Monday, September 1, 2014
Who In Hell Do You Know?
Recently I have been reflecting on the reality of evil in the world and how that evil fits into the overall scheme of God’s plan. Couple that reflection with some additional reflection on the challenges parents face when they observe their children neglecting and ignoring the truths of the gospel they have been taught from birth. Add to these reflections, the additional reflection of trust, of grace, of being still and knowing that God is LORD over all and then trying to work through the temptations of fear and anxiety that every Christian parent must face when they see self-destructive behavior in their children. Indeed, that is a lot of reflection.
This led me to the question recently: whom in hell do I know? How many people have I known in my life either intimately, moderately, and even from a distance that have been called out of this life and have done so without Christ? I have lost grandparents. Two of them knew the Lord and the other two I cannot say. I lost my dad and he knew the Lord. I have lost uncles. Some of them knew Christ while others did not. How many people do I know that today, this very minute are living in eternal torment? The descriptions of hell and of the lake of fire are vivid, filling the mind with images of darkness, fire, and unending torment beyond anything this world knows. And there are a number of people that I have known in my life who are very likely right there right now. While I am typing these words, they are in incredible and indescribable anguish. While you are reading these words, their screams ring throughout the hallways of hell without anyone there to help. They are without any hope of ever finding relief for their suffering. Whom in hell do you know?
The doctrine of hell has come under tremendous pressure lately. This pressure even exists in so-called evangelical churches and teachers who really are nothing more than apostates that are nothing more but a shell of genuine Christianity. The arguments are constructed mostly by people employing a modern, pagan philosophical approach to God rather than an exegetical, theological method. In addition, the overwhelming majority of these individuals simply do not like the God of Christianity, even though they like some of His morals. Their goal seems to be to attempt to keep God in place while replacing all those characteristics about Him they find unappealing.
I cannot help but wonder, not if, but how the belief that there is no literal hell impacts the manner in which the gospel is positioned and proclaimed to the unbelievers in our lives. We already have the problem of numbness due to the frequency of the mention of the doctrine of hell. People just don’t give it any thought these days. And this is just as true of us reformed conservative types in some cases. We don’t think about hell that much. And if we do, we surely don’t look at it through the same lens as we see the world in which we live. Hell is some place far away, an abstract concept in the mind of preachers and theologians that none of us have to worry about, at least not today, not this hour, not this very minute, or is it.
The competition for souls is more intense than anything we could ever imagine not from the world of sports as an analogy, but from the world of wars. The competition for land, for power, to prestige, for dominance over the long course of the history of man has been fierce and relentless. I cannot help but wonder if the human race has ever experienced a time since the fall of man where men were not, in some way, in some place, at war with one another. The competitions have waged for thousands of years.
There is nothing that can compare to the war that we must wage for the truth of the gospel and for the souls of men. Hell is as real as the computer you are reading this blog on. And just as you are reading this right now, countless souls are suffering the flames of torment this very moment. What is worse is countless more souls will be lost to the flames of hell with each passing year. The war for souls and for truth is unending and relentless.
No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules. The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops. Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. 2 Ti. 2:4-7
Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will bring about at the proper time—He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen. Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed. 1 Ti. 6:12-19