Thursday, July 05, 2018

Not Just Fire Insurance!

In any discussion about the possibility that Hell may not be forever, one question always comes up:

 If everyone eventually gets to heaven, why share your faith?

Some time ago I received a fund appeal letter from a mission organization that directly related to this issue.  The letter explained,

"The work of missions is not a numbers game, but numbers don’t lie.  Statistically, in the time it probably took you to scan the envelope, open the letter, and read these first two sentences, 10 human beings died having never heard the good news about Jesus.  Gone forever.

I’m told that about 150,000 people will die today!  Nearly half of them will have never heard that Jesus came that they might have life.  In fact, most of them live in places where they have no reasonable access to that truth . . .

We can sensationalize the numbers, but people are not numbers.  Jesus died for people, and as Dr. Henry said, 'The gospel is only good news if it gets there in time.'”

Won’t proclaiming the message that God will ultimately restore all of His creation to its intended perfection strip people of the motivation to share the message of Christ with others?  Why should missionaries and other dedicated Christians subject themselves to ridicule and deprivation by going out of their way, often to distant and backward lands, to tell others the “Good News” if everyone will get to heaven someday, anyway?  Won’t the message that God will eventually restore all have a dangerously negative effect on missions and evangelism?

The “Good News” Really Is Good News!

The Gospel does much more than simply provide a fire insurance policy to keep people out of Hell. 

People are not individuals whose lives may be important for a while, or even for a lifetime, but who are ultimately meant to be burned up or thrown away.  People are created beings of inestimable worth who need to be rescued by God from pursuing wasted, meaningless lives.

The Great Commission that Jesus gave commands us to make disciples, not just to make converts.  Evangelism is a by-product of making disciples and loving your neighbor.  If you are a true disciple of Jesus Christ who is growing in faith and in your relationship with God, you will be prepared and have a desire to share the truths you have learned with others.  If you genuinely love your neighbor, you will be alert to opportunities to not only try to convert them, but to help the whole person by ministering to the various needs in their lives that the Gospel addresses. 

Jesus came to give people an abundant and meaningful life.  The eternal life that He gives begins in the here and now, not just the hereafter.  As people fit in with God’s plan for their lives, they will experience reconciliation with God and one another, forgiveness of their sins and the ability to forgive those who have wronged them, power to overcome sinful patterns and behaviors, freedom from bondage to addictions, and true purpose.  The result is the greatest joy and true fulfillment possible. 

The “Good News” really is Good News!  And as the prophet Jeremiah explained when lamenting the fall of Jerusalem, God’s goodness doesn’t have a time limit attached to it.

“No one is cast off by the Lord forever.  Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love.”

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