We used to say that some people only accepted Jesus as “fire insurance,” the way to get out of hell. They didn’t really want anything else He offered.
But escape from hell is not the only benefit of the cross. In fact, escape from hell isn’t really the message of the cross at all. The message of the cross is new life in Jesus.
We all have smoke detectors in our homes now. What’s the job of the smoke detector? It’s to tell you to get out of your house because there’s a fire. It’s a warning device that may deliver you from a terrible death. But I, like many others, have the strange fear that the smoke detector will go off in the night and we will all have to run outside in our pj’s to stand in the freezing cold. I suppose we could stand close enough to the burning house to stay warm. 🙂
The point is that the smoke detector doesn’t protect us from any other danger. We could freeze to death, but at least we wouldn’t burn. We may have to live in our car or walk without shoes to the neighbor’s or try to get a motel without our credit cards. The smoke detector doesn’t care. It did its job.
Jesus is not a smoke detector. Jesus offers us life abundant. We were already dead in our sins, already separated from God, already on our way to eternal hell. Jesus came with a message of life. He offers forgiveness for sin, freedom from guilt, victory over evil in our lives, hope for a wonderful future, community with His people, and love and acceptance from His heart. Coming to Jesus is about so much more than escape from hell.
Isn’t it interesting that those who talk about hell the most offer the least victory and hope in Jesus? By focusing on hell, they rob their people of hope and freedom. They don’t tell them how to live in Christ and enjoy a real relationship with Him. They don’t tell them about resting in the Lord. So, their people struggle against sin and fear and guilt—and try to keep others under the law with them.
What do you think?