Monday, May 29, 2006

Are you good enough to go to heaven?

I have been so blessed and blown away by some of the roundabout feedback that I have been getting concerning the "are you a good person?" site that I created and linked. The most common comment that I have received is basically this, "No matter what I say - whether or not I admit that I am a liar, a thief, or a blasphemer; I still end up going to hell!" Now, I recognize the frustration that you may come to, and I anticipated it (to an extent, anyway), but the site is designed to be a bludgeon against any prideful conscience that may read it.

There are a few goals for that site, and I will try to explain why it is the way that it is.

People (everyone) are very sinful!

You will notice that if you answer "no" to a question as to whether you are a liar, a thief, a blasphemer, an adulterer at heart, or a murderer at heart that I ask very pointed questions. "Really?" or "Are you sure you’ve never stolen anything? You’ve already said that you’re a liar?" are my default reactions, because I have not met anyone who has never stolen anything (downloaded or copied music or movies illegally), been angry, or lied.

The problem is that most people (in fact, most Christians) do not have a real understanding of how utterly vile our actions are in the sight of a holy God. It is true that if you are a born again Christian, you are seen by God as being perfect in Christ, but you are not perfect yet. Your actions, thoughts, and words are peppered with sin and evil that will never totally cease until (a.) you die or (b.) Christ comes again.

I have attempted to be so careful as to word the questions and answers on this test to say that if you have sinned in any of these ways that you are guilty before God and that you should go to hell as a just punishment for your offenses. I think that Christians should be the first people to admit and agree with that fact that, yes, all people should go hell for all of the vile deeds that we have done against God. But, sadly, many Christians that I have interacted with do not understand sin enough and therefore do not agree with this fact.

Hell is real and reasonable:

The first goal with this quiz is not only to open the eyes of the quiz taker to the extensive amount of sin that we all do, but it is to confront the quiz taker in a way that will not allow them to avoid the topic of specific sin. And once the extent of sin is established, I make the case for the reasonableness of hell.

Basically, everyone would agree that if I kill someone, that I deserve some sort of punishment, and a severe one at that. If I steal something from you, you would desire some sort of repercussion, it might not matter what I stole as much as the fact that I stole it from you. It is the same way with God. The “small” infractions of God’s law are nonetheless violations of His law, and therefore they offend Him greatly. If we understand it this way, then the idea that God has a punishment in store for those who break His laws is reasonable. As far as the eternality of hell goes…well, basically, God created us to live forever. If we are born again, we will live eternally with Christ in Heaven. If we are not born again, we will live eternally in torment in Hell.

the Gospel needs to be understood properly:

If I have a low view of sin (my personal sin), then I have a low view of what Christ voluntarily endured on the cross on behalf of all of those who would believe. If I don’t see myself as a wretched and filthy creature in light of God’s righteousness, then I cannot truly understand the gospel. The Prophet Isaiah was one of the most godly men in all of history – a prophet and a writer of scripture, but yet he wrote this in Isaiah 6:5, “Then I said, "Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts." He understood that even though he was God’s chosen instrument and he was saved by faith in God that he did not even feel able to speak what God wanted him to speak because of his sinful condition. Isaiah had a high view of God and a real view of his own sinfulness.

the only Jesus is the one shown in the Bible:

I make a statement in a few different places on the test that if you believe in a god who will not send law breakers to Hell, or who does not see violations of the law as very egregious, then you don’t believe in the God of the Bible, nor do you believe in the Jesus of the Bible. I make the statement that beliefs like, “my god would never send people to hell,” or “my god is all loving and not full of wrath” that your god does not exist. Now why would I say that? Number one, because it is true. You may say that you believe in the God of the Bible, but if you have made the God of the bible into a god who does not see sin as evil and vile, and he does not see that all humanity deserves hell, then you have made a god to suit your own fancies out of a pseudo-biblical framework. And because the god of your mind is not the accurate god of the bible, but a figment of your imagination, he does not exist.

This has been one of the more hotly “at issue” comments of the whole test. This comes from one of my deepest held beliefs that just as someone who places their faith in the Mormon understanding of Jesus (basically an exalted angel, and brother of the devil) or the Jehovah’s Witness understanding of Jesus (Michael the Arch Angel) will find that they put their faith in fiction and it will not save them from the wrath of God, so will believing in a neutered god of a personal making who is not angry at sin.

I believe that a true believer in Christ, when confronted with the difference between the Christ of the Bible and other religions’ faulty understanding of Christ, will examine the whole of the scriptures and come to a more correct (not perfect) understanding of the person of Christ and the nature of God. It is the person who is not a true believer who will be confronted with the same basic characteristics of who Christ is and reject them in spite of what the Word of God says.

I think that “should” is overlooked

I was careful to make it clear that any lawbreaker “should” go to hell. I tried very hard to keep from saying “does”, “will”, or “is” when referring to condemnation (I may go through and make these words bold as well as a larger font).

I have been saved by God’s grace. That being the case, I know and will tell you in no uncertain terms that God should send me to hell based solely on my actions in light of His holiness. It is only by the grace of God and the substitutionairy and sacrificial death of Christ that I have assurance that I will not go to hell.

The point is this: the entire site does not ever mention Christ up until the very last page, and you can only get to that page after you have identified that you agree that God’s holiness demands serious consequences, and if it were up to you or me alone, that would end with us in hell.

where is the good news?

Finally, many people have made comments to the effect of, “no matter what I choose, I end up going to hell” and they wonder where the gospel message is. This is possibly the most difficult decision that I had to make when creating this test. The gospel message is only accessed by click on the options that acknowledge the fact that because of our transgressions, we all should go to hell. Once you do that, you will be given the gospel message, and it is beautiful.

1 comment:

St. Michael the Archangel said...

Quick question... remember the Rich man and the begger at his table, the rich man used to watch as this poor man begged fro scraps from his table and finally when the rich man died, he was judged...

Where did the rich man go?

Where did the poor man go?

When reading about the rich man, I want you to concentrate on the conversation between him and Abraham... what place was the rich man in?

Your answer will be HELL, but I beg to differ.

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