Separating judgement from the Gospel
I’ve often heard it said that, as Christians (for those who read this blog that are), we shouldn’t try and “scare people into heaven” by making threats of hell when we present the message that Jesus is the savior.
I’m not quite sure what this means anymore, to be honest. While I don’t think it is in our place to judge a person (that is God’s place) or to make threats of hell, telling people that they will burn forever in a hell that resembles medieval poetry rather than Biblical truth (in other words, we don’t know enough about hell to know what it’s really like) I don’t know if we can separate the message of Jesus with the fact that God’s judgement is coming. (That’s not the same as telling someone they’re going to hell– it’s simply telling them God’s judgement is coming.)
In fact, in speaking to Gentiles, it seems the judgement is a paramount point in sermons we pick up from the book of Acts.
Take Peter and Cornelius (Acts 10) as the first example. When Peter eventually speaks to Cornelius and all those gathered at his house, look what he says:
vs 34 – “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.”
What does this mean? Does this mean people that don’t know Jesus but do what is right will enter into heaven? It can…
Peter then talks about how they were witnesses to Jesus’ ministry, what he did – a main point being the warfare He conducted against the devil – and then talks about Jesus’ death and then in vs 40:
“But God raised Him on the third day and made Him to appear… vs 42… and He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that He (Jesus) is the one appointed by God to be the judge of the living and the dead.”
I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone say that the resurrection validates Jesus as judge, which is interesting.
When Paul speaks to the Atheneans, he says something similar (Acts 17)
vs 30 “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent, because He has fixed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this He has given assurance to all by raising Him from the dead.”
Very interesting indeed.
I came to be a Christian because someone told me the judgement of God is coming.
You have a choice – choose life (abundant life) or choose death (abundant death). If you feel you don’t owe it to God to choose life that’s cool – it’s okay to choose death. I don’t think God judges you for choosing death, I think he does judge you for inflicting death on others (in otherwords, he will judge us all for the sins we have committed to others). If you decided you wanted death that’s what you get. If you decided you wanted life but just didn’t know how to get it, you will be judged accordingly.
If you think that doing good works might get you to have abundant life, here and now… well, it might. Romans 2: 6 seems to say so:
“He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness (injustice?), there will be wrath and fury.”
But how do you know when you’ve done enough? How can you be assured that your works are enough? Paul seems to follow this argument in Romans 2, asking people who teach against stealing if they steal, do they commit adultery (Rom 2:21, 22)?
You take a huge chance by relying on your own works, which will probably always be tainted with motives of some sort that are impure. Why take the chance, when you can have abundant life and know with certainty you will survive God’s judgement when it comes? How? By simply placing your faith in the Judge Himself, Jesus Christ, the one God raised from the dead and appointed as Judge. Believe in Jesus and you will be saved.
Is this scaring people into heaven? I don’t know – but last night I felt the truth of it. A judgement IS coming. Will you be able to stand in it? I don’t know. Do you know? How can you know for certainty? By believing Jesus.
This doesn’t mean I’m saying someone is going to hell, this simply means that they need to know there’s a judgement coming. I’m not making a call on the outcome of that judgement – simply to say that God WILL judge the living and the dead, and how will you stand? There’s only one way of knowing for certainty how you will stand… otherwise you take your chances and you’re on your own.
I actually became a Christian at 11 years old when someone told me the reality of God’s judgement. From that day on I never feared His judgement in the same way… and I’ve enjoyed abundant life in Him in so many other ways.
Is this scaring people into heaven, though? Or is it giving them three options?
2) Take your own chances (works)
3) Life – in Jesus.
Which one will you choose?