November 5, 202
I want to propose an outlandish but hopefully worthwhile thought experiment. What if universalism was true and everyone would go to heaven no matter what? We will set aside for a moment the logical inconsistency with this scenario and the teaching of scripture as well (I know not a great way to start a Church bulletin article). If this was the case and everyone would go to heaven regardless of their behaviour or their belief what would you do?
Some might react as if it was the purge and go crazy doing whatever they wanted. Others might carry out that one secret desire that they have kept secret for so long. Some might decide just to sleep in on Sunday or give up reading their bibles. This exercise is of course directed to those who are Christians since many in the world already behave as if there is no God or accountability.
It’s these people I suggest actually teach us a powerful lesson. Their lives are not happy and fulfilled always abounding in health wealth and companionship. Instead those who live outside of the limitations revealed by God find themselves facing all kinds of problems. Their relationships suffer, they are often in prison or homeless, they often can’t hold a job, they end up addicted to various substances. Those who end up well off financially are not better off as they struggle with addiction and mental health challenges empty relationships.
Even adopting a few very basic limitations make a huge difference. Ben Shapiro has cited statistics repeatedly which indicate if a person will only finish high school, not have children outside of wedlock and avoid addiction they will not be permanently in poverty. Where do these basic principles come from? God of course.
This brings me to the point of this little thought experiment. I would propose that even if nothing we did or believed could bring cause us to be eternally lost it would still be better, wiser, and more reasonable to believe in and obey God. There are at least two applications I would like to make in considering this.
First, we need to understand that nothing we can do no matter how hard we work or how “good” we are can redeem us or pay for our sin. That is only possible through Christ. If you are trying to work for your salvation, you are missing the point.
Second, I am often asked if I believe this or that issue to be a matter of salvation. I am always tempted to ask; What if it’s not? Do you only listen to God because you fear punishment? That sound like some people who once came to John the Baptist. If you are only obeying out of fear, then I think your understanding and appreciation for who God is and what he has done is out of whack.
I absolutely believe we need to work out our salvation with fear and trembling understanding the value of our eternal souls. However, I also know that obedience must be motivated by love for and a desire to be like our master.
Based on these considerations and others I would submit that even if sin had no consequences, we would still be smart to avoid it. Even if God didn’t care if I followed Him, I would still do it. Because he is going where I want to go.
With all of that said we must come back to the fact that God is Holy and Just. There are consequences to sin, in this life and the life to come. Only through obeying the gospel by faith, repentance, baptism, and faithfulness can we be free from sin.
~ Kevin Cleary