I think today we are ready to make a summary about my friend’s question. Let’s look at that again.
I want to believe she cried out to Jesus right before she died and is now in heaven. But I get this sinking feeling that that was not the case. The thought of her in hell almost gives me a panic attack. I can’t stomach it. But if we believe the Bible, that’s where she is. We don’t know “for sure for sure” but unless she had given her life to Christ in those last moments would that not mean she is not with Jesus now?
Do you need to be a true follower of Christ to enter the narrow gate? Or is just claiming that you believe enough? I just don’t think so…
It has taken me fifteen sessions to get me to the point of answering her. Suffice it to say that it takes a considerable amount of preparation to answer some questions, but it is worth the time. Sure, I could simply blurt something out, but this deserves care. In my opinion, there are no words someone may hear worse than Jesus saying, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:23) Most people, indeed most churches, teach that good people go to heaven. Deep down, everyone knows this is a lie. I’m not going to go along with that. I don’t want to mislead anyone. I don’t need to. My king is Truth. I don’t need to lie so that I might make someone feel better today.
Here’s how I might respond. Keep in mind that there is interaction, so the flow might be different. Also, the setting is far removed from the funeral service. If I would be asked in that setting, I might not say a word and simply touch the side of her arm. Sometimes speaking makes things worse.
You are right. Mere words aren’t enough. It’s a heart thing. I don’t know your friend, but it sounds like you know her well. Evidence of biblical belief should not be a mystery; we shouldn’t have to guess. Now, there certainly is the possibility she repented and was saved with her last breath. However, we know most people won’t. Jesus is clear about that.
It’s ok to mourn over this. Remember how Jesus mourned over Jerusalem? It’s not that he doesn’t try. We all get the same message over and over: repent because the kingdom of God is near. Still, no one will listen; not even you or I. You could have had a team of people hold her down, and she would have refused the gospel to the end. Don’t get me wrong, sharing the gospel is not a waste of time. God wants us to share it with everyone – even those who will never believe. When we consider the how far-reaching and destructive this denial ultimately is, we may begin to understand that God is just and right in his judgment. We can’t imagine how anyone could willfully take this path, but nobody will be surprised when they get there. It’s not just one sin that sends them; it’s a lifetime of refusing to honor and thank God – on His terms. You and I have never experienced the kind of rejection God gets from all of us. Still, we know what we are doing. We just refuse to think about the consequences we know we will face. We know that God is right, but we won’t listen.
Let’s turn our attention to the other side. God extends his mercy and grace to all. He invites all to join him in everlasting life of richness and joy beyond our imagination! Jesus died and rose to break our sin and restore us to God. He cures addiction, forgives sin, shows us how to love, and gives us hope. All we need to do is be willing to follow him, and he guides us in everything. He gives us companions and provides fellowship with others who love and support us in our journey. We are no longer slaves to sin and the destruction that goes with it. We are new creations that will one day be completely free from the cancer of sin and enjoy all of eternity without a trace of it to be found anywhere. Sure, some will hate us because of it, but that is truly of no matter in the big picture.
Why does God have mercy on any one of us? Why does he choose any one of us in particular? I have no idea why he chose me. All I know is that sometimes I am overwhelmed by gratitude. Yes, other times I don’t act like I appreciate him, but that doesn’t last. He has promised never to leave me even though I may wander from time to time. I know who he is and what he means for me. He is my father and I am his child. He is so good to me that I can’t stop talking about him – that is not for long.
We can’t convince anyone of any of this, but we indeed can share our good news with people. They have a right to know. What they do with it is their business. Here’s something for certain: some people will hear and believe! Won’t that be a great thing to witness! The whole of creation waits for the revealing of the children of God! How cool to be part of that!
Of course, it’s one thing to have time to write this down. I’m sure in time I would tweak it. You probably already see things to change. Here’s the deal – unless we go through these exercises, we won’t know how to answer questions. We will always be at a loss or wish that we had said this or that or wish that we hadn’t said the other thing. We need to know our script so well that we can jump in without any notice and share it smooth as silk. Like it or not, folks, we are in enemy territory. This is part of the battle. Every opportunity God provides is his command to enter battle. He gives us our weapons. Do we want to train for battle, or do we want to soil ourselves and hide? We don’t want to go out only to have someone knock our sword out of our hands. We want to fight.
There are many other tactics we need to practice. We need to be prepared for attack. We need to be ready to give a reason for the hope we have. This whole Lauren Daigle thing really gets under my skin. Our churches do NOT prepare us for this battle. Clearly, Daigle wasn’t prepared; but I tell you what, neither is the vast majority of Evangelicals. We must be trained in this basic play. Listen, a football team spends hours and hours studying how their upcoming opponents play the game so that they may be prepared. Why? Because they want to win! And, the further in the season, the more important this is. The Super Bowl is a place we may see a completely new offense or defense simply to outsmart the opponent.
Here’s where we are – our opponent has a new strategy in sexual sin, and he’s eating our lunch. He scores a touchdown; we punt. TD; punt. TD; punt. Over and over and over. Yet, when is the last time you heard your pastor give a sermon on this topic? Our children, in our own schools, now have been taught that transgender is good. Homosexuality has long ago been mainstreamed in their education. Yet our pastors won’t even talk about it.
Why aren’t we demanding that our pastors educate us? They tell us we are supposed to go out and share our faith (and we are), but nobody knows how to handle their sword. There is something very, very wrong with this picture. Focus on the Family and other radio programs do a great job providing education, but why are these topics taboo from the pulpit? We could spend a month straight of sermons dedicated on how to talk to the world about sexuality. Wait! Add another month to train the congregation on abortion! Right?
Come on folks! You are paying your pastors. Demand more from them. It’s time to for them to train their flock for battle.
Copyright © 2019 Scott Powers