Life-Ecstatic (Faith)

God, Judgement, Hell, Grace, Universalism and Rob Bell

Many Christians know about Rob Bell’s new book Love Wins: A Book about Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived and how it has stirred up so much controversy. This is because Rob Bell has been accused of promoting a kind of Universalism, a belief that in the end all people will ‘go to heaven’.

Love Wins by Rob Bell

"Love Wins", by Rob Bell

Most Christian Universalists believe that those who choose to reject Jesus or choose to live in wickedness will be sentenced to hell ‘for a time’ but after the allotted time of discipline in hell is up, God will let them into heaven. Apparently this is what Rob Bell is hinting at, although I don’t know myself and haven’t read his book.

I’m late to the party and I know this. I didn’t want to jump on the bandwagon at the time of the book’s release. Practically every blogger of faith in the world had something to say, some good and some ridiculous, and I didn’t want to add to the noise, to be honest.

But now I think it’s time for me to weigh in as this conversation keeps coming up. I’m going to weigh in by saying I think the questions we are asking are wrong, some of the terms we are using need to be clarified, and a great deal of assumptions need to be examined.

Classifying terms

The term ‘go to heaven’ is particularly misleading because it often conjures up images of some ethereal plain where everything is white and see-through and people float around on wings. This is all ancient Greek or Platonic thinking, and it’s pretty silly stuff in my opinion.

It’s not about whether we’ll ‘go to heaven’ but whether we’ll partake in the new age of Christ’s rule, where there will be a ‘new heaven and new earth’ (Rev 21). Why this is important is to realise that God loves the Earth and creation, and He intends to bring it all into a final redemption. We will have human bodies in this new age as well. Heaven and Earth will finally be connected. In this discussion I think these things need to be realised so we know exactly what is at stake and we can correct misleading and frankly unscriptural ideas about heaven.

Throughout the ages of Christian theology this has been the accepted thinking, although pop-theology throughout the ages has made heaven akin to the kind of picture we see below.

How some people honestly think of 'heaven'. Not sure if I'm looking forward to living on clouds. I prefer grass, to be honest.

Asking the right questions

He who asks the wrong question will come to the wrong answer. From experience, it seems to me when we ask the right questions then we start seeing some clarity. Some years back I took up this question on hell, spent two years coming to some form of conclusion, and realised that perhaps, all along, our questions are what trip us up.

We’re allowing this discussion to be framed incorrectly. Yesterday on a Theological chat Facebook group a poster said this:

“The choice between God and Hell (or annihilation) is not true freedom.”

But is this truly the choice God presents us with? Setting the question up like this immediately paints God in a certain, rather dark, light. The question (I’m not saying anything about the poster here) is misleading and is saying in an undertone, “Why is God such an evil dictator – he gives us no real choices because he threatens us with hell?”

Is the choice Hell and God? No, not from a Scriptural perspective. God sets up a choice between life and death, which is mentioned after he presents the choices between wickedness and goodness (Deut 30:19). The choice He lays before us is to choose to live wickedly or choose to live well. The way of life we want is up to us. Each have consequences because if they didn’t this wouldn’t be a world of justice. If there were no consequences, no cause and effect, then the universe could simply not continue and would surely self-destruct.

God does not say, “choose me… or else.” He simply lays down the way the universe is created – live well and you will live, live wickedly and you will die. It’s a fact of life. Now stop being silly and live well.

I don’t see anything unfair about that, do you? Is it unfair to say that when you step out onto the highway and stand in front of a car, you’ll probably be hit by the car? No, it’s not unfair, it’s just a fact.

Is it unfair that God created the Universe to work in the way it does? Why would it be? That’s when the potter turns to the clay and says, “why did you make me like this?” It’s absurd to say that the physics of the Universe are unfair.

Who does God send to Hell?

The second question which people often ask is, “Who does God send to hell?” Rob Bell asks this question in the blurb of his book which asks, “Will Gandhi go to Hell?”

This is the wrong question. The right question is “Who is God?”

Asking this question doesn’t mean I am ignoring the other question because it’s ‘too difficult’. Rather, I’m answering the question more effectively. To cut a long story short, Christians believe that Jesus is God (part of the Trinity) and when we look at Jesus we see exactly who God is, what He is like, and how He judges.

The divinity and humanity of Jesus is central to the Gospel message – more central than the doctrine of hell, because it answers the hell question. Let me present a few Scriptures to show why I say this.

The first is Acts 10:34 – 43, where Peter gives his first sermon to the Gentiles. Here Peter expounds on Jesus’ authority, His Lordship, and makes special note that the resurrection points to Jesus now being the ‘judge of the living and the dead’ (vs 42). After that, all who believe in Him receive forgiveness of sins through His name (vs 43).

No mention of hell or eternal condemnation. Only mention of Jesus being the judge and those who believe will receive forgiveness. How does Peter’s sermon line up with popular preaching today?

Jesus as Judge is most important

Jesus as judge is an important part of the Gospel, more important than a doctrine of hell. Once we understand correctly that Jesus is the judge and we look at His life (how He treated others), His death (the price He paid for us) and His resurrection (a sign of the promise to us and a sign of His authority) then we know that the Judge is both just and good. And His life is important because we see in it that He understood something of context and judged people accordingly.

All theology must be Christ-central. Making your theology Christ-central helps you to avoid getting sidetracked. It stops you making your life’s work about defending ideas rather than living in faith. It keeps you humble and yet determined. It makes what is important, important. And it keeps you out of heresy.

Think of how He treated the Pharisees, how He treated ordinary people, how He treated the woman caught in adultery. If the Judge of all is like that then the question of hell becomes a lot more clear.

Romans 2 is another key scripture here. In it Paul makes the same point as Peter in Acts above, that God shows no partiality (vs 11). He also says some interesting things about judgement, taking careful note how God will judge according to works.

vs 6 – 10: “He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury… tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil… glory and honour and peace for everyone who does good…”


vs 12: “all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.”

He goes on to talk about how Gentiles, who didn’t have God’s law, are nevertheless “a law unto themselves” because of their conscience. In other words, they are judged according to their conscience.

(The word ‘Gentiles’ here is talking about those who are not God’s people. In our context, non-believers.)

This means, if I’m reading it as plainly as a I can, that God judges based on context at all times. All men everywhere know the difference between good and evil; not one single man on this planet (including the hypothetical dude who is stranded on an island since birth, who always comes up in these discussions) is without a conscience.

See the choice isn’t ‘choose God or die’ because so many don’t know how to choose God. The choice is ‘choose goodness or wickedness and you will be judged accordingly’. When I say ‘accordingly’ I mean ‘accordingly’. I’m not saying ‘hell’ I’m saying ‘accordingly.’ Asking the right question, in terms of “where does wickedness get me?” gets you the right answer. Wrath and fury.

That’s a fact of life, just as much as gravity or the sun coming up in the morning. No one needs to be told that wicked deeds lead to bad things. Certainly most people who believe in some form of afterlife know that wicked deeds will have bad consequences eternally. God will therefore judge all according to conscience.

Dealing with assumptions

Does wrath and fury mean eternal condemnation? Perhaps. But we cannot assume always. If the Scripture doesn’t say “hell” we shouldn’t assume it means “hell”. We should take it for what it actually says.

Likewise when we do some theological study. One may be tempted to believe early church Christians were quite a viscous and bloodthirsty lot, with all their talk of ‘judgement’ and ‘fire’ and so forth. But you need to be reading too much into the Scriptures and even those writings to think that all mention of judgement and fire means condemnation to hell.

The Scripture doesn’t say “hell” it says “wrath and fury” (Rom 2:5.) That doesn’t sound good, though. But I choose to go no further or no less than Scripture in this debate. I think that’s the key in getting this right.

God will judge according to context. The question here is: Will you take the risk and try and offset your wickedness with a couple of good deeds, to tip the scale in your favour? You can try. But good luck to you.

But there is a way in which you can be free from worrying about that, and this is through faith in Christ.

But if you know the way out, a way where your salvation is guaranteed, but don’t take it, you are the biggest fool there is. And you’re probably pretty proud and wicked for thinking you don’t need Jesus but can do it on your own. You will be judged accordingly. That judgement seems pretty bleak for you, to be honest.

Those who believe in Jesus receive eternal life – their eternal judgement is decided. (John 3:18). But you can’t believe in Jesus unless you are told (Rom 10:15). Therefore, those who are not told are judged according to works and their conscience. According to context. However, those who reject Jesus stand condemned already (John 3:18) because they were too proud and wicked and thought their own good deeds would save them. Once again, we see context is important.

23 Minutes in Hell Bill Weise

Books like "23 Minutes in Hell" and other books about people supposedly going to hell and living to tell the tale, or those where they've supposedly gone to heaven, I think are unhelpful and perpetuate myths in this discussion that are not Scriptural - like Satan torturing people in Hell and that sort of nonsense.

The John 3:18 verse says, “whoever does not believe is condemned already, because He has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” This does not mean that people who are ignorant stand condemned already, because, once again, how can anyone believe unless they are told? (Rom 10:15).

So to wrap it up here: we have no idea on the outcome of every single person who ever lived except for two groups – those that accept Jesus and those that reject Him, with full knowledge and willingness as to what they are doing. Everyone else God judges based on conscience and context – what and who they do know.

Those who persist in wickedness of all kinds, whether they be rulers of countries practicing injustice or the guy next door who persists in cheating everyone, will find wrath and fury (Romans 2:5). Obviously, because justice requires a consequence. Will this wrath and fury lead to eternal condemnation? Very possibly. Or perhaps not. God will judge. Do they have a way to guarantee that the judgement will not end in hell? They do now, if we tell them about Jesus.

That’s probably why Romans 2:15 says that people who don’t know God’s ways (his law) are either accused or even excused according to their conflicting thoughts and conscience. I honestly can’t see how anyone could read Romans 2 and come to any other conclusion I’m presenting here.

Many will die never knowing Jesus and He will judge well and perfectly, because He is perfectly good and perfectly just.

This is nothing new

What I’m presenting is nothing new. I spent two years mulling over this doctrine of hell to come to some of the conclusions I’ve come to. In the interim I’ve read theologians new and old and just read the Bible for myself with this question at the back of my mind. I see no injustice done or being done to us by God at all in this light.

The reality is that I think Rob Bell’s book is good in that people need to address this issue. However, there’s just way too much philosophising taking place around this discussion. There are too many assumptions, too much reading into Scriptures and Christian theology. There’s also too much emotion and too little study and wrestling with the issue sincerely.

There’s also too much of “God must be like this and fit into that” rather than seeing that God is, well, quite capable of knowing all and understanding context and judging each individual himself and not obligated to fit into our boxes, categories, and limited understandings of what justice and love should look like. Why even Christians persist in making up rules for Him outside of Scripture is beyond me, but yet we do it.

To Conclude

The summary of all this is to say that we should not presume we know the outcome of God’s judgement for everyone. The subtitle of Bell’s book, The Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, is rather silly. Can anyone really tell us the fate of every person who ever lived? No, I fully doubt it. When it comes to anyone’s ultimate fate, we leave that up to God, but that doesn’t mean we don’t preach a warning message about God’s fiery judgement which will fall upon all of those who persist in wickedness.  Including Christians, who won’t go to hell, but will certainly lose significant rewards that God wants to give them (See 1 Cor 3, although this requires another discussion). And it doesn’t mean we don’t preach God’s amazing salvation which includes His Holy Spirit living in us to live lives that are worthy of a calling as God’s very own.

Justice will always catch up. Love wins. Justice wins. That is the Gospel.

* [THEOLOGIANS NOTE: Paul must be referring to unbelievers in vs 6 – 10 because of vs 12 and Romans 1, and his mention of ‘every human being’ in vs 9. If he wasn’t he would be supporting a salvation by works. It can’t be referring to heavenly reward for believers due to the context and vs 9.’]

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In the World But Not of the World: Transformation

(Picture from here)

This is the last part on a series of posts that link to a sermon I recently did at my church, Church on the Square in Sandton, Johannesburg.

In the last post I mentioned that in this post I would talk about transformation, since the series has focused more on the separation of Church and State and how that means the following:

1) That the Church should never be the State and should never wield the sword. The State’s responsibility is to wield the sword. The Church is a people, not an institution.

2) Christians are transferred into a Kingdom which functions under a King named Jesus — ie. political opinions must be seen as separate to the Church. If you’re a socialist and I believe in democracy our core mission, the Kingdom, is the same — which is to love others sacrificially and unconditionally like Jesus did, and let the world know that they can find love, joy, peace, salvation, real eternal life, and much more in Jesus. We should make sure we understand that political opinions are not the same as theological opinions — democracy or socialism is not a theology, it’s merely just a political opinion. Sure, one might turn out to be better than the other, but that doesn’t mean it is necessary more Christian, because the only thing Christian in this world is essentially people.

3) That the Church (the people) should never mix world ideologies with Christian ones — ala thinking that democracy is of the Bible and the spread of democracy akin to the advancing of the Kingdom; living like capitalists with our money instead of Christians who give generously and don’t make upgrading their lifestyle their core mission in life; always exercising our rights over others and looking to have power over them rather than serve them as Jesus served/serves us; judging people according to their income, education; and so forth.

4) The Church should never run as the world does — ie. running a church like a democracy (pastors / elders are voted into their job); running a church like a socialist state; and so forth.

That summary shows how difficult it can be to understand how we are still to transform our world and make it into a better place. After all, Christians do pray that God’s will be done on earth as it is done in heaven. Plus, the Kingdom works its way through the whole dough, meaning that it is meant to permeate every aspect of society in every way.

‘In the world but not of the world’ is probably the best way to explain this. I think that the principle way transformation is done is through love first, which puts us on a relational level with others or those in power. Only then can we suggest (and only suggest) what might be good in a particular situation, or point politicians towards the basic principles espoused in the Bible, leaving it to them to work it out in detail, as that is, after all, their job.

Christians should also get involved with social causes as much as they can, as long as the social causes don’t become the core focus. We can bring as much food to poor people as we want, but until their hearts are changed (by Jesus himself as they believe in Him) they will not be able to truly break out of the systems of thought and spiritual entanglements that hold them in poverty.

Poverty is perhaps the easiest way to show what I mean. It seems pretty obvious that God has a big heart for the poor and so should we. This means that we should encourage our government(s) to look after the poor in various ways. But HOW that is done is a matter of political and economical opinion, not biblical opinion. It probably makes more sense to work in helping poor people be lifted out of the systems of thought that hold them captive rather than just give them hand-me-outs, but there is a time for hand-me-outs too. How that is worked out is not mentioned in the Scriptures — the Scriptures merely show us that we SHOULD care for the poor and for justice, but it’s up to us to work that out in the details, and to work with the State as best we can to work it out, but only as advisers never anything more.

Something like freeing people from slavery is an obvious evil to work against. But there are evils that are not so obvious, especially when it comes to things such as whether the State should allow homosexual couples to get married. (I realise this is controversial but it’s worth saying and it might stir up some conversation.)

After all, is it fair for a State to give benefits to heterosexual couples but not homosexual couples? Shouldn’t it view all people equally? Aren’t all viewed equal in the sight of God? The argument for or against it can be quite persuasive both ways.

I believe the Bible speaks against homosexuality as a lifestyle, but that’s something for Christians. Whether or not the State should allow such couples to get married is more a matter of political opinion than of anything else. Sure, I think a healthy country boils down to healthy families, but how this is all worked out in detail is a matter of opinion. What I do know, however, is that the State should never force the Church to marry homosexuals, as much as the Church should never enforce its morality through the State. Both have disastrous consequences.

People should come to Christ willingly. Our job is to love them sacrificially and unconditionally so that they would choose our God, enjoy the life He gives, and then choose His morality and lifestyle for themselves. The legalising of homosexual marriage I don’t think makes our job any harder than it already is. We love people just the same and counsel them just the same. Sometimes we have to love through difficult situations, but we ought to do it just the same.

Through the changing of hearts society itself will look more Christ-like, which is what we want, but that would be through people exercising a freedom to choose, rather than being under a compulsion — either socially or legally — by the Church. And it will come through us loving and living like Jesus.

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Raised with Christ – The Body of Messiah

The Resurrection of Christ by Irina Kolbneva.
(The Resurrection of Christ by Irina Kolbneva, see

Eph 1: “…what is the immeasurable greatness of his power to us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ [Messiah] when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.

“And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”

(The word ‘Christ’ means ‘Messiah’, and I like the word ‘Messiah’ because it seems to carry more meaning to me than the Greek word ‘Christ’.)

The Christian idea that the church is the body of Messiah is a very mysterious and very interesting idea, one that encourages me greatly but also challenges me in terms of my work and purpose in my life.

The Scriptures are emphatic that the church is the actual, real, body of Messiah Jesus – in a spiritual way, of course, but a spiritually practical way.

As the body of Messiah we carry the same authority of Lord Messiah, who is Jesus. I’m speaking about it in this way because the word Christ is often used as a surname for Jesus rather than a title. Messiah means “anointed, chosen saviour”. So, in a very spiritual way the church is the anointed, chosen saviour’s body.

This means we carry the anointing (the call, commission and ability) of Messiah, which is an anointing to save, heal, bind up the brokenhearted, and set the captives free (Isaiah 61). It also means we are to carry the sufferings of Messiah, which was a suffering of persecution and the turmoil of wanting to see people saved (not sickness, I must add, but persecution).

It also means we have the authority of Messiah, authority over principalities and powers (Eph 6). These principalities and powers are demonic (evil) powers at work in the hearts and societies of men, which bring injustice, poverty, sickness and tyranny.

So we bring healing, salvation and all of that to not just the hearts of men but the societies of men.

We are to implement Messiah’s authority into society – which is bringing his kingdom into society. What does his Kingdom look like, though? Is it a tyrannical theocracy?

No, rather it is a kingdom of justice, peace, abundance (shalom in Hebrew), healing, reconciliation and salvation. This is what Messiah Jesus was anointed to do, this is what we’re to do.

I love this! It’s exciting and it reveals the purpose of Christianity. I don’t believe in Jesus just because it’s an insurance policy, but because I want the same anointing Jesus had to bring healing and salvation to this world – this comes both through the message of Jesus (that He alone saves) and the good works of His people (which includes forming systems of justice in place of systems of injustice).

So we have purpose, and it’s a grand and powerful vision indeed.

For those in the Sandton area, Shannon and I will be preaching about this on Sunday, which is Resurrection Sunday, at Church on the Square at 8 Stella Street, Sandton. Starts at 9:30am.

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Why Freedom of Speech and Politics is Spiritual

The Old Courthouse, courtesy of

In my #SpeakZA post from yesterday I mentioned that the topic of freedom of speech and press was, in my view, a ‘spiritual’ topic as much as any.

I thought I would make it clear why I believe that. Some people might find such a statement unusual, others will agree with me, so this is obviously for the former.

The idea of freedom of speech has, in its original form, to do with justice in this world — allowing people to air their opinions without the sword of the state coming down on them. Justice is, of course, a spiritual topic as much as a governmental or a political one, although ultimately it is a spiritual topic because government and politics are too.

Note what I am not saying. I am not saying it is a ‘religious’ topic. Religion and spirituality, although sometimes intertwined, are not really the same thing, at least not in the way I make my definitions.

Religion has more to do with doing things or acts that will somehow help someone to attain favour with God or attain salvation. I don’t believe that’s a healthy spirituality.

Tradition (worth a mention) is simply a way in which someone may live out their spirituality, so there is nothing wrong with tradition in my eyes, until tradition becomes a religion.

Spirituality is an all-encompassing term for living, in the way I like to use the term.

Let me put it another way. Many Christians prefer to live a faith and spirituality that’s about Jesus rather than the faith and spirituality of Jesus. The spirituality of Jesus is clear when one reads the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the Bible. Here are some pointers about Jesus’ spirituality:

1) He was compassionate to all.
2) He had a strong sense of justice mixed with mercy. (No justice system is truly just unless it understands mercy– but mercy cannot be mercy without a proper justice system, either.)
3) He healed all who came to him. Both physically and emotionally.
4) He was a Hebrew man, which means that he never separated spirituality from living. (This is part of my point. The separating of spirituality from living is a Greek tradition, not a Hebrew tradition.)
5) He worshipped the God of the Hebrews, Yahweh.
6) He called himself the Son of Yahweh.

There’s more too, of course. This is only a small list to get to the jist of my point. From this list we can see where politics and government fit in — our government ought to be compassionate, just and merciful. But these are issues that primarily have to do with the heart of man. Hence, a spiritual issue as much as any.

I mention Yahweh to show that if I follow the spirituality of Jesus I think it is necessary to also worship Yahweh. This, and the fact that Jesus called himself Yahweh’s Son, shows that spirituality is ultimately a relational thing — a relationship with God and our fellow man. I believe Jesus is the one who can bridge the gap in our relationship between both God and man, if we believe in him.

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Amaharo: Silver and Gold Have I None

This is a post I’ve put up at the Emerging Africa site. See the conversation there at

Note that I don’t consider myself to be emerging or Emergent (or anything for that matter besides Christian) but I converse with brothers and sisters who do.

Having given some praise in my last post about the recent Amaharo conference (okay, I know it’s not THAT recent but I’m a bit slow) I felt that in line with the whole honesty thing that I also ought to do some criticism (constructive, of course; edifying, I hope).

This time I listened to the following talks:

Transfiguration – Claude Nikondeha
The Church and Apartheid – Moss Nthla
The Reformation of the Church – Paul Verryn

Now I know some found these encouraging but I, for reasons I think I now understand, couldn’t help but feel a little discouraged. Not that the talks were in themselves bad but just because their subject matter – social problems, what is being done from a social perspective, what we can do about social problems – is just so BIG. Verryn’s talk about what they are doing in the inner city methodist church was just so… well… it’s great and all, but is there really any CHANGE happening? Are people truly experiencing God, knowing God, finding new LIFE – real, spiritual, down-to-earth life and joy, rather than just hand-me-outs?

Please hear my heart on this. This is an honest reflection.

I am not judging what Verryn and the church is doing there, nor what Claude is involved with (I’m sure he may read this). I don’t even know these guys or what they do. What I’m trying to say is if our Gospel becomes nothing but the ‘social gospel’ then it is no different to any other gospel out there. And it’s just so tiring. We’ll never see lasting transfiguration through social programmes alone – there needs to be real spiritual and literal LIFE transferred from believers in Jesus to others; and those others need to become believers in Jesus themselves, surely, if the Kingdom of God is to grow like a mustard seed.

Something felt like it was missing. The something I refer to is at the end of 1 Cor 4: “For the kingdom does not consist of talk but of power“. Now, again, I’m not criticising anyone in particular now – I’m just saying that, even amongst emerging church people in general I see a real lack of talk about power and, quite frankly, the supernatural (I use the term for conversation’s sake, not because I like to lump things into categories of ‘natural’ or ‘supernatural’).

I don’t mean a metaphorical or poetic meaning to power, I mean something far more literal and down-to-earth; gutsy and dirty. I mean flaming hot ‘you’re going to experience God’ now power. The kind that truly makes a person addicted to drugs no longer addicted; the kind where the crippled walk and the deaf hear; the kind where evil spirits flee and the joy of the Lord fills the person.

The power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit that God gave to us on Pentecost. The Spirit that Jesus referred to in Acts 1:8 where he said “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samara, and to the ends of the Earth”.

Claude did speak about contemplation, but I still felt that the spark required for contemplation to bring true refreshing was missing a little. The spark, the tongue of fire, the Holy Spirit Himself. We can contemplate, meditate, pray, chant, sing, dance, whatever we want as much as is humanly possible but without the Spirit’s power it’s really just so tiring and boring; and there is no fruit. After all, it is the fruit of the Spirit we are seeking (Gal 5) – the Spirit produces the fruit we’re wanting to see.

Social programs are only social programs until they are ignited with the fire of God. That’s when they move from social programs to Kingdom advancement. That’s when we truly see transformation and transfiguration. That’s when living water truly flows. When the bread of life is tasted. We need the Holy Spirit, and we need Him to be not theoretical, not JUST poetic, but literal and actual in our lives.

Taking my que from Acts 2:3 where Peter says to the lame beggar that he doesn’t have money to give him, but rather has something else to give him, which was complete healing, I can’t help but feel a little bit like we can miss it. Yes, we must clothe and feed the poor, and this is good news to the poor, but is it THE Good News? Isn’t THE Good News the fact that Jesus is alive and he can come miraculously into your life and change you and your life completely? Isn’t the message of the Kingdom that He has come to bring Shalom? Peace and abundance? Spiritual on-the-ground reality?

Yes, of course feeding and clothing is part of the job, but without the reality of the Spirit and the actual dynamite power of God we are not going to be able to achieve our purpose. And what is our purpose? Isn’t it, in the end, to actually make disciples of Christ who can also bring the life-changing power of God to others? The world will be changed by us changing government, of course, but you put a bunch of wicked-hearted and injust people in charge of government and any system will just become corrupted.

Where is the power that literally heals the sick and raises the dead? This is the power I’m talking about.

In our quest for transformation in this world we must not forget the basic doctrines of our faith, listed in Hebrews 6:1 and 2 for us,

“Repentance from dead works and faith toward God… baptism… the laying on of hands… the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgement.”

The laying on of hands is what we are actively doing now, or we should be. This doctrine, as all doctrines, has a very practical application – we lay hands on the sick and the destitute, they recover, change happens, they experience God. And, of course, we lay our hands now on this world and it recovers, change happens, and it experiences God. But in the laying on of hands it is the power of God which is transferred, and that is what we are trying to do.

This is an honest critique and I’m hoping to edify us all to continue the journey, and in doing so not forget our true Source and what it is we are truly doing. We’re transforming the world with true power, we’re transferring the Living God’s life that is in us to others – literally. We are bringing the true Gospel of Shalom. We are pursuading others to believe on Jesus and join us on His quest of true, literal, healing to individuals and to the world. We are not merely clothing the poor and feeding the sick, for

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me, to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

For the Kingdom of God is a mustard seed.

If emerging guys want to be the well-rounded Christians they want to be, perhaps they also need to start getting a little old-school pentecostal and charismatic too. At the moment, I do feel that this element of Christianity appears to be missing.