Thursday, March 31, 2011

Who can be saved? Part 3 - good or bad news

So did Good News just become the ultimate Bad News.

If it seems like the gospel is actually incredibly bad news for people who don't believe it is because we confuse information with situation. It is as though you have a family member who is dying of cancer. They will continue to live for sometime, but eventually they will die. Here is the kicker, they have no idea. They are in a life-threatening situation. Nothing you say or don't say will change that. But if you walk into the room and tell them, "You have cancer and you are going to die, I'm sorry." (You're not very tactful, apparently. Way to go.) You are not changing the situation at all, you are simply bringing light to it. The gospel message is just like this, except it comes with brilliant news: "A local doctor has invented the cure for your kind of cancer. You need only to phone him and she'll come and bring it to you and you'll be saved!" Saying that people are destined for an eternity of destruction apart from the God who gives life is not making it so. It is just bringing light to a very confused situation.

This is part of the reason that people get so upset about the suggestion that non-Christian peoples will "go to hell." They are confusing the actual situation, with the information about the situation and the remedy! Why would it be that people who never desire to come toward the God who gives life will suddenly desire such a thing when they are dead? It makes no sense. It is as CS Lewis said, "There are people who say to God, 'Thy will be done.' And there are people to whom God says in the end 'Thy will be done.'" Or in my version at the end of life there are people who say, "Jesus Christ..." and people who say, "Jesus Christ!!!" Besides, the one thing we don't need to worry about in this discussion is that God will turn out, in the end, to be unjust.

Perhaps this is why I have never been too bothered by the "Problem of Evil." This is a largely philosophical question that states: Because of all the evil and destruction we see in the world. Either God is all-powerful and he doesn't care, or God is all-good and he isn't powerful enough to help. But, the Bible states quite clearly that God has two solutions to the problem of evil. The first is to destroy the earth and all of its inhabitants, which the Bible shows quite clearly that God is fully justified in doing because of our sinful and evil actions (Remember Noah's ark? In children's church they always talk about the animals, but never all the people drowning to death...). The second is the cross. God allows this present evil age to continue, because he is patiently bearing with us in order to accomplish his glorious, beautiful plan of reconciling people to himself and restoring all of creation.

When we see the cross, we may not have the most immediate answers to evil, but the one thing we can't say is that God doesn't care.

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