We Need A Grace Primer..

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70 Responses

  1. John 20:29 says:


    does the Church think that hell is something God delights in? it is the Church that needs grace, mercy and TRUTH!

  2. Josh the Baptist says:

    I haven’t seen any celebrations of Hawking’s eternal torment, but these situations are weird for me.

    If Hawking is right, he no longer exists. This prospect is more frightening to me than fire and pitchforks.

    But I see no reason to speculate publicly about the eternal fate of someone I didn’t know.

  3. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I would not presume the fate of Hawking. For all we know, at the last minute he became a Lutheran and was escorted into heaven.
    However, looking at myself, if I misled as many young people as Hawking did through his work – causing so many to lose their faith or impede their faith by denying God’s existence, and to have those young folks grow up stifling the faith of their own families and children — I think I would probably be in hell’s fitting room being sized for a millstone.

  4. Paige says:

    Thank you Michael. Good words, indeed. Grace. How we all need God’s Grace and need always season, as with salt, our words with God’s grace.

    I am continually astonished at the public comments of those who claim to know the Lord of Glory… So arrogant, so lacking in the humility that comes from a soul that knows it’s depraved estate apart from Jesus Christ.

    Only God knows the fate of Mr Hawking.

    I love that new worship song, Reckless Love; “I didn’t earn it, I don’t deserve it”. AMEN

  5. why the question? says:

    It’s easy to know where someone spends eternity. Everyone who dies apart from Jesus is in torment forever. Stating that is NOT delighting or boasting or lacking in humility. It is simply true. Whether one is a brilliant atheist or a regular man/woman, apart from Christ, they suffer. No resting in peace.

  6. filbertz says:

    makes me wonder how much those same people prayed for Hawking. Likely none, for praying for another creates a humility and burden for the other…and to see one whom a person has labored over in prayer depart without Christ is devastating. Further, how many of them wrestled to understand his physics and astronomy and disciplines of science enough to engage him on his terms with the gospel? crickets.

    perhaps that is why the Spirit is likened to the dove and not the crow.

  7. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    it’s funny, I looked at my FB feed since last night and I did not see one post of anyone dancing on Hawking’s grave.

    Also, I will bet that thousands upon thousands over the years prayed for Steven Hawking to receive Jesus.

  8. JoelG says:

    Some hopeful words from Frederick Buechner for those who fear the worst for Hawking and others who apparently pass away outside of the faith:

    “If there is suffering life in hell, there must also be hope in hell, because where there is life there is the Lord and giver of life; and where there is suffering he is there too, because the suffering of the ones he loves is also his suffering.

    “He descended into hell,” the Apostles’ Creed says, and “If I make my bed in Sheol, thou art there,” says the Psalmist (139:8). It seems there is no depth to which he will not sink. Maybe not even Old Scratch will be able to hold out against him forever.”

  9. John 20:29 says:

    JoelG, there is some hope that he confessed his need of Christ’s redemption before his mortal brain ceased to function – only God knows for certain i guess… But as i had to tell one of my children when she asked if Satan couldn’t be converted to accept Christ as his Lord, i dont believe that there is even a hint of possibility of escaping hell once the verdict is in… Perhaos some of the teachers here can enlighten us?

  10. JoelG says:

    It’s just a hope Em. I don’t think Buechner’s writing doctrine. ?

  11. John 20:29 says:

    Does raise a ponder, tho Joel
    Buechner declares where there is life, there is the Lord… God warned Adam regarding the forbidden fruit that if you eat it, in dying you will die (as i learned the translation)…
    Exactly what does it mean to be dead in tresspass and sin? Just how dead can we be or become? Guess i’ll just follow the invitation to choose life – not sure i want to know how dead is dead … ?

  12. JoelG says:

    From what I’ve gathered, when one refuses to turn from sin, one becomes less human. Sin itself is punishment. It turns us in on ourselves and we become our own worst enemy. Perhaps the second death is choosing to become less than human, losing all all the qualities that make us made in “the image of God”. It’s a frightening thought. But I know that God is omnipresent and merciful. I’ll leave my ponderings at that.

  13. Rick says:

    In my heart, I am a universalist; in my theological head, I am not. My hope is that all, in those last moments, if not before, call out for mercy from God, who is perfectly loving and just.

    Personally, I think we will be surprised by both who is, and, who is not, in heaven.

  14. Jon Bartlett says:

    Long time UK lurker prompted to comment by #3. As a scientist (well, engineer) and Christian for over 40 years, Hawking’s work has just increased my wonder at God’s creation. The millstones usually belong to the church, who have set up a false culture war between faith and science.

  15. Josh the Baptist says:

    I don’t understand the constant urge for people to condemn Christ’s church.

  16. Duane Arnold says:

    “Concepts create idols; only wonder comprehends anything. People kill one another over idols. Wonder makes us fall to our knees.”

    Gregory of Nyssa

  17. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I object! this statement is false — “who have set up a false culture war between faith and science.”

    The division is not between faith and science – it is between faith and scientism – which is in itself a philosophical position – not one of science.

  18. Michael says:


    Always good to see lurkers come out and talk…feel free to expand on what you wrote.
    It’s a valuable perspective…

  19. Michael says:


    Who’s condemning the church?
    Historically, faith and science have been at odds for a long time in some quarters…

  20. Josh the Baptist says:

    “The millstones usually belong to the church,”

    My response was to that particular phrase, but also to a prevailing attitude. Not just here, but among many Christians on the net.

    Hawking was unfriendly towards Christianity for a large portion of his life. I’m not shocked that some wonder about his afterlife. I haven’t seen any post in joy about it. I have seen some speculate with sadness. I don’t think that is particularly helpful, but by some things I read, you’d think “the church” had the guy killed.

  21. Jean says:

    If I understand Jon’s comment at #14, I would tend to agree with him. Beginning around the late 19th Century (I understand), a fundamentalist form of biblicism has arisen which sees only one legitimate interpretation of Genesis 1-2 and, moreover, would impose that view as a pre-supposition on scientific inquiry.

    Ironically, creationism and scienticism read the creation accounts through the same lens and therefore come into direct conflict.

    But can you really blend two different ways of knowing: (1) faith; and (2) the scientific method? They are separate lanes. One derives knowledge in what is not seen; the other derives knowledge from only what is seen. Both ways of knowing are legitimate, but are often misused or misapplied.

  22. Michael says:


    If I hadn’t seen a bunch of snarky comments, I wouldn’t have written anything at all.
    I do understand the concern over cynicism…because I’m probably more cynical than I’ve ever been…and I’ve been really cynical in the past.
    If it wasn’t for the fact that Jesus created and sustains it, I would avoid it like someone with a bad cough…

  23. Josh the Baptist says:

    @22, yeah…which I just don’t get. I love the church. I see 99% beauty to 1% ugly.

  24. Michael says:


    I have to remind myself often that most people never see the stuff I see…like the stuff thats been kept off this blog for the last month through moderation.

    “Christians” trying to destroy other Christians (and me) with the worst sort of slander and accusations.

    Then there are the wounded who have fallen by the wayside already.

    I won’t even start on the political takeover of a significant part of the church.

    I love the church in theory…it scares the hell out of me in practice.

  25. Jon Bartlett says:

    Michael #18, thanks for your kind words.

    Jean #21, I think you have said what I meant, better than I put it!!

    I might question the idea of ‘blending’ science and faith, and the separate lanes. They are surely more complementary than that? For many scientists over the years, it’s wonder at creation that has driven their research. And our faith is firmly factual within history.

    Alister McGrath is so good in this area (as well as being one person that Richard Dawkins refuses to debate with.) McGrath contrasts the Who and Why, with the When and How. All are valid questions, and although separate lanes, they do inform each other.

    Cheers, Jon

  26. Duane Arnold says:

    Yes, Hawking was a self admitted atheist. He was also made in the image of God… even in his wheelchair, unable to speak. While he became convinced of an impersonal universe, he also said and wrote things that many of us can read in a manner that affirms our wonder at creation as we understand it…

    “Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.”

    He left us gifts, even if unintended…

  27. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I am a big fan of Alister McGrath as my library would attest. I love that he has the same advanced science degrees from the same university as Dawkins, but also has the doctorate in theology which Dawkins lacks which really renders him (Dawkins) impotent to comment authoritatively on theology as he does and in the forums he does..

  28. Josh the Baptist says:

    The Body of Christ is beautiful. At some point you have to push away from the poison.

  29. John 20:29 says:

    the truth is that our churches are infested with non-saints pretending to be saints… the world sees no difference… we ought to be able to, tho, it seems to me…

    Hawking’s crippled body would have made it hard for him to conceptualize a loving Creator… i suspect his escape, and his comfort, was his agile, sharp mind… i also know beyond doubt that, if he had had a healthy body he still would not have come to know his Redeemer… God loses none of His own…

    but we, who do know Christ, cannot know who is and who isn’t and i know that i don’t pray with that in mind, at least not most of the time

    agreeing with #14 – science properly understood (some of us can’t do that 🙂 ) just glorifies the Creator of the universe…

  30. Michael says:

    When the poison is killing people you care about, you have to try and get rid of it…even though you will fail, at least you were faithful.

    What’s hard is when you’re both failing and not as faithful as you ought to be…which is where I spend most of my time.

    I probably have more faith in Jesus than I’ve ever had…the church…not so much.

  31. Josh the Baptist says:

    @30 – Yes, but everyone has their limits. If we run around the whole internet fighting every injustice that is posted about, it will kill us. Focus on local, make my community a little better, and tomorrow a little better than that. The poison seems distant and weaker in no time at all.

  32. John 20:29 says:

    the O.T. is full of men that God used to call out Israel for their ungodly ways … not many of them lived happy prosperous lives… and there weren’t many of them, period, come to think on it… even today there are too many in our churches who think that, since man is impressed with them, God is also… or so it seems to me…
    maybe, we in the Church need to look for the sorrowing, tired people as they are probably the ones that are doing God’s work… Quit looking for “winners” maybe? dunno, tho, i truly don’t

  33. Josh the Baptist says:

    @32 – Yes!

  34. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    “I probably have more faith in Jesus than I’ve ever had…the church…not so much.”

    How do you separate the 2 as the church is in Christ?

  35. covered says:

    MLD, not to answer for Michael, but I agree with what he said @ #30. Look at the scandals that churches have covered up. Look at how we (the church), seems to have become very tolerant to the things that God calls an abomination. How many churches (Christians), resemble what Jesus taught in Matt 5?

  36. Josh the Baptist says:

    “How many churches (Christians), resemble what Jesus taught in Matt 5?”

    What about those of here at this blog?

  37. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I understand when a non Christian says I like Jesus but not his church. They have no understanding who Christ is or who the church is..
    I do not give any slack to the Christian who says the same.

    How many Christians keep any of the commandments? If that is the qualifier, then folks just don’t understand any better than the non believers.

  38. Josh the Baptist says:

    We don’t extend the same grace to others as we do to ourselves.

  39. Xenia says:

    Hawking was wrong about the things that matter most.

  40. covered says:

    I think my comment regarding “tolerance” by Christians has been very harmful to the church. In today’s culture, how dare us use the word “sin” in regards to the behavior of others.

    As far as this blog goes Josh, things have changed a lot. I am not saying it’s a bad thing, I’m saying things are different. It seems that arguing and designating labels seems to be the norm as opposed to agreeing to disagree. Again, I am not saying it’s a bad thing, it’s different than it used to be.

    As far as your comment Josh @ 38, I agree 100%. For me, I want mercy. For other’s I demand justice… I am a wretched man.

  41. Josh the Baptist says:

    I think the most harmful thing for the church has been the lust for numbers. That has probably led to “tolerance”, thinking more people would show up if only we accepted (Insert sin here).

    No disagreement, covered. Just adding to what you said.

  42. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    In my case with my #3 I did judge myself if I were leading people away from their faith as Hawking had done over a lifetime.

  43. pslady says:

    AMEN Michael!!

  44. covered says:

    Amen Josh

  45. John 20:29 says:

    #37… Yes, those who say that they like Jesus, but not the church, dont really know the Church… And, yes, the Church is composed of people who sin, but if we look no different than any other group, we’re not doing what we’re supposed to be doing…

  46. Jean says:

    “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”

    Yes, it’s still in the canon.

  47. JoelG says:

    Unfortunately some in the Church can be some of the most insensitive jerks on the planet. And they do it in Jesus’ name, which makes it worse. It’s good to remember that for every holy jerk there’s many more Christians who quietly go about the business of the Kingdom.

  48. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Whatever happened to those great evangelical bumper sticker scriptures “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven” and the one that keeps evangelicalism alive, “Be patient God isn’t finished with me yet.” LOL 🙂

  49. JoelG says:

    Unfortunately Michael gets to hear the worst the Church has to offer and that can begin to weigh hard on one’s faith. My point is theirs a lot of Spirit led good stuff out there that we will not hear about and it’s good to remember that when working in the sewage.

    We all can be jerks. I can be the worst kind. And when I realize it I pray God helps me to apologize and repent.

  50. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I just think it is funny that the church – we here at the blog, would complain about other christians ‘not doing it right’ while wearing our ‘be patient’ T shirt and driving around in our cars with our ‘not perfect’ bumper sticker.

  51. Xenia says:

    There’s nothing I can do about the church across the country but there is plenty I can do about my own small parish and most of what needs to be done involves my own poor attitude.

  52. Xenia says:

    So rather than complaining that “the church,” whatever that means, is corrupt, carnal, mean-spirited, etc. I should look to the people of my own parish and realize these are the people among who God intends me to work out my salvation.

    What is the point of loving my neighbor if I don’t begin with these people?
    What is the point of turning the other cheek if I don’t start with my fellow parishioners?
    What does “Love covers a multitude of sin” signify if I don’t apply it to my own parish?*

    *(Not talking about criminal acts.)

  53. Michael says:

    After 30 years in the church and 16 years on this blog, I’m still surprised and shocked at what goes on behind the scenes of some organizations.

    This stuff affects the people in the pews and the perception of the church as a whole.

    We all should care and we all should hope for better.

  54. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    and here I thought we were talking about the snarky comments about Hawking’s eternal destiny – and showing grace. I din’t know we did a Morningstar crossover. 🙂

  55. Xenia says:

    That fact is, if Dr. Hawking continued in his disbelief to his final breath, he is in hell now.

    He was an anti-christ. No need to crow about it, but that’s the fact of the matter.

    This is part of the Christian message, folks.

  56. Michael says:

    I believe it was Spurgeon who said we should never preach about hell without tears in our eyes.
    I think Spurgeon was on to something…

  57. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Xenia – I agree and I also think it is a time to witness to the reality of death apart from Christ to all those who see all the FB memes showing Hawking standing from his wheelchair and being greeted into heaven.

  58. Xenia says:

    There was much about Dr. Hawking that should bring tears to people’s eyes.

  59. Jean says:

    When Paul preached before the wisest men of his time, his sermon ended with this:

    “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.

  60. John 20:29 says:

    #56 amen and #52 amen
    lately it seems clear to me that what is lacking in our understanding of God is what the term holy means when applied to the Creator of this universe and, perhaps, beyond?
    #50 i don’t think i would mock the thot, the request, for patience as God works on me…
    what is sadly not quite on target is the use of that thot as a reason not to care very much about my behavior as “I’m only human” … well, if you are one of the Redeemed, you are a new specie of human with responsibilities as well as rights and privileges
    or so it seems to me…
    #s55, 56 & 57 amen… as best God has revealed it to us we can come to no other conclusion

  61. JoelG says:

    #56 ^^^

  62. John 20:29 says:

    i find it a ponder that the doctors gave Hawking 2 years to live when the man was in his 20s and, yet, he persevered on to reach, i believe, age 77! i hope whoever writes his biography does justice to this amazing will to live, to think – perhaps, God means his life to be spotlighted for human kind to consider… there is much to ponder IMHO

    here’s one: can our determination to survive ever separate us from God?

  63. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    em – how can you hold those opposing thoughts?
    Either God has done the work in you and created you as the new species, or because you are just human, you still need constant molding? You can’t hold both.
    Question – why does the new species sin just like the old ‘human’ specie sinned?

  64. Xenia says:

    Or Em, God in his great mercy granted him 50 extra years to repent.

  65. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    or, the doctors were wrong.

  66. Michael says:

    Lets say for the sake of argument that the traditional view on hell is correct.

    The sheer weight of that truth should be such that it should be difficult to even speak of it in holy fear and terror for those who pass on without Christ.

    It should engender nothing but utter humility and gratitude that for some reason we’ve been saved when others not only perished,but entered eternal torment.

    It should make evangelism the overwhelming priority of the church.

    I will forgo any cynical commentary beyond that…

  67. Xenia says:

    Lets say for the sake of argument that the traditional view on hell is correct.<<<

    Yes, let us say this.

  68. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    ” that for some reason we’ve been saved when others not only perished,but entered eternal torment.”

    The scriptures are very clear, those who go to hell are those who do not worship the Lamb who was slain but do indeed worship the beast (yes that is a present day reality).

  69. John 20:29 says:

    I think we can look at lives like Hawkins and draw lessons … But he isnt an example for us to follow as it would be a rare person who could do what he did…. Of course God does not lose a single one of the sheep who will hear His call – HIS sheep

    It is stated that God hates pride and pride isnt always expressed in terms of “i’m better than you” Satan only saw himself as equal to the most high God…
    If we say as Hawking did, that what God has, in grace, revealed to us is not sufficient to convince us of who and what our Creator is, that is presumptive pride talking (maybe Hawking missed the book of Job)

    #63 – it is our differing view of the new birth that makes your deckaration and questionn moot

  70. John 20:29 says:

    #64 – Xenia, yes that is a possibility and would indicate that a believing someone somewhere was praying for his soul, i think

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