Testament speaks of propitiation, the turning away of the Lord’s wrath, only in relation to Jesus shedding His blood on the cross (Rom. 3:25Heb. 2:17; 9:1–10:181 John 2:2; 4:10; 5:6–11). Moreover, our Savior’s last words on the cross were “It is finished” (John 19:30). He saw His work as completed when He died.

Jesus’ spirit never went to hell, but on the cross He suffered the full wrath of God that is poured out in hell. True, the scourgings of the guards, the nails in Christ’s hands, and the other physical pains Jesus suffered manifested God’s wrath. Nevertheless, the most intense suffering Christ experienced was spiritual in nature, the hopelessness of losing the gaze of His Father’s blessing and the torment of experiencing God’s wrath for the sins of His people (Mark 15:34). John Calvin comments, “After explaining what Christ endured in the sight of man, the Creed appropriately adds the invisible and incomprehensible judgment which he endured before God, to teach us that not only was the body of Christ given up as the price of redemption, but that there was a greater and more excellent price — that he bore in his soul the tortures of a condemned and ruined man” (Institutes 2.16.10).

Coram Deo

Sin against an infinite being demands an infinite punishment in hell. In a few hours, Jesus suffered and exhausted the infinite punishment that impenitent people cannot exhaust even after an eternity in hell. He could do this because, in His deity as the Son of God, He is an infinite being. This is a great mystery, but as the Heidelberg Catechism states, it does assure us that we are fully delivered from the anguish and torment of hell in Christ (Q&A 44).

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Guilty Anyone?


Guilty, Anyone?

Guilt-inducing racism is being employed as a political tool, imposed on the schools, teaching children that they are collectively and individually responsible for racism by virtue of their skin color.

Friday, July 23, 2021

The Race of Faith - Free E-book by R.C. Sproul

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Irreducible Complexity


Irreducible Complexity

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

God's Work in God's Way

The following is an excerpt from a chapter in the book No Little People, by Francis Schaffer.

There is no source of power for God’s people—for preaching or teaching or anything else—except Christ Himself. Apart from Christ, anything which seems to be spiritual power is actually the power of the flesh. Luke’s record of Jesus’ pre-ascension statements has exactly the same emphasis: “But ye shall receive power after the Holy Spirit is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The force of the Greek is, “ye shall receive power; then ye shall be witnesses.” A specific order is involved: after having the Holy Spirit come upon them, the disciples were to witness. Though we today are immediately indwelt by the Holy Spirit when we accept Christ as Savior, being indwelt is not the same as having the fullness of the power of the Holy Spirit. The disciples had to wait to receive the Spirit at Pentecost. Christians today are to follow the same order: to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit at salvation and to know something of the reality of the power of Christ through the agency of the Holy Spirit—and then to work and witness. The order cannot be reversed. There are to be many “fillings.” Doing the Lord’s work in the Lord’s way is not a matter of being saved and then simply working hard. After Jesus ascended, the disciples waited quietly in prayer for the coming of His Spirit. Their first motion was not toward activism—Christ has risen, now let us be busy. Though they looked at the world with Christ’s compassion, they obeyed His clear command to wait before they witnessed. If we who are Christians and therefore indwelt by the Spirit are to preach to our generation with tongues of fire, we also must have something more than an activism which men can easily duplicate. We must know something of the power of the Holy Spirit. (Schaeffer, Francis A., No Little People, pp. 64-65, Crossway) 

Saturday, February 6, 2021

What It Means to be In the World But Not Of It

What It Means to be In the World But Not Of It

The words are simple in themselves but it still seems hard for any Christians to understand how their daily lives should be “in the world but not of it.” They have heard the phrase so often and on face value it seems simple. But how does it apply in practice? Many seem genuinely confused by the constant dilemma between engaging with the world and fleeing from it. They have a calling to follow in this world in which they can glorify God and this means they cannot retreat from life. They need to be distinctively salt and light. Although the words are simple it is difficult and so some want to limit its impact. They try to reinterpret it or define only specific things as “of the world.” The phrase belongs to Christ and in using it He shows us we have to imitate Him in applying it (John 17:14). Let us find out how.

Much could be and needs to be said about how to apply this truth but first of all we need  to have a better grasp of its meaning. We need to have a deeper sense of the spiritual principle being revealed in these words before we start putting them into practice. There is an attitude here that we need to embrace before we can start thinking about what it means in the details of life. Anthony Burgess helps us understand what this phrase means in the following updated extract.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Victimhood is Not the Answer

Everyone faces hardship of one kind or another. Victimhood does not promote anything. It is destructive. It keeps people focused on finding fault and blaming others. We can look at the glass half-empty or half-full. Many people have taken advantage of living in a free society and yes, they have faced many hardships, but they have not been deterred and have not focused blame on those of another race, or made other excuses. They got to work, they persevered, they found a way and they succeeded. We live in a sinful world in which people do not love one another as they ought to. Change hearts and you'll change ways people treat each other. Jesus Christ is the answer. Turn to Him, believe in Him and you'll be forgiven. Your heart will be changed, you'll become a new creation, and you'll become part of the body of Christ, in which there is neither Jew or Gentile, male or female, black or white. Then, out of love, you will begin to think of the needs of others ahead of yourself. You will live a life of meaning and purpose, for the glory of God. Jesus is the answer. Do you know Him? Oh, and there will be a final exam, called the "day of judgment." "For we must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ." Better examine and judge ourselves and stop judging and blaming others. Humble yourself, turn from your sin, trust in Jesus Christ and then you'll be a blessing to everyone around you, especially as you share the good news of the gospel. Jesus alone is our peace.