More Gospel

An Uncomfortable Truth

     In general it would seem there are two types of people in this world. There are cup half empty and cup half full people, or sometimes just different outlooks for different days. Often on the days when the cup is half full great pleasure can be taken in knowing heaven is more than just a fire escape from hell. Great joy can be taken in the fact of looking forward to going to heaven. Happiness can be found in looking forward to all the joys heaven has to offer. Joy is in the knowledge of sins forgiven, which is something to be desired and that you can be sure of. Having a desire to go to heaven is a wonderful thing, and is often a good source for searching out God, and his salvation for each one. But the cup half empty days can also add a beneficial perspective, and more often it seems great joy and happiness can be found in knowing that hell can be avoided. The more one might think about hell, and come to the knowledge that God has provided a way of escape from that terrible place, the more gratefully they can be daily knowing such a scary and painful place can be avoided. The next few paragraphs will talk a little about hell, and how you can be sure not wind up there, which is an assurance that can be known today.
     This a topic which many are reluctant to bring up because it can often be a tender subject, but when the Lord was here on earth he talked more about hell then he did about heaven. This shows it is an important topic.
     Hell is a topic which does not seem to come up often, which is why when I stumbled upon someone reading a book on the subject it came as somewhat of a shock to me. Initially it seems like such a negative thing to spend anytime focusing on hell. Hell is not exactly something that most would like to spend a lot, or even any amount of time focusing on. But the more the idea of someone reading a book on such a subject circulates, the more it seems to have value.
     Attention to hell is not such a bad thing. Most people like to keep it far from their mind because it scares them, which is understandable as it is a place of torment which none would enjoy. But avoiding such a topic is not an appropriate way of dealing with it; in fact it’s quite the contrary. Often investigating potential problems, not avoiding them, is the best way to ensure prevention of the problem it’s self.
     Understanding how to avoid dangers is of the utmost importance to many individuals. This point can be easily seen in other places, such as the workplace. There is an increasing amount of time spent on workplace safety in industry today. Often the first question when trying something new or different is: “Is it dangerous?”, or “what are the risks?” In almost every other case people want to be alerted, and have a full understanding of potential problems. Knowing we have sin should beg all these same questions.
     The Bible tells us we should fear God’s judgment, as he will pass judgment for sin. “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” Matthew 10:28. We each have a soul that will live forever long after our bodies die. A concern for where that soul will be is a good thing, and fear of that soul being in hell. Fear comes with negative connotations, and is a thing often wanted to be avoided at all costs. But really all fear is, is recognition of a potential danger. People are scared of dogs and snakes because they bite. Some are scared of horses because they kick. Fear is just seeing a potential danger, which is really not such a bad thing.
     Hell is a danger if you’re not saved, and it’s so important to understand that. But it seems hell is a danger no one likes to hear about. In the world today it seems everyone believes in heaven, and jokes about hell. The radio has an advertisement making jokes about the number 666, or often a joke of Satan. It seems no one wants to think of hell and if they do it’s only to make light of it. This includes me. Like I said my first reaction to someone reading a book on hell was, “why you would want to think about that?” But really this is not a how we respond to danger in other situations. The last thing we do is ignore it.
     Think of a two friends headed for lunch, but for whatever reason in separate vehicles. One has gotten ahead of the other and as he comes around the corner he sees a police officer with a radar trap. Knowing his friend often speeds what does he do? If his friend is speeding he has broken the law and deserves a ticket, but almost everyone in that situation would instinctively call their friend and warn them. Call to tell them to “slow down there’s danger ahead!” It would seem all most everyone in the smallest instant would try and warn their friend about the danger, with out a moments thought. This is no different in the message of the gospel. In fact that is the message of the gospel.
      If unsaved there’s a danger ahead. If you’re in your sins there’s a danger zone ahead and its hell. Like mentioned often no one likes to talk about punishment, and no one likes to think about the consequences of bad actions. But like a speeding friend, it’s best to be warned of danger ahead. It would seem anyone in the situation of being warned of such dangers ahead would be more than happy. Why is this different with hell? Is it not better to know? A good father in punishing his child will often ask the question “what will happen if this happens again?” It’s not a good feeling being reminded of something bad that’s going to come, but knowing the consequences can sure affect how you act and the choices you make.
     The consequence of our sin is hell. Romans 6:23 tell us: “the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The payment for our sin is eternal death. So often, somehow, it seems people feel they’re not bad enough for hell. But the Bible clearly tells us all fall short, Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” And the truth is really that none, myself included, are good enough for heaven. This is the realization that all must come to in order to be saved, the consequence of personal sin, for each individual, is hell. This realization is a scary one. Luke 16 speaks of a man in hell being tormented in flame, begging for a drop of water to cool his tongue. Hell is a place of incredible pain, and it’s not only the pain aspect that’s scary, but the timelessness factor in and of itself. Pain is often bearable if temporary, but hell is immense pain FOREVER.
     BUT, and that’s the beauty of the gospel, the good news that the Bible has is that while hell is one of the worst things to think about, you can have the assurance of not going there. Even though our sin makes us all fall short of God’s standard, God has shown us grace, which is unmerited favor. While we deserve one thing, God has made possible another. While we deserve hell, He has made it possible to be avoided. He sent His Son the Lord Jesus to pay our debt so we don’t have to. John 3:16 tells us: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” It was mentioned earlier how the wages of sin is death, but the second half of that verse is: “BUT the gift of God is eternal life though Jesus Christ his Son.” God has shown the world unmerited favor, and He has sent his Son. If you rely on that, and just reach out and accept God’s gift you can be sure of eternity in heaven. If God has punished His Son and said it is payment enough, then it is! If God in pushing his Son has been satisfied, just take that gift and thank him for it.
    When you step into eternity everything you did in this life, everything you made time for, and everything you wish you made time for ceases to matter. The most important thing is whether you have prepared for eternity and where you’ll spend it. Hell is a destination which can be avoided by faith on God’s Son. May you rely on that even this instant. Rest on the surety of eternal security being offer to you by God. Provision has been made, but like every gift it only becomes yours if you take it.