A More Compelling Reason

January 8 

So, back to our question of a couple of days ago: Would you want to follow God if there were no hell? Fear of hell was just about the only reason people got saved when I was young. No one wanted to jump through all those religious hoops unless the consequences of not doing were far worse.

Whatever hell turns out to be, it is the place where sin devours its prey. As tragic as that might be, the fear of it was never meant to be our motivation for following God. If we’re going to sustain a journey in him, we need a more compelling reason than fear. And our friends and family need to hear an invitation that inspires them to consider God’s reality better than this: “You’re a horrible person and God is going to torment you if you don’t repent.”

That’s what engages the Stockholm syndrome, rather than a real journey of love and affection. Besides, I’m not convinced fearing hell will be enough to save anyone. Oh, it might hold them in check for a few months at a time, but when the fear fades, as it always does, they will be back to their old self-destructive ways.

God’s love for you is the only source of salvation and the only motivation that will untwist all sin wrecks in this world and the one to come. Taste that, and you’ll follow him to the end of the world.

Taste and see that the Lord is good;  blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

Psalm 34:8

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This reflection is taken from Wayne Jacobsen’s new book, Live Loved Free Full. Since the delivery of the print edition was delayed due to COVID issues in production, we are posting daily here until it is available.  The e-book is already out on Kindle if you prefer that version.  If you haven’t pre-ordered your hardback copy yet, you can do so here. SPECIAL NOTE:  our books should be arriving today and we will get out as many as we can this weekend.

Artwork above is taken from A Man Like No Other: The Illustrated Life of Jesus by Wayne Jacobsen, Brad Cummings, and Murry Whitman.

2 thoughts on “A More Compelling Reason”

  1. Hi Wayne.
    I’m sure you’re aware there are a substantial number of christians who are open to the idea of Ultimate Reconciliation (or christian universalism as its commonly known). I have read some great books on this such as The Inescapable Love of God by Thomas Talbot. The basis for exploring this is not just a mushy idea of ‘God is just too nice to punish people in hell’ but out of geniune questions they never got answered in the IC. One subject within this discussion is the idea of just how victorious Jesus was.. In your above post you say when referring to hell – “It is the place where sin devours its prey”. One point said in many books on Universal Salvation is that If Adam condemned all, and Christ all will be made alive, then this certainly gives a solid base to say that Christ must be greater than Adam in his impact, and all being reconciled in the end makes sense. (1 Cor 15:22). Further in I Cor 54-55 Paul says ‘Death is swallowed up in victory’ – ‘Where O death is your sting, Where is your victory?’…But if sin is the sting of death, than if hell (eternal death) gets to devour it’s prey forever through untold millions of people being destroyed by death (sin’s consequence) forever, than one can easliy say in response to Paul’s question – “Here is your sting,death, Here is your victory!” – “All these countless people devoured by sin
    forever!” Some accuse christian universalists of being soft on sin, but if sin is allowed to exist forever through death defeating people forever than isn’t that being soft on sin? I’m just asking honestly. Not trying to start an argument. I’m not saying I’m a dogmatic universalist but at least a hopeful one.

    Also later in the post you say ” I’m not convinced fearing hell will be enough to save anyone. Oh, it might hold them in check for a few months at a time, but when the fear fades, as it always does,”… I agree, and for some people like me who was tormented with a fear of hell as a child, the fear only fades to the background because one cannot function as a human for very long if the fear of hell is upfront in their thinking. But for many it’s always there like a ghost in the background, lurking. It can loom so large even in it’s lack of discussion in today’s church world.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I’m well versed in ultimate reconciliation and I realize that it is hopeful possibility for those who have been terrorized by hell. I have many friends who believe it and many who have tried to convince me it is true. Trying to see how all this sorts out from here is perhaps not possible, which is why we argue the same Scriptures to radically different conclusions. However we go, we end up with a lot of our conclusions that are based on speculation about realities that we cannot comprehend from this side. What we do know is that he have a Father who is completely trustworthy as he wraps up this age with mercy and justice. I’m content to leave it in his hands. I don’t take refuge in theological speculations, but in a God I completely trust to be true to his words and gracious to broken people.

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