A. After Life for the Righteous: What? Heaven is not the end of the World • Life before Death: What? • Life after Death: What? • Life after Life after Death: What?
B. After Life for the Unrighteous: What? Grave Matters! 4. Life before Death: What? 5. Life after Death: What?
C. Kingdom Matters Bringing Heaven to Earth 6. “We believe in Life before Death”
Series • Challenge Traditions & Beliefs “You are out of your mind, Paul! Your great learning is driving you insane.” Acts 26:24
Author, pastor, and innovative teacher Rob Bell presents a deeply biblical vision for rediscovering a richer, grander, truer, and more spiritually satisfying way of understanding heaven, hell, God, Jesus, salvation, and repentance. The result is the discovery that the ‘good news’ is much, much, much better that we ever imagined. (Bell 2011)
The Christian conundrum “God loves us. Here’s how the traditional story goes… God offers us everlasting life by grace, freely, through no merit on our part. Unless you do not respond the right way. Then God will torture you forever. In Hell.”
“that a select few Christians will spend forever in a peaceful, joyous place called heaven, while the rest of humanity spends forever in torment and punishment in hell with no chance of getting better … is misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus’s message of love, peace, forgiveness, …” (Bell 2011, viii),
For there to be love, there has to be the option, both now and then, to not love. To turn the other way. To reject the love extended. To say no. Although God is powerful and mighty, when it comes to the human heart God has to play by the same rules we do.
God has to respect our freedom to choose to the very end, even at the risk of the relationship itself. If at any point God overrides, co-opts, or hijacks the human heart, robbing us of our freedom to choose, then God has violated the fundamental essence of what love even is. (Bell, 103-104)
“Universal Purgatorial Post- mortem Repentance”. What makes us think that after a lifetime, let alone hundreds or even thousands of years, somebody who has consciously chosen a particular path away from God suddenly wakes up one day and decides to head in the completely opposite direction?
And so a universal hugfest where everybody eventually ends up around the heavenly campfire singing “Kumbaya,” with Jesus playing guitar, sounds a lot like fantasy to some people. (Bell, 104-105)
At the heart of this perspective is the belief that, given enough time, everybody will turn to God and find themselves in the joy and peace of God’s presence. The love of God will melt every hard heart, and even the most “depraved sinners” will eventually give up their resistance and turn to God. (Bell, 2011, 107)
Does the Bible teach Saint Augustine’s “turn or burn” or Saint Rob’s “turn or burn to yearn to turn” or is there more to it?
Isaiah 5:13–14 (KJV) 13 Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: And their honourable men are famished, And their multitude dried up with thirst.
14 Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, And opened her mouth without measure: And their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, And he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it.
2 Timothy 4:1–5 (NIV) In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.
3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
After Life for the Righteous: What? Life before Death: What? “Heaven is not the end of the World”
Genesis 1:26–28 (NIV) 26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
Ephesians 1:3–12 (NIV) Spiritual Blessings in Christ 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.
In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
ii. Redemption Ephesians 1:7-12 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.
9 And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.
11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.
1 Timothy 1:15 15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.
… ‘the gospel’, in the New Testament, is the good news that God (the world’s creator) is at last becoming king, and that Jesus, whom this God raised from the dead, is the world’s true Lord. The power of the gospel lies, not in the offer of a new spirituality or religious experience, not in the threat of hellfire
(certainly not in the threat of being ‘left behind’) which can be removed if only the hearer ticks this box, says this prayer, raises a hand, or whatever … but in the powerful announcement that God is God, that Jesus is Lord, that the powers of evil have been defeated, that God’s new world has begun.
Once the gospel announcement is made, in whatever way, it means instantly that all people everywhere are gladly invited to come in, to join the party, to discover forgiveness for the past, an astonishing destiny in God’s future, and a vocation in the present. (Wright, Surprised By Hope 2007, 238)
2 Corinthians 5:17–18 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation
iii. God’s Kingdom Colossians 1:13–14 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
The Kingdom of God is a PRESENT REALITY that has come into the world NOW to destroy & devastate the bondage that the rulership of Satan brings. This is not a future hope that some day we can be delivered from the torment of the devil, by being spirited away to heaven, but we can EXPERIENCE IT NOW
The Kingdom is now: the Kingdom is coming Already all things have become new, not yet has it been fully realized
We have been rescued from the powers of this world in order to rescue others.
1. To see and enter into this present Kingdom we need to be born again John 3:3,5 3 In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” 5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.
2. To participate in the Kingdom, we must become Kingdom Builders 1 Corinthians 15:58 58 Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
3. The Promise 1 Corinthians 2:9 9 However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”—