In the Beginning … Session 14 — The Giants of Genesis 6

The Nephilim (giants) were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.

[Genesis 6:4]

Who are the Nephilim?

Did giant hybrid beings actually walk the earth at one time?

How does the Bible account for the origin and identity of these giants?

How do the giants of Genesis play a central role in the violence and evil in the world before the flood of Noah?

To discover the answer to these questions and more, be sure to check out my latest session in my Genesis Study.

If you find this study helpful, feel free to share it and spread it throughout your own personal network. Also, be sure to subscribe to receive my most recent content.

If you would like to have access to the entire study, you can download the Kindle version through Amazon by clicking the link here — In the Beginning — A Foundational Study of Genesis 1-11.




A Better Country

But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

[Hebrews 11:16]

The American ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness have been the bedrock of this great nation. A government represented by the people and for the people. A place where anything is possible, no matter who you are or from where you have come.

America has been a bastion of hope and beacon of light in a dark, oppressed world. Millions have sought refuge within her borders and have risked everything for the opportunity to get a second chance on life.

We call it the American dream — where the fairytale of rags to riches actually becomes reality.

I do not take this God-given privilege for granted. I understand how blessed and fortunate I am to have been born in America and to be able to raise my family in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And I also realize how quickly it all can be taken away.

Every great and powerful nation rises and eventually falls. No empire is immune to the disintegrating diseases of greed, immorality, corruption, ignorance, and apathy. Anyone with eyes to see knows that the United States is dangerously close to the edge of its own demise. And like most great nations, America will not fall to a more powerful enemy, but rather we will fall from within. For if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?

I can only pray that it doesn’t happen under my watch or in the days of my children or grandchildren.

Many believe tomorrow’s presidential election to be one of the most pivotal in the history of our nation, determining the course of our future and threatening to rip the social fabric of our land. Although it is easy to become slaves to the moment, I am convinced this election is the most important in my lifetime, and perhaps ever.

Whichever way it goes tomorrow, however, my mindset and mentality will not change. My purpose and passion will not change. My ministry and my mission will not change.

And that is because — as much as I love and appreciate this land I call home — at the end of the day, it is only a temporary, earthly home in which I am passing through. America is not my destination nor my ultimate desire, for God has prepared a better country for His people, and I am first a citizen of heaven.

For Abraham was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God … These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.

[Hebrews 11:10, 13-14]

As beautiful and blessed as America has been, it is but a pale shadow compared to the coming Kingdom of God, which Christ Himself has promised to all who believe in Him.

Believers must hold on loosely to this world and to the things of this world, for this world is not our home. As strangers and sojourners in a foreign land, we are but passing through, seeking our true home — a better home — whose designer and builder is God!

So regardless of who wins this election and where our country goes from here, I take great comfort and find peace in knowing that my eternal home will be with God in His kingdom and in the city of New Jerusalem, where righteousness dwells forever.

Hear me O child of God — the best is yet to come!

“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3“If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. 4“And you know the way where I am going.” 5Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?”6Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

[John 14:1-6]

We are Rediscovering our True Heroes

“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”

1 Corinthians 11:1

I virtually grew up with a baseball bat in my hands. Hitting a baseball always came naturally to me. God gifted me with this unique ability, and I was fortunate enough to play at a high level and meet some amazing people along the way. I love the game of baseball and it remains a big part of my life even to this day.

Having played baseball at a high level, I have a deeper appreciation for the best professional hitters in the game. And although I admire what these big-leaguers can do at the plate, I would not say that any of them are my heroes — nor should I.

I also love music and have been given multiple musical gifts. Being a musical jack-of-all- trades and a master of none, I also have come to appreciate the best singers and musicians in the industry for their amazing talents. But again, I can appreciate a musician’s gift without calling him or her a hero.

You see, one of the many misfortunes of American Pop culture is that we have come to confuse giftedness and talent with heroism. We prop up our American idols everywhere and paste pictures of them on our walls and sell out their stadiums because we need heroes to follow. We desire to associate with greatness and to ascend to that greatness.

The only problem is that greatness is not measured by how far someone can hit a baseball or how skillfully another can play the guitar. Frankly, greatness has nothing to do with talent and ability. Some of the most talented people in the world are the most egotistical, selfish, vile people you will ever meet.

Giftedness does not automatically translate into greatness.

Real heroes are not judged by how talented or rich or beautiful or famous they are.

True greatness is measured by self-sacrifice and serving others, just as Christ came to demonstrate Himself.

And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Mark 10:42-45

One of the true blessings that has emerged from the COVID-19 debacle is that we have been reminded how irrelevant and superficial our pop culture heroes really are, and we have rediscovered the real heroes in our life.

I don’t necessarily blame these famous public figures for thinking more highly of themselves than they ought. We are the ones who have fed their egos and idolized them to a fault. But at the end of the day, we had to learn that sports figures and entertainers and musicians and actors are not our heroes — they never were.

The true heroes in life are what I call “real” people. Everyday, ordinary people who are making a difference in the lives of those around them. True heroes are those who maybe weren’t born with exceptional athletic or musical ability, but they are exceptional people. They wake up everyday and make a conscious choice to do what is right and to love others and to help others and to be kind and compassionate to those around them.

True heroes are …

  • The single parents who sacrifice their dreams to work two jobs just so their children will have a better life. Oh, and without complaining.
  • The teachers and school administrators who are underpaid and overworked but still sacrifice time with their own families to make a difference in the lives of countless other families.
  • The coaches who spend countless hours preparing their players for the game but are always willing to give a few more hours to help prepare their players for life.
  • The police officers who put their lives on the line every single day and yet are hated and unappreciated by many in their own communities.
  • The fire fighters, first responders, doctors, nurses, and healthcare providers who put themselves at risk and see the worst of the worst, while holding it all in when going home to their families at night.
  • The stay-at-home moms who are trying to manage a house, raise three kids, cook, clean, provide taxi services, do homework, and still have enough energy to welcome their husbands home with a smile.
  • The dads who leave home at 5 am and work til dark just to put food on the table and provide for their families, while at the same time keeping a good attitude and staying strong for their children to see what true manhood looks like.
  • The pastors of churches big and small — many of them working bi-vocationally — who pour out their hearts in praying and sermon preparation and planning and discipling and administrating and visiting and counseling etc… only to struggle with regular bouts of doubt and discouragement and even depression.
  • The men and women in the armed services who often move their families all over the world and serve multiple combat tours, only to come back home with PTSD and a family that is falling apart.
  • Our Immigration/Customs and Boarder Patrol agents who are on the front lines in stopping human trafficking and the relentless drug cartels from funneling kidnapped children and deadly drugs across our boarders.

I could on and on …

True heroes are difference makers in the lives of those around them. True heroes are willing to give of themselves, not take from others. True heroes are humble and kind and considerate of others. True heroes are courageous and strong in the face of adversity. True heroes work hard and don’t complain. True heroes understand that the world is much bigger than themselves. True heroes are willing to sacrifice their very lives for the benefit of others.

You see, we can live without superstar athletes and American idols. But we can’t live without the true heroes in our lives.

I thank God for allowing me to rediscover who the true heroes of my life are.

Now go be a real hero and make a real difference in the lives of others.

And be sure to thank the real heroes that God has placed in your life.

First a Citizen of Heaven

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”

Philippians 3:20-21

America as we know it is disintegrating — devolving into a lawless land of the godless and profane. It is clear that there is a considerable percentage of the population that wants to fundamentally destroy the cherished American ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Like so many who have enjoyed the privileges and benefitted from the blessings of this once great country, it deeply grieves me to admit that I don’t recognize America anymore.

Just in the first half of 2020, we have witnessed an unprecedented overreach of government during the Covid-19 “scamdemic” and an all-out assault on our most basic constitutional rights.

We have seen unrestrained lawlessness in the streets of our cities, where rioters and looters are propped up and celebrated as heroes of social justice. But at the same time, law enforcement is being disparaged and maligned as public enemy number one. Politicians and high-profile celebrities now are leading the movement to eradicate what they call “systemic racism” by defunding and dismantling the police.

Social division and political unrest continues to intensify, causing more than 1/3 of American citizens to consider the real possibility of another civil war.

We have seen within the last week that the Supreme Court of the United States considers churches to be “non-essential,” effectively denying our First Amendment rights to exercise freedom of religion and to peaceably assemble. The court clearly showed its disregard for the fact that churches have received unequal treatment during the Covid-19 lockdowns compared to other businesses and enterprises.

To make matters worse, that same Supreme Court legislated from the bench by ripping the Civil Rights Act of 1964 out of its original context and reinterpreting it to protect the LGBGT community. As a result of this decision, businesses, schools, and even churches who deny employment to homosexual or transgender applicants on the basis of religious liberty and conscience can now be criminally charged and legally punished.

I could go on and on, but you get the point.

Or maybe you don’t. Maybe you feel just as strongly that this constitutional republic needs to be dissolved and replaced with a new, progressive America. Maybe you have bought into the notion that socialism would be a better alternative to bring true equality to the people and resolve all our problems.

Maybe you hate America. Maybe you are ashamed or guilty of being an American citizen.

I for one am grateful to have been born into the greatest nation in the world and enjoyed the freedom that American ideals have afforded me. Although I am not blindly patriotic nor unaware of the past sins of our nation, I am not ashamed to say that I am proud to be an American.

Despite all the ugly … I still believe America has been the greatest beacon of light and liberty the modern world has ever seen. Maybe that’s why millions seek to immigrate to America every year. It remains the greatest land of opportunity on earth.

But ultimately I realize that the American dream is not the Kingdom dream. American destiny is not an eternal destiny. And my American citizenship is not my primary citizenship. As a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, I have been granted citizenship in a far greater land — the Kingdom of Heaven!

From Stranger to Son

“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.”

Ephesians 2:19

America could fall apart today, and I could be declared an enemy of the state. But no one can revoke my citizenship in heaven. The redemptive work of Jesus Christ transcends and triumphs over all man-made institutions and governments. Only Christ can secure citizenship for our souls, and nothing in all creation can separate us from Him.

As a Gentile sinner, I once was outside of the commonwealth of God’s Kingdom and living in abject rebellion to the King of kings. I was a foreigner, an outsider, an wayward wanderer and total stranger to God.

Jesus changed that by paying my ransom and reconciling me to God. The Father has adopted me into His own family as a son and granted me citizenship in His Kingdom.

No one says it better than the Apostle Peter.

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

1 Peter 2:9-10

The LORD will bring us Home

There is a reason this world is unsatisfying. There is an inner frustration and longing for our true home — our heavenly home. Jesus reminds us that while we are forced to live in this world, we are not of this world. We may be born an American citizen, but we must be born again as a Kingdom citizen.

It is so easy to grow comfortable in this world and become attached to the fleeting pleasures and pursuits of the world. But as God’s children and citizens of heaven, we should set our hopes and hearts on that which is above, not below — upon that which is eternal and not temporal.

Jesus Christ will return in all His glory and power to establish His eternal Kingdom on this earth. Until then, whether we go to Him or He comes to us, we belong to Him.

We take heart and find hope in knowing that the LORD will bring us home in the end.

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

John 14:1-3

And until that day, we wait patiently for a better country that He has promised to all who love Him. Our home is in the distance, but it is drawing ever so near.

“These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city …

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.”

Hebrews 11:13-16, 12:22-24


Quick to Listen — Slow to Speak — Slow to Anger

“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

James 1:19-20

In the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis and the subsequent protests and riots all over our nation, I have tried to take a step back and evaluate the situation from an objective position. Although none of us can be truly objective, it is important to make an attempt to hear all sides and gather as much information as possible before expressing an opinion about any given situation — especially one that is fueled with such fire that it appears to be ripping at the fabric of our society.

I, of all people, should know this because I can be quite opinionated and have often spoken too quickly about matters out of emotion or anger. The words above from James were just the reminder I needed over the past several weeks. As a follower of Christ in what seems to be an increasingly more chaotic and confusing culture, these words are both wise and true.

With that in mind, I will now share honestly about what I see in light of the recent events.

Quick to LISTEN

Listening is a lost art. In both public and private dialogue, we are so busy formulating opinions and come backs that we often forget to listen to those speaking to us. I am guilty of this. The way my mind works in concert with my argumentative nature is a recipe for poor listening skills. I also must remember that “hearing” isn’t always listening. I might “hear” what you’re saying without ever listening to a word you say.

I have to work hard at listening. I want to be a better listener — an empathizer. I want to connect with people on their level and truly hear their heart, even if I don’t agree with what they are saying.

This is a very important truth for this generation to understand — so important that I do not believe successful communication is achievable without it. We can listen to others without having to agree with them. We can empathize with others while fundamentally disagreeing with their sentiment. As a matter of fact, this is one of the most necessary characteristics of a good listener. Let people say what they need to say and be quick to listen to them.

In a culture dominated by the absurdity of moral relativism, however, we have been conditioned to believe that tolerance means that we must fundamentally agree with someone else. In other words, if you disagree with another’s beliefs or lifestyle or convictions, then you are labeled intolerant — which is the worst of labels in our “progressive culture.”

On the contrary, the true meaning of tolerance is that one can disagree with another in principle but at the same time love and respect him/her as a person. Sadly, true tolerance has been trampled under foot and replaced with an artificial virtue that neither cultivates progress nor encourages mutual respect.

It is clear that the majority of protestors out in the streets and the pundits on their social media platforms are sending a message — they just want to be heard. They want to know that they have a voice and more importantly that their voice matters. I have no problem whatsoever with this sentiment, and frankly I am willing to die for the fundamental right for people to peaceably assemble and exercise freedom of speech.

Now let me be perfectly honest. I have listened to the public outcry surrounding the George Floyd incident. His death is tragic and I pray justice will be served.

At the same time, I am hearing all the mantras and reading all the signs. While I understand and even empathize with much of what is being said, I also do not agree with much of what I am hearing.

Examples? Sure.

Let’s start with the #blacklivesmatter mantra. I don’t agree in principle with most of the Black Lives Matter Movement, nor with the double standard it portrays. While some might accuse me of being a “racist” for not standing up for black lives or standing against police brutality, I see it entirely differently. As a Christian, I stand for the inherent worth and value of every human life and for the protection of human life.

But that is not where I disagree with the BLM movement. BLM wants to insist that others must unite with their cause and also how they are appropriately to do so. If an individual doesn’t meet their own prescribed demands, then they are automatically labeled a racist and black-listed by the community. Doesn’t sound very “tolerant” to me.

The Black Lives Matter movement is demanding major social changes that I cannot agree with. BLM rejects what they call the traditional, Western-prescribed “nuclear family,” which means that they fundamentally reject the God-ordained institution of marriage between a husband and wife and the sacredness of family, as defined by God’s word. Furthermore, BLM rejects traditional “gender roles,” which again violates the Scriptural definition of gender and God’s purposes of sexuality within His created order.

BLM wants to defund police departments across this nation — effectively eliminating our police force. This apparently is justified by the notion that law enforcement is institutionally racist, endangering African Americans more than protecting them. The Minneapolis City Council has already vowed and voted to do as much. Only God knows what kind of anarchy would emerge without police.

Advocates of the BLM movement preach the necessity for slavery reparations and the redistribution of wealth to the African American community. Leaders proposes a transfer of trillions of dollars to “level” the economic playing field.

Others leading this movement continue to push the envelope further by demanding white authors be removed from public libraries and white actors be denied roles in Hollywood films. Where will it stop?

While it is entirely possible to publicly acknowledge the general truth that black lives matter and at the same time disagree with the BLM movement, I feel like it is nearly impossible to separate the two while using the BLM platform.

Of course black lives matter. They matter to me and most importantly to God, for the Lord Jesus Christ came that He might reconcile the world to God by demonstrating His love on the cross for all mankind. That is the core message of the gospel, which frankly transcends every subgroup, race, class, and social division that exists in our world.

What about the popular “no justice, no peace” slogan?

Again, I get the sentiment, but it is lacking one essential component. People forget that justice and peace are Biblical concepts they can only be defined Biblically.

Only Jesus Christ is able to bring complete justice and peace, and more importantly has promised to do as much through His own presence and power. True and total justice will be realized and experienced in the Kingdom of God after the Lord Jesus returns as King of kings to rule this world.

True peace can only be experienced through a relationship with God through Jesus Christ — the Prince of Peace — which is only possible when Christ dwells in an individual’s heart. So even though there are obvious injustices in this world, we still are capable to experience true and lasting peace through the presence of Christ in us.

Finally, what about the mantra that is circulating — “silence equals violence?”

In other words, many are demanding that white people in particular, who remain silent about police brutality and institutional racism, are just as complicit as the very perpetrators of hate.

That leads me to my next point.

Slow to Speak

Biblical wisdom teaches us that we should seek to tame the tongue and learn to think before we speak. It is not wise to jump to conclusions, make impulsive judgments, and emotionally vent our frustrations in the heat of the moment.

Yet we now have an entire movement that again has arbitrarily made the rules and set the standards and then vehemently shame those who don’t meet their qualifications.

But does silence really equal violence? Are those who have chosen to remain silent guilty of hate and violence? Should those who remain silent automatically be labeled racist and socially shamed for not conforming to the culture?

On the contrary, I believe that it is wise to remain silent and be slow to speak for several reasons. We must be clear about what we say, but also we must sure about why we are saying it. There is big difference of speaking out of obligation or social pressure and speaking out of conviction.

Also, let’s apply the same logic to another scenario. What about … oh I don’t know … abortion. Using the logic of “silence equals violence,” then I could just as easily say that those who refuse to openly and publicly speak out against abortion are complicit in the murder of nearly a million innocent babies every year in America — many of them black babies who are murdered at the hands of “white” doctors.

So I am sorry but I will not be boxed in or backed into a corner simply because I have chose to remain silent and be slow to speak about issues that I am still trying to understand. It is precisely this kind of social shaming and virtue signaling that leads to more anger, which is a nice segway into my last point.

Slow to Anger

Of course there are times when we should be angry. I believe every man and woman has the right to be angry at injustice because we are made in the image of God, who created us with an innate sense of morality and an inherent desire for justice. There is such a thing as righteous anger — justified anger — but most of the time man’s anger is tainted with a sinful nature that often is boiling with hate, violence, revenge, and retribution.

Those things obviously are not of God. Vengeance is the Lord’s. He will repay. That doesn’t mean we should not demand and seek justice in this life. Of course we fight for justice at all costs.

It simply means that when man’s system of justice fails us, we can rest in the promise of ultimate justice at the hands of a Holy God, who has promised to judge the world in righteousness.

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:16-21

Michelle Obama, recently speaking to a graduating class, shared a message that I thought was appropriate for this day. Although I fundamentally disagree with the Obamas on nearly every political and social issue, I wanted to give credit where credit is due. Even as I read some of the headlines, it was clear that some were trying to spin her words to imply that she was encouraging anger, when in reality she was not. There is truth in her words, and I would have missed this had I not taken the time to read her speech.

“Graduates, anger is a powerful force. It can be a useful force. But left on its own, it will only corrode and destroy and sow chaos — on the inside and out. But when anger is focused, when it’s channeled into something more — that is the stuff that changes history.”

Michelle Obama —

I know that man’s anger is a tremendously powerful force, but I also know that rarely does it yield the righteousness of God. So where I would differ from Obama in her words is to emphasize the one thing more powerful than man’s anger.

That of course is the love of God!

Instead of channeling our anger during this perilous time, we must turn to God in faith and ask Him to pour out His love into our hearts and learn to channel His love to others. Only then can we obey the greatest commandment, which is to love God and love our neighbors. To love our enemies and bless those who curse us. To overcome evil with good.

May we all continue to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, but more than anything, may we all be quick to love others as Jesus Christ has loved us!

Did Jesus Descend into Hell when He died?

Jesus Christ is the God-Man — truly God and also truly man. He transcends time and yet stepped into time when he was born as a baby. He is the Creator of the universe who willingly entered His own creation.

The very nature of Jesus Christ is mysterious and glorious at the same time.

On the one hand, God the Son is eternal, immortal and immutable in His deity. On the other hand, the Son of Man wrapped Himself in mortality and subjected Himself to the limitations of the physical world in His humanity — even to the point of death on a cross.

These mysteries — though worthy of discovery and study — are far beyond the scope of this post, but they are important to answering a controversial theological question about the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. That questions being …

Where did Jesus go when He died?

When Jesus — who is both truly God and truly man — died on the cross, where did He go? We know His body was laid in the tomb, but where did Jesus go in His spirit once departed from His human body?

The answer is important because some believe that between the cross and the resurrection, Jesus went to heaven, and still others believe He descended into hell, or Hades.

So which is it? And why does it matter?

The Apostles’ Creed

One of the oldest church traditions as expressed in the Apostles’ Creed says that upon His death, Jesus descended into hell before rising again. It should be noted that The Apostles’ Creed is a revision of the “Old Roman Creed,” which did not include the phrase “He descended into hell.” This is important because various theological doctrines have emerged from this teaching, such as the erroneous ransom theory of atonement, which proposes that Jesus went to hell to pay a ransom to Satan in order to set sinners free.

You can read more about the history and progressive development of the creed here. For those who need a refresher, the Apostles’ Creed in modern form is as follows.

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
the Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell.
The third day He arose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven
and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty,
whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church,
the communion of the saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting.

The Apostles Creed

The Biblical Testimony

As always, we must ask the most essential question about any particular teaching or topic.

What does the Bible say?

As far as I can tell, there are only three, possibly four, relevant passages in the New Testament that provide the clear answer to this question. I will deal with them in order.

As far as the teaching that Jesus descended into hell before being raised to life on the third day, there are only two potential passages that come into view.

The first is Ephesians 4, where Paul is speaking about Jesus having “ascended” into heaven to give spiritual gifts to His church. Paul’s teaching actually is an interesting interpretation of Psalm 68, which clearly has the Second Coming in view. Nonetheless, let’s consider what Paul says to the church in Ephesus.

But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says,

“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
and he gave gifts to men.”

(In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)

Ephesians 4:7-10 – ESV

In all consideration, I do not find real substance in this passage that is specific to the idea that Jesus somehow “descended” into hell/Hades before being raised on the third day. Many interpret this passage to simply represent the incarnation of the Lord Jesus, as he descended from heaven to the earth when taking on human form before ascending to heaven after his resurrection.

Then there is 1 Peter 3. This passage perhaps is most referenced when it comes to the idea of Jesus descending into hell. Let’s take a look.

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.”

1 Peter 3:18-20

Once again, if we read this passage carefully, with interpretive integrity, I believe the entire issue is resolved.

Verse 18 says that Jesus was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, so the resurrection is already in view. When you read verse 19, it is connected to the resurrection of Jesus, not to the period of time his body was in the ground.

That is significant because what Peter is saying is that it was not until after His resurrection — after being made alive in the Spirit — that Jesus went and proclaimed victory over the rebellious spirits being held in prison for their sins in the days of Noah.

This passage says nothing about Jesus descending into Hades before His resurrection, which is why I reject that portion of the Apostles’ Creed.

The Simple Answer

Beyond that, I believe the Gospels provide the simple truth about where Jesus went after He died. He went immediately into the presence of God the Father. Let me prove it to you.

“And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.”

Matthew 27:50

When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished.” And bowing His head, He yielded up His spirit.

John 19:30

And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Luke 23:42-43

Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.

Luke 23:46

Jesus yield up the ghost to God the Father and committed His spirit into the Father’s hands. To be absent from the body is to be present with the LORD.

Just another example of how man’s traditions can become church doctrines without Biblical foundations.

Why is Good Friday so Good?

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

Isaiah 53:5

I’m not sure when the Friday before Resurrection Sunday became known as “Good Friday.” At first glance, there seems to be nothing good about it.

Good Friday is the day the Son of Man was beaten beyond recognition and tortured to within an inch of His life.

Good Friday is the day that the Righteous Son of God was punished for crimes He did not commit and for sins He never knew.

Good Friday is the day that the Lord of Glory — the Creator of the Universe — was rejected and murdered by His own people.

Good Friday is the day that Jesus Christ was nailed to a Roman cross, only to bear the full weight of the world’s wickedness and become the sole object of God’s unbridled wrath for the sins of mankind.

Good Friday doesn’t sound very good.

So why is it called “Good” Friday?

The Cross Was the Eternal Plan of God

The Scriptures remind us that the cross of Jesus Christ is the focal point and apex of God’s eternal plan of redemption. God would defeat death through death and destroy the works of the devil through the humble sacrifice of the Son.

The Scriptures also reveal that this plan of redemption was conceived in the heart of God before the very foundation of the world.

“Knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 21who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”

1 Peter 1:18-21

“And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.”

John 17:3-5

“All who dwell on the earth will worship him [the Beast], whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

Revelation 13:8

Good Friday is good because it was the plan of God, accomplished by God, and for the glory of God.

The Cross was the Father’s Will

As Jesus agonized with blood and tears in the Garden of Gethsemane, He had to remind Himself of the very purpose for which He was born. All that Jesus came to do on earth was in perfect obedience to the Father’s will.

And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 

Luke 22:42-43

The prophet Isaiah also reminds us of the Father’s will.

“Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him;
he has put him to grief
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.”

Isaiah 53:10

Good Friday was Jesus’ final step in obedience to the Father’s will, fulfilling all righteousness!

The Cross is Our Only Hope

More than anything, Good Friday is good news for all mankind because the cross of Jesus Christ is our only means of forgiveness and our only hope to be saved and restored to a Holy God.

When the Son of God was nailed to the cross, the greatest exchange in human history took place that day. All the universal guilt and shame and sin of mankind was placed on Jesus, as He suffered the punishment and took our place on the cross. At the same time, all the righteousness and perfection and purity of Jesus Christ was made available to everyone who would believe in Him by faith.

“Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.”

Romans 5:18-19

Jesus is our substitute for sin. He was punished in our place. He suffered and died the death we deserve so that we could be forgiven and set free and live forever! The punishment that brought us peace was placed upon Him.

Jesus paid the price for our sin — a debt that we could never repay.

Jesus suffered the penalty for our sin — which was more than just the excruciating death on the cross. Jesus suffered the unbearable wrath of God. The Father crushed Him under the weight of His indignation. The Father exhausted the full measure of His wrath on Jesus that day.

That is why for those of us who have trusted in Christ alone for salvation, we are not destined for the wrath of God [1 Thessalonians 5:9]. Only those who reject the Lord Jesus remain in the imminent shadow of God’s righteous wrath.

Good Friday is good because it is the day that God made a way for sinners to saved and transgressors to be forgiven. Only by His wounds, are we healed.

As we remember the cross today … may we be overwhelmed by the grace of God and bow before our Holy God, who turned the worst day into the best day in human history!

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

2 Corinthians 5:21

When Catastrophe Strikes

“No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

Luke 13:3

As I write this post, at least 22 people have been declared dead in Middle Tennessee from a devastating wave of tornadoes that touched down in the early morning hours. Many are still missing and death tolls are expected to rise. Downtown Nashville was among one of the areas hardest hit, suffering immense damage.

Stories of catastrophe, violence, pain and suffering seem to grip the headlines and provide the most riveting news content in our culture. There is something about tragedy that directly appeals to human interest while at the same time speaks to the depravity of our human condition. Bad news seems to travel much faster than good news for a reason.

And I believe I know the reason why.

We are terrified of our own mortality.

Where Was God?

When something as apparently arbitrary and capricious as a tornado devastates an area, we assess the aftermath and naturally start to ask questions.

Why was my home spared when the one next door was swept away?

Why did my loved one die when tens of thousands walked away unscathed?

Why did God protect us and not someone else?

Where was God last night? Did He do this? Is He to blame?

All of us have wrestled with the age-old philosophical problem of evil and suffering. While I will not attempt to answer such questions here, I would like to point out that such questions arise from an innate sense of fairness — justice — right and wrong. This sense of moral fairness has been engraved upon every human heart because we all recognize injustice and automatically appeal to an objective moral standard that transcends time, place and culture.

It should be asked, therefore, from where does this inherent sense of morality and justice originate?

I think we all “know” the answer. Some just had rather not admit it.

But what are we to make of natural disasters and seemingly capricious tragedies in life? How should we interpret tornados and earthquakes and random accidents from a Biblical worldview?

Thankfully, the Lord Jesus gives us the answer and gets to the bottom of the issue.

Unless You Repent …

One day Jesus was posed with a very similar question from the crowds, and He answered in the most fascinating way.

There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

Luke 13:1-5

Notice how Jesus addressed two primary truths in His answer.

First, He dismissed the faulty notion that every accident or tragedy is an act of divine judgment directly connected to a specific sin. Those who had suffered tragedy and death were no “worse” sinners or offenders than any others. The point Jesus was making was that all of humanity proper is guilty of sin before a Holy God.

Death entered the world through sin and because all have sinned, all will be judged by God in death [Romans 5:12]. In other words, death is the common denominator that reminds us of divine judgment. We somehow forget that someone dies every 2 to 3 seconds on this earth. Our timing of death may vary. Our certainty of death, however, is universal.

What is 80 to 100 years to God? Nothing. So if we live to be 20 or 120, the sobering reality remains — we all will pay the price for our sin.

The second truth that Jesus conveys in this lesson is that instead of trying to justify why some die sooner than others — or even under different circumstances — we should be examining our own lives in light of our own imminent death and judgment.

After all, death is certain and tomorrow is not guaranteed. Jesus was getting to the deeper issue and the heart of the matter. Unless we repent of our sins and turn to God in faith in the “living years,” we too will perish and face the Judge of all the earth.

The Nashville tornado is especially tragic for those who lost their lives, but the catastrophe was not wasted. God is giving every single survivor — including those reading this right now — another chance to examine his/her life and take advantage of His grace. As long as we have breath, we are being offered an opportunity to repent and turn to Jesus Christ in faith.

For God So Loved

Some may ask, “where was God,” in the wake of this disaster, but the answer is always the same. God is here. He has always been here. And the good news is that He has made the only way for mankind to be saved from the wages of sin and find ultimate rest in His free gift of eternal life.

God has always been here with arms outstretched, willing to receive all who would believe in His Only Son, Jesus Christ — who is the Only means of forgiveness and salvation.

The truth is that we all will perish in our mortal flesh, but the good news is that God has made a way for us to live, even if we die [John 11:25-26].

Jesus is the One who promised that even though we may die … we do not have to eternally perish, and He is the Only One who can make good on such a promise.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16

If you were to die today, are you certain that you will spend eternity with God in heaven?

If so … why?

Exposing the Chemical Conspiracy

I’m breaking away from my normal prophetic mode to do something I rarely do — share a personal observation.

The genesis for this post was born one morning in the shower — where all great ideas seem to emerge!

As I was washing my hair with cheap shampoo — labeled with some notion of being 100% natural — I decided to flip the bottle over and read the ingredients on the back. Needless to say, the fine print disclosed what I already knew in my heart.

There was nothing “natural” about the product I was using on my hair — only a long list chemical concoctions and artificial ingredients that I couldn’t even pronounce, much less identify.

And that’s when it hit me … we are being systematically poisoned by chemicals.

Just think about it. Consider how many chemicals we are putting in or on our body throughout the course of each day. If you have never considered this before, allow me to put it into perspective. The average person will be exposed to countless chemicals every day. Let us count the ways.

  • Brush my teeth with chemically ridden toothpaste (fluoride etc…) which seeps into my gums, followed by gargling more chemicals in the mouthwash. Don’t forget, I’m using the city water supply as well, which contains … you guessed it — more fluoride, chlorine, pesticides and fertilizers.
  • Take a hot shower with that same chemically charged water supply, which again penetrates the skin, seeping into our body. Lather up with chemically composed soap and shampoo that compounds the chemical release into the body. So most of us have already had a heavy dose of these harmful substances before 7 am.
  • Put on lotions or perfumes, body sprays and deodorants, which contain aluminum and other chemicals that also penetrate the skin and enter the blood stream.
  • Ladies are putting on tons of makeup and concealers etc… that are also composed of chemical compounds.
  • Shave with more chemicals in my name-brand shaving cream plus more contaminated water. Maybe slap on an aftershave chemical splash to boot.
  • Get dressed with clothes that have been washed in chemically charged laundry detergent and whatever chemical fabric softeners we use.
  • Although I try to be conscious about my diet and try to avoid processed and packaged foods, the average person will likely eat some form of highly processed, sugar-laden snack for breakfast (more chemicals) and wash it down with something along the lines of a Diet Mountain Dew, which contains one of the most harmful substances known to man – aspartame. Any cooking we may do, if not using a water filter, will be done with the same city water supply, releasing more chemicals into your food.
  • Many cooking utensils and pots and pans release more harmful metals into our food and surely everyone has to admit that the traditional microwave meal in plastic containers cannot be good for us as it melts around our food.
  • Plus, we just washed our dishes in detergent full of … yep more chemicals.
  • Beyond that, even most of our fresh fruits and vegetables have been sprayed with harmful pesticides and other chemicals to preserve color or accelerate ripening. Not to mention the genetically modified foods we eat that have been infused with pest-resistant chemicals, such as the notorious RoundUp. It’s impossible to know what we are consuming if we don’t grow it ourselves.
  • Most Americans are taking some form of medication, which may or may not be legitimate to treat our medical “conditions.” Big pharmaceutical companies are making billions of dollars each year on keeping us just sick enough to remain dependent on their drugs. Big Pharma has become specialized in treating symptoms as opposed to providing any real cures. And the question remains. Do we really know what we are putting into our bodies with these medications and how they affect us?
  • Don’t forget to wipe down the counters with chemical cleaners before you go!
  • Grab a bottled water for good conscience when you head out the door. Well, most bottled waters are nothing more than municipal tap water, and even spring water in a plastic bottle will be contaminated with traces of plastic.
  • Pop a piece of gum into your mouth before arriving to the office and digest even more artificial ingredients.
  • By lunch time it’s time to eat more processed food, or worse, fast-food, which is notorious for using artificial ingredients, margarine, hormones, dies, food coloring, high fructose corn syrup, and other harmful ingredients like monosodium glutamate etc… Wash it down with more soda, adding to the poison intake for the day.
  • Wash you hands with chemical soap throughout the day.
  • Consume more chemically laden food and beverages throughout the day that have little to no nutritional value.
  • How about cell-phone radiation and other radiation we are constantly being bombarded with in this digital world. Studies have shown for years that cellular radiation is linked to cancer and lowered testosterone in men.
  • And notice that I haven’t even begun to mention the amount of contaminates we are inhaling through the air, whether purposefully or not. Smoking cigarettes and vaping chemicals are obviously the most dangerous forms of poison intake, but add to it the reality of chemical trails and other pollutants being released into the air, and it become clear that we rarely are breathing clean air.
Germany, Hesse, Frankfurt, near Frankfurt International Airpor

Now before you classify me as a radical environmentalist or fringe conspiracy theorist, just stop and ask yourself, “is this a reasonable assessment of what we put in and on our bodies on a daily basis?” I think it is self-evident that chemicals are ubiquitous in the products we use everyday, and we all are being adversely affected by them.

This is not an exaggeration of the facts. If anything it could be an underestimation!

I do not have to align myself with the radical environmental lobby and climate change militia in order to exercise enough common sense to know that we are being systematically poisoned by chemicals.

We know that our society is plagued by auto immune diseases, chronic fatigue, low testosterone and sperm counts among men, ADHD, autism, mental fogginess, short-term memory loss, obesity, diabetes, and CANCER. It seems everywhere we turn we are growing sicker as a society.

It is not a stretch to draw some connection between the impurities and chemicals that we are putting in our bodies and this enormous explosion of sickness in our world today.

If you are like me, then maybe it is time we truly begin making necessary changes to our diets and hygiene that will eliminate the chemicals from our bodies so that we can actually feel what it is like to be healthy again.

There are many good websites out there that can help you get started on the road to healthy, chemical-free living. Here is one example — Young Living.

Jeffrey Epstein and the Justice of God

For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

[Hebrews 10:30-31]

In light of the apparent “suicide” of billionaire pedophile Jeffery Epstein early Saturday morning, I felt compelled to look past the political and conspiratorial rhetoric and hopefully provide some perspective on the deeper theological implications at the heart of the matter.

The first notion I must address is this. Jeffrey Epstein did not get away with anything. He did not get off by taking the easy way out. His “premature” death was not his escape from justice. Jeffrey Epstein, like so many other deplorable and wicked men, may never stand trial before a human judge and face a human jury of his peers, but he will most certainly stand before the Judge of all the Earth.

We must be reminded that every man’s own “conscience also bears witness, and our own conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus” [Romans 2:15-16].

God’s word is clear. “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account“[Hebrews 4:13]. Furthermore, “For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil” [Ecclesiastes 12:14].

God will by no means leave the guilty unpunished [Exodus 34:7], and although the LORD takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked [Ezekiel 33:11], He must punish sin because “righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne” [Psalm 97:2].

When justice seems to allude us in this life, we must never forget that ultimate justice will prevail in the end. Death is not a way out for the wicked. It is appointed for every man once to die, and then face the judgment.

“And the dead were judged according to their deeds, as recorded in the books.”

[Revelation 20:12]

After all, God says, ““Vengeance is mine; I will repay.”

One Serious Danger to Avoid

“When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.

[2 Corinthians 10:12]

It is easy for most people to climb upon their moral high horse and look down on the likes of Jeffry Epstein and immediately feel better about themselves.

“I may not be perfect,” one may say. “But at least I’m not as sick as that guy.”

Now, I in no way want to diminish the abhorrent and horrendous acts of perversion, evil, and abuse perpetrated by Epstein and those involved in this ring of wickedness. There are different degrees of sin and there are different degrees of punishment for that reason, both on earth and in hell [Matthew 23:14]. And I personally believe that the depth of depravity that Epstein represents is among the very worst in our world.

But also there is a danger in comparing ourselves to people like Epstein and gaining this false sense of moral superiority. We fall into a trap when we fail to recognize that Jeffrey Epstein is not our moral standard.

God is.

God’s Standard of Perfect Righteousness

The Bible makes is clear that the LORD is perfect in righteousness and that His eyes are “too pure to look on evil” [Habakkuk 1:13]. Jesus says that “unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” [Matthew 5:20], and then He says, “You must be perfect even as your Heavenly Father is perfect” [Matthew 5:48].

Furthermore, the Bible is clear that no man can be justified and declared righteous by keeping the law because we all have sinned and fallen short of God’s righteous and perfect standard [Romans 3:10, 23]. If we attempt to obtain righteousness and perfection by keeping the law, we must keep all of it [Leviticus 18:5, Galatians 3:12].

There is only one problem with that. The Bible also reminds us that “whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it” [James 2:10].

So God’s law never saves us but actually exposes our sinfulness and moral insufficiency to meet God’s standard. The law condemns all of us, for no man is righteous — no, not even one.

Not you. Not me. Not Jeffrey Epstein. Not anybody.

In God’s sight, every man is guilty and in jeopardy of His righteous judgment. None of us enter into heaven based on our own merits and good works. There are no amount of good works we could ever do to “right the scales” and earn our salvation. Besides, if God were to award us eternal life based on our good works, then He would be obligated to pay us for what we have done.

But that is preposterous! God owes us nothing. We deserve nothing from God but to be judged and condemned according to our sinful deed and rebellion. The only wages we deserve is death [Romans 6:23].

The Good News of the Gospel

All of sudden, it becomes evident that maybe we aren’t so much better than Jeffrey Epstein after all. It’s easy to believe you are good person when you are standing next to a deplorable pervert and comparing yourself to him.

But if we are to stand next to the Lord Jesus Christ in all His righteous perfection and holiness, the true condition of our heart and of our sinful nature is exposed. When we compare ourselves to God’s standard of righteousness, we quickly realize just how sinful we are and how short we fall before Him.

Only God is good. Only Jesus Christ is perfect, and that is why we need Jesus Christ so desperately to save us, forgive us, cleanse us, and give us the free gift of eternal life.

The good news of God’s salvation is that through the Person and work of Jesus Christ, God has made the way for all sinners to be saved and restored into relationship with Himself. In trusting in God’s only provision for forgiveness and salvation, God has promised to take the righteousness and perfection of Jesus Christ and apply it to us!

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

[2 Corinthians 5:21]

God has promised to give the free gift of eternal life to all who believe in Christ! And therefore, we all come to God as sinners and understand that we can only be saved by His grace alone and by trusting in Christ alone.

“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 2:8-9]

I pray everyone reading this will ask this question.

In Whom’s goodness am I trusting to save me?

My own?

Or in the goodness the Lord Jesus Christ?

Jesus is our only hope.