Hell Doesn’t Advertise for Future Residents
How nice it would be if every false way at came with a disclaimer – even if listed in the fine print – that clearly stated its purpose was to lead people to hell. Unfortunately, that isn’t even close to how it works. The devil never says, 'Hello. I'm the devil. Come to hell where you will be in eternal torment, and I will get to torture you forever.' Instead he sets up lots of paths that like they are going somewhere at least interesting, but they ultimately lead to the devil's home - hell.
It is very true to clearly state that anything that does not direct lost souls to eternal peace and joy through the God of the Bible and His instructions regarding entrance into heaven is a false way. Obvious false ways are easy to spot for the discerning Christians. They are like raging rivers at peak flood season. These are easy to spot and easy to stand up against them. But what about the little drips? What about the small things that seem unimportant and trivial? How do you decide what is worth a fight or even a war?
I think some things must always be considered.
First, how much erosion will this little drip – this error - ultimately cause?
Second, how much does this cause a person to follow their own way instead of God’s way?
A very obvious little drip in the church is church music. Music that is set up to please the church members above God is definitely a little drip that will ultimately lead to a Niagara Falls type erosion in church doctrine. Does that sound ridiculous to you? Unfortunately it is not ridiculous; its importance cannot be overstated. The issue is that music used to provoke or even force an emotional response is the place where emotionalism begins to replace sound theology. The biggest mistake a Christian or a church as a group can make is to allow seemingly benign music into the church. It does not matter how many people it does please or how many people it does not please, the end result is going to be emotionalism. Emotionalism puts feelings above the word of God and above honoring God. It always has an evil end. Do not mistake shunning emotionalism as rejecting emotional responses. Music and sound preaching/teaching do cause emotional responses in many cases. The difference is that emotional responses are a byproduct of the message. When having an emotional response becomes the criteria by which music or sermons are judged the line has been crossed from true worship of God into self-worship. When people begin to measure the success of a church service on their emotional response they have stepped into heresy! Never forget – any emotion can be duplicated by the devil. Don’t be naïve and believe he isn’t fully aware of his ability to deceive through giving people the emotional response they are seeking. It is obscene to watch a congregation in chaos as they struggle to reach some level of emotion that allows them to experience the ‘feeling of having worshiped’. (I have seen this in seven-eleven song services in a Baptist church in person – and in the charismatics on television. Obviously, I avoid such scenes whenever possible.) Never underestimate the power of music for evil! Also, never underestimate the power of music for good. The traditional church hymnals like the older Baptist Hymnal and Broadman Hymnals are the most powerful books on earth next to the Bible itself. The devil knows this! He likes to give the impression that the hymnal is filled with dull songs and boring music. Then he presents an alternative that intentionally stirs emotions and easily allows listeners and participants to reach that emotional high that seems to lift them above the ordinary world and into some sort of mystical communion with a higher power.
Never be deceived! There are true emotional highs that come from true worship, but they are never sought out. They are by-products of true worship. When emotional experiences are placed above God in the worship, they have literally replaced God and they are idol worship!
The second thing to watch out for is looking for an answer that God is not giving. In times of turmoil people sometimes want answers or assurances outside the Bible. The answers for what is necessary to know how to gain eternal life and live a life of obedience that is pleasing to God can be found in the Bible. It is sufficient. It is relevant to all generations. It is inerrant. It is also generally available to anyone who wants to read it!
An example of this can be sometimes found when a loved one dies. Even Christians often want some sort of sign or wonder or even communication with the deceased. They want some way to ‘know’ that the person they are missing so dreadfully is safe in a good place. They have the word of God on the matter, but they feel that in order to have true peace about the matter they need something more. So, they go looking for it. They are in danger of falling prey to the deceiver. Never forget the devil is capable of some signs and wonders. If you want a sign and look hard enough for it the chances are you will find something to call a sign. Looking for signs and wonders shows the frailty of one’s Christian faith. We have the written word of God which is a more sure proof of God Almighty than anything a person may ‘see’ or ‘feel’. The confidence in God Himself cannot be replaced by sings, wonders, feelings, or any other thing or event. Confidence in God cannot be equaled by anything the world has to offer.
Or, people look for a sign regarding a business decision, a personal decision, and even signs in romance. Decision making is really a simple matter of being sure you are doing all the things you know Christ asks of you. You are not free to make a choice that causes you to step outside the boundaries set by God. Within those boundaries you are free to do whatever seems good to you.
It is immature to looks for signs and wonders for any reason. The comfort we need is in the word of God. The instructions we need are in the word of God. The Bible is not meant to be the book of instructions on how to build a house, preform brain surgery, or build up a billion dollar business. It is supposed to give you instructions on how to live your life. There are principles for living that are supposed to be carried into every aspect of your life.
I can tell you with great assurance that the Bible tells you God’s will for your life personally. His will is that you live a life of obedience. Love God. Fear God. Do not trivialize the Almighty God of the Bible. Obey God’s instructions. Keep the commandments. Love others the way Christ loves us. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Take your Christian faith very seriously! Actually do the things the Bible teaches Christians to do. Within those boundaries the sky is the limit. You have no other boundaries. Dream big. Live life one day at a time. God doesn’t work on your time table, but He works all the time. Be brave enough to keep your feet on the narrow path regardless of circumstances or what seems to be time delays.
Remember that hell is not advertising its intentions to capture the souls of men for eternity. But, Christians are supposed to be advertising the way to eternal life openly by the way we live our lives.