A Little Word that Means Everything

I’m old enough to remember the Apollo space flights and the day Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon. In grainy black and white, we watched the white-suited astronauts bounce around a gray and black landscape. I marveled at the achievement without realizing the precariousness of their position and their utter trust and dependence on their space suits.

For those that follow Christ, there is a familiar verse, it is part of the Roman Road, and it explains in just a few words the truth of the human condition. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23, NASB95) In a way, this verse is similar to Neil and Buzz’s moonwalk.

Many have asked, “why would a loving God send anyone to hell.” Wrong assumptions always lead to wrong questions. The wrong assumption is the word “send”. This verse is fairly plain. In the same way that the just recompense for a week’s work is a paycheck, the just recompense for sin is death. Not in the sense of dying once and entering into an ignorant oblivion but in the sense of continually dying as in eternal death. A conscious state of being eternally separated from everyone and everything. God doesn’t send anyone there, they choose to receive their wages.

Now, of course, we need to deal briefly with sin. NASA didn’t dictate what the moon’s atmosphere is like. There was no democratic or political process where an agreement was reached as to what Neil and Buzz encountered. Society, in whole or in part, had nothing to say about it. Even if the prophets of political correctness had declared the moon to be like Miami Beach they couldn’t have been more wrong. The atmosphere, or lack thereof, that greeted the astronauts simply was. Likewise, sin is not determined by society, political process, or any agency of man. God is the only one that gets a say in the matter. He set the boundaries and the penalty for crossing them. God’s purpose is not to trap us or somehow trick us so that He can punish us. The boundaries set by God are for our own good.

The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether.”
(Psalm 19:7–9, NASB95)

Even though the penalty for exceeding the boundaries is death, God has provided a space suit for us.

This is where a tiny two-letter word means everything. Death was assured if Neil and Buzz stepped outside of their Lunar Lander without their spacesuit. But, if Neil and Buzz are IN their space suits when they leave the lander to step on the moon they will live. Likewise, God has provided us with the means of eternal life instead of eternal death and the good news is that it is a free gift, not bought, not earned, simply free. The free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus. There is one catch, however. In the same way that the Apollo astronauts needed to stay in their suits, we need to be in Jesus Christ. “Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.” (1 John 2:28, NASB95)

Not sure if you have your spacesuit on? The first steps can be read here. Everything beyond those first steps is simply growing in a relationship more and more with Jesus Christ; throwing off our sin and allowing our lives to become enveloped by Christ.

Dale Heinold
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