Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Do We Really Love our Neighbors?

Meditation for the week of August 19, 2012

And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. "Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ (Matthew 25:10-12)

Ever since Rob Bell published his book called Love Wins, it has caused me to think a lot about eternal conscious punishment for those who reject Christ. If I understand his message properly, love wins and eternal conscious punishment does not end up being eternal.  Unfortunately, this is not what the Bible teaches.

The Bible says quite a lot about God’s wrath and God’s Judgment of unbelievers.  The reality is that God gets very angry with those who reject His Son and His sacrifice for our sins. 

The Bible speaks of everlasting punishment, of a lake of fire, of a place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, of a place called outer darkness, and of a place of torment.  I know some are going to say that these can’t all be literal because you can’t have darkness and fire together.  However, fire and darkness existed at the same time on Mount Sinai (Deuteronony 4:11).  So while I can’t explain the phenomenon scientifically, I am willing to believe those who observed it.  I believe that the things said about eternal conscious punishment after death are literal.  If they are not, then obviously our minds cannot grasp the real thing.  Certainly the real thing would then be worse than the symbols that are used to describe it.

Some people think that a loving God cannot possibly put people in a place of torment forever simply because they did not “believe”  or trust in the Lord.  I personally understand the logic of this argument.  However, my answer to the argument is that God loved the world and He loved His Son.  He chose to let His Son take the punishment that we deserved because of our sin.  I cannot see how He could honestly love His Son if there were no consequences for not believing in such a great sacrifice.  Even if we don’t agree with God, God is still God.  His way is the way it is going to be!

Those people who are like the five foolish virgins in our passage for today greatly concern me.  They look like Christians, they are moral, they say they are “followers of Jesus,” but they have never prepared properly for the day when the Lord comes.  They are sleeping right along with those who have prepared.  Those who have prepared do not seem to recognize the need to warn the foolish virgins that they are not ready.  These foolish virgins likely go to churches that talk about the Lord and the moral values of the Lord, but their church doctrines do not clearly teach that salvation is by faith alone in the Lord Jesus.  Some add baptism to the formula, some add other sacraments.  Nearly all seem to think that if we act like the world thinks Christians should act, then we must be Christians.  Many of these churches are trying to make the world more Christian-like without teaching the need for a new birth on the part of the individual.

Are we who are saved sleeping today?  Are we just assuming that all is right with those people who have been taught to act like Christians rather than being taught that they are sinners in need of a Savior?  In many cases, we have been convinced that we don’t need to preach the Gospel to those who come to church.  Instead we need to equip those who come to church to evangelize in the world, and so we are taught that it is not good to preach the Gospel of God’s grace in the church building when the church is meeting.  But is that really showing love for our neighbors?  Where is our discernment today?   Can we distinguish between those who have a form of godliness but who have no real faith in the Lord?  Do we listen to see if people are more concerned with what they are doing for Christ than with what Christ has done for them?  

Where is our love for the five foolish virgins who may be sitting in the pews beside us but who are headed for a place of torment where there is eternal conscious punishment?  Just because people act Christian-like does not make them Christians in the Biblical sense.

Bruce Collins


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