Friday, April 07, 2006


Have you ever found yourself asking these questions? Y’know, you’re not alone. There are a whole lot of people who hate their very existence. They get mistreated everywhere they go, they want to be nice but their own anger gets in the way and hurts the very people they love, and there just seems to be no hope in sight.

So why is this all happening?

Well, the Bible has an answer. I’m not sure you’re going to like what it has to say at first, but please let me fully explain what it says and then make your decision.

In the beginning, God created all things, including mankind. It was perfect: A beautiful, blooming garden with no evil, no harm, one perfect man, one perfect woman: no love triangles, no child abuse, no murder, no clothes-wait a minute! No clothes?! There was no need for them: there was no sin in the world, thus the sin-hindering barrier of clothing was not yet a necessity.

But then man decided that he was not satisfied with all that God had given him. Satan told the woman that God was withholding knowledge from them that would place her and her husband on the same plain as God because God had told them not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. He was saying that the God who had given her to this perfect man who loved her with perfect love was trying to hold something good back from them.

From our vantage point—hindsight is 20/20—it is easy to say that his argument was illogical, but it was said in such a way that the woman believed him. So she disobeyed God and told her husband that he should, too. Now the man did not believe Satan, but he did not want to disappoint his wife—which is not the same thing as love—so he joined her in the sin.

Once they did that, they sought out clothes (which is why we wear them today), even though there was no one else around, because they suddenly felt this awful sense of shame for being naked. The when God came to see them, they felt guilty for betraying the love of the One who had given them nothing but good. The man blamed the woman, the woman blamed the devil (who looked like a serpent), and God knew what the serpent was up to, so He didn’t bother to ask him why he did what he did.

The question must be asked, why didn’t God stop this from happening?

The answer is that God wanted to test their love for Him. They proved that they were unappreciative of the good things that God had given them, so unappreciative that they would rather disobey Him than to wait until He gave them the knowledge they sought (although, from this vantage point, we realize that God withheld the knowledge of evil from them so that they would not have to endure what we endure today).

Today, we do the same thing, only in a different way. We are just as ungrateful for the good things that God would give us, choosing instead to sin against Him, even though if we would actually look at God’s rules for us now, they are only for our good, just like His rule in the Garden. And if God left us to our own devices, we would continue to destroy ourselves and those around us.

But He didn’t.

God loved us so much that even while He knew that we would make the wrong choice, He made a way to save us from ourselves: He became a man, Jesus of Nazareth, and lived a perfect life among evil people, most of whom hated Him for being so perfect (see? You’re not the only one!) and sought to have Him killed.

But God knew their hearts, just like He had known everything else, and He arranged it so that when they condemned Him to death, He paid for their sins, my sins, and your sins—and everybody else’s sins. God Himself bore all the shame and punishment for the sin that the first man had allowed into this once-perfect world.

So if you want to blame God, He has already paid the price—and He offers you a better world once your time on this earth is done, if you will surrender to His love, the same love that made that perfect garden so many years ago. His love only asks that you make His commandments supreme in your heart, and reject your old life.

But He also wants you to know that you will suffer just like Jesus did for being so good. Your present sufferings may or may not be eliminated. At least you’ll be going to the ultimate perfect place—Heaven, where sin is just not allowed.

The difference between Heaven and the Garden? Everyone will have already made their choice between loving God or hating Him once in Heaven; the Garden is the first place that the choice was presented—where God was rejected and hell was opened up.

Today’s evil world is only a glimpse of what it means to reject God.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Are You TOO GOOD to Go to Heaven?

"How can anyone be too good to go to Heaven? I thought that only bad people could not get in!"

Well, I did, too, but that's not what the Bible teaches! The Apostle Paul wrote in Titus 3:5 that we are not saved by our good works, but by the mercy of God. And in Ephesians 2:9, he said that God chose to save people by grace so that they could not boast of their own goodness in Heaven.

And the truth of the matter is that none of us is good enough to see Heaven, anyway; but those who live a "pretty good life" don't seem to think so. They don't think that God's grace is for them, but for "the real sinners." Consequenstly, they never ask for the grace that is essential to salvation.

In Luke 18:9-14, Jesus told a parable of two men that went to the Temple (the Holy Place in which God's people worshipped Him at that time) and prayed. One, a Pharisee (an educated and very religious man) bragged to God about how good he was, "thanking" Him that he was not like "the sinners." He thought that he was TOO GOOD to need to repent.

The other man, a publican (a traitor to his own people who collected taxes for the conquerors and often charged his own countrymen an extra fee on top of the taxes they owed), knew that hw was no good before God--and repented, crying out desparately for God to have mercy on his soul.

Jesus said that the Publican pleased God!

Y'see, the Pharisee failed to remember that one of the things that God hates the most is pride. Pride is believing that you are better than you are. Many people think that they are good enough to get to Heaven but fail to see that the first sin they ever committed--by itself--disqualifies them forever! James 2:10 says, "For whoever keeps the whole Law, and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of the whole."

In other words, if you have EVER lied, or stolen (no matter how small the value of the item), or desired anything which rightfully belonged to someone else (that's covetousness!), then you have sinned against God and have forfeited your opportunity to earn your way into Heaven. Being "better than" is just not good enough. Your sins are on your record. You need for God to forget about your sins, like He did for the publican.

Romans 5:8 says, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." And Jesus Himself said, "I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."

Jesus is God in the flesh--Emmanuel. His death paid the penalty for our sins, and His resurrection (rising from the dead) guarantees salvation and eternal life for all who repent.

To repent is to stop turn away from your own righteousness and to look to Jesus to be your righteousness. To repent is to begin to hate your evil deeds (pride, lust, hatred, etc.) and to ask God to save you from them. And God promises to forgive and give eternal life to all who do this.

So what about YOU?

Are you evil enough to need God's grace?

Are you evil enough to need to repent?

Are you evil enough to need God's forgiveness?

Are you evil enough for Jesus to save you?