Monday, August 25, 2014

Catechism #34

Q. What does God require of us that we may escape His wrath and curse?
A. To escape the wrath and curse God requires of us faith in Jesus Christ and repentance unto life.

As we saw last week in Romans 6:23, “the wages of sin is death.” We lack the ability to go back and “un-sin,” and no amount of good deeds can erase the sin we have already committed.

There are two things we need to do, but they are not accomplishments on are part; rather, they are acknowledgments of accomplishments on Jesus’ part.

The first thing we need to do is put our faith in Jesus Christ. This goes beyond believing He is real or that He died on the cross. To put our faith in Him means that we put all of our trust in Him and Him alone. We put all of our eggs in His basket. If it turns out that Jesus is wrong, we will be wrong with Him. To put our faith in Jesus means to go all in, risking everything, and yet ultimately gaining everything.

The second thing we need to do is repent, which is a 180-degree turn. We repent in our minds when we realize we are headed in the wrong direction. We change our minds and acknowledge how sinful and separated from God we really are, and we stop thinking that some deed on our part will propel us into God’s good favor.

After we change our minds our actions will follow suit. While trying to give up sinful habits and adding the fruit of the Spirit does not save us, it is the evidence of a life of repentance.


Anonymous said...

Hell has got me baffled to be honest. What kind of merciful, forgiving and loving God sends you to hell for a lack of "faith"? Any crime I commit on earth doesn't justify the punishment of an eternity in hell. Well then the bible says we have free will to make the "right" choice and have faith. But God holds hell over your head as a fear's like me holding a gun to one's head and saying you have the free will to not give me all your money. It doesn't make sense that a "good" god would do this to his children. Sorry for my wall of words here. Look forward to hearing your opinion.

Tommy Mann said...

Thank you for your wall of words. I fully understand your concerns. You asked for my opinion, so here are a few:

God does not hold hell over our heads as a fear tactic. Hell was not created for people, but for the devil and his demons, according to Matthew 25:41. Evidently hell was created when Lucifer rebelled but before Adam and Eve sinned. You rightly mentioned choice and free will—everyone has a choice to make: live life with God or apart from Him. People who choose to live life apart from Him would naturally spend the afterlife apart from Him too.

Hell was not Jesus’ best-kept secret; in fact, Jesus spoke of hell more than any other person in Scripture. If someone served you a poisoned drink, and I warned you 11 times not to drink it, I would be the merciful one. Jesus taught on hell at least 11 times in the gospels, warning people not to go there. To question His mercy on this seems absurd in light of the facts.

Your illustration about holding a gun to someone’s head doesn’t equate to what God is like. In your illustration you offer two things: death by a bullet or giving away money. Both are bad options. God, on the other hand, gives a good option—heaven or hell. Why would we not choose heaven? Yes, it is the right choice like you said, but it is a good choice that any sane person would make and enjoy. A better illustration would be to tell someone, “Either give me all your money or I’ll give you all of mine.” Which one is the “right” choice? We all would take the money, and enjoy taking it.

You also said a good God would not do that to His children. That’s correct. But not all people are God’s children. We are all His creations, but only the saved are His children. The Bibles says that we “become” the children of God through spiritual adoption (John 1:12, Romans 8:15). Again, if a person refuses God’s offer, they are not His children and are choosing to spend life and the afterlife apart from God.

To continue the adoption thought, what if I tried to adopt an orphan, but the child refused. I could explain that I am offering shelter, food, clothes, stability, toys, and most of all, a loving family. If that child says, “I’m good. I’d rather do my own thing,” then he forfeits what I am offering. That is free will, but the choice is an easy one to make. Unfortunately, too many people tell God, “I’d rather do my own thing than live life with you.” If that’s their choice, then, like the orphan, they have to deal with the consequences of not being adopted.

Finally, the greatest proof of the goodness and mercy of God is found in what Jesus did. Romans 5:8 says that God demonstrated His love for us this way: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. We all deserve hell because we have all broken God’s law more times than we can count. Jesus didn’t have to go to the cross for us, but He chose to out of love and mercy. Jesus isn’t some angry god threatening people with hell; He left heaven and endured the worst death in human history so that no one has to go to hell. If people reject that, it is certainly not Jesus’ fault.

I hope this helps. Please comment again if you have more concerns.