Jesus said to his disciples:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.
He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit,
and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.
You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.
Remain in me, as I remain in you.
Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own
unless it remains on the vine,
so neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit,
because without me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me
will be thrown out like a branch and wither;
people will gather them and throw them into a fire
and they will be burned.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.
By this is my Father glorified,
that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”
Our “Sunday Devotionals” are usually about God’s love and grace. Today’s devotional is a sober reminder that we must choose, and that the consequence of an obdurate rejection of Him is dire.
Charles Baudelaire wrote in 1864 that “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” But too many Americans have fallen for that trick.
According to the 2014 Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study, whereas as many as 72% of U.S. adults said they believed in heaven — defined as a place “where people who have led good lives are eternally rewarded” — only 58% of Americans believed in hell — a place “where people who have led bad lives and die without being sorry are eternally punished.”
In fact, Jesus spoke more about Hell than Heaven. From Patheos:
Jesus describes hell as a reality (see here for all the biblical references to hell) and He spoke on hell three times as much as He ever did on heaven, thereby signifying the importance of believing in such a place. Hell is like a fiery furnace and there will be weeping (with anger and/or eternal regret) and gnashing of teeth (in anger and/or in pain). This weeping and gnashing of teeth is mentioned twice so as to emphasize the reality of hell.
Jesus also said it is a place not where “the” worm never dies but a place where “their” worm does not die. The fact is that it is their worm which means that it is their own personal gnawing of their conscience for their lifetime of rejecting Christ and this worm never dies, just like the Gehenna fire, which was a trash dump outside the walls of Jerusalem. That was a place where trash was continually dumped and maggots or worms never died off because there was always something thrown onto it so the worms or maggots had a constant supply of food.
And in John 15:6, the Second Person of the Triune Godhead explicitly and unambiguously warns us that:
Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither . . . and they will be burned.
Why don’t we take what Jesus said seriously? Do we imagine that He doesn’t say what He means, and means what He says?
May the peace and love of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you,