Who Goes to Heaven, Who Goes to Hell?

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Who Goes to Heaven, Who Goes to Hell?

James R. Aist

Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called the “uncircumcision” by the so-called “circumcision” in the flesh by human hands, were at that time apart from Christ, alienated from the citizenship of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world. – Ephesians 2:11-12

Introduction

“Is it not frightfully unfair that this new life should be confined to people who have heard of Christ and been able to believe in Him? But the truth is God has not told us what His arrangements about the other people are. We do know that no man can be saved except through Christ; we do not know that only those who know Him can be saved through Him.” This quotation from C. S. Lewis is a good synopsis of what this article is about. Jesus Christ made it clear that He is the only way to God/heaven (John 14:6), and this claim is reiterated elsewhere in the New Testament. But, is this true only of those who actually hear or read about Jesus and believe in Him? Lewis, making use of a rhetorical question, declares that such a limited scope of salvation would be a “frightfully unfair” thing for God to do, clearly implying that He must not have done it. He then postulates that God must have made secret arrangements for the others, because to exclude them without giving them a chance to accept Christ’s offer of salvation would be unfair. Finally, to complete his hypothetical scenario, Lewis posits that people can be saved through Christ without even knowing of Him, by means of His presumed, secret “arrangements about the other people.”

To most evangelical Christians, such claims may seem like wishful thinking at best, but the fact is that some mainline Christian denominations and several popular TV preachers and evangelists agree with Lewis on these points. For this reason, I will attempt to break this teaching down into its component parts and then test each part against the biblical witness. Is Lewis’s view a sound, biblical teaching about salvation, or is it nothing more than a transparent attempt to explain away something sobering about God that he cannot bring himself to believe?

What Does the Bible Say?

In order to discover what the Bible says about these things, we must first understand that when the Bible speaks of “God” or “Lord”, it is speaking of the one true God, the one God who created the entire universe, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and Him alone. This is “the God of the Bible.” There is no other God, only false gods. And we must also understand that, although the New Testament books were becoming available to be read to the people, word of mouth was the only widely available method of communication in New Testament times. Nowadays, reading the Gospel and believing it is the functional equivalent of hearing the Gospel preached and believing it; both result in salvation.

That said, let’s take a look at a few New Testament Scriptures that speak most directly about this matter, beginning with John 3:16-18: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned. But he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” Here, Jesus says that those who do not believe in the name of the only begotten Son of God will go to hell, whereas those who do believe in the name of the only begotten Son of God will go to heaven. Jesus made it very clear that He was speaking specifically of the God of the Bible and of himself. This passage, then, sets the stage for the issue in question: Is it possible for a person to believe in the name of the only begotten Son of God without ever having heard of the God of the Bible and of His Son, Jesus Christ? Certainly, there is not even a hint in this passage to suggest such a thing; it’s about actually hearing and believing.

Next, let’s consider 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10: “It is a righteous matter with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. They shall be punished with eternal destruction, isolated from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be marveled at by all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.” Here, the Apostle Paul identifies two conditions of people who go to hell: 1) they do not know the God of the Bible; and 2) they do not believe the gospel of Jesus Christ. Note that these same two conditions of those who go to hell were implied in John 3:16-18, as discussed above. And Paul adds that those who believed did so precisely because of their spoken testimony directly to them. This brings us closer to the “proof passages”, which I consider next.

First, let’s take a look at Romans 2:12-16: “As many as have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and as many as have sinned under the law will be judged by the law,  for the hearers of the law are not justified before God, but the doers of the law will be justified.  For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, not having the law, are a law unto themselves,  who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, while their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them,  in the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Jesus Christ.” Here, Paul is explaining that Gentiles will have no excuse on judgment day for their sinful ways, because, even without the Judaic Law, they show the work of that Law written in their hearts and are a law unto themselves, which law they do not obey.  Furthermore, such Gentiles are “…apart from Christ, alienated from the citizenship of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world (Ephesians 2:11-12).” They are “without hope” because they are “apart from Christ.” Therefore, it is only through faith in Jesus Christ that such men can be saved. Next, let’s consider how one may obtain this faith in Jesus Christ.

In Romans 10:13-15, Paul wrote:  “For, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’”  How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?” Now, to fully grasp the impact of what Paul is saying here, it is necessary to recognize that this passage is a series of rhetorical questions, designed to make a series of corresponding statements, as follows: They cannot call on Him in whom they have not believed; and they cannot believe in Him of whom they have not heard; and they cannot hear without a preacher; and they cannot preach unless they are sent. In other words, the only way that a person can believe in the God of the Bible and in His Son, Jesus Christ, is by hearing the Gospel preached to them. And so Paul concludes, in Romans 10:17, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Think about it for a moment. These are exclusionary conclusions, not leaving any “wiggle room” for any other means by which saving faith in Jesus Christ may be obtained. It comes only by actually and literally hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached.

Paul again addresses this issue directly and, here, in considerable detail. In Ephesians 1:13 with 2:11-13, Paul writes “In Him you also, after hearing the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and after believing in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit…Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called the “uncircumcision” by the so-called “circumcision” in the flesh by human hands, were at that time apart from Christ, alienated from the citizenship of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who were formerly far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” In other words, Gentiles (everyone except Jews) are without the God of the Bible, without Jesus Christ, and, when taken in context, without hope of any means of escaping hell unless and until someone tells them about God and His salvation through Jesus Christ, as Paul did for the (Gentile) Ephesians. Again, this leaves no “wiggle room” for any other means by which saving faith in Jesus Christ may be obtained. It comes only by actually and literally hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached. Thus, Ephesians 1:13 with 2:11-13 is the key passage proving, biblically, that the only way for anyone to be saved is to literally hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and believe it; all others are “without hope.” Now, we do “know that only those who know Him can be saved through Him”, and that God did not make any special “arrangements about the other people.”

In John 5:24, Jesus said, “Truly, truly I say to you, whoever hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has eternal life and shall not come into condemnation, but has passed from death into life.” Jesus could have simply said “Whoever believes in Him who sent me…”, as in John 3:16. But here, Jesus adds more detail to the process by adding “…whoever hears my words and believes in Him who sent me…” Clearly, then, Jesus Himself taught that one must hear (or read) the Gospel in order to believe in Him  and have eternal life; there is no other way for anyone to be saved, no special accommodation for the “others” who never hear of or believe in the God of the Bible and His Son, Jesus. How do we know for sure? Both Paul and Jesus said so.

But wait, there’s even more powerful biblical confirmation of this conclusion, as follows. “That servant who knew his master’s will, but did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who unknowingly committed acts worthy of punishment shall be beaten with few stripes.” (Luke 12:47-48a).  Notice that both were punished, but the one who unknowingly committed acts worthy of punishment was beaten with fewer stripes. If one were to apply this principal to the present context, the ones who did hear (or read) the Gospel, but refused to believe it, would receive a more severe punishment than the ones who never even heard (or read) it, but both would end up in hell. This same principal can be seen in Matthew 11:20-24, “Then He began to reprimand the cities where most of His mighty works were done, because they did not repent: “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon on the Day of Judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, who is exalted toward heaven, will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works which have been done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom on the Day of Judgment than for you.

To summarize, the Bible clearly teaches us that only those who actually and literally hear (or read) the Gospel of Jesus Christ and believe it, will spend their eternity in heaven with God. More specifically, the Bible teaches that there is no other way for Jesus to save anyone, including any and all – past, present and future – who never even hear of the God of the Bible and of His Son, Jesus Christ. And where will all of these “other people” spend their eternity? According to the Bible, they are “without hope” of salvation by any other means and “They shall be punished with eternal destruction, isolated from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day…” (2 Thessalonians 1:9-10).

But What about the Old Testament Saints?

The Old Testament saints (e.g., Adam, Noah, Job, Abraham and David) lived and died before Jesus was even born, so did they, too, go to hell because they didn’t have an opportunity to hear the Gospel preached and believe in Jesus? No, not at all! God made special provision for them to know about Jesus during their lifetime, to hear Him preach to them after their death, to accept Him as their Savior and to be resurrected from their graves. They were saved in the same manner as we are. Let’s take a look at the biblical witness:

1) Because of the Old Testament biblical witness (Messianic prophecies), these saints looked ahead to the time when the Messiah would be revealed in the flesh, and so they already believed in the Coming Messiah, Jesus Christ, when they died (Hebrews 11:24-25 & 39; Galatians 3:8,16 & 29; John 8:56);

2) Jesus, himself, preached the Gospel to these dead saints in Paradise (also referred to as “Abraham’s Bosom”), between His death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead (1 Peter 1:10-12; 1 Peter 3:18-20; 1 Peter 4:5-6; Ephesians 4: 8-10; Hebrews 11:39; Luke 16:22; and Luke 23:43);

3) These dead saints believed Jesus’ preaching and were saved (1 Peter 1:10-12, 1 Peter 3:18-20, 1 Peter 4:5-6);

4) Apparently, these Jewish saints will be resurrected between the end of the battle of Armageddon and the beginning of the One Thousand Year Reign (Daniel 12:1-3 with 11).

Note that God made special provision for the salvation of only these Old Testament saints and not for their contemporaries who did not know of the God of the Bible and of His Son, Jesus Christ. Note also that this special provision involved the actual preaching of the Gospel directly to them and their believing in Jesus the Messiah as a result of it. However, this provision is for only Jews who actually believed, or now believe, that  Jesus is the promised Messiah, and we know that most Jews since Jesus’ time have not believed and were/are not saved. We may conclude, therefore, that the biblical witness indicates clearly  that God did not make any special provision for the “other people”, who were, therefore, without any hope of escaping hell, as Paul clearly taught (Ephesians 1:13 with 2:11-13).

Does this Mean that God is Unfair?

No, God is not being unfair (Romans 9:18-24)! If God were to treat everyone “fairly”, then all would go to hell, because all have sinned and are condemned already (Romans 3:23; John 3:18). This is the “law of sin and death” (Romans 6:23; Romans 8:2). Not having an opportunity to hear and believe the Gospel merely leaves people on the pathway to hell; it does not put them on the pathway to hell. Furthermore, God does not owe it to anybody to save them; it is only by the grace of God that any are saved. So, we don’t really want to be treated according to what we deserve (i.e., fairly), but according to the grace and mercy of God. In this regard, see also the discussion of Romans 2:12-16, above.

God’s Sovereign Right to Bless and Curse as He Sees Fit

Only God can determine whom He will save and whom he will not save; that’s His sovereign right, as revealed by the biblical witness:

Exodus 33:19.I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.” (Note that the converse is clearly implied: God will not be gracious to and show mercy on whom He will not.); and

In Romans 9:18-24, Paul writes, “Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and He hardens whom He wills.”You will then say to me, “Why does He yet find fault? For who can resist His will?” Rather, O man, who are you to answer back to God? Shall the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” Does the potter not have power over the clay to make from the same lump one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? What if God, willing to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He previously prepared for glory, even us, whom He has called, not from the Jews only, but also from the Gentiles?” (Note that this passage concludes with another rhetorical question, which, when written as the implied statement, goes something like this: God created, and predestined for hell, some to show His wrath and make known His power, in order to make known to all the extent of the riches of His glory and mercy on those He created and predestined for heaven.)

God blesses whom He chooses to bless, and He curses whom He chooses to curse. Therefore, it’s not ours to judge God because He chooses to let some people die in their sins and go to hell, while choosing others to be forgiven and inherit eternal life. God alone has that prerogative: “Salvation belongs to our Lord” (Psalm 3:8 and Revelation 7:10). In fact, God does not intend to save everyone; if He did, then everyone would be saved, because God does whatever He pleases (Psalms 115:3, Psalms 135:6, Isaiah 46:10, Daniel 4:35, Ephesians 1:11). We can see this fact illustrated by Jesus in the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13): in verses 11-12, Jesus said, “Afterward, the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us.’ “But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’” The door to salvation/heaven had been shut, even though there were those begging and pleading at the door to be let in. But the door was not opened for them, because Jesus did not know them (i.e., they were not of His flock, as in John 10:14, 27 “I know my sheep/them”; cf. 2 Timothy 2:19 and Matthew 7:23). If this seems like a “hard saying” to us, then maybe we need to reassess our understanding of the full nature of the sovereignty of the God of the Bible. When we accuse God of being unfair in this matter, are we not setting ourselves up as God’s judges? That, my friends, is the height of arrogance (Job 40:2; Job 40:8; Romans 11:34), and God will not look kindly on it. God, and God alone, is responsible for how He deals with each individual; He has not delegated that responsibility to us. Ours is only to learn how God deals with sinners, believe it, accept it, and make sure that, insofar as it depends on us, we are not among those who reject the Gospel and die in our sins.

Conclusions:

1. According to the Bible, anyone  (past, present or future) who does not hear or read the Gospel of Jesus Christ and accept Him as their personal Lord and Savior (believe in Him in their heart and confess Him with their mouth) will spend their eternity in hell, without exception (including those who have never had an opportunity to hear, understand and believe the Gospel).

2. According to the Bible, anyone (past, present or future) who does hear or read the Gospel of Jesus Christ and accept Him as their personal Lord and Savior (believe in Him in their heart and confess Him with their mouth) will spend their eternity with God in heaven;

3. According to the Bible, the Old Testament saints looked ahead to the day of Jesus the Messiah, whom they believed was to come, and therefore believed in Him before He actually came to earth bodily. Jesus himself preached directly to them in Paradise, they believed Him, and for this reason, they are saved. The Bible does not record or imply that any such special provision was made for anyone who did not know the God of the Bible and His Son, Jesus; and

4. According to the Bible, God blesses whom He chooses to bless, and He curses whom He chooses to curse. Therefore, it’s not ours to judge God because He chooses to let some people die in their sins and go to hell, while choosing others to be forgiven and inherit eternal life. God alone has that prerogative: “Salvation belongs to our Lord” (Psalm 3:8 and Revelation 7:10). Ours is only to accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and continually give Him thanks and praise for His abundant grace and mercy toward us.

(To read more of my biblical teachings, click HERE)

A Date with “Fate” at Eight

Rural ChurchA Date with “Fate” at Eight

James R. Aist

“I was found by those who did not seek me;
    I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me.” (Romans 10:20)

Introduction

I love to hear people tell the story of how God saved them. These stories all have some common ground, of course, but they are all different too, sometimes in interesting and amazing ways. Consider the range of salvation accounts recorded in the New Testament: an Ethiopian eunuch was saved through the one-on-one teaching of Philip (Acts 8:26-35); Simon the Sorcerer was saved through the public preaching of Philip (Acts 8:12); and Saul (later re-named Paul) was saved through the experience of a blinding light and piercing, convicting words from Jesus Himself while on the road to Damascus to persecute the Christians there (Acts 22:6-15). The details of the salvation experience in this day and age can also be far-ranging and fascinating. I know some who came to a gradual realization of the truth of the Gospel, which lead, ultimately, to an awareness that they believed in Jesus Christ, and others who had a sudden, miraculous experience that resulted in the immediate gift of saving faith. Now, regardless of how God brings you to the point of saving faith, you are just as saved as anyone else who gets to that point in life. My personal experience happens to be of the sudden, miraculous nature, and, if you will allow me to do so, I would like to share it with you now.

A Little Brown Church in the Vale…Well, Sort of

My family was Methodist, having moved from Maryland to Arkansas by way of Indiana. We lived on a working dairy farm in central Arkansas, and our house was located on a little dirt road off another dirt road, way “out in the sticks”. This very rural community was called “Cypress Valley”, because Cypress Creek ran through it. The houses were, generally speaking, at least a quarter-mile apart. Well, there was a little, wood-frame Methodist church located only about 75 yards from our front door, so that’s where we attended church, faithfully, every Sunday. Actually, the building itself was not really brown; it was more of a dull, gray color where the white paint was peeling off. Nor was it in a “wildwood”. But it was in a “vale” (which means “valley”). Well, that’s the venue, so on with the story!

An Old-timey Revival Is Coming to “Town”!

In the Summer of ‘53, the powers that be in the Cypress Valley Methodist Church decided it would be a good idea to invite an evangelist to come and preach a revival. Now, I was only eight years old at the time and had never heard of a “revival.” But I soon learned it meant that, during revival week, we would all be going to church not only on Sunday, but on the next three nights as well. That sounded to me like it would be the most excitement that we had seen in Cypress Valley since the dog came home from the creek bottom with swollen jowls from a snake bite! So, although I didn’t know what a “revival” was, I was looking forward to it, nonetheless.

A Date with “Fate”

Revival week came, and off to church we went. We would sing some hymns, have some prayer, listen to the evangelist preach, and then have an “altar call” for those who wanted to get saved. Up to that point, I knew nothing about being “saved” or that I even needed to be saved. Oh, I was aware that I had done some bad things – like lying and cussing and smarting off to my parents – but I was unaware that God would hold me responsible for my wrong doings, after my parents were done with me. I breezed through the first night of the revival, just taking it all in without thinking much about what was really going on. The second night, however, was different for some reason. When the evangelist began to preach, I found myself listening intently to what he was saying; it was as if he was talking to me, personally. He didn’t deliver a “hell fire and brimstone” message at all that night. Instead, he focused on how God loves me so much that he sent His only Son, Jesus, to sacrifice his life for my sins by dying on the cross for me. As he was explaining just how amazing such a love is, I had a “vision.” I first saw something like a dense fog or cloud that parted in the middle, then a soft and diffuse light appeared, and then I heard a voice speak into my mind and say something like, “What he is saying is true. You can depend on it. Believe it and do not depart from it, no matter what.” Then the vision went away, and I was so excited that I could hardly wait for the invitation to come forward and confirm what had just happened: God had saved me through a glorious vision and a message from heaven that validated to me – beyond any doubt — the evangelist’s message of God’s love that night! So, when the time came for the altar call, I was quick to go forward and let everyone there know that I had just believed in Jesus. We all rejoiced at the good news and went home. But I didn’t tell them the part about the vision and the voice; I was only eight years old, and I didn’t know what to make of it at the time.

But, now I realize just how perfectly my conversion experience exemplifies what the Bible says about salvation. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17). “There are three that testify on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood…” (1 John 5:8); I heard the Spirit testify that night. And, I praise God that the word He sent out to me that night did not return to Him void, but accomplished His purpose (Isaiah 55:11).

(For more articles on BIBLICAL TEACHINGS, click HERE)

Am I Good Enough for Heaven?

One Good DeedAm I Good Enough for Heaven?

 James R. Aist

“I will not work my soul to save, for that my Lord alone has done; but I will work like any slave, because I’m loved by God’s dear Son!”

— William Henry Griffith Thomas

Introduction

I suppose that if we could live a sinless life, then no one would need a savior; we could, in effect, save ourselves. But the sad truth is, we have all sinned (Romans 3:23). So, is it even possible to somehow qualify for heaven, and if so, how can we do that? There is a popular belief in today’s world that, in order to qualify for heaven when you die, you must live a sufficiently “good” life here on earth. To be clear, let me state this commonly held belief in a different way: we will spend our eternity in heaven only if our “good deeds” sufficiently outweigh our “bad deeds.” According to this way of thinking, heaven is a reward, or payment, that we earn for ourselves by doing good works. All major world religions, with one exception, teach this doctrine of “salvation by works” in one form or another. The exception is Christianity. But, unfortunately, many people even in Christian churches believe in salvation by works. Because what we believe about “salvation” will determine where we will spend our eternity – whether in heaven with God or in hell with the devil and his angels — let’s take a good look at why “salvation by works” is a false doctrine and how it is that you can, nevertheless, become “good enough for heaven.”

I Want to Be Judged by My Works; It’s Only Fair, Isn’t It?

Oh, really? Are you sure about that? Do you realize that God, who is himself perfect, requires you to be righteous (i.e., morally perfect) in order to qualify for heaven (Matthew 7:21)? Therefore, if God were to judge you by your works, then you would be found unqualified, because He would be judging you by both your good and your bad deeds, not just your good deeds; your bad deeds would disqualify you from heaven (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). That would be fair alright, but you would not spend your eternity in heaven! This is what we often refer to as “the sin problem.” Maybe “fair” is not what you want after all. But if not “fair”, what then?

God Has Made a Way

Jesus doesn’t love us because we are good enough; He makes us good enough because He loves us.”

Being painfully aware of how our sinfulness disqualifies us for heaven, and determined to save us anyway because of His great love for us, God came up with a brilliant and clever way to qualify us for heaven, even though we cannot qualify ourselves by virtue of our works. He sent a Redeemer (His name is Jesus) to pay the penalty for our sins, which is death (Romans 6:23). This Redeemer was himself without sin (Hebrews 4:15), and, therefore, possessed, by virtue of his sinless nature, the righteousness (moral perfection) of God. And He made it easy for us to qualify for heaven along with Him. All we have to do is believe in Jesus; no works of any kind are required (John 6:29)! Our righteousness, then, is not self-righteousness, but it is the perfect righteousness of Jesus that is attributed to us when we receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus doesn’t love us because we are good enough; He makes us good enough because He loves us. Now, from a purely human perspective, this plan may not seem to be fair, but it is merciful (i.e., we do not receive the condemnation that is our due because of our sins), it is gracious (we receive favor that we do not deserve) and it is effective (we have God’s word on it). And that is exactly what we do need to solve our “sin problem”!

The Gospel of Jesus Christ

We refer to this amazing plan of salvation as the Gospel (i.e., good news) of Jesus Christ. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God that brings salvation to all who will believe in Him (Romans 1:16; John 3:16), confess their sins and repent of them (I John 1:9; Matthew 4:17), and accept Him as their Lord and Savior (Acts 16:31), trusting in His finished work on the cross (1 Peter 2:24) to qualify them for heaven. This is God’s one and only plan to reconcile mankind to Himself — there is no other path to God (John 14:6; Acts 4:12) – and He is the only one who can establish the ground rules, because “Salvation belongs to our God…” (Revelation 7:10). You can find an excellent article that explains this Gospel in a different way by clicking HERE.

What Are You Waiting for?

God wants to save you (Matthew 18:14)! If you have not yet allowed God to save you, then right now would be a good time to do so. All you have to do is…

Repent (turn away from your sins): “The Lord … is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9);

Believe and Trust in Jesus: “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 3:16);

Accept His Forgiveness: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1); and

Receive the Peace of Christ: “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1).

What Just Happened?

If you went through these steps with genuine sincerity and conviction, then you have just been born-again and have become a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ. Congratulations! I recommend that you read through the following articles to help clarify some of the remaining questions that you may have. Just click on the links provided below:

Repentance: Confess, Turn, Persevere (click HERE)

What Does “Born Again” Mean? (click HERE)

What Now?

Becoming born-again is just the first step in your life in Christ. It is important that you begin now to actively live out your new life in at least the following ways:

1) Tell someone, perhaps a close friend or relative, that you have become a Christian, and share with them how it happened (Mark 5:19);

2) Get a Bible of your own and begin to read and study it daily. I prefer the New International Version. Begin with the Gospel of John, and then go to Hebrews and then to the Gospel of Matthew. Remember this: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17);

3) Begin to pray to God daily. Now that you are a born-again Christian, you have every right to “… approach God’s throne of grace with confidence…” (Hebrews 4:16). Thank Him for how He is blessing you, praise Him for His awesome nature and tell Him your concerns and needs. Take your time; you just may begin to find that He is speaking into your mind and spirit as you pause and pay attention; and

4) Find and begin to attend a conservative, bible-believing Protestant (not Roman Catholic) church weekly (Hebrews 10:25). Here are some general guidelines for finding a good Protestant church:

  • Get your hands on a written statement of what the church believes. This may be called a “Statement of Faith”, “What We Believe”, “Our Doctrines” or the like;
  • In that statement of faith, look for declarations that a) the Bible alone is the inerrant, inspired word of God, b) that salvation is by grace through faith alone, not by works (referred to as “merit” in the official Roman Catholic Catechism), and c) that the finished work of Jesus Christ is the all-sufficient payment of the penalty for our sins;
  • Find out if the church is pro-life and considers the practice of homosexuality to be sin, as the Bible says it is. If these tests are not met, find another church, because that church does not really believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God;
  • I recommend that you avoid liberal Christian denominations that no longer adhere fully to essential, historical biblical truth and practice, such as the United Church of Christ, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, the Presbyterian Church USA, the United Methodist Church, the American Baptist Church, the Anglican Church, Seventh Day Adventist and the Episcopal Church; and
  • By all means avoid cults that may appear to be Christian, such as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons), Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Science, and Universalist Unitarian churches.

(For more articles on BIBLICAL TEACHINGS, click HERE)

The “Gay Gospel”

Reverend Melvin MillerThe “Gay Gospel”

James R. Aist

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

The word “gospel” means “good news”. The true Gospel of Jesus Christ is the best good news ever for mankind, and it is for everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation. This is the only real Gospel, and for it to be real and effective in a person’s life, there must be repentance from sins (1 John 3:10; 2 Timothy 2:19). The “gay gospel” holds that one can be a Christian, never turn away from the sin of homosexual behavior, and still enjoy eternity in heaven with Jesus. Now any gospel that is not faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ as presented in the Bible is the gospel of “a different Jesus”. Let’s see what the Bible has to say about a “different gospel” and a “different Jesus”: “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.” (2 Corinthians 11:3-4). This is how we can know that Satan is using the “gay gospel” to get Christians who are homosexual to continue to practice homosexuality, feel good about it, and end up in hell, rather than repent of it.

This “gay gospel” is not only a “different gospel”: it is also a heresy called “antinomianism” that can be traced back to the Pauline letters. Antinomianism holds that under the gospel dispensation of grace, moral law is of no use or obligation because faith alone is necessary to salvation. What this heresy has right is that homosexual behavior is sin. However, the denial of the need for repentance of that sin in order to go to heaven flies in the face of the biblical witness. Jesus began his ministry preaching repentance leading to salvation: “After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:14-16). Jesus did not come to save us and our sins, but to save us from our sins. Now, consider these additional Bible passages concerning the requirement for repentance:

“What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” — Jesus Christ (Mark 8:36).

“Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? (Romans 6:1-2);

Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.” (Romans 3:31);

If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” (1 John 1:6);

“Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.” (1 John 3:4-6);

“For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.” (Hebrews 10:26-27).

Does any of that give the impression that anyone can deliberately keep on sinning until they die and still inherit eternal life? Quite the contrary! What it does say is that no one who goes on sinning deliberately has either seen Jesus or known Jesus (i.e., they are not really true believers) and that they can expect only judgment and the fury of a consuming fire when they die (that doesn’t sound like heaven to me!).

And here’s the clincher: “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Here, Paul declares, point blank, that people who are living a homosexual lifestyle will not go to heaven. God has not given a special dispensation (to keep on sinning) to homosexual people because they have sexual attractions for members of their own gender or because they don’t want to repent! We are all – regardless of the nature of our sins — subject to the requirement for repentance of sins in order to receive the Good News (salvation)! So here we are, faced with a choice: Do we believe the doctrine of God, or do we believe the doctrine of men? Let’s go with God on this one.

There is only one, true Gospel of Jesus Christ! So if you are a homosexual Christian who is trusting in the “gay gospel” to get you to heaven, you may want to re-think that. I certainly hope you will. Remember the words of Jesus: “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Mark 8:36).

Finally, I would guess that very few Christians are aware that the Bible has stern rebukes and dire warnings for those who approve of sin or encourage others to sin, but it does (Leviticus 19:1; Isaiah 5:20; Malachi 2:17; Matthew 5:19-20; Matthew 18:6; Romans 14:22). Thus, anyone, including born-again Christians, who even approves of or encourages the sins of homosexuality will, someday, have to answer to God for it. If that’s you, then now is the time to repent!

Do It Yourself

Here’s how to do a study of the Hebrew and Greek root words used in the Bible to express God’s views on homosexuality, without being a Hebrew or Greek scholar yourself: 1) find online and open “Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance” at “Bible Study Tools” (click HERE); 2) follow the instructions given in the introductory pane; 3) check the “Strong’s Numbers” box at the top right of your reading pane to view the Hebrew and Greek lexicons using Strong’s Concordance numbers; 4) enter, in turn, the following Bible verses — Genesis 19:5 with Jude 1:7; Leviticus 18:22; Leviticus 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; I Corinthians 6:9-10; and I Timothy 1:10 — and click on the respective highlighted words (hyperlinks) to access the appropriate lexicon and read the meaning of the Hebrew or Greek words given in English. You can toggle between the King James Version (KJV) and the New American Standard (NAS) version. You will find, as expected, that wherever homosexual behavior is mentioned, it is consistently condemned as sin, abomination, per-version, etc. And understand that later English versions of the Bible, such as the NIV and MEV, consulted the ancient Hebrew and Greek manuscripts, rather than relying solely on the KJV. The claim of gay activists – that the Bible does not condemn homosexual behavior – is nothing but pure fantasy and wishful thinking, as you can see for yourself.

(For more articles on HOMOSEXUALITY, click HERE)