In 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.
Life doesn't have to be a continual struggle. Jesus said, "Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But be of good courage, because I have overcome the world."1 Jesus died and rose from the dead not only to give us an eternal life, but an abundant life here on earth.
This may sound strange coming from a prisoner like myself, but the secret to living a victorious life is to simply abide, trust and rest in the finished work of Jesus Christ. When Jesus shouted from the cross, "It is finished", I believe he was saying we can stop trying to obtain righteousness through the works of the law, because He established the only way to obtain forgiveness, righteousness and life.
Many of our struggles are with guilt and shame resulting from illicit sex, divorce, abortion or other sinful behavior. There will be consequences, but Jesus shed His blood 2000 years ago to provide forgiveness for all sin; past, present and future. 2He rose from the dead to give us an abundant life, regardless of present circumstances. 3
I woke up singing the song: "Everybody ought to know, Everybody ought to know, who Jesus is. He's the lily of the valley. He's the bright and morning star. He's the fairest of ten thousands. Everybody ought to know." I can't get that song out of my mind.
The third Sunday of this month is Father's Day. Years ago, we discovered that in prison Father's Day is not as popular a day. Hallmark sent our chaplain thousand's of free cards for the men, but we couldn't give them away. We discovered that only a few of the men were in contact with their fathers.
Our Father's Promise
The Old Testament ends this way: "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse." 1
Our goal is to affect the way you see God. We intend to reach the lost, the backslidden, the unchurched and the unproductive, and make them whole through the love of God, thereby launching them into productive, personal service. Our desire is to always have others feel loved, and to help them understand that God loves them.
How Do You See God?
How we see God affects the way we see and react with others. If we see God as creating us in His image, we will value the life of one another. If we perceive God as judgmental and always angry, we will reflect a critical heart. If we know and perceive God as love, we will reflect His love to those around us. Mother Teresa said that the greatest disease of mankind is the absence of love. She hit the nail right on the head.
"Mr. Smith was a man who always clocked in at work on time. He took his job seriously, never missing a day. He always paid his bills on time. He loved his car and was always diligent to change the oil every 3000 miles. His yard was always perfectly manicured. He walked his dog faithfully. He never missed a Sunday at church in all the years we'd known him. He was faithful with his tithes and offerings. He is survived by his wife Betty. They had no children."
How will the eulogy read at your funeral? Will the clergyman talk about all your egocentric exploits, or will he talk of the lives you've touched? What kind of legacy will you leave for others? Will your relatives and friends have anything good to say about you? Or does it really matter, since you will be dead?
What Is "It" That Really Matters?
Many of us take pride in saying, "I don't care what people think!" "It" isn't good to be controlled by the opinions of others, but like "it" or not, "Man is not an island!" We are created to have relationships with others and a big part of healthy relationships is care and concern for one another.