Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Love Them to Hell

Giving a thumbs-up when we know better is the worst
kind of mean. We must not encourage friends who
are struggling with sin to simply grit their teeth and
try harder, for they can simply beat it. If they rely on
themselves rather than God, they’ll end up back where
they started—drowning their sorrows in their addictions.

We must also never assure people that regardless of whom they trust or how
they live, a loving God will take them and everyone to heaven. It may seem
harsh to warn people about hell, but if you believe that hell is real, it would be
unspeakably cruel not to tell them. We humbly share bad news, not because
it’s fun but because it’s the first step toward hope.

—Mike Wittmer

This was part of one my email devos this morning... and it reminded me of a conversation I had with my Shelby on our way to church last Wed night. The girls are in the Awana program at our church and Shelby was working on memorizing 2 Peter 1:5-8 and I was explaining to her the importance of accurately memorizing this passage.

Now for this very reason also,
applying all diligence,
in your faith supply moral excellence,
and in your moral excellence, knowledge, 
and in your knowledge, self-control,
and in your self-control, perseverance,
and in your perseverance, godliness, 
and in your godliness, brotherly kindness,
and in your brotherly kindness, love. 
For if these qualities are yours and are increasing,
they render you neither useless nor unfruitful
in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:5-8

We talked about how there are some passages with list in them that if you mix the list up it would not really affect the meaning of the verse, however the list within this passage is in a certain order for a very important reason. So we began to break it down.

I asked her "where is love in this list?"
She said, "last"
I asked her "why is it last?"
She said "I don't know?"
I asked her "Why isn't it first in the list?"
She said "I don't know?"
Then I said, "Do you know that you can "love" someone straight to hell?"
She was silent.

I went on, "What if you "love" someone and you are just always "nice" to them and "love" them no matter what they do, but you never tell them that what they are doing is wrong and never tell them that God's wrath will come on those who continue to live the way they are living because you "love" them too much to hurt their feelings and you don't want them to be upset or mad at you?" 
She said, "Ohhhhh..."
Then I said, "Now lets go back and look at the list."

In her translation, the list started with goodness.
I asked her "where do we get goodness?"
She noticed that it said to add goodness to her faith.
I asked her "what faith?"
She said, "faith in Jesus" and then she went on to explain to me how faith in faith is useless and our faith is only as good the object of our faith... (proud Momma!)
I asked again, "so where do we get goodness?"
And then I shared a passage from the gospels with her...

A ruler questioned Him, saying,
“Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 
And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good?
No one is good except God alone.
Luke 18:18-19

She replied, "we get goodness from God!" 
So I asked her "what's next in the list?"
She said "knowledge"
I said, "so we must add knowledge to our goodness and faith and where do we get knowledge?"
She said, "the Bible"
I said, "right, the reason you are memorizing Scriptures and reading the Word of God is so you can add knowledge to your goodness and faith. What comes after knowledge?"
She said, "self-control"
I said, "So as we grow in knowledge you gain self-control, because the truth begins to control you not your emotions. What's next?"
She said, "perseverance"
I said, "if you have self-control what will you do when hard times come?"
She said, "PERSEVERE!"
I said, "right! and what does James tell us about perseverance?"

 Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial;
or once he has been approved,
he will receive the crown of life
which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
James 1:12

Then I said "as we persevere through trials and temptations we become more like Christ because He persevered first and we realize more and more how temporary this life and world is. And what's next in the list?"
She said, "godliness"
I said "we can only become like Christ as we persevere through trials and in doing so realize that we count all as loss as compared to knowing Him and being with Him and loving Him and being loved by Him. We also realize that He never lets us down, He always sees us through, He never breaks His Word, and we can trust Him even to death. What's next in the list?"
She said "brotherly kindness"
I asked her, "was Christ kind to everyone?"
She said, "yes"
I said, "we can be kind to all men... even if we don't yet "love" them or even like them, if we have reached godliness after persevering, because we have grown in self-control, so we can control our own actions, because we have grown in knowledge and have realized but for the grace of God there go I, Christ controls us, God controls us, and we make decisions according to our knowledge of Him and His Word and not our own thoughts and feelings. What's next?"
She said, "love"

I said, "Now do you see why love is last?
She said, "YES!"

Could you "love" someone or be kind to someone who was mean to you or others if you did not already pass through the other steps? Or could you tell someone that you really wanted to like you that what they were doing, the way they were living, will send them straight to hell if you had not started with knowledge?

When we reach 2 Peter 1:7 "love", we can love someone enough to tell them that the way they are living, the choices they are making, their unwillingness to submit to the authority of Christ, will send them straight to hell because God's wrath will fall on those who practice such... and we can do it in knowledge with kindness... and because we have reached love through these ways we will never be unfruitful or useless in the kingdom of our God.

We won't "love" people to hell we will love them to the LORD.

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