Sunday, June 03, 2007

I'm hoping - really hoping - to do some serious blogging in the near future, with some input from various worthies. While I get that underway, here's a chapter from 'Reach out for him' - an evangelistic booklet by me, available from Day One.

Will there be a judgement?
‘… he has set a day when he will judge the world by the man he has appointed…’ (Acts 17.31)

When many people think of God, they think of a rather kindly old gentleman who could never be angry. The truth, though, is both better and worse than that!

It is better, because God’s love is greater than we could ever have guessed – great enough that he sent his Son, Jesus, to die in our place. ‘God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’[i]

It is worse, though, because God’s holiness is so great that we needed him to send his Son. Let me explain.

While we know we are not perfect, we do not really think our imperfections matter very much. But the Bible calls them sin, and insists that sin is so serious God must judge it: ‘the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men.’[ii] Sin is serious enough to bring God’s wrath. The place where God’s wrath is felt most painfully – and eternally – is hell.

It surprises many people to discover that Jesus spoke a great deal about hell. Many of the common descriptions of hell – a place of torment,[iii] a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth,[iv] a place of outer darkness[v] – actually come from Jesus himself. He knew he needed to warn us all how serious our sin is, and the imagery he uses is terrifying.

In fact, Jesus also told us that he would be the Judge: in the end, it is up to him who goes to heaven and who goes to hell.[vi] Judgement is a fearsome thing, for hell is real and we have all sinned.[vii] Happily, heaven is real, too – and forgiveness is possible for us all because Jesus died. Jesus said ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’[viii]

[i] John 3:16
[ii] Romans 1:18
[iii] Luke 16:23
[iv] Matthew 8:12
[v] Also Matthew 8:12 – this familiar phrase is from the Authorised Version.
[vi] Matthew 25:32
[vii] Romans 3:23
[viii] Matthew 16:28

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