I wonder if we, as Americans have decided that the idea of a literal hell is unsophisticated and untrue. Some feel that as modern thinkers we have outgrown this simplistic, old thinking. As Christian authors, professors and pastors have begun emphasizing the grace of Jesus Christ, it sometimes gets extended to all people without condition. With all the talk of “love winning” my concern is that we have rationalized away what God’s Word says on the topic of our eternal destination.
Our society is growing more and more tolerant of all sorts of things that God commands us not to do. I am fearful that American Christians (who don’t encounter much persecution) have decided that even entrusting their life to Jesus isn’t a requirement for getting to heaven.
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through (by) me.” (John 14:6) Jesus didn’t say he is “one of the ways,” or “a way you can choose if it fits your mindset.” He clearly was exclusive in saying, I am THE way.
This really bugs a lot of people who can’t stand the idea that a loving God would allow them to go to an unpleasant place. They want the grace and forgiveness of God, without the truth and Lordship in their lives. It seems to be a mindset that says, “I want all the benefits, but I don’t want it to cost me anything.” Have we become embarrassed to follow such an exclusive savior? Are we ashamed of the good news of the gospel because we have stopped believing in the bad news of hell as a destination without life in Jesus?
Our eternal salvation was not free; we were bought with a price (1 Cor. 6). Jesus paid the penalty to offer us life to the fullest by giving His own life as a substitute for us. John 1 talks about grace and truth being found in Jesus Christ. You must take grace and truth together, not choose one without the other.
This growing disbelief in eternal punishment minimizes the importance of sharing about the hope that Jesus brings us. If you don’t think that there is a need for telling people about Jesus, you won’t ever share what you believe or share your story of faith (sometimes called a testimony). This also will mean that the idea of missions will be reduced down to how many kind things you can do for people who are less fortunate than yourself. While social justice issues and compassion projects are on God’s heart, they are matters that we ourselves should be investing in also. But unless they are accompanied by the message of the good news of Jesus Christ, we are no different than a government or other secular non-profit effort.
Where do you stand on this? Have a conversation with someone about this topic today. Decide what you believe, and think about what that belief will lead you to do.