It seems “religion” is becoming an ever more popular topic of discussion among politicians and the stars of movies and television these days. But, invariably, when their conversations turn to matters of faith, there’s a glaring omission in their professions. They firmly believe that “good” people who live “good” lives, loving and caring for others, are going to get into heaven. As if to validate their beliefs, a growing number of them are very active and vocal in charitable endeavors. But you seldom, if ever, hear any of them mention Jesus. It seems very few of them have any room for Him in their varied systems of belief.
The fact is, this questioning, or at least omitting of the New Testament doctrine of salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ seems to be spreading. The words vary, but the central theme remains, “How can God (at least the one Christians worship) say He is love and then condemn so many people to Hell on a technicality? Isn’t that just plain hypocritical!” I don’t doubt that some of you may have heard similar statements from friends or relatives and are struggling to give an answer. We’ve struggled to give those we love an answer too. What follows are the results of that struggle, prefaced by three things God set as the anchor points for His response:(1). God loves all of us, with a love that knows no boundaries in space or time. (2). His heart aches that we are struggling with His truth. And, (3). His desire, absolute and unchanging, is that NONE of us should perish.
God’s will for His children was the Garden of Eden. Children created in His image and likeness so the God who is love could pour out that love on them. Children who loved the Father in return as an act of their free will. Children unblemished by sin who could walk with Him in the Garden and talk about the wonders they discovered and enjoyed each day; the wonders He had created for them. But because of the deception of Satan, a serpent talked, a woman ate, and man made a choice. He chose to follow Eve rather than be separated from her by sin. Instead of standing on the authority he’d been given by God, which included the serpent and the sin, he bowed his knee to sin and gave his authority away.
The loving God wanted to spend time with His kids in the Garden. But the just God knew that He could not. He had given them dominion and they had made a choice. Now the price of that choice had to be paid. Separation from Him and death. Not God’s will – man’s choice. But God loved us so much that He wasn’t ready to let go of us so easily. He issued a promise at the instant of man’s fall, to man and the devil, that He would recover that which was lost through the seed of a woman. A just God required that the price for sin be paid. A loving God provided the one who could pay that price in full for us all. Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Man, the seed of a woman, became the fulfillment of that “seed” promise on the cross at Calvary. A free gift given for us and to all of us.
Which brings us back to our beginning – man’s free will and OUR choice. Do we accept the gift? Do we accept the sacrifice that was made for us on the cross at Calvary and the one who was that sacrifice? Or would we rather pay the price for our sin ourselves? The price is death. It’s the law. It was the law in the Garden of Eden and it is the law today. And there aren’t enough good deeds and kind gestures in any person’s life that can equal the price of that payment. God knew that. Jesus knew that. They made their choice. Christ died on the cross and suffered three days in the grave to pay the debt in full. So now the choice is up to us..
In the Garden of Eden, the serpent hissed “obedience or knowledge?” Man responded “knowledge.”
In the Roman courtyard, Pontius Pilate shouted, “Jesus or Barabbas?” Man responded “Give us Barabbas.”
Now, in men’s hearts, God is whispering, “life or death, heaven or hell?” The father of lies and prince of this world argues that such a question is an unreasonable threat. I’m always amazed that people could actually buy into such warped logic. Can that which was created now turn and begin questioning the wisdom of the Creator? Can the clay pot question the skill of the Potter’s hands? Of course not. But rather than the righteous anger we deserve, God the Father and the Prince of Peace respond by reminding us that it’s not a threat, but an invitation sealed with their love and none who accept it will be lost. The sole criteria for where you will spend eternity is the response you give to that invitation. God has made His choice. What’s yours?
Sheltered under His wing and overwhelmed by His love,
Editor’s note: Check out this video at YouTube about Ophra Winfrey’s teaching that “there cannot be just one way.” The Church of Ophra.