Satan’s greatest lie is one that sounds reasonable to most people.
Always remember that Satan is smarter than you. If I had to choose just one of Satan’s many successful lies in this world, it would be this:
I can earn my salvation and go to heaven apart from Christ alone.
Whether it’s through charitable acts or religious rites, most people have their own concept of how to reach heaven (and some don’t even believe in the existence of heaven, so they live it up now). The problem is, not everyone can be right.
Because this topic is so broad and can cover so many divergent views, I’ll cover just two basic and contending ideas: 1) A person can go to heaven if they’re “good,” and 2) the only way to go to heaven is through Jesus Christ and following Him.
First, consider these Bible verses:
Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Isaiah 64:6: “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.”
So clearly, if you call yourself a Christian or believe in the Bible at all, you must concede at this point that no person is good enough to get to heaven. If all righteous acts are worthless apart from the grace of God, then logically there is no way to earn eternal life.
But what about people who don’t believe that the Bible is authoritative? Then let’s turn to some real-life examples and a bit of basic reasoning.
Most people think they are “good people.”
If you happened to see the “180” movie (http://180movie.com/), you may have noticed in the latter parts that most people interviewed would call themselves good or nice people. It may have even occurred to you the irony of a racist, hateful, and fornicating neo-Nazi asking, “Don’t you think it’s funny that God would send a nice guy like me to hell?” Most of us would look at him and say, “THAT guy is definitely not good enough. But thankfully, I am.”
To that I would ask, by what or whose standard are you “good enough”? If it’s not up to God (who clearly articulates in His word that ALL fall short), then who? You? Don’t you think there’s at least a slight danger of personal bias in there somewhere?
Haven’t you lied on many occasions to help yourself? Have you not stolen something that didn’t belong to you, or talked trash behind someone’s back? Are you not a liar, thief, and slanderer? Why then, are you a good person?
Proverbs 21:2: “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the heart.”
Consider this. You’re a “nice” person and you generally try to do what’s right. How do you know you’re nice? Because you compare yourself to others, and heck, people have even told you that you’re nice. So far, you’ve been comparing yourself to other sinners who are lost, and other sinners who are lost have told you that you’re a good person. Not too reliable…
You never slept around recklessly in college, nor have you intentionally broken anyone’s heart. Sure, you slept with your boyfriend or girlfriend, but you two were in love at the time. You didn’t cheat while the relationship was still on. “Compared to womanizing perverts out there, I am a very decent human being.”
OK, let’s pretend that the Bible is out of the picture and that fornicating and pre-martial sex is morally acceptable with consenting adults (of course, it’s not). That’s the prevalent American view, anyhow. But people in other countries would look at you and judge you as wicked for not being a virgin on your wedding night. To them, you might be labeled a “whore.” You would in turn label them as backwards, old-fashioned, and intolerant. (Plus, you would probably wave your American diploma in their faces and roll your eyes at their less educated culture.) Who is right in this scenario? Is the default answer always you or America?
Other cultures might look down on you as a woman for not covering your face in public. To them, you seem completely immodest, and that’s before they take a look at the outfit you’re wearing, revealing a “stylish” amount of cleavage. The scandal! Then you would roll your eyes, then point accusingly at them for treating women less equally, and consider their culture chauvinistic. Are you right because you’re an educated American? Or are you wrong morally because you’re also spoiled, materialistic, and living in a sexually charged culture where almost anything goes? Who’s the final judge?
What about the iPad you purchased, knowing full well that hundreds of dollars would feed starving children in other parts of the world? If it didn’t occur to you at the Apple Store, you’re reminded of it now. Are you then going to sell your unnecessary luxury goods to save lives? Why not? To the mother of a dying child in another part of the world, your hesitance to do this—while calling yourself a good-enough person to get to heaven—might seem perplexing. To her, you might not seem like such a great person after all. But again, whose standard is right? (Hint: The answer lies in the simple fact that no one is actually “good.”)
Forget different modern cultures. Let’s just take America, 1950 vs. today. Many of the cherished values of previous generations have gone by the wayside in 2011. But how are we so sure that we are right and they were wrong? Why is “old-fashioned” automatically inferior? There is a huge assumption here of continual forward progress morally, but don’t we know deep inside that this isn’t necessarily true? What’s to say that what we believe today will be looked upon favorably by our great-grandkids’ generation? They will likely look at our societal standards and mock our conservatism. “Can you believe they didn’t allow animal marriage in 2011?” (Ridiculous example, but perhaps not as far-fetched as it seems.)
If standards change from person to person, culture to culture, and decade to decade, how can we be sure we have the right one? Are heaven and God subject to us? If there is such a thing as an afterlife, and there exists a God (which most Americans would agree with), don’t you think His standard would be the right one? I don’t know about you, but if I created the universe—including human beings and their brains—I would feel wholly justified in insisting that my truths are a bit wiser than yours. If you believe in God but disregard what He clearly tells us in the Bible, then you’re being blind and foolish. I know that sounds harsh, but can you honestly say this “I’m a good person” logic makes any sense?
If there is objective moral truth out there, then it is true whether we like it or not. It is true whether it’s 1950, 2011, or 2090. It’s true whether you’re in America or Bangladesh or Korea. Rape is wrong whether you like it or not. Stealing is wrong, even if it’s from a richer person. And trying to get to heaven with acts of charity and being a “good person” doesn’t work whether or not you REALLY FEEL like it’s got to be true. Without an objective truth standard, you’re risking your eternal security on the flimsiest of platforms, and frankly, it doesn’t make any sense—especially since most people who think this way consider themselves to be rational thinking adults.
Put your faith in the Bible and trust what it says. Jesus is the only way, period. You can’t pick and choose the parts you like because what you like is entirely subjective and changes with the tides. A year from now, you might not even agree with yourself! If you want to go by another “holy book” out there, then be objective and explain to yourself (or to me, please) why you think that religion’s book is more reliable than the most tried and tested scriptures of all human history.
Just be real with yourself, that’s all I’m saying.
Before I get into scripture, here is some background information.
Modern day Palestinians can be traced back to the ancient Canaanites and Philistines, the two ancient enemies of God’s chosen people. Though these two people groups were originally separate nations, they eventually came in close proximity to each other, assimilating around the area of modern Israel, west of the Jordan River (though back then, it was called the Land of Canaan and it was much larger).
God made a covenant with Abraham as early as Genesis 15 to give his seed the Promised Land of Canaan for their own. It wouldn’t happen for generations, but the stage was set. Moses led the Israelites (so named after Jacob, also called Israel) out of enslavement in Egypt toward the Promised Land, but because of an act of disobedience, was never allowed to enter. A successor, Joshua, would lead the Jews into the land to conquer and claim it for their own.
However, God gave specific instructions to the Jews that they were to destroy the inhabitants of the land completely, including all of their religious altars. Not one stone was to be left standing. (Not that God needs to justify His commands to us, but the reason for these instructions was that God knew the Jews would be prone to compromise and temptation to worship the other gods and idols.)
In Judges 1, you see that instead of completely destroying the peoples of Canaan, they decided to simply subjugate them into slave labor.
That context in mind, here is Judges 2:
1Now the angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bochim. And he said, “I brought you up from Egypt and brought you into the land that I swore to give to your fathers. I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you, 2 and you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall break down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed my voice. What is this you have done? 3So now I say, I will not drive them out before you, but they shall become thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you.” 4As soon as the angel of the LORD spoke these words to all the people of Israel, the people lifted up their voices and wept.
Later on in the same chapter, we see the resulting unfaithfulness of the Jews’ disobedience:
12 And they abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them. And they provoked the LORD to anger. 13They abandoned the LORD and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth.
God knew this would happen. The sad thing is, the Jews had multiple other opportunities to turn from idolatry and religious assimilation, but they kept failing over and over. It became a cycle of being oppressed by the people of the land, crying out to God for deliverance, God obliging, thankfulness and revival, then complacency and a turning back to idolatry. Each time, God would delay more and more in delivering the Jews, as His patience started to wear thin.
Fast forward thousands of years to 1967. Instead of Canaanites and Philistines, you have the Palestinians in the rightful land of the Jews, Israel. Instead of Baal or Dagon worship, you have a huge Muslim mosque (for Allah) being a “snare” to the Jewish people.
After the six-day war, the Jews had successfully defeated the Palestinians. As one man went to blow up the Muslim mosque with dynamite (think “altars” from Judges 2), a general who was afraid of inciting more violence stopped him. Rather than more fighting, he reasoned, why not make concessions to coexist with some semblance of peace? You can bet God was not pleased.
To this day, the Palestinians (and their supporters) are thorns in Israel’s side. Their mosque and their god, Allah, keeps the Jews without a holy temple at all. Eventually, all the nations of the world (except maybe the U.S.? *fingers crossed) will turn against Israel until the final battle of Armageddon—which will start somewhere at the Euphrates River. God will no longer hold back and will finally come to save His people one last time for good. All of Israel’s enemies will be vanquished. But it could have happened a lot sooner with far less oppression and suffering if the Jews had been obedient in the first place.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7y2KsU_dhwI (Warning: graphic images from 7:24 to 10:14.)
After watching this 33-minute documentary, I am taken aback (but not altogether surprised) at the level of historical and moral ignorance in this country. If people can deny that the Holocaust happened mere decades afterward, how much more do they try to deny the historical Jesus who lived 2,000 years ago?
It’s clear to me that people are quick to rationalize every behavior, whether it’s homosexuality or abortion, with quick cliches and popular-sounding retorts. Phrases like “woman’s right to choose” and “don’t judge,” which sound so positive at face value, blind so many from the obvious truth: people are killing babies for what ultimately comes down to convenience or because they deem themselves to be the deciders between life or death. (What else is new? People playing the role of God…)
I’m also becoming very acquainted with the line, “I’m a good person so yea, I’ll go to heaven.” I’m going to make a separate post on this shortly, but in short, no one is a good person. Only through Christ can we be redeemed. By whose standard are you judging anyway?
Please watch and share with others. Ray Comfort may not have all the factual knowledge in the world, but he’s right on the money when it comes to morals and the gospel. I must say, I GREATLY admire those in the video who were able to honestly admit that they were wrong. That is incredibly difficult to do in such a prideful world.
This phenomenon is not surprising at all…it’s what we’ve been noticing all along, but here are a few relevant quotes (try not to gag):
Barna tells USA Today, “People say, ‘I believe in God. I believe the Bible is a good book. And then I believe whatever I want.’” Indeed, Barna says only seven percent of those he surveyed say they believe in seven essential Christian doctrines, as listed in the National Association of Evangelicals’ Statement of Faith.
If you’re curious, here are the seven essential Christian doctrines according to this statement of faith:
- We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God.
- We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
- We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.
- We believe that for the salvation of lost and sinful people, regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential.
- We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life.
- We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost; they that are saved unto the resurrection of life and they that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation.
- We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Sadly, only seven percent of those surveyed believe in these essential doctrines. Seven! (And if you take the number who truly believe these things in their hearts and live it out—not just give intellectual assent—I’d imagine it’d be an even lower percentage.)
Anyway, on with the quotes:
This buffet-style religion isn’t confined to the church…[Nadine Epstein of the Jewish magazine Moment] adds, “You pick and choose the part of the religion that makes sense to you.”
But as Stan Guthrie warns:
“Jesus, unlike the religious action figures sold at Wal-Mart, is not infinitely bendable, able to assume whatever postmodern pose we give him.”
Seriously people, just write your own holy books. It doesn’t have to be original, just pick and choose the parts you like from each existing one and then add your own thoughts. Voila.
But please do us a favor and stop calling yourselves Christians.
Disclaimer: Much of what I say here is just as much directed toward myself as others. I’m taking off my logical hat for this post.
The more I read the Bible, the more I worry (full disclosure…I also get annoyed) about the pervasive chillness of Christians everywhere, including myself at times. When I read Leviticus, yes, some of it causes me to scratch my head and wonder about things. But then I remember that with great honor from God comes great responsibility to uphold His statutes. God the Father literally would come down and dwell among this group of Jewish people, and in order to spare them from His holy wrath, He had to tell them a multitude of ways to cleanse themselves. Pure holiness and even moderate uncleanliness do not mix; it’s not a matter of volition or personal choice for God to punish sin, He must.
Then there is Jesus Christ who came to earth to suffer like we suffer (and far more), as well as to be tempted. He is able to be merciful, especially in light of his ultimate sacrifice on the cross where he bore the full wrath of God for all of us. This is a level of love we can never completely fathom.
But what we always seem to forget is this: JESUS (and God) IS NOT A TEDDY BEAR. God is not your teddy bear. He is not there to make you feel warm and fuzzy. He is not there to validate your worldly wisdom and to massage you when you fall short, and whisper in your ear soothingly, “it’s perfectly OK, go get ’em next time!” He flipped over tables in righteous anger and one time said to Peter, “Get behind me Satan.” He didn’t say, “Aw, I understand your thinking, but…”
Every sin we commit breaks his heart. We’re not supposed to lightly brush it off, but we’re called to repent and understand why it’s offensive to God—then we need to earnestly strive to never do it again. If you don’t feel remorse for your sin, then sorry, I don’t see how you can possibly be saved and have the Holy Spirit within you. Examine yourselves in light of scripture (not the “nice Christian” next to you who may or may not be saved), and check and check and check again.
Whenever we condone or even encourage something God hates, He doesn’t take it lightly. If we want to get a glimpse of what God is like, we need to read both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Skeptics will never understand, but so be it. I’m pretty much done trying to convince close-minded (or as the Bible calls them, “stiff-necked”) people. I don’t even know if I really care about apologetics anymore. There is already an impossibly large field of harvest for those who are already open-minded to God and think themselves to be Christians (but aren’t really there yet). If the information out there isn’t enough for you skeptics, then it’s a heart issue of pride, cultural/chronological snobbery, and self-exaltation. Don’t pretend like it’s all logical. That’s pretty much all there is. “Those who have an ear, let him hear.” God shouldn’t have to beg or go through hoops for you. He already did way more than enough by sending Christ to pay for your sins.
After Jesus’ death and resurrection, we have the chance to be seen as clean in God’s sight. But that doesn’t change who God is by nature. He doesn’t take things lightly, and every time we brush things off casually, we’re figuratively spitting on the cross; we’re saying, “thanks buddy, glad you experienced the full wrath of God that so I can live however I want now.”
I hate it when I feel guilty or “weird” for being zealous. I hate it when I have to tone things down or hold back when it comes to God’s word. When did God ever rebuke someone for caring too much about His commands? Never. In fact, He downright expects it. Moses—who was beloved and great in God’s sight—was punished severely for slightly deviating from God’s command. God said for Moses to speak to the rock for it to provide water. Instead, Moses remembered the first time he got water from the rock, which was by striking it with his staff, and did the same here. By using his staff rather than his words, God punished him by not allowing him to see the Promised Land in his lifetime. How much worse are we? We don’t simply bend God’s commands slightly, we straight up disobey or even laugh alongside sinners who commit abominations in God’s sight. God loves all and gives everyone a way to Him through Christ—there is neither Jew nor Gentile in His sight anymore. But one thing God is not? Tolerant and “open-minded.”
Tolerance is considered the highest good in modern American society today. To be sure, in certain forms, it can be a very positive thing, especially in light of this country’s past mistakes; wrongfully dehumanizing fellow human beings who are just as much created in the image of God as any of us. But tolerating wrong and deviant behavior? Absolutely unacceptable.
Being “chill” and open-minded Christians is not the highest standard toward which we should aspire. I would rather be a Bible-thumping lunatic who upholds God’s word than be the “nice” Christian with whom everyone can get along. Many people in Jesus’ time hated Him. They thought He was crazy and judgmental. We need to get our lives in order so that we do not become hypocrites, but rebuke is part of Christian life. If I hear “we’re not supposed to judge” in the wrong context one more time, I might blow…
We’re supposed to “judge” or rebuke things that are blatantly wrong—if we have clear evidence from the Bible. Period. We’re NOT supposed to condescend or judge in a way where we say, “I’m better than you” or “You’re so bad, thank goodness I’m so holy.” We are all wretches, and even our best works are like filthy rags before God apart from the Holy Spirit (the actual translation is far more graphic). But we’re not supposed to be wishy-washy, wimpy Christians who just want to fit in and get along. If I have to point out something and be accused of being judgmental, so be it. Maybe it’s impossible to rebuke without coming across as condescending (people are so thin-skinned and defensive). I’d rather err on the side of being a fanatic than being lukewarm and worldly.
Smiley and gentle Christians who shy away from the just and wrathful side of God like to say, “Oh, that’s not MY God. My God is a sweetheart.” Well, yea He is. But if that’s all He is to you, then you’re worshiping an incomplete God; the wrong God. He’s more than just a teddy bear, so take Him out of your box, and stop constructing Him in your own image. If everything God is and says must conform to your opinions before you’ll accept it, then you might as well exalt your own wisdom and start a new religion. Write your own holy book.
Christianity is not about how it makes you feel. It’s not about living “your best life now.” It’s not even about whether or not you like or agree with what’s in the Bible. All that matters is whether it’s true or not, and if we proclaim that we believe, why do we act like the Bible doesn’t REALLY mean what it so clearly says?
A lot of people are just living their lives as if they have a long, stable, and controllable future ahead of them. They seem to think that their spiritual relationship with God is one of those controllable variables—that they can fit Him neatly into their plans once it’s convenient or “the right time.” Rather than sensing any urgency in getting right with God, they reason, “Oh, I’ll take care of that right after I have kids…right after this promotion…once I send the kids off to college…once my 401(k) is nice and cushy…”
But what does the Bible say?
James 4:13-15: “13Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
But of course as Americans, we don’t like the idea that anyone else is in control of our lives other than ourselves.
Well, this is a myth. We are not our own. And financially speaking, our economy and currency are largely in others’ hands as well: namely, China.
http://www.zerohedge.com/print/437859 (thanks bro for the link!)
If at any point China decides to dump the dollar—as some recent signs would indicate—then we could be in for an economic downward spiral. Hyperinflation, to unprecedented levels, could result and it seems imminent.
“If for some reason [China selling off their U.S. investment] the reserves of dollars held overseas by investors and creditors were to come flooding back into the U.S., we would see a hyperinflationary spiral more destructive than any in recorded history. As the supply of dollars around the globe increases exponentially, so too must foreign demand, otherwise, the debt machine short-circuits, and newly impoverished Americans will be using Ben Franklins for sod in their adobe huts. As I will show, demand for dollars is not increasing to match supply, but is indeed stalled, ready to crumble.”
Reminds me of a verse in Revelation, speaking of hyperinflation in the end times in a way that John could understand. I don’t even think they had the concept of hyperinflation in those days, so he had to describe it the best way he knew how…
Revelation 6:5-6 says: “5When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” And I looked, and behold, a black horse! And its rider had a pair of scales in his hand. 6And I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius, and do not harm the oil and wine!”” (A whole day’s wages for a quart of wheat…)
So the practical application, I guess, would be to get right with God immediately. Stop waiting around as if the world works on your timetable and your meticulous planning. Work and money is important, of course, but it’s a distant secondary priority to your walk with God.
“Hurricane Irene was a large smelly and powerful Atlantic hurricane…”
Is there some alternate meaning of “smelly” I don’t know about??
**Edit: Darn, someone went in and fixed it haha.