Monday, 7 March 2011

Welcome to Hell!

Well that is what it felt like! As the opening two sessions of the Evangelist's Conference were Greg Haslam defending the doctrine of hell!

It is not my intention to just regurgitate what he said, not least because it would not contain any great surprises, unless you're the kind of person who gets surprised that anyone believes in hell anymore. It was certainly robust, although took me a little while to change gear in my head from car banter on the trip down to this.

What greatly impressed me about Greg's teaching was that he gave the most compelling, cohesive and clear explanation of the annihilationist viewpoint that I have ever heard. A view he does not hold. I feel uncomfortable when people put up a daft caricature of a different position and then undermine it. He did the opposite. Had he stopped right there you would have thought that was his position, until he moved on. I respect that, hugely.

But anyhow; the practical application was the effects of your understanding of hell on the urgency of your evangelism.

Using 2 Corinthians 5:9-21 he brought out the following points relating to Paul's ministry.
  • The fear of the Lord was more important to him than fear of man (v9-10)
  • The love of Christ was what compelled him (v14)
  • This led to great compassion for people (v16)
  • The offer of life: v17-21 is our message
So we need to be clear about we do believe.

And if we do believe in any sort of seperation from God, and we do love people, and we fear God not people, then maybe we will have a little more urgency in how we express our faith.

6 comments:

nathan82 said...

any idea if the audio will be anywhere to listen to?

Blue, with a hint of amber said...

I don't know sorry.

That said, I am certain there must be equivalent stuff out there somewhere from other conferences he has done.

Jongudmund said...

I have no problem with people restating the classic evangelical / reformed view of hell if it impacts on them and their evangelism.

I'm a bit surprised how many people have the classic view and yet seem unmotivated to save people from hell. It feels as if they don't really believe it if they aren't spurred on to share the gospel.

Pauline said...

This is powerful stuff! We had an evangelistic event at church (or more for "seekers") called "Journeys"- a series of DVDs showing the impact of Christ on people's lives. The first was a testimony by Ian McCormack about his experience of being shown a vision of hell which transformed him from an athiest to a Christian. (There are links to You-tube talks and also he has a website.)
I once remember, a few years ago now, standing by the cooker, making a meal and seeing a small money spider descending from the ceiling on a thread (as they do!) and I felt I just had to rescue it before it hit the burners and got frizzled to a (very small) crisp!! And as I rescued it and put it outside, I couldn't help thinking that this was an illustration of how we need, as Christians, to rescue people from the consequences of separation from God!!!! Maybe I have lost that sense of urgency, or have given up praying for some stubborn cases!! Maybe I am lost to know HOW!!
Would it be possible to give some links to this guy's talks??

Blue, with a hint of amber said...

I'm a bit surprised how many people have the classic view and yet seem unmotivated to save people from hell. It feels as if they don't really believe it if they aren't spurred on to share the gospel.

Definitely.

Pauline said...

I agree, and that sounds like a challenge. Perhaps it should be!
A couple of challenges here:

(a) Being sure of what we believe in! Of course with so many references to eternal damnation in the Bible, (I found well over 30- but that's probably only a fraction!)- it obviously exists. The question is in what form? Figurative language is often used to help people to go some way towards understanding what is beyond our human comprehension. Gehenna was a real place outside Jerusalem, where unclean things were burned. Yet Revelation talks of the Lake of Fire. Just because I felt that rescueing a spider from being burned was an illustation of our need to "rescue" people from separation from God, does not mean I don't struggle with the actual form of hell. I admit it- I do!

I do see it as separation from God, yes- but the form it takes is probably more than our inadequate human minds can fully take in. Ian McCormack experienced his vision of hell as darkness, complete loss. I have also read an account by someone who believed that hell really is in the white hot centre of the earth.
As a very new Christian, I was always trying to convince unbelieving members of my family or friends.

(b) Evangelism. It is easier to take part in church-based evangelistic initiatives but often very very difficult to engage in personal evangelism in any really direct way. On a one to one basis, people can very angry and tell you to leave them alone to believe what they want to believe. They will often mention wars being caused by Christians, and point to the scandal of abuse in certain denominations.
They may have had really bad experiences with other churches, or at the hands of others claiming to be Christians.
I was interested to learn that people who have been hurt by other churches found a "home" at Barnabas. That can happen. But,unless people hear the call and respond, there is only so much you can do.
Ian McCormack's mother prayed for him and told him if he cried out to God, he would be answered. Her words came back to him in his vision of hell. He tells his story in "Glimpse of Eternity". It has a powerful impact as part of the Journeys course for "seekers."

Yet, in being sure of what we believe, surely, as well as warning, it is as important to be positive and to express our faith as an infinitely better way to live, anyway- as Jesus said he came to bring us life in all its fullness. I have found people often respond to that. People respond to love, in its widest sense.
Also in the Journeys course, there were examples of people who had experienced miracles today, and people who, because of their love for Jesus, had taken on the most difficult challenges such as a man taking young offenders "under his wing" and a couple who adopted children no-one else wanted.
But- this was specifically about hell, wasn't it?