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Hell and how (not) to get there

14th May 2018

What did Israel Folau do or say that was so obnoxious? He answered an Instagram question, quoting scripture about how God deals with those who persist in anti-kingdom behaviours. He later claimed he was simply saying, that is how all are destined without the saving power of Christ.

Daily we are confronted with warnings for physical health like ‘Smoking causes death through cancer, thrombosis, heart attacks, congestion etc - Fine! And we can tell people to ‘go to hell’, but start talking seriously about hell and warning about the deadly danger to the soul in this culture of secular fundamentalism and all hell breaks loose!

Apparently Folau had 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11 in mind. And that opens up a vital subject. The revealed power of a gospel delivering abundant grace and living hope for every human situation. Can deeply embedded motivations be changed or not? Through many repentances and new-starts is holiness possible? Is the Holy Spirit capable of dealing with shameful perversions?

That passage claims so. Made clean and made right in one great act of mercy. And ongoing help to grow in the likeness of the best we were born to be. Justified and sanctified. Our here-after and what we are after-here taken care of by Jesus. Taken off our own hands by Him in whose image we are and shall be! The gospel not merely of words, but of power.

But how to take this treatment for the hell ahead and the hell within? This holistic help for every and all diversions, inversions and perversions tearing at our hearts.

There is a glorious promise. I picture Roundup, that often-used weedkiller, when I claim this promise. If we ‘confess our sins’- saying the same thing about ourselves as the convicting Holy Spirit says into our conscience. That’s all. No self-help stressing, just go along with His diagnosis. Then the promise: ‘He is just and faithful to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’

Confessing lets the Holy Spirit ‘roundup’, going deep into the roots of  our souls as into the roots of a weed, to the dark internal rebellion, hurt, abuse, image defilement and abundant-life blockers in order to create a new person from the very meeting of soul and spirit. Going where neither we nor any expert can go and doing the very work of heaven.

Rev Ian Clarkson is a Uniting Church Minister of the Word based in South Australia.

Ths article is printed in the June 2018 ACCatalyst Magazine.

 

 

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