I am a great lover of history. While most kids were poring over the latest comic book, I had my nose stuck in a history book. At first, it was American history, and that grew into a general love of all things historical. Because a large portion of human history has been shaped by war, my particular focus seems to be based around the squabbles of differing kingdoms. I’m a sucker for a cheesy Hollywood war movie, because I have hope, that one day Hollywood will tell a true war story, as opposed to the fairy tale that every war movie made turns out to be. You know the scene I am talking about. A mortally wounded soldier, being comforted by his friend, the five stages, and finally….the end. The movie usually turns on what the one says to the other. So, what should Christians tell a mortally wounded, dying world?
Some of my past blogs talked about America no longer being a Christian nation. The conservatives decried me as weak and giving up the fight. The liberals came with the same old tired line that “America never was a Christian nation.” To the conservative camp, let me assure you that weak is not an adjective to describe me. To the liberals, normally, I would try to point you to historical context, quotes by our founders, and other overwhelming evidence that though America was not meant to be a theocratic society it most assuredly was built around and meant to be based on Christian values. However, I know that liberals' entire knowledge base comes from themselves, and if they don’t agree with it, then it’s wrong. Truth be told, history speaks for itself.
The same could be said for Christianity. Far too often in today’s America, the Church is trying to “change things up” to attract a bigger crowd by raising more dollars to fill more seats. Church leaders go to seminars on how lighting affects giving, which music to play at poignant moments, and how to court more givers. We sacrifice the Gospel and the eternal for public acceptance. Sure, we talk about physical poverty, but not spiritual. We talk about golden streets and harps, but nothing about flames, damnation, and endless torment. We preach God’s Grace, which I am a firm believer in, but we don’t talk about God’s judgment anymore. In doing so, we make Christ a liar. If all those things didn’t await those who refused His sacrifice, then what was the need for Him to die?
I lost a few of you there. I said that Hell is a real place. I said that not everyone gets to go to Heaven. Jesus says the same, and no “new-thinking” wolf-in- sheep’s clothing will trump the words of Christ in my book. While on earth Christ said: “This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13:49-50.) Later is Revelation, “They, too, will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of His wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name (Revelation 14:10-11.)”
A lot of fair weather fans just jumped off the bandwagon. Too much fire and brimstone, not enough grace. Friends, you can’t have light without dark, the hope of Heaven is only fully appreciated by the fear of Hell, and you cannot have mercy without judgment.
If Christ is Who He said, and it is my belief that He is the Son of God who died for my sins, then judgment is coming. Some say soon, some say at the end of our lives, but whatever the time, we will all stand in a place of judgment. By our sin nature, we all stand condemned. “There is none righteous, no, not one (Romans 3:10.)” Whatever we try to do to change ourselves for the better, will not be enough, because you can’t be “good enough” to attain forgiveness. If salvation could be earned then there would have been no need for Christ to die.
What the world, mortally wounded as she is, needs to hear as she edges closer to the end is the message of the Gospel. There is right and wrong. Unrepentance leads to damnation.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, saw you in your sin. He loved you before you could ever love Him. He was there at the beginning, and will be there at the end. No matter how far we push him out of our government, we cannot push Him out of history, because He was there before history began, and He has seen when “history” will end.
We will stand before Him one day, and give an account of every word and deed that you have said and done while in this life (Matthew 12:6). That, to me, is enough to make my knees quake. However, those who are found to be in a relationship with Jesus Christ will receive forgiveness. Those who are found to not be in Christ will receive the reward for what they have done too. Unfortunately, not everyone gets a trophy in this game.