No heaven and no hell?

By Rev. Dr. Howard S. Russell, CHM President & CEO

From the March 2019 issue of Heartfelt Magazine.

“I would follow Christ if there were no heaven and there were no hell.”

That quotation from the late Rev. Dr. Adrian Rogers, an influential Southern Baptist pastor, puts a great deal on the table in a very few words.

What if there were no heaven or hell? Would it matter to our Christian faith? Would we still follow Christ if there were no eternal reward or punishment, or would we look at it as a “get out of jail free” card to live in whatever way we wish?

The more I reflect on that statement, the more profound it becomes.

We can translate it to CHM and its mission of glorifying God by serving His people. If eternity held no concern for us, how would we treat fellow members of the Body of Christ? If no accounting were given when we stand before the Lord, where would we stand on such subjects as helping fellow Christians with their medical bills?

Membership could plummet as members decide that sharing to support their fellow Christians—as depicted in the book of Acts—is unnecessary. Extra giving to help members pay their medical bills from pre-existing conditions conceivably could dry up.

Would we be members of this Christian ministry if there were no heaven and there were no hell, and if Christ was merely a model of how we should live, with no hope of a hereafter?

I think two things are true about myself and about an overwhelming, stupendously high percentage of CHM members: Yes, we would follow Christ if there were no heaven and there were no hell; and yes, we would be members of such a ministry because of what it does—in the here and now—for fellow believers.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34-35.

Those two verses from the Gospel of Jesus as written by the Apostle John don’t mention anything about reward or benefit. But the Lord’s words are clear: this is how people will know who you are, and this is how you will know in whom you believe: Love one another.

Jesus doesn’t qualify or quantify his statement. It’s not a request, a good idea, a helpful hint, or a stern admonition: It’s a command. A new command, to love one another.

That is part of what you do as a CHM member. There are fellow members who need you, and you are here for them. When you need them, they’re here for you.

As you read Heartfelt magazine you will undoubtedly be struck—and uplifted—by the number of times members writing about their CHM experience express their gratitude and love for you, their fellow members.

That’s not an accident or a throwaway thing to say. They mean it. They mean it because they’re Christians who understand that they are being held up financially, in prayer, and in the hearts of their fellow CHM members, their fellow Christians.

Of course, we understand from the Bible that heaven and hell are both real places. But it’s still an interesting question to ask: Would we follow Jesus if there were no heaven and there were no hell?

Yes, we would. Not because of who we are, but because of who He is, and what He does in our lives.

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