Are you going to Hell? If we truly understood and took to heart the implications and the reality of hell, we would take more seriously the Word of God, finding truth and consequences in all that it says. The last vestige of our transient possessions in this life is our ability to determine whom we like or dislike. It’s the last place that we must go the moment before we die: Do I forgive or do I hold on to my anger forever?
On answering this question there hinges heaven and hell, life and death, freedom and imprisonment. Why are we taught so little of this when our lives are so very dependent upon it? Forgiveness is the most basic foundation of our beliefs. It is the reason we believe in Christ, it is the reason He placed himself upon the cross, and it is through this that we are allowed eternal life with Christ in Heaven. Moreover, eternity is entirely dependent on forgiveness, yet we are taught belief in Christ and not the reason why He is the Christ at all! This is the cross of Christ and why He died for you, that you might live forgiven of your sins.
God says that to not forgive is to not be forgiven, for Jesus said, “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37, NKJV). Thus, as we are forgiven we must also forgive. How can that be interpreted any other way?
Worldly souls condemn themselves to eternal judgment in hell, imprisoned by their sense of self-pride and lack of forgiveness. We are told to not judge them for they are already judged. If we are allowed to do anything at all, it is to forgive them of their trespasses in this world and toward ourselves. They are imprisoned within the walls in which they were born and still abide. Sadly, we Christians often imprison ourselves within the walls of unforgiveness even after we have been freed from such prisons by Christ’s love.
When we fail to forgive, we re-condemn ourselves and in this we need to understand the implications of eternal damnation, for harboring unforgiveness forces ourselves into positions that cause us as much suffering as if we were never saved from Judgment. And the question must be asked, “If I fail to forgive, how can I remain forgiven?” There is a dire need for this teaching in the church today. Many continue to harbor the cancer of unforgiveness within their hearts, imprisoned by their own need for vengeance or retribution (Romans 12:19).
Often I have wondered how Stephen could forgive while being stoned, how the Lord could forgive upon the cross, how Peter and Paul forgave those who mocked, beat, tortured, and killed them. And only by the Spirit can I understand the nature of their forgiveness when, in terrible contrast, unforgiveness is a need to hurt a person in return. It is demanding a penalty of pain and damage against another while we sit in our self-created prison cell coldly awaiting our own judgment. Understanding this fact will hopefully open our eyes to the emotions we are allowing to control us. To hate or resent someone is an emotional response to a perceived wrong, and places blinders on our eyes.
The Lord taught us saying, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matt. 6:12, KJV). We cannot disregard the applicability of these verses in our walk with the Lord. Additional Scripture reveals to us the need for and power of forgiveness not only from the Lord towards us, but from us towards others (John 20:23). Unforgiveness is a poison that we sometimes perpetuate within others as well as ourselves. By resenting and feuding with someone, we have created sin in their life, for which we are accountable before God (Matt. 5:22-26).
Again, If we are to be forgiven then we must also forgive. We have received the gift of forgiveness from Christ, thus we must extend that gift to others as freely as we have received it. God gives us nothing that we are to hoard within ourselves, but all of His gifts are for us to grant to others.
As Stephen was being stoned, he was extending the forgiveness of God towards those who meant him harm. He was effectually cleansing his own soul so that he would be forgiven of his own sins the moment he crossed over into heaven, yet this was not done out of any legalistic sense. Rather, Stephen understood wholly the implications of unforgiveness because he knew Christ and cherished His love, and in the last moment before he was to meet the Lord, love prevailed.
We, therefore, must aspire to forgive for we are all a moment from death. Even Jesus understood the effects of unforgiveness. He knew we would create prisons for ourselves, and He provided His Word so that we may all know the perfect freedom of His love.
I have nothing to say about myself other than I think my forte might be in the ministry of the nuts and bolts of God’s word. It’s an active word that necessitates the action of its participants. It is a “If he abides in me and I in Him, ask what you will and it will be done for him,” ministry.