Jesus, Light

Never, Ever Bored


Just as I was about to head over to the farmers market before it closes, someone pointed out on a friend’s Facebook post that Jesus called Peter “Satan.”

I paused to type a quick comment in reply: “I’m not sure Jesus was actually calling Peter “Satan.” I think He was recognizing the one who was behind Peter’s words and helping Peter see it, too.”

And then I started thinking.

And now my sunny stroll through the market, my purchase of coleus if they still have it, will have to wait until Thursday.

‘Cuz I have something to say.

Remember back in Matthew chapter 4 when Satan tempted Jesus?

It was that third temptation that Jesus recognized in Peter’s words:

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.  “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.

The offer was certainly tempting: Just sell your soul to me and you can bypass the agony of the cross.

But Jesus’s mission was not to win an earthly kingdom for Himself, His mission was to win a heavenly kingdom for us.  And that mission was going to be tough.  There was no way around it.

Tough or not, Jesus was sticking with it. So He said, “Away from me, Satan!”

See what I mean about the one whose words were behind Peter’s words?

Jesus told His disciples about His upcoming death.

Peter pulled Him aside and exclaimed, “Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you!”

And right away Jesus recognized that voice and He flashed back to that very high mountain and to the temptation to win an earthly kingdom full of faithful followers.

And He said no.

“Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

See how similar “Away from me!” is to “Get behind me!”

You are a stumbling block to me.

Satan couldn’t get Jesus to abort His mission directly – way back in Matthew 4, at the dawn of His ministry –  so he tried the back door at dusk, indirectly, using a loyal friend.

Because who can resist the loyalty of a friend?

But Jesus was way too smart for that.

Peter didn’t understand the magnitude of what Jesus was accomplishing. Peter didn’t understand that he was being used as a pawn in the enemy’s game. He didn’t recognize the enemy’s voice coming from his lips, but Jesus did.

Jesus addressed the one to whom He was speaking when He said, “Get behind me!,” and it wasn’t Peter.

Now that my mission to the market has been aborted, I think I’ll hang with the Holy Spirit – my best and most loyal companion  – and vacuum the furniture.





life, Light

An Eternal Flame?

Good Friday

At breakfast Easter morning – I made a delicious three cheese, spinach quiche – my pastor said he doesn’t believe God has any interest in punishing people throughout eternity. Of course He doesn’t.

There seems to be a lot of misconceptions about hell and eternal damnation.

I hate misconceptions.

Scripture doesn’t say anything about eternal punishment for people, it only mentions eternal punishment for the unholy trinity.

At the end of Revelation 19 the beast and the false prophet are “thrown alive into a fiery lake of burning sulfur.” Alive being the operative word.

At the end of Revelation 20 – 1,000 years later – the ancient serpent, Satan, joins his comrades in Sulfur Lake, where “they will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”

They, the three of them.

Eternal damnation is for the counterfeit three. Perhaps because they, being fallen angels, are eternal creatures. And being eternal, they cannot be destroyed, hence being thrown in alive.

But man is not an eternal creature – unless God’s eternal Holy Spirit is alive in him.

Hell is a holding tank.

Oh yes, there is definitely a hell, to deny that would be to call Jesus a liar.

Jesus said He holds the keys to death and Hades. He also talked more than once about a place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. A place outside, where He is not. Because hell = the absence of Him.

God has nothing to do with hell, which means He is not there to mete out punishment. He leaves that to its residents, which is much worse than if He were doing the punishing, because He is fair and good and the residents of hell are not.

God does not actively punish and, near as I can figure, He does not eternally punish.

Read Revelation 20 and you’ll see what I mean.  Here’s how it goes down:

An angel carrying the key to the Abyss and a chain descends from heaven, seizes the serpent, throws him into the Abyss, locks it and seals it over him.

Imprisoned there for 1,000 years, the serpent can no longer deceive anyone. Christ reigns and the serpents’ lying lips are sealed.

That’s the best part of the whole thing for me. No more lying lips. No more confusion. No more misleading political soundbites, twisted facts, things taken out of context. No more deceptions. No more misconceptions. Heaven on earth.

Then, after 1,000 years of heaven on earth, the serpent is released for a short time. Why? Because God is fair.

What does the serpent do? He immediately deceives the nations, gathers an army and marches against God’s city. Fire comes down from heaven and the army is incinerated. Its general, as I already told you, gets tossed into the lake of burning sulfur where they are tormented forever.

After the serpent is tossed, the residents of Hades are judged and then death and Hades are tossed, too.  No need for them anymore.

The chapter ends with this sentence:

“Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.”

It looks to me like everything temporal – unredeemed man, death, Hades – is completely incinerated. Only the eternal – the beast, the false prophet and the devil – burn forever.

I’m sure any amount of time in Hades seems like forever, but it’s not.




faith, Jesus, Light

Boot Camp

GPC, Creative Commons

GPC, Creative Commons

I left a comment on another blogger’s post yesterday.  I was hoping someone would reply to it, but no one did.  I shared the same sentiment in Bible study once, to the dumbfounded looks of the others.  I thought I’d run it up this flag pole to see if anyone salutes or disagrees, or even knows what the heck I am talking about:

I think God allows all of the chaos and suffering in this world in order to prevent another rebellion in heaven.  By the time we arrive there, we will know, without a doubt, how messed up things get when we think we know better than Him.  We endure this bootcamp called earth so that every bit of pride will be rooted out of us before we enter glory.

Some scholars believe that this passage from Ezekiel 28, which is addressed to Tyre, describes Satan’s fall from heaven:

“‘You were the seal of perfection,
full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
You were in Eden,
the garden of God;
every precious stone adorned you:
carnelian, chrysolite and emerald,
topaz, onyx and jasper,
lapis lazuli, turquoise and beryl.

Your settings and mountings were made of gold;
on the day you were created they were prepared.
You were anointed as a guardian cherub,
for so I ordained you.

You were on the holy mount of God;
you walked among the fiery stones.
You were blameless in your ways
from the day you were created
till wickedness was found in you.

Through your widespread trade
you were filled with violence,
and you sinned.

So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God,
and I expelled you, guardian cherub,
from among the fiery stones.

Your heart became proud
on account of your beauty,
and you corrupted your wisdom
because of your splendor.

So I threw you to the earth;
I made a spectacle of you before kings.

Satan was created beautiful and wise. So beautiful and wise that he became proud, thought he could challenge God and take Him. So God booted him and all those who backed him, threw them to earth.

And then, in a move of sheer genius, He created man on earth – where Satan was lurking. To use Satan as a tool.  As a filter. To filter out pride, the only unforgivable sin.

Remember when Jesus said, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat.”  (Luke 22:31).  I was taught that Satan was asking to sift Peter, but the Scripture says “all of you”.  Perhaps “all of you” extends beyond that small group of disciples to all of us.  Perhaps Satan did his asking before man was even created.  Perhaps that is why Genesis 6:5-6 says this:

 “The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.”

All I know is that none of us, after enduring the sufferings and chaos and filtering of this world will take a proud heart to heaven.

© The Reluctant Baptist, 2015