Sjolander Road Fellowship




Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

the significance of jesus

5/8/15

 

I have to wonder if those who believe in salvation as escape from eternal punishment see Jesus as meaningless and purposeless if there is no Hell. In other words, do they see more to Jesus and his mission than just rescuing humanity from God's wrath?

 

I have personally heard from the pulpit that if there is no Hell, the church has no reason to exist. At the time, I thought that was an amazing admission. In effect, that statement says that the sum total of what Jesus accomplished for mankind was to divert God's threatened punishment of a very few true believers. For the rest of humanity, the fact of Jesus is meaningless.

 

If one is familiar with the Gospels and the words and teachings of Jesus, then it is natural to ask what all of those words signify in relation to his sole purpose of providing the way to escape divine punishment. What did the Golden Rule have to do with that? How did the Sermon on the Mount relate to saving mankind from Hell?

 

Those who have experienced the typical evangelical sermon or "gospel message" will know that these presentations do not often deal with the ethical instructions of Jesus. Evangelism and the gospel, in the minds of many in the church, is confined to the subject of escaping divine wrath. In fact, if someone suggests that Jesus' ethical instructions need some attention, they may just find themselves shouted down as a liberal do-gooder who is subverting the mission of the church, which is to save souls from Hell, not worry about the condition of the world here and now.

 

If Jesus was 100% about saving mankind from God, then I have to ask why he spent so much time and effort in dealing with these other ethical and mindset issues. The church's narrow view of what Jesus was about could have been covered in a very few words, mimicking the standard 30 minute Sunday message on how to achieve salvation.

 

It should be easy to see that the obsession with eternal punishment has allowed the church to ignore most of Jesus in favor of an issue which cements the church as the power agent in our spiritual lives. Can the institutional church really be the earthly administrators of Jesus and dismiss most of what he taught as irrelevant or even subversive?  That's the real question.