Someone once said, “No one approaches the turn of a New Year with indifference.” The most frivolous of people even, despite themselves, cannot help but mark the passage of time with some introspection, some thoughtfulness. So as the Old Year draws to a close I think it is an opportune time to tune our hearts—and minds–to thoughts of Heaven.
Now godliness with contentment is great gain. 1 Timothy 6:6
It is said that sometimes big things come in little packages. This brief scripture is loaded with profound spiritual insight and complexity. Every word is necessary in its relationship to the other words in order for it to pack a maximum punch.
PLUNGED INTO HELL
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Mark 15:34
In the last couple decades a controversy has arisen among Christians over the existence of Hell. A startling number of Christian theologians have gone to great lengths trying to demonstrate that a good God would not prepare a place of eternal punishment for condemned sinners—Hell.
Yet, a recent opinion poll taken among North Americans indicates that more people believe in hell today than back in the 1950s. In 1952 about 58 percent of the public believed in hell. Today the figure is 60 percent.
I don’t put much stock in polls, but I do believe there is a hell. I believe this because Jesus has been there.
“Man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.” Deuteronomy 8:3.
This post is a shameless plug for the support of a seminary. As we come to the close of the year, many people receive a flurry of appeals from various institutions and causes for monetary support. Many of these causes are truly worthy of our support. But of all those causes worthy of our gifts, I would like to suggest that faithful seminaries are among the most worthy of your consideration. I say that in part because of these Spirit-inspired words of Moses.
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12
This is not a request to help us be good mathematicians. It is not a request to become a prognosticator of doom, or of our own demise. This is a confession, a prayerful acknowledgement that our life is allotted time. The point isn’t simply that our days will soon end. Moses has already affirmed that the days of our lives are seventy years, and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their span is only toil and trouble.
Moses knew something of death. For forty years he was the pastor of a congregation of over a million people. Every one of his people over the age of twenty died in the wilderness in that forty year time span. The bells tolled for dozens of his people daily. The desert was literally strewn with the graves of his congregation. He knew about death.
Read Luke 17:11-19
“How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child.” William Shakespeare.
A thankless child is not only a pain, he or she is also painful for a parent to endure. A thankless child takes the blessings from the hand of a loving father and mother, but doesn’t come close to his parents expressing humble and heartfelt thanks to them.
How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child.
It is that kind of sentiment that Jesus, our Lord, expresses in Luke 17:17,18. Ten lepers approached Jesus for healing. Nine were Jews, one was a Samaritan. After healing the lepers, only one, the Samaritan, returned to give thanks and glorify God. So Jesus answered and said, Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner? What?! Is only one man grateful enough to come back and say thank you? And he a foreigner—a Samaritan. Didn’t I heal ten lepers? Where are the other nine? Ninety percent ingratitude. An under-whelming response, wouldn’t you say?
On my mind a lot these days is the long prayed for and anticipated event: A group of members of Redeemer Reformed Church and one of her pastors, Rev. Ryan Kron, will begin worship services in Eden Prairie October 23, 2011. They will be renting a local elementary school between nine o’clock and noon each Sunday for worship services.
Kim Riddlebarger writes: “Think of the worst sin you have committed—the one sin you don’t want anyone else to know about. Then think of that habitual sin that holds you in a death grip, that sin you cannot stop committing and have confessed a thousand times and still struggle with. Then think of the sum total of all the sins you have committed. What possible chance do you have of making it to heaven if the death of Christ doesn’t satisfy God’s justice toward all your sins?”