The condemning irony of the song “Imagine” is that to follow the lyrics advice means you already acknowledge heaven and hell.
Just recently multiple celebrities celebrate themselves with a patchy, poorly produced, nails across a chalkboard version which I first saw on Twitter. The “…cringe level is off the charts” according to one headline.
The beginning lyrics have always presupposed heaven and hell. Those lyrics simply propose: “Imagine there's no heaven. It's easy if you try. No hell below us. Above us only sky.” This is a perfect example of man trying to suppress the truth per Romans 1:18.
Contrast this to the song “Here I am to Worship” with the refrain of “I will never know how much it cost to see my sin upon that cross.”
When someone is first convicted by the Holy Spirit, then their awareness of their sin compared to God’s holiness may lead to salvation if the call is not rebuffed. The gruffness of an unrepentant sinner is an affront to God who may continue to offer the possibility of restoration of relationship until death. This “may” is probably why preachers of old used to say “This is the day of salvation” (more likely it is because of 2 Corinthians 6:2).
When you cannot see your sin upon the cross Jesus was crucified on, then you are either not saved or not continuing to grow toward the refined holiness God desires for you given your salvation. The holier you become, the easier it is to see how gracious God is in His forgiveness of your sins. Understanding God’s laws and commands as applied to self make you realize how unholy you are even within one 24 hour period.
A key point is this: Unless you agree with God about what He calls sin and repent of it, you cannot have a restored relationship with the Holy, Holy, Holy Living God. If you have a warped definition of what God calls sin, you are facing consequences even if you call yourself Christian or even if you have “spiritual beliefs.” Why else would Matthew 7:21-23 be in the Bible except as a warning of God’s judgment?
Sure, you believe in God. So what? James 2:19 warns us, “You believe God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe – and shudder.” They understand God’s authority to make the law and judge those who break it, those who sin.
Rejecting or redefining or accommodating what God calls sin is rejecting God. Rejecting the reality of repentance of sin as given within the Bible is also rejecting God.
God does not care what a liberal or a conservative Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, or any other denomination or nondenominational church member, church leader, or church influencer calls sin.
His authority doesn’t need your opinion on sin any more than He needs mine, especially if your opinion is not grounded in God’s Word, the Bible. Men and women who want to supplement or supplant the Bible with man’s worldview are fools in their folly building on sand while harming souls beyond themselves and their lives.
Rejecting Jesus as the only way, the truth, and the life in order to embrace the many ways of the world means God’s love will only be felt and seen this side of death as a type of common grace – a grace where it rains on the good and the evil, the just and the unjust – providing life and nourishment.
The opportunity for saving grace will be lost and replaced with weeping and gnashing of teeth when the body dies and the soul passes to eternity. Every soul which rejects the saving grace offered by Jesus will suffer the punishment of God because He is just. If you happen to be that soul, then your chance to experience God’s love eternally will cease as you will have wasted every chance given.
This eternal punishment and destruction is why the demons shudder.
How can a loving God punish people? Better to ask, “How can a just God not equally punish those who break His law?” This breaking of law is sin. Some say love the sinner while hating the sin, but I believe it was R.C. Sproul who wrote that God is not going to be condemning the sin to hell. You can love your sin or you can love a Savior, Jesus Christ. Which will you cling to?
There is none more fair than God. He holds everyone to the same standard and tells of the consequences of breaking that law. He sees none can meet it, and being holy he cannot lower His standard. So He provides the only way to fulfill the requirements to be in His presence. Jesus is the way to restore peace with God where all the punishment for your sin falls upon Him. Jesus, who was without sin, was lifted up on that cross to be punished so you would not have to be. Will you look to Him and see?
You are responsible for what you know and hypothetical situations do not matter when you stand before God alone. Those scenarios are throwing dust in the air where you hope to avoid the conviction God puts on your heart.
Let’s not throw any more dust into the air hoping to dim the Light and pretend this conversation isn’t about you and your relationship with God. Where is your relationship now? God loves you more than you can imagine, more than any human has ever been able to show you.
Have people failed you? No doubt they have. But God’s love, God’s redemption and restoration of the relationship to Him never fails.
No, it isn’t some yellow brick road to a magical Oz, but it is more like a Pilgrim’s Progress as He leads you through the storms of life and the sunshine too. Comparing any person's love to God's love is like comparing a firefly to the most massive star which makes our Sun look like a pebble. The immensity of God’s love, of God’s holiness, and of God’s justice is shown through the birth, life, death, and resurrection of God the Son, Jesus Christ.
God wants to rescue you and restore a relationship of peace with you, and refine you for a continued, eternal relationship with Him instead of casting you eternally away from Him, i.e. hell.
But you must agree with God and turn to Him. A huge part of this rescue and refinement to holiness is being better able to see your sin on that cross – first as a sinner saved by grace and then as son or daughter of the King of Kings willing to trust and obey as you follow His ways.
Can you see your sin upon that cross, suffered by Jesus to save the lost? Seek Jesus while He may still be found. This is the day of salvation.