Galations 1:6,7 “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.”
A few days ago a man came to the drug and alcohol rehabilitation residence that I work at to enter the program. His life had been a hard one of drinking and drugging. Recent tragedy and crisis had brought him to the point where he was ready to change his life. In speaking with his family I came to learn that although he had no beliefs in God or Jesus he was open to the possibility. One of the few times that he had encountered clergy and church, he had been told that everyone is saved no matter what they have done or will do. Accepting Jesus and His Word or not made no difference to whether a person would go to heaven. This according to the clergyman was due to the salvation of all humanity by Jesus Christ. Fortunately the man didn’t believe it.
I remember talking with my son about the need for salvation and the path to holiness many years ago when he was in his first few months of recovery. He started the conversation with; “This [recovery and giving up dope] had better be worth it. What’s the point of cleaning up your life if it all ends anyway? If all you end up is dead anyway then live hard and live wild – enjoy it while you can.”
“Well, that’s the problem, our bodies eventually die but we live eternally. When our body dies our spirit lives on – forever and ever and ever and ever and ever”, I replied.
“So what!”, my son countered, “At least you’ll have had your blast in this world when you could and then you get to live forever.”
I looked him right in the eyes and said; “That’s exactly right and exactly the horror of living like a selfish animal here on earth and dying in that state – the hell of leaving your flesh and spending eternity as a spirit of unquenchable selfish appetites. Even if you ended up in heaven you would not be able to satisfy yourself. Seeing others around you happy while you roasted in a stew of your own self pity, lust and cravings would be hell for you.”
My son was taken aback and asked; “What do you mean – what would that be like – you mean you’d still want a fix but not be able to get one?”
“Yes,” I replied, “You would exist like a quadriplegic unable to move any part of your spiritual body and just burn with desire for earthly pleasures that you would never be able to have or enjoy because they wouldn’t exist for you and you wouldn’t have a body of flesh to enjoy them with! This itching lust would increase more and more blotting out your awareness of everything else. For an eternity you would be consumed by lusts that would never and could never be satisfied! That would be your personal, eternal hell!”
“Jesus came to this world to show us how to live” I continued, “Not just in our bodies of flesh but to prepare us for life in the spirit when our physical bodies cease to exist. Jesus said; ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.’ (Matthew 4:4) and ‘It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.’ (John 6:63) Every time we let go of even a little bit of our selfishness for His sake and think about others or have faith in His Word for our lives we take some small steps in our spiritual walk. We learn something about how to get along in eternity.”
I finished up; “So is it worth it? You tell me?”
“I’ve got to tell the rest of the guys about this!” my son answered.
How easy it is to believe that heaven is going to be more of the best of this world. How easy it is to forget that preparing for eternity is a lifelong learning curve that doesn’t end after your ‘sinners’ prayer. This is just not a problem that ‘drunks and druggies’ face – we all face overcoming our addiction to self love and the love of this world. Recovery begins when we come to Jesus but it doesn’t stop there – recovery is a process not an event. Scripture tells us plainly that it is a process many reject; “For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.” (Phil 3:18,19)
Hell is a real place. Heaven is a real place. Not preparing for the latter will be to condemn yourself to the former. In a very real way, Jesus came to save us from ourselves and from clergy who preach a false gospel of ‘everyone goes to heaven’ no matter what they do. We have enemies within ourselves. We also have enemies within the church that tell us lies our flesh wants to believe. Only the Bible can teach us what the truth is and who to believe!
Read the Bible and do what Jesus tells you to do! And live by His Word!
Praise the Lord!