By Randall E. Ricker
October 5, 2013
This is the fourth study in this series. We will just pick up on various subjects. There are a number of verses in the Bible that we like to memorize or we like to at least know where they are. They have great importance for our study and for being able to understand why we believe what we believe.
THREE WORDS FOR HELL
One of the subjects we may cover is the subject of hell. One of the teachings of traditional Christianity is that people can burn forever in hell after they die. This doctrine is not biblical. We can study the word “hell” as it was used in the King James Version—also known as the Authorized Version. We will see after that what is really the punishment of those who refuse to repent and who are in the third resurrection.
Turn to Acts chapter 2. Here is one of the meanings of the word hell. This is the apostle Peter speaking on Pentecost 31 A.D. Acts 2, verse 27: “For You will not leave my soul in hell [states the Authorized Version], nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.” It is repeated again in verse 31: “…he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in hell, nor did His flesh see corruption.”
The New King James has corrected this, or at least improved it by using the word “Hades.” That is number 86 in the Greek Strong’s Concordance (1995). It means the unseen. It means Hades. It means the place of departed souls. Clarke’s Commentary says the Greek writer used it as the state of the dead. The Companion Bible says the grave or the state of death. Then some commentaries will go on and try to put their own opinion on what that word means, but these are the more literal meanings of the word. It is the grave. It is talking about Christ being resurrected from the grave. We know He was in the grave for three days and three nights.
The second use of the word “hell” is in II Peter chapter 2. That word is used there and nowhere else in the Bible. II Peter chapter 2, verse 4: “For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment…”
That word “hell” is tartaroo and it is number 5020 (Strong’s, 1995), and it basically means to incarcerate. Again various commentaries will add other things to that. It is a condition of restraint. The Companion Bible says prison. It is a condition of restraint like being in prison, and it really has nothing to do with torturing people.
The third use of the word “hell” was in Matthew chapter 18. This is the one that I think most people think of when they hear the word hell. Matthew chapter 18, verse 8: “If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire.”
That “hell fire” is gehenna. In my New King James Version in the center reference it says the Greek word is gehenna, just confirming that. It is Strong’s (1995) #1067 in the Greek. It is a valley of Jerusalem. In the Companion Bible it calls it fires of destruction. To call it hell fire is an accurate way to state it as the New King James does.
Now that we understand there are three words for hell, let’s see what is the real punishment of those who refuse to repent. We will find that in Malachi. That is the last book of the Old Testament. That makes it easy to remember. Malachi chapter 4, starting in verse 1: “‘For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up,’ says the Lord of hosts…”
It is talking about burning them up.
Verse 1: “‘…that will leave them neither root nor branch. But to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings; and you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves. You shall trample the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day that I do this,’ says the Lord of hosts.”
It is talking about someone being burned up and being ashes, and not being tortured forever in hell fire. Revelation 20 also talks about this.
This is occurring after Satan the devil has been put away, and there is a Millennium of a thousand year reign of Jesus Christ on the earth. Then those who have never had the Bible opened to them have it opened to them. Then we read this in Revelation 20, verse 14: “Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”
It says, cast into the lake of fire and not tortured forever in hell. That is the punishment.
If we want to consider what verses to remember, I wouldn’t say memorize these as much as know where they are. In Acts chapter 2 where the apostle Peter was giving his first sermon after receiving God’s Holy Spirit, remember there is so much in that chapter. That’s where he uses the word “hell” that is Hades, the grave. In II Peter 2:4 is where that word tartaroo is used. That is the only place in the whole Bible, and it means condition of restraint. In Matthew 18 it talks about the hell fire which is the fire everybody thinks about. Remember in Malachi 4 at the end of the Old Testament it talks about people being burned up, and then Revelation 20 is the second death.
Those are some things to remember on the subject of hell.
Let’s go on to another subject. This is the subject of clean and unclean meats. God has set in motion physical laws that we must live by, and these laws include instructions on what kind of meat we can or cannot eat. We will learn from the Bible what we can eat in terms of meat.
Turn to Leviticus chapter 11 where it’s outlined for us. We are born without instinct and not like the animals that have an instinct. We do not naturally know what’s good for us. God created us, and He understands how our bodies work. He inspired Moses to write the Scriptures that tell us what kinds of meats we can eat and what we cannot eat. This is in Leviticus 11. It gives a general description of what we can be eating, and we will start that in verse 2.
Leviticus 11, verse 2: “Speak to the children of Israel, saying, ‘These are the animals which you may eat among all the animals that are on the earth: Among the animals, whatever divides the hoof, having cloven hooves and chewing the cud—that you may eat. Nevertheless these you shall not eat…’” He starts giving examples. Verse 2 and 3 really are a general principle that he is using. They must have cloven hooves and chew the cud.
Then he gets more specific in verse 4: “Nevertheless these you shall not eat among those that chew the cud or those that have cloven hooves: the camel, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you…”
It doesn’t satisfy both criteria.
Continuing in verse 5: “… the rock hyrax, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you; the hare, because it chews the cud but does not have cloven hooves, is unclean to you…”
By the way, the hare is a rabbit, in other words. It does not technically chew the cud, but it appears to.
Verse 7: “…and the swine, though it divides the hoof, having cloven hooves, yet does not chew the cud, is unclean to you.”
There are some examples.
Then we get into what we can have in terms of what lives in the water. There you see verse 9 of Leviticus 11: “These you may eat of all that are in the water: whatever in the water has fins and scales, whether in the seas or in the rivers—that you may eat. But all in the seas or in the rivers that do not have fins and scales, all that move in the water or any living thing which is in the water, they are an abomination to you.”
There is a principle. It has to have fins and scales. That’s pretty simple, too. There are a number of things we can’t have. We can’t have certain seafood, as I said. Seafood is a broad term. We eat fish with fins and scales. We don’t eat lobster and things like that.
Then it gets into verse 13 of Leviticus 11 where it says what birds we should not eat. There he is not giving general principles like he did for the land animals and the seas animals. For the birds they are actually very specific. I will read a portion of this.
Leviticus 11, verse 13: “And these you shall regard as an abomination among the birds; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, the vulture, the buzzard, the kite, and the falcon after its kind; every raven after its kind, the ostrich, the short-eared owl, the sea gull, and the hawk after its kind; the little owl, the fisher owl, and the screech owl; the white owl, the jackdaw, and the carrion vulture; the stork, the heron after its kind, the hoopoe, and the bat.”
We are not familiar with a lot of these birds. Then it mentions the bat. Technically we would call a bat a mammal. It does not fit into the bird category according to the way humans categorize things, but it flies. To the Israelites at the time these were flying creatures. It gives all these examples. Like I say it does not give the basic principle necessarily, but we can derive that. Basically what we are talking about here are birds of prey—those which eat other animals, and the scavengers. Those are really the ones we are being told not to eat, so we can eat things like chicken, turkey, duck, etc.
Then we get into an odd category here. It is odd to us in the Western world. Verse 20 talks about insects that you can eat. Yes, you can eat insects if you want to.
Leviticus 11, verse 20: “All flying insects that creep on all fours shall be an abomination to you. Yet these you may eat of every flying insect that creeps on all fours: those which have jointed legs above their feet with which to leap on the earth. These you may eat: the locust after its kind, the destroying locust after its kind, the cricket after its kind, and the grasshopper after its kind. But all other flying insects which have four feet shall be an abomination to you.”
We generally choose not to eat these things, but the Bible allows it. Remember John the Baptist ate wild locusts and honey, so it can be done if a person wants to.
Why did God have to tell us all this? It is hard to figure out. We could not have figured it out by ourselves. We can pretty well figure out what plants not to eat because they make us sick right away. But with the unclean meats, it is often difficult. It may take years of eating something bad to make us sick. In the last fifty years scientists have learned why some of these unclean meats should not be eaten. Pork, for example, is high in fat and salt. Fat is bad for our arteries, and the salt can make our blood pressure too high. Pork may also contain parasites that can then grow in our bodies. We figured this out 3,000 years after God inspired it to be written.
People have found some verses in the Bible that appear to allow us to eat anything we please. As we study this subject, let’s look at a few of those. One is in Mark chapter 7. We will go there first. Mark chapter 7, verse 1: “Then the Pharisees and some of the scribes came together to Him having come from Jerusalem. Now when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is, with unwashed hands, they found fault. For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands in a special way, holding the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other things which they have received and hold, like the washing of cups, pitchers, copper vessels, and couches. Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, ‘Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?’”
Go on to verse 15 where Christ explains this. Mark 7, verse 15: “‘There is nothing that enters a man from the outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!’ When He had entered a house away from the crowd, His disciples asked Him concerning the parable. So He said to them, ‘Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?’ And He said, ‘What comes out of a man, that defiles a man.’”
Now certain versions of the Bible including the New International Version adds something in verse 19. They say something to the effect that Christ declared all foods clean, but that’s not in the more reliable translations. If you go to the parallel account in Matthew 15, it becomes more clear what Christ was talking about as to what does or does not defile a person.
Matthew 15, verse 17: “Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”
Sin defiles us, and not eating with dirty hands. There is not a word here about clean and unclean meats, so we do not accept these passages as something that does away with Leviticus 11.
Here is another one in Acts chapter 10. We will start reading in verse 9. This is after a certain Roman centurion had a vision. Acts 10, verse 9: “The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour. Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. And a voice came to him, ‘Rise, Peter, kill and eat.’ But Peter said, ‘Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.’ And a voice spoke to him again the second time, ‘What God has cleansed you must not call common.’ This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again. Now while Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant, behold, the men who had been sent from Cornelius made inquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate.”
Notice that Peter had this vision where he was told to eat some unclean animals, and he wondered what it meant. He didn’t jump to any conclusions. The men who were sent by Cornelius came. They were Romans. In verse 28 Peter has figured it out.
Acts 10, verse 28: “Then he said to them, ‘You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.’”
The vision was to show Peter that people were not to be considered common or unclean. In other words, it was speaking about Gentiles. It was not a statement on what you eat and what you don’t eat.
If we want to review, remember Leviticus 11. We wouldn’t memorize Leviticus 11, but remember where it is. Leviticus 11 is where the clean and unclean meats are described both in principle and in specifics. Then in Mark 7 remember that there is an inaccurate verse in some translations where people apparently think that Christ makes all meat clean. He doesn’t. In Matthew 15 it is explained more carefully. Then in Acts chapter 10 remember there is the vision, but in verse 28 Peter says, God has shown me to treat no person as common or unclean. Again, it is having nothing to do with clean and unclean meats.
Let’s choose a third subject today. This is the subject of baptism. There are a number of verses we should remember on the subject of baptism. I think we would even want to memorize some of them.
We are going to start with the chapter I mentioned before that is so useful for a number of purposes, that being Acts chapter 2. On Pentecost 31 A.D. there were 120 disciples gathered together, and people from all over the world were also there. The Holy Spirit was given to the 120, and people heard them speak in their own languages. Peter gave a sermon. He talked about how Christ would sit on King David’s throne, but yet the people at that time had crucified Christ.
Acts 2, verse 37: “Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’”
They believed it. They knew that there was something that they were supposed to do more than just believe. We know we have a part to do in our salvation, too. Here is the answer in verse 38.
Acts 2, verse 38: “…then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’”
That is a memory verse. You can remember that one.
To repent means to turn around and go the other way. We need to be so sorry for what we were that we change from disobedience to obedience to God’s laws. These people were to repent and then to be baptized. We will cover four points on baptism as we go through some basic Scriptures. I will list them briefly first, and then we will go back in detail.
Number one: baptism is commanded. Number two: baptism is symbolic. Number three: how long should a person wait before he is baptized? Number four: what is the method of baptizing? I will repeat these points as we go into them.
First of all, point number one is that baptism is commanded. We already read in Acts 2:38 where Peter said, repent and everyone be baptized. It was a command. It was not a suggestion. There is a requirement.
A person must be mature enough to understand what to repent of and also mature enough to make a commitment. That is why we don’t baptize children. Let’s go to Matthew chapter 28. We often call this the great commission. It is also commanding baptism.
Matthew 28, verse 19: “‘Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.”
It says to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In other words, baptize into the name of God, as into an account like a bank account. It is one way to think about what that means. When we are baptized, we belong to God. We belong to the God family which currently is just God the Father and Jesus Christ. It is not a statement of a Trinity here. We will go into more detail into that sometime if we want to.
Remember also being baptized into the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit does not mean we are baptized into an organization or into a denomination. We don’t, strictly speaking, “join” the Church of God. God puts us into His Church. My first point was that baptism is commanded.
The second point is baptism is symbolic. I like to call Romans 6 the Baptism Chapter. Let’s go there. That is something you can remember. Romans 6 is the Baptism Chapter. I wouldn’t expect you to necessarily memorize the verses there, but at least know where they are. Romans 6 talks about the symbolism and the deep meaning of baptism.
We will start reading in Romans 6, verse 3: “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
In baptism we picture the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. In other words, it shows that we believe it. It says, we are baptized into His death and buried with Him. It talks about Christ raising from the dead, and that is like us coming out of the water at baptism. We express our faith in Christ as our Savior, acceptance of His death, burial, and resurrection for us.
Sometimes in the movies or maybe even some other churches you see people who will accept Jesus. They just accept Jesus, and they think that’s all they needed to do. You have to do that in your mind at least, but then you prove it by baptism. Baptism is the symbol that you have accepted Jesus, if you want to think of it that way. It is not just standing in front of a cross or kneeling in front of a cross saying some words and going on with life. We have to be baptized as one of the ways we prove that we have accepted Christ. This is after we have repented, by the way. We can’t forget that first step.
It is by Christ’s shed blood and death that He paid the penalty for our sins. Every Passover we remember that. When we take the Passover bread and wine, we remember that the wine pictures Christ blood which paid the penalty for our sins. Every year at Passover we consider that to be renewing our covenant that we made at baptism.
Let’s read verse 5 of Romans 6: “For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.”
Besides picturing the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ as we are baptized, it also pictures the death and burial of our old self. It says we are baptized with Christ, and we are buried with Him. Then it also shows us walking as a new person because it says, as Christ was raised from the dead, we should also walk in newness of life. We are to be walking as new people. In this way baptism is symbolic of our repentance from our old life, burying it, and then walking in a new way of life.
At baptism we show that we have repented. It is a sign that we have repented. It shows that we are going to obey God’s laws. In return, God will give us eternal life and possibly a position in His government in the Millennium. It’s an agreement. It’s a covenant that we make at baptism. We go into the water at baptism which shows the death of Christ and the death of our old self. The burial is showing the burial of Christ and of our old self when we are under the water. When we come up, we are showing Christ’s resurrection and showing ourselves as a new person, walking in the newness of life. My second point was that baptism is symbolic.
My third point is how long should a person wait before he is baptized? A person can’t know all spiritual things without having God’s Holy Spirit. We can’t expect that of a person, so in terms of looking at how long a person should wait for baptism, he should not think he has to know everything.
It takes God’s Holy Spirit not to be hostile to God’s law. It takes God’s Holy Spirit to know spiritual things. Don’t expect perfection in obedience, and do not expect perfection in knowledge before you are baptized. It just won’t happen.
As we consider Matthew 28, let’s go back there for a minute. There is more to be learned on the subject of baptism. We have already read this, but I would like to go through it again. Matthew chapter 28, verse 19: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you…”
There are three instructions. Make disciples or teach all nations, depending on how it’s translated. The second instruction here is to baptize them, and the third says to teach them to observe all things I have commanded you. This means in verse 20 that there is still more to learn. We should not think that in order to be baptized we have to know it all. It says the order here is to make disciples, baptize, and then teach them some more.
As far as how long to wait for baptism, we wait until we have truly repented and truly believe in Christ as our personal Savior.
One of the verses we like to read in association with baptism is in Luke chapter 14. We call it counting the cost. In Luke chapter 14, we will start reading in verse 28: “For which of you intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.”
There is a cost to be baptized and making this covenant. It is a commitment. It is a very serious commitment. In these verses in Luke 14 it talks about one king going against another king and does he have the resources to do it. For us right now over the earth is Satan’s evil kingdom influencing the whole thing with his demons. We have to realize that we are making a commitment to fight these demons and possibly to take one of their positions when Christ’s government comes during the Millennium. It is a serious commitment to make. We have to realize it is very important.
In verse 33 of Luke 14 it says to forsake all. Some people would translate it to say good-bye to all, but it also means to put in the right position or to put in the right perspective. We have to put life in the right perspective. Our commitment and our calling have to be number one. We have to be ready to do that. When we are truly able to do that, then we are ready to be baptized. My third point today was how long to wait for baptism?
Point number four is the method of baptism. By definition baptism means to immerse. This word “baptism” is a Greek word that was not really translated into English. It has just been Anglicized a little bit. It really means to immerse. In the Strong’s Concordance it means to make fully wet. When we ask what form of baptism should it be, it really doesn’t even make sense to ask if you think of it that way. It is like saying, what form of skiing are we going to do today? Are we going swimming, skiing, or skating? It doesn’t make any sense at all. For baptism we might say should we sprinkle, immerse, or pour? It doesn’t make sense, because by definition it is immersion. That’s how a person is baptized.
Let’s look in the gospel of John chapter 3. It is talking about John the Baptist. John 3, verse 23: “Now John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized.”
It is talking about much water. You don’t need much water if you are just pouring or sprinkling. For immersion you need much water. Remember Christ’s example elsewhere where it talks about how He came up immediately from the water. The Authorized Version says, “went straight way out of the water.” It is talking about immersion. If you think about it, baptism has to be by immersion because otherwise how could you picture the burial of Christ if you are not being immersed? How could you picture the burial of your old self if you are not being immersed? Immersion makes perfect sense.
On the subject of baptism, things to remember would be that Romans 6 is the Baptism Chapter. I think we can all remember that. Remember as far as how long to wait, Matthew 28 is the great commission that talks about being taught things. You are taught things afterwards. Remember the chapter of Luke 14 which is the counting the cost chapter. There is a cost to be counted. Baptism is a serious thing.
Those are just a few memory verses or memory chapters, if you want to think of it that way, that will help you to keep solid in your mind what you believe and why you believe. They will help you to explain to other people if someone were to ask why you are doing what you are doing.