Deuteronomy 30:19-20 This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
In a very real sense this is the proclamation of every evangelist. The difference is that for Gentiles, we don’t have the physical Promised Land to possess. Also, we know that in Christ the promise isn’t simply for a long physical life, but for eternal life with God. How good is that!? The problem is, most evangelists today only talk about the blessings and life, and leave out the little detail that apart from Christ people are already cursed and are headed for death. We quote John 3:16 and even 17, but leave out verse 18: “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” Recently the term, existential threat, has come up in the news a good bit, but we don’t like to accept that our sins are an existential threat to each of us. We don’t like to accept that the wide road that everybody seems to be on leads to destruction. (Matthew 7:13-14) At this point, only those who have some reason to be forced to consider their own imminent mortality seem eager to choose life. It has long been said that “There are no atheists in foxholes.” We need to realize that every one of us is in a pitched battle for our soul, if we haven’t surrendered already to the enemy who wants to destroy us. The choice of life or death, blessings or curses, is ours.
I have never been a “hellfire and brimstone” preacher, but I keep running into passages like this one that indicate I need to be more clear about the consequences of refusing Christ’s offer of life. It’s not politically correct to tell people they’re headed for hell, but failing to do so is totally irresponsible. This is a struggle for me, because I have a strong tendency to conflict-avoidance. I greatly prefer telling people nice stuff! I’m not to stop telling them all the nice stuff that is in Christ, but I am never to sugar-coat the reality of hell and destruction. I have always operated on the basis of absolute honesty. I must not draw back when the honest truth might be unpalatable.
Father, thank You for this Word. Give me wisdom in following through. May I always speak Your truth in love, even when that truth is that someone is headed for eternity in hell. Thank You. Praise God!