October 2005

religionIn an August 2005 survey of 1004 Americans, NEWSWEEK magazine andBeliefnet found that 67% say the soul goes to heaven or hell when we die. Remarkably, 81% of Protestants and Catholics believed that a good person of another faith can attain salvation or go to heaven, even though their Savior Jesus declares: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." 1

Myth or Fact?

There are numerous myths deceiving the minds of Christians. One is that you can get to heaven by being good. They believe God weighs your good and bad works, and if your good works outweigh your bad, you get in, otherwise you go to hell. This is not the way God saves. Without faith in Christ, our works will signify nothing but rebellion.

I hear people say, "God helps those who help themselves," thinking they are quoting the Bible. To the contrary, God helps those who understand they cannot help themselves. Jesus said if any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find true life. 2

This is a true saying, and everyone should believe it: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, and I was the worst of them all. 3 The problem we have is a sin debt that we can not pay. Our only hope is in Jesus Christ, Who on the cross suffered and died so that His blood could cleanse us of our sin. He pays our debt of sin and obtains for us His righteousness and gives us the resurrection life. 4 There is no hope in selfish ambition, which includes everyone who trusts in their good works or religious ceremonies to attain heaven. There is salvation in no one else! There is no other name in all of heaven for people to call on to save them. 5

The Error of these Days

It is incredible how someone professing Christianity could believe in such myths. I remember being asked years ago at a parole hearing if I thought that believing in Christ was the only way to go to heaven. I said, "Yes!", and I was scoffed at because of my reply. I feared being accused of narrow mindedness, but I recalled Jesus saying narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. 6 He also said if anyone acknowledges Him publicly here on earth, I will openly acknowledge that person before my Father in heaven. 7

The apostle Paul warned Timothy saying that in the last days people will love only themselves and money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, cruel, reckless and ungrateful. They will love pleasure rather than God. They will act as if they are religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. You must stay away from people like that. But many will follow new teachings and never be able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Evil people and impostors will flourish. They will deceive many, and they themselves will be deceived. He commends Timothy and points out that he has been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given him the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. 8

Those who have not been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood are missing the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes only by trusting in Christ Jesus. It is a fact that all Scripture [The Holy Bible] is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God's way of preparing us in every way, fully equipping us for every good thing God wants us to do. 9 As Christians, we must all stand before Christ while to be judged, but not as sinners. We will each receive the rewards we deserve as Saints for the good or evil we have done in our bodies. 10

Saved from Error

Christianity is all about being delivered from the error of darkness and brought into the light of truth. Jesus said to the people, I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won't be stumbling through darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life. Believe in the light while there is still time; then you will become children of the light. 11

Often, I encourage people to pray the truth of Scripture. May you be filled with joy,
always thanking the Father, who has enabled you to share the inheritance that belongs to God's holy people, who live in the light. For He has rescued you from the one who rules in the kingdom of darkness, and has brought you into the Kingdom of his dear Son. God has purchased your freedom with His blood and has forgiven all your sins. 12 It is important to express thanksgiving to God for your gift of His righteousness as a result of the finished work of the cross. 13

Listen to what Jesus said to the apostle Paul when asked, "Who are you sir?" I believe Jesus is also saying to some of us, "I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting. Now stand up! For I have appeared to you to appoint you as my servant and my witness. You are to tell the world about this experience and about other times I will appear to you. And I will protect you from both your own people [Jewish] and the Gentiles [non-Jewish] ... to open their eyes so they may turn from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God's people, who are set apart by faith in Me." 14

Understanding the Truth

The Lord wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and people. He is the man Christ Jesus. He gave His life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message that God gave to the world. 15 For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. 16

In May 1975, I finally understood God's love, and how He gave His Son for me to have eternal life. The Lord had been drawing me to Himself for a long time. 17 Until then, I could not understand His love, but that night God revealed the things he had prepared for me by His Spirit. 18 He came into my heart and revealed what had been hidden all my life: Christ lives in me, and this is my assurance that I will share in His glory. 19

There have been many spiritual battles since receiving Christ. I am human, but like the apostle Paul, I don't wage war with human plans and methods. I use God's mighty weapon, not mere worldly wisdom, to knock down the Devil's strongholds. His Word breaks down every proud argument that keeps me from knowing God. By His Word, I conquer all rebellious ideas, and through the Holy Spirit, others are taught to walk in obedience to Christ. 20

Wake Up Time

Salvation was a wake up call for me, when His Light came on in my life. For though my heart was once full of darkness, now I was full of light from the Lord, and I knew that my behavior should show it. I found when the light shines on the works of darkness, it becomes clear how evil these things are. And when our light shines, it will expose evil things. This is why it is said, "Awake, 0 sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light." 21

So be careful how you live, not as fools, but as those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity for doing good in these evil days. Don't act thoughtlessly, because that will ruin your life. Instead, let the Holy Spirit fill and control you. Then you will sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making music to the Lord in your heart. And you will always give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 22

The Lord is the only One who can open your eyes to His great love. He sent the Holy Spirit to reveal the secret concerning Christ and the church. Christ loved the church [that's us] and gave Himself for her, that He might make her holy and cleanse her with the washing of water by the Word [His love], that he might present her to Himself, a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 23

A Prayer for you...

Father, I thank you for the spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that I might grow in the knowledge of Christ. I pray that my heart will be flooded with light so that I can understand the wonderful future and calling You have promised me in Christ. I want to realize what a rich and glorious inheritance You have given to Me.

I pray that I will understand the incredible greatness of Your power in us who believe in Christ. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at Your right hand in the heavenly realms. Now Christ is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else in this world or in the world to come.

You have put all things under the authority of Christ. You have given Him this authority for our benefit. We are His body; the body of Christ, filled with His presence. For You raised us from the dead along with Christ, and we are seated with Him in the heavenly realm, all because we are one with Christ Jesus. Amen! 24

Footnotes:

1) John 14:6
2) Luke 9:23-24
3) 1 Tim. 1:15
4) Heb. 13:20
5) Acts 4:12
6) Matt. 7:14
7) Matt. 10:32
8) 2 Tim 3:2-5, 13, 15
9) 2 Tim. 3:16-17
10) 2 Cor. 5:10
11) John 8:12; 12:36
12) Col. 1:11b-14
13) Rom. 5:17-18
14) Acts 26:15-18
15) 1 Tim. 2:4-6
16) John 3:16
17) John 6:44
18) 1 Cor. 2:9-10
19) Col. 1:27
20) 2 Cor. 10:3-5
21) Eph. 5:8, 13-14
22) Eph. 5:15-20
23) Eph. 5:25-27, 32
24) Eph. 1:17-23; 2:6

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