For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (KJV)
Jesus also said
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (KJV)
Jesus didn’t say
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his everlasting life for his friends.
But suppose that he did. (I added ‘everlasting’ just for the sake of this blog post. It’s an awkward insertion to make you think.)
If you had a ticket to everlasting life, but you had a friend who was destined to eternal conscious torment in hell (or even destined merely to personal annihilation), would you gladly trade places with that friend?
In the early days of Eternal Vigilance I posted this letter by Ayn Rand. In it, the usually hostile-to-Christianity Rand tries to cozy up to one Reverend Dudley. She claims that
The first duty of a Christian is the salvation of his own soul. This duty comes above any he may owe to his brothers.
and goes on to say that the foregoing “is the basic statement of true individualism.”
What is the first duty of a Christian? And what is the essence of true individualism? Is Rand right?
I think Rand’s wrong on both counts. Certainly, Rand’s “gospel in a nutshell” is a caricature of Christianity. Thus the question remains. If you had a ticket to everlasting life, but you had a friend who was destined to eternal conscious torment in hell (or even destined merely to personal annihilation), would you gladly trade places with that friend?
(The second duty of a Christian is to love his neighbour as himself. Toss a coin, maybe?)
One thought on “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his everlasting life for his friends”
I actually was about to post on the very subject that Rand addresses (she is absolutely wrong). But I would have to say that your own question is nonsensical and illogical. Firstly, since the final judgment has not taken place, there is no predetermined fate awaiting us. Secondly, salvation cannot be horsetraded (see the parable of the ten virgins). Given that God offers us His grace, and to choose to separate ourselves from it is to lose that salvation, it’s something that is literally impossible to trade. How can you trade a choice that someone makes without them ceasing to be human or have free will?
What we can do instead is pray for others, both living and dead, that God would have mercy on us all. There is nothing more important that we can do.