The Gospel of Fear


by Keith Lockwood

I am listening to an evangelical Christian talk radio program the other day and the theme is what motivates the christian to spread the gospel. The entire program was about the reasonableness of hell, in the sense of eternal torment. It is the fear of God's judgment of sin, which they claim will be eternal, that motivates a person to accept God's gift of salvation. It is also the fear of eternal torment that motivates the christian to declared God's salvation to others, especially their loved ones, whom they do not want to suffer that horrific punishment. The Bible gives us different reasons and motivations for telling others about the gift of God's salvation through Jesus Christ. Romans 2:5 declares that it is God's kindness that leads to repentance. 1 Timothy 1:14 tells us that the grace of our Lord overwhelms, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:14 and 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 tells us that we have peace with God through Christ and that during this era God is not holding our offenses against us. There is still the issue of God's judgment for the sins of unbelievers. Is it something we should fear? The Bible tells us that this judgment will be severe and will cause great distress and anguish (Romans 2:9), but we can have faith in God that it will be just and will fully deal with sin. The punishment will fit the crime. It will not be eternal torment. It is part of the process towards God's eonian purpose, which is to be All in all (1 Corinthians 15:28). Being punished is never an enjoyable experience. I can still remember the gut wrenching anguish I experienced standing before my father after I had done something deserving punishment. This experience will be many times worse when it is before Jesus Christ and for the multitude of sins committed in a lifetime, but just as an earthly father punishes with the intent of teaching his children right from wrong, how much more will God's judgment through Christ correct all that humanity has done wrong. Those experiencing this judgment will come out of it knowing God's righteousness in steep comparison to their own sinfulness and prepared for God's eonian purpose, which as written above, it to be All in all (1 Corinthians 15:28).


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