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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

November 2, 2018

Do we see ourselves on "thin ice"?

Filed under Sabbath Thoughts

What's your opinion? What is our "chance of success" for entering into eternal life? Good? Bad? And above all else: How does God see our chances of success?

For centuries – and unfortunately still today – the perspective of an eternally burning hellfire was a source of motivation for many who confessed Jesus Christ. The conventional notion of hell, in which sinners are tormented forever, made people live in fear of sin and winding up in that hell. This idea also conveyed the impression of a God who was apparently just waiting for those called by him to make a mistake so that he could condemn them. This was expressed in a famous sermon given by the Puritan preacher Jonathan Edwards:

"The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked; his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire . . . you sinner!"

By contrast, our heavenly Father says that He sent Jesus into the world "that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). And what commission did Jesus receive from His Father concerning those whom His father would call? Jesus tells us: ". . . that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day" (John 6:39).

And Jesus tells us: "Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32). Paul encourages us by writing that God will never test us or allow us to be tested beyond what we are able to bear (1 Corinthians 10:13). That doesn't sound like we are being called to fail!

I heard the story of a man who many years ago wanted to cross the wide Mississippi River at a place where there was no bridge. It was at the height of winter, and the river was frozen over, but how thick was the ice? He wasn't sure, so he crawled in fear on all fours slowly and after pausing several times he reached the river bank on the other side. He thought the ice was very thin and a wrong move would mean the end of him.

Arriving on the other side, he saw another man who also wanted to cross the river. Only he came with a team of horses pulling a wagon loaded with metal. He managed it without any problems because the ice was thick enough to carry him and probably many more people at the same time. The fear of breaking through the ice was absolutely unfounded.

Of course, we must want to enter into eternal life and do our part to receive this gift: seek God, lay aside sin, overcome and let the power of the Spirit that God gives us work in our lives. The question is, do we see ourselves arriving at the goal or missing the mark?

Against the background of the many biblical passages that tell us that God wants to welcome us as His children into His eternally living family, the question is: Do we see ourselves on thin ice?

With these thoughts I wish everyone a rewarding Sabbath!

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.


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