Don't Quench The SpiritWritten by Stephen Kingery
I started this ministry because I see something happening in our churches that is a deep concern to me. There are far too many of our members who attend worship services who are not, and are not becoming, grounded in word of God. I also see many members who are drifting away from fellowship of church. If their faith was strong and their love for God mature, I don't think this would happen.
Also, reasons people give for staying away from fellowship is puzzling to me. It seems that when slightest occurrence of some out-of-the-way comment that tends to hurt someone's feelings is made, people simply "quit church." Does this mean that they no longer want to be a Christian? That is certainly what term "quit church" implies. I've often said that I can't imagine what any person could do to make me want to end my relationship with my Heavenly Father.
The Holy Spirit is a real and vibrant part of every true Christian. In order for a true Christian to "quit church," there must be a tremendous quenching of Spirit. Let's take a look at Holy Spirit specifically as He relates to life of a Christian. In this study I hope that we can learn more about what Holy Spirit does, or at least should be allowed to do, in our daily Christian lives.
"And I will pray Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever, even Spirit of truth, whom world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you." (John 14:16,17) Jesus told us that we would have indwelling of Holy Spirit, that He would be in us, actually living in us. This is an awesome thought indeed, Holy Spirit being in us and a part of us. However, He does not impose His will on us. We are not robots occupied by a "spirit" going about doing what "spirit" wants us to do. Quite contrary is true. We still have a free will, fully able to exercise it at our discretion.
The Holy Spirit is living with us to be a "Helper," someone to guide and direct us as we strive to live a Christian life. If we allow Spirit to serve as our guide, He will give us those answers to questions that sometimes we seek. On other hand, we can quench Spirit and not allow Him to help us in this manner. The Apostle Paul says in Romans, "For those who live according to flesh set their minds on things of flesh, but those who live according to Spirit, things of Spirit." (Romans 8:5) What we allow to occupy our minds determines extent to which Spirit can serve as our Helper.
If we dwell on negative, always looking for a fault in someone or in body as a whole, we are not thinking of things of Spirit. If we dwell on soap operas, secular music, movies, our jobs, money, and a host of other worldly things, we are quenching Spirit. As we allow these worldly concerns, activities, and things to take up all of our waking time, we have no time for things of Spirit. Our minds and daily schedules are full of worldly activities and these things shove thoughts of Spirit out. If, on other hand, we dwell on fruits of Spirit, Bible study, prayer, helping needy, visiting sick, serving church, and like, we are allowing Spirit to work in our lives. The fruits of Spirit become more noticeable in our lives.
What are fruits of Spirit? "But fruit of Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law." (Galatians 5:22,23)
We really only have two choices; to set our minds on things of Spirit, or things of world. Paul puts it this way, "For he who sows in his flesh will of flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to Spirit will of Spirit reap everlasting life." (Galatians 6:8) As we allow our lives to be corrupted by things of world, we quench Spirit. Eventually, when we have quenched Spirit so long, getting back into a right relationship with God is all but impossible.
There is another aspect of allowing Spirit to work in our lives that is equally important. We must individually work for unity of church. We say that we believe that church was instituted by Christ, and that we strive for restoration of church both in unity and practice on a New Testament basis. But how often do we practice this belief on an individual basis? Paul exhorts church in his letter to Ephesians, "I, therefore, prisoner of Lord, beseech you to have a walk worthy of calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep unity of Spirit in bond of peace." (Ephesians 4:1-3) How does this tell us that we should behave as a member of a local congregation? We should love each other in Spirit. That means that we should be very careful not to say things to each other that are hurtful. It also mean that if someone does say something that hurts us - even if they do it on purpose - we should forgive them and continue to love them! And I realize that each of us may on occasion accidently make a comment that hurts others. When we know that we have done this, we should show our love for brother or sister and apologize. I truly wish that all our members would live by these principles.
The above principle is further emphasized in Philippians, "Only let your conduct be worthy of gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for faith of gospel,..." (Philippians 1:27) I sometimes wonder what we could accomplish if we would do as Paul tells us here, to be "with one mind striving together for faith of gospel." Those things which so many of our people do which I am talking against here serve to destroy body. Remember that we are speaking of church which is "the bride of Christ." Jesus will be coming after His church. Will He accept a divided church? I would not think so.
Is Hell A Real Place?Written by Stephen Kingery
Is Hell a real place, or is it just a symbolic representation of a place where bad people should go? Does it really exist, or is Bible trying to give us some insight into torment that non-believers have in their final days of existence on earth? Or is it just fantasy put in Bible to persuade people to believe in God? I once heard a preacher say, "You can believe whatever you want to about whether hell is real or not, but it does not change fact that it is a real place of torment for non-believers." Let's take a look at what Bible has to say about hell.
By examining scriptures, we can learn a great deal about place we call hell. We see that there is going to be everlasting destruction. "...in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and those who do not obey gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from presence of Lord and from glory of His power,..." (II Thessalonians 1:8,9) We see in this passage a glimpse of hell. It is for those "who do not know God, and those who do not obey gospel." In other word for those people who fit two categories: (1) those who do not know or believe in God, who voluntarily choose not to, and (2) those who profess to believe but by their actions and way they live their lives, do not follow or obey gospel.
There are millions of people who have heard gospel message, some I am sure dozens of times, and reject God and His Son. They do not give their lives to Christ, choosing rather to go their own way or perhaps way of world. According to this passage, these people will spend eternity in hell.
I am convinced there is also a large number of people who claim to be Christian and simply go through motions, never really obeying gospel or following teachings of New Testament. Their lives and hearts were not changed. These too shall spend eternity away from God.
So what is hell? The above passage again gives us a glimpse into this. "These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from presence of Lord..." The fate of those we are speaking of is to be banned eternally from being near God, or to be out of His presence. What is being "destroyed" in passage is ability or opportunity to be in presence of or near God. Death, by spiritual definition, is separation. The first death is when our spirit is separated from our bodies. The second death will be when a person's spirit is eternally separated from God.
I think we can see from above passage that hell is a real place. We can also see that it is for certain that it will exist. In book of Mark we see another glimpse of hell as a terrible place. "And if your hand makes you sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, than having two hands, to go into hell, into fire that shall never be quenched -- where 'their worm does not die and fire is not quenched.'" (Mark 9:43,44) The last part of this passage, "their worm does not die and fire is not quenched,"is quoted from Isaiah 66:24. It simply tells us that though physical body is dead, spirit is still in existence. The spirit of those going to hell will be an existence as of a worm, or as Isaiah put it, "They shall be an abhorrence to all flesh." (Isaiah 66:24) If we "in flesh" could actually see exactly what hell is like we would truly be horrified. It is a terrible place of eternal existence for those who do not know God and those who will not obey whole gospel.
Not only is hell a terrible place, but it is also a place of eternal existence. "Then He will also say to those on left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for devil and his angels,...'" (Matthew 25:41) "And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but righteous into everlasting life." (Matthew 25:46) The judgement, once pronounced, will be final, irreversible, and unending. For those of us that are obeying gospel of Jesus Christ thought of eternal life with God and Jesus is joyous. However, just thought of eternal existence in hell makes me shutter. I cannot imagine -- and I don't want to -- what it would be like to spend eternity in a place where I could not praise and worship my Heavenly Father. That alone, for me, would be terrible.
It is difficult for us to conceptualize what eternity will be like. Everything which we experience here on earth is limited by time. We tend to think of a lifetime as a very long period. In reality, in frame-work of eternity, a lifetime is but a twinkle of an eye. It is but a fraction of a second in comparison. I like way song Amazing Grace phrases it, "When we've been there ten thousand years, bright shining as sun, we've no less days to sing God's praise than when we first begun." How glorious that will be for us, and how terrible it will be for those in hell.
Specifically, who will be in hell? The Bible tells us exactly who will be in this place of eternal torment. "Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face earth and heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is Book of Life. And dead were judged according to their works, by things which were written in books. The sea gave up dead which were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into lake of fire. This is second death. And anyone not found written in Book of Life was cast into lake of fire." (Revelation 20:11-15) This is a long passage, but it shows clearly that everyone will go through judgement. Those whose name is found written in Book of Life will be entering into eternal life with God. Those whose name is not found in Book of Life will be cast into lake of fire, or hell. In other words, to put it in simple terms, all who are not saved by grace of God through blood of Jesus Christ shall spend eternity in hell.