In this age which runs from the Christian religion and which denies that there is any need for that “crutch”, the need for the Gospel is still there and still evident. In ages past, men followed a variety of false Gods. There was Dagon, the Philistine fish-headed god, the sacred trees and poles called the Ashtoreth, a tremendous variety of deities called the “Baals”, and, well, if I tried to name all the various “gods” that men have worshiped, it would require many pages on this blog post. The world that knew that multiplicity of deities needed the Gospel, and the need was obvious.
Our age has its multiplicity as well; Allah, the various Hindu deities, the not-quite-divine focus of Buddhism, the modern occult deities, Mother Earth in her many ecological disguises, and the false gods cruising the realm of pseudo-Christian civic religions: the grand old man in the sky, the god who rewards men on the basis of their good works, and the various gods who wear the names of Christ and Jesus but bear no resemblance to the Biblically revealed Son of God. Our age needs the Gospel, too.
Oddly, it is the secular, pagan world around us that reflects that need – the hunger for something spiritual and someone real – most clearly. You can see the need highlighted in the entertainments that they create, movies like “Ghost”, or “Always”, or the recently released new movie starring Matt Damon, “Hereafter”, and television shows of the sort of “Ghost Whisperer” or “Touched by an Angel”. They all want to tell us what death is like. They try to answer the question that haunts humanity, “After death, what?”.
The problem is that they answer this question from ignorance. They tell us what they creators of these answer wish were so, not what is true, because they have no truth. The answers are entertaining, and comforting in what they present, if not in any lasting effect. The uniformly show a common result that includes everyone, without distinction between good and evil, between this religion and that, between age or social condition. The answer is always something peaceful and pleasant. The concoction they come up with varies in this element or that degree, but it is fundamentally the view that we all die and go to the same pleasant place without distinction or discrimination. Death is a friend. It is pleasant and the afterlife is wonderful. There is not a hint of judgment, particularly in regards to religious belief, except that in most cases, something awful is reserved for the truly wicked and extremely evil such as murderers and those who offend the secular morality of the moment most egregiously.
The message is, don’t worry about death. You are going to be okay. Whatever there may be will be good and you will come out well in the eschatological future. This message is, of course, false. It is the answer of the world and of the devil to the judgment of God, namely, denial. It is the proclamation that there is no real religion and there is nothing to worry about. I imagine that they movies would show that death was the end and there was nothing more to come, if there was a reasonable plot-line to it, and the true doctrine of demons would sell tickets. This teaches us nothing, except, perhaps, that the world is still riveted by the question of what happens after death, and uneasy about the judgment that they somehow know is coming.
We have the answer! We have the truth, revealed by God Himself. There is judgment coming, and there is a hell, and it is something that we all deserve. That there is no distinction between people, by nature, is the one part of the picture that the modern media answers have right. We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God! But there is a distinction in the day of judgment. It is the judgment that distinguishes those who are God’s from those who patently refuse to be His.
There is a need for the Gospel of the redemption which is in Christ Jesus and of the grace of God which forgives us our sins. In this Gospel, God bestows as a gift the perfect righteousness of Christ, and as a result gives life everlasting and salvation to those who believe. By "believe" we mean those who trust in the Lord to be who He has revealed Himself to be and to do all that He has promised to do in connection with Jesus Christ. This is not the Gospel of meeting felt needs, but the Gospel of the grace of God. This Gospel, however, also answers those “felt needs” ultimately, but it does so much more. It actually comforts with a lasting comfort, and, although it refuses to answer all the questions that the mind of man can conjure up with any specificity, it answer the main questions: Is there something after death? Yes. Is it good for everyone? No, but for some there is eternal life in glory, and for others there is eternal death in pain of body and mind and soul. How can I know what is my part? What can I do? Believe in Jesus Christ (the One revealed in the Bible, not the imitations invented by society) and you shall be saved. Jesus has accomplished all that you need done, and salvation is His gift.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.”