By Tim Lamb, Entiat, WA
Monday, January 14, 2013
Hellfire and Love
By Tim Lamb
I love a good Hellfire and brimstone sermon. It does me good to reflect on the consequences of sin which I have escaped in Christ Jesus (Amen!), and I need the reminder of just how great was the sacrifice Jesus made - the cost of my sin and the ONE person in the universe who could pay it.
But, alas, I'm not much good at pulpit pounding. Every time I call for repentance my "spiritual" knees go weak at the thought of how VERY much I have repented and how much I still struggle with sin.
I am reminded of the story of Martin Luther who was raised believing he must earn his way into heaven. A salvation message he never could reconcile himself to. He lived in constant fear of eternal damnation, so, as a result he was always cursing Satan and crying out to God as a man lost in his sin. Then he was allowed to read for himself the truth of salvation by GRACE through FAITH. When he realized he could not save himself, nor did he need to, because Christ Jesus had already accomplished that, Martin Luther set off to tell the whole world. It was the message of love and Mercy which changed the man and I know that is the message I need to bring because it is the one I know best.
Beware of those who would make salvation something it is not.
Beware of those who would have you working for your salvation. If you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin you are a child of God, not a slave. Children are embraced by a loving Father regardless of their work, but good children love the Father and do His will.
Beware of those who present Jesus as a man with a cause. Jesus was friend of all sinners: Causes have doomed men. The cause is never bigger than Christ. Our greatest sacrifice as men cannot equal the work of Jesus on that Cross.
Beware of him who says reading and knowing the Scriptures or reciting creeds or repeating a certain prayer will get you saved. Here is Salvation: That by faith you believe that Jesus Christ is the one and only Son of the living God; that He died for you for the forgiveness of sin; that He rose up on the third day as promised.
Salvation is not easy but it IS simple. It requires no work but will bring about obedience. It requires no creed but will bring about commitment. It requires no education but brings on a hunger to learn. Here is evidence of salvation: That you have turned and continue to turn from your sin; that you are obedient to the Word of God as found in Scripture. Faith in the unseen will bring about hope in what you cannot prove and show you love for what you could not love.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound...and how beautiful the light by which we know it. Hellfire and brimstone are real; as is the grace by which you can escape it. The sweetness of grace is as real as the stench of sin. Fear of Hell will not save you. Salvation is all about who you love, and who loves you.
Matthew 13:44-46 "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 45 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it."
The Kingdom of Heaven is nothing you deserve, it is to be sought and found in the Person and promise and loving mercy of Jesus Christ.
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