If you listen to a podcast long enough, you can more or less figure out what they believe. But why should you have to wait? Learn what we mean when we say that we believe that the finally impenitent are hopelessly and eternally lost today on Christian Holiness Daily.
The book of Matthew is divided into five discourses, the first one being The Sermon on the Mount, which is also the longest sermon that Jesus gave, rather the longest one recorded. To hear ministers talk about it, one would think that it is solely a message of love, mercy, and grace. Within that sermon one finds the beatitudes, which are guidelines for those who would be counted among the citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven. One also finds the analogies of salt and light, the illustration of a lamp hidden under a bushel basket, the mote and beam in the eye, and the wise and foolish builder. The Sermon on the Mount, though, is a well-balanced message, one that can give pause to the reader.
Interspersed with Christ’s message of the Kingdom of Heaven is a warning about the realm of hell. If you take advantage of your brother and call him a fool, you risk the fires of hell. If your eye causes you to lust, then rip it out; better to lose an eye now and enter the Kingdom of Heaven than to go to hell with both eyes. Later in Matthew, Jesus repeats this message using the hand and foot as examples.
Narrow is the gate that leads to the Kingdom of Heaven, but the gates to hell are broad and in constant use. Hell, according to Christ, is real.
Not every Christian agrees with that position. Not every Evangelical Christian believes in that position. For generations some churches have taught universalism, the belief that Christ will, in the end, show mercy to all, and no one will go to hell. A newer and rapidly growing belief is annihilationism, which teaches that God will show mercy to those in hell and, instead of allowing the list to suffer eternal fire and torture, He will destroy them once and for all, or annihilate them. Proponents of both theories can offer verses to back them up, but to accept either, one must dismiss the words of Jesus in Matthew 18:8 where he describes eternal fire.
The messages of Universalism and Annihilationism are warm and inviting, and help fill pews on Sunday mornings. The messages do not, however, fill the altars. One need not repent if there is no eternal consequences of sin. The lack of repentance and confession walls off the hearts of believers and denies them a relationship with their Creator. They then construct their own gods of love and acceptance, who lacks mercy for there is no sin over which they may show mercy.
Yahweh is indeed living and merciful but He is righteous and just. Without hell, sin is positional and fluid. Wrong becomes right and right becomes wrong for no one wishes to offend another. Without hell the Church have no power for they cannot repent of that which is no longer sin. Without hell, average church buildings are community centers and mega churches are social clubs. The Spirit is unwelcome and stifled by sin, so He is replaced by emotions. Without hell, one has no fear of the Lord.
The Bible makes clear that those who do not repent of their sins and put their trust in Jesus Christ will go to hell, eternally. I wish Universalism were true; I wish no one to suffer in hell. Even Annihilationism would be preferable to eternal hell fire, but I cannot believe it, for it makes Jesus out a liar.
Then he will say to those on his left, Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. Matthew 25:41 ESV
Holiness is, perhaps, the most misunderstood concept in Christianity. Anyone who has striven to follow the life of Christ can likely tell you that it is impossible to do. No one can match His love, His grace, or His compassion. For no one but Jesus is perfect. Once the believer is filled with and empowered by the Holy Spirit, though, he or she is filled to the brim with the love of Christ, and desires nothing more than to please God and follow in Christ’s steps. The love of sin is gone. In its place is a love and passion for others. That is Christian Holiness. This is Christian Holiness Daily.