Men, did you know this about hell?

I grew up in an era when we heard a lot of “fire and brimstone” preaching on hell — in some cases, too much of it. The backlash in our churches resulted in a lot less preaching on hell — in many cases, too little of it.

But we all know the Bible talks about a fiery lake of burning sulfur that is the “second death.” And we are very familiar with who is headed there: “unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars.” (Revelation 21:8 NLT)

Did you realize that’s not the entire list from that verse? There’s another category of hell-bound people, and it stands out dramatically from the others.

In fact, it actually starts the list.

Would you have to look it up? Do you know who else John the Evangelist says is hell bound?


No. Really. Look it up.

I’ve been at a men’s retreat this weekend. One of our key verses was 1 Corinthians 16:13 — “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” (ESV)

I’ve been chewing on what it means to be a Christian man in a society that pushes hard against standing firm in the faith and acting like men. Our culture wants men to accommodate ungodly values. One segment continually derides “toxic masculinity.”

In the midst of the weekend, I was dumbfounded when the Lord brought the Revelation passage to mind. Men know we can’t be unbelievers and expect to go to heaven. We know what fate lies in store for unrepentant murderers.

But cowards? Going to hell? Really?

I’m not big on trying to motivate people with fear, and I’m sure I don’t entirely understand this truth. But I do know this is one thing Christian men need to know:

In this society, you can’t afford to shrink back from Christ’s call to stand firm and act like men.

The stakes are just too high. For you. For your family. Your community. Even our entire society.

Stand firm in the faith. Act like men.

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Plant among thorns, harvest fire

Jesus told the crowds a story about a farmer scattering seed in four soils: footpath, shallow soil, thorns, and fertile soil. The seed that fell among thorns sprouted but the tender plants were choked out by the thorns — and they produced no grain. (Mark 4:7)

I wonder if Jesus was thinking of Jeremiah 4:3 when he told that story: “This is what the Lord says to the people of Judah and Jerusalem: ‘Plow up the hard ground of your hearts! Do not waste your good seed among thorns.”

We tell the farmer’s story to talk about how our hearts need to be fertile soil that is receptive to the good news and bear much fruit. But the story also is about the farmer’s foolishness in scattering seed in places he knew it would not bear fruit. What sort of farmer sows precious seed among thorns? Wouldn’t it make more sense to tear out the thorns and plow up the ground first?

Jeremiah’s word to God’s people deepens our understanding of sowing among thorns: “O people of Judah and Jerusalem, surrender your pride and power. Change your hearts before the Lord, or my anger will burn like an unquenchable fire because of all your sins.” (v.4)

God’s people had turned their backs on Abba to pursue self-indulgence. Pride and power had become their idols, and their worship of Almighty God was false. They must root out the thorns and plow up the hard ground of their hearts, or find there no longer remained a sacrifice for their sin — that all they had left was a terrible expectation of judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies. (Hebrews 10:26-27)

We want to see a “hundredfold” harvest of the Kingdom in our lives. Who would think they could plant among the thorns of self-indulgence and see such a harvest?

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