The Death of Osama Bin Laden

Tonight President Obama announced that Osama Bin Laden is dead. Some people deserve to face God’s judgment sooner than others. Osama Bin Laden is such a man.

It is a cautionary lesson to all rebels against God that Bin Laden already knows what a big mistake he made with his life.

However, it is wise to remember Jesus’ words in Luke 13:1-4:

1 Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way?
3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

As an American, I rejoice that Osama Bin Laden will now face judgment. But I am also aware that, while life and opportunity remain, many others should face up to the lives they have led. They should bow the knee to Jesus of Nazareth while they still have the chance to do so!

Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide.

Ross Douthat talks about Hell; Craig Blomberg does too

Seems like the conservative voices on the New York Times op-ed pages are talking theology these days; go figure! This time Ross Douthat briefly and intelligently discusses the reluctance of Americans to believe in Hell.

Not only does Douthat’s analysis give the lie to the claims of atheists and those who believe in universal salvation, but it also exposes the way publishers exploit the preference of Americans to believe in heaven but to discount hell. Worth your time to read his points.

For a deeper look at Hell by a solid New Testament scholar, Craig Blomberg of Denver Seminary, check out this link. Blomberg ably discusses the little-known fact that the New Testament teaches different degrees of punishment for those consigned to Hell (Luke 12:46–48). Stalin will not fare quite as well as the school bully. A good article in a valuable blog.

Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide.

Upside Down (Luke 18:9–14)

Anyone who spent time with Jesus soon found out that he could flip things around in an instant. That did not make him a comfortable companion, especially for those who were self-satisfied.

Once Jesus found himself in the presence of “some who were confident that they were righteous and looked down on everyone else” (Luke 18:9, NET), so he told them a parable.

Two men ascended the hill to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. What an odd pair! The Pharisees had taken rigorous religious vows and so were considered by the people to be among God’s favorites. On the other hand, the tax collectors made their living by bidding on tax-collection contracts whose terms were secret. A tax collector made his living on the difference between what he collected and the (secret) amount he actually had to pay to the government. They were widely hated for a reason!

As you might imagine, the prayers of these two men were very different too.

The Pharisee stood and prayed about himself like this: “God, I thank you that I am not like other people: extortionists, unrighteous people, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get.”
(Luke 18:12–13).

Well, I would not want to be the second one to pray after that auspicious start! Those standing near waited to hear what the tax collector could possibly say to a holy God.

The tax collector, however, stood far off and would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, “God, be merciful to me, sinner that I am!”
(Luke 18:13)

Remember that those listening to Jesus were confident of their righteousness, and you can guess whose prayer enjoyed their approval. But, in a flash, Jesus declared:

I tell you that this man went down to his home justified rather than the Pharisee. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.
(Luke 18:14)

With that unexpected bombshell, Jesus not only shattered the self-serving expectations of his listeners, but also humbled them in fulfillment of his words.

A Final Word

At times believers wonder how a person achieved salvation in times before Jesus’ death and resurrection. The answer is that salvation has always been by God’s grace through faith. No one has ever been saved apart from God’s mercy. How ironic it is that the sinful tax collector understood the truth better than the mock-pious Pharisee. The tax collector knew that his works could never save him. Only his repentant admission of sin and cry for God’s mercy stood any chance. He descended Temple Mount a justified man.

Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide.