These are troubled times (II Timothy 3). Evil is rampant. Our world rocks with violence and threats of violence. Twice this past weekend America suffered heartbreak from needless and senseless acts of violence.
Horrific tragedies are followed by political voices calling for new laws to cure evil. New laws will not abate evil.
Evil has been around since Adam and Eve sinned. Mass murders have been a curse upon history, a blight upon civilization, and a shame upon the creation that God made in His own image.
The solution needed by all mankind is redemption through Jesus Christ.
Christian culture suffers an endemic weakness. Believers tend to form community where love abounds. Evil is outside. The world of the believers becomes insulated from the ugliness of sin.
The more the Fruits of the Spirit are preached, taught and lived the more difficult it becomes for believers to think of people dying and going to hell. Hell as described by Jesus is so awful, so terrible, so frightening that it disturbs the psyche and seems out of context with the Gentle Shepherd of Scripture.
Too often in "Christian" churches memorial services are crafted to comfort the living by giving the deceased a path to paradise, regardless of testimony or lifestyle. Clergy are often complicit in deception. False doctrine compounds the error.
The challenge is that we need a fresh perspective of heaven and hell. Heaven is the dwelling place of God, a place of holiness. Heaven can only be attained through the death of sin and a life of taking up one's cross and following Jesus (Matthew 16:24).
No sin can enter heaven---EVER! Sinners cannot go there. Only those who have repented and chosen to live godly lives in Christ Jesus will inhabit heaven.
Hell was made for the devil and his dominions. There are not enough bad words in any language to describe the awfulness of hell. Hot. Dark. No love. No act of kindness. No mercy. Loud. Demons and humans all living forever in darkness. We shudder to even think of such punishment.
It is not God's will "that any should perish" (II Peter 3:9). God gave his Son Jesus to redeem. Ezekiel 18 reminds us that "behold all souls are mine".
The blood Jesus shed at Calvary was atonement for all sin, every human being, every soul. No need for one to be lost.
The Challenge. We need an awakening in the Church. The Church needs to preach and teach that heaven and hell are both real. The Church needs to preach and teach that heaven is a choice. The Church is not a nursery with persons getting to hear their favorite lullaby.
The Church is at war with hell. The Church has been commissioned to push back the gates of hell (Matthew 16:18). The Church is to march out with holy power and redeem souls out of the hands of the devil. The Church is to act like it believes that sin is real and salvation through Jesus Christ is the only hope of eternal life in heaven.
The Challenge. Tragedies should alarm our souls. Shake us up. Tragedies should challenge Christians to evaluate whether they are keeping a godly balance in daily living.
Material blessings must be within context of living humbly to serve God and others. Not self-promoting ourselves to lives of narcissistic privilege as if we deserve to live better than others. May judgment begin at the house of God (I Peter 4:17).
What shall be said of those who drive new cars, live in fine homes, have lots of toys, take fine vacations, but avoid honest tithing and mission giving. Sinners and Christians alike give to save animals or make the earth green. But God views not tithing as robbery. Wealth is not a sin. Greed is.
Too often there are men and women in the Body of Christ who could be powerful leaders, but they are too confined by their desire of wealth and leisure. Like the Rich Man in the Bible they foolishly try to secure their own future.
The Challenge. We need an awakening. We need a fresh vision of heaven and hell. We need a sense of urgency to bring souls to Jesus. We need a fresh vision of Jesus coming to righteously judge saints and sinners to the places prepared for them. Heaven and hell are real.
The Challenge. The challenge is whether this writing will perhaps shake one person, one soul to stop complaining and act righteously. Will one person rise out of procrastination and assume a godly role in Christian leadership? Will someone step forth to save a soul from hell?
Will you, Dear Reader, allow the Holy Spirit to move you into the spiritual battlefield as if you expect Jesus to return soon?
I pray you will accept The Challenge.
With a prayer for leaders to step forth,
"Redeeming the time, because the days are evil," Ephesians 5:16.
"In the last days perilous times shall come," II Timothy 3:1.