Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Devil Is In the Details

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 we face. Because one day, we're all going to leave this world, meet our Maker and answer to Him for the lives we led. We'll either die in faith or die in sin. But for Christ-followers, having faith in Jesus means there's nothing to fear. The Apostle Paul explained 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 great news. But how great will it be for those who don't die in faith? Believe it or not, that's not an issue that concerns many people these days. The December 2013 Harris Poll revealed that only about 58% of American adults believe in hell while 68% have the same degree of certainty in heaven. And recent findings 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 a reluctance to portray Jesus Christ as the exclusive way to God. In two recent 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 not deterred by political correctness or the fear of offending others. "I am the way and the truth and the life," Christ told the people in John 14:6. "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 in God's Law. Centuries later, few things have changed. There's no shortage of "enlightened" people today who claim that Jesus' message is both judgmental and intolerant. And besides, they're quick to add, 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 all of them except one also lead 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."

Traveling this winding, narrow path involves putting our faith in Jesus alone. And no matter what the world says about that today, it's one thing that God settled long ago.

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