Brad wrote an incredible spread of info on his beliefs in God. It makes for quite a read. The link goes to the specific post he made (God and Me, Part 3) … so if you are reading this and link to it - you shouldn’t stumble accross any of his nudie pics.
Brad asked four questions in his post, which I will answer here (for myself). Brad, please understand that I am not berating you for beliefs… I speak out that which I have come to know, and out of a concern for all people who might read this at some point.
1. You believe Christ died on the cross for your sins. You think your place in Heaven is secure. There is no pain in Heaven right? You believe that you will be reunited with your family in Heaven right?
So let me ask you this Batman. YOU make it to Heaven… but Brother or Sister or Mom or Dad doesn’t because they didn’t “make the grade for whatever reason.” You are going to be good with that? Remember there is supposed to be NO PAIN in Heaven. You don’t think that would cause you some pain for ALL ETERNITY to know someone near and dear to you didn’t make it?
There is only one way to know if my place in heaven is secure: by faith in Christ, (1 John 5:1) and knowing Him as the Son of God. And by continuing to abide in God’s word, which is to keep my life according His words:
He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe in the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
1 John 5:12-23
The First Epistle of John (1 John) has much to say on the subject of the assurance of our salvation. Being obedient to God’s word is a key test of this:
And hereby we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He that saith, "I know Him", and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth His word, in him verily (truly) is the love of God perfected (completed) : hereby we know that we are in Him. He that saith he abideth (lives in) Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.
1 John 2: 3-6
This simply means that if we are truly Jesus’s followers, then we act like it. We will show the love of Jesus in us by living godly lives in imitation of Christ.
God did love us enough to send HIS Son to die a horrible, excruciating death… a torment we entirely deserve. It is the subject of the "Easter" holiday many "christians" will crowd into churches in a couple of days to observe.
I will elaborate a bit more on Jesus’s work of atonement shortly; however, it is an individual choice that all of us have to make: what shall we do with the message of Redemption?
As I mentioned in a previous post, God did not make robots. He wants us to CHOOSE to live according to HIS plan for us.
I am not accountable for the choices of my family, or anyone else… (unless I fail to warn them of the judgment due to us for sin, Ezekiel 33:6)
But I love them enough to warn them of Hell, and of God’s way of escaping that Hell. I certainly do not want for them to suffer in eternal torment forever. Yet… I cannot force thier decision! It is entirely thier decision to make.
The Apostle Paul strove always to have a clear conscience, preaching and teaching the message of salvation. He did not fail to warn the people around him of the danger of Hell! And Jesus… warned of Hell so much more than any other topic He taught on.
Will my family "make the grade"? I believe my mother has, not of her good Catholic works, but because she has heard God’s word of salvation, and believed upon the Son - Jesus - whom the Father sent. I will see her in heaven.
Dad is another story… he is an extremely smart guy, very wise in the ways of the world… perhaps too smart for his own good. He hears the message, but for now, he is brushing it aside. Does it sadden me to see him reject the same God that saved his wife? You bet it does.
Will I weep in heaven for his choice? If he chose wrong, I cannot say that he hasn’t been warned. God will wipe away my tears, as He promised. Then I will rejoice at spending eternity with my Redeemer King. How much more my joy, if Dad does choose to accept Jesus’s gift of saving grace!
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away
2. I am Gay. Ok so all I have to do is accept Christ as my Savior and CONTINUE being Gay even though our Bible as it is now indicates that is a sin…. And I am good to go now for Heaven right? Oh….NO??? Ok, I just have to admit I am sinning and STOP being Gay? I can be Gay once in awhile just because I am weak and can’t help it? What?????????? But I am Gay! It isn’t what I CHOSE TO BE. IT IS WHAT I AM. Am I doomed then regardless? Is it ok to say hey this is what I am, but I believe Christ died on the cross for my sins so I will keep doing what I want and I am ok?
Ooog. Here is a tough one to answer. But not impossible!
Here is somethng that will sting most people’s ears:
God… did… not… make… anyone… gay.
But people can choose to do what they want: God made us with FREE WILL.
What…? No lighning bolts…? I’m still here…. the Lady Cher has not struck me down! Of course, that is utter blasphemy into the ears of anyone educated and sympathetic to the views of modern queer theory.
Of course, this is conclusion I had come to years and years ago: it was always a choice I made whether or not to sleep around with various strangers (regardless of gender)… and a choice I made to lay down in bed with other men.
But what about my desire for gay (or straight) sex? It was there. And I tell you the truth, I still struggle with it from time to time. I’ve got about 15-20 years of it under me already; I will likely continue to struggle with those temptations until Jesus calls me home to heavenly perfection, or He returns to this earth in total victory first.
But "where sin abounded, God’s grace abounded more".
Because I have Jesus living within me, I can rely upon His grace to overcome my many sin habits, be it fighting a temptation to go scope out that cute intern in HR, or be it not to tell filthy jokes with my co-workers.
For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh, but they that are after the (Holy) Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded (always thinking about sin and how to sin) is death; but to be spiritually minded (setting your mind on the things of God’s Holy Spirit) is life and peace.
Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then, they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
It is impossible to please God while walking in sin. Therefore, it is not okay to continue in our former sins as a follower of Jesus. Again, I stress that this is inclusive of all of our sin habits, be it hetero- or homo- sexual immorality, or drunkeness, or violence against others, or lying, etc.
But God is the giver of much grace!
He has made me able to walk in His Spirit so that I can be victorious over my decaying, vile sinful flesh, and finally have mastery over my wicked, carnal mind.
But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us (made us alive) together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ: that in the age to come, He might show the exceeding riches of His grace toward us through Christ Jesus.
All this means is … in spite of our wretched selves… God loved us and has made us alive in Him, able to overcome both sin and death.
3. Let me ask you this. If you are a parent (and if you aren’t try to imagine) and your kid f***s up… are you willing to throw him into a pit of … fire? You are a parent and if your kid f***s up, what do you feel??? Bottom line is nothing but LOVE for them STILL right? Yes, they might need to learn a lesson and be punished to some extent to learn it… but would that lesson EVER be you are no longer mine and I am going to cast you into eternal torment? … But we can so easily accept an all loving God would do this? … Do you REALLY think he would throw US away EASIER than you would throw YOUR own child away?
God does not want to throw anyone away. Not a single person. Read this:
…"As I live", saith the Lord God, "I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked"…
Hmmm. God doesn’t like destroying people… sounds good so far. What exactly did he take pleasure in? That verse concludes as follows:
"…but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, (repent) turn ye from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel?
And what did Jesus say in the New Testament:
For the Son of Man is not come to destroy men’s lives… but to save them…
Luke 9:56 (KJV)
I find that verse… one of the most beautiful things in the Bible.
Yet, not everyone will hear the call to salvation:
Enter ye at the strait (a strait is a passageway of small, confined dimensions) gate: for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go there(at) :
Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
As for the issue of parents and discipline go…
Earthly parents have done some surprisingly ugly things. Too easily, we find in our enlightened, humanist culture… a willingness of parents to destroy thier children. Some are very obvious, such as the stories we hear on the news every so often about a mother leaving her children in a car with the windows up… and the kid(s) in said car get roasted.
A less obvious, but much more prevalent evil… is the millions of unborn children pumped through the abortion mills for the convenience of "birth control".
To answer the literal instance of when parents would toss thier kids into flames… there was a Canaanite ritual in the worship of the false fertility god "Molech": parents worshipping Molech would make thier children walk through fires to prove thier devotion to this bronze idol:
And they built the high places of Ba’al, which are the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause thier sons and thier daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not to, neither came it into My mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.
But most earthly parents wouldn’t go so far. Instead, in the fine tradition of American Mediocrity™… we have our present school systems which despoil the minds of our youth, leaving many youths without either a basic knowledge of God, or even a knowledge of how to read and write. Lacking discipline (for thier parents refuse to properly discipline thier bratty kids) these kids grow up without any guidelines, cast into the world around them relatively less prepared than our fathers were.
And yet, we love these children much. Even if we are generally evil in our disposition to them, as Jesus said:
If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
God wants us to draw near to Him. Because He knows we have sin, and we continue to screw up… He wants us to come to Him, and believe.
To the unbeliever, who is falls under wrath, as a child of the evil one, Jesus says:
And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
But to the believer, He counts as a child of the living God, and when the bleliever strays, God disciplines him as a son:
It is for discipline that you endure. God deals with you as with children, for what son is there whom his father doesn’t discipline?
But if you are without discipline, of which all have been made partakers, then are you illegitimate, and not children.
Hebrews 12:7-8 (World English Bible)
The King James is even stronger:
But if ye are without chastisement, of which all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not children.
Hebrews 12:8 (KJV)
Bastards, indeed! We are either children of the Adversary (the devil), which is our default condition… or we are Children of God, having received the washing of the Blood of Jesus, and the Regeneration of His resurrection.
That’s pretty black and white, isn’t it?
4. WHAT IS HELL? What is it to you? Again the literal translation in the Bible? Fire and Brimstone? Or could it just possibly be that Hell, if such a thing exists…. is like a thousand times better than the life you are living right now? BUT…. With the exception being… that you find out in the end that God WAS for real and that for all eternity you are going to simply be SEPERATED from him? Nothing horrible and torturous…
God loves each and every one of us a ZILLION times greater than you love your own kid if you have one. Or your Mother, Father, Brother, Sister, Spouse… whatever. What you would NEVER on the sake of your own life do to ANY OF THOSE, you think God (who is the definition of LOVE) capable of doing to YOU? How insulting to HIM is THAT? It is yet one more example of trying to mold him in the strictures of mans thought. He is so far beyond us. Until one can truly grasp that concept and quit trying to fit him into some kind of mold, you cannot possibly understand the beauty of God and his unconditional love for us and will be forever tormented by a boogey man from hell instead. God is unknowable by us! Quit trying to impose what HIS rules and regulations are on yourself!
The ONLY thing you need worry about is how you TREAT OTHERS because THAT is all HE has ever tried to teach us. EVERYTHING about the Bible as it exists in its incomplete form even has been nothing more than a blueprint on HOW TO TREAT OTHERS. HIS whole message has been slapping everyone in the face forever and it is just how to treat others. Your family, your friends, everyone. It is the overriding theme and lesson about EVERYTHING he tries to show us. HAVE A GOOD AND PURE HEART!
Insulting God? Yah wanna know what is insulting to God…?
It is a horrible, horrible lie… the idea of a "stateless existence of soul-sleep"… or the wishful thought that we will die and be "separated in some painless limbo away from God", if we aren’t good enough to have "made the grade".
Friends…. that is the biggest lie of the devil that has been perpretrated on humankind. That is an even graver and far worse insult against the God who cannot lie, than accusing Him of being some vindictive man waiting to toss people into Fiery Hell for the slightest infraction.
To say that God does not judge sin… that means He is no longer an omnipotent, all-knowing, and yet full of mercy… a God of Justice who avenges wrong!
This lie against the truth makes Him into some sad, maudlin, little godling who would allow sin and iniquity to go unpunished.
It also makes a mockery of His mercy, and His love which you have (rightly) said He has for us.
It demeans and makes of none effect the most heart-rending sacrifice a Father ever had to make: giving up His Only Begotten Son to die a death worse than a criminal.
And it is a lie against everything Jesus taught about Hell.
Of course, the devil LOVES the idea of millions of souls pouring into Hell daily, those souls passsing out of existence under the illusion that Hell it is just some kind of benign "cosmic time-out" for not being nice enough to widows and orphans… people, just doing nice things and good works IS NOT GOING TO CUT IT!
Our attempts at righteousness… of earning points with God based upon our good deeds are like the stench from a menstrual rag… worse than a pile of week-old dead skunks:
But we are all as an unclean thing , and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
Hell was originally created as a place for the angels that rebelled against God (namely, Satan and his minions) and were cast out of Heaven. Since Jesus is the Creator, it follows that He also created this place. A loving God creating a place of eternal torment?
Jesus is a loving God, but let us not neglect one of His other titles and roles: He is the Judge of the Living and the Dead. God the Father gave all things under Jesus, wherefore He is titled "King of Kings and Lord of Lords".
Because He is the Judge, He MUST judge (the unredeemed) for thier sin, and He MUST cast them into Hell. Think for a minute He will enjoy doing that? Consider this then, if you do not imagine Him weeping for lost humankind on the Day of Judgment, while also burning with Righteous Vengeance for thier sin:
Because Jesus loved us (humans) enough to leave His holy heaven to visit us in the flesh… because he SUFFERED and DIED a GRUESOME DEATH, being beaten with Roman whips (these were leather straps with pieces of sharp metal and bone embedded into them)… the selfsame GOD who humbled Himself under the hands of sinful men, and died like a CRIMINAL on a cross, to SAVE US FROM ETERNAL HELL…
…this same Jesus spent a very large portion of His earthly ministry preaching about and teaching about Hell.
This same Jesus … became our sin sacrifice…. He who was Holy, and knew God His Father face-to-face… was separated from His perfection in order to purchase the souls of all humanity, for all time…. to Himself.
To keep us from Hell.
But what exactly did Jesus teach about Hell? This following quote is oftened referred to as the "Lazarus and the Beggar Parable". That margin note is incorrect: this is no parable, but a true story!
In the parables Jesus typically stated, He used riddles and speech that was not plain. Here, Jesus is very plainly talking about Hell. If this were a parable, no one would have been specifically mentioned by name, nor would they go into detailed discussions with other named persons:
There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously (meaning he at like a king) every day: and there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom (paradise, or a type of heaven) : the rich man also died, and was buried; and in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
Make no mistake, my friends…. Hell is a VERY REAL PLACE, and Jesus died so that we might not have to spend eternity there.
Let’s pick that story apart, we can see a few things:
1) Hell is a place of TORMENTS.
2) Hell is a place that has FLAMES.
3) Hell is a place that we will be tormented forever, without hope of relief from the fire. No ice water for you!
4) In Hell, you will have a physical body (with eyes and a tongue) of some sort that will feel thirst and the sensation of being burnt.
5) There is NO ESCAPE from Hell once you are there… it’s game over.
But here is the kicker:
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Getting the picture yet?
It is NOT by good works that we escape Hell, but through belief in Christ’s work on the cross.
HE is the one able to change us, He who shows us how dirty we really are…. and it is HE that cleanses us from sin, and gives us white robes, fit for the Feast with the King of Kings:
HE is the one that can cause us to walk in good works that are a pleasing aroma to God!
Brad, this is not the work of an "unknowable God"…. this is the work of a God that so deeply cares for us… He gave up His life for us!
What a Saviour!
5. Here is one last strange thought for you to ponder. How do you explain the weird metaphysical things some humans can do? All the bizarre things certain folks are capable of doing with their minds for instance. Of course some would say it’s of the devil… but I would hope we left the witch burning times well behind us. It DOES exist and we all know it. So how to explain those things most of us find impossible to explain? Well here is a thought.
This goes back to what I believe I was shown and what the Gospel of Judas hints at. That we ALL have a spark of the divinity within us. Let’s look at the Gospel of Mark.
Chapt: 11: 23. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea: and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass: he shall have whatsoever he saith.
I won’t dwell too long on this one, other than to say that God (and the demons and angels) operate on a spiritual plane that is generally beyond our grasp. People can exhibit those kinds of spiritual abilities only if they are given those abilities from a spirit entity such as a demonic spirit. The various demon-possessed people in the Bible exhibited superhuman strength and spoke with demonic knowledge. In other cases, they were a bit more subtle, and worked to stir up strife among humans, or propagate false prophets and thier lies.
Scripturally, I do not know of any instances where holy (unfallen) angels granted abilities to mortal men.
Angels might perform supernatural acts that are visible in the physical world, (such as the angel that struck Peter, and loosed his chains, and led him out of in the jail he was incarcerated in… [Acts 12:6-11]) or they might appear to execute a judgment on a sinner in the Old Testament. But generally, they were messengers.
And that leaves us with the Holy Spirit of God, who is able to do very mighty work of God through sinful, but redeemed men (and women). The faith you referenced Jesus speaking of, is only possible through a faith in the true God, and is effected by the Holy Spirit according to His purposes.
God will not allow His glory to be usurped by men, nor will He be used just to do "parlor tricks"; people you see using supernatural powers that only benefit themselves and do not bring glory to God are most likely demonic counterfeits.
Wow, this ran longer than a planned…. I do hope that this helps clarify my position (and as I seek to conform my thinking to the mind of Christ… the part of my arguments that agree with Scripture are God’s arguments).
Peace be upon you.
Side note: "Abraham’s Bosom" or Paradise, is a reference to the place where the Old Testament righteous people waited for Jesus to redeem them. Although thier faith looked to Jesus, until He died, they still had sin, and therefore could not see God. But because they trusted entirely on God for His salvation, they too were saved. When Jesus rose again from the dead, He took those righteous souls with Him. Now all that is there is left in that realm is Hell; therefore, the redeemed souls in Heaven will not see the people suffering in Hell.