42 Questions Christian’s can’t answer

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Why can’t the all-powerful God forgive someone of their sins after they die? Example: A Christian man that is seemingly on God’s good list makes a stupid decision and decides to drink a little too much at the fish fry. On his way home he crashes into a mini-van killing a mother, her two children and himself. This man led a very faithful life and made one stupid, yet grave mistake. If this man did not ask for forgiveness of his sins before the electrical activity in his brain ceased, then God will judge him and send him to hell to burn for eternity.

I had read other blogs about Pucket who had asked the above question, and 50 others, and I had read he was a former Christian, who had a solid grasp of the Gospel. Frankly, this question shows a tremendous amount of ignorance concerning salvation and the good news of the Gospel, so it surprised me.

The New Testament is packed with scripture that gives us a view of salvation that is simply based on our acceptance of the gift Christ offers. Christ saves all those who believe in Him, and it is not conditional on our asking forgiveness on every single sin we commit. Not only is that unnecessary, but impossible.

The above illustration by Pucket can be carried to the extreme with another simple example. Say a Christian man who has lead a nearly sinless life was walking across the street carrying a gift and flowers for his wife of 30 years. Walking across in the opposite direction is a lovely young girl, in a short skirt, and top that shows off her nearly perfect figure. For a moment, this Christian man lets his thoughts wander into sin after they passed each other. Then, suddenly, a car that had been speeding ran the red light and instantly killed this man.

To suggest God would condemn this man to eternal separation from Him due to this one moment, before he could ask forgiveness, is silly. The verses of scripture that address this are numerous, so instead of constructing an argument, I will let scripture speak for itself. I have listed just list a few below.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

John 5:24 “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”

John 6:37 “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.”

Acts 4:12 “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

Romans 1:16 “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.”

2 Corinthians 5: 15-19 “And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”

Titus 3:5-7 “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”

Acts 13:39 “Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses.”

This question, and the scripture above, are a perfect lead in to asking, “Who then is going to heaven?” It is surprising how many think they are, due to their general, good behavior. The Pew Research center did a survey a few years ago asking how many Americans believed in a God or some kind of universal spirit, and over 90% responded positively. 1 Out of those respondents, 74% believe in heaven, but only 59% believe in hell. Pewpoll11

 

 

 

 

 

That suggests quite a few people have the notion that we are going to heaven no matter what kind of life we led.  In other words, some people believe that everyone will get a ‘get out of jail’ Monopoly card that will work in the afterlife, guaranteeing a seat in heaven.

Heaven33

 

Pewpoll22

 

Another figure that was worth mentioning was the percent of those who have a religion, felt that many religions can lead to eternal life. A shocking 70% feel that their way, (their own religion), is not the only way. Not surprising was the religions of Hinduism and Buddhism lead the way with 89% and 86% believing their religion is not the only way into heaven. 2 Not far down the list is the Evangelical believers, and 57% of them feel Jesus is not the only way to heaven.

With these kinds of figures, I would ask what is the point of Jesus? If we can just lead a relativity good life, where our generous actions and behaviors out weigh the selfish actions, and that would usher us into heaven, then why bother with the whole Jesus thing? Obviously, many Christians believe that. Where do they get that idea? Another Pew Research poll said, “Even among white evangelical Protestants, nearly three-quarters (72%) of those who say many religions can lead to eternal life name at least one non-Christian religion that can lead to salvation.” 3

Salvation is a gift. It is not something you can earn through good works or asking forgiveness each and every single time you sin. Salvation through Christ allows you to live a life free from condemnation, but with the realization that there was a price paid, because a just and righteous God demands it. This realization comes into play every day as we recognize it is impossible to live a perfect, sin free life. Ravi Zacharias said, “Jesus did not come into this world to make bad people good. He came into this world to make dead people live.” 4

When a person repents, accepts Christ as their Lord and Savior, their sins are forgiven, past, present, and future. This does not mean you go and sin all you want because of the get out of jail free card. God looks at the heart of a man, He knows their intent, their purpose. 1 Samuel 16:7. Gill’s Exposition puts it this way, “…though the heart is deceitful, it cannot deceive him, because he judges not according to outward appearance; he sees and knows the heart; and none but the Lord, or he who is Jehovah, can so search the heart as thus to know it.”

Mark Mittelberg told a story of a business man who was on an airplane sitting next to a pastor. Their conversation was polite and surface at first, but after a few minutes turned to more serious topics. The pastor was asking the man if he believed in heaven, and if so would he be allowed in. The business man felt he would because his good deeds surpassed his selfish deeds.

The pastor then gave the man an illustration on a napkin, by drawing a ladder that would reach up to heaven. Each rung on the ladder represented a spot for one person on earth. Up at the top is God, because He is perfect. Each person on earth would be placed on the ladder according to their good deeds. The higher up the ladder, the more good deeds a person did. The lower the part of the ladder were the Hitlers, child molesters, and mobsters.

The pastor brought up Mother Teresa, who has admitted she has sinned many times in her life, this, despite her being considered one of the most caring, giving, and ethical persons who ever lived. She would not consider herself even past ½ way up the ladder. The pastor then mentioned Billy Graham, who many in America consider to be an outstanding moral and ethical man, who has lead a long dedicated life serving the Lord. The pastor pointed out that Billy Graham would not consider himself above Mother Teresa, and has said he has sinned many times in his own life. The pastor then marked a spot for Billy Graham below Mother Teresa on the ladder, and both were below the ½ way mark.

He then asked the man where he would be on this ladder, who hesitantly wrote his name near the bottom below both Mother Teresa and Billy Graham. The pastor let that sink in for a minute as the business man contemplated his good deeds compared to those icons of honorable human behavior.

The pastor then asked the business man where he thinks the cut off point on the ladder would be for those who ‘get’ to go to heaven for their good deeds, and if he would be above it. The business man replied, “I guess I am screwed.” to which the pastor replied, “Well welcome to the club. We’re all in that kind of predicament. And here’s the real problem: do you think, if you got serious and tried to to do good for the rest of your life, you could ever hope to climb above Mother Teresa?” 5

The point is driven home in the above story. It is not about leading a good and moral life, but accepting the gift of salvation, and realizing it is a gift that everyone should be thankful for. The latter illustration works well because each and everyone of us can be placed on this ladder according to our deeds in this life. Everyday we walk by, talk to, work with, wake up next to someone who may be above us or below us on the ladder, but where we are placed on the ladder has nothing to do with being ushered into heaven.

laddertoheavenAccepting the gift of salvation that Christ offers, and realizing we can never reach the top of this ladder because of our own works is key. Our nature tells us to hang on tight to whichever rung of the ladder we are clinging to. We try not to get our fingers stepped on by the person above us, and at the same time try to mash the fingers of the person attempting to climb past us. If we are not careful we might slip down further, below those we were above moments before. All the while Jesus is telling us to let go, lean back, and fall into His arms, and he will then lift us, not only above the spot where we were on the ladder, but then, up and past those who were above us because of their good deeds.

It is that moment you fully realize no one on the ladder will ever make it into heaven, because you can’t climb into heaven, but only fly there, in the arms of Jesus.

Sources:

1. “Religious Beliefs and Practices.” Pew Forum. Pewforum.org, 1 June 2008. Web. 17 September 2014.
2. “Many Americans Say Other Faiths Can Led to Eternal Life”, Pew Forum. Pewforum.org, 18 December 2008. Web. 19 September 2014.
3. Ibid
4. “A Loving God Wouldn’t Send People To Hell” The Mumbling Christian. Mumblingchristian.com, 20 February 2009. Web. 20 September 2014
5. Mittelberg, Mark. The Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask. Carol Stream: Tyndale House, 2010. Print

 

 

Creative Commons License
42 Questions Christian’s can’t answer by James Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://www.dev.christianapologetics.blog/.

Echo’s of Forgiveness

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Have you ever wondered why some people fall away from their faith, and others, despite great difficulties and suffering in their life, remain strong in their Christian belief? Let me share an analogy I heard not long ago that address that question.

There was a man who was on an airline flight. After the aircraft took off and reached cruising altitude, one of the stewardesses came to him and offered him a parachute. She explained to him that it would improve his flight in many ways. Grateful, the man took the parachute and secured it to his back, adjusted the shoulder straps, and checked various ties to make sure it was secure. He sat back down, but quickly realized it was very uncomfortable to wear a parachute and attempt to sit in a small airlines seat. He was hunched forward and very uncomfortable. He got up again and made several adjustments. He began to question what the stewardesses said about it improving his flight. He took off the chute and just held it in his lap, which was more comfortable, but really not very practical. What good is a parachute that you hold in your lap if the plane goes down? After a while people began to look at him and ask him questions about why he had a parachute. He explained that it was supposed to improve his flight, but everyone just rolled their eyes and went back to doing their own thing. Some passengers even began to laugh at him for being so foolish as to carry a parachute on an airlines. The man tried to stick the chute under his feet, but it was way too large for that to be practical. He finally put it back on and just stood with it. The straps hurt and were uncomfortable in a very short time. Everyone was staring at him, some laughing and even mocking him. Finally, he just ripped off the parachute and threw it on the floor and announced quite loudly how stupid it was to think it would improve his life.

Another man on the very same flight in the back of the plane was also offered a parachute. The difference was this time the stewardess said the parachute was something he was going to need. That in a short while the aircraft would crash and he could jump out and save his life. Wide eyed and thankful, he took the parachute and strapped it on. He double and triple checked the straps to make sure it was properly and securely attached to him. He sat back down and quickly realized it was uncomfortable and not very practical to have on and sit in a small airline seat. Nevertheless, he sat forward concentrating on the fact that in a very short time this would save his life. The straps began to hurt his shoulders and even across his sides, but he did not worry about such minor irritations. He was focused on what was going to happen and how thankful he was to have such a life saving device. People around him began to talk and point, some even laughed at him, but he remained steadfast and focused on what lay ahead. 1

What was the difference with the two men? Both were on an airplane. Both were offered a parachute. The difference was that one was offered a parachute with the suggestion that it would improve his flight. The other was offered a parachute as a life saving device. Obviously, for the first man the parachute did nothing to improve his flight. It caused all kinds of inconvenience, discomfort, and embarrassment. For the second man, it caused the same inconvenience, discomfort, and embarrassment, but he had entirely different motives or mind set for wearing the parachute.

People who become Christians often have one of the two similar mind sets, and depending on which it is will determine if they remain a Christian or step away from their faith. Think back to when you became a Christian. What were your reasons or motives for accepting this particular faith? So often, those that become Christians thinking that Jesus will improve their life leave their faith, frustrated, disappointed, and hurt. Sorry folks, but if you become a Christian, you have no promise of a better standard of living. You can still get sick, have accidents, lose your job, have over whelming debt, fights with your teenage children, your husband or wife, arguments with your mom or dad. You can still get F’s on exams you REALLY have to pass, but did not study for. Your computer can crash and you can lose all your work. Your car can still break down and make you late for your appointment, or have really lousy days where nothing seems to go right. Accepting Christ into your life is not about improving your life, but about saving your life. If you have expectations about Jesus making all things right in the here and now, you may be in for some serious disappointment. We do though have the promise that He helps us get through everything.

I remember quite well when I was saved. It was after listening to Hal Lindsey, author of the Late Great Plane Earth, give a talk to a large congregation. After his talk, I was so scared I practically ran down the aisle to be saved when he gave an altar call.

William Lane Craig wrote in his book, Hard Questions, Real Answers, “The Chief purpose of life is not happiness, but the knowledge of God.” “…people tend to naturally assume that if God exists, then His purpose for human life is happiness in this life. God’s role is to provide a comfortable environment for His human pets. But on the Christian view, this is false. We are not God’s pets, and the goal of human life is not happiness per se, but the knowledge of God-which in the end will bring true and everlasting human fulfillment.” 2

Look at marriage for example. What is the primary reason people get married? If people get married to increase human flourishing and raise children to better society, then a culture would make divorce more difficult. If people get married for personal happiness and emotional satisfaction then divorce would be, (and is), much easier. 3 Look at students who do homework. Most do homework because they have to, because they are motivated in various ways, (reward or punishment), to get it done, while a select few are self motivated and a parent rarely has to encourage them. They are all doing homework, but the reasons why they do homework will range over a wide area, and their reasons will often determine how successful a student will be academically.

Sprint

The current world record holder for the mile time is Hicham El Guerrouj from Morocco, with a 3 minute and 43 second time. Imagine you stood in line to run with mile with several others. You happen to represent Christianity, different runners in line representing their own religions, Hinduism, Islam, Jehovah’s Witness, New Age, Buddhism, and others. Everyone was told that if they ran hard, ran fast, gave it a good effort, had a good attitude, treated the other runners kindly, then one of them who met the conditions would get into heaven, (Sorry pluralists, not all religions can be right).

But then the judges all gathered around you, the Christian. They explained you will be judged differently, and you only had one condition to meet. Great! For a moment you’re thinking you have it easy, and the others were to be the losers for sure. Then the judges told you your single condition. You had to run the mile in under one second. Before you could protest, with your mouth open in shock, they stepped back and fired the shot to start the race. That is the difference between Christianity and all other religions. In other religions, we must work toward God and make efforts to bridge the gap that is between us and God. In Christianity, Jesus bridges the gap, because without him it is impossible for us to meet the conditions. Have you ever lied? Have you ever stolen? Have you ever use the Lord’s name in vain? In Matthew 5: 27-29 it says, “You have heard that it was said to those of old,‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” None of use can meet these conditions, any more than someone can run the mile in under one second. Thankfully, with Christ, in the above set of conditions, the next moment we would experience would be our standing next to Christ, across the finish line. After a moment, you would hear the echo of his grace and forgiveness, sounding like the shot of a gun fired a mile away.

 

 

1. The Way of the Master. Dir. Duane Barnhart. Perf. Kirk Cameron, Ray Comfort. Way of the Master.com, 2005. DVD
2. Craig, William Lane. 2003 Crossway. Wheaton. Print.
3. Keller, Timothy. 2008, Penguin Group. New York. Print.

Pin It on Pinterest