Does John 3:18 Mean that All Non-Christians Go to Hell?

John 3:16.

It’s everywhere.

You even see it on placards at football games:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Then there’s John 3:17, which sounds pretty good too:

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

However, in John 3:18 the hammer falls:

He that believeth on him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

John 3:18In three short verses, the God who so loved the world turns around and condemns everyone who doesn’t believe in his Son. And that means most of the people in the world are going straight to hell.

At least, so say many Christians.

Apparently these Christians haven’t bothered to read what comes before and after John 3:16–18. And they haven’t even carefully read what John 3:18 itself says.

The fact is, John 3:18 does not say all non-Christians go to hell. And if we read it as part of Jesus’ whole teaching in John 3:1–21, it says something very different from what these Christians preach.

These “Christians” have strayed very far from Jesus Christ. Instead of showing love and compassion to all different types of people, healing the sick and serving the poor and needy, these “Christians” consider themselves better than everyone else. They condemn billions of good people to eternal torture just for believing the wrong thing.

But it is these “Christians” who believe the wrong thing.

Read on to learn what these words from John 3 really mean in the original Greek, and in the context of the whole story.

For more on John 3:18, please click here to read on.

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Posted in The Bible Re-Viewed

What if the Right Woman has the Wrong Feet?

Big Feet!This article is a response to a Spiritual Conundrum recently submitted to Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life by a reader named Jared. We’ll get to his query in a minute.

But first, the question in the title is not the question Jared asked. Rather, it is the question I am asking Jared, and others who have a foot fetish—which is what Jared did ask about.

I ask this question because for those who have a foot fetish, their answer will say a lot about whether their foot fetish is a serious problem or just one of the particular harmless idiosyncrasies we humans have, or is somewhere in between.

But first, let’s let Jared ask his question.

For more on foot fetishes, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Sex Marriage Relationships

“Wives, submit to your husbands.”

Wives, submit to your husbands. (Ephesians 5:22)

That is a misquote of Paul.

“What?!? That’s exactly what Paul says! Here it is from the King James Version—God’s own translation of the Bible:”

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands.

“And in the New Revised Standard Version:”

Wives, be subject to your husbands.

“And in the New International Version:”

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands.

“And in the English Standard Version:”

Wives, submit to your own husbands.

“Paul absolutely says that wives must submit to their husbands!”

No, he does not.

Every single one of those “quotes” is a misquote of Paul. There is no period after “husbands.” What Paul did say was:

Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord.

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands as unto the Lord - Ephesians 5:22Paul is not telling wives to submit to their husbands.

Paul never tells wives to submit to their husbands.

In Ephesians 5:22 (as well as in Colossians 3:18 and similar passages elsewhere), Paul is telling wives in what way they should submit to their husbands.

There’s a huge difference.

For more on wives submitting to husbands, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Sex Marriage Relationships, The Bible Re-Viewed

Thoughts on Seeing the Eclipse

The total solar eclipse of August 21, 2017, as seen from Glendo State Park, Wyoming

The total solar eclipse of August 21, 2017, as seen from Glendo State Park, Wyoming

Where were you for the total solar eclipse of August 21, 2017?

Annette and I, plus several visiting family members, were camping at Glendo State Park, 100 miles north of where we live in Cheyenne. Our campground was right on the centerline of the path of totality.

After several days of swimming, kayaking, mountain biking, seeing the local scenery, and generally relaxing and enjoying one another’s company, Eclipse Day arrived. The weather in eastern Wyoming was perfect. It was a warm, sunny day with crystal clear skies. In and around the small town of Glendo (population 204), it was a people- and vehicle-choked madhouse. But where we were camped, a 25 minute drive around on the other side of the lake, all was calm and peaceful. There were groups of people here and there on the beach, in the campground, and on the ridgeline above it.

We picked out a nice, sandy spot under a copse of trees on the edge of the wide beach. There we could enjoy the shade while we were waiting, and head out into the clear sun for the eclipse itself. We had been planning this event for nearly a year. Now it was time to sit back and take in the spectacle!

For more on the eclipse of 2017, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Science Philosophy and History

God’s Children

The disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

Jesus called a little child, and had the child stand in front of them. He said, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name, welcomes me.” (Matthew 18:1–5)

Sibling rivalryNow, this is ought to cause some consternation for those of us who are, or have been, parents of young children. We spend huge amounts of time and energy trying to get our children to grow up and become mature adults. Then Jesus turns around and tells us that we are the ones who have to change—and become like little children!

Young children tend to squabble . . . a lot. Parents who have more than one child have most likely spent many long days playing referee as jealousy over matchbox cars, stuffed animals, and trading cards erupted into name-calling, shoving, hitting, and kicking. After a day like that, the last thing a parent wants to hear is Jesus telling us that we have to change and become like little children!

For more on God’s children please click here to read on.

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Posted in Sex Marriage Relationships, Spiritual Growth

Why Did God Choose Israel?

The Bible’s history of the Israelite people is put in the context of a branching family tree of humanity going all the way back to the first humans on earth. At each point where the tree branches, the lineage is traced through a particular son in preference to the other possible lineages. Though the reason for picking one lineage over another is usually not stated explicitly, there are several criteria that determine what line the ancestry of God’s people will follow:

  1. The default option is for the lineage to pass through the firstborn son.
  2. If the character of the firstborn son is not suitable, the lineage will pass through the first son whose character is suitable.
  3. Required character traits include faithfulness to God and tenacity of character.
  4. And in general, God chose the lineage of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob because the nation that would come from them could serve as a light and a blessing to the other nations of the earth.

These factors can be seen operating in the various points at which one lineage prevails over another in the Bible story. However, the fourth puts the other three in context, and deserves its own special coverage before the rest are taken up in a sequential account following the Bible narrative.

For more on why God chose Israel, please click here to read on.

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Posted in The Bible Re-Viewed

What is the Spiritual Significance of the Story of Elijah and Elisha?

The previous article, “What Can We Learn from the Story of Elijah and Elisha?” responded to this Spiritual Conundrum submitted to Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life by a reader named Adom Ameyaw:

Can you explain and give the significance 2 Kings 2:1–18 in the life of a Christian?

In that article, we drew out a few of the lessons in that Bible story that are plain for anyone to see.

In this second (and final) article in response to Adom’s question, we’ll dig deeper, and look at the spiritual significance of this story for our Christian walk.

We’ll draw on the method of Bible interpretation offered by Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772), and on various commentaries inspired by that method, without actually quoting from them. But mostly, we’ll look more deeply at the text of the story itself, and sleuth out a few of the spiritual insights it contains.

For more on Elijah and Elisha, please click here to read on.

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Posted in The Bible Re-Viewed

What Can We Learn from the Story of Elijah and Elisha?

Here is a Spiritual Conundrum submitted to Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life by a reader named Adom Ameyaw:

Can you explain and give the significance 2 Kings 2:1–18 in the life of a Christian?

2 Kings 2:1–18 tells the fascinating story of how the great prophet Elijah passed on his mantle, and with it his prophetic power, to his student and successor Elisha—who then went on to be a great prophet in his own right. To get the full flavor, I recommend that you click the link and read the whole story before moving on.

Elijah parts the Jordan using his mantle

Elijah parts the Jordan

The events in this story took place more than 800 years before Jesus Christ lived on this earth, so is not a specifically Christian story. However, as with everything in the Bible, Christians can find great significance for their own lives not only in the story itself, but from the deeper message it contains.

In this article we’ll look at some of the lessons this story contains plainly for anyone to see.

In a second article we’ll dig deeper, and look at its spiritual significance.

For more on Elijah and Elisha, please click here to read on.

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Posted in The Bible Re-Viewed

Anyone Can Choose to Do Good

The six Polk County inmates who saved their deputy

The six Polk County inmates who saved their deputy

On June 12 a Polk County, Georgia, sheriff’s deputy started going down. And this wasn’t a good time for that. You see, he was overseeing six prison inmates who were out on work detail sprucing up a local cemetery in preparation for Father’s Day.

But go down he did. He suffers from a rare brain malformation, and the Georgia heat that day was too much for him. As he lay unconscious on the grass, the inmates had access to his gun, his cellphone, and his van. They could have made a run for it.

Instead, this story has a happy ending.

You see, he was their deputy. They spent five days a week, seven hours a day with him out on work detail. When they saw him go down, they knew what they had to do.

For more on good deeds and prison inmates, please click here to read on.

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Posted in Current Events

What Does It Mean to Sit at the Right Hand of God?

The right hand of GodIn Psalm 110, David writes:

The Lord says to my lord,
“Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies your footstool.”
(Psalm 110:1)

And in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus quotes these words in an exchange with the Pharisees:

Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them this question: “What do you think of the Messiah? Whose son is he?”

They said to him, “The son of David.”

He said to them, “How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying,

‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
until I put your enemies under your feet”’?

If David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?” No one was able to give him an answer, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions. (Matthew 22:41–46)

What did David mean when he poetically wrote about sitting at the Lord’s right hand? And what did Jesus mean when he quoted David?

Does this really mean—as traditional Christians commonly believe—that God the Father and God the Son are two different people, and that Jesus will literally sit at the right hand of God, like a viceroy sitting to the right of his king?

Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772) offers a different view.

For more on the right hand of God, please click here to read on.

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Posted in All About God, The Bible Re-Viewed
Lee & Annette Woofenden

Lee & Annette Woofenden

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