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The Origin of Turn or Burn

Hell, fire and brimstone sermons were a common occurrence within churches in Europe and the United States during the 18th and 19th centuries. Some of these messages are in connection with the first and second great awakenings. When I grew up in the 1970’s, the church didn’t know how to handle the drugs, sex and rock and roll of the 1960’s. Subsequently, pastors began to respond to this moral decay in 1975 through their own verson of hell, fire and brimstone messages. However, one of the regular expressions I remember as a child was “turn or burn.”

For if we go on deliberately and willingly sinning after once acquiring the knowledge of the Truth, there is no longer any sacrifice left to atone for [our] sins [no further offering to which to look forward]. 27 [There is nothing left for us then] but a kind of awful and fearful prospect and expectation of divine judgment and the fury of burning wrath and indignation which will consume those who put themselves in opposition [to God], Hebrews 10:26-27.

This is the origin of turn or burn, scaring the hell out of anyone with a conscience. From my earliest recollections as a child, preachers would give altar calls nearly every week, with frightful teenagers running up front Sunday after Sunday. Fortunately for me, our Catholic Church started holding a special mass for young children in the basement which sheltered me Turn or Burn sermons. When pulpits forget how to share the gospel in a graceful and loving manner, people begin to leave the church which is what started happened in the United States at this time.

He too shall [have to] drink of the wine of God’s indignation and wrath, poured undiluted into the cup of His anger; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no respite (no pause, no intermission, no rest, no peace) day or night—these who pay homage to the beast and to his image and whoever receives the stamp of his name upon him, Revelation 14:10-11.

Last week, I was reminded of this Turn or Burn history within the church after reading the above passage. The context of this verse occurs in the end of days when the Anti-Christ is ushered into power and persuades the world to turn their worship away from God and toward him. Anyone who receives the stamp of the beast (666) on their hand or forehead will be banished to hell for eternity. This is a topic that most churches skip today to keep members of their congregation happy. Yet may today’s blog urge you to repent and make a U-turn back to God so your future fate is secure.

by Jay Mankus

The Shaft to the Abyss

Half of the Gospel of John is devoted to the events of Passion Week: Jesus’ final week on earth. In the passage below, Jesus drops a hint about Good Friday and Easter Sunday. A first century doctor either interviewed Jesus following his resurrection or had a vision of Jesus’ trip to Hades, Acts 2:31. Paul devotes 1 Corinthians 15 to explaining the significance of Jesus conquering death via his resurrection.

In My Father’s house there are many dwelling places (homes). If it were not so, I would have told you; for I am going away to prepare a place for you. And when (if) I go and make ready a place for you, I will come back again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also. And [to the place] where I am going, you know the way, John 14:2-4.

Jesus doesn’t explain how He was able to visit the Abyss which John uses to describe hell. Yet, during one vision, John sees a shaft open up momentarily to unveil this bottomless pit. As soon as the fifth angel in heaven blew his trumpet, the shaft to the Abyss opened to reveal a glimpse of hell. Out of this shaft came a plume of smoke like a modern-day industrial plant polluting the sky above.

Then the fifth angel blew [his] trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth; and to the angel was given the key [a]of the shaft of the Abyss (the bottomless pit). He opened the [b]long shaft of the Abyss (the bottomless pit), and smoke like the smoke of a huge furnace puffed out of the [c]long shaft, so that the sun and the atmosphere were darkened by the smoke from the long shaft, Revelation 9:1-2.

Hell is one of those topics which rarely comes up at a funeral. To avoid depressing family and friends, heaven is brought up to bring comfort to those in audience. Yet, when you consider Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:13-14, few people follow the less traveled road. Therefore, may this blog cause you to consider the shaft of the Abyss. May the fear of death scare people straight toward eternal life.

by Jay Mankus

It’s as Hot as Hell Out There

In my first summer as a South Carolina resident, I have endured a drought in June and severe thunderstorms in July. However, as August is about to begin, temperatures are expected to reach triple digits. When you add in the extreme humidity, some may suggest “it’s as hot as hell outside.” This idiom comes from an ancient proverb comparing the Bible’s description of hell with hot summer days.

Then He will say to those at His left hand, Begone from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels! – Matthew 25:41

One chapter in the Gospels is devoted to what heaven will be like, Matthew 25. Yet, on the other side of heaven is hell. Jesus describes hell as a place of eternal punishment for those who were kicked out of heaven, Isaiah 14:12. This cursed destination is unlike any summer heatwave on earth. Like an active volcano, there is a river of fire which is filled with brimstone and Sulphur.

Then the fifth angel blew [his] trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth; and to the angel was given the key [a]of the shaft of the Abyss (the bottomless pit). He opened the [b]long shaft of the Abyss (the bottomless pit), and smoke like the smoke of a huge furnace puffed out of the [c]long shaft, so that the sun and the atmosphere were darkened by the smoke from the long shaft, Revelation 9:1-2.

One of Jesus’ former disciples has a vision of what hell will be like. While looking through a shaft, John sees a bottomless pit. Based upon the description in the passage above, hell is like working in an old coal mine except you can’t leave. As for now, heatwaves will continue until September. While it’s never a pleasant experience to be drenched in sweat, make the best of summer until the cool winds of fall arrive.

by Jay Mankus

The Devil and Karl Marx

A decade before writing his Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx wrote the following in a 1837 poem. “Thus Heaven I’ve forfeited, I know it full well. My soul, once true to God, is chosen for Hell.” Based upon Marx’s own words, the evils wrought by his oppressive ideology and theory caused Karl to part ways with God. When you add up all of the total carnage, Marx’s Communism has led to the deaths of over 100 million souls. Perhaps, some where along the way, Karl teamed up with the Father of Lies.

You are of your father, the devil, and it is your will to practice the lusts and gratify the desires [which are characteristic] of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a falsehood, he speaks what is natural to him, for he is a liar [himself] and the father of lies and of all that is false, John 8:44.

While studying the past, professor Paul Kengor was inspired to craft The Devil and Karl Marx: Communism’s Long March of Death, Deception, and Infiltration. Michael Knowles writes in the foreword “few others writing today who use terms such as collectivism and individualism only take this debate so far. Ultimately the fight comes down to spiritual warfare: good versus evil.” Kengor’s book details the clash of the modern, devilish forces of socialism and communism. You won’t get this in public or higher education.

In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him]; draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provides]. 11 Put on God’s whole armor [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil. 12 For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere, Ephesians 6:10-12.

During the first century, the apostle Paul’s eyes were opened to the spiritual realm, recognizing how political and spiritual leaders became pawns of the Devil. If you don’t engage the enemy, spiritual footholds will be seized, Ephesians 4:26-27. Instead of being a helpless spectator, watching your city, state, and country fall apart, put on the full armor of God. When you’re unsure of your next move, pray in the Spirit so that your prayers will provide a hedge of protection for spiritual warriors on the front lines. The future of America is on the line Tuesday, November 3rd. Your vote may be the difference from keeping the Devil and Marxism from taking over.

by Jay Mankus

Forfeiting Your Benefits

Forfeit refers to losing or being deprived of a certain right or privilege. As a former athlete and coach, I was given a victory or two due to another team not being able to field enough players for an official game. Yet, as an intramural coach in college, I was forced to forfeit a few games when a number of my teammates failed to show up on time. The Bible contains a couple of examples where Christians come close to forfeiting the benefits of heaven.

For it is impossible [to restore and bring again to repentance] those who have been once for all enlightened, who have consciously tasted the heavenly gift and have become sharers of the Holy Spirit, And have felt how good the Word of God is and the mighty powers of the age and world to come, If they then deviate from the faith and turn away from their allegiance—[it is impossible] to bring them back to repentance, for (because, while, as long as) they nail upon the cross the Son of God afresh [as far as they are concerned] and are holding [Him] up to contempt and shame and public disgrace, Hebrews 6:4-6.

The passage above highlights an individual who has become lukewarm. When spiritual passion fades, subtle compromises tend to follow. Since a name is not provided, I’m assuming that more than one first century Christian began to back slide. The author suggests that this fall was partially due to a convoluted view of God’s grace. Instead of showing on contrite heart followed by acts of transformation, many began to abuse and cheapen God’s grace. This passage serves as the first warning to those living on both sides of the spiritual fence.

For if we go on deliberately and willingly sinning after once acquiring the knowledge of the Truth, there is no longer any sacrifice left to atone for [our] sins [no further offering to which to look forward]. 27 [There is nothing left for us then] but a kind of awful and fearful prospect and expectation of divine judgment and the fury of burning wrath and indignation which will consume those who put themselves in opposition [to God], Hebrews 10:26-27.

The passage above uses imagery from hell to scare wayward believers back on track. The author suggests that some Christians will just squeak into heaven, barely escaping the flames of hell. While many theologians hold the belief, once saved always saved, these two passages in Hebrews reveal different levels of faith. If one of Jesus’ own disciples, Judas Iscariot, ended up in hell, then don’t get too comfortable on earth. Perhaps, this explains Paul’s words to one of his favorite churches, “work out your salvation with fear and trembling,” Philippians 2:12. When you develop a similar mindset, you won’t have to worry about forfeiting the benefits of heaven.

by Jay Mankus

Suffer Now or Suffer Later

Suffer is defined as an experience where you are being subjected to something bad or unpleasant. Affliction, distress, grief, misery, pain, sadness and trauma are byproducts of suffering. While the Bible contains numerous accounts of suffering, the story of Job is unfathomable. Messenger after messenger brought Job news of disaster and tragedy, Job 1:15-19. Raids, a natural disaster and war took away all of his animals and killed his children. A chapter later, God allows Satan to attack Job’s health, filled with boils, similar to an extreme reaction to poison ivy. Despite an urging from his wife, Job did not blame or curse God for his suffering.

Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation. Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us, Romans 5:3-5.

The apostle Paul provides a biblical perspective of suffering in the passage above. While celebrating hardship is the last thing on my mind, Paul attempts to help his readers see the big picture. Suffering for doing the right thing, standing up for the right causes or walking with Jesus is like earning a spiritual merit badge. Meanwhile, even if you endure unexplained tribulations, the process of suffering builds character, endurance and maturity according to Jesus’ earthly brother, James 1:2-4. Thus, suffering now is better than suffering later in hell. Developing this biblical mindset toward suffering will bring a new perspective.

And the beast was seized and overpowered, and with him the false prophet who in his presence had worked wonders and performed miracles by which he led astray those who had accepted or permitted to be placed upon them the stamp (mark) of the beast and those who paid homage and gave divine honors to his statue. Both of them were hurled alive into the fiery lake that burns and blazes with brimstone, Revelation 19:20. Then the devil who had led them astray [deceiving and seducing them] was hurled into the fiery lake of burning brimstone, where the beast and false prophet were; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever (through the ages of the ages), Revelation 20:10.

In the passages above, John shares vivid details of visions of what hell will be like. Revelation 19 suggests that enemies of God will be hurled into a lake of fire alive. The imagery of this suffering is consistent with the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. The wealthy man complains of torment, begging to dip his tongue in cool water. Despite being on fire, death does not occur, resulting in continuous suffering. Meanwhile, Revelation 20 takes this one step further, suffering and torment will occur day after day for ages and ages. After hearing a recent sermon on this topic, I am more convinced than ever to suffer now rather than suffer for eternity.

by Jay Mankus

Going Through Hell

From time to time, I will receive heart breaking news. A car accident ends the life of a teenager, cancer takes another victim or an unforeseen illness takes away a loved one before you have a chance to say goodbye. Anyone who experiences these trials might compare their pain to “going through hell” on earth. Yet, is this an accurate comparison based upon the description of hell in the Bible?

For if we go on deliberately and willingly sinning after once acquiring the knowledge of the Truth, there is no longer any sacrifice left to atone for [our] sins [no further offering to which to look forward], Hebrews 10:26.

The word hell is used 54 times in the original King James Bible. If you dig deeper, there are 4 distinct words in the Bible used to describe aspects of hell: Sheol, Hades, Gehenna, and Tartaroo. Sheol has two different meanings depending on the context, the grave or pit. Hades refers to the physical location of hell, the abode of the spirits of the dead or the underworld. The final two terms focus on the eternal consequences of hell.

[There is nothing left for us then] but a kind of awful and fearful prospect and expectation of divine judgment and the fury of burning wrath and indignation which will consume those who put themselves in opposition [to God], Hebrews 10:27.

Gehenna is a small valley in Jerusalem where some of the kings of Judah in the Old Testament sacrificed their children by fire. A first century doctor uses Gehenna in the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus to describe hell as a place of burning, torment, and misery. Meanwhile, Tartaroo refers to the deepest abyss in hell where the wicked suffer eternal punishment for their wicked deeds committed on earth. Upon further review, may the anguish that you suffer on earth draw you into a personal relationship with Jesus, Romans 10:9-11, so that you current pain is only temporary and not eternal.

by Jay Mankus

Looking Up from Hell

At the end of every year, television networks reflect upon what happened, news worthy events of the year which form a best of list. When a year falls at the end of a decade, this only adds to programming as shows analyze current events of the past year and decade. If you did this for President Trump’s comments or tweets, there aren’t enough days in the year to follow the good, the bad and the ugly. One recent comment got my attention.

Enter through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and spacious and broad is the way that leads away to destruction, and many are those who are entering through it. 14 But the gate is narrow (contracted by pressure) and the way is straitened and compressed that leads away to life, and few are those who find it, Matthew 7:13-14.

During a Trump Rally in December, the president went off script. After being impeached by the House, President Trump told a story about a phone call from the widow of John Dingell, a former congressman from New York. Following this story, Trump couldn’t resist the opportunity to poke fun of a former adversary, suggesting that John Dingell might be looking up from hell instead of down from heaven. This particular comment created a fire storm in the media, making headlines on every cable channel and newspaper. Yet, few members of the media reported the full context, that one of Dingell’s last text before dying wished that President Trump would to go to hell. This doesn’t make Trump’s comment right, but it reveals the full context.

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell, Matthew 10:28.

Most funerals assume that the loved one who died went to heaven. While this is a natural desire, hope and wish, the Bible paints a different picture. Jesus uses the analogy of two paths, a spacious one which many follow and a narrow trail which few find. Thus, if this is true, there are far more souls looking up from hell rather than looking down from heaven. Since you only get one chance, one life on earth, devote 2020 and beyond to following the Way so that your eternal destination will be secured before you die, 1 John 5:13.

by Jay Mankus

Determined to Change the Status Quo

Status quo is a Latin phrase which refers to the existing state of affairs in regard to social or political issues. From a modern perspective, this is similar to the expression”don’t rock the boat” by maintaining the existing social structure and values. During a scene from National Treasure, Benjamin Gates’ father warns his son that unless the status quo changes, their lives will be in danger. Whenever I am pressured to conform to one ideology, mindset or worldview, my creative nature craves to go against the flow, finding a better way by thinking outside the box.

Enter through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and spacious and broad is the way that leads away to destruction, and many are those who are entering through it, Matthew 7:13.

Jesus addresses the status quo during a first century sermon. Jesus uses the analogy of two roads: a super highway and a trail through the woods. The status quo is compared to a broad road, where the popular crowd resides followed by the masses and wanna be accepted. Meanwhile, the less attractive path is narrow, only accessible for one person at a time. Jesus details the eternal destination that awaits based upon the decisions each person makes on earth. Perhaps, Jesus is using fear instill a desire to change the status quo.

But the gate is narrow (contracted by pressure) and the way is straitened and compressed that leads away to life, and few are those who find it, Matthew 7:14.

Thirty five years ago, I was a teenager who recently accepted Jesus to be my personal Lord and Savior. This decision didn’t sit too well with many of my non-believing friends. As I became an active member of my high school’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes, I found comfort and support on the narrow path. Sure, being considered cool and popular by my peers would have been nice, but I was determined to change the status quo. A similar decision today could be compared with committing social suicide. Yet, in the end you have to decide who do you want to please; others or God. As for me and my house, I remain determined to change the status quo.

by Jay Mankus

More than Just a Fright Night

Every October television networks devote their programming to reruns of Halloween and horror themed movies. Meanwhile, local cities, communities and towns use haunted forests, houses and theme parks to prepare individuals for Halloween. The first purpose-built haunted attraction was the Orton and Spooner Ghost House located in Liphook, England. Since this establishment opened in 1915, nearly every region has developed their own Fright Land to scare the hell out of visitors.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control, 2 Timothy 1:7.

Most brains have a memory capacity of about 2.5 petabytes. This is equivalent to 2.6 million gigabytes. To place this fact into its proper perspective, Blu-Ray discs hold roughly 50 gigabytes. This means that the human mind is comparable to a digital television able to store up to 3 million hours of television shows. While this potential is impressive, if minds absorb too many images of horror, pornography or other inappropriate content, this opens the door for unclean spirits to enter your life.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love, 1 John 4:18.

Human minds don’t need an internet connection to be reminded of the unpleasant experiences of their past. All your mind needs is a flashback, a song or some sort of trigger to unleash these haunting memories. Anyone who has ever been abused, raped or fallen prey to pornography have these nightmares seared into their minds. As individuals use horror flicks to get into the mood to celebrate Halloween, it only takes one unwholesome image to inflict a troubled soul. Therefore, as Halloween approaches, be on guard so that this one night of fright doesn’t turn into a lifetime of reliving nightmares.

by Jay Mankus

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