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Friday 20 December 2013

Would a Loving God Send People to Hell? Could a Holy God Take People to Heaven?

In a world full of statistics, here is the ultimate
statistic: one out of every one dies. Then what?
God had a problem. Well, not exactly. The great God is too powerful and wise to have problems; He only solves them. But it appears to us that He had a problem in figuring out a plan of salvation for mankind.
What is the problem? Actually it arises from a seeming clash between two of the great attributes of God—His love and His righteousness. On the one hand, God is a God of love. He loves people passionately. They are His crowning work. Among all the marvels of creation, He is delighted in a special way with humanity. He wants the companionship of every man, woman, boy and girl for all eternity.
But the problem arises from the fact that we are all sinners and God is righteous. He can’t  look on sin with approval. He can’t wink at sin, overlook it or condone it. Sin must be punished and the wages of sin is death. If sinners are ever going to be at home with God in heaven, their sins must somehow be put away. No unforgiven sinner can ever enter heaven.
Now how can God devise a plan of salvation that satisfies His love and yet does not compromise His righteousness? How can He be a just God and a Saviour at the same time? How can He be a righteous God and pardon ungodly sinners? That’s the dilemma. The famous Greek philosopher, Socrates, once said to Plato, then his pupil, “It may be that God can forgive sins, but I cannot see how.”
Seven requirements for any plan of salvation:
It was an act of indescribable grace when God decided to rescue fallen mankind. But once He made the decision, He had to devise a plan that would satisfy His love and His holiness. Since He loves everyone, His salvation must be:
Offered to all. He doesn’t want any left out.
Sufficient for all. It must meet the needs of every person without exception.
Something for which everyone is eligible. No amount of evil should be able to bar anyone from participation.
Simple enough for anyone to understand—no use making an incomprehensible offer.
Something which anyone can receive. The true religion must not have any conditions that some couldn’t meet.
There must be no possibility for human boasting. Pride is the parent sin, and there will be no pride in heaven. Everyone must have the same fitness for heaven.
Yes the plan must be one which God does not force on a person against his will.
The only answer? Finding the right substitute.
There is only one conceivable solution to the dilemma. A suitable substitute must somehow be found to pay the penalty of the sins of the people. Most of us are familiar with the idea of substitution. In some athletic events, the coach sends someone onto the field as a substitute for another player. The average Hebrew believer in Old Testament times understood substitution.
When he brought an animal to the altar of sacrifice and laid his hand on the animals head, he pictured the transfer of his sins to a substitute that would die in his place. But even here there are conditions to be met by a substitute that would fully and finally solve our need to meet God’s requirements:
The substitute must be human. Otherwise the exchange would not be fair or equal.
He must be a sinless person. Otherwise he would have to die for his own sins.
He must be God. Only an infinite person could atone for the numberless sins of the human race. The value of the substitute must be great enough to cover all the sins of humanity—past, present, and future.
He must shed his blood, because divine law has decreed that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin. Life is in the blood and there must be life for life.
He must be willing, or Satan could charge God with unjustly forcing an involuntary victim to die in the place of ungodly sinners.
Jesus of Nazareth qualifies on all counts.
The only Person in the universe who meets the conditions is Jesus Christ.
He became Man at Bethlehem. Born of a Virgin Mary, He is perfect Man (1 Timothy 2:5). As the great Christian hymn-writer, Charles Wesley, put it, “Our God contracted to a span, incomprehensibly made Man.”
He is God (John 1:1). He has attributes of God, the titles of God, and is equal with God the Father.
He is without sin; the record cannot be denied. He knew no sin, He did no sin, and there is no sin in Him (2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:22; 1 Jn. 3:5).
He shed His blood as a substitute for sinners on the Cross of Calvary. Multitudes have availed themselves of the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, that cleanses from all sin (1 Jn. 1:7).
He did it willingly so that sinners could be saved. There was no reluctance. On the contrary, there was a joyful submission to the will of God (Ps. 40:8; Heb. 12:2).
The truth of Christ as our Substitute is found throughout the Bible. Isaiah boldly proclaimed, “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him. and by His stripes we are healed...and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:5-6). The Apostle Paul said, “The Son of God...loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). Peter added: “[He] bore our sins in His own body on the tree” (1 Pet. 2:24).
And the terms of this amazing arrangement?
Since the Lord Jesus perfectly meets all the requirements for a substitutionary sacrifice, God can now proclaim His marvelous way of salvation, the good news of His grace. He can offer salvation as a gift to all who repent of their sins and receive His Son as Lord and Saviour by a definite act of faith.
Notice that this salvation is available to all. “Whoever believes on Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). If it depended on money, the poor would miss out.
It is sufficient for all (1 Jn. 2:2). The death of this infinite Saviour has power to atone for all the sins of the world. It is supremely adequate.
Everyone is eligible for it because everyone is a sinner (Rom. 3:23). It’s his very unfitness that qualifies anyone for God’s salvation. It’s a good thing that the gift of eternal life is not just for the intellectual, the wealthy, or the famous. Some of us would never qualify. Even if it were only for those who could read, walk, talk, or see, some would be excluded. Only the gospel suits the whole world.
It is simple enough for anyone to understand. No one is too primitive or illiterate. The Lord Jesus says, “Come.” Nothing complicated about that! As William Cowper put it, “O! how unlike the complex works of man, heaven’s easy, artless, unencumbered plan!”
Anyone can receive it (Rev. 22:17). Salvation is by repentance; anyone can do that. It is by faith; anyone can believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. No one is more credible than He, and nothing is more reasonable than for the creature to trust His Creator.
Grace excludes boasting. It says, “I did all the sinning. Christ did all the saving. I claim His merits, and not my own. I have no right to enter heaven because of what I am or what I have done. Christ alone is my passport.”
Man is not coerced into accepting God’s salvation (John 3:36). The Creator made him a free moral agent. Strange as it may seem, not everyone wants to be saved. God doesn’t force heaven or anyone. He will not take anyone to heaven against his or her will. You can be certain that any religion that grows by coercion, violence, and cruelty is not the true one.
So God’s way of salvation is the perfect way.
This offer from heaven meets all the terms necessary to satisfy God’s requirements and at the same time can be made available to all humanity. Christ’s work on the Cross enables God to fully exercise His love without compromising His justice. The Psalmist says it poetically: “Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace and kissed each other” (Ps. 85:10). Given the character of God and given the sinfulness of man, it is clear that it is the only possible way of salvation.
Charles Spurgeon asks: “Who would have thought of the just ruler dying for the unjust rebel? This is no teaching of human mythology, or dream of poetic imagination. This method of expiation is only known among men because it is a fact. Fiction could not have devised it. God Himself ordained it. It is not a matter which could have been imagined.”
Perhaps the clearest verses in the Bible on the subject of salvation by grace apart from works are Romans 4:4-5, “Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.”
Shocking as it may seem, God saves those who do not work, that is, who do not try to earn or deserve salvation but receive it as a free gift. And it is only ungodly people whom He saves. Not good people, not people who do their best, but people who are willing to admit that thy are ungodly. In other words, people who repent.
Pay attention to the word “believe.” That is the crucial one. To believe means to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. It means to accept Him as the One who paid the penalty of one’s sins; it means to depend on Him as the only hope of heaven.
When a person believes in Him, he is saved. And he can know it, not by his feelings, but by the infallible Word of God (John 1:12, 3:15-16; 5:24; Rom. 10:9; Eph. 2:8; 1 Jn. 5:10-13)
—William MacDonald

Gospel tract.
Pages: 2
Size: 216 x 94mm (when folded)
Gospel Folio Press
Pack quantity: 50
Bible Version: KJV

To purchase: No minimum quantities on any tract purchase so single copies or whatever is required may be ordered. Pack quantities are given for those who want to purchase a complete pack.