The Faith of our Father

Rom 4:1-12

(Gen 15:1-6; Ps 119:65-72; Mark 7:1-8)

INTRODUCTION

In most of the first three chapters of Romans Paul concentrates on persuading his readers that since we are all under power of sin a right relationship with God is impossible by any human means.

Then towards the end of chapter 3 he explains the good news of how God has provided a way to be right with him through the sacrifice of Christ (21-26).

Suddenly at the start of Romans 4 he shifts the focus to the life of Abraham. This shift would not surprise a large part of his audience. Talking to a lady on a plane last week she described a conversation she overheard at the Jewish museum in Melbourne. A group of schoolchildren were visiting and at one point the tour guide asked, “Who is the leader of the Jews?” one of the kids replied, “Jesus”. To which the guide said, “Jesus was a Jew but our leader is Abraham.” For the Jews Abraham is the turning point in human history, to be descended from the great Abraham is counted as an immeasurable privilege. Paul upholds the significance of Abraham but in a bold counter stroke against those who see “doing things” as a way to gain acceptance by God shows that Abraham’s fatherhood is one of faith.

EXPOSITION

vv.1-2

vs.1What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh?  vs.2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.

What was gained by Abraham” is a question about the cause of Abraham’s friendship with God (2 Chronicles 20:7 ESV; Isaiah 41:8 ESV cf. James 2:23 ESV). If Abraham pleased God by what he did then salvation by not by faith alone. Paul out-rightly rejects the possibility that anyone, even the great Abraham, could be confident before God on the basis of what they had done. To prove this point he quotes from one of the most crucial passages of the whole Bible (cf. vv. 9, 22; Gal. 3:6 ESV; James 2:23 ESV).

vs.3For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”

After waiting decades for God to fulfil his promise of giving him a son and heir, when he and Sarah are very old, the LORD speaks again to the patriarch in a vision saying, “Fear not(Gen 15:1 ESV) then shows him all the stars in the sky and promises his descendants shall be more numerous than them all.

Then we are told “he believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”” In a situation that was humanly impossible when understood he could contribute nothing to change things Abraham exercised a whole-hearted trust in God’s promise. This is true faith, to acknowledge you can’t do anything to be saved and it’s all up the Lord.

Arrogant human beings, which are all of us, hate the humbling power of the free grace of God. The Jews twisted the story in Genesis to say God accepted Abraham because of his great faith. Instead of God graciously treating his faith as righteousness Abraham’s faith earned him merit with God.

Christian people commonly think about the things of God in this slanderous way. I remember listening in on a conversation about rewards in heaven when someone remarked they couldn’t expect to be as close to God as Abraham. What’s wrong with this way of thinking is that our understanding about God’s ways has shifted to moral/spiritual self-evaluation. We so readily leave out of our understanding the only one who is the centre of understanding of all the things of God…. Jesus (Col 2:3 ESV)!

Hudson Taylor rightly said, “You do not need a great faith, but faith in a great God.” And the greatness of God is revealed to us in what Jesus has done to save us.

vs.4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. vs.5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,

If you earn salvation by what you do then it is not a gift. But the gospel offers eternal life as what Paul repeatedly calls a “free gift(Rom 5:15-17 ESV; Rom 6:23 ESV).

Perhaps you are someone, like lots of other people, who get embarrassed, or suspicious, when offered something for nothing?

Do you know that being right with God is the gift of everything when you have done nothing to deserve it?

To accept this brings a comfort that is immeasurable a gratitude that is illimitable and an assurance of eternal life that’s unshakeable.

Paul says Abraham had a faith which was “reckoned/counted” by God as righteousness.

This was a gracious undeserved divine decision whereby Abraham was legally declared “not guilty(cf. Lev 7:8 ESV; Lev 17:4 ESV).

Paul proceeds to say something which must have scandalised many of his Jewish readers, God “justifies the ungodly/wicked(Rom 4:5 ESV).

The Lord had categorically said in the Old Testament, “I will not acquit the wicked(Ex 23:7 ESV cf. Ex 34:7 ESV). Here we are told that beyond any legal reckoning, even God’s, “the wicked” are accepted through faith; this includes Abraham and anyone else. Paul presses on to highlight the benefits of righteousness through faith by referring to a notorious Old Testament sinner.

vs.6 David…speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: vs.7 Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; vs.8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.

In Psalm 32 David records his life was in a state of misery, “when I refused to confess my sin, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.” (v.3), then by faith he entered into a state of blessedness through being forgiven. As a forgiven sinner David revelled in the restoration of his relationship with God because when his sin was covered he knew he would not be punished for his rebellious acts.

Forgiveness and justification are powerful transforming events.

After sharing at a meeting the other week I was given a book about a man who after coming from a humble background, living with deafness and losing a daughter in infancy went on to establish an international network of Christian businessmen (FGBMFI).

This is the book and you can see the title. Here is his testimony, “no matter the condition of the world around us, we will be the happiest people on earth.” (Demos Shekarian).

The gospel message of full free and unconditional forgiveness is at the heart of such happiness. What is our problem if we don’t look like the happiest people on earth? ….. We don’t have faith in the gospel.

The rabbis of Paul’s day taught that submission to circumcision was a condition to being forgiven and blessed by God. Paul however pronounces (vv.9-12) that the faith-based blessing Abraham enjoyed in being right with God came years before he was circumcised. Circumcision, as with baptism in the new covenant, was a sign of being already in a great relationship with God.

CONCLUSION

If you have never been offended by the gospel you have probably never understood its truly revolutionary nature (cf. Rom 6:1 ESV). That God “justifies the ungodly/wicked” (4:5) is offensive to our natural moral sense.

It really is very difficult to live by faith alone without taking things into our own hands. In the very next chapter of Genesis after God has declared him righteous through faith Abraham felt he had to do something to make God’s promise come true.

He went and had a son, Ishmael, by his Sarah’s slave girl. His unbelief has proved disastrous for human history. Have you ever wondered why Muslims hate Israel so much?

It’s because in their version of the story its Ishmael not Isaac who’s the child of promise and through Mohammed a descendent of Ishmael God’s promise that Abraham was to be the father of many nations has come true.

This however isn’t the main point. Whether it’s the ungodliness of Abraham or of David their sin did not cause God to change him mind about his relationship with them.

For when they believed all their sins were forgiven, including his future ones. No-one in the Bible is ever said to be “unjustified”. But these marvellous truths don’t fit together unless we bring Jesus front and centre into the picture.

Martin Luther famously said a Christian is “at the same time righteous and a sinner”/simul justus et peccator”. This is because the sin belongs to us and the righteousness reckoned to us by faith belongs to Jesus (1 Cor 1:30 ESV; 2 Cor 5:21 ESV).

Some people feel the need to say about themselves, “I’m not a bad person.” This may very well be true of most people but it is irrelevant to how God saves.In preaching last week Dale brought up the example of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin as someone who could have been forgiven, if they asked. When in was in Uganda some years ago one of the local Christian leaders talked about his conversation with a high ranking soldier from Liberia.

He used to have 7 year old boys picked up off the streets, killed, cooked and their body parts fed to his soldiers. In coming to Christ this man became as righteous in the sight of God, as Abraham, as David, as Paul, and if you understand the gospel, as righteous as Jesus.

Isaiah 1:18 (NIV)
18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,”
says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.

All insane to ordinary human thinking but put in proper perspective by the way Paul concludes Romans 4; vs.23And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded vs.24 for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.vs.25 He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God.” (Rom 4:23-25 ESV). The righteous loving death and resurrection of Jesus completely covers any sin any person could ever commit so that anyone who puts their trust in Christ is made completely right with God.

If you’re lacking assurance with God, if you are not 100% sure you have eternal life, if you are experiencing spiritual dryness, dissatisfaction and distance between you and God, or struggle with guilt then your foundational problem is clear.

Stop trying to do things, anything, to win acceptance with God. Turn to Christ and trust exclusively in his sacrifice.

Then your spiritual state will be unshakeable and knowing sins forgiven will have a blessedness that is inexpressible. LET US PRAY. 

MESSAGE DELIVERED: 26th August, 2018

Author: Dr. John Yates

MESSAGE YouTube or PODCAST: N/A

What in Hell : Would you Want?

by Rev Gary Green
Four Corner Ministries

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ETERNITY IN HELL IS A LONG TIME!

What did Jesus say would be the punishment of unrepentant sinners?
Mark 9:43- 44
And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.

Metaphoric in nature Jesus was contrasting how awful Hell was and awful as cutting your hand off is Hells worse by a far greater measure

Unrighteous will be punished by being put into ‘Hell’

punishment-hellHere Jesus plainly states that the unrighteous will be punished by being put into “hell,” which He describes as a fire that will not be quenched.

In this scripture, the word “hell” in the Greek is (geenna) Spoken as (gheh’-en-nah) This word means “Valley of Hinnom,” a valley on the south side of Jerusalem where refuse was continually burned.

Jesus used this area as a type of the place where the wicked will receive their final punishment.

What is the fate of the wicked?

The Bible describes the “hellfire” into which the wicked will be cast as a lake of burning fire and brimstone. Some have pictured this Lake of Fire to be like an active volcano spewing out molten rock. Into such a fiery liquid the incorrigible will be thrown.

Will the wicked be cast into the Lake of Fire?

Matthew 13:41-50

41 The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, 42 and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

The Parable of the Hidden Treasure
44 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price
45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, 46 who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

The Parable of the Dragnet
47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, 48 which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, 50 and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” 


The ultimate fate of the wicked will be the same as the Devils
Revelation 20:6-15

6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.

Satanic Rebellion Crushed
7 Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. 9 They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. 10 The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

The Great White Throne Judgment
11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

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How do I obtain Salvation

by Rev Gary Green
Four Corner Ministries

What is the first thing we must do to obtain salvation?

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John 3:18

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

John 20:31

But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Romans 6:8

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

John 8:24

I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.”

Acts 16:31
They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved–you and your household.”

Romans 10:9 – 10
That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.


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BELIEVE »and» CONFESS
Read the prayer   and Pray the Prayer to God
      »   The Prayer         «

1 Timothy 1:16

But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.

1 John 5:13
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

John 1:12 – 13
Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

Our first step is to believe the message of Jesus Christ; the second is to embrace the message as being for you personally; and thirdly, following actions of changing life directions towards God and living according to His ways must follow. The Bible describes this in the word (repent) from sin. Belief without corresponding actions is purely mental accent, an academic position, the biblical impact of believe will compel the “believer to act or react” to sin, the desire to disobey God should no longer be part of the believers life, in fact the consequence of becoming a believer is a desire to obey.

Can salvation be obtained by simply repenting and deciding to obey God’s laws?

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Romans 3:20-24
Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.

This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Keeping the law will not make us righteous in his sight (God’s) if the Law was able to do that then what point would there be for God to send His only Son to be crucified on the cross for our sin?

(Jesus said believe that I am the one I claim to be)
click here for what the salvation prayer is

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What is God offering to Save us from ?

by Rev Gary Green
Four Corner Ministries

 

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What does God offer to save us from? “Eternal Death”

Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

John 3:15
That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

 

Therefore, salvation is process of us being delivered from the consequences of sin and receiving the gift of eternal life

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The consequences of Sin

by Rev Gary Green
Four Corner Ministries

 

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What are the consequences of sin?
 

(Romans 6: 23) For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

A wage would indicate payment for work, the pay packet being Death (separation from God); this is what we “earn” because of our missing the mark (sin).

 

SalaryandWages

Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. and

John 3:15
That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

Therefore, salvation is process of us being delivered from the consequences of sin and receiving the gift of eternal life

 

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Who needs to be saved

by Rev Gary Green
Four Corner Ministries

 

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Who needs to be saved from sin’s penalty?

(Romans 3: 23)

sin-crowd

Well lets read (Romans 3: 23)

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.

ALL; does not leave anyone out so we can safely say you and I do.

There are some very clear guidelines within the Old and New Testament. Laying out for mankind the benchmarks (base lines), which mankind should conduct their life by – they are absolutes from God, Boundaries set by God Almighty, to live outside of these is sin, then there is the personal instructions God may give to and individual whilst on the journey of life here on earth, to disregard these would be sin. I.e. missing the mark God has set for you as an individual.

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What is Sin

by Rev Gary Green
Four Corner Ministries

The word “sinned” in Romans in the Greek is “hamartano” and is spoken as (ham-ar-tan’-o; perh); meaning to “miss the mark (and so not share in the prize).”
Imagine if you are an archer, you shoot your arrow at the bull’s eye; you either hit it or miss it. Well, that’s what it is to sin, God has set the standard of life which by man can be right with him, and no one has hit the bull’s eye.

There are some very clear guidelines within the Old and New Testament.

 

Laying out for mankind the benchmarks (base lines)
 

which mankind should conduct their life by. They are
 

absolutes from God,
 

To live outside of these Boundaries set by God
 

Almighty, is sin!
 

Then there are the personal instructions God may give
 

to an individual whilst on the journey of life here on
 

earth.
 

To disregard these would be sin.
 

i.e. Missing the mark God has set for you as an individual.

Romans 3:23
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.

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What is Salvation? How can I be Saved?

by Rev Gary Green
Four Corner Ministries

 

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HOW WE ARE SAVED

“Brother, are you saved?” may have been a question you have been asked by fundamentalist-bible-believing Christians. I think it would better if we asked a question that explained  

precisely what we mean by “being saved.” For many this would present a challenge. As you read through the article below, it is our intention to enable you to know how to ask the question in a manner the listener will understand correctly – what “saved” or “salvation” means.

Despite the different teachings of various churches, the only place where we can find the correct answers is the Bible. Only God Himself can provide the truth about this subject; so in this study we will attempt to determine from God’s own Word what salvation is and how to obtain it.

Our first step is to believe the message of Jesus Christ; the second is to embrace the message as being for you personally; and thirdly, following actions of changing life directions towards God and living according to His ways must follow.

The Bible describes this in the word (repent) from sin. Belief without corresponding actions is purely mental accent, an academic position, the biblical impact of believe will compel the “believer to act or react” to sin, the desire to disobey God should no longer be part of the believers life, in fact the consequence of becoming a believer is a desire to obey.

Can salvation be obtained by simply repenting and deciding to obey God’s laws?

Romans 3:20-24
Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Keeping the law will not make us righteous in his sight (God’s) if the Law was able to do that then what point would there be for God to send His only Son to be crucified on the cross for our sin?

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Origins of the word Hell?

by Rev Gary Green
Four Corner Ministries

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DO YOU REALLY WANT WHAT IS HERE?

Revelation 21:8
But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.

Words in the Bible translated as

Hell

The words:

» “sheol” (Hebrew)

» “hades” (Greek)

» “gehenna” (Greek, from Hebrew)

» “Tartarus”(Greek)

Greek hades derives from the same Indo-European root as English hell, which in pre-Christian polytheism was the gloomy place of the dead and often of torment. Gehenna is the inferno, a place of eternal destruction. Tartaros is the abyss, the lowest part of hell reserved for fallen angels.

The Greek words “Hades” and “Gehenna” are both translated into the word “hell,” though the concepts are dissimilar. Martin Luther, for example, translated the word “Hades” five times as the German word for “hell” (Hölle) (for example Matthew 16:18), and twice as “the dead,” twice as the “world of the dead,” and once as “his kingdom” (all in German). “Gehenna” was translated by Martin Luther eight times as “hell” (for example: Matthew 5:22,29,30; Matthew 18:9; Mark 9:43,45; and so on)and four times as “hellish.” In Norse mythology the underworld was a cold, monotonous place, which was commanded by the goddess Hel. The place was called Hel, too.

Newer translations of the Bible translate “Hades” or “Sheol” into the words “world of dead,” “underworld,” “grave,” “crypt” or similar, but still translate the word “Gehenna” into the word “hell.”

The word “Hades” of the New Testament is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word “Sheol” of the Old Testament (Acts 2:27; Psalms 16:10). What happens in Hades, or rather Sheol, Ecclesiastes tells us: “for in the Sheol, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.” (Ecclesiastes 9,10) and “For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even the memory of them is forgotten.” (Ecclesiastes 9:5; see also Psalms 89:49; Psalms 139:8; Numbers 16:30). “The Lord brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the Sheol and raises up.” (1 Samuel 2:6).

Geenna (or Gehenna) was an earthly place used as a metaphor for the eternal destruction of evil. It comes from Hebrew and means “Gorge of Hinnom (Ge-Hinnom).” This gorge can still be visited today near Jerusalem. In the time of the Old Testament it was a place where children were sacrificed to the Ammonite god Molech (2 Kings 23:10).

That cultic practice was, according to the Old Testament, imitated by King Solomon in the 10th Century B.C.E. and under the leadership of king Manasseh in the 7th Century B.C.E. and in times of crisis until the time of exile of the Jews in Babylon (6th Century B.C.E.). The prophet Jeremiah, who condemned that cult strictly, called the valley the “gorge of killing”(Jeremiah 7:31-32; Jeremiah 19:5-9).

Gehenna became later a central garbage dump, to stop the practice of child sacrifice. At the turn of the 1st Century C.E. the gorge was used also to burn the dead bodies of criminals after their execution. The image of burning dead bodies probably inspired Jewish, and later Christian theologians to translate that place into the word “hell.”

The sea of fire after the last tribunal in Revelation 20:14 isn’t translated into the word “hell,” but sometimes gets the connotations of “hell.” In that sea of fire are thrown the beast, the devil, the false prophet, and Hell (Hades) itself, along with evil-doers, according to Revelation 20:12-15.

In 2 Peter 2:4 a deep, dark dungeon reserved for certain fallen angels is referred to as Tartarus and often translated as hell.

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Other terms

Perdition” (roughly “loss“) can refer to the loss of the soul or to hell itself, where “lost souls” are punished. Those who aren’t “saved” by Christ are said to be lost.

Inferno” (from Latin “lower” or “underground“) sometimes means hell but is now used more often to refer to fiery destruction in general than hell in particular.

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