Truth Before Dishonor

I would rather be right than popular

Archive for August, 2009

A Nobody Layman Sermonizes

Posted by John Hitchcock on 2009/08/31

Who is it who goes to heaven and who is it who goes to hell? And who decides?

I’ll answer the second question first. Every person decides for him or herself whether he or she goes to heaven or goes to hell. That’s right, you decide for yourself where you end up. It really is that simple, once everything is boiled down. So how is it boiled down? In other words, what’s the catch? The catch is you only have to fulfill one requirement to get to heaven. Failing that requirement, you will have chosen to go to hell. It’s that simple.

Who gets busted for drunk driving? Drunk drivers, of course. They decided to drink till they were drunk and then they decided to drive in their drunken state. While not everyone who got drunk decided at the beginning “I’m going to get drunk,” each person decided to take each drink of alcoholic beverage until, oops, drunk. So, the decision to be a drunk driver was fully on the person being the drunk driver.

What is the one requirement to get to heaven? You must accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. That’s all. End of story. Goodnight. Failing that decision, you have decided the alternate destination for yourself. There is no third option, because you don’t get to make the rules. They were made MANY centuries before your birth. So you either accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior or you don’t. The former is a guaranteed ticket to heaven while the latter is a guaranteed ticket to hell.

Nearly everyone reading this knows John 3:16. For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. But how many know John 3:17, 18? For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. Romans 3:21 – 26 states: But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in His blood. He did this to demonstrate His justice, because in His forbearance He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished – He did it to demonstrate His justice at the present time, so as to be just and the One who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

It is abundantly clear that the person who is granted the one-way ticket to heaven is the person who chose to accept the ticket. It is also abundantly clear that the person who is granted the one-way ticket to hell is the person who chose not to accept the other ticket. Who decides whether you go to heaven? You do. Who makes the rules? God does. Don’t want to follow the rules? Too bad. You made your decision by rejecting the rules. You may think me cold and callous in this regard and you may be right. But even if you are right, that doesn’t change the fact that God makes the rules.

I know many good people who are atheists or agnostics or muslims or (insert religion here). Surely you can’t be so hateful that you condemn them to hell.

First, see above. I don’t make the rules, God does. John 14:6, 7 says: Jesus answered, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you really knew Me, you would know My Father as well. From now on, you do know Him and have seen Him.” It is very clear nobody gets to God except through Jesus. It is also very clear in this passage that Jesus is God. If you continue reading from that passage beyond what I quoted, it will become abundantly clear that Jesus is God. But that’s tangential to the discussion.

It is not my rule and not my decision who goes to heaven and who goes to hell. It is God’s rule and each person’s decision based on God’s rule. If a man of many good works says “God does not exist” and immediately dies, that man immediately goes to hell. Them’s the rules. But if a mass-murdering rapist repents of his sins and whole-heartedly accepts Jesus as his Lord and Savior before being executed, that man goes to heaven. Again, them’s the rules.

Surely, you aren’t saying good people are in hell and evil people are in heaven, are you?

That depends on your definition of good and evil. By God’s standards, no, I am not saying that. But by man’s standards, I am very much saying that. During my junior high school years, I mowed as many as thirteen lawns a week for money. One of my clients was a good and kind elderly woman who was a devout atheist. We talked a lot before and after I mowed her lawn, and invariably the discussion would come around to my Christianity and her atheism. Neither of us budged but we both kept it kind and civil. Based on that, the fact she has since died, and the above discussion – unless she changed her mind later – she is now in hell. Yes, she was a good and kind lady and a very respectable one. Yes, I respected her and I believe to this day she was a good and kind lady. But that doesn’t change the fact she refused salvation. She made her choice.

Ted Bundy, on the other hand, was a very evil man. He raped and then killed a multitude of young women. He admitted to it and led law enforcement to many of the graves. And he was executed for his heinous crimes. By all accounts, even his own accounts, he was a very evil man. If that were the end of his story, everyone who believes in hell would agree he is there. Even without that being the end of the story, everyone would believe he belongs there, including me and including him. Yes, he believed he belonged in hell for what he did.

While in prison, something changed in him. He gave mitigating factors for what he did, but he did not excuse his action on those mitigating factors. He still held himself fully accountable for his actions. He railed against those mitigating factors, rightfully calling them a poison to society, but he did not blame those mitigating factors for what he did. He blamed himself, and rightfully so. He begged young people to stay away from those mitigating factors and he begged parents to work hard to keep their teens away from those mitigating factors. But he did not blame those mitigating factors for what he did. He rightfully blamed himself. All these good works near the end of his artificially truncated life made up for nothing. He deserved to go to hell, he knew it, he said it. And everyone will agree. He deserved to go to hell.

Nothing he did or said changed the fact he was going to hell. Nothing, that is, except one thing he did. While he was in prison, he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. With his body, his mind, his soul, he accepted Jesus. With his entire being, he accepted Jesus. Because of that, he is in heaven. And because of my good client’s rejection of God, she is in hell. See the above discussion for the reasons for each.

Wait a minute. You just said you weren’t saying good people were in hell and evil people were in heaven and then you showed an example of a good woman in hell and an evil man in heaven. What gives?

I used man’s definition of good and evil. God’s definition of what is good is far different than man’s definition. In Major League Baseball, a lifetime .300 hitter has a very good shot at making the Hall of Fame. A lifetime .300 hitter is a very successful major-league ball player. But what does having a .300 batting average mean? It means you fail seven times out of ten. In school, if you get seven answers out of ten wrong, you get a failing grade. But in baseball if you get seven at-bats out of ten wrong, you’re a gleaming success. But, in actuality, it’s even worse than that. If you get a walk, you didn’t successfully get a hit. But that doesn’t count as an at-bat. If you are credited with a sacrifice, that means you hit the ball in such a way that you were counted “out” but the base-runners advanced. (Note the ironic terminology and its applicability to Jesus.) And a sacrifice is also not counted as an at-bat. So a major league ball player could fail to get a hit 75 times out of every 100 times at the plate and still be considered a smashing success. But by God’s standards, that man was a dismal failure.

By God’s standards, not only do you have to get a hit in every plate appearance, but it has to be an out-of-the-park homerun. And you have to do it clean, not cheat, a la Barry Bonds. If you fail at that, since every plate appearance is an opportunity for a homer, you fail.

That’s ridiculous. Nobody can do that. Now you’re saying nobody is good enough.

You got it. Nobody is good enough. I quoted Romans 3:21 – 26 above but let me repeat verse 23. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. That means everyone. In other words, nobody is good enough. Not one living soul. Matthew 19:17(a) says “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good.” That pretty much settles it on who is good enough. But it goes on later in verses 25, 26: When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Again, nobody is good enough to get to heaven. So, not only is nobody good, but nobody is even good enough. Which brings us back to the only way to get in. And that is via John 3:16 – 18.

I have heard of the “one unpardonable sin.” What is that? How do I know I haven’t committed it? I can think of many that I wouldn’t pardon.

It’s a good thing you are not the judge. And it’s a good thing I am not the judge. I can think of a few I wouldn’t pardon, as well. But I am not God so I don’t get to make the rules. And that’s a good thing.

How do you know you haven’t committed the “one unpardonable sin”? That answer is the easiest answer in the book. You know by the fact you are still alive and breathing. And no, I don’t mean if you commit the “one unpardonable sin” that you get hit by lightning and die. Those lightning strikes are a series of isolated incidents having nothing to do with anything. The “one unpardonable sin” is to die while still rejecting Christ.

John 3:3 says In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” So, very simply, if you die without being born again, you go to hell. John 3:5 says Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.” Since everyone alive today was “born of water,” the second birth of “the Spirit” is required. Jesus did not say there was an unpardonable sin, but at this point He did not preclude it, either. We go on to verses 14 and 15 and we see: “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.” And there we have it. Everyone who believes in Jesus has eternal life. The unpardonable sin is to die while rejecting Christ. And to set it in stone, Jesus repeated himself and amplified on it. I already quoted verses 16 – 18 above but let me repeat those verses here. For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

It is very clear that whoever believes, anybody who believes, whatever they have done, whoever believes is not condemned. It is very clear whoever believes has eternal life. And it is abundantly clear whoever does not believe is already condemned. That means it doesn’t matter what you did, nor does it matter what you will do, so long as you don’t believe, you are already condemned. Again, I do not make the rules. God does. And Jesus Himself said the only “unpardonable sin” was to not believe.

Okay, so now I know I can do whatever I want. I’ll just wait till the day before I die to become a Christian.

That would be a very foolish decision to make. First, you have no idea when you are going to die. Secondly, and more importantly, your statement is proof positive that you think you can pull the wool over God’s eyes. “Do it now, ask forgiveness later” means you are in actuality unrepentant for your actions. You want to have your fun and smooth-talk your way around the rules. It doesn’t work that way. You need to truly be repentant, not scam a repentance. To be truly repentant, you need to be sorry for what you’ve done, wish you hadn’t done it, if you had it to do all over again, you’d not have done it. That is true repentance, not a “do it now, repent later” type of hog-wash. Again, there are all sorts of articles about people who die suddenly. Nobody knows when their time will expire. Tomorrow is not guaranteed to anybody. Only a fool would wait till later.

It isn’t fair that I spent most of my life as a Christian and was tormented the entire time but someone like Ted Bundy spent most of his life personifying evil but gets the same salvation I do because he repented in his last days.

As the judge said, “If you use the word ‘fair’ in my court again, I’ll levy the maximum sentence against you. That would be ‘fair’.” Remember “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”? Or how about “there is none righteous, no not one”? Or “there is only One who is good”? As a pastor once said, God gives justice to some and charity to others. If you’re receiving God’s charity, don’t complain because someone else is not receiving justice.

Matthew 20:1 – 16 says it very clearly (all in red letters): For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.

About the third hour he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, “You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.” So they went.

He went out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour and did the same thing. About the eleventh hour he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, “Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?”

“Because no one has hired us,” they answered.

He said to them, “You also go and work in my vineyard.”

When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, “Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.”

The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner.

“These men who were hired last worked only one hour,” they said, “and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.”

But he answered one of them, “Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?”

So the last will be first and the first will be last.

The above passage says many things. I will list a few of them. 1)You are getting salvation, as agreed upon. 2)The one who repented at the end of his life is getting salvation. 3)You are guilty of the sin of envy. 4)And the scariest thought is that you are trying to tell God how to give His free gifts, of which you are one of the recipients. Tread lightly and re-examine your heart.

To reiterate: Life is real. Death is real. The afterlife is real. Heaven is real. Hell is real. It is your decision whether you go to heaven or hell, within parameters God set out long before you were born. You don’t get to change those parameters. You don’t get to tell God what to do.

It is very hateful for you to say someone is in hell.

How so? Based on what? Is it hateful to say “1 + 1 = 3” is incorrect? Or is it merely a statement of fact? If a man spends his entire life rejecting God and also rejects God on his deathbed, that man is in hell the moment he dies. That is not a hateful statement, merely a statement of fact. If I were to say that man is in hell where he deserves to be, that would also be a statement of fact and could very easily be hateful as well, but not necessarily. Everyone deserves to be in hell, myself included. That is a fact. Nothing hateful in that. But if I were to say I’m glad that man is in hell, then that would definitely be a hateful statement.

You are being passive-aggressive when you say something like you are deeply saddened by the fact someone is now spending an eternity in hell.

That statement can be an innocent misunderstanding, but more likely than not, it is a willful ignorance of the truth regarding me personally.

Passive-Aggressive: Being friendly to a man’s face, going out and mangling his car, then coming back in and being friendly like nothing happened; a back-stabber; dishonest.

As shown above, God does not want people to spend eternity in hell but people choose it anyway. Christians do not want people to spend eternity in hell, but Christians know people are spending eternity in hell. That fact saddens Christians. While many can be passive-aggressive in the bolded statement, many are also making true, heart-felt statements. Those of you who have read me for any length of time at all know that I am far too blunt to go into passive-aggressive “nuances” just to be sly. I say what I mean, and I say it without much diplomacy. In fact, there have been many times when I made comments I wished I could’ve retracted because my statements were made in anger. It would’ve been better had I not said anything at all. But even then, or especially then, I was very blunt.

So the passive-aggressive argument is a non-starter where I am concerned.

You cannot judge who is a Christian and who is not; only God can do that.

Right and wrong. James 2:14 – 26 says What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.

You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

As the above passage shows, someone who claims to be a Christian but lives a life of debauchery is indeed not a Christian. And if that person dies in his unrepentant state, that person goes to hell. And it is impossible for anyone to try to pull the wool over a human’s eyes to get a free pass into heaven because “No man comes to the Father but by Me.”

In summation

It is each person’s choice whether he or she gets a free ticket to heaven, but the rules are immutable. It is possible to be saved on one’s deathbed but any who plan that track do so with a dishonest, sinful heart and are playing Russian Roulette with their souls. It is possible to have a reasonable belief of where a decedent now resides based on the deceased’s life choices. And it is possible to be saddened by the understanding that the deceased is in hell.

Posted in Christianity, politics, Religion, truth | 4 Comments »

 
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