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What The Hell?

Being that today is Good Friday, I find myself thinking about the cross even more than usual. What it means. Why it’s “good.” And how all of this effects me. I mean, is it really that big of a deal?

So many of us have heard so many of the same great explanations before, (and yes, those things do bear repeating) but instead of only concentrating on “Jesus saves,” I find myself humbled infinitely more when I think about from what? What did my Savior actually save me from? What was so bad, and what would that have meant?

Well, I know that “good enough” is never enough when faced with the wrath of a truly good and holy God. Whether I like it or not is beside the point: Scripture is clear that this is a fact. I know that I screw up more than I care to admit or even think about…sometimes making intentionally poor choices, and sometimes just being so warped in my own mind that I don’t even fully realize the extent of wrongdoing that I do…and I’m not alone in that. We all fall short. And heaven is no place for sinners. Contrary to popular belief, God’s perfect kingdom isn’t going to hold a bunch of people who “tried” or “did the best they could,” or were “good people.” He is perfect, heaven is perfect, and He will not tolerate imperfection.

And that’s why He sent Jesus.

Because God makes the rules (He’s God, He gets to) and none of us could live up to His holy standards. But in order for us to be with Him one day, we have to be perfect…

Now stop for a moment and wonder, what’s the alternative? I mean, if we’re not perfect?

It’s hell.

And it tears my heart out when people think and act so flippant and carefreely towards hell. All too often, the gravity of what hell truly is gets lost in our own misplaced levity. We feel comfortable with what we’ve decided it might be and as a result we start to cozy up to the fire.

Before we take a look at what hell IS, let’s first think about what the Bible says it’s not. It’s NOT a place reserved only for the worst of us; axe murderers, child molesters, and the like. And it’s NOT a place worthy of laughing at, where we imagine funny, spunky, mischievous rule-benders are going to go, slapping high fives with their other mischievous friends, throwing a big “guess we didn’t make it” party and enjoying crass jokes and a general lack of accountability.

It’s NOT a place where the drinks flow fast and thick and everyone finally gets to do what they always went ahead and did here on earth, but to an even grosser excess.

So then, what is it? It’s absolute torment. Plain and simple.

And misery loves company, so hell surely will NOT be experienced in the company of other hell-bound people. Anyone else around would offer comfort, and hell has no comfort. It will be suffered in isolation.

Hell is complete and total separation from God, who is Light, and therefore, it is sure to be black. Dense, crushing darkness, to the point of suffocation.

Pain, terror, fear beyond recognition, and yet conscious. The whole time conscious. Forever.

THAT is what was waiting for me. THAT is what my sins deserve. And THAT is what Jesus saved me from.

The Savior stepped in and saved. He knew the fury of His Perfect Father against sin and so He stepped in front of me and took it. He stepped in front of you and took it! All of it! Every last drop of the intense anger of God against the rampant wickedness in us. That’s the only way that God’s perfect justice–His righteous anger against all sin–could be satisfied without annihilating His children whose hearts are full of sin.

God’s not a pushover…but He is a Rescuer!

He judges us all, but He has offered a free, beautiful, perfect, unfailing way that we can escape the doom of that judgement…by His Son. And Jesus was willing. Not begrudging, not forced, but willing!–because He wants us in heaven with Him. Can you imagine? That God–the One who created everything, the One who needs nothing, the One whom I have nothing to offer to–wanted you and me, and enough to take the pain and torment of hell so that we wouldn’t have to.

Friends, Jesus went through hell on that cross.

Now we hear it a lot. People use the phrase “he/she went through hell and back…” when they experience a trial. And it may feel like that, to us who have no comprehension of what hell actually feels like. But there is One who really knows–only One who has physically “been through hell and back,” and that person is Jesus. Praise God for that! For hiding us in a safe place as He experienced OUR punishment and death. For making a way for us to come to God the Father through Him. For setting His affections on us and then acting on them. That alone is incredible, but even that was not the end. Because after he died, He rose from the dead!

Stop. Think about that. Three days after His body was mutilated, His lungs collapsed, His heart stopped beating…He literally, physically ROSE FROM THE DEAD.

He soundly defeated the death that desperately wanted to consume us. He won our peace, He earned our freedom, and He conquered our enemy. Jesus indebted Himself with our wickedness, worked out our punishment in the grave, and then gave US all the credit! It’s too good to be true–except, in this one case, the truth is truly that good.

He took it all, and then He gave it all. For me. For you.

When I ponder these things, the cross is magnified, the glory of the Savior is amplified, and my heart can’t help but overflow with gratitude. He loves us THAT much.

So yeah, I’d say Good Friday is a pretty big deal. What say you?

By: Ranae Seestdat

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