Sunday, February 8, 2009

Eternal Fire Insurance

Have you heard the latest? There are people complaining that Hollywood is anti-athiest because of movies that suggest that there really is a God. And people wonder why the Bible says that God laughs (see Psalm 2:4 and Psalm 37:13). These people are a living example of what it means to be blinded... to walk in darkness.

People who are in darkness laugh at the idea of eternal punishment. Many in the atheist camp argue over the existence of any afterlife. Those of us who have accepted the word of God, however, know the truth. We deserve eternal punishment but have been saved by God’s mercy and love. Having received this wonderful gift, we have a mission to show people that without Christ they are without hope. We are called to (with humility and love) point them toward Jesus Christ as their only way of escape.

I was reading a Christian blog around the time that former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was executed for his crimes against the Iraqi people. The writer seemed to be celebrating and rejoicing over the thought of Saddam suffering in the agonies of hellfire. This was not the first time that I have heard a Christian gleefully speaking about another person’s demise. Many Christian friends used to chuckle over some person “busting hell wide open.”

I don’t feel comfortable with that mindset. The idea of anyone burning in hell is not anything that I can imagine rejoicing over. It is a terrible thing for a soul to be eternally lost.

It is a fearful (formidable and terrible) thing to incur the divine penalties and be cast into the hands of the living God!

Hebrews 10:31 (Amplified Bible)

The Bible tells us that the soul that sins (without receiving the mercy of God) shall surely die (see Ezekiel 18). Many religions lay out a complex set of rules and regulations for achieving a righteous state. Some have people go to convents or monasteries where they are told to shun the simple pleasures of life. Others insist that followers take whips and flagellate themselves... even to the point of drawing blood. Still others create a complex set of rules to follow in the deceptive belief that these will save them. Even some who call themselves Christian believe that their salvation hinges on their adherence to a strict set of rules and regulations.

The bottom line is that there is salvation in none other than the name of Jesus Christ, God’s precious Son who died a sacrificial death and rose from the dead to give us hope of eternal redemption.

Or, as some hip Christians put it during the 1970’s, Eternal Fire Insurance.

Okay, so the work that Jesus did is more than an insurance policy to protect us from disaster. More accurately, it is blessed assurance that God loves us and was willing to pay the ultimate price to bring us back to Himself.

I used to hear the “old folks” saying that there is a hell to shun and a heaven to attain (or words to that effect). However, it is not by works that we escape damnation. It is through the blood that Jesus shed on the cross. It is through God’s loving kindness and tender mercies to provide a way of escape. And the good news is that it is absolutely free for anyone who will simply receive it.

Once we have received salvation, we have a desire to live a life that is pleasing to God. The problem, however, is that while our spirits are reborn, our human nature remains. Jesus gave us the solution for this dilemma:

And He said to all, If any person wills to come after Me, let him deny himself [disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself] and take up his cross daily and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also].

Luke 9:23 (Amplified Bible)

Every day, we have to die. We are commanded to put our carnal nature to death. It ain’t easy... but the rewards are vast.

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