Archive for April 3rd, 2018

3
Apr

2018-03-27 Life Group Observations

   Posted by: John    in Life Group

The theme for this week’s sermon and discussion is

Crucifixion Sunday: Jesus Died, So What?

Click here to watch the sermon for this week

2018-03-27 Life Group questions

2018-03-27 Life Group questions

Things learned and observed from this Life Group session:

Jesus’ Crucifixion

Mormon theology states that Jesus, being part god, had the power to voluntarily give up his life whenever he was ready to.  The question was asked if that stance was correct, and if not, what is.

Golgotha

Golgotha

The answer, given by Pastor Steve Moore, is that he thought Jesus’ body had reached the end of its ability to live, having endured the Garden of Gethsemane, travels between there, the palace where Pontius Pilate was, and the temple where Caiaphas (the priest) was. Along the way he was beaten, scourged, tortured and hit. He was made to wear the crown of thorns and likely bled a considerable amount from all of the above.  Then he was made to carry his cross (as far as he could), then nailed to it and crucified.  Crucifixion is a rather tortuous form of execution as it forces the body to endure a very unnatural stance and painfully causes death from blood loss and asphyxiation over the period of some hours.

The question of why the thieves lasted longer than Jesus arises, but it seems that Jesus endured far more physical abuse prior to the actual crucifixion than they did, and they did not have the physical exhaustion of the Garden of Gethsemane events to begin with.

Jesus’ body had reached the end of its ability to live.

Timing, of course, is crucial. God being God, He knew what the timing would be. The crucifixion prophesies were fulfilled in that no bone in Jesus’ body would be broken.  When the Roman centurion came to accelerate the process of death by breaking legs, Jesus was already dead, so instead the centurion checked by spearing his side. Already dead, no reason to break his legs.

So, the answer appears to be that Jesus died as a normal person would have done.

 

Rise of atheism

One of the things that has been on the rise (and has been addressed in church service as well as the life group) is atheism.  Atheism, at its definition, is the disbelief of a God or supreme being.  Or in other words, not believing in a God.

Atheism

Atheism

Steve Moore mentioned that recent studies were showing that atheism is one of the fastest growing forms of ‘religion’ in the past few years.  It is difficult to imagine atheism as a religion, but the adherents to it show just as much fervor as people who are firm in the belief of God.  While I have often thought that the rabid environmental movement is very much a form of religion, I had never thought of atheism in that same way.  The argument can be made that any worship of a God, or in this case no God, is a form of religion.

Steve also made the observation that the higher education levels of people tend to lead towards atheism, and people of lesser education are more prone to believe in God.  Again, this is something I have thought from time to time.  Academia has always seemed to push towards the atheistic point of view.  The term ‘knowledge is power’ comes to mind.  Human achievement in the past two centuries is astounding.  Some give credit to God for the advancement of human race. More seem to credit man’s ingenuity and discount that God may have a hand in it.

The fact that a highly educated person tends to reject God intrigues me in some ways.  Reliability on one’s own self is desirable as a life skill.  We should not be dependent on others to provide for our necessities, and certainly not for our excesses.  To that end, education is a near requirement in order to adequately provide.  That responsibility increases with the additions of a spouse and family.

 

Churches teaching that there is not a hell (goes along with the ‘emergent church’)

There seems to be a new movement in which some churches are starting to preach that there is no Hell, or at least, Hell as it has been taught and viewed for many centuries, does not exist.

Again, going back to Mormon theology (as it is what I am most familiar with), Hell is a detour on the path to a ‘degree of glory’, albeit the lowest of the degrees.  People who gain the highest go straight there, people who go to the lowest will spend a thousand years in Hell prior to being relieved and going to their ‘degree of glory’.  Thus, in Mormon theology, Hell is a limited duration.  Note however, that Mormons also believe in an ‘outer darkness’ where Lucifer, his minions who are currently with him, and a handful of people who have lived on Earth will be sent at the end of the thousand years.  In that context, the everlasting ‘outer darkness’ might be considered everlasting Hell.

Steve Moore indicated that Hell was in fact a place that does exist as it states in the scripture.  If Heaven is an everlasting and eternal place, in my mind it makes sense that Hell must be as well.  In my mind, you can’t have one without the other.

It seems to me that removing Hell from religious belief goes hand in hand with the liberalization of people over the past couple generations. Participation trophies, ‘everyone wins’, blurring of genders and roles, no consequences for action (or inaction), etc…these are the things that cause people to not have values, morals, ambition or goals.  If there is no stigma in failure there is no pride in success.  Personally, I would view a successful life as one that got a person back to God. In order to do that, one must follow Christ, be responsible for themselves and their family, as well as the other things that are given to them in this life. And you must have the belief that the reward is worth it, otherwise what’s the point.  If there is no God, no Heaven and no Hell, there is no real point to even try to do things right.

Like so many things related to God, some of it is a mystery.  What we have is what we have, largely because we are not able to see things from God’s view.  What we need to be doing is focusing on our relationship with God and Jesus, our families and our responsibilities, in that order.  The rest will take care of itself.