I just have to say something.
I’m having an email discussion with a friend about who goes to heaven, and so much of what he’s saying is based on a formula, instead of “am I right with God because I’m really right with God and people?”
There are many formulas out there. In Lutheranism, it’s about getting infant baptized and confirmation — and perhaps communion. Based on this, Luther said: Martin Luther: Sin Boldly — “No sin can separate us from Him, even if we were to kill or commit adultery thousands of times each day”.
In Catholicism, it’s also largely about baptism and the eucharist. Some still practice confession, but this is to a ‘priest’ (which have been done away with in the New Covenant where Jesus is our Priest), and rarely are those confessing actually told to get right with those they hurt. Say a certain number of “Hail Mary’s” or whatever and you’re scot free. Sad.
And for many evangelicals, it’s mainly about getting truly born-again, getting ‘saved.’ “It’s all about what He did for me.” “Grace.” “He’ll never let go; He’ll never let go; never let go….” Romans 8:1 has been gutted to put the responsibility all on God: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who don’t walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”
Another popular formula is Calvinism, which has always been to me so unbelievably out there, perhaps because I didn’t grow up among it. It shocks me when I find people who actually believe this. It’s kind of an ego/hubris thing, at least for many. Calvinists seem to think they are special because God chose them. In their way of thinking, Jesus didn’t die for everyone, just those Whom He chose, the elect, and God will be faithful to complete His work in them no matter how they respond, as long as they are truly chosen.
In my article, Who-Goes-To-Heaven Scriptures — Narrow is the Way | Who are the Children of God?, I chose to simply show what the Bible straightforwardly says about who goes to heaven and who really are God’s children.
Most of the above formulas are pulled mainly from a few key texts, some of which are in Paul’s introductions, in which he is just starting to formulate his ideas. We need to look at the development of Paul’s thought and particularly tune into his conclusions, which, by the way, agree with those of Jesus, John, James, the writer of Hebrews, etc..
These conclusions are that we need to truly be right with God to go to heaven. “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who don’t walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”
The Devil wants us to focus on formulas and abstract theories, while Christianity and salvation is actually more simple, more straightforward — common sense.
Christianity is about relationships: having a right relationship with God and with those around us. Then we can rest. Then we are abiding in Him — “in Christ Jesus.”
Will we have faith to enter when it is our time to be judged? Will our conscience condemn us, or will we stand before Him clean? Then our names won’t be removed from the Book of Life (Rev. 3:1-6). Numerous scriptures point this out.
We’ll have faith because we’re clean — not just because of what Jesus did — but because we lived in Him, righteous, by His grace we overcame. We didn’t shrink back. We made sure that we stayed right with Him. We’re supposed to walk like Jesus walked. We can’t just do our own thing and think it’s okay because of some formula. “Without holiness, no man will see God.”
He died so we might have life — living in the Son. “Those who are Christ’s have crucified their flesh” (Gal. 5). We must obey. Obedience isn’t an option, because Christianity is about right relationships, not whether we fit into a formula, the demonic spins designed to distract us from what really is important.
Christianity is loving the Lord, our God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves.
Because ‘Christianity’ has largely abandoned the Greatest Two Commandments criteria, our society reflects this, and America is on its last breath.
Regarding predestination and election, I don’t think any of us fully understand it. I don’t think we’re supposed to. The main thing to realize is that when Paul warned Christians about falling away, he was writing to Christians whom he considered the predestined elect. What Paul wrote applied to them, then, and applies to us today.
We don’t need to understand foreknowledge, predestination and election. I’m not concerned about it. I believe that Jesus died for everyone, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to the knowledge of the truth.
I’m concerned with how Jesus, Paul, John, the writer to the Hebrews, James and others said we should live — and their warnings apply to us. What happens if we choose to not obey? This is what we should all be focusing on — getting it all right — living so right.
Then ONE will happen, and no matter what comes down in these coming years, we’ll be spiritually ready — eternally secure.
I know that I have a free will, and I know that I’m truly born again, just as very many really are. If I wanted to, I could live a willfully disobedient life and then go to Hell. But I choose to work out my salvation through fear and trembling (Paul’s words). And each day I have to overcome.
It’s not easy, but it will be when we’re all living in Christ together — ONE. “Then the world will know” and we will be so full of joy!
We should be focused on living Jesus’ Greatest Two Commandments instead of justifying our rightness based upon some doctrine-of-demons formula.
Let’s be real Christians!