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Monday, January 18, 2010

Don't Shoot the Messenger

And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28 (New American Standard Version)

One of the hardest parts of being one who strives to rightly divide the word of truth is telling both sides of what God says. That is the dilemma many people in ministry face if they want to truly tell the whole truth and nothing but. Presenting the less than tasty morsels of Scripture is a very difficult and uneasy part of Christian ministry.

While the gospels do show us there is a beautiful Redeemer who has revealed a Heavenly Father full of love and compassion, we are also shown a side of Him that absolutely will have no acceptance of sin or rebellion. His complete holiness will never allow it. So where does that leave those who die in their sin? Those who die in their rebellion against God’s plan of salvation cannot go into His presence but their eternal souls must go somewhere. Then where? Scripture does not teach we become ghosts who walk the earth nor does it teach that we become angels so eternal separation from God of unregenerate men and women would be the only option according to God’s Word. The answer is extremely unpopular yet fully explained in Scripture. I once had a lady where I worked try to bait me in the “How could a God of love send people to hell” argument. She angrily said, “It’s so stupid that a God who is Love could send anyone to hell. There is no hell.” I looked her in the eye and said, “You know, I really hope there is. I’d hate to spend eternity with Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin.” She recoiled with a look of instant shock and understanding and with wide eyes said, “Well, there is no life after death, so I’m not going to worry about it” and got away from me as quickly as she could. I hope my statement stayed with her and gave her pause to consider how important her choice of eternity was. She was overall a very nice lady. I would hate to think of her in that horrifying place.

Speaking of hell isn’t popular or politically correct yet Jesus spoke much of hell and warned of its reality. There’s no hope of drinking whiskey and playing poker with buddies there. Hell is a horrific place of separation from God and other humans, a place of inconceivable torment, fear, complete exhaustion and utter hopelessness of ever getting out. With modern medical advances there are more people being resuscitated today than in history and a frightening picture of a real hell is told by many who are fortunate enough to return from that horrible place. Could it all be hallucination when so many of them come back with the same descriptions of the place? Why is it that some who are resuscitated from heaven may doubt the experience but every person who is resuscitated from hell comes back a believer? It is because they all have experienced a real and horrifying place of total separation from God and other humans in the same place.

God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to a place of forgiveness with Him through the sacrifice and shed blood of His Son. Does God send people to hell? No, God never sends anyone to hell; they go there by their own choice. I once heard it said “the gates of hell are locked from the inside.” Jesus is earnest in His desire to keep anyone out of that place by warning of it as the final destination for those who reject God’s escape plan of salvation. It is a warning that has fallen on increasingly unbelieving ears and one that is seldom preached from many church pulpits for fear of seeming bigoted and unloving. But wouldn’t telling of this place and its reality be the loving thing to do to keep people from going there? I’ve never seen a coin with just one side. The other side of God’s coin shows a holy God who will not allow sin to dwell in His Holy Presence. His all consuming love is balanced by His perfect hatred of sin and His perfect judgment of it. If you’re not sure about where you stand then why not trust Jesus? What have you got to lose? If you have a hard time with God and hell talk to Him about it but don’t shoot the messenger. Jesus is coming back very very soon. He wants to keep all He can from eternal separation from Him in this hideous place. He says hell does not need to be an option. Eternal life in Him is the greater reality. It’s free and ours for the asking.

Lord Jesus, I admit I need your help and I want to trust you. I want to ask you at this moment to become Lord of my life and to forgive my every sin. I know there is no sin big enough to keep you from forgiving me fully and keeping me out of this horrible place called hell. You will keep me safely in your care. Thank you for your love and total forgiveness to me right at this second. Amen.