Dare to Beat the System


I was talking about Petra with a friend/reader on Friday, and the album Beat the System came up. On Monday, I discussed pursuing one’s godly vision against all naysayers.

Today, I’d like to hear stories from people who beat the system. Folks who found a way to drop out of the rat race kingdom to pursue God’s eternal Kingdom. I’d love for folks to share about throwing off all the baggage, picking up the cross, and pursuing a vision others said was nuts.

You joined a Christian commune or intentional community.

You gave up your corner penthouse office and became an itinerant preacher working for goodwill offerings.

You sold it all and moved to Tanzania to minister to AIDS patients.

You leave the wife and kids behind for months on end to minister to crab fishermen off the Alaska coast.

You gave up the McMansion and moved into a poor, racially torn neighborhood so as to be a nexus for healing in the name of Jesus.

You live on a tenth of your income and give the other nine-tenths away to people who are destitute.

If you’ve done or are doing something like that, know someone like that, or can convince someone you know to comment about their beat the system story, I want to read that experience right here.

Please post away!

Oh, and if you break out in hives at the mere thought of 80s-era Christian music videos, you better avert your eyes or flee the room to avoid what follows…

(And my answer to the eternal Petra question: Volz.)

62 thoughts on “Dare to Beat the System

  1. Brian

    Beat the System was the first concert tour I saw Petra on, though I had been listening to them since More Power to Ya came out, and went one album back to get Never Say Die. One of my all-time favorites from that tour was the Praise Medley, mixing Volz’s two anthems with the Hallelujah Chorus.

  2. Don

    I was so looking forward to the responses to this today, but after being posted all day, there hasn’t been one person who has commented on how they “Beat the System”. That’s disappointing.

    • This may sound more sardonic than it’s meant to be, but perhaps those who have beat the system are too busy doing just that to sit around commiserating with a bunch of people who talk about doing so but don’t actually do it. I say that of myself foremost, so please don’t think I meant any offense by it.

  3. Two quick examples: a friend of ours from right here in little ol’ safe middle-class Ohio had started spending his summers (he is a teacher) in Ghana in the refugee camps, ministering. So 2 years ago he quit his job and moved to the camps to teach literacy, the Bible and help the refugees live. All donations go to the refugees and the teaching. He lives on his own money he had saved up. He came home last June, worked for about 4 months to earn more money, and now has followed the refugees who had to go back to Liberia. He is not with a missionary organization other than “us” — “us” being various believers from various congregations, small towns, house churches that God has led to support what He is doing.

    2nd: whenever I get a little panicky about seriously trusting God with everything in my life, I head on over and read this blog again: http://urbanservant.blogspot.com .

    • Thanks, Heather! At least someone had some examples.

      Your friend sounds like someone who will definitely be hearing “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

      The Urban Servant page also got me.

  4. I don’t understand the part about leaving behind family to minister in farflung areas, though. You rage against the machine, Dan, about how the business world tears our families apart. But you’re willing to do it if it is the mission field?

    • Michael,

      One has eternal outcomes, while the other does not. Luscious apples versus shriveled oranges, the way I see it.

      (Update: I further clarified this response below.)

      • I think long-term missionaries should take their families with them. It may not seem a one-to-one analysis, but I compare it to David and his army leaving their families with the Philistines as they went to battle against the Philistines. The Philistines attacked Saul, and David acted by faith, delivering Saul out of the hand of the Philistines, again and again, until the day came when Achish’s men demanded David be sent away. When David came to Ziklag, the town was destroyed, and his army’s families taken captive. They, by faith, went up against the Amalekites, defeated them, and returned their families. But in the mean time, Saul was killed, principally because God had marked him for death, but secondarily because David was not there to fight the good fight of faith on that day. Why? Because he had not had enough faith to make other arrangements for his family.

      • Dave Block

        “One has eternal outcomes, while the other does not. Luscious apples versus shriveled oranges, the way I see it.”

        I can’t believe you wrote this. Loving your wife has no eternal outcome? Loving your children has no eternal outcome? And you liken the fruit of those high callings to shriveled oranges?

        You don’t think that whether someone is a godly — including present — husband and father has a huge impact on the lives of a man’s wife and kids, helping shape their lives and what impact they have on others, and therefore in the kingdom of God? It’s a simple fact that a correlation exists between parental involvement and positive outcomes for children. And that time together is a non-negotiable to a healthy marriage. Yet by the logic of your statement, we can give a pass to anyone who by choice spends little time with his or her spouse and kids, since there’s no eternal outcome of that choice.

        Is God really wasting our time by calling us to love our families? Is it loving your wife to leave her to raise the kids alone, running the household without your leadership and support for months on end? Is it loving your children to leave them without a father for months on end?

        A man’s first responsibility is to God, his second to his family. You can’t possibly justifying neglecting one’s family, and setting in motion the terrible consequences that brings, in the name of ministry. There are many stories of pastors, for example, whose families paid a terrible price because they spent all their time ministering to everyone but those in their household. And as a former youth ministry volunteer, I’ve seen the bitter fruit of husbands and fathers who spend insufficient time with their families.

        I can think of someone else who abandoned his family for what he believed was a higher, spiritual calling: Buddha.

        Loving your family won’t get you a major book deal or impress outsiders, but it’s a high calling indeed with eternal consequences.

        I’m baffled at what you wrote. It’s incredibly unbiblical. I probably agree with you about 98% of the time, and sorry if this sounds harsh, but this has to be the worst thing you’ve ever posted on Cerulean Sanctum.

        • Dan wasn’t saying being a spiritual husband and father had no eternal outcome. He was saying that giving up time with family for ministry is the luscious apple while giving up time with family for business is the shriveled orange. I agree with him about business, but not about ministry.

          I am, though, a little surprised you think this way, Dan.

          • Michael,

            While I was typing out my response to Dave, you came along and partially clarified it as well. Thanks.

            I’ll clarify further…

            Sometimes, ministry MUST come before family. Not every single time, though.

            Still, we in America have made something of an idol of the nuclear family because of our fondness for groups like Focus on the Family. Truth is, the genuine article would be called Focus on the Lord. Everything else comes second. If the Lord would have us spend time with family in a certain situation rather than doing “outside ministry,” then that’s what we do. If the other way around, then that’s what we do. End of argument.

            Our problem is that we default our ministry to doing it all for family. Even more likely, we do a little for family and then largely ignore outside ministry altogether, spending the bulk of what is left consuming or entertaining ourselves. This pretty much describes modern American Christianity.

            It would be no shock to me if the average American self-proclaimed born-again Christian lived out their “free time” in the following manner:

            Entertainment: 40%
            Household work: 20%
            Ministry to family: 20%
            Consuming: 15%
            Ministry to others: 5%

            Fact is, I suspect it’s even worse than that. I think this is a healthier blend:

            Ministry to family: 35%
            Ministry to others: 30%
            Household work: 15%
            Consuming: 10%
            Entertainment: 10%

            And I’d like to turn that a little on its head and suggest that doing ministry to others with your family should be the greatest priority, as that not only meets the need of others, but ministers to your family as well by teaching them to be others-centric.

          • And I agree with you. I think the miscommunication came from this point:

            “You leave the wife and kids behind for months on end to minister to crab fishermen off the Alaska coast.”

            Leaving the wife and kids behind for months on end is not a good idea. Period. Now you say:

            “I think this is a healthier blend:

            Ministry to family: 35%
            Ministry to others: 30%
            Household work: 15%
            Consuming: 10%
            Entertainment: 10%”

            If you leave the wife and kids behind for long-term missionary work, then “ministry to family” would be 0%, except for prayer, phone calls, and letters. And in some locales, even making phone calls and sending letters would be precarious.

            That’s where I was stymied. You’re a family values kind of guy, and you’re a take up your cross kind of guy. I’d think you’d be the first to cheer on Joe Christian who sells the house, cashes in the kids’ college fund, packs his family into the minivan, and moves to the inner-city or the country to minister to the poor, for example.

            Sure, it might take Joe a little longer to get his family on board with what God wants them to do. But Paul did say that he who marries would have trouble in the flesh! 🙂

            • Michael,

              The leaving for the crab boats isn’t forever. That makes all the difference. We think nothing of a businessman who is gone for weeks and months on business, leaving his family alone. Same for soldiers. Why bash Christians who do the same?

        • Dave,

          The luscious apples, shriveled oranges comment was directed at the business world comment Michael made and my raging against it. I read Michael as saying that I’m raging against both business and family. My comparison was that the business world is like the shriveled orange, especially when it wins over family. So in essence, I was attempting to say the opposite of what you thought I said.

          I guess I did not write that clearly enough.

          As to the issue of eternal value, yes, being a godly husband and father has eternal merit. I’ve never said that it doesn’t.

          But it’s also baseline in many ways. And I believe we have made it into something greater than baseline as a way to compensate for the reality that we are doing so little else besides that.

          Jesus said this:

          For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
          —Matthew 5:46

          What reward indeed.

          It’s like walking into work and proclaiming, “Look at me, I can read!” It’s a very safe bet that the majority of people there can read. In fact, It’s probably expected, a baseline.

          Consider what Jesus adds right after the above passage:

          You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
          —Matthew 5:48

          He just upped the baseline didn’t He?

          He upped the baseline here too:

          And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.”
          —Luke 18:29-30

          It is not hard to imagine this encounter in a modern setting:
          And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And the Teacher said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.'” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And the Teacher, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell your house and your cars, and move into a tenement where none have heard of God, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Jesus.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he loved his lifestyle and the American Dream. And the Teacher looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who love their small, myopic ways of living to enter the kingdom of God!”

          Too many of us in America are like that man.

          Jesus said this:

          To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
          —Luke 9:59-62

          In many ways, we have made idols of the American dream and the nuclear family. This has made us unfit for the kingdom of God.

          God expects something more from us, I believe. Something greater, because His baseline is higher. We are always willing to excuse ourselves, but very few are willing to step back and say, “I’m mostly just breathing air and consuming. My life has very little eternal consequence other than what is baseline. I better start thinking and living differently, in a way that is more in line with the radical upward calling of Christ.”

          • As per Matthew 5:46, there are plenty of moments in a typical marriage where the husband, wife, and children do not love each other. There are plenty of opportunities to choose legitimate ministry over your wife’s and children’s earthly desires, too. But leaving behind wife and children for the mission field is not commendable. It violates, for example, what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 7. The husband and wife should be apart by agreement for prayer and fasting, but they should quickly come back together, lest the devil tempt them.

  5. Dan, I spent ten years working my tail off in the system. One day someone shared with me some Biblical truths that change my life. I learned that the concept of Hell, a place of eternal torment was a doctrine promoted by the early Roman church to control it’s members by fear. I studied the four terms, (sheol, hadees, Gahenna, Tartarus) from which hell has been translated or better said mistranslated. I discovered the concept of hell was a pagan myth of Roman/Greco origins.

    Wow, did this turn the apple cart over as far as my theology. After much prayer and even fasting I discovered that the idea that a sovereign and benevolent God would send or even allow the majority of His offspring to be tormented and tortured forever absurd and contrary to nature of God which is Love.

    Anyway I found I had been worshipping a false God, a beast of God that was driving me to do works to please Him and these works in turn also built a self righteousness in me. The more works the more righteous I felt. I was on the hamster wheel of religion.

    This epiphany rook place 25 years ago and upon leaving the organized church with it’s terroristic Deity I found wonderful peace and love through Christ Jesus, a saviour and shepherd that looses none of the sheep. Today I live a Spirit led life where it is Christ within me that does the works and all my works are now love.

    To be truthful the last place I want my children or any children for that matter is to be in a church system that has a belief or creed that God would torture and torment any of His children for ever and ever. All God’s punishments are remedial and with purpose. Is that not the way of any good father with their children.

    When Jesus said the path was narrow and few go down it He was right on. Most today in Christendom worship a false God and a beast of a God.

    Sadly most are too lazy that they never take the time to do a little research of church history and of the Greek and Hebrew origins of our scriptures to find how error has swept through the church and deluded most.

    God help our children to learn God is love and not a terrorist,


    Matthew 22:14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

    Matthew 24:11 “Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many.

    • Jack,

      If there is no hell, then I don’t understand the idea of the narrow path, many called but few chosen, and false prophets misleading many. Those make no sense without a context of hell or separation from God.

    • David R.

      If there is no hell, or eternal separation from God, then why bother with salvation? Why would God send His Son to die on a cross if not to redeem sinners doomed to eternal separation from Him? If there is no hell, then why bother?

      • TruthBeTold

        Hello David R.,

        Where does it say that God sent His son to save us from eternal torment?

        I don’t see that ANYWHERE in scripture.

        Why do you believe in God? Do you do so out of fear or out of love and gratitude?

        What is good news to you? Is good news that Jesus came to die only for a few….b/c that is what most in Christendom think…that Jesus will only get a few and about 98% of the world will go on to eternal torment in Hell. Is that what you would call a powerful Saviour? Sounds like Adam would be more powerful than Jesus with that kind of argument…for it was through Adam that ALL died.

        NO! The REAL GOOD NEWS is that Jesus is the saviour of the whole world.

        “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1Cor.15:22)

        ALL means ALL.

        There is no going around the cross, each man in his own order will be saved, for nothing can seperate man from the Father’s love, life can’t and DEATH can’t. That word ‘everlasting’ and ‘eternal’ has been mistranslated in the King James and when one does a study on the word in the greek it is Aion…meaning ‘unto the age’.

        “But not as the offense, thus also the grace. For if, by the offense of the one, the many died, much rather the grace of God and the gratuity in grace, which is of the One Man, Jesus Christ, to the many superabounds.” (Romans 5:15)

        “For even as, through the disobedience of the one man, the many were constituted sinners, thus also, through the obedience of the One, the many shall be constituted just.” (Romans 5:19).

        May we all serve the Lord out of love and gratitude. May we carry the TRUTH of the REAL GOOD NEWS that all shall be saved in due time.
        Is there judgement? Yes. Is that judgement of a pagan origen called Hell? NO.

        Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father. No one can go around the cross and come through another door. He is the way.

        Oh! How I give Him praise right now!

        Be blessed David R.!


        • David

          So what you’re saying is that you agree with the counter-argument in the Garden of Eden that “You will surely not die.”

    • John Burns

      Revelation 20:11-15

      11Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. 14Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

      Matthew 8:12

      But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

      Matthew 13:42

      They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

      Matthew 13:50

      and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

      Matthew 22:13

      “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

      Matthew 24:51

      He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

      Matthew 25:30

      And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

      Luke 13:28

      “There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out.

      The above scriptures are the words of Jesus, not mine, or Dan’s. Argue with Him.

      • Vince


        I’m not arguing with Jesus at all. Not one of the Scriptures you cited say anything about everlasting weeping, everlasting gnashing of teeth, everlasting live punishment, or everlasting anything. I don’t deny anything that those Scriptures say. I just don’t add anything to them that they DON’T SAY.

        • David

          So what you’re saying is that even those who reject God, and refuse His salvation by denying Him will still dwell forever with Him?

        • John Burns


          Consider the following:

          John 5:28-29

          28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, to the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, to the resurrection of damnation.

          Mark 9:43-48

          43If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.[c] 45And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell.[d] 47And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, 48where
          ” ‘their worm does not die,
          and the fire is not quenched.

          Matthew 25:46

          46″Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

          Mark 3:29

          29But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation.

          Let the Bible speak for itself.


  6. Vince


    The reason you don’t understand the idea of the narrow path, etc., without the concept of everlasting torture in hell is that you’re reading your own assumptions into the concept ahead of time. It’s begging the question, as is the assumption that “separation from God” automatically means “unending hellfire.” Either everlasting torture is true, or it’s not, but the fact that the path is narrow and few are chosen does not in itself prove everlasting torture for everybody else. They are two separate issues. Jesus said, “I came that they might have life, and have it more abundantly,” not just, “I came that they might escape everlasting torture, and escape it more abundantly.” The issue is having LIFE, and the everlasting presence of God, not just escaping unending fire. The Bible clearly states (Hebrews 2:14-15) that the true oppressive fear from which the Gospel delivers us is the fear of death, not the fear of everlasting life in pain. And if you study the history of civilizations and their belief systems, you’ll see that the fear of nonexistence is often even more intense than the fear of existence in a state of misery and pain. That is why Christ tells us not to fear man, who can only destroy the body, but fear God, who is able to destroy both body AND soul.

    David comforted himself by remembering, “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” That should be enough for anybody. The “weeping and gnashing of teeth” among those thrust out is caused by the revelation of what they are losing, not by the pain inflicted on them by fire. (Read Luke 13:27-28, again, plainly, without eisegeting the fire into the text.) In Hebrews 12:12-17, the grief of the “profane Esau” is over losing the blessing, not “gaining” a torturous punishment. The examples go on and on.

    After being initially offended many years ago by the whole idea of the second death actually being death and not everlasting life in misery, but then spending hundreds of hours in study on this whole subject, independent of any denomination or group, I made the sad observation that certain subjects in the church have been made taboo, precisely to prevent free and open inquiry into them. This is certainly one of those subjects. Personally, I don’t have any heavy investment one way or another. God is God, and he has every right to do whatever he wants to do with his creatures. But that’s not the issue. The issue is whether or not something is true — period. And the whole idea that the value of the Gospel falls apart without everlasting torture is something that I find appalling, even insulting to Christ. Your own blog, Dan, doesn’t even remotely support this idea. The overwhelming emphasis, and rightly so, is on the LIFE in Christ, with all its implications, as contrasted against the life without Christ. That, and not everlasting hell, is the point of everything.

    • Vince,

      You’re preaching the standard Adventist line.

      Jesus never uses illustrations that are not based in physical or spiritual reality. He does not make allusions to things that are not as if they are. He is not a liar and does not misrepresent the facts.

      This is not merely a parable, but a reflection of a genuine spiritual reality:

      “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house– for I have five brothers–so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.'”
      —Luke 16:19-31

      People will not be convinced of the Christ. One did rise from the dead and some people did not believe. Those people will wind up in the same place as the rich man. End of story.

      I can perfectly understand hell and its existence. I have no problem being a joyful Christian who still believes in a real hell. I don’t know why some people can’t.

      Saved or unsaved, the soul is eternal. Annihilationism can’t be justified by Scripture.

      • Vince


        The Luke passage you cited is actually a twist on a parable in the Palestinian Talmud which predates the gospels. The context of it, and that entire section of Luke, is stewardship, not personal eschatology. Christ isn’t making a diversion from the subject to lay out a theology of what happens after we die. He’s throwing the Pharisees’ belief that their position is proof of blessing from God back in their faces.

        Interesting you say that “Jesus never uses illustrations that are not based in physical or spiritual reality.” That’s my argument when I ask people, why doesn’t “death” mean death? Why doesn’t “destroy” mean destroy? Switching to the other Lazarus, in John 11, Jesus did in fact “make an allusion to things that were not as if they were” when he first told his disciples that Lazarus was asleep, and then had to tell them plainly what he really meant: “Lazarus is dead.” Why didn’t he say, “Lazarus is wide awake in Abraham’s bosom”?

        You say “saved or unsaved, the soul is eternal.” Can you give me Scripture (not just theology) that actually says this? I find it interesting that we all like to hold up our heroes like Martin Luther, but conveniently forget the fact that, in his “Assertion of All the Articles Wrongly Condemned in the Roman Bull of 29 November, 1520,” Luther called “the immortality of the soul” a “monstrous opinion” out of the “dunghill of Roman decretals.” (William Tyndale agreed with him, as did John Wycliffe generations earlier.)

        I never said one couldn’t be a joyful Christian and still believe in a real hell. In fact, I never said hell isn’t real, just that it doesn’t last forever. (And I would ask you to take a long, hard look at why you would put such words in my mouth, and accuse me of calling Christ a liar simply because of what I believe (and am willing to stand before Christ and answer for), as soon as this subject comes up — especially when you did not address a single Scriptural or even logical point I made. I’ve been reading you for a long time, and this is way out of left field.) I’m not an Adventist, and in fact I’m trying to get someone out of the SDA church even as we speak. But it’s an invalid argument to simply dismiss one belief because “the Adventists (or fill-in-the-blank) hold it.” Likewise, the argument is not ended just because someone says, “Annihilationism can’t be justified by Scripture,” any more than the global warming argument is over just because Al Gore says it is. But this type of response proves my point about taboo subjects in the church. This is the usual course of things regarding this particular issue, but again, I think it’s way below you. 🙁

  7. Dan, Vince addressed your question quite well.

    In differing with Vince I have to say, no matter the emphasis of one’s ministry or message as long as there is the commonly held concept of Hell in one’s Theology it still becomes the driving force …….. the force toward dead work and self righteousness.

    Hell even when not acknowledged is the 800 lb gorilla in the room. I have looked at this phenomenon for a quarter century and I can say without exception Hell drives the bus when you have a believer working hard for God.

    We have a seven times seventy type God of whom it is said “His mercy endures forever.” Surely, we blaspheme His benevolent and merciful character by even thinking He would allow such a place as Hell. The apostate church has painted our Father as someone a thousand times more horrendous than Hitler.You see, Hitler’s tortures at least had a end point. My skin crawls to think of people “created in futility” made to suffer forever. It is beyond comprehension for me, today. All that craziness the church taught me, has all been replaced by a real love and that Love is the Love of the Father in my very own breast. Jesus Christ placed in me that Father’s Agape love for all of His creation.

    Let’s throw out the hellfire gorilla and rest in the Father’s love.
    What a wonder when all our works become love.


  8. Dan, I have to run but I noticed you used the “parable of the rich man and Lazarus.” That is just that, a parable and it speaks to the “two covenants” represented by Lazarus and the rich man. This story is really the farthest thing from giving any evidence to the pagan myth of Hell.

    I have to run but I have a list of internet writings that expose the truth behind this oft misused parable. I will share the links with you later if you don’t mind.

    Be blessed and thanks for the opportunity to share His Love,


    • Jack, Vince & TruthBeTold,

      You missed entirely my point in citing the rich man and Lazarus parable. Yes, it’s a teaching narrative (though many claim that there was a real rich man and a real Lazarus, since Jesus used the man’s name in the parable, something He did not do elsewhere), but like I said, Jesus never bases his parables on “unrealities.” When Jesus tells parables, all the illustrations are based on known reality. Those parables take place in settings that actually exist and involve people who could be you or me who are acting out real situations that real people might experience. A man (men exist) finds a treasure (treasures exist) in a field (fields exist), and goes and sells (selling exists) all that he owns (goods exist) to buy (buying exists) that field (which exists). Men, treasures, fields, the buying and selling of goods, valuing one thing over another—these are are real, concrete players that reflect the essence of the created, existing world. It is true to say that ALL OF JESUS’ PARABLES ARE ROOTED IN REALITY AND FEATURE ILLUSTRATIONS OF REAL ITEMS, PLACES, SITUATIONS, AND PEOPLE THAT CONFORM TO THE EXISTING CREATED UNIVERSE, BOTH SEEN AND UNSEEN.

      But what you are saying is that when Jesus tells the parable of the rich man (rich people exist) and Lazarus (poor beggars exist), who are both dead (death exists), with one of them in the place where the righteous dwell (which Jesus repeatedly said exists), all of that is real (and exists) EXCEPT for the place of torment where the rich man dwells. In essence, you are claiming that Jesus pulled a fast one on everyone in one of His parables by referring to an unreal place that does not and cannot exist anywhere in creation or the spiritual realms.

      That is utterly ridiculous logic. Every single one of Jesus’ parables portrays existing reality except this one? That’s pretty darned selective belief, if you ask me. And worse, it makes Jesus out to be a fabricator of untruths. For if Jesus tells us of a place that doesn’t exist, what else has He told us that isn’t real?

      I’m sorry, but this is so basic I can’t see how you can so blithely ignore it.

      • Vince


        You are either misrepresenting or misreading what I said. I didn’t say that only the place of torment where the rich man dwells doesn’t exist; I’m saying the whole thing is a parable, including the Abraham’s bosom part. And just as Paul cites the pagan poets in his sermon on Mars Hill, Jesus, as I said, is turning around a parable that the Pharisees themselves had used for years, and expanded upon, to justify themselves.

        As for the logic, I’m not “blithely ignoring” anything; I’ve done my research and my homework and my study into the origins of a particular doctrine and the interpretation of this particular parable, and come to the conclusion to which that work brought me. You, however, are forcing a system of logic onto the Scripture that the Scripture does not force upon itself (which is basically the flaw of all systematic theologies, putting more confinement on the Word than the Word puts on itself). Christ can use whatever parable he wants, and it’s not for us to dictate that he must comply with a certain standard that our own logical deduction has arrived at. Christ used parables to make a certain point, but the reality of the elements in those parables, no matter how true-to-life in the human experience of his audience it may be, is never the point he is making. People are not literally tares and wheat, or birds of the air, and those parables are not “statements of reality” by which we are to make theologies about tares, wheat or birds. Same with the Rich Man and Lazarus.

        And once more, you have not responded directly to any of my points, nor have you presented one single Scripture other than this parable to prove your theology. But as I said, that’s the way this discussion usually goes.

  9. Jono

    Re: Beating the System.
    A couple of years ago my wife and I took over the care of 5 kids (teenagers actually) who had been orphaned. We ended up looking after them for 18 months or so.
    My main comment about it was that it was HARD! I really learnt the meaning ‘taking up my cross daily’. A lot of the reason why ‘the system’ is so hard to beat is that living in the system is just so easy and comfortable and familiar.

    Re: Hell.
    I like CS Lewis’s book “The Great Divorce”. I have no doubt that there is an actual place called hell- but i think there’s a lot of wisdom in the way that CS Lewis portrays it as a place where the door is locked from the inside. People choose to reject God and live apart from Him.

    • Ruth

      Hi Jono,

      I thought your comments regarding Lewis’s book “The Great Divorce”, quite interesting as was the premise of the book is a temporary escape from hell on a bus no less. I have often renamed the book when refering to it as, Lewis’s rendition of a “Holiday from Hell”…….lol

      I first read the book when in the Nazarene church and thought it was full of unique thoughts, far different from the hell I was taught.
      It has been a favorite of mine for over 30 years…..About 4 years ago the Lord brought it all back to me and used it to point me to new truth…….

      You know Lewis held George McDonald in high esteem, even mentioning him in the book as one of the heavenly dwellers that the main character comes in contact with……it would be years before I would read any of McDonald’s writings and find out he did not believe in eternal torment……..Lewis evidently wrestled with that theology……hinting about it in veiled ways in his writings……

      One of things that helped turn on the light for me was the teachings of the law………never anywhere were the Isrealites instructed to torture their enemies…..There are no accounts of slow death or keeping someone alive just to torture them…..Each punishment meted out in the law……. fit the crime………

      Jesus further taught (and he said, he came to show us the father) that we were to forgive our enemies……….something I have found impossible except the Lord do it in me……..

      So are we to forgive our enemies but God holds himself to a lower standard……..and he will not forgive his????…….. I hold out this hope…….that he came to reconcile the world to himself and when our man made hells end……….perhaps each will find the door is locked from the inside and open it to HIM and his everlasting love.

      Then truly “every knee will bow and every tongue confess(willingly)that Jesus the Christ ……….Is LORD……Praise God!!!!

      Love the thoughts here……


      • TruthBeTold

        Hello Ruth,

        I loved what you shared, and this that you wrote was what turned the light on for me too…

        “One of things that helped turn on the light for me was the teachings of the law………”

        First and foremost the Old Testament doesn’t even mention Hell at all. The word “Sheol” is the Old Testament word that has been mistranslated as Hell and the real definition is ‘grave’. This is where everyone went when they died, Jew or Gentile, good or evil. Thus the O.T. doesn’t even have the concept of Hell.

        Interestingly, the first place that we do see the concept of Hell is when the Israelites are commanded to not follow the ways of the pagans.

        Mercy Aiken writes in “If Hell is Real”….”Many nations surrounding Israel in the Old Testament believed in Hell-like punishment in the afterlife, for they served bloodthirsty and evil “gods,” while Israel simply taught the grave (sheol) and a hope of a resurrection. If Hell is real, why was the revelation of it first given to pagan nations, instead of God’s covenant people? Did God expect Israel to learn about the afterlife from the Pagan Gentiles? If so, why did He repeatedly warn Israel to not learn of their ways?

        If Hell is real, why did God tell the Jews that burning their children alive in the fire to the false god Molech, (in the valley of Gehenna ) was so detestable to Him? God said that such a thing “never even entered His mind” (Jer. 32:35). How could God say such a thing to Israel , if He has plans to burn alive a good majority of His own creation in a spiritual and eternal Gehenna of His own making? ” (Aiken).

        It was also in the Old Testament that we learn of the Law of Redemption and the The Law of Jubilee. Those who have recieved the payment for sins by their Kinsmen Redeemer Jesus have entered into their inheritance NOW….but for all those that have not for whatever reason (ignorance, rebellion, unbelief, ect.) they will have to wait for the Jubilee of creation….and I believe these are those that you write of Ruth ….those that will bow their knees willingly.
        For as you correctly stated…”every knee will bow and every tongue will confess.”

        There are so many types/shadows all throughout the Old Testament that points to the salvation of all mankind. With a little study many within Christendom will have their lights turned on to the truth too.

        May that be so.

        Be blessed my sister,

        • TruthBeTold,

          Jesus confronted the Sadducees in their mistaken notions about the nature of the afterlife. In fact, He greatly expanded the knowledge of what happens when we die. The New Testament contains much information that more greatly details what was known by the OT patriarchs. To show how OT knowledge is not always as developed as NT knowledge, look at how more thoroughly Satan is described and expanded in the NT, whereas there is very little about him mentioned in the bulk of the OT. It should be no surprise then that the concept of a place of torment is expanded as well.

          And you still haven’t addressed how it is that Jesus, who never used fabrications and untruths to illustrate His parables, specifically talks in one of those parables about a place of torment where the wicked dead are separated from the righteous dead.

          The sacrifice of the children to Molech is detestable because the children have no means out because their parents offer them none. God the Father, in stark contrast, has provided the means to avoid hell: salvation through Jesus Christ. It’s why the disciples gave their very lives to get the Gospel out. No other explanation makes sense. If everyone goes to heaven, then there is no urgency and no reason to give one’s life to see that others hear a message that is moot anyway.

          As for the distinctions between the wicked and the righteous, even the demons believe. That does not mean that they will follow. The enemies of Christ are made to bow the knee because all must acknowledge His rightful Lordship, but that does not mean that those enemies followed Him. Nor does it even remotely insinuate that those enemies will be gratefully accepted into the eternal kingdom when they had (and still have) no intention of serving Christ.

          Lastly, in the absence of hell, how do you explain these words of Jesus?

          “For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”
          —Mark 14:21

          If either annihilationism or universalism is true, why would it be better if a betrayer of Christ had not been born? (And if you claim it’s hyperbole, you’re only turning those words of Jesus into an idle threat. And He doesn’t fail to keep his word, does He?)

  10. The parable of Lazarus and the rich man, long used by mainstream ministers to teach the reality of “hell,” really has nothing to say about punishment or reward in the afterlife. Christ used this story, which fit the common misconception about life after death in his day, to show the fate that awaited the Jewish nation because of the unbelief and faithlessness which led them to reject him as the Messiah. They still suffer from that fate to this very day. Yet the time is soon coming when God will pour on the Jews the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Christ whom they pierced, and they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn (Zec. 12:10).

    This writing (link below) will clearly expose the error of using this parable to promote the doctrine of eternal torment in hell. I have a list of six or seven other writings on this subjcet but have for the time misplaced them.


    Got other questions on “why not hell” this is a good place for such. They even have their own search engine. All the answers are there.


    In His Sweet Lord Jesus,


  11. Peter P

    Hi Dan,

    Mine is not a great story but when we moved to the USA 3 years ago, I was fully convinced that I was called to be a pastor. It was not until we had been here for a year or so and I had really learned what the system says that a pastor is that I gave up that dream. I wanted to have no part of being THAT. (I want to just say that is a reflection on the system not the heart of most pastors).

    It was only a couple of months after laying down my dreams of being a pastor that God called us to plant a house church. It then took me quite a few months to realize that I was, in fact, a pastor now.

    We currenly exist outside of the conventional church system and many people would not recognize us or what we do as a ‘church’ – except the homeless people we feed and those in my neighborhood who come asking for prayer and the families we reach out to at the holidays and the families who receive financial assistance from us because we as a ‘church’ have almost zero overheads and therefore can use all of the tithes and offerings for helping the needy.

    We are also in contact with a family who literally sold everything including their retirement funds to become full time missionaries to the Philippines.They live completely outside of what we know understand and understand yet God provides for them every day.

  12. “I can perfectly understand hell and its existence. I have no problem being a joyful Christian who still believes in a real hell. I don’t know why some people can’t.”

    Maybe a sign of a seared over conscience, That is a pretty horrific statement Dan and I don’t believe God is pleased with it.

    I teach my children empathy for others and that which you have voiced is the example I would give them to the absurdity and selfishness of fundamentalist Christianity.

    How much more beautiful and glorious is this concept that I teach the young ones …….. and it is scriptural supported.

    “Where are you going Shepherd?
    To find My sheep.
    How far will you go?
    As far as My sheep.
    How far may that be?
    To the world’s end.
    How long will you seek it?
    Until I find it.

    When you find it,
    will it come to you?
    No, it will flee from Me.
    Where will it go then?
    To the rocks and the sand.

    When will it stop?
    When it can run no more.
    What will you do then?
    Carry it home.”

    The scriptures tell us this Shepard that hung on the cross will not lose even one sheep. Oh, how shall we not weep as we learn of His great love toward us.



    • David R.

      The very reason that there is a hell is what gives me empathy for the non-believer. That they will suffer the torment of separation from God for all eternity is what drives me to minister to the lost. My joy comes not from escaping hell, but know I will spend eternity with Him. My fear is that those I love, and those I am called to love, will be separated from that joy forever.

  13. David R.


    You wanted examples, and I think you got something you didn’t intend, but actually shows the greatest barrier to service there is: The slight detour.

    I have served God here in the US, in Thailand, the Philippines, Bangladesh and Kenya. In each place the biggest barrier to serving God was not resistance from unbelievers, but misled “believers”. Everywhere I’ve gone someone who calls themselves a believer has forcefully attempted to stop whatever it was I was doing because it wasn’t “correct:” They’ve pulled scripture after scripture from their hats in order to prove their point.

    It’s discouraging.

    But I keep on going, because the strength that I get from Jesus is greater than he that is in the world. Ultimately, the most persistent nay-sayer goes away.

    “Let’s not get tired of doing what is good, for at the right time we will reap a harvest-if we do not give up.”

  14. TruthBeTold


    You wrote…”God the Father, in stark contrast, has provided the means to avoid hell: salvation through Jesus Christ. It’s why the disciples gave their very lives to get the Gospel out. No other explanation makes sense. If everyone goes to heaven, then there is no urgency and no reason to give one’s life to see that others hear a message that is moot anyway.”

    God has provided the means to avoid hell: salvation through Jesus Christ??

    Is that what you really think? Then you have a faulty FOUNDATION. What was the curse? Go back to Genesis and you will find the answer. Hint…Gen.2:17.

    Does Hell have anything to do with the curse?

    Vince already gave an excellent response to you regarding the understanding of parables so I don’t need to add to it.

    You bring up the diciples giving their lives to warn people about Hell…hmmm….then if that is true why didn’t Paul ever talk about hell in even one of his letters?? Never ONCE did Paul warn of Hell in any of his epistles….don’t you find that a little curious? Paul was commissioned by God to preach the gospel to the nations…so how could Paul say that he had declared the ‘entire counsel of God’ (Acts 20:27) without ever warning of a place called Hell in even one of his letters?

    Dan, look I have grace towards you b/c I myself held such a belief for most of my christian life. There were many beliefs that I held that were just plain wrong (christmas, easter, ect.)….all rooted in paganism and found nowhere in scripture. Many of the scriptures that have been posted by some here are based on a literal understanding and miss the spiritual symbolism.

    Our God is a consuming fire. What does that mean?

    What does the second death mean?

    What does weeping and gnashing of teeth mean?

    Honestly, there have been a few here that have exhibited gnashing of teeth as the TRUTH has been declared. Oh yes, the flesh still wars against the spirit. The flesh cannot stand it when one of its precious high places starts to feel the battering ram of Christ…The Spirit of Truth….come to demolish the faulty foundation so that the SOLID foundation can be restored.

    Is the book of Revelation a book about end time events or is it a book about the Revelation of JESUS CHRIST?

    I would like to suggest to you and others here that the symbols used in the book of Revelation are just that… SYMBOLS….pointing to the progressive unfolding of CHRIST in you the hope of glory advancing as one dies to self and His resurrected life comes forth.

    Be blessed,

    • TruthBeTold,

      Of all the curses of the Garden, the one most punishing was separation from God. Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden and the intimate fellowship they enjoyed with God was destroyed. Death came because men, by their own choice, were separated from the Zoe life of God.

      Paul, didn’t talk much about heaven, either. He didn’t give us a grand description. If he talked so little about it with people for whom heaven was the destination, why go into great detail about a place where those believers were NOT going?

      As for symbols, by definition they represent things that are real. Read Hebrews. The symbols have no meaning apart from what they signify.

      God as consuming fire means that nothing unholy can withstand His presence.

      As for the second death and the weeping and gnashing, I would prefer you tell me explicitly what you think they mean. I can conjecture, again, that you are an annihilationist, but until you say yes or no, we are playing semantic games. You know where I stand. How about telling us all where you do?

      • TruthBeTold


        No, I am not an annihilationist. In fact, I will not use any labels to discribe myself except of Bondslave. We are to know no man after the flesh but only after the Spirit. I will only speak that which I have been given to speak. This is how it was with Jesus too. He only could do those things and speak those things that the Father gave him to do and speak.

        Those things that my Father has given me to understand these are those that I speak and share with you. I am not one to just ramble off hasty opinions that I have not given myself to prayer and study to. Let us remember it is the letter that killeth and the Spirit that gives life.

        I can testify to the truth that what I have seen written by Jack has LIFE in it. There is a weightiness to what He has written…and when I say He let it be understood that I mean the Lord in Jack writing it.

        I have noticed a pattern with you Dan and that is you jump to conclusions and label people pretty quickly. We are not called to make quick judgements about one another….we are to be quick to hear and slow to speak…and we are called to make righteous judgements.

        These are weighty topics that we all have been discussing.

        You state…”Death came because men, by their own choice, were separated from the Zoe life of God.”

        Death came not because of MEN…but b/c of Adam….and I will go even further and say that it was allowed by God for we see in Romans 8:20 “For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,”…..did you see that?…..the creature WAS MADE SUBJECT TO VANITY…..NOT WILLINGLY……but by REASON OF HIM (God).

        Instead of answering your first question about what is the second death I would like to know if you understand what is the FIRST DEATH?

        I am not playing semantics….all of these questions are good and it is very important that the HOUSE be built on the right foundation. If one does not understand the first death than how can one understand the second death.

        Dan I agree with what you write here…”God as consuming fire means that nothing unholy can withstand His presence.”

        So with that understanding let us now look at the scripture that John Burns quoted earlier…
        ” And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. ” (Rev. 20:14).

        Most with a literal viewpoint of the scripture see this Lake of Fire as being Hell….burning with fire and brimstone….and yet they don’t have the spiritual understanding that this is God Himself…the very CONSUMING FIRE…the LAKE of Fire that comes within man to burn up all flesh…to burn up the WOOD, HAY, STRAW, and STUBBLE of the old adamic nature within.

        Jesus Himself said that the KINGDOM IS WITHIN.
        Once again these symbols are to be interpreted within. Does fire annihilate or obliterate? No…fire only changes the FORM into another form. This is what happens to us when the EVER CONSUMING FIRE comes to us as we die to self…we are changed from one degree of glory to another…from faith to faith. This is the UNVEILING of Jesus Christ within.

        Let us remember back to the words of Malachi….”Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to HIS TEMPLE, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.
        Mal 3:2 But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for HE IS LIKE A REFINERS FIRE, and like fullers’ soap:
        Mal 3:3 And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness. ”

        Oh yes, He will sit as a refiner and purifier within HIS TEMPLE (of which you are) until he gets HIS GOLD (those conformed into HIS IMAGE).

        So I will wait to hear from you regarding your understanding of the first death…

        Be blessed Dan,

  15. Dave said:
    “They’ve pulled scripture after scripture from their hats in order to prove their point.”

    Dear Dave,
    No my friend, you will find those that have come into the loving truth that God is the God of the living and the dead, and that Christ is the saviour of all men, each saved in his own order are for the greater part, Bible students and church historians. They are much more so, than those that espouse the “terroristic God built on the traditions of men and pagan beliefs. We are not sheeple following the many for we have received God’s overflowing Love. There is nothing wrong with being the few as God always has had a remnant taken out of the whole that He deals differently with. Form Genesis to Revelation this is the pattern.

    JESUS indicated that MANY would come in His name and deceive MANY… He did not say that, FEW would come in His name and deceive a FEW…

    Christianity has become but another hate religion, where one’s neighbor is condemned all because God’s grace and election have not yet been extended to them. If one would take a parable to review I would look at the “wicked servant that was forgiven much.” Who wants to stand before God as the “wicked servant” because he or she would not allow the same grace and forgiveness extended to them, be given to their neighbor.

    “God is not willing for ANY to perish, but for ALL to come to repentance” (II Pet. 3:9). Likewise, Paul spoke the truth when he wrote to Timothy that God “wants ALL men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (I Tim. 2:4). Like Paul, “we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of ALL men, especially of those who believe” (I Tim. 4:10). Because we believe that “the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of ALL men” (Titus 2:11).

    Brother Dave, allow the full glory of God’s love to shower your heart. Jesus will reveal himself and His love for all mankind and there is not a hardened soul that can resist such revelation. The Bible tells us that God is a God of the ages and my friend the ages unfold even within the heavens and beyond the grave. God’s arm is not short for it will embrace the most ornery of souls and melt their stony hearts. Dave, “Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch the tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes and spread out to the right and to the left. Go out and embrace your neighbor and your enemy knowing they will like you will one day bow in adoration before Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

    Oh we have a big God and His tent is made for all of creation. All will embrace Christ and His Cross and nary a soul will be unhappy about that. Even the very last and the very least that mistakenly painted the Cross of Christ exclusive, will rejoice that the Christ and Cross are instead inclusive.

    The Truth of Universal Reconciliation is older than creation itself. Before there was sin and the foundations of the world Christ was slain. There was a solution before their was even a sin problem. The first century church believed and preached Christ, Saviour of All.

    What part of “all” don’t we understand?

    Rom 11:32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

    Rom 11:33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

    Rom 11:34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?

    Rom 11:35 Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?

    Rom 11:36 For of him, and through him, and to him, all things: to whom glory for ever. Amen.

    Col 1:20 Through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His Cross; through Him, I say, whether things upon earth or things in the heavens.

    1Cor15:22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive

    Oh how I love Him this morning,


    • Jack,

      The question of “all” is resolved in this passage:

      The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
      —John 1:9-13

      All those who receive Him. That is the “all.” They are the children of God.

      Others did not receive Him. What about them?

      And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience– among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
      —Ephesians 2:1-9

      Those who reject Christ are children of wrath. Wrath? That doesn’t sound pleasant, does it? What does it mean to be on the receiving end of wrath? What does that look like? Hell, perhaps?

      And for all who received Christ, who became children of God and are no longer children of wrath (unlike those who still reject Him)—what is this whole thing of “being saved” about? Saved from what? Obviously, from wrath.

      Consider this: I play with matches when I am told not to and end up lighting myself on fire because of my disobedience. Whose fault is that? And the subsequent penalty I pay, isn’t it by my own hand and of my own choosing? And if a rescuer comes to my aid with a fire extinguisher, what is the outcome of me saying, “No thanks”? If I say, “Yes, please! I cannot help myself! I need you!” am I not saved when the rescuer puts out that fire on my behalf? Am I not eternally grateful that he prevented me from burning alive due to my own disobedience?

      To all who believe in Christ, He translates them from being children of wrath to children of God. They go from being naturally on fire to being saved from the fire because they have accepted their need for a rescuer.

      And yes, He is so much more than a rescuer. But this does not mean that He is any less a Savior.

  16. Dan said:
    “To all who believe in Christ, He translates them from being children of wrath to children of God. They go from being naturally on fire to being saved from the fire because they have accepted their need for a rescuer.”

    Now you are getting some where. Yes we are being translated from children of wrath to vessels of mercy. This work goes on beyond the grave lest such as Pharaoh and Esau whom fulfilled their purpose in God’s plan be unduly punished for that which they had no control.

    Dan it is all about election and election comes to all that all might be saved each in his own order.

    For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: 1Cr 15:22,23a

    (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)

    ….What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.

    For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

    So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

    For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.

    Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

    Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?

    Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?

    Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

    What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:

    And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, Romans 9

    One of things that just makes my skin crawl is the pretense and pride that fundamentalist Christians carry in themselves. I also shudder to think I at one time carried this same phoniness within me. It is born of a vain and lying spirit that says you can do things that are beyond your ability ……….. like chose to save or not save your self.

    I’ll tell ya my friend one of the greatest hinge pin scriptures in all the bible speaks to our abilities. Once one firmly comes to grasp the meaning of this verse they give up and allow God to have His way. They realize the pretense is over. Dan, you would do well to meditate on this scripture and I’ll throw another in as another witness to our inability. This verse is rendered with two separate key words depending on the translation so I will use the slash with both words which are “futility” and “vanity.”

    For the creature was made subject to vanity/futility, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Rom 8:20

    My friend it is the height of folly and vanity to think you or anyone else has anything to do with their salvation. What is it about “grace” that causes you pretentious one’s to think you have your hand in it. You can do nothing to earn His love, His healing and His salvation. Does Paul’s Damascus road experience teach us nothing!

    Okay let look at the second verse and see whom Jesus blames for His rejection, persecution and death. Jesus won’t blame man but you guys find it in your self righteousness to blame him. Oh my, the vanity!!!

    “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.” Lk 23:34

    Think about those two scriptures . Dan, this speaks to the purpose you are here and why your vanity will untimatley come to naught. Believe me God will teach you that your futility is complete. This is one of the hardest and most painful things to learn and only a few learn it in this lifetime. Most will carry their vanity through the grave where it will be dealt with in the next world.

    “If any man thinks he is something when he is nothing, he is deceived.” St. Paul

    God bless,

  17. How much more glorious to share the hope of this anointed songwriter of a century past. In stead of those with hell and hate in their hearts send such a man as this to nurture my children and your children in the Love of the Lord.


    I cannot tell how He will win the nations,
    How He will claim His earthly heritage,
    And satisfy the needs and aspirations
    Of East and West, of sinner and of sage.
    But this I know, all flesh shall see His glory,
    And He shall reap the harvest He has sown,
    And some glad day His sun shall shine in splendor
    When He the Savior, Savior of the world is known.

    I cannot tell how all the lands shall worship,
    When, at His bidding, every storm is stilled,
    Or who can say how great the jubilation
    When all the hearts of men with love are filled.
    But this I know, the skies will thrill with rapture,
    And myriad, myriad human voices sing,
    And earth to Heaven, and Heaven to earth, will answer:
    At last the Savior, Savior of the world is King!

    William Y. Fullerton, 1929.

    Let us no longer besmirch and belittle the sacrifice of Chrsit but ever herald the Precious Lamb as the Saviour of the World.


    • SJLC

      Please, try to limit your discussion here to topics that are more directly related to Dan’s essay. I appreciate that you believe you have theological insights unknown to most Christians, but it seems so unlikely that you’re going to help anyone by teaching them here where it is so off-topic. I have surely known loving Christians who firmly believe in a literal Hell, so don’t believe that you must enlighten people in this one area before they can achieve any spiritual maturity.

      • TruthBeTold

        Hello SJLC,

        Your comment is sad to me and honestly is one in a long line that most of us (the few that have left the system) always hear. Oh we are used to it. Sad thing is that you don’t realize that your very comment quenches the Holy Spirit. We are to be led by the Spirit remember? Do you think this ‘getting off topic’ was orchestrated by any of us? A man named Jack shared what his experience was that led him to ‘BEAT/leave’ the system…and in that sharing Dan and others responded and debated/disagreed with Jack…and then came a man named Vince that shared his thoughts….then myself….then came a woman named Ruth who added her understanding…on and on…

        Maybe, just maybe, the Holy Spirit wanted this topic to be talked about instead of what the original intent of the discussion was to be on? Could that be? Oh, but those that are OF the system that are reared on the visions of men, the wisdom of men, the programs of men, the outreaches of men, the activities of men do not like it when their schedules go “OFF TOPIC…OFF SCHEDULE”.
        Those that have left the system on the otherhand delight in the FREEDOM of being led by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is in control of what is talked about or what is not talked about…of what is done or not done…for it is all HIS WORK.

        Oh yes, I was one of those ‘loving’ christians that believed in a literal hell…that was what my deceived carnal mind thought…but I have come to realize after being set free from the hellfire teaching that Hell is OF the devil…and is full of hate….and I honestly could not love my neighbor, enemy, or stranger b/c I was full of self righteousness thinking that most were going to Hell and that I was the one CHOSEN to go to heaven. Disgusting. He is still delivering me of such a warped/depraved mentality rooted in fear. Perfect love casts out fear and to His glory His love is accomplishing this daily, for I am being set free of fear.

        Only the Holy Spirit can enlighten SLJC.

        Be blessed,

        • He declared: “It is finished.” He had become a sinless man in the earth. A perfect sacrifice for sin, A last man Adam that had the power to give His life and take it up again.

          Is not the last Adam’s sacrifice greater than the first Adam’s sin.

          1 Cor 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

          Col 1:20 And through Him having made peace through the blood of His cross, it pleased the Father to reconcile all things to Himself through Him, whether on earth or in Heaven.

          Once again it is the “all” in these verses that speak to the inclusiveness of Christ and His Cross. The system has long excluded some because that is the nature of man. “Grace for us, Hell for them” is the system’s cry.

          Today, at the end of the age, there is another cry and many are hearing it.

          And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a habitation of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird. For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.” And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.”
          Revelation 18:2-4:

          Come out of her my friend’s and save your dear children,


        • SJLC

          Whatever my own roadblocks are, feeling superior to other people because they are not yet saved is not one of them. However, do feel free to be sad for me because I have not yet learned to hear the Spirit’s promptings, which I do believe is a common problem in this era of the Laodician, I mean American, Church.

          I wish I had something to testify about that really belonged in this thread… I feel sort of bad about posting even a short reply after suggesting we leave the thread for talking about relevant experiences 🙁

          Hm, at least this won’t be much of a distraction, since it will be hidden due to the nesting level…

  18. Well, this sixtysomething, –born and reared in the church, did some music evangelism in the 70s, and worked as admin asst in a church for 10 yrs– and her similarly reared and seminary trained PhD husband of thirtysomething years happily threw off the constraints of traditional church and jumped into a local, small(less than 24), not affiliated to any denomination group of people who meet each Sunday night for accountability, encouragement, prayer, communion and fellowship meal about five years ago. (Is that the longest run on sentence in your comments?)

    We have been transformed by our community. And we have found that wherever people gather, because of the sin inherent in their souls, chaos ensues. In other words, there is no perfection this side of heaven. Duh!

    My continuing struggle is in totally abandoning the shell of anonymity in my community that served me so well in corporate church. I am a very timid hermit crab.

    In an attempt to make our heretical move more palatable to friends and family in the church we moved our membership to a small church pastored by friends still laboring in the frozen fields of traditional church. We did that for a cover story(we visit there once a month) and to encourage them in the work God has called them to.

    We found most people less uncomfortable with our Sunday night community experience if it was framed in the knowledge of our infrequent Sunday morning experience.

    Any questions? 🙂

  19. I am a disabled christian woman married to an atheist. Even if my marriage didn’t hold me back, my physical condition prevents me from just transplanting to a street corner in Brooklyn. My husband is able to work, I am not, so in a very real way all of “our” money is his. He’s only interested in being charitable to those we know and like already. These problems have forced me to be creative in engaging salt and light activities.

    The first thing I did, and this really worked, was start harvesting my presents for God’s work. For those who will take me seriously, I have impressed on them I would much rather have donations to a fund I can use to help others than a present for myself. This includes gifts from my husband, though it drives him nuts (and I think convicts him, too). For those who think that’s silly and still insist on giving my a Christmas or birthday gift, more often than not I find someone who needs it more than I do and give it to them. My church has a strange idea of what poor is (it isn’t their fault, they are very kind folk for middle class) and occasionally donates grocery gift certificates to my family. I use those to buy groceries for others, or use it to replace cash in our grocery budget and buy them other things the need. (Underwear and socks come to mind. If you don’t have enough, they wear out more quickly from both extended wash and no “resting” and you end up with none!)

    Finally, when someone with a need comes into contact with our family, I try to fix it from our own stores. Sometimes this just means packing someone grocery bags of food out of the cabinets, or for those with food needs and less cooking skill, taking the cheapest healthful foods we have and cooking them into a gigantic, tasty, and nutritious dish they can take home and eat for a week. I take Jesus’ exhortation that “you don’t need 2 coats more than someone else needs 1” very seriously, and have somewhat suceeded at infecting others with this plan. =)

    It isn’t much, and it is a shadow of what I yearn to be doing, but it’s as close as I have managed to achieve. I hope this helps.

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