Most Christians and churches are wrong when emphasizing missing hell as the most important benefit of being a Christian. True, Christians will not go to hell; however, there is something much more important than avoiding Hell that Christians get. Christians get to have the intimate relationship that Adam and Eve enjoyed before the fall restored forever and forever and forever… Hallelujah!
In John 10:10 Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life and have it to its fullest.” John also said about Jesus in 1 John 3:8, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” And we cannot forget John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus’ mission to us is to give us an eternal relationship with the Father starting at salvation. I know that we often understand the John 3:16 promise just in terms of death. But, it doesn’t say that. The Bible doesn’t say that God gave his son to give us life once we die. It says that God gave his only son, Jesus, the Christ, to give us life starting at the time of salvation. That life is fellowship with God and collaboration with him in his agenda to destroy what the devil has done.
In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus telegraphs this message when he prays, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We are called into relationship with God, not just for our own good but to be members of his warrior body busy extending his kingdom and agenda on the earth. That’s exciting to me. As much as spending eternity worshiping God will be great, something rises up in me at the opportunity to be a part of God’s army today.
Recognizing that we are called to be in a relationship with God accomplishing his purposes on earth has a number of significant implications.
- The primary reason for living holy is not to ensure that one is qualified for heaven. It is, to reflect the character of our Lord and to ensure that our sin does not interfere with our ability to enjoy fellowship and communication with him.
- Prayer is seen more as continuous two-way communication with God than an array of requests to a remote but, benevolent God. Our primary quest is not an assurance of our salvation but accurately hearing and responding to God’s speaking to us.
- The world is not seen as enemy territory that we need to be protected from and into occasionally we venture to rescue poor sinners.
- Christians perspective of the world revolves around God has sovereign instead of God being an enigmatic force that one can access only if they figure out the secret key to his treasures.
Tom Skinner, the minister and former chaplain for the Washington Redskins, in a surprising sermon once described sin as independence from God. I believe that he was on to something. If being a Christian is being in continual fellowship with him, independence from him by definition is missing the mark; it is sin.