Sunday, August 18, 2013

Good News, Bad News

The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." 
They are corrupt, and their ways are vile; there is no one who does good.

-- Psalm 53:1   

Have you settled things with God?

No matter who you are--young or old, male or female--that's the question that everyone faces. Because one day or another, we'll all leave this world, meet our Maker and answer to Him for the lives we've led. It's the ultimate equalizer: we all either die in faith or die in sin. But for Christ-followers, having faith in Jesus means there's absolutely nothing to fear when we reach the end of our earthly existence. The Apostle Paul explains it this way:

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering."

That's amazing news with implications Newspaper2that many people either don't know about--or say they don't want to know about. And although the choice of spending eternity in either heaven or hell is stark, it's apparently not a major concern these days. A recent Baylor Religion Survey revealed that only about 51% of Americans "absolutely" believe in hell while 62% have the same degree of certainty about heaven. Data from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life rendered similar results, with 59% of Americans believing in hell and 74% in heaven.

Why such low numbers? According to Kurt Selles, director of the Global Center at Samford University's Beeson Divinity School, the real issue is reluctance in churches to portray Jesus Christ as the exclusive way to God. In two workshops held at the Beeson Pastors School, Selles asked the attendees if they had ever preached a sermon about hell.

"Nobody had," he reported.

Jesus, on the other hand, was never deterred by the prospect of offending others. It's in John 14:6 that we read this clear-cut declaration from our Savior: 

"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

The Gospels tell us that many people DID accept this bold message, but most did not--particularly the religious leaders and supposed experts of God's Law. Now, fast-forward to the 21st Century, and it's plain to see that few things have changed. There are still plenty of "enlightened" people who claim that Jesus' message is both judgmental and intolerant. And besides--they're quick to assure us--everyone knows there are many ways to God.

At least that part is true: every path eventually DOES lead to God. But the devil is literally in the details since every path (except one) also leads to His judgment and eternal condemnation.

"Enter through the narrow gate," Jesus warns us. "For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."

Successfully navigating this winding, narrow path called life calls for putting our faith in Jesus alone. No matter how much the world disputes this fact, it remains the ultimate Good News that God first proclaimed in ages past--and invites us still to share today.

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