People ask this question a lot – mainly because what they really want to say is: ‘I’m too good a person to deserve an eternity in Hell.’ Over the course of this post I’m going to take a look at that assumption and see if it holds up.
I’m not a murderer, I’m a decent person, I’ll get to Heaven
When pressed this is what most people would say about their chances at getting into Heaven. On the face of things it seems reasonable; I know most people reading this and let me be the first to call my friends good people. In many cases they’re better people than I am – more friendly, not as annoying, not as arrogant, charitable, all round good people. But there is a huge mistake people make when thinking about Heaven and Hell.
Imagine that one of your friends applied to Cambridge University. Nothing wrong there except this person was so certain of getting in that he’d bought a flat in Cambridge, ordered his textbooks for next year, got the Cambridge hoody and planned the rest of his life around the fact that he was going to Cambridge. You’d be impressed by his certainty so you’d ask him why he was so certain; you would ask him on what basis he knew he was getting into Cambridge. How would you react if he responded: “Because I think I’m good enough”? Well, you’d ask him why he thought he was good enough “Oh, I got four Cs and a D at Higher and they’re bound to love me in the interview.” At this point you’d start to feel sorry for the guy who was obviously deluding himself. Here was someone who was sure of getting in because he thought he was good enough for Cambridge. The biggest mistake he made was never thinking whether Cambridge thought he was good enough for Cambridge. He set his own entrance criteria and didn’t care about the real one.
And that is the mistake people make with Heaven and Hell. They think they’ll get into Heaven based on criteria that they set. They think they won’t go to Hell because of their assessment of themselves. But who gets into Heaven and who goes to Hell isn’t a human decision at all. Far from it, God decided who goes where. It is God’s entrance criteria that we need to look at not our own. Not to do so would be illogical and like the guy who thought he’d get into Cambridge we’d look pretty stupid.
So, what is the entrance criteria for Heaven?
Well, we know that God created Heaven and Hell and decides who goes where. Therefore it is God’s criteria that we must look at not our own. We know from my last post that God is completely Holy – that is, he is perfect in every respect. Therefore as Heaven is a place where God resides so it is also completely holy. The perfect God creates the perfect Heaven. So to get into Heaven we must be what the Bible calls ‘righteous’. As it says:
“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the Kingdom of God?”
1 Corinthians 6 v 9
The Bible divides the world into two groups of people: the righteous and unrighteous. To gain eternal life in Heaven you have to be righteous. The unrighteous will be thrown into Hell as I have discussed previously.
Who then is righteous?
“For it is not those that hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it those that obey the law who will be declared righteous.”
Romans 2 v 13
To be righteous we would have to obey God’s law. And because God is completely holy we would have to have a perfect record of obeying God’s law.
What is God’s law?
Well, God’s moral law can be found in the Ten Commandments but these can be further summarised into just two commands:
“Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Matthew 22 v 37 – 40
Have you obeyed both those commands all the time? No! Of course you haven’t. You haven’t loved God with all your heart, soul and mind. You haven’t loved your neighbour as yourself. You’re a sinner just like me and every other human being that has ever lived.
Who then is righteous?
This is what leads the Bible to say:
“As it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one.”
Romans 3 v 10
“For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
Romans 3 v 23
“Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his [God’s] sight by observing the Law; rather, through the Law we become conscious of sin.”
Romans 3 v 20
The Bible is clear: we cannot achieve righteousness by our actions. We are all unrighteous. We cannot achieve the moral perfection needed to earn ourselves a place in Heaven. It is impossible to get Heaven on the back of our works. We all fail to follow God’s law 100% of the time. In fact, God’s law merely makes our sin more obvious.
But I do good works!
“All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.”
Isaiah 64 v 6
Our good works we like to think so much of are like filthy rags to God! A more crude translation would be the word ‘menstrual’ instead of ‘filthy’! Our goods can do nothing to hide the fact that we break God’s law. We cannot get to Heaven on our goods works if we commit just one bad work. Heaven is a perfect place, God is a perfect being, he cannot tolerate imperfection. His wrath is set against sin.
Following God’s standard instead of ours leads us to the terrible conclusion: we all deserve Hell. Not one of us deserves Heaven. I cannot say this is a nice truth; it is not a truth you want to hear but that does not detract one iota from its truthfulness! God is a god of justice and holiness – he has to punish the wicked in Hell, he cannot let the imperfect into Heaven. We’re all F grade students – we’re all Fails when it comes to Heaven. We all break God’s law; we don’t love God with all our heart, mind and soul. We don’t love our neighbour as we love ourselves. We are sinners and have fallen short of the glory of God.
Good people deserve Hell because no one is good. I deserve Hell. You deserve Hell. We all do. There is no discrimination – all are equally damned. Hell is what we deserve for none of us are righteous. No, not one. And God's wrath against sin is set against us.
Is that it?
This could be it. We deserve nothing more. Hell could be the single reality facing all of us on our death. God’s wrath against sin would be satisfied. We would all spend eternity being punished for our failure to keep God’s holy law.
IS THAT IT?
No! Wonderfully, gloriously, that is not it. There is another way to gain eternal life. There is salvation!
“For God so loves the world that he sent his one and only Son, that who so ever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
John 3 v 16
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Romans 6 v 23
2000 years ago God became Man in the form of Jesus Christ. Jesus lived a perfect life, his record was blameless. He was crucified on the cross and in dying for us he took God’s punishment against sin for us.
“For God presented him [Jesus] as a sacrifice of atonement through faith in his blood.”
Romans 3 v 25
He satisfied the wrath of God against sin. By his death he bought salvation.
Are you sure?
Yes! For on the third day Jesus rose again. To prove that death was defeated, to prove that his death on the cross was a complete sacrifice for our sins. Jesus’ resurrection is the staring point of the Christian faith – if he did not rise from the dead then our sins remain unforgiven. But he did.
“For what I received I passed onto you as of first importance: the Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised from the dead on the third day,”
1 Corinthians 15 v 3
Does that mean all sins are forgiven and everyone gets in Heaven?
No. There are qualifiers.
“That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”
Romans 10 v 9 – 10
“In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.”
Acts 17 v 30
“From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”
Matthew 4 v 17
To be saved from your sins you must repent of your sins and believe that the Lord Jesus Christ died for your sins and that through him you will be saved.
What does it mean to be saved?
Simple, Jesus’ perfect record, his perfect soul becomes our perfect record and our perfect soul. Jesus washes away our sin so that we become righteous in God’s eyes.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
“Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”
Romans 5 v 8 – 11
Jesus Christ reconciles us to God. He allows us to form a relationship with God. His perfection becomes ours. We become righteous and therefore God can turn to us and welcome us into Heaven.
I don’t believe in this
Whatever made you think that your opinion matters? Do you think that when you die God will accept that excuse? You’re a fool if you do. For when you stand before God at the Judgement seat and tell him that you refused to accept his offer of salvation he’ll respect that choice of yours. He’ll respect your free will and send you to an eternity if agony in Hell as a consequence for your sin.
God wants me to go to Hell
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
2 Peter 3 v 9
God is giving you every chance to repent. He is patiently waiting for you to come to him. And if you do so he will not turn you away.
I’ll wait until I’m older
How old? How long do you have left on this earth? You’re going to die yet you don’t know when. The truth you have heard should make you realise how serious the reality of Heaven and Hell are. You need to act on this now in case death takes you tomorrow.
You have no excuse. I have presented the gospel message as clearly as I can. To get into Heaven one must obey God’s laws perfectly. No one can do this. We are all sinners. We all deserve Hell. But God in his love provided his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection we can be saved. But only if we repent of our sins and believe in our hearts that Jesus Christ is Lord. We do not get to Heaven by works but through the grace of Jesus Christ.
It is now down to you: what I’ve told you is the single most important truth you will ever hear. What are you going to do about it? Are you going to continue on in your sin and suffer eternal punishment in Hell? Or will you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour and gain an eternity in Heaven? If so, then pray to him, now, just speak to him, he’s listening, he’ll hear you and he will not turn you away.
“For God demonstrated his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”
“Romans 5 v 8
You enjoyed writing this!
No! A thousand times no! Do you really think I like telling people that they deserve Hell? You forget that I also am fully deserving of Hell it is only by the grace of God that I am saved. It is nothing I do. And I write this because you need to hear the truth. If Hell is a reality how could I not warn you? That would make me a monster!
If you have any questions about what you have just read please, please, please email me with them. This is an immensely serious truth and I will gladly answer any question as best I can.
We live in a godless age, a day of outright rebellion against the Lord, a day where the average guy on the street knows nothing about the Bible, knows nothing about the things that really matter in life. What’s more, it seems as if the average guy doesn’t care that he knows nothing. We live in an age of apathy.
So, as Event’s Week draws ever closer I think it would be helpful to take a look at what the Bible says our unconverted friends know. This is not what they say they know, this is not what we think they know, this is what God says they know.
This topic is extremely important for it provides us both with encouragement and a due sense of our own inability to convert our friends. The greater we understand this the more we realise how little we do and how much God does. So turn if you please to Romans 1 and we’ll begin. (Do actually open Romans 1 I quote from it extensively)
They know God exists.
“For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” 1v20
All men know God exists. They have no excuse. Our friends know that God exists. If they say they are agnostic or atheists they are deliberately denying what has been made clear to them.
They know God is holy
“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness” 1v18
Our friends know that God is both holy and that he hates sin.
They know he is worthy of worship
“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” 1v21
They know that God deserves thanks for all things. They know that the Lord Almighty is deserving of all praise and glory and worship.
They know their sins deserve eternal punishment
“Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” 1v32
Death meaning both physical death and eternal damnation.
They know God’s laws
“…since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.” 2v15
God’s law is both in men’s hearts and reinforced by their consciences. All men know right from wrong. Good from evil.
These truths are obvious
“…since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them” 1v19
Our friends, all unconverted people, know these things about God and his nature and man’s nature. This should encourage us as when we speak to our friends and tell them the gospel truth they know what we say is true. Deep, deep down they know we speak the Truth. We merely repeat to them what they already know. Their conscience is our ally!
Unconverted people have to know these things
“And where there is no law there is no transgression.” Romans 4 v 15
If unconverted people did not know that God existed and did not know his laws then they could not sin. But as Romans chapter 1 proves unconverted people DO know God’s law and therefore DO sin.
HANG ON A MINUTE! My friends give no sign of knowing any of this. They deny or would deny all this. What are you talking about?
An excellent point. Let me quote Dr Shedd on this exact subject:
“It is one thing to know the law of God, and quite another thing to be conformed to it.”
Knowledge of God and his holiness does not by any means equal repentance and faith. I know this to be true – I grew up in a Christian family, I was taught about the gospel from a young age but until my conversion (around the age of 14/15) I did not accept it in my heart. Indeed, a rebelled against what I knew and tried to earn my way to Heaven through works but that is a story for a different time.
As James says:
“You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that-and shudder.” James 2 v 19
The Devil knows that God exists, he knows God commands, he knows that sin deserves eternal punishment. Yet still he fights with God. Still he rages against all that is holy. And our friends, to a lesser degree, do the same.
But why? Why is this so?
“Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.” Romans 1 v 28
Because man decided that it didn’t like these truths it rejected them. It is as simple as that.
“They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.” 1v25
Men do not like the idea of a holy God so they create false gods that are immoral. Men do not like the idea of salvation by grace so they create religions based on work instead. Men do not like the idea of God so they create Atheism. Men know the truth but hate the truth so they reject it for a lie.
What are the consequences of such actions?
“Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.” 1v22
God gives men the ability to believe the lies they create. Why is evolution so popular? Because unconverted men have become fools. I once heard a friend put it like this: “Evolution conveniently removes responsibility and accountability from the equation, thereby releasing the conscience from being guilty before God. If there is no one to be accountable to, no one to judge us, then what we do doesn’t matter - no right and wrong”
All false religions and philosophies are created to achieve this same purpose – a removing of man’s responsibility to God.
“Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.” 1v24
“They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.” 1 v 29 - 31
This is the penalty that our friends are under for refusing to accept the truths that God has made clear to them. This is the penalty that we were under until the Lord worked that miracle of grace in us and gave us new hearts that accept the truth!
You may wonder why I call these truths encouraging for they seem the opposite. Our friends are transformed before our eyes from ‘nice’ people to deniers of truth. And in God’s eye that is a terrible evil. To exchange the truth of God for a lie is one of the vilest and morally reprehensible sins that can be committed. And all of humanity commit it.
Where then is the encouragement?
1) Our friends know what we say to be true. Speaking to our friends about God can feel like banging our heads against a brick wall. Their refusal to see what we see as an obvious truth is disheartening. Yet we should draw encouragement from the fact that our words are not wasted. We confirm the truth to them. God has made his nature and laws clear to them and we remind them of what they already know! In this godless age this should strengthen our spirits – even the most atheistically inclined person knows there is a God.
2) We should expect to have the truth rejected. They already have rejected it! When we speak to our friends they have already rejected what we have to say. It is not because we are explaining things badly it is because our friends are deliberately exchanging the truth of God for a lie.
3) Taking these two facts into consideration only one course of actions remains: trust God. Only God can reject their rejecting of him. Only God can open their blind eyes. Only God can make them accept the truth. Only God can convert sinners. We can do nothing. Wonderfully, gloriously, majestically, our actions are useless. It is all God. Therefore pray to God for your friends. Pray that they might see the truth that is so clear to them.
That said, we must remember that just because we are useless isn’t an excuse for not speaking to our friends. Only God can convert. Yes. But he might convert our friends through using us.
From what they already know to what they need to know
We have established that our friends know a lot more than they will ever admit but there remains one exceeding important fact which they do not know – Jesus. Their knowledge of God’s law merely points out that they are sinners. They still need to know Jesus!
“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”
John 17 v 3
It our duty, privilege and delight to point our friends towards Jesus, towards the cross and towards salvation. We need to proclaim the gospel of grace!
So let us stand firm during Event’s Week, let us stand firm in the knowledge that God is with us, let us stand firm in the knowledge that we speak the truth that all mankind knows to be true and let us stand firm in the glory of salvation by grace, bought by the blood of Jesus and his death on the cross.
Event’s Week is a great light into this dark world of ours and Satan will love nothing more than to dim the light as much as possible. Therefore, we should ready ourselves for Satanic oppression, prepare ourselves for spiritual assault and take comfort from this:
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8 v 38 - 39
And as Jesus said at the end of the Great Commission: “And surely I will be with you to the very end of the age.”
Ben would like to thank Tom Johnson for reading over his post and suggesting improvements. He also like to suggest that you post names of friends you would like prayer for in the comments section below.
If my calculations are correct then today is Valentine’s Day. Now, for those who are completely clueless Valentine’s Day is an annual holiday celebrating love and affection between intimate couples. Thank you, Wikipedia. Naturally, my first instinct was just to ignore the day as being contrary to my twisted and blackened heart. But then I decided to commercialise on it and write a Valentine’s Day Special blog post which asks the question:
Who is the greatest love of your life?
Your thoughts are likely to first turn to that very special someone in your life, whoever that might be. The person who makes your heart beat that little faster, who smiles and brightens up your day, who catches your eye across the crowded room, who puts their hand in yours and suddenly everything is going to be ok…
Or, like me, you might be single. In which case we need to widen the sphere…
You could love a friend of family member, you laugh at the same jokes, you know each other so well that you just look at them and know what they are thinking, you share the same interests, you feel like a part of you is missing without this friend, you have no secrets, you share in each others life and in a entirely non romantic way you love this friend…
You could even love a celebrity, be enamoured by the way they dress, by their words of wisdom, by their appearance on reality TV shows of a dubious nature, follow every twist and turn of their life…
But what if you greatest love wasn’t a person?
What if you loved football or rugby above all else? The turf beneath your feet, the ball in your control, dodging past burley men, the joy of winning, the satisfaction in a precisely executed kick, the animal whoop as the ball thuds into the back of the net…
Or what about cycling? The wind through your hair, looking around you and laughing at the idiots who are walking, the achievement from scaling a steep hill and whizzing down the other side, the freedom a bike brings…
Or computer games? The savage satisfaction from topping the scoreboard and knowing that you’re the best of the best, saving your brains from being eaten by zombies through the use of plant based warfare, rescuing the galaxy again, a ten streak kill in COD…
Or reading? The anticipation of opening a new book and casting yourself into a new world, a new idea, a new story, of looking up three hours later and wondering why it’s gone dark, guessing the plot twist before it happens and getting it completely wrong…
Or watching movies? You know that Han shot first, you can recall who won the first ever best picture Oscar, you love nothing more than curling up on the sofa and watching a classic film…
Or achieving success? You just love getting promoted, imagining being the head honcho, the man, being fabulously wealthy and being respected for your knowledge, skill and talents…
Or listening to music? Nothing quite stirs the heart like a rendition of ‘Sunset Boulevard’, nothing beats the soaring notes of Susan Boyle, the melodious sonnets of N-dubz…
Or maybe you’re in love with an idea: socialism is your love, all equal, no poor, greed vanquished, all wrongs righted, all capitalists burnt, collectivism over individualism…
Or in love with yourself? Nothing better to talk about, you look in the mirror and oh, hey good looking, you’re whole life revolves around you, everything else is just so dull…
And what about writing? The pleasure of putting pen to paper, of creating a story out of nothing, of creating, of laughing at your own jokes, ok, maybe that’s just me…
Or shopping? The burning hole money is burning in your pocket, the beautiful dress in the window, the latest fashion accessory on your wrist, the soothing calm of retail therapy…
Or being a secret agent? Those double 0’s in front of your name, the one line quips, the secret gadgets, defeating an evil genius in the nick of time and still being back for breakfast…
In short, there’s an infinite variety of things to love in this world whether they be people, ideas, hobbies or sports. Even better we don’t just have to love one thing we can love many! Our capacity for love is never diminished by our giving of love. Love is one of the few non-scarce resources on this earth.
Yet, all of us at some point put one thing above all others and have our greatest love. We single a specific person, interest, ambition and hold this to be beyond anything else. We dedicate ourselves to it and place it on the pedestal of our hearts. We draw our identity from it. We all make idols out of our love. We love something so much we begin to worship it.
But it never quite satisfies does it? Whoever or whatever it is never quite returns the full amount of love we give to it. Our love doesn’t make our life perfect, our love falls short, our love could even be spurned. At some point disillusionment sets in, our love fades, we becomes bored of it, disenchanted with its pleasures, we have the sense that there is something else, something missing.
What is missing from our lives is a relationship with God. Man was made in the image of God and as such needs to be a relationship with God in order to feel any measure of true and lasting happiness and satisfaction.
Why aren’t we in this relationship?
As Paul says in Romans about all of mankind:
“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
Romans 1 v 21
Without God our existence is ‘futile’, pointless, without any meaning. Without God we have to cry out:
says the Teacher.
Everything is meaningless.”
Ecclesiastes 1 v 2
Because of our wickedness all humans:
“Exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator – who is forever praised. Amen.”
Romans 1 v 25
Success, wealth, sport, hobbies, celebrites, anything else we can put before God is a created thing and therefore a lie.
What are the consequences of our failed relationship with God?
Because human beings choose not to obey God and glorify him as we should then:
“They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant, and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless and ruthless.”
Paul doesn’t mince his words here. I know I’ve committed 90% of the sins there, in thought if not in action, and I think if we’re all being honest we can all admit that Paul’s description is an accurate one.
What are the final consequences of our failed relationship with God?
The result of our damaged relationship with God is death and after that the eternal punishment of Hell. As Jesus says:
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction and many enter through it.”
Matthew 7 v 13
“He [Jesus] will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and the majesty of his power.”
2 Thessalonians 1 v 8 – 9
The Bible is clear on the subject – those that refuse to acknowledge God as their Lord and Ruler and repent of their sins are damned for all eternity.
Is that it? Is there more?
Yes! There is so much more. Our relationship with God is shattered and in pieces. On our own we could never make it up, we could never enter into another relationship with God, our lives would always be empty and his wrath would always be upon us.
But in God’s mercy and abounding love he provided us with a way to salvation.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”
Romans 5 v 8
And verse 11
“Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”
Jesus died on the cross to take the punishment for our sins. So that whoever repents and believes in him shall be reconciled to God. Through Jesus Christ our relationship with God can be repaired.
And, more than that, we are given new hearts. Paul speaks about us “being dead to sin but alive to Christ.” Our old sinful, god hating, hearts are miraculously replaced by new hearts that beat in time to God’s will. Suddenly we gain the ability to really and truly love God.
What has this to do with the question: what is the greatest love of your life?
Everything! The greatest love of my life is God. I can only write those words in truth because through God’s love he sent his Son to die on the cross for my sins. And more than that he led me to repentance and put within me a new heart that allows me to say: I love God.
What does loving God mean?
Well, it means obeying his commands, following Christ’s example and to do everything possible to bring glory to God.
That sounds impossible
Yes, it is. I fail at it – a lot! But Christ is with me and for me. I have been given a new heart but that is only the start of the work in me. Everyday God is pruning my sinful urges, gently guiding me to walk more in him and less in the world!
This leads me onto the next wonderful truth: the greatest love of my life loves me back!
Wow! God, Creator, all knowing, all powerful, holy, wise and good loves me: a wretched sinner. The amazing nature of this truth cannot be over emphasised. God in his love provided humanity with a way to salvation. And then in his love guided people to see the truth of this salvation. And then in his love looks after his people and cares for them – building them to be better Christians and making them more and more righteous. Love for God is never unrequited!
But what does this love mean?
Again, God’s love for me means everything. I know that God’s love me. Therefore, why do I worry? Why do I fear? Why do I feel down hearted? For the Lord God loves me. And is good to me. What more could I ever ask for?
And if God loves me so much how much more should I love him back! Why do I place other things before God? Who or what could possibly ever return even a fraction of God’s love to me? Nothing should replace God in my heart. God is everything I need.
The world offers only false love, deceiving love, shallow, aimless, superficial love, love that doesn’t satisfy, love that doesn’t fulfil, love that is pale and weak.
But God offers an abounding love, a love deeper than the deepest ocean and wider than the widest sea. For while we were still sinners Christ died for us! So when I ask the question: who is your greatest love? Realise two things:
First, your greatest love needs to be God, you need to repent of your sins, you need to seek God because eternal damnation awaits those that don’t.
And secondly, the greatest love in the world is not your love for God but rather God’s love for you. That exceeds any description, that is enough to satisfy any aching void, that alone will bring you true happiness, joy and lasting delight. For through God’s love he provided salvation through the sacrifice of his Son for our sins and through God’s love he has promised to care for his people until the end of the age.
This post was edited on 4/6/11 in order to remove a word deemed offense. A year on from writing this I feel I should add that whilst I still agree with most of what I wrote I do not like the tone I took. It is much too harsh and if I were to write this again I would seek to keep my writing gentlier and with more room given to the opinion of others. In other words I apologise if this rubs you up the wrong way; it rubs me up too. I leave it up as a reminder to myself of what I can write like.
On Friday the speaker at CU happened to mention in passing that he thought it would be a good idea if Christians didn’t go clubbing/only went clubbing with at least one Christian friend. What was interesting was that after the meeting a lot of people I spoke to were suddenly very defensive of their clubbing habits. And that can only mean one thing: a guilty conscience. So then, let’s apply some Biblical truth here and answer the question: should Christians go clubbing?
To start off with let me share with you a true story. My friend, call him Peter, was telling me about a Christian girl he knew, call her Joe. Now Joe had told Peter that she couldn’t go a day without reading the Bible, she always had to read it before she went to bed. But then Peter asked me: “How can Joe say that when I see her at the weekends in a club grinding against some strange man.” In other words how can a Christian go clubbing?
I pointed out to my friend that being a Christian didn’t mean not being a sinner. But what really got to me about the whole thing was that my friend now had another excuse for dismissing Christianity, his views on Christianity were now biased against it. Cause it can’t be that good if a girl can read the Bible and still grind against other guys. What also hit me was the number of times I’ve sinned in front of my friends and the bad example I’ve set for Christ. We must thank God that he can overcome our failure!
The point of the story is to illustrate the simple fact that our unconverted friends are continually judging us on our behaviour, sins on our part become excuses on theirs. It also shows that even a non Christian found it strange that a Christian was clubbing.
But is clubbing all about grinding against strange men? What is the purpose of a club? Well, let’s go through its mean features.
1) Low level lighting – Have you ever stood in front of a brightly lit mirror and been surprised at the number of blemishes you could suddenly see in your appearance (no, just me?) Low level lighting has the opposite effect, covers up blemishes and generally makes everyone appear more attractive than they really are. In addition low level lighting contributes to an atmosphere of sensuality and seduction.
2) Very loud music – this has a twofold influence. First is the fact that you can no longer hear people speak very well. This leads to a greater reliance on the superficial – you look at people rather than chat. Also you have to lean in close to people you want to talk to – basic human body behaviour for closeness and intimacy. The second effect is to provide everyone with a common emotional experience – that is providing the most shallow form of emotional intimacy ever devised.
3) Alcohol – lots of alcohol, mainly spirit based, high alcohol content – get people drunk, get them drunk quickly.
4) The dance floor – likely designed to be smaller than required to force people close together. In addition dance music is all about lust, love and emotion giving everyone unconscious stimulus towards getting real close with each other.
The above ingredients all combine together to produce a recipe for a) drunkenness and b) getting laid. Because if you do achieve those two aims then you’re more likely to have a good time and so return for future business. In short clubbing is designed from top to bottom to get people drunk, laid and in the worst possible sense of the term: happy.
Now let’s look at Galatians 5 v 19 – 21 and check off the sins clubbing involves, encourages or merely fuels.
“The acts of a sinful nature are obvious: sexual immortality (check), impurity (check) and debauchery (check); idolatry (putting anything before God, check) and witchcraft; hatred (check), discord (She said what about me? check), jealousy (He/she is a much better dancer than me! check), fits of rage (check), selfish ambition (I will sleep with her! Check), dissensions (check), factions (check) and envy (check); drunkenness (check!), orgies (check) and the like. I warn you as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the Kingdom of God.”
All but one of the sins are encouraged, fuelled and stirred up by the act of clubbing and the influences on us in clubs. All but one!
So then, a Christian entering into such an environment is unwise, possibly even stupid; it’s like going up to Satan and screamed “TEMPT ME!” But because you don’t like admitting sin you have an excuse, probably more than one. So let’s go through all the major excuses Christians use to justify what is obviously a sin.
I’m not tempted by the sinful side of clubbing.
Yeah right, get off your high and holy horse. Just because you’re a Christian doesn’t make you immune to temptation. Are you really saying you’ve never had one lustful thought? Stared at a low cut dress jus that bit too long? Danced just that bit too intimately? Drunk that little bit too much? Become envious of other people?
The fact of the matter is this: we don’t like to admit how sinful we still are. But, to not admit so is placing confidence in ourselves rather than God. We are sinners! Sin still drags us down! It still deceives us as it deceives you now if you think clubbing is by any means ok.
Matthew 18 v 8
“If your hand and foot causes you to sin cut if off and throw it away.”
If clubbing is causing you to think wrong thoughts then cut if off! Stop going!
But I really haven’t been tempted.
Fine, just how long will this last? Going into a club means placing yourself directly in the path of temptation. It’s stupid. You’re putting too much trust in your ability to resist the Devil. Be wise, remember how pitiful you are, how prone to sin, how often you break God’s law. Don’t club.
I’ll be a good witness to my friend.
You’re standing on a table. Is it easier for your friends to pull you down or for you to pull them up?
I hope you can see how the image works. The sad fact of the matter is that our friends are more likely to drag us into sin than we are to witness to them. Going into a sinful environment makes this a thousand times worse!
Also, just what sort of witness are you setting? Ok, maybe you don’t get drunk or don’t dance that intimately. But so what? A lot of people might not drink or like dancing. And by appearing in a club you’re sending out the message that Christians are no different to everybody else. We can go to clubs as well! Dance, drink, sin.
We are called to live in the world but not part of it. To be distinctive in our lives. Now imagine that when you’re friends invited you to a club you said no. And you explained it was because you rejected all the sexual and lustful sins that go on there. What an amazing witness! What a spectacular example of Christ like behaviour.
But these people are lost – we need to go into the dark places
This is a classic example of the Devil tempting us to sin through good intentions. Yes, we need to witness to people who go out on a Saturday night to clubs. But the way in which we witness needs to confirm to God’s commands for holiness. So, we could go as a team of Christians and talk to people queuing to get into clubs. They’re not that drunk, they can hear what we’re saying and we’re not going in! A perfect, temptation free, witness session. Or we could go into the club and dive into a sea of temptation where we are more likely to be dragged under than lift people out.
Hang on; I’ve had a really good conversion with my friend when they were drunk.
You’re not serious. They were drunk! Inebriated! Sure, they opened up to you on an emotional level but not on a spiritual level. And do we really have so little faith in God so as to rely on the drug of alcohol to help us speak to our friends? Are we really so lacking? After all, if drunkenness really did help let’s hand out beer in church and watch our conversions skyrocket.
But I like clubbing!
Now at last we come to the truth, we rip past all the excuses and see why Christians really do go clubbing. Because it’s fun. Because it’s really quite enjoyable. Because we’re living on the edge!
Sin does that. It confuses us with its pleasures. We think that fun = good when it doesn’t.
We have every incentive to give up clubbing and none to keep going. Is living a holy Christian life compatible with going into a den of sin, temptation, lust and drunkenness? Imagine that Jesus followed you on a night out, would you feel guilty? I know I would.
Above all: recognise how easily you are led astray. Be aware of how swiftly you fall into sin. Pray to God – ask him for the truth, ask God to tell you if clubbing is a sin! And if you agree that clubbing is a sin then repent! Turn away from it, stop going, yes, it could be hard, yes, you may be tempted to go again but by God’s grace you can overcome such desires.
I hate dancing and loud music and can take or leave drinking so clubbing is just not in my character as it were. This makes it easy for me not to go. But please don’t think that makes me a better Christian. I struggle with different temptations just as much and that’s just as obvious sin in my life that I’m ignoring as well.
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