Sunday 13 November 2011

Matthew 13

Matthew 13 v24/44
I was told of a mural in a Church not far from my home in which is depicted a scene in which people are being driven to  hell. 

Shortly after hearing of this I had occasion to attend a clergy meeting at that Church.  The mural was pointed out to me and I said that I found it hard to distinguish what it meant, when a fellow clergyman said it had not received attention so had faded as we don’t tell people about going to hell now.  I replied, ‘I do’, and he looked at me completely astonished.  However I feel it should be me being astonished.
     When we who are being ordained into the Church of England appear before our Bishop at the Ordination service the Bishops asks, ‘are you persuaded that the holy Scriptures contain sufficiently all doctrine required of necessity for eternal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ? And are you determined out of the said Scriptures to instruct the people committed to your charge and to teach nothing but that which you shall be persuaded may be proved and concluded by the Scriptures?’ We are then asked to affirm our acceptance .There is also the requirement to banish doctrines contrary to God’s Word.   So why do some not conform to Scripture and their affirmation?’
Hell is referred to 48 times in the Bible to my knowledge, and was frequently taught by our Lord Himself. 

The passage in Matthew 13 is a parable about a farmer who sows good seed in the ground but someone sows bad seed when he is not looking.  The bad seed is so like the good it is only discernible when fully grown.  At harvest the reapers sought the good from the bad and burn the bad.

This is not a farming discourse our Lord is giving but a warning of separation and judgement.  The good seed represents those who have chosen to accept and follow Christ, the bad seed that of the evil one (devil, Satan, or call him whatever you will).  Sometime a person may appear to be a good Christian when in fact he/she is not, but on the day of judgement will be sought out and separated. Conversely, a person not thought much of may be a very sincere and good person. We learn therefore not to exercise judgement.

This parable gives many preachers problems as they are unable to face the reality taught in the Bible.  One Vicar said it brought out the worst in some preachers and irreverently referred to those of us who accept our Lord’s strict teaching as ‘tub thumpers’.  This only goes to show there is no one as illiberal as a liberal.

Some people think that Jesus was just trying to frighten us, which raises the question is there something to be frightened of? 

One often finds speed warning signs along a stretch of road telling of speed camera being in operation, which infers there is a penalty for exceeding the limit.  Sometimes this is accompanied by signs telling of the numbers of people killed. Yes they are trying to frighten us, but also reminding us how close to death we can be, and any sensible person will heed the warnings. 

Jesus is here warning us of the consequences of what we face if we reject Him, at the same time showing His love and concern for us. 

Jesus always made it plain that this life is a preparation for eternity, and we face a choice now.  He taught there were two roads in life, a broad one on which there will be many people, and probably causing congestion, and which leads to destruction, and a narrow one where there will be far less travelling on, leading to eternal life.  In other words, two destinies, heaven or hell.  To suggest this to many people, including clergy, is an anathema and fewer preachers are now willing to proclaim it so. 

There are various view held on what finally happens to us when we die. Some believe that is all there is to life everything is finished; others believe everyone goes to heaven for a loving God would never send anyone to hell; ands that is true, the point is many choose to go by their manner of living. 

There is only one authoritative source, the Bible, all else is pure speculation.  There we find Jesus telling, as He does in this parable, of a literal hell.  In fact whenever He spoke of heaven He spoke of the alternative (hell)   Read the story of Lazarus in Luke 16; or. the parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25.

 Heaven must exist so that those who have served the Lord may have their eternal reward for the sufferings they have endured and to fulfil the promise God has made.  Hell must exist for those who have rejected the warnings and lived unworthy and evil lives.  It has been said for the unbeliever this life is the only heaven they will, know and for the believer this is the only hell they will know.  It has also been said the road to hell I s paved with good intentions whilst the road to heaven is paved with the blood of Christ  We each

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