This is really an elaboration on something I said in an earlier post called, Has Popular Christianity Forgotten the Point of The Gospel. I said this:
“…is this how we present the Gospel to others—as the good news of reconciliation to God!—or is it a get-out-of-Hell free card? Or is it our own version of “your best life now”?
In the sphere of evangelism I have seen this screwed up again and again (and have done it myself)!”
Reflecting on this thought in the subsequent days, I began to think of it in a whole new way. What does presenting the gospel as a ‘get-out-of-Hell-free card’ really amount to when you boil it down? I arrived at this conclusion (please correct me if I am wrong): in essence it is nothing more than presenting the gospel as a means of idolatry! Let me explain. If God is of foremost value, preeminent, and supremely glorious (which He is), that would necessarily mean that everything—including the absence of Hell—is inferior to Him (pardon me stating the obvious here).
So when someone preaches the ‘gospel,’ but presents missing Hell, or gaining Heaven, or whatever, in a way which makes it out to be the culmination, or ultimate good of the gospel, than what they are saying is that this particular truth, or gift of the gospel is better than God himself. The person preaching has two choices in presenting this good news: in one hand he has all the good gifts of the gospel—eternity in Heaven with loved ones, missing the torments of Hell, gaining a Helper, and a peace that passes understanding—and in the other, he has the glory and splendor of God Himself! Both are good, but only one is God-good. If this preacher were to pick one of the gifts in the first hand (let’s say missing Hell), he would effectively be saying, “I believe that this is better, or will be more convincing to the lost that they should put their faith in Christ, than the glory of God and eternal relationship with God Himself.” How could this be anything but idolatry? Now I know that I could have worded this is a much simpler, and more convincing way, but sometimes I am not much with words. I think that if you look it over you will get what I’m trying to communicate.
In Isaiah 42:8 God says,
“I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other…”
“my glory I give to NO OTHER!” I can’t help but think that includes Heaven, the absence of Hell, and every other good gift of the gospel.
Of course Im not suggesting that we remove Hell from the preaching of the gospel—Jesus, as well as the apostles, mentioned Hell many times—but am saying that if we go through “the plan of salvation” with someone, and emphasize faith in Christ as a means to escape Hell, than we are doing nothing less that presenting the gospel as a means to idolatry. Just a thought. If anyone has a thoughts or disagreements, please comment.