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Sense and Nonsense about Heaven and Hell by Kenneth Boa & Robert Bowman Jr. $0.99
How many heavens are there—and how many hells? The original biblical languages use several words for heaven and hell that mean different things. And to make matters still more interesting, other religions and philosophies have contributed their own ideas to the mix until it’s hard to separate reality from speculation, falsehood, and folklore. Sense and Nonsense about Heaven and Hell helps you cut through the clutter to see what the Bible really reveals about heaven and hell, salvation and judgment. Learn about: Jesus: the only means of understanding heaven or hell; different biblical words for heaven and hell; the fires of hell: literal or figurative?; why hell has no exit doors; what we can and can’t know about heaven; God’s judgment: who will go where, and why. Get ready for some surprises. This book will help you set aside your preconceptions and pierce through the myths and misinformation to gain an accurate, truly biblical perspective on heaven and hell. ORDER YOUR COPY NOW >>>
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Sense and Nonsense about Angels and Demons by Kenneth Boa & Robert Bowman Jr. $0.99
Information on angels and demons is rampant today, but much of it is anything but trustworthy. Sense and Nonsense about Angels and Demons helps you cut through the clutter to see what the Bible actually reveals about spiritual beings both good and evil. Learn about: the fascinating history of “angelology”; what an angel is—and isn’t; what angels do and why; what angels may look like at the rare times when they appear; the “Angel of the Lord”: when an angel is more than an angel; the devil and his angels; and the origins of Satan: what the Bible really says.
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AfterLife: What You Really Want to Know About Heaven by Hank Hanegraaff $3.03
If there was ever a need-to-know book, Afterlife is it. On his daily call-in radio show, the most common questions Hanegraff fields are about the hereafter. For instance, millions are voraciously reading about the near-death experiences of young children. Consumers are desperate for knowledge and reassurance about what comes after life on the earth. Hank Hanegraff, one of the most remarkable theological minds of the 21st century, explains the marvelous way this physical life connects our past to our eternal future. Afterlife gives reader a clear and concrete understanding about what happens after death to us and to those we love.
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Hell Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents Eternal Punishment (multiple authors) $2.99
Of all the teachings of Christianity, the doctrine of hell is easily the most troubling, so much so that in recent years the church has been quietly tucking it away. Rarely mentioned anymore in the pulpit, it has faded through disuse among evangelicals and been attacked by liberal theologians. Hell is no longer only the target of those outside the church. Today, a disturbing number of professing Christians question it as well. The implications of the historic view of hell make the popular alternatives, annihilationism and universalism, seem extremely appealing, but the bottom line is still God’s Word. What does the Old Testament reveal about hell? What does Paul the apostle have to say, or the book of Revelation? Most important, what does Jesus, the ultimate expression of God’s love, teach us about God’s wrath?
Heaven: Biblical Answers to Common Questions by Randy Alcorn $1.99
This pocket-sized 60-page booklet provides a sampling of some of the questions and answers found in Randy Alcorn's Heaven. 18 easy-to-understand questions and answers adapted from the best-selling Heaven. Questions like "What is Heaven going to be like?", "Will we really have bodies?", "Will animals be there?", "Will we get bored?" "Will we recognize our loved ones?" are answered.
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This week I’m examining several alleged Bible “contradictions” offered by skeptics as evidence against the reliability of the Gospel eyewitness accounts. In my prior post I investigated the variations between the reports of the sign over Jesus’ cross, and shared several investigative principles I use when examining eyewitness testimony. I’ve also written a longer article describing ten principles to consider when examining alleged bible contradictions. Today, I’d like to address the number of angels who appeared to the women at the tomb of Jesus. This is yet another apparent “contradiction” in the Resurrection account and it is often cited by those who deny the claims of the New Testament. How many angels appeared to the women who came to Jesus’ tomb on Resurrection Sunday? One? Two? It seems to depend on the account. Matthew and Mark mention only one. Luke and John seem to mention two. Is there a contradiction here, and if so, does it invalidate the reliability of the Resurrection accounts? Let’s begin by examining the descriptions offered in the New Testament:
Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.” And they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples.
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might come and anoint Him. Very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. They were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” Looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away, although it was extremely large. Entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting at the right, wearing a white robe; and they were amazed. And he said to them, “Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you.’” They went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had gripped them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing; and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” And they remembered His words, and returned from the tomb and reported all these things to the eleven and to all the rest.
Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb. So she ran and came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”
In evaluating alleged “contradictions” of this nature, I think it’s important to remember a few overarching principles related to eyewitness testimony (I describe many of these principles in my first book, Cold-Case Christianity). Even though I accept and affirm the inerrancy of Scripture, inerrancy is not required of reliable eyewitnesses. In fact, I’ve never had a completely inerrant eyewitness in all my years as a homicide detective. In addition, I’ve never had a case where two witnesses have ever agreed completely on the details of the crime. Eyewitness reliability isn’t dependent upon perfection, but is instead established on the basis of a four part template I’ve described repeatedly in my book and on my website.
But beyond these generalities, much can be said specifically about the variations between the descriptions of the angels. In the many supplemental interview reports I’ve read over the years as a cold case detective, I’ve come to learn an important principle…
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QUESTION: "What do you make of all this ancient alien or astronaut theory that seems to be gaining popularity at a rapid rate? Linked to this, what are your views on Genesis 6? Do you think Genesis 6 explains some of the evidence put forward by ancient astronaut theorists?"
RESPONSE: To be honest, I do not invest much into these sorts of theories. Don't misunderstand me. I think they are fascinating, but I have no reason to find them compelling. I should say, right off the bat, that I do not consider the existence of extraterrestrial life impossible. I think it may even be likely given the size of our universe. However, there is a huge difference between life and intelligent life. And on a Christian worldview, there is an even greater difference between intelligent life and human life. There are some creatures that live in the darkest depths of the ocean that I am more than happy to call "alien" (although technically from this planet). It wouldn't cause me to question Christianity and the Bible if we eventually discover creatures like these somewhere in the farthest reaches of space. It would take a very specific sort of extraterrestrial life (conscious, moral, reasoning) to really do much to undermine the Christian view. I understand that is precisely what the ancient alien/astronaut theories suggest, but that is where I just don't feel like there is any compelling evidence. Anyway, that probably wasn't what you were asking, so I will move onto the Genesis 6 question since I have a good bit to say about that.
Genesis 6 is a chapter that fascinates and confuses a lot of people. Who/what were "the Sons of God" who fancied the "daughters of men?" Who/what were "the Nephilim?" I think it is unfortunate that so much confusion has arisen out of these couple of verses. Let me briefly explain why. The passage seems to indicate that what "the Sons of God" were doing was not something God approved of. First of all because the context seems to be all about the sinful spiral of humanity leading up to the flood. Beyond that, if we suppose that the Sons of God are angelic beings (as many do), then there is no reason to think that it was God's intention for them to breed with human women. Thus, in Gen 6 we are either dealing with disobedient humans or disobedient angelic beings. Up to that point, there should be no real disagreement.
Now, just so we are on the same page, disobedient angelic beings are also traditionally called demons. Angels and demons are by nature spiritual beings. That much is obvious in Scripture. However, it gets a bit tricky since there are instances in the Bible where angels take on physical form (at the very least making them visible to the human eye). This is called an "angelophany." But the important question here is: from where does this ability to take on physical form come, and what purpose does it serve? In all of these cases, the angels are serving God's purpose and it is he who gives them physical form. He is the creator of all things physical and immaterial. Thus, there is no room for rogue angels going around and manifesting bodies in order to satisfy their lusts. That is something out of ancient pagan mythology. Unfortunately, many people (even many good theologians) have spliced it into their understanding of this text. If there is any hybrid, mutant, creature being created here, it is only the result of bad interpretation…
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by Greg West
One of my favorite passages in the Bible that deals with the appearance of angels is in Luke chapter one where the angel Gabriel has been sent to Zacharias to announce the birth of John the Baptist. After Gabriel has told Zacharias about the forthcoming birth in verse 18, Zacharias asks Gabriel how can he know that the things he has been told will actually happen. In verse 19, Gabriel begins his reply by saying, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God.”
Now, I don’t know about you, but when I read this passage I sometimes get goose bumps and shivers up and down my spine. You might ask, “Why? What’s the big deal? The Bible mentions angels all the time.” Yes, that is true, but when it comes to angels as presented in scripture, they are quite mysterious creatures—but here and there we get a glimpse of what angels are and the various purposes they serve.
Artistic interpretations of angels have ranged from chubby toddlers with little wings, to young women in white robes with large wings, to Fabio-like looking men with huge wingspans complete with swords and battle armor. Most of these depictions are meant to instill warm fuzzy feelings and a sense of comfort and security. None of these represent biblical descriptions of angels.
Most of the time when angels are mentioned in the Bible, those who see them do not experience a warm fuzzy sense of comfort and security, they experience fear, usually accompanied by trembling and/or fainting. This is why the first words out of an angel’s mouth when delivering a message from God to human beings is usually something along the lines of “Fear not”, or “Do not be afraid!”
When Gabriel says that he stands in the presence of God, what he is essentially revealing the fact that he is that he is a “cherub”. The first detailed description we have of cherubim (the plural form of cherub) is in Ezekiel chapter 1, and it is very much a strange and frightening description. Ezekiel writes that when he saw the vision of cherubim that he” fell on his face”.
Cherubim are the elite in the ranks of angels. Other than delivering the occasional monumental announcement or vision to someone on earth, a cherub's sole purpose is to stand in the presence of God and his throne. Cherubim are the “special forces” or “green berets” (for lack of a better analogy) in the ranks of angels. Ezekiel chapter 28 gives us a clue that Satan was a cherub before “wickedness” was found in him.
The angel Gabriel is mentioned in three passages in the Bible and appears to three different people. The first is to Daniel in the Old Testament. In Daniel 8:17, Daniel writes that when Gabriel came near him he was afraid and fell on his face. Gabriel then shows Daniel a vision so disturbing that he said it caused him to “faint and was sick for days afterward.”
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The second recorded appearance of Gabriel is in the New Testament, as mentioned earlier. Luke writes that when Zacharias saw Gabriel that he was “troubled, and fear fell upon him.” This might be Luke’s polite way of saying that Zacharias was so scared that he nearly soiled his priestly garments!
The third appearance of Gabriel was later in Luke chapter 1, when he delivers the announcement to the virgin Mary that she will give birth to the Messiah. In verse 30 Gabriel says, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.”
Luke chapter 2 records that when an angel of the Lord appears to the shepherds that they were “greatly afraid”. Shepherds were very low in the Jewish hierarchy, pretty much at the bottom, or maybe just one step above beggars. If they had television back then they might have even been featured on the Discovery channel’s “Dirty Jobs” program.
I find it both humbling and amazing that God did not send his “multitude of heavenly hosts” to the great kings of the time. He didn’t send them to Herod or Caesar to say, “Hey! The Messiah is about to be born and he will someday knock you and every other worldly king off his throne.” He sent them to the lowest of the low; to tell them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.”
Now, I don’t know how God chose which angels would get to appear in the multitude of heavenly hosts who appeared before the shepherds, saying, “Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth, peace, goodwill toward men”, but I can imagine the rest of the angels in Heaven gathered together; leaning forward, watching in quiet anticipation as the scene unfolds on earth below; waiting for the Messiah’s entrance into the world, and later bursting into an angelic ovation of cheering and applause when it happens.
I can also imagine the shepherd’s reaction: “WHAT WAS THAT?!?!” And I also imagine a lot of falling down on the shepherd’s part. “I’m not sure but we’d better go check it out like the angel said!”
The word “angel” is from the Greek, ἄγγελος (angelos), meaning “messenger”, and we see them performing this function in the Bible time and time again. We as humans are not angels, and we don’t become angels when we die, but there is one way in which we can be like the angels. This Christmas and all year long, we can deliver the message of the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ to anyone who has ears to hear and is willing to listen.
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Meet the Real Angels, HollywoodBy Joel Miller
Hollywood is going back to the Bible. Major releases covering the stories of Noah, Moses, and even Cain and Pontius Pilate are in the works. But if producers are looking for a real opportunity within the pages of Holy Writ, they should look to angels.
Let's admit the obvious. Hollywood usually blows it when it comes to angels. Clarence from It's a Wonderful Life may be endearing, but he's nothing like the angels we find in the pages of scripture.
Ditto for Christopher Lloyd in Angels in the Outfield or Denzel Washington in The Preacher's Wife. And if John Travolta had played Gabriel instead of Michael, Mary would have called off the Annunciation.
Perhaps all this newfound interest in biblical stories and characters offers Hollywood a chance to do it right for a change. Forget sappy, romantic, and cute. In researching my new book, Lifted by Angels, I was struck by how overwhelmingly powerful and even frightening angels are.
The first angel we encounter in scripture is an armed cherub with a whirling blade of fire. And lest we think about Valentines and greeting cards when seeing the word cherub -- the Bible presents cherubim with four faces and eyes in their wings. It might be better to call them monsters.
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Though scripture has several instances of angels disguised as regular humans, angels are spirits, and volatile ones at that. The psalmist, for instance, speaks of angels as winds and flames. The prophet Ezekiel describes an angel in the form of a man but adorned with flames and lightning and gleaming like polished metal. And the thirteenth chapter of Judges shows us an angel ascending to Heaven in the updraft of a blazing sacrifice.
It's no wonder that people are typically terrified by angelic encounters. When the archangel Gabriel appears to help the prophet Daniel, he stuns the man. "I was frightened and fell upon my face," reported Daniel…
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Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.
I urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. Jude 3
You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me. John 18:37
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
For we did not follow cleverly contrived myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; instead, we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 2 Peter 1:16
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