Some people seem to think they know who’s going to hell. For instance, they’ll write a letter to the editor proclaiming that some columnist or some other letter writer will sizzle in hell for what they wrote. What makes them think they know?
For centuries, some preachers and Christian writers have distinguished between believers and professors. Professors in this sense profess Christianity, maybe show up in church regularly, but don’t believe it enough to live it. Many of these church leaders at least imply that the believers go to heaven and the professors to hell. But can they really know?
No one likes to talk about hell any more, although some people have an unhealthy confidence that they know who’s going there.
God reserves that judgment for himself. He deliberately hides all aspects of his plans. Some scriptures make it seem like nearly everyone will be saved. Others make it seem like hardly anyone will be saved.
The Bible speaks with crystal clarity on one point, though. People stand or fall before God as individuals. Not as members of a group. Not because of association with anyone else.
I recently came across a Christian teenager who posed this theoretical situation: a person who never sinned, did everything perfectly according to the Bible, but didn’t believe in God. Why, he asked, would God want to send anyone to hell just for that?
Once upon a time, churched and unchurched people alike recognized God as the judge of mankind. They recognized that he stood against a category of behavior called “sin.”
Much of discourse within the church centered on how to be good enough to avoid going to hell.
Nowadays, churched and unchurched people alike are more likely to regard God as the defendant who must justify his opposition to sin.… Read the rest
The kingdom of God has come. It is not at all like other kingdoms or nations. Since time immemorial, when one nation has invaded another, the invaded nation knows. Eventually so does everyone else who cares at all.
Most of you can probably know within a year or two the last two or three times Germany invaded France. It doesn’t have to be an invasion with armies, either. Regardless of where you stand on immigration, you have to know that a lot of Latin America has taken residence in the US. And come without passports or visas.
Has there ever been any kind of invasion on earth where it was not clear just who was invading?… Read the rest
Advent is a time of preparing our hearts for the coming of the Christ child. Less often acknowledged, it is a time of preparing our hearts for the return of the triumphant Christ. Are we perhaps too comfortable with the homey images of the baby Jesus? Perhaps we should pay more careful attention to what the uncomfortably supernatural Jesus Christ has already accomplished in his first coming.
He was born of a virgin, as God promised as early as Genesis 3:15. There we read that the “seed of the woman” would crush the devil. He lived as an ordinary human, suffering every temptation any other human has ever faced.… Read the rest
Some people seem to thing sin is a good thing. It means fun, pleasure. Remember when Weight Watcher soft drinks were advertised as “sinfully delicious”?
The sculpture pictured here was taken on the grounds of Treasure Island Casino in Las Vegas. It seems more like an enticement than warning. We all know that God hates sin, though. Let’s take a closer look.
In a recent post, I commented that not inheriting the kingdom of God does not necessarily mean the same thing as going to hell. I was writing about gay marriage and couldn’t follow up on that thought. Many readers may have wondered about it, and one explicitly asked.
In one well-known passage, Jesus spoke of the separation of sheep and goats.
Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come you how are blessed of my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the earth” (Matthew 25:34).
Then he will also say to those on his left, “Depart from me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41).