Sunday morning the Bear woke up with a sneezy, coughy, chesty cold. (I laugh when I use the term chesty — I first heard it when I went to the doctor with a bad cold for the first time in Scotland. He asked “Are you quite a chesty person?” Having no clue at first what “chesty” meant, I wanted to say, “Om, I think you can look at me and tell, I’m not a particularly chesty young lady. haha) Anyway! Asher had a cold is his chest, and we decided to stay at home, because this seemed to be the same cold he’d been struggling with since we passed through Scotland, and the weather wasn’t nice, and we thought rest would be the best thing for him.
We listened to some worship music and praised the Lord, listened to a podcast sermon, and spent time in prayer together while Asher had his usual morning nap. (Praise the Lord, he sleeps 2 – 2 1/2 hours every morning!) I was challenged to the core by something the pastor said over the course of that sermon. He was talking about an interview he’d seen of an atheist celebrity, who was talking about people trying to share the Gospel with him. The celeb said, “It doesn’t bother me so much, the people that preach to me. I don’t believe it, but what bothers me is the people who don’t. I mean, if you really believe there is a hell, how much do you have to hate someone not to tell them about it?”
Whoa. I thought that this was an incredible comment to make, and a perceptive observation. I think one of the greatest lies of the enemy, totally from the pit of hell, is the lie that there is no hell. Or that God is too nice and lovey dovey to ever send anyone there. Sometimes I find myself wanting to believe that. It is nicer to believe there isn’t a hell. It is nicer to think no matter what we live like in this life, the outcome will basically be the same. We want to believe all of our family members will be in heaven with us. If we do believe there’s no hell, then we don’t have to share the Gospel, and we can kind of just live how we want. The problem is, that is not what the Bible says! Ouch!
If you remember a wee while back, I was deep into the parables of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, and began to recognise a pattern. Jesus is constantly warning about the wrath that is to come, and more specifically about all the people who think they’re okay, but aren’t. Think about the wise and the foolish virgins (Matthew 25) — all of them were waiting for the bridegroom. Some of them just weren’t ready for him. Think about the parable of the talents in the same chapter. All of those guys were servants of the Master — some of them just didn’t understand who the Master was, or what His expectations were.
That’s what’s scary. Jesus is continually making it apparent that a lot of people who think they are all right with Him aren’t. Perhaps I can slightly modernize this statement for you: “Not everybody who says, ‘Yeah Jesus, you’re my homeboy…I mean Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven. The people who will are the ones who actually make Me their Lord, by doing My Father’s will. And when judgement comes, a lot of people are going to be like, ‘Hey Jesus! Remember me though, right? I prayed a prayer when I was five. Okay so maybe I didn’t do much after that but…remember me?’ Or, ‘Hey Jesus, I made you my Lord! I went to church every Sunday. And I did stuff in Your Name.’ But I’m going to have to reply, ‘I didn’t know you. Depart from Me. You ignored my commands and did your own thing.'” (Matthew 7:21-23, heavily paraphrased)
Now some of you might get a bit huffy at this point and say, “well, is our faith justified by our works, or are we saved by grace, and through faith? You make it sound like we work our way to heaven.” That is definitely not the case. I don’t believe your works get you into heaven — and hope you won’t believe that either for a second. Just like Ephesians 2 explains it, our salvation is by grace, and through faith. It is absolutely a gift of God, and it is not by works, so that no one can boast that they earned it in their own merit. And Romans 10 makes it clear again — if you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart God raised Him from the dead, you’ll be saved.
So is there a contradiction here? Not at all. If we really believe Jesus is who He says He is, and we confess Him as Lord, and actually mean it, then we are saying He is our Lord. Meaning He is boss. He is in the driver seat and we are riding shotgun. Â With the gift of His Holy Spirit, we can begin to follow His lead for our lives. As sheep spend time in the presence of a shepherd, and begin to learn His voice, we spend time in the presence of God, begin to learn His voice and His ways, and where He leads us, we follow.
If you are going to claim Christianity, it seems apparent from Scripture that there’s more to it than coming down to the front and praying a prayer once when you’re eight years old. It sounds to me like Jesus says, “Come and die, and find your life again in Me.” “Follow Me.” And if we really believe what the Scriptures say, then 1) we have to obey them and 2) we should be warning people about the judgement that is to come.
The only thing I know for sure we can do now that we won’t be able to do in heaven (besides sin) is share the Gospel. Because everyone in heaven will already know it. So here’s the opportunity. Start by asking, “Do I really know Him?” The next question is, “Do you?”