If someone murdered your loved-one, would you expect them to receive punishment through the courts? I know I would expect that a wise judge would listen to the evidence and issue punishment according to the law. The judge doesn’t weight the offender’s good deeds against their bad and determine that since they were a good person that they won’t be punished for the murder. If that happened, you’d flip, right?
They why do you think that if you are a good person that you won’t go to Heaven? Isaiah 64:6 say, “We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.” All our goodness, when compared to God’s goodness is like filthy rags (translated into women’s menstrual items). That’s just disgusting.
The most awesome and wonderful thing is that we could never (ever, ever, ever, ever…) be good enough to go to Heaven…BUT JESUS! Do you understand what His death really means? He lives a sinless life for 33 years. SINLESS!!! NO.SIN.EVER!!! It’s something I know that I can’t even wrap my brain around.
In the Old Testament, the people who offered lambs for their sin offerings, had to have a flawless lamb without blemish. Just like Jesus was. That lamb was given as a burnt offering for the sin of the family every year. A new flawless lamb had to die every year or more for absolution of sins. Just like Jesus was. EXCEPT, Jesus was the son of a man and the son of THE GOD. Because he was a man, that sacrifice that was done for ALL of EVERYONE’S sins EVER, and it was accepted by God as forgiveness for all of our sins. Now, when God looks at me, He sees his Son, Jesus, standing up for me as an advocate.
There’s only one catch…we have to “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9) Easy-peasy. Really, it is.
But, this isn’t a one time decision. A one time stumble down the aisle. It’s a lifetime commitment. BUT, involves three (3) steps. Three little steps. Surely, you can do three things, right?
- Read your Bible daily. My advice is that you find a Bible that’s easy for you to understand. The King James version isn’t for everyone. Do you want to know a secret? I don’t understand the King James version. I like the New Living Translation and I have a Life Application Study Bible that has notes about everything in it. I have a New American Standard Bible, too. Sometimes, the New Living version over-simplifies the message and I use the New American Standard to balance it out. The cool thing is that there are online Bible versions like Bible Gateway and Bible apps like YouVersion or the online version at YouVersion. They have devotions online and you can even have them delivered to your inbox.
- The second thing you MUST do is go to church with like-minded believers. This might be a little harder to find someplace that teaches from the Bible. Many denominations teach about everything, but the Bible. We left a church like that. It happened to be a denominational church (like Baptist, Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, or Episcopal). Our old church taught about social justice and political topics. If the church you go to doesn’t love people just the way they are (dirty, smelly, broken, sinful people) then you need to find a church that does. Church isn’t all holy-sounding, hymn-singing, dress-up in your best clothes. Sometimes church is lying on the floor on your face at the altar, hands raised to heaven, and tears streaming down your face. If you have more questions about this, we can talk more.
- The last thing you need to do is pray. Did you know that God likes to talk to you much like you like to talk to your best friend or your spouse. God isn’t worried that you aren’t talking in your best English stage-actor voice. God wants you to speak your mind. If you’re mad at Him, he wants you to say it. <whispering> He knows it anyway.
Here’s the coolest thing, if you do these things, you’ll want to be in church more. I never in a million years thought that I’d be in church at least 2 days week. If I miss Wednesday evening service, I don’t have what I need to get through the week until Sunday. I don’t ever want to skip church on Sundays. As a matter of fact, we get to church around 8 AM for breakfast with my parents. Our class is at 10 AM and church at 11:15 AM. We don’t get home until about 1:30 PM on Sundays. We love being there. We want to be there. We want to help out and be involved.
Taking time to pray and read the Bible takes effort. It isn’t easy and I’m not going to lie and say that I do it every day or even regularly all the time. But, I’m working on it. I’m an imperfect human just like you. Start with the book of John or Mark. Talk to someone who you know has a relationship with God. The more you read and the more you learn, the more you grow from the milk of the Word to the meat of the Word.
Please remember not to take your frustrations out on the church because of bad decisions by the humans running the church. Yes, there have been those that have abused their authority given to them by the church. That wasn’t God making those decision. That was a human. No one is perfect and I am not making excuses for that behavior. But, we need to remember “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23).
So, do you think God is narrow-minded? I think He is, but I’m ok with it. Frankly, I don’t want to be like this, “Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth” (Ephesians 4:14). Sometimes, “rules is rules”. God is not hard and and is not unreasonable. What He is is a merciful and graceful Father giving us what we don’t deserve.
I’m going to leave you with some Bible verses that back up what I’ve been talking about. There’s a lot of information here. It’s even more than I expected to write when I first got the idea for this post in March. But, let’s talk about it. If you have a question, post it below. If I don’t know, I’ll find out. We can discuss. I’m not going to debate whether or not there’s a “god” or God. You see I believe in an all-knowing, loving Creator. You can’t sway me. Period. Be nice. Let’s talk. Thanks for reading.
And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.” – John 3:36
For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” – Romans 10:13
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. – John 14:6
But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven. – Matthew 10:33
And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. – John 17:3
There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” – Acts 4:12
Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life. – 1 John 5:12
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16
“I tell you the truth, everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, the Son of Man will also acknowledge in the presence of God’s angels. – Luke 12:8
21 For just as the Father gives life to those he raises from the dead, so the Son gives life to anyone he wants. 22 In addition, the Father judges no one. Instead, he has given the Son absolute authority to judge, 23 so that everyone will honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son is certainly not honoring the Father who sent him. 24 “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life. – John 5:21-24