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Column: PASTOR’S PONDERINGS – Do You Know What’s At Stake?

By: Steve Wilmot

If you discovered the cure for cancer, you wouldn’t keep it a secret. You’d share it with everyone you know.

Those of us who know Jesus have discovered the cure to loneliness, addiction, hopelessness, boredom, broken relationships, and even death.

What we have is much better than a cure for cancer. One day, cancer may be cured, but everyone will still die eventually. The cure we possess is one that brings life now and for eternity.

The cure is Jesus! So why do we keep it to ourselves? Why do so many of those without Jesus ignore or reject the cure — Jesus!

I believe it’s because we don’t know what’s at stake. We live in a world that has the misguided idea that God will send everyone to heaven. So why seek a cure no one needs?

You hear it all the time at funerals. The pastor states or implies that everyone goes to heaven after they die. Even the old codger who was mean to everyone and killed his mom. He died without forgiveness from God, but he’s in heaven.

You hear it from well-meaning people trying to offer comfort to the family of someone who’s died –— “Well at least he’s in a better place.”

There’s no pressing reason to tell anyone about Jesus if that’s true. It’s ok to live your life without Jesus — if it’s true that everyone goes to heaven when they die.

Spoiler Alert: It’s not true. It’s not what Jesus taught. Did you know that Jesus talked about hell more than he talked about heaven? Read this story he told about hell.

There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day.  At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

“The time came when the beggar died, and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried.  In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So, he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

“But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony.  And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment’” (Luke 16:19-28).

What does Jesus say about hell in this story?

1)It is an awful place.

Jesus described it several times as a place of agony and torment. Elsewhere he calls it as a place of eternal fire, and a “place of weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Maybe the worst part of hell is that those who end up there will remember all the times they had an opportunity to turn to Jesus — maybe even intended to…someday — but didn’t. Now it’s too late. The realization they didn’t have to be there may be the worst agony of all.

(2) There is no second chance

Every person’s fate — heaven or hell — is sealed the moment they die. We aren’t given the option of experiencing torment in hell, and then deciding we were wrong when we rejected Jesus and want to give our lives to him now. Now is the time to choose Jesus.

(3) Jesus spoke about hell because he doesn’t want anyone to go there.

One argument often voiced against hell is that “a loving God would not send anyone to hell.” Agreed. God doesn’t send anyone to hell. But people still go there.

Here’s how John Eldredge explains it: “Hell is not God’s intention for mankind. But remember — he gave us free will. He gave us a choice… In breaking the one command he gave us [in the Garden of Eden], we set in motion a life of breaking his commands.

The final act of self-centeredness is seen in those who refuse to come to the wedding banquet of God (Matthew 22:2-3). They do not want God.

They reject his offer of forgiveness and reconciliation through Jesus. What is God to do? The universe has only two options. If they insist, God will grant them what they have wanted — to be left to themselves.”

Hell is real. So is heaven. So is the reality of an empty, pointless life now. So is the offer of an abundant life now. That’s what is at stake: abundance or emptiness, heaven, or hell.

We who have chosen Jesus and seen him turn our lives around for the better dare not be silent and let our family, friends, and neighbors miss out on heaven.

You who have no interest in Jesus dare not fail to turn your life over to him. Why? Because not everyone goes to heaven. Only those who come to Jesus do.


The post Column: PASTOR’S PONDERINGS – Do You Know What’s At Stake? first appeared on The Village Reporter.

Source: The Village Reporter

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