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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sweet Comfort

I'm in favor of thinking things through. I'm in favor of examining Scripture, for instance, to see what it actually says. I'm in favor of thinking ideas through to their logical conclusions to see how they come out. I think it's a good plan. So here's one that, in my opinion, is rarely ever thought through.

Jesus was not vague or unclear: "Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few" (Matt 7:13-14). It isn't hard to understand that Jesus (along with the rest of Scripture) was saying that "many" will go to destruction and "few" will find life. Hard, cold fact.

Now, consider the claim of the Bible and, therefore, Christianity that we have "the Gospel", the good news. And if I ask you what that is (and you're not confused by voices hoisting some counterfeit "gospel"), you'll be able to tell me something about how Christ died for our sins and those who place their faith in Him can be saved. You know ... "narrow gate" stuff. And I would agree with you that it's certainly good news. But a skeptic asked me once, "How is that good news? You're claiming that all those who do not put their faith in Christ are doomed to eternal torment. That's good news?"

There are a variety of answers, but I'd like you to think this one through a bit. Purely in terms of reason, of concepts, of principles, of doctrine, we can say, "Yes, that's good news." And we can say it because Jesus said it. and we can say it because saving "a few" is far more than saving no one, the alternative. And we can say it in view of the price paid by Christ on our behalf. We have lots of reasons to say it is indeed good news. But what about the "many"?

No, let's make it more personal. Let's bring this down to our level. We all know some of the "many". We are all acquainted with, friends with, related to, close to those who will not take the narrow gate. So if you are faced with the death of a loved one -- a wife or sibling, a parent or grandparent, your closest friend in school, someone near and dear -- who you know rejected Christ and went to their grave condemned, what then? Where do you find comfort? When a loved ones dies without Christ, where's the "good news"?

This, my friends, is where the rubber meets the road. This is where you separate the sheep from the goats (so to speak). You see, if the "good news" to you requires "makes me feel good" or something like that, you're in trouble. It doesn't feel good to lose a loved one to eternal torment. So where is the Gospel at that point?

To me, I've found my answer in this: "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?" (Gen 18:25). As long as "good news" depends on me, my comfort, my well-being, my understanding, my approval, then the Gospel is in jeopardy. On the other hand, when I place it in God's hands, agree that God is good, and trust that God will do what is right regardless of my current capacity to comprehend or feel the truth of it, all of it becomes "Gospel" -- good news. In that I find sweet comfort.

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