Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Bible says not to or you end up goin' to Hades. Some folks calls it Hell; I call it Hades.

My good friend, and fellow Cardinals fan, James W. Galyon took a break from blogging about HELL to speak to the other side of the coin in the post entitled, "Everybody Heaven-bound?"

It got me to thinking of that mindset that so many have. What really whips me is so many people, even professing Christians, see heaven as the default.

In other words, everyone's going to heaven unless they louse it up.

Now, there are different theories as to what louses it up (e.g., REALLY BAD sin, conscious rejection of Jesus, people worse than the person making the call, etc.), but that's fundamentally a flawed perspective.

The reality is that everyone starts off with the default of going to hell. We are all, by nature, objects of wrath. Unless God, who is rich in mercy, makes us alive in Christ, nothing changes for a person.
1And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience-- 3among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved
-Ephesians 2:1-5 (ESV)

Why? Why is the default hell?

Because they have sinned against a holy God, by their nature and their actions. They inherit a guilt from Adam via imputation (Rom 5:12-21) and unless their sin is imputed to Christ and His righteousness to them (2 Cor 5:21), then they stay on their current path.

To quote AC-DC, all of humanity in Adam starts off on a "Highway to hell" (didn't know they were orthodox theologians, did ya?). It's only through taking the off-ramp of justification through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that anyone gets to a different destination.

The reason this is important is that folks often speak of who deserves to go to hell. The answer they give is rarely "everybody," but everybody deserves to go to hell. Nobody deserves to go to heaven; nobody even deserves to get a chance to hear the Gospel.

I've heard it said that if people reject Christ they deserve to go to hell. Or sometimes unbelief is the reason for going to hell. But, prior to believing, everyone who is a Christian was at one time a non-believer, so that is clearly not the unpardonable sin.

Weren't Christ-lovers at one time Christ-rejectors? Weren't they repulsed by the Light of the World (John 8:12) because they loved the darkness and hated the light? (John 3:19-20)

But folks don't like the idea of depravity that penetrates the extent of our being. They prefer to think of all as being okay, in general, at least for those who are not mass murderers.

The reason these ideas are helpful is that we can appease our uneasiness just a bit because the only people that have to go to hell, that really deserve to go to hell, are the ones who consciously reject Jesus Christ.

But this presupposes that all start out with a positive relationship to God and that rejection of Jesus changes that. However, all of humanity stands guilty before God and under His wrath.
For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous.
-Romans 5:19 (ESV)
When a person rejects Christ, God's wrath remains on that person (John 3:36). In other words, there is no change in that person's condition or ultimate destination.

This raises questions for some about God's fairness, because not all get a fair shake. Some are born with Christian parents and hear the good news from an early age. Some will live their whole lives without ever hearing the name of Christ.

"That's not gracious enough, God!" some might say or at least think. But, they misunderstand grace. Grace is God's unmerited favor. By its very nature, nobody deserves grace.

If God saved only one person and sent the rest to hell, He would be infintely more gracious than He need be. As my Greek prof, Elliott Greene, used to say, "God doesn't owe us anything, except hell, and He could charge us rent if He wanted to."

I've also heard it said, "My god wouldn't send anyone to hell." My response is that "he couldn't, because your god is a figment of your imagination." The biblical God can and will.

Hell's not for the weekend, folks. It's not this great party, but everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels (i.e., demons). It is the eternal punishment for those whose sins are not paid for by another.

Either Jesus Christ, an infinite being, pays a finite death for one's sin or that finite individual will pay an infinite punishment where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Because hell is real, we are concerned for those who are not justified by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone.

It's because we care that we are evangelistic. We call all take a page out of Spurgeon's playbook:
"If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms around their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for."
-Charles Haddon Spurgeon

If we have genuine Christian love, we should follow in the footsteps of Edwards in wanting that which is beneficial for others.
...they that have the spirit of charity, or Christian love, have a spirit to seek the good of their fellow creatures. Thus the apostle commands (Phil. 2:4), “Look not every man on his own things; but every man also on the things of others.” We ought to seek the spiritual good of others; and if we have a Christian spirit, we shall desire and seek their spiritual welfare and happiness, their salvation from hell, and that they may glorify and enjoy God forever. And the same spirit will dispose us to desire and seek the temporal prosperity of others, as says the apostle (1 Cor. 10:24), “Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth.” And we should so seek their pleasure, that therein we can, at the same time, seek their profit, as again it is said by the apostle (1 Cor. 10:33), “Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved;” and again Rom. 15:2), “Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.”

But more particularly, under this head, I would remark, that a spirit of charity, or Christian love, as exercised toward our fellow creatures, is opposite to a selfish spirit, as it is a sympathizing and merciful spirit. It disposes persons to consider not only their own difficulties, but also the burdens and afflictions of others, and the difficulties of their circumstances, and to esteem the case of those who are in straits and necessities as their own. A person of selfish spirit is ready to make much of the afflictions that he himself is under, as if his privations or sufferings were greater than those of anybody else; and if he is not in suffering, he is ready to think he is not called to spare what he has in possession, for the sake of helping others. A selfish man is not apt to discern the wants of others, but rather to overlook them, and can hardly be persuaded to see or feel them. But a man of charitable spirit is apt to see the afflictions of others, and to take notice of their aggravation, and to be filled with concern for them, as he would be for himself if under difficulties. And he is ready, also, to help them, and take delight in supplying their necessities, and relieving their difficulties. He rejoices to obey that injunction of the apostle (Col. 3:12), “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness;” and to cherish the spirit of “wisdom (Jam. 3:17) that is from above,” which is “full of mercy;” and, like the good man spoken of by the Psalmist (Psa. 37:26), to be “merciful,” that is, full of mercy.

And as it is a sympathizing and merciful spirit, so the spirit of charity, as exercised toward our fellow creatures, is the opposite of a selfish, inasmuch as it is a liberal spirit. It not only seeks the good of others that are in affliction, but it is ready to communicate to all, and forward to promote their good, as there may be opportunity. To do good, and to communicate, it forgets not (Heb. 13:16); but obeys the exhortation (Gal. 6:10), “As we have opportunity, let us do good unto all men.” But on this point I need not enlarge, having already dwelt upon it at length in the lecture on “Charity is kind.”

And as the spirit of charity, or Christian love, is opposed to a selfish spirit, in that it is merciful and liberal so it is in this, also, that it disposes a person to be public-spirited. A man of a right spirit is not a man of narrow and private views, but is greatly interested and concerned for the good of the community to which he belongs, and particularly of the city or village in which he resides, and for the true welfare of the society of which he is a member. God commanded the Jews that were carried away captive to Babylon, to seek the good of that city, though it was not their native place, but only the city of their captivity. His injunction was (Jer. 29:7), “Seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it.” And a man of truly Christian spirit will be earnest for the good of his country, and of the place of his residence, and will be disposed to lay himself out for its improvement. A man was recommended to Christ by the Jews (Luke 7:5), as one that loved their nation and had built them a synagogue; and it is spoken of as a very provoking thing to God, with respect to some in Israel (Amos 6:6), that they were “not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.” And it is recorded, to the everlasting honor of Esther (Est. 4:16), that she herself fasted and prayed, and stirred up others to fast and pray, for the welfare of her people. And the apostle Paul (Rom. 9:1-3) expresses the deepest concern for the welfare of his countrymen. And those that are possessed of the spirit of Christian charity are of a more enlarged spirit still; for they are concerned, not only for the thrift of the community, but for the welfare of the Church of God, and of all the people of God individually. Of such a spirit was Moses, the man of God, and therefore he earnestly interceded for God’s visible people, and declared himself ready to die that they might be spared (Exo. 32:11, 32). And of such a spirit was Paul, who was so concerned for the welfare of all, both Jews and Gentiles, that he was willing to become as they were (1 Cor. 9:19-23), if possibly he might save some of them.
-Jonathan Edwards, Charity and Its Fruits (his book of expositions of 1 Cor 13)


At 01 February, 2007 23:35, Blogger M. Jay Bennett said...

Who's Jonathan Edwards?

Wasn't he that guy who burned witches?

At 02 February, 2007 03:00, Blogger GUNNY said...

Only the ones made of wood.

At 02 February, 2007 09:32, Blogger Rev. said...

I tried to touch upon the subject matter that you detail in this post. Thanks for the "fuller" treatment.

GO CARDS - WORLD CHAMPS! (Great picture with the boy, there!)

At 02 February, 2007 13:13, Blogger GUNNY said...

Clealy, it was your post, Rev., that motivated mine.

I took the boy on a road trip to Tulsa where we got our picture taken with the Cardinals' World Series trophy.

Some lady said to us, "What a once in a life time opportunity."

To which I responded, I certainly hope not!

P.S. I'll eat some White Castles for you next week, Rev., when I'm at the Desiring God pastors conference in Minneapolis!


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