Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Christian, but don't believe in Hell? What are you "saved from"?

Several years ago I vacationed with a friend who had a Masters Degree in Theology and was to become a minister. In discussing scripture the friend confided that he believed in heaven, but not hell. He's as most Christians are today!  We're taught of a "loving God" which he is, but he's also a just God. We're rewarded for being obedient and disciplined for rebellion.  Of course the "obedience" is accepting Jesus as a Savior.

"Being saved" implies that if we're not saved we're destined for something that is feared!  What is it that is feared?  Dying? Being embalmed? Eternity in a cold grave? Just what is it?

Here's just a few lines of scripture talking of what we are to fear:

Revelation 21:8 ESV "But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
Romans 2:6-8 ESV "He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. "
Matthew 25:46 ESV "And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Hell is what we fear! Some say that "hell" is here on earth. Do these scripture verses sound as if we're already in hell? Hell is what all mankind fears! Hell is what we're saved from!  We're saved from an eternity of fire and brimstone. We're saved from agony and hatred. We're saved from bedevilments of the most awful kind. Our skin is saved from the punishment we deserve. Our soul is saved from torment from the one who ruled us here on earth.
Yes, hell is real! God inspired his disciples to write of it. It would be bad if our destiny was only to molder in the grave, but it's much worse... unless the person accepts Jesus as Lord of their life.
John 14:6 ESV "Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
Coming to the Father is going to heaven. Jesus alone, and no one or nothing else, will save your from eternal punishment. If people are depending on "being good" or some type of "moral scale" where good exceeds bad, then those people miss the point. You cannot save yourself!

Ephesians 2:8 ESV "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast."
"Works" are man's feeble attempt to "do good". Even the most charitable person known to man cannot make it to heaven without Jesus! And you think that you're good enough to do it on your own! How prideful. How pitiful. How foolish.
I well remember when I was young and had yet to be saved. My thoughts were that I must prepare myself for salvation by being good and doing good. We are to come just as we are! No preparation is required. There are no prerequisites for salvation beyond submission to Jesus and the power if his grace! We must believe that Jesus has the power to save and understand why! He's God with us.
Grace requires three things then. We must believe, accept and submit. What if the love of your life brought a package to you. It's a gift because that person loves you so! You can't open it yet. There is one stipulation. You must show confidence in the one you love. You believe that there is something of value in the box, you accept it because you want it badly and you must submit to the rules of the giver... that person you love. You have faith that the person loves you so much that your reward will be great. That's grace! That's the way our relationship to Jesus is to be.
On the other hand if a person gives you a decorated box and there are no conditions; just  alluring pleasures within; and you're free to open that box right now; you're giddy with excitement! You open the box right now and inside is a diamond ring invisibly contaminated with a deadly virus. You felt excitement because you now have a 2 karat ring, but unknown to you, you have a terminal illness from which you will never recover without an antidote. The devil has just played a devious prank. You have fell for his enticements unawares. Your doomed unless you find that antidote! The remedy is God's grace.
God "saves' you from that terrible eternal death although at one time you unwittingly worshiped his antagonist. Now, that's grace! By accepting the antidote and avoiding death, eternal death, you're saved! Saved from what? Hell is the answer being sought! You're saved from Hell. Yes, Hell has to exist because that's what we're saved from!

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