What Do I Get For “Believing the Gospel?”
Question: Something I’ve recently been thinking about is the irregular involvement of folks who see and believe in God’s relentless mercy and love: “Is there any benefit in knowing the truth?”
Response: I think some people avoid the truth of ultimate reconciliation, and some people think it means they don’t need to be good or go to church etc.—ironically, I think that just reveals that they never were doing “good,” they were just using God to get his stuff.
So, “Is there any benefit in knowing the truth?” Well, this is more irony, but I think there’s incredible benefit—yet if we love God just for the sake of the benefit, we’re not really loving God. It’s like asking my wife, “What’s the benefit of loving you?” Or “What do I get if I love you?” The answer is that I get everything, but the way I ask the question reveals that I don’t really love her.
Having said that, here are some benefits I see:
It makes you good. Right after concluding his theological discourse with the statement: “God consigned all to disobedience that he may have mercy on all,” Paul writes Romans 12:1 “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice.” He then proceeds with all the ethical portion of Romans. Actually, I think a person needs to combine stupidity with a belief that God is out to torture much of humanity forever without end in order to be good. And I don’t mean to be mean, but I think many Christians just avoid the logical contradictions in order to love people. Well, being good should be its own reward—and it is, to some extent in this life. But it is mandatory if a person is to enjoy heaven.
The “knowledge” (which must be more than simply knowledge of law, but personal knowledge—knowledge of Jesus) really saves a person from their sin (When Jesus saves us, we come to know Him)…saves us from sin, as well as death and Hell (both Hades and the pain of Gehenna).
At the end of this response, I have attached a paper that I wrote titled “Urgency.” Ironically, there really really really is a danger of going to “hell,” it’s just that self-righteous religious people are most in danger of going there. And those self-satisfied religious people will be the first to object when you suggest that God will ultimately save all. It makes me nervous to even talk about it—but we all must be humbled. “Hell” both Hades and Gehenna are a means to humble self-satisfied religious people… as well as anyone that refuses to be humbled in this life (which is really death) by the glory of God in Christ Jesus.
So the benefits of “believing the Gospel” now, are everything that the church always said they would be… plus, saving “Christians” from hell. Minus the idea that God will torture people endlessly in Hell. So… I think you see the problem that I outline in my paper: “How do you warn Pharisees that they are on their way to hell, without putting yourself on that same road?”
So lastly, I would just reiterate, the benefit should be like watching a great movie, seeing a sunset, or looking at Niagara Falls. How tragic would it be to go to Niagara Falls and never look at the falls? We were put here on earth to see the glory of God in Christ Jesus. How sad to just visit the gift shop (like going to church) and never look at the cascading torrent of absolute Glory that is the Grace of God revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord?
Recently I wrote an article on this topic: Click here to read “Where is the Urgency?”