Jesus, Jesus, what’s it all about?

The title of this post has been lodged in my head since 1983. It’s the start of the lyrics to the Pink Floyd song The Hero’s Return. The question is essentially the same as one(s) which my co-blogger Tim raised in a comment on another thread.

I would like to know with what urgency do you go about preaching the Gospel of Grace? Is the Gospel the most important truth to you as a Christian? or is being a Christ[ian] merely like being a member of the ‘Rightest’ philosophy/book club?
What[‘s] more….according to your teaching of annihilation… the atheists are right. ie when you die…you die! *That is what they expect* thus what you call Gods judgement is nothing more than what the atheists already expect. Ie it equates to *no judgement* at all.
Me I expect to be judged by the very words of the King James Bible.
For me I can barely sleep at night with concern for the Importance of evangelizing the lost for Christ.
Question: Would you Die for the sake of the Gospel?

According to Wikipedia, the Gospel

is the message of Jesus, the Christ or Messiah—God’s ruler promised by the Scriptures—specifically, the coming Kingdom of God, his death on the cross and resurrection to restore people’s relationship with God, the descent of the Holy Spirit on believers as the helper, the resulting promise and hope of being saved for any who believe and follow Jesus, and through this, a healing of the brokenness of the entire created universe.

But the Gospel is not just a message, it’s a call to action. For me, what’s most important in the Gospel are not its truths but its imperatives.

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (NIV)

There’s a war going on between the forces of good and the forces of evil. (Hadn’t you heard?) Life is the battleground. To become a Christian is to enlist and become a soldier in God’s army.

The first commandment is a call to pledge your allegiance to God.

The second commandment is the battle plan. The details are sometimes a bit sketchy. Which is why it helps to pray

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done … (KJV)

Tim is right that atheists expect to die. After decades of atheism I’ve grown used to the idea of personal annihilation. The hope and promise of eternal life played no part in my conversion to Christianity. Partly for this reason, saving souls seems somehow of secondary significance to me. Of course, an army needs recruits, but it also needs specialists. Some will specialise in recruitment, but we all have different callings.

That’s what I think it’s all about. I’ll add that my views on the matter are subject to change. Of course, the question which is the title of this post wasn’t addressed to me, it was addressed to Jesus. He has the answers (here, here, here and here), and we should defer to Him accordingly.

Would I die for the sake of the Gospel? It’s a bit late to ask that now, I already enlisted!

17 thoughts on “Jesus, Jesus, what’s it all about?”

  1. BTW, Tim, this

    What more….according to your teaching of annihilation… the atheists are right. ie when you die…you die!

    is an interesting statement, coming from you! It reveals that you understand the meaning of the word ‘die’ to be ‘permanently cease to exist’. It reveals that you understand ‘death’ to mean ‘extinction’ or ‘annihilation’.

    Whereas in the comments here you said

    If the Bible defines ‘destroyed’ to mean only physical destruction, while the soul is immortal and goes on to be judged, then destruction simply does not mean absolute annihilation.

    Death is a Physical/ bodily thing and consequently Resurection is a *physical*/ Bodily ‘resurection’.

    You can’t have it both ways.

  2. It means this Richard’
    that I understand what atheists mean by death, and am here making the point that it is the exact same way you define the term too… not I. This is the heart of my acusation against you. That Atheist claim that there is no Judgement for sins but that when you die… you cease to exist… and that this being so there is no Judgement to be feared for sins committed in this life, merely anihilation.

  3. It means this Richard’
    that I understand what atheists mean by death, and am here making the point that it is the exact same way you define the term too… not I.

    OK. Good reply. But … We’ve Got a Bigger Problem Now

    … it’s the house special. I call it the Tricky Dicky Screwdriver!

  4. This is the heart of my acusation against you. That Atheist claim that there is no Judgement for sins but that when you die… you cease to exist… and that this being so there is no Judgement to be feared for sins committed in this life, merely anihilation.

    Tim, this is the atheist position … not mine. Annihilationism is the view that when you die, you stay in the grave … UNTIL the Resurrection of the Dead. Then there is the Day of Judgement. Then, for the unredeemed, there is the Second Death … which is soul sleep from which there is no awaking. (This is what Seventh-day Adventists believe, incidentally.)

  5. Tricky Dicky says

    The meaning (or meanings) of a word is determined by the conventions governing its use. What those conventions are is determined by the facts of usage.

    You say

    I understand what atheists mean by death, and am here making the point that it is the exact same way you define the term too…

    but, in actual fact, I don’t define terms and neither do atheists and neither do you. What the word ‘death’ means—i.e., its definition—is determined by the conventions governing its use. What those conventions are is determined by the facts of usage.

    I think you’re right that ‘death’ means physical destruction, and I was wrong to suppose that ‘death’ means extinction. But why was I wrong? I was wrong because it makes sense to ask, “Is there life after death?” And it makes sense to ask, “Is there life after physical destruction?” but it doesn’t make sense to ask, “Is there life after extinction?”—because “life after extinction” is a contradiction in terms. So the claim that ‘death’ means extinction is inconsistent with the facts of usage. Which is why I’ve resiled from it.

    Yes, it’s semantics. But semantics is not mere word play. Semantics is of the very first importance. What are we talking about?

  6. When someone says, “I define ‘blah’ to mean yada yada yada,” what they’re really doing is selecting from a pre-existing set of senses of the word ‘blah’.

    If I say, “I define ‘Christian’ to mean someone with traditional Western values,” what I’m really doing is telling you that I’m going to use the term in the pre-existing sense of ‘cultural Christian’. Then I get to say, with impunity, “Mark Hubbard is a Christian.” And he is—in that sense.

  7. I’ll get to the point. You say

    If the Bible defines ‘destroyed’ to mean only physical destruction, while the soul is immortal and goes on to be judged, then destruction simply does not mean absolute annihilation.

    The question, then, is how does the Bible define ‘destruction’. To answer this question, we must look at the original Greek (or Hebrew or Aramaic) and find the Greek word which has been translated as ‘destruction’ in (let’s assume) the authorised King James Version. Then we must establish what were the conventions which governed the use of this Greek word at the time the passage in which it occurs was written. We must establish what were the facts of usage at the time. This is no easy task. If we succeed, we might find that there was more than one sense of the word. Then we have to establish which was the intended sense of the word in the passage in question. The context will help us here but, again, this is no easy task.

  8. I agree that how you define your terms ‘preloads’ any argument, and that is why you must always be on guard for trickery. Atheists preload their terms via Materialist underpinnings/ premises…. and ‘surprise’ ‘surprise’… they produce chains of logic that ‘prove’ atheism. Ayn Rand is a classic for bastardizing the English language by re-defining words to suit herself irrespective of historical usage to the extent that she published her own ‘Glossary’. A few classic examples of this are her definitions of Faith (as the abandonment of reason) and Selfishness (as the virtue of self ownership and self-responsibility), thus when Randoid use these terms…. The argument is already ‘settled’ in their favour, and so it is laughable that they get duped by their own sophistry and actually cant see how they can be wrong! They actually stand there thinking to themselves that they are obviously ‘right’….obviously more intelligent and more ‘rational’ than their detractors…. Whom must therefore be ‘Brain dead mystics’ whom are incapable of reason!
    Thus I will never accept their ‘Anti concepts’/ perverted definitions, and until common ground can be found, *no dialogue can take place* because the two sides are not even talking the same language.
    In the case of ‘Death’, this can easily be said to be historically and virtually universally defined as mere physical destruction, and that transcendental/ dualistic spirit…soul… Mauri…. Surviving death and going off into the ‘spirit world’. This would be one of the most sure defined terms of Humanity belief in ‘the afterlife’ being virtually absolute in history.
    The way Atheists define it to mean ‘annihilation’ is a very rare and limited usage , and may be understood as a modern fashion largely the result of the rise of modern Materialism.
    As for how I would define those terms…. I will get back to you shortly (I have a Strongs Concordance) , yet let me state that I have no need to do so since God has defined them for me already in the KJV and I consider it very dangerous to start Re-interpreting the scriptures according to my own ideas. That is to defile the Holy word out of Doubt, not faith. That is to put my own logic ahead of the Word of God as my final authority.
    That is to destroy the very purpose God gave us his word… so that we can Know the very words he revealed to us and not have to rely upon ‘Priests’ and ‘scholars’ etc ie We have the scriptures to escape ‘Human Bullshit’.
    Tim Wikiriwhi

  9. I agree that how you define your terms ‘preloads’ any argument, and that is why you must always be on guard for trickery. Atheists … must therefore be ‘Brain dead mystics’ whom are incapable of reason!

    Tim, it’s funny … I just made the exact same point here!

    Currently, intellectual heavyweight and anarcho-capitalist Stephan Kinsella of the Ludwig von Mises Institute is laying waste to the resident Randroids. It’s great spectator sport, not that I can resist running onto the pitch. Anyway, I recommend you head on over there.

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