Sin, Hell and Gospel
By De Benny There is one sentence in the article of Jim Finn, which I wrote about yesterday, that I wanted to add some thoughts to separately. But first the sentence:
Remove sin from the Bible, remove Hell from the Bible and there can be no Gospel.
Jim is right here. Somehow, because the gospel means liberation, and without anybody being captive or anything keeping someone captive, there’s no sense in liberation. If you are free (or consider yourself free) you won’t see the point in someone offering you freedom.
But still, there’s a problem to this. Because the gospel isn’t about sin, it’s about how sin is overcome and defeated. Not that you wouldn’t sin anymore. We are all sinners and we will have to bear with that, but sin won’t have power over us any more.
The basic message of the gospel, if you’d want me to put it in one sentence, is:
God loves you.
Plain simple, and maybe too simple for many. Because the whole background is being left out. All that talk about sin, about how Adam and Eve ate from the fruit and all that.
A simple “God loves you” won’t help a thing, if you don’t understand it. If you consider yourself a nice person, this message about God loving you maybe wouldn’t surprise you too much. Of course He does. Everybody does, right? But if that is your mindset, you wouldn’t very likely listen to how sinful you are. You’d rather think: Yeah, this person speaking about hell and all really has big issues with self esteem or something. As long as you consider yourself great, all of this will hardly touch you.
But consider to opposite: What if you run into problems? What if you see that you are not such a nice person? If you are aware of your flaws, the pain you caused. Maybe it’s gone so far that you’d hate yourself. What then? Would the talk of hell and sin help you out? No. Would it change anything? No, because you already hate yourself, sin and hell would only be the proof for the hate you have for yourself. But what about “God loves you”? This might come like a surprise. Maybe you’d think someone is making fun of you. How can God love a person like me? And maybe then you would realize that it isn’t about what you did, but who you are. That love based on deeds isn’t love at all, and that God loves you and always have, because you are His child, but that He hates your deeds like you do.
Here the message “God loves you” can really be the point, where change comes in. Even without talking of sin and hell.
After all we don’t understand and wouldn’t even listen to talks about the severity of sin and how people go to hell and all. We even would either consider it normal that God loves us, or we’d consider it the most natural thing in the world, without coming to faith.
But this is something, we cannot decide on our own, this is given by God, out of grace.
So as a practical note, I’d say don’t use the fire and hell part of Christianity too offensively. Give witness when asked, but when you talk to people, especially to weak or painful people, start with the love of God without declaring everything they do good. It’s possible. And true.
God bless you all
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From: Sin, Hell and Gospel