I was thinking about Hell this weekend, odd I know but it was on my mind. I am not sure exactly what got me thinking about it but here I am. It might have been a funny incident that I recalled from a year or so ago, we had the worlds best song writer and guitar player played at our church, I know he does not see himself as I just described, he is a humble man but I do think he can make his guitar speak the Gospel better than most of us can convey in words. Anyway, he was running a bit late to the concert and he called one of our guys to help figure out how to get to the church, my friend asked him where he was and he said Hell Man……..
Well his wit is second only to his talent. He was on the corner of Hellman & San Bernardino rd 🙂 anyway, I was running through that story in my mind and that is how I got on the subject of hell. I knew I would figure it out…..
I guess I was thinking about how we discount sin and call it an alternate way of thinking, we minimize wrong doing and think we can duck the penalty for those short comings. We seem to avoid hell, and any real discussion about it. We avoid teaching or preaching about it, it is so much more loving to speak about the love of God and work that into a sermon, but without hell can there really be a reason or need for salvation.Salvation not only presents us as whole in Gods sight but on the flip side, it keeps us from a very real place we want to avoid, Hell Man.
Pascal wrote, People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they find attractive.
I know people would rather believe there is no such place as hell and or would prefer to put the thought of such a place in the back of their minds. I am just as sure many pastors would like to dwell on loving passages like John 3:16, but there would be no need of John 3:16 if not for the reality of a place we need to be saved from.
Scripture is so filled with the clearly laid out thought of sin and the ramifications of a sin filled life, and the over powering joy of salvation through Christ. Why is it we seem to avoid the subject of sin and hell ?
From the opening of the scripture in the Genesis story all the way through the vision of John in Revelations, God’s plan is to make right the outcome of mans decision to sin, a plan of escape through the sacrifice if His Son.
That plan also includes a just loving way out, all we need to do is accept the free gift of His Son. It is through God’s unconditional love that the reality of hell is avoided, but as odd as it may sound, we are needed in that plan of salvation, Augustine put it well in his sermon 169 of Augustine. It was preached in the year 416
But God made you without you. You didn’t, after all, give any consent to God making you. How were you to consent, if you didn’t yet exist? So while he made you without you, he doesn’t justify you without you. So he made you without your knowing it, he justifies you with your willing consent to it. Yet it’s he that does the justifying (in case you should think it’s your justice, and go back to the dead losses, the wastage and the muck), for you to be found in him not having your own justice, which is from the law, but the justice through the faith of Christ, which is from God; justice from faith, to know him and the power of his resurrection, and a share in his sufferings (Phil 3:9-10). And that will be your power, your strength; a share in Christ’s sufferings will be your strength.
God can only be loved by virtue of God’s gift. John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., WSA, Part 3, Vol. 5, trans. Edmund Hill, O.P., Sermons, Sermon 169.13 (Hyde Park: New City Press, 1992), p. 231.
God’s gift of salvation is offered to us as a gift, but He will never force us to accept it, He needs us in the plan to accept the offer, that’s it, just accept it.
We have so often in this day and hour put talking about sin away, but burying our heads in the sand will do us no good.
So I guess I am telling myself, stop the pretense of being better than thou, after all it was a gift, I did not deserve. I need to make sure I can retell the good news of the sure way to stay away from Hell Man
‘I tell you, if your uprightness does not surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven’ (Mt.5:20).