The Catholic Church is not the Religion of the Antichrist

Western Wall and Dome of the Rock atop the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Israel.

In Revelation 17, the Bible reveals that during the Tribulation there will be a false religion that will dominate the world stage leading countless numbers astray. In Revelation, John records that this false religion was revealed to him in a vision as a prostitute or harlot riding a scarlet-colored beast. Like John when he saw the vision of the “Great Prostitute” in the wilderness, biblical scholars today marvel at her. There have been several theories throughout the centuries as to her identity, but one of the most common suggestions that the Roman Catholic Church will be revived and become the religion of the Antichrist during the end times.[1] Also known as, the “Mystery Babylon the Great”. There are three basic reasons why I believe that Islam not the Roman Catholic Church is the best candidate for the Antichrist’s religion.

   The first reason is that the Bible clearly presents the Antichrist’s theology. John writes that the Antichrist will be one who denies that Jesus is the Messiah and who denies His divinity (1 John 2:22). Now, I understand that the Roman Catholic Church has some strange obviously man-made doctrines (Mariology, the pope, purgatory, confession, etc.), but you will never hear the Roman Catholic Church deny the trinity. At the beginning and end of every Catholic prayer, Catholics make the sign of the cross to remind them of the doctrine of the trinity.[2]

    The Catholic Church as always taught, stood for, and even in some cases, died for the doctrines of the trinity, the deity of Christ, and that through His shed blood on the cross, Jesus is the Savior of the world. There is a better chance of Donald Trump declaring that Joe Biden was rightfully and fairly elected as president of the United States than the Vatican denying the deity of Christ or salvation through His sacrifice on the cross… Every Sunday at Mass Catholic priests declare, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” There is a crucifix placed high in a place of prominence in every Catholic church to remind people about the sacrifice of Jesus that saves them from their sins. Such a religion despite its other strange man-made traditions, hardly fits John’s description of an “Antichrist” who denies that Jesus is the Savior and the Son of God.

    Islam on the other hand, believes everything the Bible teaches about Jesus (virgin birth, miracles, healings, second coming, etc.) except that Islam denies the doctrine that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died on the cross for our sins.[3] That is as John wrote in his epistle, the very definition of the doctrine of the Antichrist. If someone were forced to choose which religion, Catholicism or Islam, rejected Jesus as the Savior and His divinity, the choice would without question be Islam.

    The second reason I think it is unlikely that Catholicism is the false religion of the last days is because the Bible describes a confederacy of Middle Eastern nations during the end times. If you look that end times prophecies, the nations that the Bible says will make up the Antichrist’s kingdom, none of them are European/Western nations. All of them are from the Middle East or North Africa (Daniel 11:41-43, Micah 5:5, Ezekiel 38-39). They are all Muslim countries. Sometimes people forget the Tribulation and the end times in general, is very Israel focused. In fact, the Tribulation is an answer to Daniel’s prayer asking God for forgiveness for Israel’s idolatry and deliverance from Babylonian oppression (Daniel 9). The nations that the Bible describes as key players during the end times are all Arab nations that surround Israel.

    Lastly, the third reason I reject the Roman Catholic Church as a candidate for Babylon is because of Islam’s explosive growth. There are approximately 1.8 billion Muslims in the world, most of them in the Middle East.[4] There are only 1.2 billion Catholics in the world, most of them in North and South America. Catholicism is declining while Islam on the other hand is the fastest growing religion in the world.[5] If we are to believe that the Roman Catholic Church is the “Great Harlot” of Revelation 17, then we have to believe that these 1.2 billion and shrinking Catholics will convert these 1.8 billon Muslims and growing to Catholicism. That doesn’t make any sense.     

    Catholics are being beheaded (the method of execution in Revelation) by Muslims in the Middle East for not denying the doctrines of the trinity, the deity of Christ, and His crucifixion. Just recently, leaders around the world are concerned that ISIS and its affiliates are taking over Western Africa.[6] The “beast” is rising… Are we to believe that the deception we will face in the last days comes from the church of the people who are being beheaded because of the name of Jesus and not the ones beheading them because of the name of Jesus? Honestly, there is no way to know who the Antichrist is or his religion until he decides to show his demonic face. The idea that the Roman Catholic Church is the Great Harlot in Revelation 17 is intriguing, it’s just not biblical nor does it make any sense.


[1] Clarence Larkin, The Book of Revelation (Coppell: Pantianos Classics, 2021), 121.

[2] “Catechism of the Catholic Church,” United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, accessed June 25, 2021, https://www.usccb.org/sites/default/files/flipbooks/catechism/64/.

[3] “How Is Jesus Perceived In Islam? – Muslim Unity Center,” Muslim Unity Center – Where Faith, Family and Fun Come Together, accessed June 25, 2021, https://www.muslimunitycenter.org/how-is-jesus-perceived-in-islam/.

[4] “Muslims and Islam: Key Findings in the U.S. and Around the World,” Pew Research Center, last modified December 8, 2020, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/08/09/muslims-and-islam-key-findings-in-the-u-s-and-around-the-world/.

[5] Why Muslims Are the World’s Fastest-growing Religious Group,” Pew Research Center, last modified May 30, 2020, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/04/06/why-muslims-are-the-worlds-fastest-growing-religious-group/.

[6] “Isis-linked Groups Open Up New Fronts Across Sub-Saharan Africa,” The Guardian, last modified June 25, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jun/25/isis-linked-groups-open-up-new-fronts-across-sub-saharan-africa.

Christian Nationalism is Dangerous, but Marxist Atheism is Deadly

   

A few years ago, I was making some upgrades to the platform of a church I was pastoring. Part of those upgrades to make the sanctuary look more “modern” was removing the American flag and Christian flag from the platform. It was a decision based solely on aesthetics. Coming from a military family I have no issue with the flag. To the contrary, I am proud of the flag. Quite simply, it clashed with the new look of the sanctuary. After this change, the church nearly revolted. I was told, “preacher, that flag is the foundation of our church!” That is when I first came face to face with Christian nationalism. The 2021 election season demonstrated how Christian nationalism is dangerous, but the past 100 years has proved that Marxist Atheism is deadly being responsible for the death of millions of Christians. The same atrocities that happened to Christians when atheism came to power in other countries will happen in the United States if it is not stopped.

With the tense 2020 election and insurrection on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, Christian Nationalism has gotten a lot of attention from the secular media and Christian news sources. Paul D. Miller professor of the practice of international affairs at Georgetown University defines Christian Nationalism as “The belief that the American nation is defined by Christianity, and that the government should take active steps to keep it that way.”[1] How Christians react to the idea of the American flag no longer displayed in the sanctuary is an indication that some American Christians see the local church as an outpost of American patriotism. They see the local church as yes, a place to make disciples, but more importantly, a place to develop patriotic Americans who will preserve the Anglo-Saxon American way of life.

    For years Christians were taught to believe that only Jesus Christ could save America. Only Jesus could stop the slaughter of the unborn, deliver the American Church from the loss of religious freedoms, and only Jesus could restore family values in the United States. That seemed to change in the years leading up to 2021. It was no longer Jesus who was the savior of the United States but Donald J. Trump. Evangelical Christians typically rally support around the conservative on the election ballot, but this election cycle took evangelical support from an endorsement to an ordination. As far as many evangelicals were concerned, Trump had been sent to deliver America from Satan himself. There were entire “prophecies” given that centered around Trump’s re-election and the triumph of Christian America.

    Christian Nationalism would be dangerous if left to run its course. Its consequences however would pale in comparison to the deadly genocide Marxist Atheism would bring if it were to gain a foothold in America. If Marxist based Atheism acquired power in the United States, countless Christians would lose their jobs, homes, elected positions, and livelihoods. It is not an exaggeration to predict that some Christians would even end up in prison or killed under the rule of Marxist Atheism in the United States.

    This is not unwarranted speculation and paranoia. This is a reasonable prediction based on the pattern observed in history. To be clear, the typical atheist who goes to work every day and is an upstanding member of the community is not “deadly”. There is an atheistic system however, that when in power, seeks to rid the land of the Christian faith. It is this system that crept into the societies of places like China, Russia, North Korea, Cuba, etc. leaving carnage and oppression in its path. It is in countries like these that the pattern referenced can be observed. These governments embraced a political ideology based on the philosophies of Marx, Lenin, and Mao. Their political strategies were rooted in atheism.

    Marx once said religion is the “opiate of the masses”. For anyone who doubts that atheism necessarily begets Marxism or Communism, remember that Marx also said, “Communism begins where atheism begins”. Stalin, like many prominent atheists today, saw religion as something that held his society and nation back from progress.[2] The regime of the Soviet Union often saw the influential Orthodox Church as a threat to its agenda and a force that could derail its ambitions to create a completely atheistic state.[3] As a result, the Soviet Union began several anti-religion campaigns in the early twentieth century. Likewise, China in recent years has begun a fierce crackdown on religion in particular, Christianity. In one province, residents were told they must replace pictures of Jesus in their homes with pictures of Xi or they will lose any government assistance.[4]

    The list of human rights violations committed against Christians by atheistic Marxist/Communist regimes would be so extensive they would need several volumes. Scholar Todd M. Johnson estimates that 15 million Christians were put to death by the Soviet Union alone.[5] In recent years this deadly atheistic philosophy known as Marxism has been making a comeback. The Communist Manifesto along with other writings by Marxists have been in high demand in recent years.[6] Marxism is being engrained into young minds in American colleges. The “Open Syllabus Project” found that The Communist Manifesto is one of the top three assigned textbooks at American colleges.[7] It seems that indoctrination in the deadly philosophy of Marxist Atheism is a prerequisite to graduating in the United States.

    The natural consequence of young leaders being programed to ascribe to Marxism is that the American government begins adopting policies and positions that are aligned with Marxism. While an increase in the “redistribution of wealth”, class warfare, and expanded social programs could indicate a sign of a Marxist leaning domestic policy, these examples do not address the deadly atheistic nature of Marxism. On May 14, 2021, a group of leaders from atheist organizations met with President Joe Biden. In a statement regarding that meeting, Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the FFRF (Freedom From Religion Foundation), said, “it’s vital that our community, our voices be heard in favor of reason in social policy and upholding our secular government.”[8] These atheists who are one and the same with Marxists, want to rid the government and eventually society of religion. That is their goal. Period. If their predecessors are any indication, they may resort to infringing on basic human rights to achieve that goal.

    Author Phyllis Tickle said, “You never want to be part of a religion that is politically or socially acceptable. It’s bad for your soul.” She was right. This is why Christian Nationalism is dangerous. It robs the Christian faith of its true power by making a political party an activist arm of the Church. It idolizes political leaders, and perverts the Church into an auxiliary for citizenship training. As dangerous a Christian Nationalism is, Marxist Atheism is deadly. When atheism gains power in a society, it kills. Period.

    There is ultimately one hope for this country: Jesus. The Church must boldly proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ now than ever before. The best way to ensure deadly genocide bringing Marxist Atheism does not get a greater foothold in this country is to see as many atheists as possible embrace Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. The battle will not be won at the ballot box, in the supreme court, the halls of congress, or the white house. The battle will be one in the millions of prayer closets across the country as Christians intercede for the salvation of lost souls and for revival to breakout once again across the beautiful land.


[1] “What Is Christian Nationalism?,” ChristianityToday.com, last modified February 3, 2021, https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2021/february-web-only/what-is-christian-nationalism.html.

[2] Steven M. Miner, Stalin’s Holy War: Religion, Nationalism, and Alliance Politics, 1941-1945 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003).

[3] S. A. Smith, The Oxford Handbook of the History of Communism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014).

[4] “Impoverished Chinese Christians Must Take Down Pictures of Jesus and Replace Them with Photos of Xi,” Newsweek, last modified November 14, 2017, https://www.newsweek.com/china-christians-jesus-x-jinping-social-services-welfare-711090.

[5] Marion Smith, “Opinion,” WSJ, last modified August 29, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/communism-and-religion-cant-coexist-11567120938.

[6] “Why Marxism is on the Rise Again,” The Guardian, last modified November 25, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/jul/04/the-return-of-marxism.

[7] Tom Bemis, “Karl Marx is the Most Assigned Economist in U.S. College Classes,” MarketWatch, last modified January 31, 2016, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/communist-manifesto-among-top-three-books-assigned-in-college-2016-01-27.

[8] “Biden White House Officials Hold First Meeting with Atheist, Secular Groups,” Religion News Service, last modified May 17, 2021, https://religionnews.com/2021/05/17/biden-white-house-officials-hold-first-meeting-with-atheist-secular-groups/.

Jesus IS God

   

Who is Jesus? How each person answers this question will have incomprehensible consequences on their life. The answer has eternal implications that once the plane of death is crossed, are irreversible. Jesus is perhaps the most debated figure in history. According to Ligonier Ministries’ biennial State of Theology, in 2020, 52% percent of Americans believed that while Jesus was a great teacher, He was not God.[1] The scriptures make it clear that Jesus was far more than a teacher, philosopher, revolutionary, or prophet. Jesus Christ IS God. This is supported by the fact that the Old Testament prophets declared that the Messiah (Jesus) would be God, the apostles wrote that Jesus is God, the angels and saints in Heaven worship Jesus as God, and Jesus Himself said that He was God.

    One of the best times to contemplate the undebatable unquestionable truth that Jesus Christ is God is during the Advent and Christmas season because that is when His incarnation is most celebrated. During Christmas services a popular passage from Isaiah is read.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. –Isaiah 9:6 ESV

    In this verse, Isaiah the prophet declares that the child to be born (Jesus) will not only be the prince of peace, He will also be “Mighty God”. It is also declared by the prophet that Jesus would be called “Everlasting Father”. These names indicate that the coming messiah would be far more than just a great man. These titles suggest that the savior to come would also be deity. Worshipers also hear Isaiah 7:14 read during the Advent and Christmas season. In this passage the prophet says that Jesus will be called Immanuel which means, “God with us”.[2] (Immanuel)

    There are at least three apostles who called Jesus God in their letters. The most well known occurrence is that of the Apostle John in his Gospel.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

-John 1:1 ESV

    John starts out giving his readers little doubt or room for interpretation as to the identity of Jesus Christ. According to John’s gospel and his epistles Jesus was far more than a man, or a teacher. In fact, one can make the argument that the overall purpose of John’s writings was not to emphasize that Jesus was the promised Jewish Messiah, but that Jesus was the divine. The second significant apostle to call Jesus God was Peter. In his second epistle, Peter writes,

 Simeon Peter, a servantand apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: -2 Peter 1:1 ESV

    Peter knew that Jesus was not just the Savior, but as He was, as Peter put it, “God and Savior”. Peter and the rest of the twelve knew by their experience with Jesus that He was God. Paul, having encountered the risen Savior on the road to Damascus knew from his first encounter with Christ that He had met more than the Jewish Messiah. He met the divine. He speaks to that in his letter to the Colossians. Writing about Jesus, Paul says,

For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, -Colossians 2:9

Also, when writing to Titus about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, Paul wrote,

waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, -Titus 2:13

    Echoing the Apostle Peter, Paul says that Jesus is both Savior and God. The Bible does not speak of a second coming of God, or God and Jesus coming back at the same time. Yet, Paul says that our “great God and Savior” will appear. Jesus entrusted the Apostles with passing on and defending the purity of Gospel and the Christian faith. Part of that faith would be the doctrine of the divinity of Jesus Christ. Some dissenters in the Christians communities tried to undercut this essential doctrine. The debate was finally settled by the apostles’ successors at the Council of Nicaea. At this council, the church declared once and for all that Jesus IS God.[3]

    One of the most convincing proofs that Jesus is God is that all of Heaven worships Him. Any Christian would insist that God and God alone is worthy of worship and praise. Yet in the Revelation, John wrote that he saw angels and saints worshiping Jesus.

11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!” 13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” 14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

-Revelation 5:11-14 ESV

    There is no other way to interpret this passage other than worship of Jesus, the Lamb of God. Not only did John write that all citizens of heaven worship the Lamb (Jesus), but also every creature on earth, under the earth, and the sea. This could be interpreted to mean that all creation, the celestial bodies, all life, all nature, all demons, and all angels and saints worship Jesus Christ as the one true God.[4]

    As the expression goes, “Don’t believe it unless you hear it from the horse’s mouth.” Better than the words of the OT prophets, better than the writings of the apostles, better than the praise of thousands of angels, is Jesus’ on testimony about Himself that He is the Living God. It only takes to read a few chapters of the New Testament to realize that the pharisees were Jesus’ most vocal opponents. At one point, Jesus shut down a debate with them by declaring,

Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” -John 8:58 ESV

In another instance, Jesus simply states,

 I and the Father are one.” -John 10:30 ESV

    Even after three years with Jesus, some of the apostles still didn’t understand who Jesus was. Some still saw Him as a great teacher, the liberator of Israel from Roman domination, or just a messiah. At the Last Supper, Jesus told them He was much more. One disciple, Philip, still didn’t understand the reality of the divinity of Christ. John records Philip’s internal struggle.

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? -John 14:8-9 ESV

    Asking to see God the Father was ridiculous for anyone who was with Jesus. They were staring the Father in the literal face! Jesus was and is the “image of the invisible God (Col. 1:5). Jesus was far more than a prophet, although He certainly was a prophet. Jesus was far more than a teacher, although no one taught or ever will teach like Him. Jesus was far more than a Savior, although there is no other savior but Him. The scriptures make it clear that Jesus IS God!


[1] The State of Theology, accessed June 4, 2021, https://thestateoftheology.com/.

[2] Strong’s Hebrew: 6005. עִמָּ֫נוּאֵ֫ל (Immanuel) — “with Us is God,” the Name of a Child,” Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages, accessed June 4, 2021, https://biblehub.com/hebrew/6005.htm.

[3] “Council of Nicea | Christian History Institute,” Christian History Institute, accessed June 5, 2021, https://christianhistoryinstitute.org/study/module/nicea/.

[4] John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testament (1746).

The One Thing Satan Wants Christians to Not Talk About

In his famous hymn, “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing”, Charles Wesley wrote,

“He breaks the power of canceled sin. He sets the prisoner free. He blood can make the foulest clean, His blood availed for me.”[1]

The doctrine of the atonement of sin through the shed blood of Jesus Christ is the most essential teaching of scripture. The doctrine of the Trinity is important. The doctrine of the infallibility of sacred scripture is essential. Atonement through the shed blood of Jesus however, is most essential because the blood of Jesus is the only hope for humanity. No amount of piety, good works, or even religious rituals can save people. It is only the blood of the Lamb of God that “takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29 ESV) that saves people. That is why Satan hates the blood so much. It is the blood of Jesus that completely renders Satan powerless.

    In fact, Satan is currently engaged in an operation to remove the blood of Jesus from church teaching. Rev. Bret Myers who is the designated interim pastor at First Congregational UCC in Waterloo, Iowa and contributor at progressivechristianity.org wrote, “No one but ourselves wipes away our sins for us. To Jesus, the saving grace he offered was not to offer himself as an atoning blood sacrifice for our sins.”[2] The idea that “ourselves” according to Myers, and not Jesus is what “wipes away our sins” is in contradiction of the entire Bible. From Romans to Jude, the scriptures declare over and over that no one is righteous (Romans 3:10), all have fallen short (Romans 3:23), salvation is the gift of God not of works (Ephesians 2:8-9). To teach that people can somehow through their own effort erase their sins would be to teach the greatest heresy mentioned in the New Testament.

    Rev. Myers is not alone in his campaign against the blood of Christ. Minsters, scholars, and even seminary professors are suggesting that Christians need to do away with what they perceive to be a grotesque bloody religion. Daniel M. Bell Jr. professor at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, South Carolina wrote this about the atoning blood of Christ; “All of this is wrong. God does not demand or require blood to redeem us. In spite of its pervasiveness in Christian imagery, the cost of communion, of reconciliation and redemption, is not blood and suffering.”[3]

    This trend is becoming more prevalent in Christianity. The blood is not mentioned as often as it was in the past. This should not catch anyone by surprise. The bible warns that in the last days a false church will arise promoting a counterfeit version of the faith (1 Timothy 4:1-2). Satan knows if he is going to stop the work of the blood of Christ, he has to silence the mention of the blood in the Church. Satan hates the blood because the answer to all life’s and death’s problems are found in it. First and foremost of those is forgiveness of sins. The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus,

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, -Ephesians 1:7 ESV

    Sin is humanity’s biggest problem because all other problems come from it. From the first sin committed by Adam and Eve came suffering, poverty, sickness, and eventually death. Sin is the ultimate cancer upon the human race and the blood of Jesus Christ is the ultimate cure.

    The second thing the blood of Jesus brings is healing. Not just inner healing, but also physical healing from sicknesses and diseases. Foreseeing the Messiah that would be born centuries after him, Isaiah the prophet wrote this about Jesus:

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. -Isaiah 53:5 ESV

    The prophet says that by Jesus’ wounds, by His blood, “we are healed.” The author of the Gospel of Matthew believed this to mean healed of physical diseases as well as spiritual ones.

This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.” -Matthew 8:17

    Society today is rattled with an outcry against racial injustice. The blood of Jesus Christ addresses that problem as well. The cross humbles everyone regardless of their race or creed. At the cross, everyone sees that no matter what color they are, how rich they are, what job they have, or what side of the tracks they grew up on, everyone needs a savior. As the saying goes, the ground is level at the foot of the cross. No human is higher than another.

    Lastly and most importantly, the blood of Jesus completely and irrevocably defeats the forces of Satan.

And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. -Colossians 2:15

 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. -Revelation 12:11 ESV

    John writes, “they conquered him…” Who did they conquer? Satan! How did they conquer Satan? By the blood of the lamb. Before anything else, the blood of Jesus Christ is the ultimate weapon for defeating the Satan and his demons.

    There are many people who find the topic of the atoning blood of Jesus Christ disgusting. They do not want to hear about the shed blood of Jesus dripping down the cross. Some of them do not even want to hear about the cross! That reminds me of a story about a young woman who was disgusted by her mother’s hands. For as long as she could remember, her mother had disgusting hands. The sight of them creeped this young woman out. So much in fact, that she begged her mother to wear gloves out in public.

    The young woman was embarrassed by her mother’s ugly hands and often feared that it was genetic leaving the possibility that she too will one day grow up to have ugly scarred looking hands. One day the young woman asked her mother, “Mom, how did you get such ugly hands?” The mother replied, “I’ve never told you this before, but when were just a toddler, you pulled a pot of boiling water off the stove and I moved you out of the way, putting myself in the path of that boiling water. The boiling water covered my hands instead of you, leaving me scarred.” The young woman’s eyes welled up and she exclaimed, “Those hands aren’t ugly! They are the most beautiful hands I have ever seen!”

    When I think of the cross, when I think of the blood of Jesus, it is not ugly. On the cross, shedding His blood, Jesus pushed me out of the way and took the brunt of God’s wrath that I should have got, now I’m saved because of His sacrifice. The blood is not disgusting, it is beautiful. That is why demons tremble at the mentioning of the precious blood of the lamb.


[1]  Baptist Hymnal: Slate Blue (2008), 136.

[2] “ProgressiveChristianity.org : Why God Would Not Require A Human Sacrifice For The Sins Of Humanity,” ProgressiveChristianity.org, accessed May 25, 2021, https://progressivechristianity.org/resources/why-god-would-not-require-a-human-sacrifice-for-the-sins-of-humanity-and-other-thoughts-on-the-religion-of-jesus/.

[3] “God Does Not Demand Blood: The Cross and Divine Charity,” The Christian Century, accessed May 25, 2021, https://www.christiancentury.org/article/2009-02/god-does-not-demand-blood.

Its Time to Rethink Hell

Over the past few years, hell has taken the backburner in a lot of churches. Given that negligence, it is time to rethink hell. Of all the doctrines in Christianity, the doctrine of an eternal hell is my least favorite. There is nothing else written in the scriptures that is more disturbing than the idea that countless millions will one day spend eternity being tormented in a lake of fire simply because they refused to believe in Jesus Christ. To say such a concept is harsh would be an understatement. In fact, it is repulsive to think about. Yet, despite the concept of a place where countless souls are tormented forever being horribly unbelievable, it is an undeniable reality taught in scripture that must be taken seriously.

I am not the only one who feels this way about hell. In fact, there are a growing number of Christians who are questioning the idea of a place of eternal torment for those who reject Christ. According to a Pew Forum study, only 60% of professing mainline protestant Christians believe in hell.[1] While that same study suggested that 82% of evangelicals believe in hell, it is shocking to think that 18% of professing bible believing evangelicals deny the existence of hell.

 A growing number of Christian ministers are accepting an alternative to hell called “annihilationism” which suggests that those without Christ just cease to exist when they die. Co-author of Erasing Hell Preston Sprinkle said, “My prediction is that, even within conservative evangelical circles, the annihilation view of hell will be the dominant view in 10 or 15 years. I base that on how many well-known pastors secretly hold that view. I think that we are at a time and place when there is a growing suspicion of adopting tradition for the sake of tradition.”[2]

I am sympathetic to those who find the doctrine of hell a tough pill to swallow. If we are serious about following Jesus however, we need to take His words seriously. The fact is, Jesus had more to say about the subject of hell than any author of scripture. The word “hell” is mentioned in the New Testament twenty-two times. Out of those twenty-two times that hell is mentioned, it is mentioned by Jesus sixteen times.[3] Jesus repeatedly described hell as “Gehenna”. This was a reference to a valley outside of Jerusalem where the garbage and waste from the inhabitants of Jerusalem was kept continually burning.[4] It was filled with filth, waste, trash, magots, and burned with a fire that would never go out. Jesus was saying that this is what hell is going to be like.

Given the fact that Jesus devoted so much of His teaching to the subject of hell, it stands to reason that hell is something people need to take seriously. He went so far as to tell His followers that if their right eye or hand would put them at risk of going to hell, to gouge out their eye or cut off their hand rather than risk spending eternity in hell (Matt. 5:29-30). Of course, He was speaking metaphorically, but such a hyperbole underscores how serious Jesus took the idea of hell. As it pertains to Jesus’ concern for social justice, He even factored hell into that aspect. Proponents of the social gospel who often tend to have misgivings on the doctrine of hell will often quote Matthew 25:42-45 which reads,

42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ –Matthew 25:42-45 ESV

What is interesting is they forget to quote what Jesus says to these people who neglected the needs of the “least of these”. In verses 41 and 46 Jesus declares,

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” -Matthew 25:41,46 ESV

Even when it comes to social injustice, Jesus teaches that the consequences will be everlasting torment in an eternal fiery hell.  Like myself, the doctrine of hell makes a lot of people uncomfortable. It should. If the Church can be moved to action by human trafficking, the plight of the immigrant, starving children, domestic violence, climate change, and every other humanitarian issue, surely the Church can be moved into action by the reality of hell. There is no other humanitarian issue more pressing than millions of souls being lost to an eternal place of torment.

With starving children and suffering immigrants, it is easy to turn the other way because it makes us uncomfortable. Do not let the fact that hell makes you uncomfortable cause you to turn the other way. Hell is real. There is only one way to escape it. That is through Jesus Christ. Every human being must face the reality of their own mortality and trust in the savior before it is too late. Those who do belong to Christ must take a long look into that fiery place of torment until they are moved to such a compassion that they will not rest until they share the Gospel with every living soul while there is still time.


[1] “Religion in America: U.S. Religious Data, Demographics and Statistics,” Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project, last modified September 9, 2020, https://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/belief-in-hell/.

[2] “The Campaign to Eliminate Hell,” National Geographic, last modified May 13, 2016, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture/article/160513-theology-hell-history-christianity.

[3] “Strong’s Greek: 1067. γέεννα (geenna) — 12 Occurrences,” Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages, accessed May 20, 2021, https://biblehub.com/greek/strongs_1067.htm.

[4] “What Is Gehenna?,” Blue Letter Bible, accessed May 20, 2021, https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_168.cfm

Packed Altar Calls No Longer Excite Me

I am still a young naïve preacher. I used to be even younger and even more naïve. During those days that were filled with trial and error (mostly error) and often well-intentioned misplaced zeal, nothing would thrill me more than a packed altar call. I was convinced that one of my major responsibilities was to preach with such effectiveness that the front of sanctuary would be packed from the top of the altars to the front pews with souls ready to get saved. As far as I was concerned, if people were not turning to Christ by the multitudes, I was not doing my job as a preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Now that I am only young and naïve instead of really young and very naïve, I have come to a point where packed altar calls not only no longer excite me, they scare me. Becoming a Christian is a serious commitment marked with submission, sacrifice, and spiritual warfare. When I see a packed altar call, I worry that concept has not been fully understood.

The first reason packed altar calls no longer excite me is because of the obvious fall away rate. This is most evident in young people. Packed altar calls are the “main event” in every youth conference, youth convention, or teen crusade at a local church. If every pastor were honest however, they will admit what everyone in the room is thinking at these massive altar calls. Most of those teens, will “fall away”. According to Lifeway Research, most teens drop out of church when they become adults.[1] There are a few reasons referenced, but most of them simply no longer agree with what the church teaches. Only a small percent of teens stopped attending church when they became adults due to work or other responsibilities.[2]

Teens are not the only ones that are walking away from the faith after a packed altar call. Adults too, are falling away from the faith not long after embracing Christ. Barna released a 2019 study that suggested that from 2011 to 2019 the number of Christians walking away from church has risen 64%.[3] In another study conducted by Pew Research, analysts are projecting by 2050 approximately 106 million Christians are expected to change their religious affiliation.[4]

While these statistics are troubling, they should not be surprising. In Matthew 13, Jesus tells his disciples a parable about the seed (The Word) and three different types of soil. In the parable, when the seed fell on the beaten path, it was eaten by the birds before it could take root. When the seed fell on the shallow soil, it sprang up quick but didn’t last because it had not roots. When the seed fell on the thorny soil, the life was choaked out of it before it had the chance to produce any real fruit. Only the “good” soil was able to produce any beneficial fruit. The different types of soils represent the different conditions of the hearts of those who hear the Gospel.

The second reason packed altar calls no longer excite me is because I worry that those responding have no idea what they are getting into. To put it another way, they do not know what becoming a Christian means. If you were to ask someone what it means to be a Christian, you would get different answers. Some people believe what makes them a Christian is that they were born in a Christian home, the fact that they go to church, or that they were baptized as a baby. As Billy Sunday once said, “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you an automobile.”

Others believe that to become a Christian you must be “born again”. Pew Research released a study in 2016 to determine what it means to be a Christian. In their report they said, “Most self-identified Christians in the U.S. say believing in God and praying regularly are “essential” to what being Christian means to them.”[5] The New Testament definition of a Christian is rather simple. According to the teachings of Jesus and the writings in the Epistles, a Christian is someone who has submitted to the Lord Jesus Christ as His servant.

This concept is packed in literally every book of the New Testament. I believe however, only two passages are necessary to demonstrate that a Christian is a someone who has submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. -Matthew 24-25

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.  -1 Corinthians 6:19-20

It is interesting that in his letters the Apostle Paul uses phrases such as “bought with a price” and “redeemed”. These are words and expressions connected to the concepted of slavery. Over and over the writers of the New Testament describe a Christian as a servant or slave of Jesus Christ. In fact, the Greek word duolos is used to describe a Christian over a hundred times in the New Testament.[6] Jesus is not our buddy, He is not our vending machine, He is our Master. We are His servants.

It is very important that people understand this. The world is not what it was fifty years ago. In the America of fifty years ago, everyone went to church and nothing was opened on Sundays. Prayer was not only allowed in schools, it was encouraged. Those days are gone. In these times, being a Christian is not for the faint of heart. The faith is under attack like never before, the world is promoting more perverse sin than ever before, and there are demonic attacks more than ever before. You could almost say, you would have to be crazy to want to follow Jesus. Years ago, if I gave an altar call and people flooded the altar, I patted myself on the back. Now, if give an invitation for people to receive Christ and the altars are packed, I worry that I did something wrong. The Christian life is tough. It is not that easy.

So from now on, when I give an altar call, I am going to tell people that they are invited to follow Christ but they better be sure they are ready for what it costs. I will explain to them that becoming a Christian does not mean getting a better life, it means dying to self to follow the Master Jesus as His servant. I will remind them that it is a life of submission, sacrifice, and because of the world we live in, it is a life of persecution, and spiritual warfare. Then I will say, “Hey. If you hear all this and decide this is too much and the Christian life isn’t for you, I don’t blame you. That being said, even though I understand why you think the cost of following Jesus is too high, you are hopeless lost without Jesus.” I worry that massive responses to the Gospel invitation indicate people are not understanding just what it means to follow Christ. That is why packed altar calls no longer excite me.


[1] “Most Teenagers Drop Out of Church As Young Adults,” LifeWay Research, last modified March 18, 2020, https://lifewayresearch.com/2019/01/15/most-teenagers-drop-out-of-church-as-young-adults/.

[2] “Most Teenagers Drop Out of Church As Young Adults,” LifeWay Research

[3] “Church Dropouts Have Risen to 64%—But What About Those Who Stay?,” Barna Group, accessed May 13, 2021, https://www.barna.com/research/resilient-disciples/.

[4] Matthew Speiser, “Christians Are Leaving the Faith in Droves and the Trend Isn’t Slowing Down,” Business Insider, last modified April 28, 2015, https://www.businessinsider.com/christians-are-leaving-the-faith-in-droves-2015-4.

[5] “Essentials of Christian Identity Vary by Level of Religiosity,” Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project, last modified May 30, 2020, https://www.pewforum.org/2016/04/12/essentials-of-christian-identity-vary-by-level-of-religiosity-many-nones-say-honesty-vital-to-being-a-moral-person/.

[6] “Strong’s Greek: 1401. δοῦλος (doulos) — 126 Occurrences,” Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages, accessed May 14, 2021, https://biblehub.com/greek/strongs_1401.htm.

Like Lifeguards on Cellphones, the Church is Distracted

John Wesley wrote, “You have nothing to do but to save souls. Therefore, spend and be spent in this work. It is not your business to preach so many times, and to take care of this or that society; but to save as many souls as you can; to bring as many sinners as you possibly can to repentance and with all your power to build them up in that holiness without which they cannot see the Lord”.[1] As Wesley observed, there are many programs and agendas the church has undertaken that are noble, but they risk distracting the Church from her primary task of evangelism. These not necessarily evil distractions can be compared to a lifeguard distracted by a cellphone while a child drowns.

Aquatics International published an article in 2011 encouraging aquatic facilities to update their policies forbidding lifeguards to be on their cell phone while on duty.[2] The reason for this recommended policy is for the past decade there has been an increase in reports of children drowning because lifeguards are watching their cellphones when they should be watching for a child that needs to be rescued.[3]  There is nothing wrong with completing productive tasks such as checking emails or creating a grocery list on a cellphone. When the lifeguard becomes distracted by these tasks however, they neglect their primary task which is to save lives. Like a lifeguard on their cell phone while a child silently drowns, the Church is distracted while souls are perishing.

Lifeway Research did a study in 2019 to determine the major issues pastors are concerned about. Most of the pastors surveyed in the study were concerned about social issues, secularism, the prosperity gospel, how to reach millennials, etc. Only thirty eight percent of the pastors surveyed showed a concern that evangelism was no longer the primary mission of the Church.[4] Stephen Strang published an article in ministrytodaymag.com on what he feels are the twenty issues that are facing the church today. He wrote about racism, the prosperity gospels, building bridges with other denominations, abusive pastors, etc. The only issue he brought up in the realm of evangelism was global missions as a response to the growth of Islam.[5] Alan Danielson wrote an article that was published in ChurchLeaders.com where he wrote that dealing with change was the biggest issue facing the church in 2020.[6]

This shows that the Church has become distracted by every issue on the planet except for the biggest issue; salvation. Christian leaders are coming up with innovative programs and strategies to address abortion, racism, income inequality, an aging congregation, etc. In doing so, they have neglected the most overwhelming issue that millions of people are dying daily without Christ and are headed to an eternal Hell. While Christians fight and debate about the election, politics, the transgender movement, Black Lives Matter, Antifa, gun control, socialism, and abortion, an entire generation is at risk of being eternally lost for a lack of hearing the Gospel. In other words, the lifeguard is busy addressing many important tasks on his cellphone, while children silently drown.

Jesus did not allow Himself to become distracted from His primary mission to “seek and save the lost.” (Luke 19:10). Jesus extended His mission to reach the lost to the Church when He gave the “Great Commission” in Matthew 28:18-20 and in Mark16:15-16. If Jesus Christ felt the Gospel and the lost were worth being crucified for six hours for, there is no excuse for the Church making anything else its priority. Charles Spurgeon said, “If there be any one point in which the Christian church ought to keep it fervor at a white heat, it is concerning missions. If there be anything which we cannot tolerate lukewarmness, it is the matter of sending the gospel to a dying world.”

This is not to say that other ministries and programs have no place in the Church. William Booth rightly said, “What is the use of preaching the Gospel to men whose who attention is concentrated upon a mad, desperate struggle to keep themselves alive?” The difference is, social justice, racial reconciliation, reform in the church, righteousness in our nation flow out of spreading the Gospel. If the Gospel is placed back in its proper place of primacy in the Church, there will be drastic changes in society. A lost generation that has been radically changed by Jesus will begin to radically change its community, nation, and eventually the world.

Instead, the Church is content worrying about other tasks while people “drown”. No one should every condemn a Church for focusing on issues like abortion of social injustice. Just as no one should ever condemn a lifeguard for focusing on checking his emails or creating a grocery list on his cellphone. If, however, someone’s child drowns while that lifeguard is checking his email, he is guilty of allowing himself to be needlessly distracted from his primary task of watching for those who need to be rescued. If an entire generation is lost and goes to hell because Christians are arguing over the 2020 election or Black Lives Matter, they are guilty of allowing themselves to be needlessly distracted when they should be seeking and saving the lost.


[1] John Wesley, The Works of John Wesley (1975), 310.

[2] “Lifeguard Texting Spells Trouble,” Aquatics International, last modified July 1, 2011, https://www.aquaticsintl.com/lifeguards/lifeguard-texting-spells-trouble_o.

[3] “Texts From the Lifeguard Chair Are Raising Concerns Over Safety (Published 2010),” The New York Times – Breaking News, US News, World News and Videos, last modified September 20, 2010, https://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/20/us/20lifeguard.html.

[4] “Surprising Concerns Pastors See the U.S. Church Facing,” Lifeway Research, last modified January 2, 2021, https://lifewayresearch.com/2020/02/19/surprising-concerns-pastors-see-the-u-s-church-facing/.

[5] Stephen Strang, “Twenty Issues Facing the Church,” Ministry Today Magazine, accessed May 7, 2021, https://ministrytodaymag.com/126-archives/from-the-publisher/6981-twenty-issues-facing-the-church.

[6] “The Biggest Issue Facing the Church,” ChurchLeaders, accessed May 7, 2021, https://churchleaders.com/outreach-missions/outreach-missions-articles/149473-the-biggest-issue-facing-the-church.html.

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