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Religion or Relationship PT.2
(Continuation of "Religion or Relationship PT.1)
That sin has been passed down from generation to generation and will keep going till the end of time. Ask your parents if they ever had to teach you to touch the remote after they told you not to. Of course not, you wanted to touch it, so you did. It didn't matter whether or not you got in trouble for it, you wanted, even as a child, to sin.
God knew that, since you and I have sinned, we could not live with Him in Heaven upon our deaths. And God, because He created us with immortal souls, had to create a place for us to spend eternity and a place for us to pay the price for our sins: Hell.
Hell is a place. It's a reality. It's not a cuss word. It's not a place you tell people to go to when you're ticked at them. It's a real and eternal place where you will go when you die. It's a place of fire. Imagine being burned alive, yet never dieing. You will eternally burn. But your nerves will never be destroyed. You will never become numbed to the pain. It will always be a real and as awful and as painful as when you first entered. It's a place of darkness. Even with all the fire, it will be the darkest place you have ever been in. There will not be a trace of light anywhere, forever.
Have you ever had one of those dreams? The types of dreams where you fall off of something and you just never stop falling? Well, Hell with be infinity times worse. Hell is a bottomless pit. You will begin falling and never stop, and you will continue being absolutely terrified of crashing to the bottom (or possibly, you will begin to pray to God that you will crash to the ground and end this suffering, but God won't hear you). It's a place of flesh-eating bugs, and "gnashing of teeth" (Matt. 8:12, 13:42, 13:50). It's a place where all your worst nightmares come to life. It's a place of eternal loneliness. Although there will be millions of other people beside you, falling and burning and being eaten alive and screaming endlessly, you will never see them nor hear them. You will never meet another soul for the rest of eternity.
You're probably asking yourself, "What is she trying to do? Scare me?" The answer is yes. I am trying to scare you. This is the place you will end up because of your sin, only it will infinitely worse. What I have just told you will not even begin to scratch the surface of what Hell will be like. If somehow, someway, a person in Hell today were able to tell you what it is like, they wouldn't even know how to describe it.
Now you're probably scoffing again. "Well, if this is where I'm destined to wind up, what ever happened to that 'loving God' of yours?" God is loving and He is heartbroken because of humanities sin. And because He loves us ("For God so loved the world/people of the world"-John 3:16a), He created a way for us to get to Heaven.
What do you think that way is? Being a "good person"? Doing "good deeds"? Going to confession? Lighting a candle? Saying a Hail Mary? Praying a prayer? Actually no. None of those things will get you into Heaven. Only one thing will.
Some people believe that every one has their own way into Heaven or there are hundreds of different paths to take and you have to decide which one is right for you. Wrong. In John 14:6, Jesus said, "I am THE Way, THE Truth and THE Life. NO man cometh unto the Father (GOD), BUT by Me." Why?
Most people have gone to a Christmas service at some point in their life, but do you ever wonder what happened to the "Christmas Baby"? That baby grew up to be a man. A perfect man. And I'm not talking almost perfect, or as close to perfection as you can get, no I'm talking PERFECT. He never lied. He never stole. He never killed (or thought hate to) anyone, He never committed adultery (or looked with lust), He never coveted or worshiped idols or put anything before God. Never.
Because He was God. He was God in the flesh and because He was God, He was holy and perfect. All thirty-three years of His life, He never once sinned. And because of that, He became our perfect sacrifice. God knew that the only way to remove the punishment of sin was through a blood sacrifice. ("Without the shedding of blood there is no remission/forgiveness" Heb.9:22b) I could say, "You know what, God needs a blood sacrifice, so I'm going to go kill myself so that the whole world will be free from sin." I could do that, but it wouldn't have done anything but end my life, because I've sinned. A lot. God needed a perfect blood sacrifice: His own Son, Jesus. Okay, now you're probably saying, "Well, that's contradicting, because you just said Jesus WAS God, now you're saying He's the SON of God. Which is it??" The answer? Both. Don't ask me how, because I don't know. All I know is that Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit are the Trinity: Three in one. Not three different personalities, mind you, but three distinct persons, yet all the same person.
Many people believe that God is not a loving God because He sent His Son to die, instead of Himself dieing and that's not true love. But ask your parents, if someone told them that the world would be blown to pieces and the only way to save the world would be by sacrificing you, would they do it? Any parent that truly loved their child would say "Light the fuse." God showed how much He loved us by sending His Son, the one person He cared about the most, to die because you and I have sinned. How magnificent is that??
Here's where I want to destroy all those images that you've seen of Jesus on the cross. Forget them. They're not even close to the real thing. Jesus was so badly tortured that the Bible says He was unable to recognized as a man, just a piece of flesh hanging from the cross. And forget that piece of cloth you see Him wearing, He was stripped of His clothing. The Roman soldiers wished to humiliate Jesus. And, let's be honest, what would be the worst humiliation? To me, it would be being naked in front of a crowd.
The scene at Calvary was not a glorious painting. People did not look up at the cross, awe-struck. Most people did not fully understand why Jesus was dieing. But Jesus did. He knew that the only way to save humanity from sin, was through His death.
Jesus knew that He wouldn't be dieing without a reason. And that reason was you. Jesus only thought of you while dieing. And if you were the only person on earth, He still would've died.
But this story would be absolutely sad, and, let's face it, pointless, if it ended with Jesus dieing. But lucky for us, it didn't end there. The moment Jesus died, He was sent to Hell. In just three days, Jesus suffered all the pain and torture of Hell that one person would suffer in all of eternity. He suffered in a place meant for sinners, even though He was sinless.
But on the third day, Jesus proved to the doubters exactly who He was. The Romans and most of the Jews did not believe that Jesus was God. They mocked Him, hanging a sign above His head that read "King of the Jews". They called Him names and said, "He saved others; himself he cannot save.(Matt. 27:42a)" But after three days, flesh and bone, Jesus arose, by His own power, from the dead. He had the doubters feel the cuts in His hands, feet and sides. He ate with His followers to prove that He was not a ghost. He was and still is alive today, although He is not here on earth, He IS in Heaven. John 14:2 "In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you." Each of Jesus' followers are given a mansion in Heaven when they die and Jesus has been building them for over two thousand years. If God created this world in only six days, imagine how more wonderful Heaven is if it's taken Jesus two thousand years and He's still working?
You can have a mansion, too. More wonderful than anyone can imagine. But it's not a free gift. If you're thinking, "Oh, well, Jesus died. My sins are gone. I'm set.", you're wrong. Jesus did die and He has taken away your sins, IF you do something. You must believe that Jesus was and IS God and the Son of God. You must believe that He died, because without His death, no one would be in Heaven, and rose again. You also must admit that you are a sinner. If you've answered all the questions honestly, you already have admitted that fact. But you also must repent of (ask forgiveness for and turn away from) your sins. And if you do that or have already done that, you are now a child of God. You still belong to your earthly family, but you now have a home in Heaven when you die, with your Godly father. I'm not religious. I'm a Christian, a Child of God, and because of that, I have a relationship with God and Jesus that can never be broken.
Dave didn't understand this. He believed that if he was good enough or did enough good works or prayed enough, he would go to Heaven. But he was wrong. He didn't care about the one person who died for him. He only cared about himself. And because of that, Dave, today, is burning in Hell, an unquenchable flame.
As a six year old, I didn't entirely understand this, but I did understand one thing. I had broken God's law, and I was on my way to join Dave in that eternal fire. But God loved me enough to send His one and only biological Son to die because of me. I understand more now, than I did back then, but I still knew that God loved me and that I was on my way to Heaven.
There are only two places you can go when you die: Hell, an eternal flame; or Heaven, a place where sin, pain and death is obsolete, and where we will live with our Savior from sin, Jesus Christ, forever. Jesus' death is a free gift, but you have to receive it. The choice is yours. I hope you make the right one.