Here’s the latest: I tripped and fell the other night inside my mom’s house in Akron, Ohio (my hometown) and broke my clavicle in half. I am in super-pain (the prescribed Vicodin is a life-saver but still can’t cut through enough) and won’t know for another week yet whether I will need surgery or not. The big scare is I don’t have insurance (understatement). I was told by the E.R. at St. Thomas that the x-rays confirmed a nasty break
My arm is in a sling and it’s uncomfortable typing as I sit upright in an old adjustable CraftMatic bed (dating way back from when my grandmother was sick in bed) with my IBM ThinkPad on my lap. Looking back at me from my convalescing spot is a framed black-and-white portrait photo of me on the dresser from when I was a new-born in 1964. I looked like the happiest baby in my little silk dress and bald head!
I arrived here in northeastern Ohio one week ago after learning my step-dad, Richard M. Stewart, went home to be with the Lord just two days shy of his 88th birthday. His weakened heart finally gave out on him. He had been my mom’s steady companion since 1994 and Ronnie & Nancy had nothing on them as a couple.
The funeral was packed with some of Akron’s most successful people and thankfully I was a huge hit with my four-page eulogy I put together on behalf of my side of the family. Dick, a tail gunner on a B-17 in WWII, was a prominent trial lawyer in town and founded the Akron Tennis and Swim Club among many other community involvements.
The best news I had to remind everyone of—including at the funeral—was Dick got saved several years before his death. In 2004, I put Oscar Woodall in touch with Dick over the phone about nine months before Oscar’s death and the two were instant buddies. They had much in common—same age range, Scottish-Irish, war vets, Florida beach bums, lovers of country and family, on and on.
The key to the relationship was Dick KNEW Oscar was genuine in his desire to help Dick (who was raised Catholic) solve his issues regarding the God of the Bible. He also had a rebuttal for every argument Dick threw at him. Through dealing with people about their salvation for so many years, Oscar had an absolutely impressive “arsenal.” I miss him and I will certainly miss Dick, who was like a second father to me in some key ways.
When Jesus Christ assured the thief on the Cross, ‘Today thou shalt be with me in paradise,” he was referring to the paradise side of hell, which at the time was located in the heart of the earth.
King David was a saved man, and yet in the psalmist (Peter quotes it in Acts 2), he talks about how “thou wilt not leave my soul in hell.” How is it a saved man could go to hell in time past? Because hell, the place where dead people went, had two compartments: a torment side and a paradise side.
Paradise today is in the third heaven; it’s no longer in the heart of the earth. What’s left in hell now is just the torment side. That’s why in Isaiah 14, it says “hell hath enlarged herself.” She’s taken over the rest of the place because the paradise side’s gone. The only people who go to hell today—in the current “but now” dispensation and the ages to come—are lost people.
“Jesus said ‘he that believeth not is condemned already,’ ” explains Jordan. “You don’t die and then face God to see whether you’re saved or not; whether you’re justified or not. You were already lost.
“Hell is like a jail. When a person is found guilty in court, you send them to jail and then, in a period of time, there is a sentencing hearing. The sentencing hearing for a lost man is the Great White Throne Judgment.
“At the Great White Throne Judgment, death and hell and the sea give up the dead that are in them and they stand before God and then all those that are not found in the lamb’s book of life go to the Big House—the lake of fire.
“Hell is like the holding place for condemned people until their sentencing and you’re sent out to the lake of fire. The idea of making it ‘Hades’; well, that’s just trying to water down the reality and it’s not necessary.
“When people talk about well the word should be Gahanna or Tarturus, I know what the Greek words are; I understand the different terminology, but they’re all still talking about a holding place. You’re talking about different compartments; you know, like the bottomless pit, but you’re still talking about hell, the confining place, and then all of that is cast into the lake of fire.
“The Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross didn’t need to go to jail to redeem you. He needed to go to the lake of fire. You see, what he suffered for you wasn’t just the place you’re going to be held between the time you’re condemned and you’re sentenced (if you’re lost). He took the Big House for you! The lake of fire is the second death. Revelation 21:8 defines it that way.”