Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Concern for Unbelievers

I don't write too often about hell. In fact, I can't remember ever writing on it, although a fully believe in it, and have preached directly or indirectly about it often. I do remember one time, very early after my conversion that I did have a t-shirt that said, "Turn or Burn" with some cool artwork. Probably not the best way to communicate the gospel. Among evangelical circles today, same thing. We believe it, we are just a little more sensitive about how we speak of it. Unfortunately when the culture thinks about our mentioning of hell, it's in the context of the quote, "hell, fire and brimstone" preaching. This picture is the best google image had to offer about hell and evangelism. Although not the best, it represents the other half of what we were talking about the other night.

As is our pattern, the girls and I are reading through the bible at night before bed. We have read the NT together in 2013. We are now into the book of Revelation, and they are seeing and taking in the destruction that will one day be. And we talked about how different people view the book in different ways, because my 8-year-old says she "doesn't get it." But obviously any way you view the book, what will take place at the end is not going to be fun.

It was here that my surprise, heartbreak, and pleasure came all at the same time. They were concerned about unbelievers. They understood that the seals and the trumpet blasts and the huge parts of the earth that were destroyed, and huge numbers of people that were going to die. This is what we believe, what the bible teaches, and what they understand.  But to have them show deep concern was heartbreaking.  Here's why: they expressed their concern by asking the question like this, "what if we get to heaven and ___________ is not there?" They didn't say "so and so" or the nations that don't have the gospel (although they know and share that passion with their dad), they named names. They said what if my friend _________ is not there?  What if our family member ____________ is not there?  They understood that people who are close to us are not following Christ, and will experience a terrible judgment during the end.

I explained that God's mercy extends to those up to the end. But they said there is no one to tell them, for they don't gather with a church or they live away from churches. I explained that God can open a person's heart from any distance and through many ways and tried to give them hope and comfort that there is still time left, and an ample supply of mercy. I used the testimony of how I believe that God reached out to my dad right before he died to bring him to know Christ without a church to guide him. I tried to hide the tears that rolled down my face because of their concern, not sure if I could. I was sad because of unbelief, but glad because they understood judgment and the need for conversion and evangelism. Again the saddest part was that they understood people close to us may spend eternity in hell. May God continue to fan that flame and not let their hearts be lulled into complacency.

1 comment:

  1. I am reading Revelations also. I read this book before but this time I asked God to please, please let me understand it a little better. It breaks my heart that my sister and her husband (and others) are getting so old and all those years never followed God. They say they are Christians and pray morning & nights but I don't see any fruits. This has been hard to deal with everyday. Thanks for the blog.