Wednesday, June 11, 2008
What I Believe (Part 3)
‘He descended into hell. The third day He arose again from the dead.’

I believe Hell is a real place, and I don’t want to go there. We all have a choice, even that child in Africa who has never heard his name but has seen proof of nature (Habakkuk 3:14), and I don’t understand that either. I believe in, but don’t completely understand predestination. (Romans 8:29) His grace is available to all, some will accept it, some won’t, and that all falls within his will somehow. Yet he desires that none perish (2 Peter 3:9) and trying to grasp that makes my brain feel like it's on fire.

I have a very small understanding of what Hell is like. God is not there, there’s ‘gnashing of teeth’, it’s hot and horrible, and once there you don’t get to change your mind. Hell is not only real, it’s getting fuller by the day, because 'wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." (Matthew 7:13). A segment of our culture believes Hell isn’t a real place, but Christ referred to it repeatedly through scripture. If it doesn't even exist, then was he a liar? And why would it exist if nobody went there?

As much as I hope my deceased brother is in heaven, he never showed any signs he had trusted in Christ. There was no fruit in his life that I could see. God is not a big teddy bear or loving grandfather. He is a God of mercy and grace, but also of justice. In his grace he gives us the choice to accept or reject him. If we don’t ever choose, then we’ve chosen. I'm able to set down the weight, of where my brother is, because not only it is far too heavy to carry for the rest of my life, only God really knows. I don't believe everyone just ends up there. That's what they said at his funeral to comfort us. (He did not have a christian funeral.) Scripture doesn't support that warm, fuzzy idea yet it's uttered in funeral parlors every day.

I believe there is only one way I can guarantee not ending up in Hell, and it has nothing to do with a scorecard of my good and bad days. It's simple - recognizing without him, I'm doomed. Scripture says, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). My eternal destination hangs completely on me accepting that Christ paid, in full, the penalty which I deserve. "Jesus answered, "I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6). 'through Me" means Christ paid the price. Nothing else will do. Nothing else is required. Christ alone. Period.

We like to come up with other ways someone can get there, especially when it's too late. "They lived a good life", or "they never hurt anyone", or "they went to church their whole life, or maybe the most frequently uttered - "they did so much good." I heard a teaching, right after I became a christian, on Isaiah 64:6 "All our righteous acts are like filthy rags." The speaker told us the 'filthy rags' referred to were those used by women during their menstrual cycles. So much for thinking good deeds will get us anywhere! There is no heart so unobjective as the one who loves someone. The truth hurts too much to grab onto, so we lie to ourselves, or at least don’t speak the truth. When we start to interpret God’s word so it lines up with our life experiences, keeps our hearts from breaking, or lets us do what we really want to do, live the way we want, we’re in trouble. Eternal trouble.

'The third day he arose again from the dead....' Just as he said he would. He overcame death. No leader, religious or otherwise, has ever overcome death, come back from the grave. I believe he did, just as the Old Testament prophesied he would, just as he said he would, just as scripture says he did. That gives me assurance that he can do everything else he said he could. He not only turned water to wine, healed the lame and blind, today he can still cover sin completely, give us abundant life now, and hope that there is life after death. For today, I'll stop there - at hope.


  posted at 8:00 AM

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    Girl Raised in the South

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