Absolute Reality #5: We are Powerless to Save

College students gathering in a university student center were discussing various philosophies and religions of the world. After one student shared the claims of Christianity and the Gospel, a student responded, “The Christian Gospel is too simplistic for me and most intellectual thinkers. I want to be able to figure things out for myself. In the long run that’s more satisfying.”

That conversation took place while I was in college eons ago. I often wonder if that student’s “intellectual” pursuits ever led her to the realization that shopping at the Do-It-Yourself store is a dead-end street. No human effort in philosophy, science, politics, philanthropy, psychology or any other human endeavor has ever, or ever will, address the lost condition of the human heart.

No matter what good things we accomplish as human beings, we are ultimately powerless to address the dilemma of our own emptiness, finiteness, and bent towards evil. History continually unveils our true condition validating Jesus’ words that “no one is good, except God alone.”

This notion that our post-modern world is making great progress toward the elimination of hate, greed and violence in the world suggests we don’t really need to be “saved” from anything.  Hmmm… I don’t know about you, but I don’t see much evidence that notion matches up with reality, do you?

The fact is the true nature of man’s sinfulness has never been more apparent than it is today. God says that the wages of sin is death – not just physical death, but an eternal “death” in a real place called Hell. Now that’s a topic we don’t want to talk about much! It’s more popular to either deny or play down its existence. Sadly, those who take either position are ignorant of both man’s powerlessness to save himself and the horrible consequences of that rejection.

Whether we like it or not, Hell does exist. Some would deceive us into thinking that if it does exist, it’s no big deal. But the Bible speaks frankly about the horrors of Hell so that there can be no misunderstanding. Jesus said it would be a place of “darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” The story of the rich man and Lazarus leaves no doubt about the horrors of Hell. It is so terrible the rich man pleads with God to warn others.

The reality of Hell is why the message of the cross is good news. The Gospel is the rest of the story… which is good news indeed! We’ll discuss this Good news next time.


Don’t neglect talking with your grandchildren about the realities of hell because you think it will scare them. Hell is not fiction – it is reality, and our children need to know that it exists, it is horrible, and God has provided a way out.

There are appropriate ways of discussing this at various ages, but it does need to be discussed honestly in the same way we warn our children about the dangers of playing with fire or running out into the street. Ask God to give you wisdom to know how to discuss it truthfully, carefully, and always with the Good News message of hope.

Dr. Josh Mulvihill, author of Biblical Grandparenting, offers these suggestions for an object lesson conversation about heaven and hell with younger children:

    1. Find pictures of a unicorn, the Easter bunny, Santa Claus, the Loch Ness Monster or other fictional characters. Ask children what they have in common? They are all make believe. They do not exist. After showing all those pictures show them depictions of heaven and hell you can find on the internet Ask the children if they are make believe or real. Heaven and Hell are real.
    2. Give children a blank piece of paper and have them draw a picture of heaven on one side and hell on the other. Encourage them to draw a picture as biblically accurate as they possibly can. Invite your grandchildren to share what they drew and why they included some of the things that they did in their picture. Remind them that everyone will spend eternity in one of these two places. Ask them how we can know if we will be in Heaven (John 3:16; Romans 10:9).
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