Visits From A Man Named Nobody 30

Visits From A Man Named Nobody 30

PT 1 // PT 2 // PT 3 // PT 4 // PT 5 // PT 6 // PT 7 // PT 8 // PT 9 // PT 10 // PT 11 // PT 12 // PT 13 // PT 14 // PT 15 // PT 16 // PT 17 // PT 18 // PT 19 // PT 20 // PT 21 // PT 22 // PT 23 // PT 24 // PT 25 // PT 26 // PT 27 // PT 28 // PT 29 //

“I’m Bill Tayro,” Bill said. “I’m courting Paul’s mother, and he’s told me you’ve been speaking with him.”

“I’ve been trying to save his soul,” Mr. Dorny said. 

“Evangelism exists to lead people to Christ, who is the only one who can save anyone,” Bill said. 

Mr. Dorny smiled, but it didn’t have any warmth. It was a picturesque definition of condescension. “What would an adulterous man know about salvation?” 

Paul felt his body tense, but Bill’s hand fell onto his shoulder. Paul looked at the man, who had a truly contemplative face.

“You’re accusing me of adultery?” Bill said it like a question, but he didn’t sound defensive or angry.

“You’ve confessed already,” Mr. Dorny said. “You’re dating a woman, doing who knows what with her.”

“She’s divorced,” Bill said. How did he keep that calm?

“Divorce is a sin,” Mr. Dorny said. “To have relations or even look at a person’s wife in lust is a sin.”

“I’m not sure your comment aligns well with Matthew Chapter 5 clearly enough,” Bill said. “Would you like to open the word together and look more closely?”

Wait. Paul thought. Did he seriously just offer to open the Bible and read it together?

“I’ve no interest in debating scripture with a clear unbeliever,” Mr. Dorney said.

“But you’ll use half-truths to harass a child to a point to where he’s afraid to even walk by your house?” Bill asked. 

Mr. Dorney’s eyebrows furrowed. “I’d have anyone not of Christ fear my presence.”

“I thought you said you were trying to save him?” Bill asked.

“I am.” Mr. Dorney’s tone grew louder.

“Have you tried sharing the gospel?” Bill asked. 

“No unrepentant sinner is ready for the gospel!” Mr. Dorney had started shouting.

“Why are you angry?” Bill asked. “If your goal is to evangelize to this young man, simply offer him the complete gospel.”

“He won’t even admit his sin!” Mr. Dorny stabbed a finger in Paul’s direction. 

Paul again tried to step forward, but Bill gently pulled his shoulder back. 

“What you’re doing is harassing a young boy,” Bill said. “You’re countenance is fallen, Geneses 4:6. You’re not acting with kindness, patience, or love, Colossians 3:12-13. Neither are you treating this outsider with graciousness seasoned with salt, Colossians 4:6.”

“You dare quote scripture to me!” Mr. Dorny shouted. Now he seemed ready to hit someone.

“Are you unwilling to discuss scripture?” Bill asked. “How is it you intend to help any souls find Christ if you’re only willing to use his word to condemn?”

Through the whole exchange, Bill never wavered. He wore the same smile that was gentle, not condescending. His tone was patient and kind. 

Paul hadn’t seen anyone use or understand the Bible this way, no one except …

Paul looked at Bill. Could he be? That didn’t make sense. Bill didn’t even know Paul’s mom when Paul was a kid. But they spoke so similarly. 

“You false teacher!” Mr. Dorney said. “You’ll be put to death for your sin!”

“I’m not certain whether or not you’ve just threatened my well being.” Bill sounded like he was reading a particularly complex book. “But you’re quoting Deuteronomy 18:20 as if you know I’m speaking against one of God’s commandments. I don’t believe you’ve tested my spirit in accordance to 1 John 4:1-6. If you had, you would have remembered that I began this conversation acknowledging that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, John 14:6. He came in the flesh from God, and only those who come to him can find salvation.”

Mr. Dorny’s face turned red. “You blasphemer!”

“I think I’ve heard enough shouting.” The more Mr. Dorney shouted, the stronger Bill looked just keeping his tone and posture under control. “I’m not of the opinion you are worried about anything other than passing judgement, which isn’t anything like evangelism. So here’s how this is going to go. I’ve approached you personally in accordance with Matthew 18:15. Paul has witnessed this exchange. You’ve refused to repent. You’ve shown no desire to be reconciled to a brother.”

“You’re no brother of mine!” Mr. Dorney said. He sounded like he was trying not to laugh or shout, so the sound came out like some strange sort of cough. 

“Very well,” Bill said. “But I truly pray you search the scripture and reflect on this exchange. I pray that your eyes will be opened, and you’ll see you’re acting far more like Saul the oppressor rather than Paul the evangelist.”

It was weird for Paul to hear his name so many times and know that Bill was talking about an apostle who supposedly lived thousands of years ago.

Bill stepped behind him to put a second hand on both Paul’s shoulders. “This young man will be using this road to get home. You will not harass or approach him. If you do, the police will be notified. More importantly, I hope you’ll leave this young man to walk the path God has chosen. He’s a child, one of those to whom belong the Kingdom of Heaven, Matthew 19:14.”

Mr. Dorney sneered. “Fine! Go enjoy your flesh and adultery. You’ll burn in Hell, and I’ll be happy to see it.”

“Would you be Lazarus standing with  Abraham? I’d be far more concerned about the plank in my eye.” Bill turned and started to walk back to the house. 

Mr. Dorney shouted a lot more as they walked away, but Bill didn’t appear to pay any attention.

Musings on Christianity 43!

Musings on Christianity 43!

Don’t All Paths Lead to God?

In the last chapter, we established the first essential truth. That truth is essential no mater what area of life you’re considering. One must choose a path. Any person has that right. People can even change their minds. However, when that first essential decision is made, all other decisions logically flow from there.

So what happens when one decides Christianity is right? If one makes this choice, they must then submit to the principles of the faith.

If one decides to diet, they must decide what foods are good to eat and what foods are bad. If one decides to go to a school, they must decide what study habits are good and what other habits are bad.

This isn’t unique to any particular religion. Unless you are one who thinks all paths lead to God. This is a popular—let’s use the word—compromise. There are those who simply want to live in a world where everyone who means well eventually goes to Heaven. While I can understand the desire to see anyone wishing to find Heaven getting there, the simple truth is, that statement can’t be true. 

There may be some agreement between one religion or another. There may even be some shared history. The Jewish religion and Christianity even hold the same history. The larger difference there is belief that Christ was indeed the Messiah or not.

I bring this up because it shows the simple truth. Even if many roads lead to God, it can not be true that all roads lead to God because some religions are indeed at complete disagreement.

Even if many roads lead to God, the Christian path does not allow for a world where all roads lead to God. This is because the Christian faith is based on the idea that Christ is indeed the only way into Heaven.

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6).’”

Biblically, from the very mouth of Christ, we see a choice must be made. You can be one who believes there is more than one way (non-Christianity) or you can believe that there is only one way (Christianity).

If we ponder this, then even if all roads do indeed lead to Heaven, Christianity is still valid because it leads to Heaven. Even in this situation Christianity is still at least a path if not the path for no other reason than it is a path. The danger is if one considers the alternative. If there is only one path, then anyone on a different path is doomed.

If, all roads, including the Christian one, lead to God, then those following the Christian faith are still doing what’s right. To violate the Christian faith, however, because one suddenly believes there are more ways to Heaven means the individual who has changed is no longer (and probably never was) Christian.

This maintains the choice which must be made. The problem is if there was more than one way to Heaven, there would be no need for Christianity. If there are many paths to God, one doesn’t need a savior to get to the Father. This forces us to circle right back to the fundamental choice I discussed in the last chapter: Either Christianity is right, or it is wrong, even if it is only wrong because there are indeed other ways into Heaven. This means that, for a Christian, they are still promised Heaven because they’re trying, but if Christianity is right, then all other beliefs must acknowledge the principle foundation of Christianity, who is Christ.

As a Christian, my only option remains to stay true to the faith. Those who believe in Christ and accept Him as their salvation are still saved, and those who do not risk damnation because that is what awaits them if Christianity is right. If I live to follow Christ, set myself aside, pick up my cross and follow Him, I hold a guarantee no other religion can make.

Again, all of this is to eventually lead up to understanding what a Christian should never do. However, what tends to happen is that people want to have it more than one way. People want Christ to intercede for them, but they don’t want to follow Him, so they choose to hold onto a belief that is the antithesis of Christianity (either there is one way or there is more than one way).

Some people understand that Christianity is right, but then they see the discipline one must have to live a Christian life. They see sin they want to accept, but they know Christ demands us to live for Him.  So again, they try to split the faith apart wanting to have Christian benefits without living a Christian life. The choice remains. It is either right, or it is wrong.

In the case of all roads leading to Heaven, it is still right even if it’s not the only way to be right. However, I urge you to note the contradiction. The Christian faith (as provided above) states plainly there is only one way. It can not be both right and wrong.

C.S. Lewis created a fine argument for the life of Christ. History confirms the existence of the man Jesus Christ. There is no denying his mortal existence. The only debate that can be made is whether he was indeed the son of God or simply a man.

That creates a trilemma, according to Lewis.  “A man who was merely a man said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg— or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool. You can spit at him and kill him as a demon, or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher.”

To expand on this, no great moral teacher would lie. I don’t think I’d find any place where a person would call a lie a good thing. Even one who buys into the nonsense of a white lie, would not consider the clause, “No one comes to the Father except through me,” anything but either truth, or heresy.  So the choice returns. Either Christianity is right, or it is wrong.

Therefore, all roads (or even many) can not lead to Heaven. This because Christ can’t be both right and wrong. One. Must. Choose. At least one must either choose Christianity or to be against Christianity.

For those who choose against Christianity, we can now refer back to the previous chapter in which either I am doomed, or those who are against Christianity are doomed.

However, now those who claim to choose Christianity must then accept the doctrines expressed in that religion. Even still, there are other factors that must be discussed before we can talk about actions forbidden by the faith or not. We will ponder the next factor in the next chapter.

For our panel: What are other verses prove Christianity can’t be both right and wrong? What about other religions that are closely related to Christianity? Can Judaism be right?  What about Catholicism? If Christianity is right because of faith in Christ, isn’t Catholicism just another type of Christianity? If not, why?

Musings on Christianity 39

Musings on Christianity 39

Why Can’t We Talk About Christianity

One glance at social media will offer you a lot of posts about religion. I don’t know about your pages, but I find that any posts about Christianity aren’t very kind.


People are more then willing to talk about God. People are more than willing to talk about how Christians are hateful. They post clever memes featuring depictions of Christ with phrases that usually don’t represent the actual moment depicted.

The occasional Bible verse is usually left alone, but defend the idea of salvation through Christ or state your belief in salvation through Christ alone, and the reactions turn heated or, at best, people politely tell you they’re not interested.


In fairness, I don’t see many posts explaining the doctrine of a lot of religions, but the vehemence with which people react to Christianity is only matched by the amount of false doctrine and unloving misrepresentation of Christ’s teaching.

There are those who are angry at the idea of Christianity. I’ve seen it. I’ve been told I was doomed because I have a Native American brother in law. I’ve been screamed at while trying to go to sporting events. I myself used to say things like, “I don’t believe in organized religion.”

After being screamed at for years by people claiming to be Christian, I simply assumed that’s what Christianity was. That treatment made me unwilling to listen.

This means the first reason people are unwilling to listen to Christ’s message is false teaching or false evangelism.

There are people who take the doctrine of salvation and twist it. They try to blend the Law and Christ when Christ is the fulfillment of the law. There are people who take the message of Christ’s forgiveness and want to forget that forgiveness is through Him, and those who don’t follow Him aren’t His.

All these mixed messages don’t do anything but confuse a very simple concept: Man sinned. The price of sin is death. The sacrifice of animals, introduced through Moses, could never cleanse man. This required a man to live a perfect life and then die a substitutionary death. This is the fundamental concept of salvation through Christ alone. Those who follow him, accepting Him as their savior, are redeemed. Those who follow Him turn from Sin for His sake.

That is Christianity. The term Christian was coined in Antioch (Acts 11:26). The very word means one who follows Christ.

I’m not, nor have I ever, told anyone what to do in regard to religion. That is, in fact, your choice. It’s the same choice Christ gave people. He gave it to the rich young ruler (Matthew 19:16-30).  When many left him, He even gave the apostles the chance to leave (John 6:67). The choice of whether or not you follow Christ yours. Christ, being God in the flesh, knew who would follow and who wouldn’t. He knew whom His Father chose and those His Father did not. I don’t have that advantage.

There are many who feel that belief in Christ alone as a way to Heaven is wrong. Again, that is their choice. The reason I need Christ is because I know I’m a sinner.  I know there isn’t anything I’m going to do to earn God’s favor. Therefore, I need someone to advocate for me. I need someone to pay the price I can’t pay.

However, the challenge is patiently inviting people to hear about who Christ is and what He’s done for mankind.

What confuses me is that people who are angry at Christianity often are scathing or judgmental because they think “all” Christians are scathing or judgmental. On a rational level, I can understand those who simply don’t want to hear the word. What I struggle understanding is why people would do the things they say no one should do. It gets even more baffling when people do the things they say no one should do in response to others doing those same things.

When we do evil, we are, in fact, being evil. One can not do evil for good. God can turn evil for his purpose, but He’s God. When we strike someone who strikes us, we’re guilty of the same offense.

So when when we judge others for judging, we are, in fact, being judgmental. This isn’t opinion. This is simple, rational truth.

This may cause people to be upset. They may defend or explain the reasons for their actions, but if a deed requires defense, there must be a reason it needs that defense.

What would happen if everyone in the world committed to the idea of treating others the way they would be treated? What would happen if this commitment wasn’t predicated on the belief that someone should treat them the way they want to be treated first.

The rule says treat others how you want to be treated. Even assuming most people want the same things, what two people want exactly the same treatment? So the rule can’t be, “treat others how you want to be treated, but wait until they treat you the way you want to be treated first.”

All this comes back to a question I’m struggling to answer. Why is it I’m not allowed to speak about my faith in Christ, but everyone who wants to bash Christians is free to do so? If I defend my faith, I’m evil. If I calmly, patiently offer to explain my faith, I’m, at best, turned down.

There is a double standard in the world, and it is sharply pointed at Christianity. It’s not the only double standard; it’s just the one I’m talking about today. It seems to me in some situations that a person can be anything except a Christian.

They argue this is because Christians are judgmental.

I want to cry out, “So you’re judging me because you believe my religion is judgmental?”

Now, this very book, posted originally on my blog, hasn’t come under any particular scrutiny. But what would happen if I post this same comment on something other than a blog visited by less than 40 people a day? 

The truth is no one has to listen. I’m not trying to make anyone. But it feels sometimes that speaking is in itself met with scorn and ridicule. At least once a day I see some sort of content that says why “Christians” are wrong or how “Christians” shouldn’t claim they have the only way to God.

The very nature of being Christian is to believe that Christ is the way (the truth and the life) to God (John 14:6).

If I’m wrong, I’m screwed, but that’s my problem. The irony is people claim they should be allowed to believe “whatever makes them happy.”

My reply is that they can. But not everyone goes to Heaven. Again, I believe Christ is the way to Heaven. If I’m right, good for me. If I’m wrong, bad for me. I don’t even know the number of other religions out there. I am, however, certain anyone who follows a religion does so because they truly believe that path is the right one. So how is Christianity all that different in that respect?

Another thing that doesn’t help is how politics warp religion. A guy can stand in front of a church or even in a church all day every day; it doesn’t actually make him a Christian. Christ himself proclaimed that there would be many who call on him on the last day, and he will tell them, “Depart from me, you workers of evil. I never knew you (Matthew 7:21-23).”

I don’t know the nature of anyone’s salvation. I’m not God. But looking at the fruit one bears is an indication. Even then, I leave it to the church to discipline its members (that’s a function of a church).  I leave to to the justice system to judge and punish crime. All I can really do is live like Christ as much as I can. He’ll judge me.

But when someone uses Christ or Christianity to tie it to a political agenda, it aligns Christ with a cause when Christ should be the cause. So people argue over this or that. Do some of the things people argue over (abortion) align with religious issues, yes. Do others? Probably not.

All of this debate makes passing the good news very hard. And Christians indeed need to do this. We’re commanded to go forth and make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). The gospels and all of Acts show how this is done.

So we need to look at those examples. I intend to follow those examples. Offer the good news. If people hear it, rejoice. If people reject it, shake off the dust from your shoes. The current landscape makes that difficult, but it’s one I feel we need to navigate with patient persistence. I don’t feel it should be done with aggression or accusation, but it should be done.

For our panel: So why is it so hard to talk about Christianity? How should one respond when they don’t want to hear the gospel? How do we correct those who aren’t speaking truth? Should we defend our beliefs when they’re challenged on social media? If so, how?

Musings on Christianity 35

Musings on Christianity 35

What Holds Some People Back?

What is Heaven like? I’m actually reading a book about that right now. Oddly enough, you can read several accounts on near death experiences, but the Bible should be viewed as the authority on Heaven. This isn’t actually a chapter about Heaven. It’s just a question I want readers to ponder. If you’re like I was when I was younger, you pictured a world where you only did the things you liked doing here on Earth. Maybe Heaven is where you do nothing but watch football. Maybe Heaven is just a never ending feast with all your friends and family. Maybe Heaven is a giant party. None of those theories about Heaven are anywhere near correct, but I’m building to a point, so please bare with me.

While this isn’t a chapter about Heaven, I will tell you one thing I know without any reservation. Whatever you imagine Heaven is, Heaven is greater. The problem is that humans only know this broken, sinful Earth. Sure, there are fun things on Earth. But when we become fixated on the things of this world and start imagining Heaven as anything like this place, we’re not giving Heaven enough credit.

Imagine the best day of your life to this date. Imagine the happiest you’ve ever been. One second of Heaven will make that day seem worthless by comparison.

So why, then, would anyone not want to go to Heaven? Why, then, would anyone not seek the path to such a place?

The things that hold people back from believing are often tied to the pleasures of this Earth. God, our loving Father who gives us such wonderful things, blessed this world with so many wonderful things. One thing I feel happens though is that we start to see the gifts as God rather than the God who made the things we enjoy so much.

These gifts, which in and of themselves may not be sinful, become idols, which makes the action sinful. I’ve mentioned previously that anything you’re willing to sin to obtain or sin because you don’t get is an idol. One should look at their lives and consider those things. Time is a wonderful thing, and I struggle mightily with “my time.” The second I consider it mine, I’ve placed myself and the thing on which I want to spend my time on God’s throne.

These idols hold us back from the Kingdom because we’ve made that activity or action the ideal in our mind. However, Heaven is so much greater than anything you could do here on Earth. This is why Christians should be fixated on getting there. Maybe rather than imagine Heaven as a place where we can only do things we do here, we should imagine Heaven as a place where no matter how fun what we’re doing right now is, being in Heaven will be that much better.

Another thing that holds people back is money. Of course we want good things. Of course we want to provide for our family and ensure we have a comfortable retirement. It’s not sinful to have money. What is sinful is to make money God. God, who created the heavens and the earth; God, who created the world and the fullness therein, doesn’t need money. When you’re with him, you won’t either. His very presence and person is light and joy.

The concept of wealth is something I wonder about sometimes. Why do we need money? To buy stuff. What stuff? Food. People can plant food and raise animals for food. Sure, you’d have to buy the animals, but it could be done. This world has done an amazing job of convincing us that we “need” so many things. When you think about it though, humans don’t really need a lot to survive. Yet the quality of that survival is dependent upon amenities that span beyond survival. Sure, feed me some slop, shelter me from the elements, and provide me water, and I will continue to exist. However, we thrive as we have more.

So we’ve developed the thought that money is the need when money was literally invented as an exchange for the goods we actually need to sustain ourselves or thrive. Even in this world, money isn’t the need. At best, money is the means by which we obtain those needs. But Biblically, that’s not the way it really works. The way we obtain our needs is seeking God’s kingdom and His righteousness. If we do these things, our Father, who is in Heaven, will add to us all these other things (Matthew 6:33).

How will God provide? He’s God! He’ll do it however he wants. But if he can arrange for the survival of wild animals and plants, he can absolutely ensure the survival of the race he created last, humanity, who are worth so much more than birds and plants.

So is money really sinful? Not in and of itself. Solomon was the wealthiest, wisest man of all time. Daniel was a king. Joseph was second only to Pharaoh in Egypt. These are all saints. None of them were perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but they had good times. They also had bad times. David was chased throughout Israel. He had to live in caves and beg priests for food (1 Samuel). Joseph was sold into slavery and then thrown into prison (Genesis). Solomon wrote an entire book of the Bible speaking about how he’d gone chasing after the wind (Ecclesiastes).

It’s hard for people with money to enter the kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 19:23).

I’m of the opinion that this is true because we start to worship the money rather than the God who blessed us with such wealth to begin with.

One who sees the kingdom of Heaven rightly, as so much better than all the wealth of the earth, wouldn’t covet that money so much.

That doesn’t mean we should be foolish or unwise with the money God entrusted to us. It just means we need to remember that this, too, is a gift from God, and we should worship the creator, not the creation.

It’s hard for me not to think about money sometimes. I have to remind myself that it’s not money I need, it’s God, the creator of all things who can give me everything I need. Like anyone, I work hard to earn a living. I aspire to earn more as an author. I wish I could send my sons to a Christian school. I want to pay cash for college for my sons. I never want to be in debt again. The trick is focusing on God rather than money.

There is a trick to being content in all situations (Philippians 4:11-13). It’s being focused on God.

We get held back because we blind ourselves with the things of this world. If our hard times become an opportunity to glorify God and seek Him and be grateful to Him for all He does, all will be well. If in our abundance we praise God and use what he entrusted to us to do His will, all will be well.

Maybe we think Heaven isn’t so great because some people we love won’t be there. Have you ever heard the phrase, “All my friends are in Hell”?

This one baffles me as a person. I’ve been through some hard times. And while the people we love can help us through these times, that doesn’t make them any less hard does it? Think about the Holocaust. Let’s imagine Hell as an eternal Holocaust (it isn’t; it’s so much worse, but it’s the closest analogy I know on this earth). If I promised you that every person you ever even liked a little bit would be there, would you really want to go there? Is there any amount of friends and family being beside you that would make such a horrid existence something you’d willingly go to?

Wouldn’t you instead do everything in your power to avoid such a fate and help those you love to do the same? Welcome to evangelism!

There isn’t a single person on this earth, no matter what he or she may have done to me, who I’d wish to experience that sort of thing. Sure, I’ve been angry and wanted justice or even vengeance, but even just based on the two or so books I’ve read about the Holocaust, I wouldn’t put anyone through that.

Instead, I want to go to Heaven. I want to go there so much I’m willing to give whatever I have to. But what we must give isn’t a sacrifice or offering. Instead, we must accept Christ, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). We must believe He lived a perfect life. We must believe He died for our sins. We must believe He was resurrected on the third day, and we must pick up our cross and follow Him.

That means letting go of the things that turn us from him, and we all have work to do that. I know I do, but it’s worth it. We talk sometimes about Heaven and Hell. There are people who believe in Heaven, but they don’t believe in Hell. I’d argue that even if Hell weren’t a real place (it is), that any place not Heaven is Hell. That’s how great Heaven is. There are people who believe in Hell and not Heaven. Neither of these groups of people make a ton of sense to me, but they’re out there. I’d do anything to avoid Hell and keep those I love from going there.

Please look closely at your life and the things you fixate on. Believers, fixate on Christ. I know you have children to care for and a wife to love (and God commands us to do so). I know you have to provide for your live,s and I promise I understand the need for rest and the desire to pursue goals. I simply beg you, make getting closer to God your primary goal. Consider anything that takes you from Him antithetical to your overall mission.

For our panel: Are you willing to discuss an idol in your life that you struggled to turn away from? What are some other things that hold us back from the kingdom? What do we do when we recognize an idol, but still covet it even though we know it’s wrong? What is Heaven really like? What is Hell really like?

Musings on Christianity 19

Musings on Christianity 19

Does God Accept Me For Who I Am?

The short answer is no. It sounds brutal and cruel, but that’s just the way it is. Neither is it true to think that Christ doesn’t turn people away. We want to think that He wouldn’t. We want to believe that we can do whatever we want (no matter how sinful) and Christ will just be “cool with it.” But, I say again, that just isn’t true.

There are many who might be outraged by this fact. They will talk about how Christ loved us and Christ died for us. Indeed He did. However, that doesn’t mean everyone is going to Heaven. I want to put a pin on that last clause long enough to finish this first, and most important, thought.

The words of Christ Himself:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in Heaven. On that day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and cast out demons in your name, and do many might works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:21-23)

Readers, if you are under any sort of impression that the simple lip service of “Christ is king,” or “I believe in Christ” is in and of itself enough, you are under the incorrect belief. Those of who you think Christ “doesn’t turn anyone away,” needs to read that entire chapter of the Bible much more closely. 

Who then will he not turn away? Christ gave the answer in the above passage: “ … the one who does the will of my Father who is in Heaven.”

Sin is not in any way a part of God’s will.

Why then do we want to pretend otherwise? The answer is in the sin that you love. As a Christian, I want to seek out those sins I’m coveting. Those sins I love more than God. They exist. All people sin. The Christian seeks sanctification. The lost live in their sin.

“No one who abides in Him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen Him or known Him.” (1 John 3:6)

I’m of the opinion that we live in a world where we want to be able to sin and still get to Heaven. We want to pervert the love of Christ to mean, “He’ll let me do whatever I want and still take me.” 

It’s a very terrifying moment to realize that’s not true. It was for me. So the next thing people tend to do is try to minimize sin. They try to make some sins more terrible than others, and there are indeed sins God hates more than others, but that doesn’t make the other sins acceptable.

Our human rationalization is, “My sin isn’t all that bad, so I should be OK.”

Sin is bad. You’re not OK. If you live in sin, whatever it is, you don’t know Him, and you haven’t seen Him (see the above verse).

So, let’s go back up to that statement I mentioned above.

Assertion: Not everyone is going to Heaven. I think most would agree. I think if I talked to 1 million people, not one of them would claim everyone is going to Heaven.

But if you’re willing to acknowledge that not everyone is going, you have to then also acknowledge that Christ does indeed turn people away. Who then does He turn away? Refer back to the first passage I quoted in this chapter. Any who doesn’t do the will of the Father, will be turned away.

I’ve said several times that sin is sin. I even tend to not focus on any one sin. It’s just too volatile. Why? Because there are people who love their sin more than their brother (which is actually another sin). There are people who love their sin more than God (yet another sin).

So what happens is mortals rationalize. They say sin is sin from one side of their mouth, and then live in their sin as if that’s justification. Such actions then imply that one can do whatever he wants because sin is sin, but no rational person believes this.

To allow this mental debate to have a resting place, let’s pick a sin that no one fights for the right to do: murder. I’m not even talking about how Christ further defined murder in Matthew 5:21-48. For the sake of this mental experiment, I’m talking about the actual, physical murder of one person by another. I’m fairly confident no one is going to try and justify this act to me in any way. (Of course now some one is going to try some round about manner of justification such as the death penalty or self defense. Please just acknowledge then that all you’re doing is arguing for the sake of dissension and move along.)

I’ve never once seen a social media post or campaign topic that tries in any way to make it OK for people to kill, so I’m sticking with that to avoid more common, more politically acceptable sins.

  If saying, “I believe in Christ,” is enough to get into Heaven in and of itself, then do you believe that a man, a serial killer, could claim such and then continue to kill whomever the thrill of it called him to kill? Of course not! I’d venture to assert that even if a man had killed a hundred people and genuinely repented, falling down on his knees to beg Christ for forgiveness, paying for his crimes by turning himself in and accepting his punishment (You see, punishment by a court of law isn’t murder, those dissenters referenced above), never killing again, you would still want to condemn that man to Hell.

This is because killing is wrong. It is. It’s a sin, but so is the sin you’re holding on to. So too is the sin you want to keep and justify in doing so because that sin is more socially acceptable.

The truth of the matter is the angels rejoice over that murderer who repented and turned away from his sin. They do so more over him than the (self) righteous person who’s never killed a person, but committed several “lesser” sins, believing he is above the need to repent and turn away.  (This is a personal paraphrase of Luke 15:7.)

In my life, I’ve thought about people I wanted to go to Hell. They’d done things no one would argue are evil. I wanted wrath for that sinner and that sin. Then, I wanted grace and forgiveness for my own sin. Am I God that I should choose who goes to Heaven and who doesn’t? No, and neither are you.

Just as man can not condemn another man for their sin, neither can man declare another man righteous. We are not the way to Heaven; Christ is. (John 14:6) 

We only have the written word to guide us, but we need to pay attention to it. We can’t fall into the belief that lip service is enough. We can’t say we believe in Christ and continue to do all the things he said are wrong. We can’t do that any more than an abusive husband can claim to love his wife and continue to beat her. We can’t do that any more than an addict can claim to love her child and then lose him while drugged out of her mind. Even if those people mean what they say, and those statements have some immeasurable truth to them, they can’t argue they love their loved ones more than the sins they commit. No one in Heaven or Earth would believe them.

So then where is this leading to? I beg you to remember the two most important commandments given to us by Christ Himself:

“And he answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.’” (Luke 10:27. See also Matthew 22:36-40 and Mark 12:28-31)

Therefore, anyone who puts any sin above God, whatever that sin is, is in violation of what Christ says are the most important two laws. We have to cast aside our sin for the God we claim to love just as we have to do for our neighbors.

This explicitly tells us we do in fact have to change for those we love. If we refuse to change, we are in fact, showing how little we love them. How contrary to popular philosophy and self-help books that statement is! 

But don’t we do that? Don’t we break up with the boyfriend or girlfriend who wont’ give up smoking or some other undesirable habit? Don’t we leave the relationship where the person is selfish? 

So if we on Earth know to turn away those who refuse to love us enough to turn from the wrong they do, so don’t we also realize Christ will do to us?

And now for those who feel this truth is a little on the “unloving” side. All the cases I used above were clearly things anyone would accept as reasonable. But what about that guy who never, ever, puts the lid to the toilet down. What about that wife who works a bit more than you’d like and doesn’t have time to help around the house or even just offer time for affection that you’d like?

Well, this is where forgiveness and Christ’s infinite love comes into play. We mortals have all sorts of deal breakers. Think about this. We have several (sometimes difficult to understand and/or explain) things we will immediately end a relationship over. We want to do that, but imagine a God who would be OK with anything? How does that even make sense?

However, where we would summarily end any relationship over any number of deal breakers, God, through Christ, is much better than all of us. You see, Christ is forgiving. For those who repent and turn away, there is no deal breaker. There’s no crime so great one can commit that Christ’s blood can’t wash away. This, is how glorious he is. And in that grace and mercy, Christ understands us. He advocates for us. (1 John 2:1)

That means that murderer is indeed forgiven, even if you don’t like it. That means anyone can be forgiven, if he but accepts Christ into his heart and repents of his sins. He did this for a thief on a cross who minutes before was ridiculing Christ. (Luke 23:43)

Sin is sin. There is not greater or lesser sin you could choose to live in and do continually that Christ, in his perfect, righteous glory as king of kings, would ever accept.

However; Sin is sin. There is no sin Christ’s blood can’t wash way. We may stumble, but Christ knows our hearts. He knows our desire to change and be more like Him. Those who accept Him and obey Him are among his elect. Those who strive to live as He lives and do as He does will be welcomed.

Consider this as you look at your life and the sins you carry. I’m not beyond this scrutiny. I look at the sin in my life and it horrifies me. Some sins fell away, but it seems like sin is some sort of hydra, popping up with two heads more each time I turn from one sin. The goal is the keep growing. The goal is to aspire and live to be more like Christ. Then His grace and mercy will be with you, and nothing will take you from God’s hands when you are His. (Romans 8:39)

For our panel: How does one turn from sin? What does it mean if I repent of a sin (whatever it is) and then succumb to it? Is backsliding a real thing? Does being a Christian mean being perfect?