Then I told him what I've been mulling over, that there are two things I can't get around lately...
That I think far too little of hell. Not in the sense that I don't tremble and fear going there. No. I know my Savior and His promises and my faith isn't just words and I trust His Word completely, trust him to be faithful even when I'm not.
But I do need to think about hell and think through to the ramifications of what Scripture tells us. Like John 14:6. If Jesus is the only way to the Father, what does that mean for the many who have never heard or never trusted him?
I remember hearing Tim Keller respond to the question "So what do you say about the Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist or Jew who is very sincere in their faith and does not trust in Jesus?" He said something like "If Jesus Christ is who he said he is, if what is recorded about his life and death and all his words are true, then we have got to get him for our souls to live. There's nothing compassionate or kind about not giving food to a person who needs to eat food to live and if Christ is who he said he is, than we need him just as much, even more, for our souls to be eternally full and thrive."
We need Christ or we face a God-less eternity.
And then I read these words, this crystal-clear illustration of my own depraved unconcern. The book (Leonard Ravenhill, Why Revival Tarries) that I found it in would get mixed reviews from me, but Oh! this story...
"Charlie Peace was a criminal. Laws of God or man curbed him not. Finally the law caught up with him, and he was condemned to death. On the fatal morning in Armley Jail, Leeds, England, he was taken on the death-walk. Before him went the prison chaplain, routinely and sleepily reading some Bible verses. The criminal touched the preacher and asked what he was reading. "The Consolations of Religion," was the reply. Charlie Peace was shocked at the way he professionally read about hell. Could a man be so unmoved under the very shadow of the scaffold as to lead a fellow-human there and ye, dry-eyed, read of a pit that has no bottom into which this fellow must fall? Could this preacher believe the words that there is an eternal fire that never consumes it victims, and yet slide over the phrase without a tremor? Is a man human at all who can say with no tears, "You will be eternally dying and yet never know the relief that death brings?" All this was too much for Charlie Peace. So he preached. List to his on-the-eve-of-hell sermon.
"Sir," addressing the preacher, "if I believed what you and the church of God say that you believe, even if Englandwere covered with broken glass from coast to coast, I would walk over it, if need be, on hands and knees and think it worthwhile living just to save one soul from an eternal hell like that! (p 33-34)"
Oh God save me from this chaplain's lame belief, lame love! And thank you for leaders who do see and love and live that your word is true and eternity is real and worthy....
“Fight for us, O God, that we not drift numb and bold and foolish into vain and empty excitements. Life is too short, too precious, too painful to waste on worldly bubbles that burst. Heaven is too great, hell is too horrible, eternity is too long that we should putter around....”
― John Piper, Don't Waste Your Life Study Guide
And this poem I'm pretty sure I've posted before...
From prayer that asks that I may be
Sheltered from winds that beat on Thee,
From fearing when I should aspire,
From faltering when I should climb higher
From silken self, O Captain, free
They soldier who would follow Thee.
From subtle love of softening things,
From easy choices, weakenings,
(Not thus are spirits fortified,
Not this way went the Crucified)
From all that dims Thy Calvary
O Lamb of God, deliver me.
Give me the love that leads the way,
The faith that nothing can dismay
The hope no disappointments tire,
The passion that will burn like fire;
Let me not sink to be a clod;
Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God.
- Amy Carmichael
Oh God, please give me the passion and endurance and faith that would crawl across an England covered with broken glass for the privilege of proclaiming Christ and seeing them, even one, who has never heard of you, trust in you for forgiveness and new life. Ignite my vision of eternity. Give us your favor that we might be fruitful, to your glory and our great, eternal joy.