Home> The Lower Lights> Nov 2002

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  Alan Jones, Editor

  (734) 942-7956

 

 

 

"Brightly beams our Father's mercy

From the lighthouse evermore;

But to us He gives the keeping

Of the light along the shore."

       Published monthly by the church of Christ, 35900 Palmer Road, P.O. Box 86-233, Westland, MI  48166     

Volume 2                                                                November 2002                                                                                  No5 

 

BUILD ON THE BEST

 

     I once had a neighbor who worked for a company which specialized in laying foundations.

Why do people believe as they do about heaven and hell?  The answer is clear when you see how the same people answered another question, “Do you believe that the Bible is the Word of  God?”  Only 33% said, “yes”.  This means that most people’s “belief” about heaven and hell is just their opinion, rather than their Bible-based conviction.  Since they do not hold the Bible to be from God, they do not look to it as the Authority on heaven, hell or any other question.

            If the Bible is the Word of God (as abun-dant evidence shows that it is), then there is a heaven.  Jesus said, “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.  In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you.  If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am you may be also.”  (Jn 14:1-3)

If the Bible is the Word of God, then there is also a hell.  The same Jesus, who assured men that there is a heaven, solemnly warned that there is a hell.  He said, “If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire, where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.” (Mk 9:43-44).

 

Jesus goes on to say that it would also be better to lose a foot or an eye, than to go to hell  (Mk 9:45-48).   None of us would like to do without a hand, a foot, or an eye, but Jesus says that men should take extreme measures, that they should do whatever it takes, to avoid this place of terrible and never ending suffering.   

            Why do more people believe in heaven than in hell?  Certainly, when you consider what people would want to believe, a “dwelling place with God” would be much preferred to “unquenchable fire”.  But, beyond this, many people have the wrong idea about God.  They believe that He is much too loving to send anyone to hell.  Again, their idea comes from their opinion rather than their Bible-based conviction.

The Bible tells us that God’s acts of judg-ment in the past guarantee that men will be sent to hell as a punishment for their sins.  God committed the angels who sinned to pits of darkness, He destroyed the ungodly of the ancient world of Noah with a flood, He reduced Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes, and He caused the Israelites who left Egypt for the promised land of Canaan to die in the wilderness (cp. 2 Pet 2:4-9, Jude 5-7).

  These examples of God’s wrath against sin, of His justice, assure us that, if we accept the Bible as the Word of God (as the evidence compels us to), then there is a hell that awaits all men who have sinned and who have not been forgiven of those sins.


 

A SLOW TURTLE FROM RICHMOND

 

             Nineteen years ago I had a Bible study with Danny Suttles, who lived near Cambridge City, IN where I was preaching at the time.  Danny saw his need to obey Christ in order to be saved from sin and get ready for judgment.  How-ever, Danny did not become a Christian.  He ex-pressed his thinking about the judgment this way, “It’s like a slow turtle coming from Richmond.”

            Though Richmond is about 20 miles from Danny’s house, even a slow turtle has had plenty of time to make several round trips between Richmond and his house.  The end of Danny’s life and the judgment are surely closer now than in 1983, yet Danny still has not made preparation.

            One of the Devil’s greatest tricks is to let you acknowledge the need to do something about our soul’s condition and then tell you to put off your obedience to Christ until later.  He was suc-cessful in this regard with Felix who trembled after Paul’s sermon on “righteousness,  self-control and the judgment to come”.  He told Paul to “go away for the present, and when I find time (“when I have a convenient season- KJV) I will summon you” (Acts 24:25).

             As time went by,  it was obvious that Felix no longer trembled at the thought of standing unprepared before God.  He kept Paul in prison and he sent for him quite often, not in the interest of hearing and obeying the gospel, but in hopes of receiving a bribe to let Paul go (24:26-27).

 

        Your conscience is designed by God to produce pain leading to immediate action.  If you don’t pay attention to your conscience, it becomes hardened (Eph 4:17-19).  Your guilt goes away and you are able to live day after day, no longer pricked and prodded by your conscience to make your life right with God.

 

            Life and the coming of Jesus are two uncertain to delay your obedience until tomorrow (Js 4:13-15; I Thess 5:1-3) and, while the Devil deceives you into thinking the Judgment Day is a “slow turtle from Richmond”, it inches ever closer- days turn into weeks, weeks into months, and months into years.  The pain of conscience that once could have led to your salvation fades away.  The ground of your heart becomes as hard as the road and the seed of the gospel can no longer penetrate it.  The Devil flies away with the knowledge of the gospel you once had, as a bird flies away with seed from the road (Mk 4:3, 15).  Your sins remain unforgiven, and eternal separa- tion from God in hell awaits you after the Judgment.

 

            Do you know that you need to obey the gospel?  Don’t delay any longer.  Take advantage of the good news.  Jesus bled and died for your sins.  “Why do you delay?  Get up and be bap-tized and wash away your sins, calling on His name” (Acts 22:16).  The turtle crawls on.  Judgment draws near.

 


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