Our 20 month old toddler is now running around, and getting into everything. At mealtimes, we have to warn her not to touch the oven door. "HOT!" we say (and she gets the message).
On the other hand, a mother in Australia complained to the authorities that the signs on a beach had upset her child. But they pointed out: better to be upset by the signs than be eaten by sharks!
So Jesus repeatedly warns of danger ahead. He warns us about the danger of entering death with our sins unforgiven.
It is our sin that separates us from God, who is holy. To enter death 'unforgiven' means we cannot ever be with God. Instead, we must spend eternity suffering the outcome of our offence to God. Jesus describes the experience of this like the torment of being eaten alive or burned with fire – relentlessly and without relief. He warns us to avoid this danger at all costs.
Dignitas (of assisted suicide fame) seduces us with the idea of entering death when we want and pain free. What they fail to prepare us for is what happens after death. Hebrews chapter 9 verse 27 in the Bible says, "…humans are destined to die once and after that to face judgment." This is when the final decision is made by God – the unforgiven justly condemned to relentless and unrelieved torment; the forgiven graciously given entry to the kingdom of God and inexpressible joy.
We have Jesus' word on it. And the point is that everything else Jesus said has proved to be true. And everything else Jesus promised would happen has happened. His words are trustworthy and true. So we can take it that his warnings are also true.
Here's the question everyone needs to answer: are you prepared to die?
Are you ready to face God's judgment? Have your sins been forgiven? Only Jesus has authority on earth to forgive sins. No one else is entitled to do that for you. So don't ignore his warning, but rather turn to him now and be saved. Prepare to die.
If Jesus' words have affected you in some way, please come and talk to us about it – contact us or come along on a Sunday to St George's at 10.30am.
Pastor, St George's Church