Thursday, 7 October 2010

Good enough for heaven? Bad enough for hell?

Alan was expressing his frustration with the message of the Gospel.  He told me it just didn't work - he had tried it - he sincerely wanted to be a Christian, he had come to Christ and it hadn't made any difference in his life.  I had to find out why, and I did...

I asked Alan why he had come to Christ, and he told me he wanted to be saved from hell.  I asked him why he thought he was going to hell and he wasn't particularly sure, but he knew the Gospel said that Christ could save him.  I asked him did he think he deserved to go to heaven, he said no.  I then asked him did he think he deserved to go to hell, he told me he didn't.  I said, "I think we've identified the problem."  He didn't think he was good enough for heaven, but he didn't think he was bad enough for hell.

In fact, he said, "Why do I have to choose between heaven and hell?  Why can't I just go on living here on earth?"  He seemed to have in mind that God is just giving people an arbitrary choice between heaven and hell.  The point is that hell is the prison to which people to serve an eternal sentence for breaking God's law (a law we all have broken).  You don't have the option of not going there unless you actually acknowledge your guilt and receive the pardon in Christ. 

Alan didn't think he was bad enough for hell, but God says we are, and until we agree with God on that we will never be saved.  That's why "it didn't work" for Alan.  "Gospel" literally means "Good news", and the good news works only for those who have accepted the bad news first.  If we are prepared to get down off our high horse and admit that our sins are as serious as God says they are, and humbly and gratefully accept that Christ took the punishment for us, and trust in Him for salvation then we will find that the Gospel does work!