26 March 2010

Speaking of Hell

I remember telling my friend, Keith, that I didn't think God really liked me. In fact, I didn't think He cared for me at all. He had no respect for my personality or talents. He didn't want to see me at all what he wanted to see himself in me. I was raging against such a thought. Keith, a pastor and advocate of truly biblical counseling, thought I was finally talking some sense.

A rebellious heart and malcontent thrive in a symbiotic relationship. Loathing God is fertilizer for bitterness which grows entwined with immorality and strife in your soul. Keith knew I was no match for the truth and what I was really saying. He knew my heart was screaming; "Help me! I am a Christian and I don't like God!"

Have you ever felt that way? Or, are you one of those people I don't understand? You know, the ones who seem to immediately love Him and are pliable and teachable and are happy with being changed. I really don't get people like that. I know they exist because God seems to surround me with them but being that way baffles me. I wonder sometimes if they are really like that or just pretending. Is anyone really that good? Will I ever get to that place?

I was reading some Jonathan Edwards today. I find his work great for adjusting my attitude and working repentance back into my daily repertoire because he writes about hell. Hell isn't talked about enough. If we really understood the discomforts found in hell, we wouldn't complain about much here. Hell is more than a bad place. It is something from which I have, through no effort or cost of my own, been saved, An unimaginably hideous and horrible place of eternal punishment. The worst day here is nothing compared to your first moment in hell. Each successive moment gets worse still. Hell is an endless string of increasingly agonizing moments with no place to shelter or hide from God's wrath.

It's way too easy to think you can hide from God here and now the way Adam and Eve tried to hide from him in the garden. But then hiding never worked out for them either. I don't recommend you take your last breath and see how hiding worked for you. Edwards wrote:

"Wicked men not only hate God, but they slight Him They are not afraid of Him. But he will subdue their contempt. When He shall come to take them in hand, they will hate Him still; but they will not slight him....They will find by sufficient experience that His wrath is not to be slighted. They will learn to their cost, and they will never forget."

Lord, teach me not to be a fool and despise your discipline. Teach me to appreciate Christ's atonement for my sin, and to embrace sanctification. Have mercy on me, refine me, make me more like You.

Provebs 1:23-33
23 "Turn to my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you.
24 "Because I called, and you refused; I stretched out my hand, and no one paid attention;
25 And you neglected all my counsel, and did not want my reproof;
26 I will even laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your dread comes,
27 When your dread comes like a storm, and your calamity comes on like a whirlwind, when distress {and} anguish come on you.
28 "Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently, but they shall not find me,
29 Because they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD.
30 "They would not accept my counsel, they spurned all my reproof.
31 "So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way, and be satiated with their own devices.
32 "For the waywardness of the naive shall kill them, and the complacency of fools shall destroy them.
33 "But he who listens to me shall live securely, and shall be at ease from the dread of evil."

Romans 8:35-39
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36 Just as it is written, "For Thy sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered."
37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.
38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,
39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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