Thursday, December 29, 2005

A stirring portrait of the Messiah

Here is a link to a short, inspiring audio-video description of the awesomeness of Jesus Christ. After you click this link, click on "click to watch preview" under the picture of Jesus.


Monday, December 19, 2005

Are you good enough to go to heaven?

This is the last in a series of entries that has examined five dominant religious beliefs of Americans and whether those beliefs agree with the Bible.

This entry examines the most important belief of all. The vast majority of Americans believe this: good people go to heaven when they die.

How could it be any other way? Bad people don’t go to heaven because that would mean mass murderers and dictators who torture thousands of people and thieves who steal the retirement accounts of little old ladies go to heaven. Good people must go to heaven because God is fair and those who try hard to be good and resist the temptation to hurt others for their own gain must be rewarded.

Perhaps the most shocking teaching of the Bible is that many “good” people, even very religious people who believe in God, do not go to heaven. The reason is, there is no such thing as a good human. Certainly when you compare humans to humans, some are better than others, and so we commonly call many people good. But the Bible says God does not merely compare humans to humans when he measures morality. He compares humans to the laws he has given to humanity, and by that standard not a single human in history has measured up to the standard of true goodness. We are all flawed. The Bible puts it this way: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

That sounds severe, but when you think about it, who could argue? Has anyone lived a lifetime without telling a lie? Has anyone lived and not coveted someone else’s possessions? Has anyone been loving and unselfish every moment of their lives? Has anyone perfectly obeyed those in authority over them with an attitude of respect at all times? Even this short, short list shows that, yes, all humans sin.

We might object that these “sins” are not that serious. Murder is serious; committing violence against weak and vulnerable people is serious. But coveting someone else’s BMW is not serious.

We may not think a particular sin is serious, but if a being as holy and perfect as God regards it as such and commands us not to do it, it is serious. In fact, regardless of what the wrong is, simply doing what God forbids is monstrous evil because of who God is.

For example, in the military, if a soldier disobeys his immediate superior, it is serious. If he disobeys his superior’s superior, it’s even more serious. If he disobeys a general, it’s more serious still. And on it goes. The greater a leader’s authority, the greater is the offense of those who disobey that leader.

To disobey the God who created all things, who sustains all things and all life, who is perfectly moral and just and righteous, whose laws are the embodiment of all that is right and good, is monstrous evil. That is why the Bible says, “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

There is only one hope for human beings who want to go to paradise, heaven, when they die. They must rely on the solution God has provided for the sin of humankind. God’s solution was to give us a Savior, to give us himself, who alone is good enough to solve our sin problem. God sent Jesus Christ to take the righteous punishment of our sins upon himself, to die on the cross for us, and to offer mercy to those who would believe on him and follow him.

John 3:16 says, "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.”

Do good people go to heaven when they die? No. The only people who go to heaven are those whose sins have been dealt with by God himself at the cross. Religion, morality, ethics, being nice—these are just band aids on cancer. The only hope for evil humans is the Savior sent by God: Jesus Christ. To refuse him is to continue in rebellion against God himself and to try to manufacture our own way to merit heaven. It won’t work. None of us are good enough.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Perfect House for the Perfect Storm

How to build an indestructible life. Matthew 7:24-27.