At Advancing Native Missions we are now in a period of mourning. We have just recently lost one of the oldest members of our staff. The Reverend Gordon Shira was a part of ANM from the very beginning. Following a successful and varied ministerial career, he had spent the past 25 years doing volunteer work in our offices. He served as the mission chaplain for decades. He also did clerical work in our receipting department since the earliest days of this ministry. He was a generous, kind-hearted and deeply devout man of God. We will miss him greatly.
Being conscious of Gordon’s passing has made me aware of the issue of death, of the mortality that we all face. And it prompts me to write about death itself, and what happens when we die. May I tell you that this is an area where there is an abundance of myth and misunderstanding. Even in the church I often hear Christians make assertions about those who have died that are simply not true. We do not know everything about what happens when we die. But we do know quite a bit. The Scriptures are very clear on a number of things. Continue reading →
Question: “I have often heard that all sins are the same. There is no such thing as big sins or little sins. Is this true? Are all sins equal?” – B. in Charlottesville, Va.
My Answer: The idea that all sins are basically the same is commonly asserted today. We often see this stated when a person is criticized for committing a particular sin. I have heard people say things like this, “You can’t judge me for this sin. My sin is no bigger or worse than the sins that you commit. I’ve seen you lose your temper or speak sharply!” They may tell you that Christians have no right to label a certain sin as more offensive than any other sin. To give but one example, they may say that sexual immorality is no worse than gossip or selfishness. Their obvious attitude is this, how can you judge an adulterer, fornicator or homosexual if you, yourself, are guilty of being unkind or sharp tongued? After all, sin is sin. All sin is equally wrong, or so they say. Continue reading →
Question: Is the soul of man immortal, or does it ceases to exist at death? D. in Crozet, VA.
Answer: The word immortal basically means not liable to death, undying or deathless. There is a debate both within the church and without about whether the soul is immortal. To truly understand this issue, we need to first understand what we mean by death. Continue reading →
Note: This posting is somewhat lengthier than most of those dealing with cultic groups and false teachings. However, the nature of the subject warrants a more in-depth consideration than normal.
There is a growing trend in some Christian circles to question whether hell is truly eternal, or only temporary. Generally it is asserted that a loving God would not condemn anyone to an eternal punishment. This is a serious enough issue that it needs to be addressed.
The first point that must be made is that we have only one genuine and reliable authority for deciding this issue. This is the Bible, the Word of God.
Second, it is obvious that much of real issue concerns the terms used in the Scriptures for hell and eternal destruction. Much of this study will concern the meaning of these terms and how to properly understand them. Continue reading →
Question: What happens to babies when they die? Do they go to heaven or hell?
My Answer: The Bible is very explicit in its condemnation of sin and its explanation of sin’s consequence. When Adam sinned, he not only sinned personally, but he sinned as the “head” of the human race. So in Adam, all have sinned, and all are condemned. The universal sinfulness of all men, including infants, is plainly taught in Romans 5:12, 19. That condemnation has come to all men is evident in Romans 5:16, 18. The Bible plainly teaches that we are born with sinful natures (see Psalm 51:5, Ephesians 2:1-3). This is the doctrine of Original Sin. And it applies to all human beings—not just adults but infants and young children also.
So, if infants are by nature sinful and condemned, what happens to them when they die? Do they go to heaven? Do they go to hell? Or is there another answer? Continue reading →