How do you protect yourself from a nuclear bomb?
The best way to survive a nuclear explosion is not to be in the vicinity when one goes off, or, failing that, to have a sufficiently thick barrier between you and the blast.
However, there was a time when students in school were advised, by an entity no less than their own government, that in the event of a bomb falling in their vicinity, they should take shelter under their desk and put their hands on their necks. It is now recognized that such an activity, while it might be useful for an earthquake, would do very little to protect one from the force of a nuclear explosion, or the radioactive aftermath of such an event. The protection offered by a desk and a pair of clasped hands is simply inadequate in such a case. The safety offered was illusory.
It is foolish to trust in protections which are insufficient for the dangers being faced. This is true even when the one advising you has a certain measure or air of authority.
That being said, men are facing a danger more pressing than any explosion, and a fire hotter than any ever made by men. The Scriptures warn us, “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men,” (Romans 1:18) and that there is coming a day when “the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.” (2 Peter 3:10; NKJV) Jesus, the Son of God sent to save men from sin and judgment, promised men, “unless you repent, you will all likewise perish,” (Luke 13:3), and that those who were displeasing to God would depart, “into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matthew 25:41)
How do you protect yourself from the fiery wrath of God, an event promised as a certainty over and over in the Word of God?
It seems certain that hiding under a desk is not going to work. It wouldn’t work even if the one telling you to do it was the government, or your parents, or your preacher. Again, bad advice does not become good advice when given to you by a person of authority.
Certainly, no body is advising you to hide under your desk to escape the judgment of God, but there are many out there, speaking with an air of authority, who are advising things just as ineffective. Some advise you not to worry about God’s wrath, telling you, in contradiction of what God Himself said, that God won’t punish you or anyone else for their sins. Others urge you to recite special formulas or prayers, words not found in God’s word, in order to escape punishment. Still others promise to grant you forgiveness in and of themselves, though God has not given that authority to any man.
The only way to escape God’s wrath is not to be an object of that wrath. For that to happen, you must have your guilt and sins removed and forgiven. Which, thanks be to God, is possible in Christ Jesus. For those who are in Christ Jesus, there is now no condemnation, no fiery judgment and no eternal punishment (cf. Romans 8:1)
The Gospel of Christ instructs us how to be joined to the safety that is in Christ, and how to remain in that fold of safety. We read, “As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Galatians 3:27) This baptism, immersion in water in the name of Christ, is commanded of all penitent believers and, when you are baptized, God promises to wash away your sins and save you (cf. Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38, 22:16) This baptism which saves is not the removal of dirt from the body, but is the answer of a good conscience towards God and results in the cleansing of the soul and the gift of God’s Holy Spirit (cf. 1 Peter 3:21; Acts 2:38).
Those who have been added to Christ, and received the Spirit of Christ, are then taught to obey whatsoever Christ commanded, walking in the righteousness. (cf. Matthew 28:19-20; Romans 8:1-11). So long as we walk in that light, we have continual forgiveness, as we ask for it, and thus safety in judgment (cf. 1 John 1:7, 9).
Any other plan to escape God’s wrath is going to be as useful as a desk in a nuclear explosion.
When one is saved, the Lord adds you to His church (cf. Acts 2:47). The church of Christ invites you to worship and study with us at 234 Chapel Drive, Gallipolis.
Jonathan McAnulty is minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ.