Matthew 25:46 states an important fact: the righteous will inherit eternal life and the unrighteous will inherit eternal punishment. While most people believe in heaven less believe in the reality of hell. A survey from a number of years ago revealed that only 60% of Americans believe in hell. And out of that number, only 4% thought they would go there! But, what did Jesus say, Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7.13-14.
While a majority agree that hell exists, a growing number of individuals question the duration of punishment.
In Revelation 14:11 we are told the lost are tormented forever and ever, and they have no rest day or night. John continues his explanation of the torment of hell by stating the devil and his angels will be tormented day and night forever and ever, Revelation 20.10. Regarding heaven, Revelation 21.25 and 22.5 tell us there will be no night. Heaven will be one eternal day of joy where the redeemed will worship and serve God. Hell will be the exact opposite. The Bible describes hell as a place of outer darkness (Matthew 25:30; 25:41, 46). Hell will involve separation from everything holy. 2 Thessalonians 1:9 says, These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power. Matthew 25:41 indicates a punishment that will involve a fire that burns throughout eternity! Since the punishment and fire are eternal—we must assume that those receiving it will remain conscious throughout eternity!
Both heaven and hell will be places of everlasting consciousness. Everlasting awareness is not the same as everlasting life. Whereas heaven will be a place of eternal glory, honor, peace, and immortality, hell will be a place of eternal separation (death) from God and the saved. In hell, the lost will experience indignation, wrath, tribulation, and anguish, Romans 2.6-11. The eternal destruction of which the Scriptures speak is a loss of well being—not a loss of being, 2 Thessalonians 1.7-9.
What is the bottom line? You don’t want to go to hell! Do whatever possible to get home to heaven! Have you received forgiveness of your sins? Are you prepared face eternity?
— Matthew Allen
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.
Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.
— 1 Peter 4.8-9
What comes to your mind when you hear the word hospitality? For many of us, the first picture we see is having someone in our home for dinner — extended family, close friends, etc. While that is not inaccurate, it is important to know that the hospitality mentioned by the apostolic writers involves much more.
In the original language, hospitality comes from a word that literally means “to love strangers.” This takes the concept to a much higher level; one where we go beyond the circle of our closest friends and associates extending our kindness to those we do not know. In the gospel accounts, Jesus captured the true spirit of the word when he recited the parable of the great banquet:
“When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.
— Luke 14:12–14
As you think about how to apply Jesus’ teaching and combine that with what Peter wrote, focus on the Christians right here among you. Think about members of our spiritual family outside of your normal circle of closest friends or family. Who is someone that you don’t know well? Is there a person or family new to the congregation that you could welcome? Is there someone grieving the loss of a loved one, suffering a physical challenge, or entering a new chapter in life that you could encourage? Who are some of our young people that you could get to know better? What better place to do this than in the comfort and warmth of your home?
Please note how Peter’s command in 1 Peter 4.9 is directly connected to the previous verse, which talks about loving one another earnestly. Hospitality is not just about an action, it’s also about an attitude. It expresses sacrificial love and an open heart that stretches and strains to go out of its way for others.
Many of us intend to follow through on this, but life often gets in the way and things get pushed back. Resist the urge to make any excuses. (Some don’t think their home is good enough / large enough, etc.) May what you’ve read here encourage you to be intentional and make an opportunity happen. You’ll be glad you did.
— Matthew Allen
Welcome to the Kettering Church! We’re glad you’re here. Just about every week we have local guests from our community stop by to worship. It’s great to meet new people and to have the opportunity to encourage them on their spiritual journey. Maybe today is your first visit to Kettering. Perhaps you’re looking for a church. What are some things we think you should look for?
Good, humble leaders who are forward minded. What kind of leadership does the congregation have? Are those who serve men of God? Are they among the people? Is their attention and care easy to see? Are they an example to the flock, 1 Peter 5.3? Are they wedded to tradition or are they open to new ideas and fresh initiatives, while of course remaining true to the Biblical pattern? At Kettering you have all these things. Our three shepherds have over fifty years combined experience in the eldership and over a hundred years of combined experience as Christians. They are committed to service and genuinely care for each member of this congregation.
A vision for the future with a real plan on how to get there. If a local church is to thrive and prosper, it needs direction for the future. Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, Proverbs 29.18. When a person is looking for a church he or she needs to know if the leadership is committed to not only supplying present needs, but also equipping the saints for the purpose of service and spiritual maturity, Ephesians 4.12-13. At Kettering, our shepherds spend almost half the year evaluating current needs, and shaping our teaching and preaching program to help our members grow toward spiritual maturity. We publish a book each year that outlines our plan and explains the importance and relevance of doing so.
A committed family of believers who care. How dedicated are the members to spiritual service? Is there a close, warm, inviting, and loving atmosphere? In Romans 12, Paul outlined some important things to look for: love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another, Romans 12.10, 13, 15-16a. Here at Kettering, you’ll find just that. Brethren who will be with you during the good times and the bad. Brethren who genuinely care and regularly demonstrate it through prayer, kind words, and companionship. Members at Kettering are never alone in their spiritual journey to heaven.
We hope you enjoy our service today. Please plan to include some time after the service ends to get to know the family. You’ll be glad you did. If we can serve your spiritual needs in any way, please do not hesitate to talk to one of our shepherds or the minister.
— Matthew Allen
Over the last few months, our Wednesday classes have been covering the book of Acts. About six weeks ago we were in chapter 15.36-41, and covered the section where Paul and Barnabas go their separate ways after a sharp disagreement over John Mark. Relationships, among brothers, are not always smooth. Let’s examine the text, observing the principle characters and a couple of key points:
Mark - disappointed. Mark had withdrawn from them once before. Why is not stated, but everyone has disappointed and been disappointed. Everyone has not “been there,” when needed and expected.
Barnabas - good intentions. Despite Mark’s failing, his cousin wanted to bring him along. Is this Barnabas giving Mark a second chance? Knowing Barnabas, his intentions were good regardless if what he proposed was wrong or right.
Paul - insisted. The wording in Acts 15.38 means that Paul did not think it was wise to take John Mark along. Is this Paul holding Mark to his own high standard? Is Paul being unforgiving, forgetting that Jesus gave him a second chance?
Separation - contention came because these two friends could not agree. What is good is that both men continued to do good even if it meant doing it without the other. Nevertheless, division is always regrettable.
Healing - Paul and Mark healed their riff, 1 Timothy 4.11, where Paul said that Mark was useful to him in ministry. Mark wound up being the person who wrote the second gospel account.
What lessons do we learn? My preaching friend, Perry Hall, observes:
- As outsiders, we don’t always have all the facts, so we need to be leery of taking sides.
- Even if someone close to us shirks their responsibility, it does not mean we should.
- Past failures do not predetermine future success.
- Forgiveness is the key to healing all separations.
- Our God is one who gives second chances, and so should we.
— Matthew Allen
During the fall of 2010, I had the opportunity to go to Indianapolis and meet one of the hosts of Monday Night Football. Ron Jaworski did color commentary for ESPN for a number of years. I remember walking up to him and introducing myself. We shook hands. He gave me his autograph. We had our picture made together. Then I walked away. The next person approached him, and the process repeated itself. Thirty seconds after I walked away, Mr. Jaworski most likely could not have repeated my name. There was nothing personal about our experience.
It’s certainly refreshing to find how God’s word continually stresses that there is nothing impersonal about our relationship with Jesus. There are two instances in Mark where Jesus’ work of healing stands out. In Mark 7.31-37, a deaf man with a speech impediment is brought to Jesus. In Mark 8.22-26, a blind man was brought to Him. In both instances, people in the crowd begged Jesus to lay His hand on these men and heal them. Why would the people ask Jesus to touch these individuals? The answer is obvious. They had seen Jesus heal many, many times through the laying on of His hands. Does Jesus simply touch these individuals, pronounce them “healed” and move on to the next person?
In both instances, Jesus took these individuals aside, away from the crowd, to a more private place. With the deaf man, Jesus placed His fingers inside the man’s ears and after spitting, touched the man’s tongue. Then, “looking up to heaven, He sighed and said to him,... ‘Be opened,’” Mark 7.34. With the blind man, Jesus spat on the man’s eyes and healed him. Was there some miraculous power in Jesus’ spit? I think not. These were simple methods to communicate to these individuals that Jesus was going to heal them. But exactly why Jesus spat on the individuals is not the point of either of these instances of healing.
Everyone that approached Jesus meant something to Him. That, I believe, is one of the main points of the two accounts of healing in Mark 7 and 8. These individuals were not just another person out of the hundreds that He healed. He took their cares and their sorrow and made it His own. There is a reason why Mark tells us before healing the deaf man that Jesus sighed, 7.34. I think Jesus felt the man’s sorrow. It was true sympathy. It was genuine care and compassion.
What can we take away from this? He cares! Jesus cares for you and for me individually. “You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways,” Psalm 139.3. No matter how far you have wandered away from the cross, Jesus cares - and He wants a relationship with you. He promises to help you bear the burdens of your life, Matthew 11.28-30.
— Matthew Allen