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Saturday, August 05, 2006

I'm so glad it's Saturday

It seems the insomniac blogging fever has hit me. Woohoo. I think I'd rather be asleep but after tossing and turning for nigh on 3 hours I decided hey, what better things are there to do in the wee hours than blog?

Today something got me rather riled. In fact, it's an issue that has gotten me riled on previous occasions. The whole love/wrath/justice/etc issue. I'll do my best, at 2.30am, to make this coherent. And as little a rant as possible. (But bear in mind I get cranky when I really want to sleep and can't!)

I was reading through a blog today and came across an old post where this guy, a Christian I think, said he just doesn't believe that Hell exists, he doesn't believe that God would allow people to go to hell, and he doesn't see how anyone who does believe that can just go about their daily lives.

This made me wonder what his alternative to hell is because, well, there has to be a punishment for our sin -there has to be a line drawn somewhere. And reading the comments on his post got me thinking again about how we often like to make God 'fluffy' and talk only about love, not about wrath/anger because God is so lovely that He couldn't possibly be angry. Ever.

Now if I start to talk about the whole God's love vs wrath thing I will start to rant because try as I might to understand why some think that God's wrath and justice are incompatible (I have one or two good friends who take that line of thought), I just can't. To be perfectly honest with you I just don't see why there is a need to separate love and wrath. Someone in work said today, when we discussed this, that it's like trying to separate right and wrong. You can't have one without the other, because if you didn't have 'wrong' then you wouldn't know what 'right' is. Like on my course, we had to do a child study on a normally developing baby, because if we didn't know what was 'normal', how would we ever be able to spot if there was a problem?

Maybe those are silly examples. But the point is that God's wrath does not make Him any less loving. The point is that, for me anyway, His anger at sin makes His love for us all the more amazing. It demonstrates His love more clearly because of how real His anger at sin is.

There's also the issue of God's anger being different to our anger. Our understanding of anger has very negative connotations - God's anger is different. It's Holy anger.

Anyway, I started talking about it and look what happened. For a much more coherent blog on the subject read this.

Moving on.

Someone commented on aforementionned blog something along the lines of the fact that some churches use hell as a way of scaring people into becoming Christians. I really hope that isn't the case!
Anyway, please, someone wiser than me correct me if I'm wrong, but in my mind becoming a Christian is not just about escaping the fire of hell. Becoming a Christian is about bringing glory to God, about recognising your need for, and accepting, forgiveness. About becoming who you were created to be. About being in a relationship with your creator - who just so happens to be the Living God.

Whilst I don't think the whole 'fire and brimstone judgement day is coming you must repent now' line is necessarily the way to go, I do think we should tell people about hell. Hell is real, and it's not pretty. But we also need to tell people why they need to repent. We need to tell them the gospel. And we need to major not on the destructiveness of sin and the doom and gloom but on the fact that Jesus has saved us from all that. Focus, people, it's a matter of focus. Yes, hell exists, it is real and yes we are sinful and yes God is just and yes He punishes sin because He is Holy and cannot be in the presence of anything sinful - but YES GOD HAS SAVED US FROM AN ETERNITY WITHOUT HIM THROUGH JESUS' DEATH ON THE CROSS, WHERE HE TOOK GOD'S ANGER AT OUR SIN UPON HIMSELF AND THEN DEFEATED THE POWERS OF SIN AND DEATH AND HELL BY RISING AGAIN, THEREBY OPENING THE WAY FOR US, IN ACCEPTANCE OF THE SALVATION HE OFFERS US, TO HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM FOR ETERNITY.

One thing this guy said on his blog I did agree with though. He said, if we believe in hell, how can we just go about our daily lives. He has a point. Whilst I wouldn't march up to someone who's not a Christian and make it my task to inform them of the ugliness of sin and hell - the whole 'fire and brimstone' tactic - I do think my knowledge of sin and hell should have more of an impact on me in the sense that I should be more aware of just what my non-Christian friends are facing. But then, Jesus' achievements on the cross should have that impact on me too. As should my desire for God's glory.

I was speaking to a good friend the other week who is going through a time of real questionning as regards God, her faith and the universe. She said one thing that suddenly hit her wa that, if Jesus did what the Bible says he did, then that wasn't just for her and she shouldn't be keeping it to herself, she needs to be telling people urgently, she needs to be pointing people to Him because it's so important. She's right.

What I find hard when I remind myself of the reality of hell and the truth of the gospel is that I very often have this urge to march up to everyone I know who isn't saved, even complete strangers on the street, and literally shout in their faces that Jesus loves them, proclaim the gospel before they have a chance to ask me why I'm shouting, and stress how utterly important it is that they commit their lives to God right this minute. I don't think that's really a wise idea...but it reminds me of how much I need to get down on my knees in prayer. Because it isnot about me, only God can change people's hearts. And He does. That's the amazing thing. Despite our rejection of Him and our delight in all sinful things which deeply offend Him...He loves us. He loves us so much that He was prepared to divert His anger at us onto His son. His son Jesus loves us and His Father so much that He was prepared to go to the cross and take that anger upon Himself. His love is amazing.

When I was tossing and turning and thinking about this earlier (no wonder I couldn't sleep) I started to think, should I be getting so riled up about this? Should this really be getting me so frustrated or is it a bad thing?

I came to the conclusion that I believe the doctrine of penal substitution is true. I believe it to be true so passionately and so passionately believe it is what the Bible teaches that yes, it is a good thing I take it seriously when people don't think this is what the Bible says. However, I also came to the conclusion that I need to not get hot-headed about this. Some people don't agree with me because they just don't see it. Me getting hot headed isnt' going to help that.

(sigh)...insomniac blurt over. Let's see if I can sleep.


Blogger Jonny:) said...

Nice post, keep it safe as its a study response on relay. thats a weeks study already done there :)

4:42 AM  
Blogger FloydTheBarber said...

Dude check this out:

Nothing gets me more riled than people denying that doctrine, its so important, and so true. If you don't want Hell, you essentially don't want a Holy God, and if God isn't holy...He's no sort of God.
Cheers for the link...Bish told me off for ranting when i wrote that, so you'r enot alone.

5:29 AM  
Blogger Welshie said...


*ranting ed*

ok, ok, i'll stop now. sorry! in my defence, if it happens again, it's coz my dad's space bar doesn't work properly!

What's the last bit of that link?

Thanks for the comment mate.

11:47 AM  
Blogger FloydTheBarber said...

sorry i should've though of that!

I was going to start 365ing in welsh...but maybe not eh?


2:16 PM  
Blogger Welshie said...

do it! Welsh is great!


2:50 AM  

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