Monday, October 18, 2021
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How’s Your Parachute?

I don’t know where I got the concept of heaven and hell. It wasn’t from my parents, except they would mention those places with colorful phrases. Maybe it was the Methodist church where my mom would drop me off when I was six years old. Perhaps it was the Baptist church that I went to with my friend Dave Fabarez to go on a trip to the Zoo. Maybe it was the Lutheran church that Betty Disney would take my friend Jeff and me when I was 12 years old. I am not quite sure, but I remember walking to Karate at the Nazarene church and praying. I certainly didn’t want to go to hell and was asking God to save me from it. When I was 15, I accepted Christ as my Savior with all the surrender required, but if I am honest, and I am, hell was a factor in my decision.
2 Peter 2:4 (NIV84) 
4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment; 5 if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; 6 if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;
It occurred to me that I may be preaching a “nice” gospel. Don’t get me wrong, the gospel is hope and escape from the judgment of God, but there is a judgment. You cannot read the Bible and not see it. It is described in enough detail to capture the terribleness of it. People are going there. 
Hebrews 9:27 (NIV84) 
27 Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,
I am not saying that we should go around telling people they are going to hell without Jesus. However, we need not avoid the subject as not to offend some people. Eternity is in the hearts of people. They intrinsically know that this life is not the ultimate end. The people of the west are being convinced that Jesus is the helper for this life, not salvation to eternal life. Eternal life starts now. I believe that, but you cannot take the judgment out of the gospel message, or it may lose its strength. 
2 Peter 2:7–9 (NIV84) 
7 and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men 8 (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— 9 if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment.
Although we may not have many near us in Southern CA, some people have made judgment central. Some are well-meaning and some are not. Some want to describe the condition of a plane that is destined to crash that will create a great need for the parachute named Jesus, while others are just mean-spirited and seemingly want people to go to hell. They just want to tell them before they go there.
I want to pay attention to verse 9, which is the wonderful and benevolent gospel message. God knows how to rescue! Did you know that the Greek word for salvation (soteria), means to rescue? God is a rescuer. That is what He does. He rescues us from our past, present and future. I want to boldly declare that He rescues us from death (the end result of sin), and hell. Whatever hell is, it is to be avoided. What is the cost of avoidance? Jesus paid it already.
1 John 2:2 (ESV) 
2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
He did it. That is the gospel, the good news. Our part is to surrender ourselves entirely to Him. To live in Him, to Him and through Him. When the plane is going down, you would be thankful for any working parachute. Even if it is a little tight and uncomfortable and the color is completely wrong. 
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