When Christ saw the multitudes, “He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered (distressed and dispirited – N.A.S.) like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest field (Mt. 9:36-38).’”
Did you ever reflect on this passage? Look closely.
Why was our Lord moved with compassion for the crowds? It was because the people he saw were distressed and dispirited, according to the NAS. They were like sheep without a shepherd. And note this interesting fact: His concern for them had nothing to do with the afterlife, what they might suffer after they died. No. He was concerned with the here and now, what they were suffering in this present world! Do you see it?
This passage silences the most common complaint raised against hope beyond hell:
“Why share the Gospel if everyone will be saved in the end?”
“Why send missionaries to Africa?”
The answer is simple.
What do all people fear, to one degree or another?
Now, I ask: Why did Jesus come to earth as a man and live among us?
“He too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death…and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death (Heb 2:14-15 NIV).”
Jesus came to earth to free us all from the fear of death.
The world is full of hurting, anguished people who live their whole lives in fear of death. They need GOOD NEWS! They need to know that death is not the last word. They need to know that they have a wonderful and amazing God, one who loves them with an everlasting love. They need to know that God became one of us, and suffered horribly to bring us life, peace, and joy; both for this life and in the next. They need to know that they are safe and secure in His loving arms.
I am going to make a very radical statement, and I pray you do not get blown away by it.
Do you know WHO my heart goes out to most of all?
I am not as burdened for unbelievers as I am for my fellow believers. But let me qualify: I am referring to Christians who are tormented by the fear of an eternal hell–which is a very large percentage of believers. What kind of fear can be worse than that? Tell me! Please, I want to know. What possible thing could we ever experience that is worse than the threat of being cast in an eternal torture chamber of fire? Being cast alive and conscious into an eternal, “fiery” hell is an infinitely worse fate than merely dying—infinitely worse. That is, if by “death” we merely mean total annihilation.
Most unbelievers do not live under such an extreme, heart wrenching fear. If they did, they would not be unbelievers, but believers in the Augustinian God of infinite torture.
My heart goes out to all hurting people, but especially to those tormented by the fear of God–a God just waiting to torture them forever in hell. They are the ones who are truly distressed and dispirited. They are the ones in greatest need…in desperate need, of GOOD NEWS.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is truly good news!
And friends, there is no “bad news” in the “good news!”
The words of Paul in Acts 20:24 are my inspiration: “I do not count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”
The unlimited grace of God (1Cor 13:8) is what I am giving my life to proclaim. That is my mission. Will it be yours?
“Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people (Luke 2:10).”
“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things (Rom. 10:15)!”
“The message God sent.., Announcing the Good News of Peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of All (Acts 10:36 NIV).”
God is awesome!!!