- (By CP Cartoonist Rod Anderson)
You and I are not smarter than God. Far from it. So when Jesus, who is God, says that one day people will "stand outside knocking and pleading" to get into heaven, He expects to be taken seriously. (see Luke 13:22-30) Jesus goes on in that passage to describe hell when He states, "There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth." (Luke 13:28) Please consider who it was that made this alarming statement, and then try to imagine what that scene will look like.
Man's natural reaction to such extreme circumstances is to "blow it off" and assume that Jesus couldn't have meant this to be taken literally. That is man's natural response, but remember, man by nature is a sinner and is prone to getting it wrong when it comes to spiritual matters and truth. If it doesn't make sense to us, or if it seems too extreme, we are likely to dismiss it as something which we feel could never actually take place.
So is God trying to "turn people off" to Christianity by revealing such extreme consequences? Or was Jesus simply warning people about the reality of hell and the fact that "many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to." (Luke 13:24) If you don't find Christ's words there to be a sobering thought, then you are not in a good place spiritually my friend. It's as simple as that.
Was Jesus lying? Was He out of His mind? Or was He telling the truth? And are you willing to risk the consequences He described by believing that He was either lying or out of His mind? Is it worth the risk?
God did not set it up in a way that people get to repent while they are standing outside that door and pleading to get in. The time to repent is today. Those who repent today are brought inside God's "place of grace." Those who ignore this message today will likely be among those "knocking and pleading." I don't want you to be among those people on the outside, and neither does God. The Lord does "not want anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9)
Heaven matters a bunch. And hell matters a whole lot. And if it takes the thought of hell for you to consider your sin before Almighty God, then so be it. Why do you think Jesus spoke about hell so often?
Sometimes people say, "No one should be scared into heaven. People should only come to Jesus out of love for God, but never out of the fear of going to hell." Are you kidding me? Any sinner in their right mind should be afraid of going to hell. If it's OK to be afraid of committing a crime on earth out of fear of going to prison, how much more necessary is it to be afraid of dying without Jesus in your life and being sent to hell?
Is our love for God a higher ideal than the fear of going to hell? Of course. But if someone is not yet in a relationship with God through faith in Christ, then how loving is it to only tell him about heaven, but not tell him about the extreme consequences of rejecting the Lord's free gift of salvation? Jesus never hid this truth from people. He loved them enough to be honest with them, even when it came to the horrible reality of hell.
Are you and I smarter than God? Are we wiser than Jesus when we are tempted to "downplay hell" and only tell people about the importance of loving God? Don't get left pleading at the door. If you are not a believer in Jesus, there are indeed extreme consequences to unbelief that you must consider. Jesus loves you enough to tell you about it. And He wants His followers to love you enough to tell you about it.
Heaven is far better than you can imagine. Hell is far worse than you can imagine. That is why Jesus made such a big deal over it. You can spend your entire life resisting God's grace only to end up regretting your decision forever. Or you can humble yourself before the Lord as your repent of your sin and trust in Jesus to forgive you.
I realize how far from natural reason this message lands. It is not something that you or I would ever believe unless it was in God's Word and unless Jesus taught it. But since Christ did speak so plainly on these issues which blow our mind, it is absolutely critical that we take it very seriously. I don't know what more to say. I pray that you trust Christ today because I know that without Him, you will end up being one of those "pleading and knocking" as you stand outside the door. Please try to imagine that scene.
If you were in my shoes and the shoes of all who believe what Christ said about heaven and hell, I would hope that you would do for us what we are attempting to do for you. Can you blame us for not wanting you to be standing outside the door on that day when no one outside will be getting inside? Can you blame us for wanting you to live forever in paradise rather than forever in torment? If you are not a believer, I know how "far out there" this message sounds. It sounds "far out there" to us believers as well. But what has convinced us it is true is the fact that "all Scripture is God-breathed." (2 Tim. 3:16)
There are no do-overs after you leave this world. If you are not concerned about the welfare of your soul, can you blame us who believe in Christ for being concerned for you? Can you blame us for praying that you come to know the love of Christ? Can you blame us for wanting you to be "in God's good graces," rather than "under His wrath" and condemnation?
If you are going to blame us for those things, then that is a consequence we are prepared to bear. It is nothing compared to the consequences of those who are left "pleading and knocking" at the door to heaven. This is why any blame we are given from unbelievers for telling them about heaven and hell just tends to roll off our back. We know what they don't know, and yet it is a message God wants them to know. Get it?
I sure hope so. And so does Jesus. That is why He suffered and died for your sins, and then rose on the third day.
So was Jesus lying? Or was He out of His mind? Or was He telling the truth? It had to be one of those three options, and only those three. A fourth option of Him just being a good teacher, but not the Savior from sin and hell, is not an option He left open to us. It doesn't exist.
At this point, it would not be wise for you to delay any longer. Make your decision regarding Jesus today, and then prepare for the consequences of telling Him "yes" or "no." Make no mistake about it my friend. Your acceptance or rejection of Christ will have eternal consequences. There is really no easy way to say that, but it must be said for the sake of your soul, and for the sake of Christ's suffering and death on the cross. He hung there in our place. We are the sinners who deserve to pay for our sin. But God provided a way out for us.
So don't get left pleading at the door. It doesn't have to go down that way for you my friend. It really doesn't.