Getting into Heaven

A common evangelism question to ask is, “If you died tonight and God asked you why He should let you into his Heaven, how would you reply?” This is designed to get the person to think of the very real fact that we will all die, and each day we are one step closer. (Now I remember why I read this blog . . . this guy is so upbeat!)

Of course, the Bible doesn’t teach that there is a Q&A session where you try to negotiate your way in. God is the supremely perfect judge and we will all realize that his decisions made based on his infinite grace, mercy, love and judgment are 100.00000% perfect.

But just for the sake of discussion, I can think of four bad answers and one good one. I have heard variations of each of these multiple times.

Four bad answers

  1. I’m not sure.” You get honesty points for this one, but that won’t get you in. We are all sinners. God made his existence clear to us (Romans 1) and He wrote his law on our consciences (Romans 2). Ignorance of the law is untrue and wouldn’t be an excuse even if it were true.
  2. Uh oh.” Some people realize they are sinners, but they haven’t hear the good news of God’s mercy and grace. I love telling them about that! But of course, at that point it is too late for them.
  3. Because I was a “good person.” The self-righteous answer is a common one. But we are dealing with a perfect God who absolutely hates sin. He just can’t be around it. So good luck if you are planning on going with this answer. Some people think that if they are 51% good that they’ll get in. But there is no Biblical basis for that. And think about all the flaws with that reasoning. How do you know what your score is? Are you keeping track on a spreadsheet? What if you missed some sins? Does each sin count equally, or is it a weighted average? If you had a high score, could you sin on purpose for a while? If you have a low score, should you sin like crazy just because you won’t be able to get in anyway?
  4. Because everybody gets in.” I’m not sure where people came up with that one. Sadly, some “Christians” claim this is true, but a plain reading of the Bible shows that it is hopelessly wrong.

One good answer: Look to Jesus and say, “I’m with Him.” If you confessed with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believed in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9). Keep in mind that if you really believe He is Lord then your life should show it.

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Are apologetics important?

First, what are apologetics? Apologetics are a justification or a defense of something. In this case, it is a reasoned defense of the accuracy of the Christian faith.

Apologetics are dismissed by some who say you can’t argue someone to Christ. Yet there are many good reasons to be able to give some basic reasoning for Christianity and to know where to get answers to tough questions

Apologetics were used in the Bible to share the Gospel – check out the Book of Acts and the growth of the early church. They often point to the fact of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. .

It does change the minds of some people. Anthony Flew is a famous atheist who now believes there is a God. He was convinced of the merits of the Intelligent Design – namely, that the complexity of the universe points to the fact that there must be a God who created it. There are many, many examples of people who challenged the evidence of Christianity then became believers.

If non-Christians continually encounter Christians who aren’t thinking carefully about their faith and don’t even know where to go find answers it doesn’t make a compelling case for someone to put their faith in Christ.

But when people see Christians who can share truth and logic in a winsome way, they realize that the stereotype that all Christians don’t have critical thinking skills is false. If nothing else, we can give people something to think about. The God of the Bible is real, and those who deny it live on borrowed time. There will always be a natural tension in their world because of this denial.

Understanding the fact and logic behind your faith strengthens you and gives you the confidence to go out into the world! You don’t have to have every last answer, but 1 Peter 3:15 commands us to be ready to share the reason for the hope that we have, and to do so with gentleness and respect.

Christianity has been knocking down objections for 2,000 years, so you can be confident that answers are available to any question that arises.

Also see “I don’t know, but I’ll find out.”

Psalm 2

This reading is Psalm 2.

Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One. “Let us break their chains,” they say, “and throw off their fetters.” The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, “I have installed my King in Zion, my holy hill.” I will proclaim the decree of the Lord: He said to me, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.” Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

There are different categories of Psalms. This is considered a Messianic Psalm, meaning that it points to Jesus, the Messiah. It isn’t the “nice, friendly, safe” Jesus that is often proclaimed in churches, but the real Jesus who is King of the universe and who rules with power and might while at the same time being full of love and grace. The phrase, “Kiss the Son” means to surrender and submit to him.

Doesn’t the part about the “kings of the earth” sum up the state of our world rather nicely? Countless people mock God at every turn. We make ourselves gods by inventing rationalizations for breaking God’s laws. But He is in control at every moment. This reminds me of Romans 9:20-21 – “But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?”

I thought this was an interesting phrase: “Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling.” I usually don’t associate fear / rejoicing / trembling in that way. But fear is the foundation of our relationship with God; this is a common Old Testament theme. One question we all must answer is whether we fear God more than we fear man.

The next reading is Psalm 3.

Planned Parenthood: Your tax dollars at work

There are so many reasons to dislike Planned Parenthood.

Despite their claims, Planned Parenthood wants to reduce abortions as much as McDonald’s wants to sell less hamburgers. One person commented that PP offers birth control and that reduces abortions. But some of the birth control they give out has been defective (see below) and their main educational focus is to tell kids to have sex 1) whenever they want, 2) with whomever they want and 3) with a condom (also see below). Guess which steps kids will be inclined to follow and which one they are likely to ignore?

They get large amounts of government funding even though they made a profit of $63,000,000 last year as the nation’s largest abortion provider.

They ignore statutory rape. Click here for the actual audio recordings. It is chilling to hear the “advice” they give to a 13 year old claiming to have been impregnated by her 22 year old boyfriend.

Consumer Reports rated two of Planned Parenthood’s condoms as poor, and they were the lowest rated overall. Note that these are often given away for free. I’m not sure why that didn’t get attention in the mainstream media (ha!). That fiasco could have happened for one of two reasons (I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that it was #1):

  1. Gross incompetence by the family planning “experts.”
  2. The most diabolical business model I’ve ever heard of (give away free defective condoms but make up for it when they come back for abortions).

Then there is the matter of their youth website, Teenwire. They discourage parents from viewing it, of course. You can find lots of valuable advice [sarcasm intended], like the tidbit from a 14 year old girl who said that kids shouldn’t have sex until they are mature enough to know how to use a condom (assuming it isn’t a defective Planned Parenthood condom) and their official advice that, “Hooking up is only one way to get close to someone.” It follows the same philosophy they use in the classroom, which is to steer kids away from parental authority and to make decisions about sexuality on their own. They don’t offer any limits to children, other than telling them that the kids should decide when they are “ready.” They encourage them to experiement with sex and their sexual orientation. More here and here.

It is hard to believe, but PP Canada’s teen site is even worse! Most of the offenses are too perverse to list on this blog, but here is a sample of how they encourage kids to ignore their parents and their religion:

“Maybe your religion or parents are influencing your decision. Take control. Remind yourself that what you do is always a choice. You choose whether to follow the values if your religion. You choose whether to be honest with your parents. They may not be easy choices, and others may not agree with the choices you make. But they are still YOUR choices and they should be based on what’s important to you.”

It is not surprising that Planned Parenthood dislikes Pregnancy Resource Centers (PRCs). They repeatedly lie about PRCs, and they are at it again. They think it is manipulative when PRCs give free ultrasounds to women, even though that is just showing the women what is really inside them. I thought the pro-abortion movement was about recognizing that women could handle all the facts and make decisions for themselves.

They trot out “clergy” who are pro-abortion and even claim that Jesus would be pro-choice, as if the author of life (Acts 3:15) would recommend crushing and dismembering the unborn. Worse yet, their clergy board “oppose laws requiring either notification of or consent by the parents of teens who seek to end a pregnancy.” (See related post here.)

Planned Parenthood’s founder, Margaret Sanger, had a “unique” philosophy that PP tries to downplay.

Here’s a video where Planned Parenthood fantasized about blowing up “anti-choicers,” among other things. Ask yourself why you never heard about this in the mainstream media. Imagine if the roles were reversed and a pro-life group had made a video attacking pro-abortionists. The media would still be playing it up.

Planned Parenthood lists organizations such as Focus on the Family as Terrorists and Extremists Organizations. I realize they have ideological enemies, but that seems a little over the top.

You can read here about Planned Parenthood’s use of taxpayer funds to open a for-profit clinic for the well-to-do.

The Dawn Patrol reports that Planned Parenthood is now branching out to distributing drug paraphernalia.

Fortunately there are many organizations like STOPP and Houston Coalition for Life that are working to stop Planned Parenthood.

More pro-life information here.

Psalm 1

This reading is Psalm 1. It is so short that I’ll also post it here in full:

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

There is great wisdom here. Think of all the evils and problems we cause ourselves when we give into peer pressure and the alleged wisdom of the world (“the counsel of the wicked”).

Note how in v. 1 that the expressions go from “walk” to “stand” to “sit.” The Bible Knowledge Commentary said it showed the transition from the casual influence of ungodly people to collusion with them, then finally to scorning the righteous along with them.

The righteous are those who delight in his Word and meditate on it.

The notion of prospering doesn’t mean it happens immediately, just as everything that grows has its season. It reminds me of Galatians 6:7-8:

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

The next reading is Psalm 2.

The Gospel of John movie

gospelofjohn.jpgThis word-for-word adaptation of the Gospel of John is the best Bible-based movie I have seen. It came out a few months before the Passion of the Christ and got great reviews, but it didn’t have the same publicity. I thought they should have re-marketed it after the Passion came out and said, “You saw the Passion, now see the rest of the story.” My only quibble is that they used the Good News paraphrase of the Bible instead of a more common translation.

There are always challenges when reading the Bible out loud, because we don’t know where the original emphases were. Sadly, that leads many of us to read in a monotone.

It must be even harder to act it out. And how do you play Jesus? Yet this cast and crew did a great job with the acting, casting and sets.

I have used the movie to teach a Bible study at work and for our adult Sunday School class. There is something different about seeing it acted out. Many long-time Bible readers noted that they picked up new things when watching it. I encouraged everyone to read it as well, and many read along as they watched the movie. We would watch two chapters per week (roughly 25 minutes), then I would ask some basic Bible study questions such as, “What portion stands out to you? Is there an example to follow? Is there a promise to claim?” The discussion flowed from there.

Psalms overview

Hi,

There are 150 Psalms, so don’t panic – we won’t be doing them all at once. Since each one can stand alone, I thought I would mix in a few here and there. So this is Psalms week. I plan to cover 1-3. We’ll cover a chapter of Proverbs now and then as well instead of doing it as a whole book.

The Book of Psalms is a collection of songs and prayers that covers the range of human emotions. It is cliche’-free. Some are confessions, others are requests, others are full of praise, and many are a mix. People go to the Psalms for comfort, to learn about God, to praise God, to thank God and more.

I’m continuing to aim at three to four posts per week on this blog. Hopefully that is a good pace for everyone. At this rate we’ll get through the whole Bible in about eight years. Seriously. We’ll probably pick up the pace when doing the historical books like Samuel, Kings and Chronicles.

In Him,
Neil

We look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.