Heard a sermon this weekend where the speaker spoke of his father coming to faith during the grieving process after his wife (a believer) passed away. After pouring through the Bible, he called up his son and said, “did you realize that Heaven is not the default?”
Needless to say, that struck a deep, deep cord with me. As a believer since college, I’ve long since taken it as a given that I’m a sinner in need of salvation and my daily walk with the Lord is largely an expression of gratitude and trying to let the Lord mold me into a man more like his Son Jesus Christ. I listen to and sing along with songs of praise and marvel at the Lord’s amazing grace.
In that process, however, I sometimes forget that many (most?) non-believers are missing that key point at the very beginning. That we are all sinners that don’t belong in Heaven on our own merit. This is why I’m in favor of the occasional fire and brimstone sermon. It may not be pleasant and it might ruffle some feathers, but it is truth. The Bible doesn’t beat around the bush. The Word of God clearly lays out the consequences of not believing and it isn’t pretty.
As a believer, it is always healthy to reflect on the punishment that the Lord has saved me from. It helps me with that whole “fear of the Lord” thing. It also reminds me to have a heart for those that have missed key parts of the message. I know that I grew up in a lukewarm church that preached guilt trips and praised God but seldom (if ever?) broke down the Gospel to the congregation and I’m sure there are many churches around the country that do the same. It wasn’t until I heard it preached week in and week out at a church I started attending in college that I got the message.
Looking back, I recall making the point to some friends that making the decision to trust in God is really, really hard. Now it seems like the most logical, sensible, no-brainer of a choice imaginable. But when you have grown up with a different idea of what it takes to get into Heaven, it is not easy hearing that you had it wrong and something this critical and important was eluding you for so long.
So take a moment and pray for those around you that might not have a full picture of the Gospel message. Pray for opportunities to share with them or that they will be exposed to the Truth of the Word.