Daily Devotional for Thursday March 13, 2008

The Reality of Hell

(John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8,9; Romans 10:8-13)

The reality of hell. Sunday afternoon I got home from the office, took a nap, and got up around 3pm. It was one of those rare moments of "down time," when I was able to just kick back and relax for a few hours. I turned on the television to see what was on, and almost immediately saw that on one of the PBS stations, they were airing the Osmond Family's 50th Anniversary performance from Las Vegas. At age 50, I grew up with the Osmond family and their music. They were always on different variety and music TV programs in the 60s and 70s. Of course, you had the Donny and Marie Show that aired in the 70s. Their music was always on the radio during those years. They were a part of the culture I grew up in. So it was a pleasant few hours watching all of the brothers along with Marie performing, singing some of their many hit songs.

As I watched the 2-hour special, I remembered how in those turbulent years of the late 60s and early to mid 70s, the Osmonds were different from most of the musical greats of that era. It was a time of great rebellion in the nation, the sexual revolution, open drug use, a time of defiance to all authority, including Gods. So it was refreshing to see this wholesome family who stayed clear of so many of the problems that most in the music industry fell into during that time. I do distinctly remember watching the Osmond's on many of the Christmas specials like Andy Williams and Bob Hope. They would sing some of the great Christmas carols and often mention "their church." At 10, 11, 12, even 15, I knew that "their church" was the Mormon church, and deep down, even though I didn't know what it was, I knew there was something different about "their church," and "their faith," as they called it.

It wouldn't be until many years later during my time in seminary that I came to know the truth about the false theology of the Osmond's "church." I still loved their music, but I was hurt knowing that this family was following a lie to hell. As I sat back and enjoyed the PBS special Sunday afternoon, I couldn't stop thinking that these wonderfully gifted performers, this family that I had grown up with, would die and end up forever in hell for following the lies of a murdering pedophile named Joseph Smith. The fond memories of my childhood, the joy of hearing some of their great songs again after many years, was all tempered with the reality that Donny, Marie, Jimmy, and the rest of the brothers were all going to end up in hell with their departed parents if they continued to follow the false teachings of "their church."

It was during this time of mixed feelings, that satan, THE LIAR, began to speak to me. He said, " Bill, surely the wonderful God you love and serve would never send such a precious family to hell who has done so much good for so many people around the world. God's mercy and grace are endless, and He will understand that these good people simply were born into a family that believed the lies of Mormonism. Look at them. Have you ever seen a more wonderful family. No God could send these wonderful people to a place as horrible as hell !"

Let me ask you a question. Have you ever looked at your unsaved mom or dad, husband or wife, son or daughter, someone in your family that you love and care about, a dear friend, a neighbor, someone you work with or go to school with, who you know is not saved and hear satan tell you that same lie? It is a lie we want to believe. Nobody wants to think about the people they love and care about spending eternity in hell. It is much easier to buy into the lies of satan that God would never send the people you love and care about to a place as horrible as hell to be punished for all eternity.

This is the lie of universalism that says all roads lead to God, that because of God's love and mercy, everyone will somehow make it to Heaven. This is the same lie that sadly is preached from the pulpits of many of our churches. You have the man who pastors the largest church in the world, Joel Osteen, going on national TV and helping to spread this lie. If that is true, then Jesus is a liar and the Bible is not true! If that is true then Jesus' death on the cross meant nothing and you don't have to put your faith in Jesus to be saved, but simply believe whatever you want to believe and when you die you will make it to Heaven!

Someone is lying! It is either satan or Jesus! John 8:44 says that satan is a liar, he is the father of lies, that when he speaks, he speaks his native language, lying! Who are you gong to believe, satan the liar, or Jesus, the One who died for your sins???

My friend, hell is a very real place. The fact is, God doesn't send anyone to hell. The only way a person ends up in hell is because they choose to go there. The Truth is, there is only ONE PLAN of salvation, ONE WAY to be saved, and that is by faith in Jesus Christ. There are not many roads that lead to God, only one. You can't believe whatever you want and get to Heaven. The ONLY WAY to Heaven is by putting your faith in Jesus. You see, we are all sinners, and it is our sin that separates us from a Holy God. A person may look to us like they are a "good person," but the Bible says that there are NONE THAT ARE GOOD, NO NOT ONE!

That means no matter how good the Osmonds look, no matter how good Mitt Romney and his family look, no matter how good those family members and friends in your life look on the outside, the fact is they are all sinners. The Bible proclaims that we have ALL sinned and fallen short of God's glory. You see, God doesn't look at the outside of a person, He sees their heart! God sees a person's sins. Is He a God of grace and mercy? Yes! He is also a God of JUDGMENT! God loved us enough to make a way for our sins to be forgiven, so that we didn't have to suffer the eternal punishment we deserve. By putting your faith in Jesus, the One who died for your sins, you can have the assurance of being in Heaven when this brief journey thru life is over.

I love you and care about you so much. The fact is, we are each accountable for our eternal souls. You, me, Donny Osmond, and each one in his family. Sadly, the Osmond's have CHOSEN to believe and follow the lies of the Mormon cult. I have no doubt they have been told many times over the years that their faith is in the ramblings of a conman named Joseph Smith, and that they either believe the Jesus of the Bible or what Smith taught his followers. Sadly, they have rejected the Truth for the lies of Smith and are following those lies to the fires of hell. Pray for them, that they might turn from the lies of the Mormon cult and embrace the real Truth found in God's Word alone. I pray that one day I might get a few minutes with Donny and simply challenge him to think about who he believes, the words of Jesus, or the ramblings of a conman that lived just a few hundred years ago.

I pray today that this message will challenge you to not buy into the lie of satan that your unsaved family members and friends will somehow make it to Heaven without Jesus. if they die without Jesus, they will be lost for all eternity. Ultimately it is their choice, just like we each have to make that choice in our life. However, know today that hell is a very real place, and sadly, it is the eternal home for those who die rejecting the Lord. I will pray with you today for those family members and friends in your life who need to know Jesus, that they will open their hearts to His love and truth, and accept Jesus as their personal Savior by faith.

One of the classic Osmond songs was "One Bad Apple." The lyrics say. "One bad apple don't spoil the whole bunch, girl." The fact is, one bad apple like Joseph Smith, or L. Ron Hubbard, or Oprah, can lead many souls to the everlasting fires of hell. Hell is a very real place, and sadly, it is where those who make the choice to reject Jesus will end up.