We are encouraged and enlightened

Know Jesus, no hell

Jim Henkell cites himself as an unusual place he’s found God.
  • Jim Henkell cites himself as an unusual place he’s found God.

St. Paul’s Lutheran Church

1376 Felspar Street, Pacific Beach

Membership: 500

Pastor: Jim Henkell

Age: 42

Born: Chicago

Formation: Concordia University, Irvine; Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO

Years Ordained: 17

SDR: How long do you spend writing your sermon?

Pastor Jim Henkell: We tend to preach in sermon series. We just finished a sermon series entitled “The Devil’s in the Details,” which talked about different parts of the Bible that don’t get highlighted, relative to the devil. Each sermon takes about five hours to prepare. They are very much preaching rather than teaching sermons. I certainly exegete the text but teach it in an applicable manner to people’s lives with law and Gospels.

SDR: What is your favorite subject on which to preach?

PH: Without a doubt, I love to preach about Jesus. It’s something that seems so simple, but maybe it’s something people take for granted. I preach all different parts of the Bible, but in reality every part of the Bible directs us toward Jesus and everything he’s done for us. And it’s not so much Jesus as teacher or example, but especially Jesus as savior.

SDR: What’s your main concern as a member of the clergy?

PH: The balance between the law and the Gospel is so important. The Bible has both law and the Gospel, but among believers and what I’ll call pre-believers, the law tends to get emphasized — the things we should do for God, the ways in which we need to please him, or the manner we should live in response to God. On the other hand, there’s the emphasis on the Gospel and all the things God does for us. When you emphasize the law, it becomes too much about us and people find themselves disillusioned or disappointed in things that are going on. When the emphasis is on God, we are encouraged and enlightened.

SDR: Why did you become a minister?

PH: It’s something God put on my heart when I was very young, even by the time I was in the third grade. It was really a thought of eternity: the things we experience for eternity are going to be much more significant than the things we experience here on Earth. So, I was moved by God to help people prepare for eternity. As meaningful as the things of Earth are, they really don’t compare.

SDR: Where is the strangest place you ever found God?

SDR: My initial thoughts are about finding God at a prison or a boardroom, but the most unusual place I found God was in me. The Bible teaches that when we are baptized the Holy Spirit dwells in us. I know the thoughts I have that I shouldn’t have, or the words I say that I regret, or the things I’ve done which are sinful, and that God dwells in me, loves me and forgives me anyway — this fact makes myself probably the most unusual place that I can think of God being.

SDR: Where do you go when you die?

PH: Those who are united with Jesus by faith remain united with him for eternity. That’s probably the best description of heaven that the Bible gives us — we are with Jesus and with that come all the blessings of Jesus. Those who are separated from Jesus without faith are separated from him for all eternity and have the suffering that is part of that separation — and that’s probably the best description of hell that the Bible gives us.

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My way is the only way and your way leads to hell, oh and by the way God needs your money (which I will manage for him). "God told me . . . " is what many nut cases say after they commit a heinous crime.

"...in reality every part of the Bible directs us toward Jesus and everything he’s done for us." Every part? Uh, those who follow the Old Testament wouldn't agree with that statement.

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