The Masterpiece (Romans 1:20) – Austin Gonzales

At last, the Artist had finished laboring. He took a step back and surveyed His work. Completely satisfied, He said, “It is very good,” then He rested for a day (Gen. 1:31-2:2). Within this masterpiece are many smaller works – each one a masterpiece in its own right. I am one of those privileged to observe some of these every day, as the Artist
continually touches-up and cares for them. Some of my favorites are “Water,” “Flora and Fauna,” “Sky,”

“Chemistry,” and “Music.” “Chemistry” is the medium that the Artist uses to mold his masterpiece. Within “Chemistry,” I consider Elements, which struggle together as small teams cooperating and building upon each other to construct the entirety of the vast masterpiece, as the Artist directs (1 Cor. 12:12-31). I also observe Fire, which He uses to refine various parts of His masterpiece – eradicating great stains and smears through much toil and patience, as well as strengthening the mold (1 Pet. 1:6-7).

“Flora and Fauna” illustrates the delicacy of the masterpiece. From this we can see how such art owes its existence to its Creator and to the Person who preserves it and cares for it. It is a beautiful creation – filled with untold complexity and variety that give us just a taste of how intelligent and wise the Maker of this masterpiece must be (Rom. 11:33-36). Moreover; through examining the intricacies of the relationships between “Flora and Fauna” set pieces, we discover amazing jewels like care and protection (Matt. 6:25-34).

“Sky” makes use of the Artist’s full palette of colors, patterns, and lighting. The dominant feature – Weather – is a constantly changing canvas. Weather portrays, at times, immense power. At other times it portrays peace, or anything else in-between (Mark 4:35-41). Another feature is Sunrise, sometimes called Sunset. Sunrise is a live exhibition portraying the Artist’s emotions in color. This fascinating display of emotion continually changes as each moment passes. But even when it disappears from view, it’s still there – bleeding, growing, mourning, smiling. Though many parts of the masterpiece fade away after a time, Sunrise never ceases to be. It is at the Beginning and, as Sunset, it is at the End of the masterpiece (Rev. 22:13).

“Water” is the shading technique that connects all of these masterpieces to each other in a pure hue. It sometimes acts as an eraser – cleansing and shaping the foundations for the masterpiece. At other times, it gives life to the masterpiece (John 3:5; 4:13-14): “Sky,” “Chemistry,” and especially “Flora and Fauna,” could not be what they are without “Water”, and wherever “Water” is not, there is instead a blemishing agent called Death.

“For the invisible things of him, that is, his eternal power and Godhead, are seen by the creation of the world, being considered in his works, to the intent that they [men] should be without excuse:” (1599 Geneva Bible) (Brackets added for clarification, based on context)

Art is a way of expressing oneself. The Artist desired to express Himself – His personality – to His masterpiece. So through art, as well, we can see the personality of this master Artist displayed. Through music, we can see harmony – the idea of multiple parts working together as a whole – much like Elements. Through smithing and pottery, we can see His method of refining and strengthening through toil and pain – much like Fire. Through score composition and architecture, we can learn about the mathematics, complexities, and other such evidences of this Artist’s intelligence – much like “Flora and Fauna.” By studying colors, patterns, and lighting – as seen in “Sky,” we can learn a great deal about sin and righteousness (1 John 1:5-10), and about human emotion, a gift bestowed by the Artist upon His portrait “The Likeness of His Image” (Gen. 1:26-27).

Even in the use of our cleaning materials when the work is done we can observe the pure, cleansing nature of the Artist – like that of “Water.” We can observe how they may be used to both erase and create, to make the artwork exactly what the Artist wants (2 Cor. 5:21). Even more; we can observe how, without the proper cleansing Agent, the art may remain blemished or covered up, but never restored – much like those marked by sin, for Death. The Artist can only use the proper cleansing Agent to restore that precious gift of Life to His portrait and make it again, truly, “The Likeness of His Image” (John 14:6).

Advertisements

Scriptures and Thoughts on Hell

What does “hell” mean?

Hebrew:
Sheol – synonym of pit or abyss. A monster that is never satisfied (Proverbs 1:12, 30:16). Underworld (place to which people descend at death). Does not consistently carry a specific connotation of punishment or reward.

Greek:
Hades – properly, the “unseen place,” referring to the (invisible) realm in which all the dead reside, i.e. the present dwelling place of all the departed (deceased). Does not consistently carry a specific connotation of punishment or reward.

Tartarus – only occurs in 2 Peter 2:4, referring either to the negative side of Hades or to the eternal abode of the wicked.

Ge’enna – appears 12 times, all but once spoken by Jesus. Loan word from the Hebrew meaning “the valley of (Ben) Hinnom,” an actual valley associated with idol worship and child sacrifice.

            Hell is a place of fire:
(Matthew 5:22) “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.

(James 3:6) And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.

(Reveltion 21:8) But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

Is there a difference between hades and hell?

The KJV translated hades as hell and gehenna as the Valley of Hinnom. Since that time, scholarship and critical reading of the text reveals that Hades is a more general term, like Sheol, while Gehenna is a specific term for the eternal abode of the wicked.

(Revelation 20:13-15) And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

(Acts 2:27) For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption.

Is hell forever?

(Matthew 25:46) And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

(Revelation 14:11) And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”

(Daniel 12:2) And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

Do people experience eternal conscious suffering in hell?
See above references on hell being eternal.  Hell is also a place of conscious suffering:

(Matthew 13:50) And throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

(Luke 16:23) And in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.

(Revelation 20:10) And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Relevant passages for the “annihilationism” discussion:

(Matthew 10:28) And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

(Matthew 7:13)“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.

(2 Pet. 3:7) “by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.”

(Hebrews 10:39) But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.

(2 Pet. 3:9) “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance,”

(John 10:28) “and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.

(1 Tim. 6:15-16) “the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light.”

(2 Timothy 1:10) “Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel”

(1 Corinthians 15:52-53).” “the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality

(Matthew 25:46) And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

(Jude 7) Sodom and Gomorrah “are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.”

(Isaiah 66:24) “And they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.”

(Isaiah 34:9-10) “Its streams will be turned into pitch, And its loose earth into brimstone, And its land will become burning pitch. It will not be quenched night or day; Its smoke will go up forever. From generation to generation it will be desolate; None will pass through it forever and ever.”

Is Satan in charge of hell?

(2 Peter 2:4) God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;

 (Matthew 25:41) “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.

(Revelation 19:20) And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur.

(Revelation 20:10) And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Do we talk enough about hell?

Could there be an excessive emphasis? Could there be an under-emphasis?

(Ezekiel 3) watchman principle

(Luke 12:5) But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!

(Matthew 23:33) You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?

(Mark 9:43-48) And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’

(Hebrews 10:26-31) If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.28Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”d and again, “The Lord will judge his people.”e 31It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Why will God send people to hell? How could He do something like that?

(Romans 6:23) For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

(Galatians 6:8) For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

(John 3:16-18) “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

(Ezekiel 18:23) Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,’ declares the Lord God, ‘rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?’

(2 Peter 3:9) The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

(Matthew 10:28) And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

(Matthew 25:41) “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.

(Matthew 13:41-42) The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

(2 Peter 2:1-10) protecting His people from harm.

(Matthew 3:12) His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.

(Matthew 13:49-50) So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

(Matthew 7:13)“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.

Other Discussion Questions:
Are you afraid of hell daily? Why or why not?
Is it appropriate to scare young children by teaching them about hell?

The Spiritual Realities of Day to Day Life

The prophecy of Malachi is presented as a conversation between God and His people. In this conversation, God makes several statements and several accusations that the people are skeptical of, leading them to ask the following questions in their unbelief:

  • How have you loved us?
  • How have we despised your name?
  • How have we polluted you?
  • Why does He not regard our offering?
  • How have we wearied Him?
  • How shall we return?
  • How have we robbed you?
  • What have we spoken against you?

These questions are spoken in an incredulous tone, as though the people have no idea what God is talking about. God’s responses to their resentful questions revealed that all kinds of circumstances in their daily lives had a spiritual significance that they have not considered.

  • Though they were unaware of it, their prosperity and their invitation to be God’s special people was a manifestation of His love for them.
  • Though they do not think of it in such a way, their casual practice of giving God their leftovers rather than their best was really an insult on their part towards God.
  • Their sinful lifestyles and selfish decisions were separating them from God with consequences that they would not have imagined.
  • Their attitude of envying the wicked and considering righteous living as burdensome was a wearying accusation that they were bringing to God.

And yet the people saw none of this in their daily lives: God’s love, their disrespect, the spiritual damage that resulted from their foolishness, etc. The spiritual realities of life were lost on them.

Do we recognize the spiritual significance of the happenings in out lives? Do we consider every good thing to be a gift from Him, or is it merely “good luck” when we prosper? Are our sins perceived as private matters with no long term consequences, or do we recognize the damaging ripple effects they can have on our lives and the lives of those around us?

2 Kings 6:17 says “Then Elisha prayed and said, ‘O LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’ And the LORD opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”

Could it be that our lives are full of “horses and chariots of fire” and many other wonders that are only recognized by those who are spiritual?

God conveys both His love and His discipline to us day by day, whether we take the time to listen or not, and we convey either insults or gratitude to Him in return, whether we do so intentionally or without a second thought. God would have us to open our eyes to those realities.