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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Who Goes To Heaven?

After spending some time on Twitter this morning, I had something I was already aware of driven home.  Let's start with a simple question that we each should ask ourselves, that being, "What am I in this secular world I live in?"  I think that a lot of Christians have some misconceptions about the whole idea of how 1) we should see ourselves, 2) how God sees us, and 3) how the world does, and should, see us.  The question I started with is actually a [Spiritual] no-brainer simply because whether we consider the secular environment we temporarily live in or not, we should still see ourselves as children of our Most High God.  If God doesn't see us as His own children, then we have a big problem.  Then finally, if those of the world see absolutely no difference in themselves and us, if we don't 'stand out' then we have another huge problem.  Now those of you who've read my rambling posts before know that as a rule I don't specifically point a finger at anyone.  Well, today I'm going to critique something said by one of our societies more prominent TV or Commercialized Pastors.  Joel Osteen was asked pointblank by Oprah if 'gays could go to heaven'.  After doing his very best to avoid answering her question, which while I personally don't care for the woman or her values I felt she asked in a clear concise manner, he finally tried to hide behind the old, 'well, I like everybody' dodge.  Finally, Oprah did pin him down and he said, that yes, even gay people could go to heaven so long as they had repented.  This right here is my whole purpose of today's rambling, and this ties in with the question I began with today. 

Fact: No gays, or murderers, or liars, or any kind of sinners will go to heaven.

Fact: When a sinner is truly repentant, they no longer live in the willful sin that separated them from God in the first place.

Fact: With repentance comes the 'new man', who isn't a 'former'  or 'ex' anything. 

There, that's just three Scripture-based facts to get us off on the right track.  The key things to keep in mind here are the idea of being truly repentant and the putting on of the new man.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.  (II Corinthians 5:17    NKJV)

The key word here in this bit of Scripture is the word 'if'.  This small, seemingly insignificant word is what tells the story, in regards to someone being or not being truly and sincerely repentant.  'If' someone is truly repentant, then that person is a new creation in Christ.  But, 'if' someone is not truly repentant, then there is nothing new about them.  I have what could be called, by those wanting to be kind, a somewhat 'checkered' past.  When I claimed the shed blood of Christ though, I became a new creation in Him.  While I do still have, and always will have, labels attached to my name by this world we live in, God doesn't view me as an 'ex-con' or a 'former' or 'dry' or 'recovering' alcoholic, or as a thirty-one year 'clean' addict.  When any person who is truly repentant comes to the Throne of Grace, I do believe that the angels will be dancing with joy, and those same beautiful words that rang out from the heavens at a certain time past will again ring out, letting all the world know that, 'This is My beloved son, in whom I am well pleased!' 

I can, and will, promise you one thing.  Beside those names found in the Lambs Book of Life there will not be any memos or notations to the effect of 'ex-con' or 'murderer' or 'drug addict' or any other worldly label.  This is what triggered me today, shame on you Joel Osteen, and any other who professes to be either a Christian or a Minister of His Gospel, for re-applying these worldly labels!  Even before I was called into the ministry, I had read my Bible and understood that when I answered the call of Grace, that God no longer saw me as I had been.  Homosexuals will not go to heaven!  Murderers will not go to heaven!  Sinners, period, will not go to heaven!  Only children of God go to heaven! 

Sadly, not everyone who presents themselves as Christians are recognized by our Lord God as one of His.

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.  Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’"  (Matthew 7:21-23    NKJV)

This brings us right back to that little, unassuming, word that so much hinges on, that word 'if' we found to be so important there in II Corinthians 5:17 that we looked at earlier.  If  we are truly in Christ, then the things and parts of our lives that are contrary to how God would have us live will no longer be part of us.

'This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind,  having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; But you have not so learned Christ,  if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,  and be renewed in the spirit of your mind,  and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.'  (Ephesians 4:17-24    NKJV)


'If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.  For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.  Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.  Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience,  in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.   But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.  Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.  Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;  bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.  But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.  And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.'  (Colossians 3:1-17    NKJV)

See how much is dependent on that tiny two-letter word, 'if'?  Every aspect of Christian living described in both of these epistles, or letters, penned by the apostle Paul to those Early Church members in Ephesus and Colosse is based on whether or not a person is truly in Christ.  The evidence of what is true and what is not true can be found in the everyday lives of people.  A dear friend, who is also a beloved sister in Christ, has heard me many times make the statement that we, as Christians, have got to quit identifying ourselves by the worlds labels.  Our particular conversations stemmed from the fact that she referred to herself as a 'former' or 'recovering' alcoholic.  It took a couple of years of scoldings, but we're past all of that now.  Yes, she was an alcoholic, but now she's a child of our Lord God in heaven.  This brings us to the final point I feel the need to bring up today, and that is how we see ourselves.  I'm not the slightest bit bashful about saying that we need to work towards the goal of seeing ourselves through the Father's eyes.  I've made this statement many, many times, and I will continue to hold this to be something that is a very important goal to set and work towards achieving.  Our daily growth as children of God is actually impaired by the lack of this vision of ourselves and that's because if we take God's view of us out of the equation, then all that's left is our own vision of ourselves, and that is jaundiced by this crazy world gone bad that we live in.

The choices we are called to make in regards to not only our Salvation but our relationships with God, fellow Believers, and the world are constant and ever-changing.  We each have to step up and make the right decisions and then make sure that God, our fellow Believers, and those who are stilled trapped in the condemnation of sin by the world know exactly where we stand.  Don't allow yourselves to be labeled by the world, speak out loudly and boldly and let everybody know that you're not an 'ex' or 'former' anything, that you are a child of God, period!

'In the day when I cried out, You answered me, And made me bold with strength in my soul.'  (Psalms 138:3    NKJV)

King David, who also had things  behind him that God assuredly didn't approve of, gives us a very simple, yet highly accurate, description of just how easy God has made it for us to enter in to a relationship with Him.  First, David says that he cried out.  Then, God answered. Finally, he applauds the Father who made me bold with strength [in my soul]. 

We each have the same assurances that David voiced here, this wasn't just an Old Testament thing, David wrote these words by God's direction just for you and I to read today. 

I know that I've wandered from what I started with, but if you've read my posts in the past, this doesn't surprise you in the slightest.  In quick order let's sum up a couple of things.  When we accept the Son's blood as atonement for our sins, not only our sins, but also any labels, or names, given us by any part of this world, are also washed away.  Only children of God will be found in the Lambs Book of Life, with no notes or memos to tell God what we once were.  We shouldn't accept, or answer to, any of this secular worlds descriptions or names, and we should be bold in our refusal.  Finally, we need to work daily to develop a view of ourselves as seen through God's eyes.

There we go, I'm done, for now at least.  My prayer for you is that you will find the peace and boldness that can only come from God that we each need to present our daily lives as a walking breathing testimony to Him!

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