Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Letter from Hell

2 comments:

Nick Kennicott said...

Bob:
I am compelled to respond to this video and am incredibly saddened that it even exists. Trickery and scare tactics are hardly the way that God intends to save His people, or spread the gospel. I am assuming that by posting it without comment, you are promoting its message.

Guilt should never be our motivation to spread the gospel. Certainly we are commanded to make disciples (Matthew 28:19) and be God’s witnesses (Acts 1:8), but never are we told to guilt other believers into fulfilling their responsibility. We must be diligent in our efforts to spread the gospel of Christ to the nations, but what folly to ignore the fact that the Father has said to Moses, “‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion’” (Romans 9:15). Paul goes on further to proclaim that “it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy… he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills” (Romans 9:16, 18). Therefore, it seems to me that the god described in this video’s theology is incredibly small, incapable, and weak. The very “letter” itself implies that had his friend simply told him about Jesus, he would have believed and escaped eternal separation from God. That seems to be human will and exertion.

Let’s consider the book of Jonah. God managed to save an entire city and a ship full of sailors, despite the apathy and indifference of His chosen servant. In fact, He does it with ease! “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown” (Jonah 3:4) is hardly a compelling argument for a non-believer to put on a sackcloth and ashes. It seems very clear to me that God never actually needed Jonah’s “help” in the first place! Application? Simply, I cannot deny another’s salvation (even inadvertently) because of my apathy, ineptitude, cowardice, or laziness toward evangelism, and I’m the first to admit I have plenty of that. God will accomplish His will, with or without my participation.

So what shall be our motivation? The direct commands of Christ, the joy of participating in what God is doing in the lives of His people, and a genuine concern for the souls of mankind – not because I might feel guilty if they die without me sharing the gospel with them, but because I believe that God’s chosen means by which He awakens the dead and saves the lost is through the fallible words of men. Remember also that when Jesus spoke of the rich man and Lazarus, the rich man had no desire to escape from Hades, but rather only wanted to receive a drip of water to cool his tongue. “Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen” (Romans 1:22-25). The video implies that a person’s eternal existence in hell is unfair, when in reality the Bible speaks of a completely different truth. As enemies of God, which you and I both once were, non-believers have exchanged the glory of God for idols and He has turned them over to their lustful desires. Hell is fair for us all – yet God is gracious to save some. “Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honored use and another for dishonorable use?” (Romans 9:21). That he does – and He will. Let us pray for the lost, proclaim to gospel for the right reasons, allow God to be God, and marvel in His glorious grace and mercy. Let’s stop being guilt-driven and start being gospel-driven.

Brother Bob said...

Nick,
Thank you for your comments.
I certainly agree that God is the One who saves people-- we do not save anybody. However, God chooses to use us as His vessels to share the gospel, so we have an awesome responsibility to pass it on.
When I watched the video, the message that I received was that there are people who would accept Christ if we would just tell them, but most Christians fail to share the gospel. As Romans 10:14 asks, "How can they believe without hearing about Him?" Then the video shows us the horrible result of not sharing the gospel with people who would respond, for those who fail to accept Christ are condemned. (John 3:18)
I saw the video as a powerful reminder that our failure to share the gospel can have devastating results. You may call that motivation by guilt, but I see it as a motivation by love for the lost, whom I do not want to go to Hell.