(By CP Cartoonist Rod Anderson)
What lengths would you go to in order to avoid hell? "I don't believe in hell Dan." OK. But say you did. What lengths would you go to in order to stay out of hell? Hypothetically, what would you be willing to do?
For example, would you serve meals to the homeless once a month if that kept your soul out of hell? Hypothetically, would you do it? Or what about going to church once a week? Would you do that if it kept your soul out of hell? Or how about this one. Would you be willing to engage in a series of hypothetical questions about hell if that kept your soul from going there? Or would that simply be out of the question?
Now for the key issue. Ready? Here goes. Would you be willing to forsake your sin of unbelief in Jesus if it would keep your soul out of hell? And what if by forsaking unbelief, you ended up with a new heart which loved God and wanted to please Him with your life?
In other words, what if by forsaking unbelief in Jesus, you not only escaped hell, but you also were given a new heart with new motivations? Hypothetically, would you do the deal? Would you make the trade? Would you swallow your pride? Would you embrace the biblical teaching about heaven and hell? Would you open your heart to Christ and believe that He died for your sins on the cross? Would you do all that if it kept you out of hell?
Well, would you? Would you take heaven and hell seriously if it kept you out of hell? Hypothetically, would you take Christianity seriously? Or would you rather go to hell, hypothetically?
But now what if heaven and hell were more than hypothetical? What if those were real places of eternal existence, and Jesus was your only means of escaping hell? Then what?
One more. If hell was real, would you want to know about it ahead of time? When you answer that question, you will be taking a step in the direction of your eternal destination. Whichever direction you choose to go is on you. Captivated by Christ's love, or instead, disinterested and suffering from a sense of apathy and deadness to what you perceive to be nothing more than a bunch of religious mumbo-jumbo.
A narrow road and a wide road. Which path do you find yourself on today?
Belief in Jesus does not make paradise real. Heaven is already an actual place according to the words of our Lord. (see John 14:1-6) Heaven was a real place long before you considered Christ and His plan of salvation. What belief does is that it opens your soul to receive the river of God's living water. Once that water enters your soul, you are in the family. "There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells." (Psalm 46:4)
So how strong is your unbelief? And why are you willing to stake your soul on the premise that Jesus is not really the Savior? Why bet against Jesus? No one who bets against Jesus ends up on the winning side. You can choose to "trust your unbelief" and the unstable foundation upon which it stands, or you can place your trust in the One who is the resurrection and the life. (see John 11:25,26)
But in order to trust Christ, you will need to forsake your unbelief. She is your spiritual mistress and your lover, but she will not be able to give your soul what it needs. Why go on loving her as though she can give you something better than Jesus? Why go on cheating with your lover of unbelief while the One who loves your soul is willing to give you abundant life today and forever?
Jesus or unbelief? Truth or error? Heaven or hell? No man can serve two masters, or love two women.
Have you ever been mad at your spiritual mistress? Have you ever been angry at your unbelief because of how badly it has corrupted your soul and your ability to see God in a favorable light? She is a dark and shady character. This is part of the reason you feel drawn to her. You find her words of unbelief exhilarating in some twisted way. But one day she will leave you. On that day, you will know that Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. But will it be too late?
Will you be standing before your Judge on that day having never forsaken your sin of unbelief? Why let it get to that point? Why push this thing all the way to the grave? It doesn't have to go down that way. You can still avoid eternity in hell. It's not too late, yet.
It's time for you to have that awkward discussion with your mistress and break it off. She is a naughty lover. And besides, she is cheating on you. She has given herself to everyone who will join her in her rejection of the Messiah. She doesn't care about you, but He does. Do you really want to go to your grave having loved a concept which is nothing more than a spiritual lie?
You are under a spell if you don't see Jesus as the Good Shepherd of your soul. You are in the daze which unbelief produces in the soul. But you are too drunk on the love of your mistress to know any better. And because He loves you, God says to you, "Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you." (Eph. 5:14)
If you don't snap out of your stupor soon, you may find yourself outside of your body one of these days and only wishing you could go back in time. You will wish you had one more moment in this world to forsake your sin of unbelief. But it will be too late. "Today is the day of salvation," (2 Cor. 6:2) but in that day, no salvation will be offered. The deal will be off the table. You will no longer have the opportunity to trade your sin for eternal life.
You can still make that trade today, but not once you cross the line from this world to the next. In that realm, you are either in or out. And your eternal residence is established prior to your final breath. If you leave this world with faith in Christ, you leave in safety. If you leave this world clinging to your unbelief, you leave in grave danger.
Do you want proof of this spiritual insanity? Just look at those people today who laugh at the idea of their soul going to hell. No one in their right mind does such a thing. Or at least anyone in their right spiritual mind. It is difficult to fathom how man can be so callous toward both his sin and the Savior.
But then again, I guess it's that way for each of us unless we cross over from death to life. Do you know what the Lord said about that miracle? Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life." (John 5:24)
Did you catch that? It happens to people while they are still living on this earth. They "cross over" from "death to life" when they believe in Jesus for salvation. As they forsake their unbelief, they escape hell and are rescued by their Lord and Savior.
If that sounds ridiculous to you, it's only because your mistress is blinding you from the truth. You love your unbelief too much I guess. But one day you will no longer love her. If you end up in hell, you will hate what your mistress did to your soul. And at that time, you will know you are fully responsible for your sentence. You will finally come to see that what you thought was love turned out to be nothing more than lust.
Fundamentalism? Call it what you will, but God's Word teaches plainly about heaven and hell. And Scripture also clearly teaches that no man can earn heaven, and that we all deserve hell. But the Son of God was sacrificed on the cross for sinners. Are you one? Or do you not consider yourself to be a sinner in the eyes of your Creator? Man must first see his sinfulness before he can then believe in the cure for his sin.
But if you would rather enter God's courtroom on Judgment Day in the arms of your mistress, go for it. But I must warn you. She will not be able to deliver your soul on that day. You will have sacrificed your soul and your eternal well-being for an illicit spiritual affair. And for what?
In the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald: "A love affair is like a short story - it has a beginning, a middle, and an end. The beginning was easy, the middle might drag, invaded by the commonplace, but the end, instead of being decisive and well knit with that element of revelatory surprise as a well-written story should be, it usually dissipated in a succession of messy and humiliating anticlimaxes."
And if you only knew just how messy and how humiliating it will get for unbelievers on Judgment Day, you would kick unbelief to the curb for being a sleazy spiritual counterfeit which drags the souls of men to hell. Or are you still too mesmerized by the captivating carnality of your lover?
Gisela Hausmann said, "Affairs are the stuff movies are made of; flings are for TV." No wonder there won't be any television in heaven. Instead, believers will joyfully celebrate their Savior. And we will never be bored, even for a second. You know, the kind of boredom which leads a cheater from one affair to another. Or a mistress from one unbeliever to another. Don't get used by her. After all, your soul was valuable enough to the Lord for Him to shed His blood for you. Now that's true and enduring love.
So be honest. What has unbelief ever done for you? Exactly. And it only gets worse the longer you stay in that tawdry relationship. Sure it may be tough at first to say goodbye to her. But in the words of Oliver Markus, "A horrible end is better than endless horror."