So Earthly Minded, You’re No Heavenly Good

The old Johnny Cash song says, “You’re so heavenly minded, you’re no earthly good.”

I think the problem is usually the opposite. Too many Christians – myself often included – are too earthly minded to be of any heavenly good.

We get caught up on social media with who should or shouldn’t marry whom, who should or shouldn’t own guns, who should or shouldn’t be allowed to enter the country, and who should or shouldn’t be President.

We are so busy telling people how we should fix this broken, temporary world that we neglect to tell others how to become part of the eternal kingdom of Jesus Christ.

Abortion, racism, sexuality, poverty, violence, politics, immigration, health care, taxes, the economy… Yes, they are all important. But they’re all temporary. When we die, they no longer affect us. When our children and grandchildren die, they will no longer affect them. All that will matter when we die is whether or not we have received Jesus Christ as Savior.

It’s simple: If a person has accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, their sins are forgiven, and they spend eternity in Heaven with Him. If a person has not received Christ as Savior, their sins are not forgiven, and they spend eternity in Hell away from Him. And it’s not just after we die; If a person has Jesus, they have the Holy Spirit now to help them through this mess we call life. No Jesus, no Holy Spirit, no help getting through the mess.

Christian, don’t be so earthly minded, you’re no heavenly good. I’ll be working on it, too.

Life is Tough…God is Good

Life is Tough…God is Good

As I have scrolled through my Facebook news feed for the last 24 hours, I have been struck by how tough life is. A good friend of mine has been moved to hospice as a result of complications from a lifetime of smoking. Another friend from childhood is losing a battle with cancer. A young mother from my church is undergoing chemotherapy for cancer. My country is being divided by hatred, racism, terrorism, politics, ideology, and greed. Many people struggle to keep a roof over their heads and adequate food on the table. Good jobs are hard to find, and people that have them are in fear of losing them. People struggle with depression, fear, sickness, anger, hopelessness, and death. Life is definitely tough.

Where is God in all of this? It seems most people have given up on God. They see God either as a fairy tale or as uncaring and distant. Even many born-again Christians struggle with the feeling that they cannot live up to God’s expectations and fear that He is unhappy with them and punishing them.

The bad news is that our world is slowly being destroyed by sin. It began in the Garden with Adam and Eve, but like a cancer, it has continued to spread ever since due to the sin of each of us. It’s not God’s fault the world is crumbling; we have brought it on ourselves by our constant rebellion against the God who created everything “very good.” Our collective sin is what has brought on death, disease, poverty, racism, and hatred. And, there is nothing we can do to stop it. We’ve tried legislating morality, but it doesn’t work. We’ve tried religion, irreligion, education, indoctrination, love, hate, freedom, and tyranny, and none of it has done anything to slow the tide of self-destruction that grips our world. We are under a curse (Genesis 3). We’re headed for self-annihilation, and we cannot stop it. Life is tough.

The good news is that God has a plan, and you and I can be part of His plan, if we choose.

LifeIsToughShirtGod is good. Rather than letting us annihilate ourselves, God’s goodness, mercy, and love demanded that He give His Son, Jesus Christ, to take the punishment for sin on Himself. As the apostle Paul explains in Romans 5:8, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Sin is what has torn us away from our Creator, and sin is what tears us apart from each other. Sin is what has brought on disease, hatred, poverty, racism, and death. Paul again explains that, “through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). He continues: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Here’s the goodness of God: Despite the fact that we are destroying His creation by our sin, God has already begun the process of restoration. The restoration began with the cross of Jesus Christ. Individually, it begins when we accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Paul explains in Romans 10:9-10, “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” He develops this idea of personal restoration further in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

The goodness of God is not limited to individual restoration, however. The earth and humanity has been cursed because of our sin (Genesis 3). Paul writes, “the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now” (Romans 8:21-22). The apostle John explains that the curse will eventually be removed: “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away… And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:1, 4). He continues, “And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him” (Revelation 22:3).

Here’s the deal: For those who continue to reject Jesus Christ, there is no restoration, and no hope. Life stays tough, and eternity is a literal Hell. However, for those of us who turn to Jesus Christ, repent of sin, and make Jesus our Lord and Savior, the process of restoration begins immediately. The goodness of God begins to change us. The process begins immediately, but isn’t complete until we are with Jesus in eternity. God doesn’t want people to become religious or spiritual; He wants a restored relationship with us. God’s goodness has provided the means for restoration through Jesus Christ for all who are willing to receive it.

Life is tough, but God is good.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GcBBPbtfoI

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism

Soul SearchingWhile scrolling through my Facebook feed, I came across this web comic by Adam4d.com. The term “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism” was new to me, so I did a bit of digging. What I found was that the concept describes very well what I believed before I came to know Christ.

What is Moralistic Therapeutic Deism?

The term “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism” (or MTD) was coined by American sociologist Christian Smith in his 2005 book Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers. What Smith found was that many if not most self-identified Christian young people he surveyed did not hold to the traditional beliefs of any particular church or denomination, but their theology instead boiled down to a handful of beliefs he dubbed “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism:”

  1. A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.
  2. God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.
  3. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
  4. God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem.
  5. Good people go to heaven when they die.

Smith concluded from his research that, when it came to the most fundamental questions of faith and beliefs, most adolescents reacted with, “Whatever.” Yet, they all seemed to have some vague, basic beliefs. Most believe in a moralistic god who wants people to be good; a therapeutic god who wants people to feel good about themselves; and a deistic god who is “out there somewhere” but not especially involved in people’s everyday lives.

Smith primarily identified MTD with youth in American churches, but, from my experience, it’s not just a youth thing. Many of the religious adults I know are Moralistic Therapeutic Deists. Most of so-called “liberal Christianity” is in reality a form of MTD.

Is Moralistic Therapeutic Deism the same as Christianity?

MTDgodMoralistic Therapeutic Deism is just a fancy name for religious humanism. It’s the theology of American liberalism, of Oprah and Joel Osteen. MTD denies fundamental Christian doctrines such as the Trinity, original sin, personal salvation, and Hell. To a Moralistic Therapeutic Deist, the Gospel is about how God loves everyone and wants us to be the good people he created us to be, rather than that “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). It teaches that good people who do good things go to Heaven, rather than that “by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

MTD is not Biblical Christianity. It cannot save a person from Hell. All it does is fools people into feeling good about themselves, without dealing with the reality that each of us is separated from God because of sin – a separation that can only be reconciled by the blood of Jesus Christ.

My personal conversion from Moralistic Therapeutic Deism

I grew up in a liberal denomination. A typical Sunday sermon was little more than a pep talk to go out and be a good person. I believed in God, but God was an impersonal spirit out there somewhere, who created everything good, and wanted everyone to love each other and get along. I cannot remember ever hearing in church that I am a sinner in need of salvation. Hell was a place reserved only for the truly evil people like Hitler if it existed at all. My religious purpose was to be a good person, to feel good about myself, and to help others be good and feel good. This, to me, was what Christianity was all about.

I remember during freshman orientation week in college taking a survey. The survey contained many questions about my political, religious, and social views. Two questions buried among the hundreds on the survey, I remember quite well: Do you consider yourself a Christian? Do you consider yourself a born-again Christian? I answered yes to the first, but no to the second. To me, being a Christian was about being moral, feeling good about myself and others, and belief in God. “Born again” Christians were legalistic nut cases.

In reality, my theology was extremely shallow. I gave very little thought to what I believed, and even less to why I believed it. “All you need is love” pretty much summed up my theology.

My theology (or lack thereof) was shattered by the simple question, “Who is Jesus?”

I realized that if Jesus was just a man, then the cross was nonsense. But, if Jesus is God in the flesh, then the cross was the most important event in history. If Jesus was just a man, then “all you need is love” is a nice sentiment, but nothing more. But, if Jesus is truly God, then “all you need is love” is just flat-out wrong.

I came to realize that my sin separated me from God and that only God in the flesh as Jesus Christ, dying on the cross, could pay the penalty for my sin. I placed my faith and trust in Jesus Christ. I came to realize that, while God does want people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, being good cannot get me into Heaven. My purpose in life isn’t to be happy and make others happy; it’s to know Jesus and point others to Him. God is only distant for people who don’t know Him. For those who are saved, the Holy Spirit lives in us and is intimately involved with every aspect of our lives.

I came to reject MTD and to embrace Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

Why is any of this important?

“Why is all of this so tragic? Because MTD is not Christianity. It’s not even a version of Christianity.

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism is a false religion created by and for members of the most rich, catered, defensive, politically-correct, over-protected, over-nurtured, over-fed society the world has ever known, and the fact that it uses the name Jesus and various select Christian buzzwords allows it to be passed off as Christianity.

It has nothing to do with biblical Christianity. It’s not in the Bible. Jesus didn’t teach it. Paul wouldn’t recognize it.

And yet it calls itself Christianity and it’s taught every Sunday by pastors in church buildings all over the place.” adam4d.com/mtd/

How many of us have loved ones who subscribe to MTD? How many of our friends think they’re Christians, but aren’t, and are on the path to Hell?

What about yourself? Do you subscribe to the feel-good, do good distant god? Or do you know the God who sent His only begotten Son to die for your sin? Do you believe you’re basically a good person, or a sinner who needs a Savior?

Make sure you know the Truth. There are eternal consequences if you don’t.

It Only Takes One Mistake

Bad choices – even a single bad choice – can lead to death and destruction.

Recently, a coworker and friend was sentenced to several years in prison for killing a man in a drunk-driving accident.

Brian (not his real name) left work a little after 10:30 one night a few days before Christmas, and stopped by a bar for a few beers and a few games of pool. After having more than just a few beers, he got in his car to go home. On the way, he hit another car, pushing it into oncoming traffic. The driver of the car he hit died; Brian nearly died as well.

Brian had no criminal history prior to this incident. He’s a quiet, laid back, hard-working guy in his late twenties. The closest he’d ever come to a brush with the law was a ticket for an expired tag on his license plate. Because he made one mistake – one very bad decision – a man is dead, and a family has been shattered by the loss of a husband and father. Brian’s life has been ruined as well, and his own family has been devastated.

As much as I grieve for the victim and his family, I was hoping the judge would go easy on Brian. After all, he’s a good guy, with a nearly perfect driving record up until the accident. He made a single bad decision. He’s apologized, and is truly sorry for the mistake he made. Surely, the judge could take into consideration all the good Brian has done in his life, and let him off easy.

However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that for the judge to go easy on Brian, maybe giving him probation and community service, would be unjust. Brian’s actions that night cost a man his life. Brian’s one bad choice overrides all of the good he had done in his life; he deserved the sentence he received. Justice demanded that the judge send Brian to prison.

The more I’ve thought about it, the more I realize, it’s much the same with us and God.

Most people do more good stuff than bad. Most of us wouldn’t intentionally hurt someone else. We do a lot of good things for other people. Sure, we make mistakes, but we do a lot more good than bad. And, most of us haven’t killed anyone. Surely, when we die, and face God for judgement, a loving God will look at the good and the bad, and the good will outweigh the bad, and He will let us into Heaven, especially if we’re really sorry and apologize.

Really?

Much like in Brian’s case, one bad choice makes all the difference.

God is not only loving; He is also holy and just. God’s holiness demands that the standard for goodness is perfection. And, God’s perfect justice demands punishment for anything short of perfection. As it says in James 2:10, “For whoever keeps the entire law, yet fails in one point, is guilty of breaking it all.” A single sin condemns a person to an eternity separated from God.

Many of my readers are probably thinking, “But that’s not fair! How can a single sin outweigh a lifetime of good?”

How can Brian’s one bad choice outweigh all the good things he has done?

Doing good things does not erase the bad things we do. Apologizing, feeling remorse, and promising not to sin again does not erase the guilt. No matter how many good things I’ve done in my life, I still deserve to be punished for the things I am guilty of. And,it’s not just one thing I’ve done wrong; over the course of my life, I’ve done thousands of things wrong, maybe even millions.

Also, it’s not just other people I’ve sinned against; it’s God Himself, my Creator, that I’ve offended. It’s one thing to sin against another person; it’s quite another to sin against God.

Here’s an analogy: If I shove a random stranger on the street, I could be charged with a misdemeanor assault charge. However, if I shove a police officer, I’ve now committed a felony. Why the difference? It’s due to the police officer’s position of authority over me. It is a greater offense to shove a police officer, because the officer has been placed in a position of authority. And, the greater the authority, the greater the offense. Shoving an everyday citizen is a misdemeanor, and shoving a police officer is a felony. And, if I were to shove the President of the United States, the penalty would be much greater than for shoving a police officer, because the President’s authority is much greater.

When I sin against God, I am guilty of committing an offense against an infinite authority. A single offense outweighs all the good stuff I’ve done for God, because God is infinitely just and infinitely holy. And, I’ve committed a lot more than one offense. Therefore, the penalty is an infinite penalty – eternal damnation.

Thankfully, in addition to being infinitely holy and infinitely just, God is also infinitely loving. God’s justice demands payment for sin. In His infinite love, God has provided an alternative to paying for sin ourselves – He has given us Jesus Christ.

Each of us is guilty of rebellion against God. Each of us has violated the perfect standard required by the perfect God, Who stands in infinite authority over us. Yet, because He loves us infinitely, God has given us his only Son, Jesus Christ, as a substitute. Jesus Christ has taken my sin upon Himself, and paid the penalty on my behalf. Because I have trusted Jesus Christ as my Savior, the penalty for my sin has already been paid. My guilt has been erased. God no longer holds me eternally responsible for the offenses I’ve committed against Him. It’s not because of anything good I’ve done to deserve God’s forgiveness, but in spite of the fact that I deserve nothing. Just as there is nothing my friend Brian can do to deserve being let off without punishment, there is nothing I can do to deserve God’s forgiveness. Yet, God offers forgiveness freely, through the blood of His precious Son, Jesus Christ. I have received God’s forgiveness, not because of anything good I’ve done, but simply because I chose to receive the Gift. God makes the same offer to everyone. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

A just judge could not simply set Brian free, and the family of his victim may never forgive him. However, God offers Brian – and every other person on earth – freedom and forgiveness. I pray that Brian seeks forgiveness from God through Jesus Christ. I pray that God uses this horrific tragedy to reach Brian with His love, mercy, and grace, and that Brian comes to know God in a personal and intimate manner through Jesus Christ. I also pray God’s peace and healing on the victim’s family, and that they would also come to know Jesus.

I also pray that if you, my reader, have not yet found forgiveness and mercy from God through Jesus Christ, that you would seek Him, and come to know Him in a personal, intimate way. It’s as simple as acknowledging before Him that you’ve sinned against Him, believing that Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, died to pay for your sin and take your sins from you, and receiving His forgiveness. You can then begin an incredible journey of getting to know the Creator of the universe, and of becoming more like Him.

It only takes one mistake to deserve Hell. It only takes one choice to receive forgiveness. Make that choice today.

Is Christianity a Religion?

Several weeks ago, I asked the question, “Is Atheism a Religion?” My conclusion was that “Atheism is not a religion, per se, but almost all Atheists practice a non-theistic kind of religion. Atheist religion is generally not an institutionalized system or organization, but usually more of a personal set of non-theistic religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices.”

Today I will tackle the question of whether Christianity is a religion. It is my contention that there are, in fact, two distinct forms of Christianity: one form that is a religion, not different from any other religion, and another that is much more than just a religion.

What is religion?

In order to answer the question, it is necessary to first define exactly what religion is.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, religion is:

1 a :  the state of a religious <a nun in her 20th year of religion>

b (1) :  the service and worship of God or the supernatural (2) :  commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance

2 :  a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices

3 archaic :  scrupulous conformity :  conscientiousness

4 :  a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith

In my discussion of Atheism, I identified 8 common traits of religions:

  1. Religions have narratives or texts.
  2. Religions have doctrines.
  3. Religions have faith.
  4. Religion is a source of purpose and meaning.
  5. Religions have rituals.
  6. Religions use symbols.
  7. Religion provides social construct.
  8. Religions proselytize.

Religion is both a set of beliefs about God and a set of practices based on those beliefs. The more religious a person is, the more fervently the set of beliefs and practices is followed.

Two kinds of Christianity

Here we come to the crux of the question: Is Christianity a religion, or is it something more?

I contend that there are, in fact, two distinct kinds of Christianity. There is a form of Christianity that is clearly religion. Catholicism, Evangelicalism, Protestantism, and Fundamentalism are all religions. They are all sets of beliefs with accompanying behaviors and practices. Even Christians who are not a part of any organized church or denomination ultimately have a religion. They have a personal set of beliefs and practices.

There is another form of Christianity, however, that goes far beyond the definition of a religion. Consider this passage from the tenth chapter of the Gospel of John:

22 Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter. 23 And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch. 24 Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, “How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. 26 But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. 27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. 30 I and My Father are one.”

Verse 27 emphasizes the relationship between Jesus and His followers:

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”

This goes beyond simply knowing about Jesus; a true follower of Jesus Christ actually knows Him.

I know a lot about the President of the United States. I see him on television and in my Facebook newsfeed nearly every day. I know what he says, and who he is. However, I cannot say I know him. We’ve never even met in person, and even if we had, he wouldn’t remember me from any of the hundreds of thousands of other people he’s met. Compare that to the relationship I have with my wife and kids. I live with them, and I talk with them regularly. I actually know them quite well, and they know me quite well. We have individual, close connections .

So it is with those who truly follow Jesus. We don’t just know about Jesus, we know Him personally. He knows us personally. We don’t just follow a religion; we follow a person that we have actually met, with whom we have a personal relationship.

Consider also these verses from Matthew 7:

21 “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. 22 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?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

Notice that it isn’t the religious people that enter heaven – it’s those who do the will of the Father and whom Jesus knows. What is the “will of the Father?” In the context of the passage, it’s certainly not being religious. Jesus repeatedly saves his harshest criticism for the most religious people in His culture. The will of God is that people would know Him.

How are the two kinds of Christianity different from each other?

Let me give my answer from personal experience. I grew up as a religious Christian. I was in a church service nearly every Sunday. My entire family was active in the church; my dad sang in the choir, and my mom was the Sunday KnowtheAuthorSchool Superintendent. I was active in the youth group – president, my senior year – and went to church camp every summer. I knew a lot about the Bible, God, and Jesus. I participated in fundraisers to help the poor, vacation Bible school, and Bible study classes. Although I knew I did some bad things, I believed my goodness outweighed the bad. I believed, God is love; he accepts us as we are, warts and all.

However, as a college freshman, I realized that this wasn’t enough. Although I knew a lot about Jesus, I didn’t know Jesus. And, though I was mostly a good person, I still sinned, and sin separates us from God – it prevents us from knowing Him. I discovered that God is not only a God of love, He is also the God of holiness, justice, and truth. It was then that I changed from the first kind of religious Christianity to the second kind – relationship Christianity. I repented of my sin, and from trying to earn my way to Heaven. I acknowledged that Jesus is God; that He died for my sin, and rose again. And I committed my life to follow Him. God then did an amazing thing. He forgave my sin, and He restored my relationship with Him. The Holy Spirit tool up residence in my heart (2 Corinthians 1:22). I now not only knew about Jesus – I actually came to know Him in a personal way.

This is the difference between the two kinds of Christianity: The first is a religion, no different from any other religion. It has a holy book, doctrine, faith, rituals, and symbols, like any other religion. Religious Christianity provides social construct and purpose and meaning, as do all religions. Faithful religious Christians proselytize, as do the faithful from all other religions. And, like all other religions, religious Christianity does nothing to restore the relationship with God that has been lost because of human sin. It acknowledges that Jesus paid the penalty for sin on the cross, but does nothing to activate that forgiveness in anyone’s life. It’s sort of like starving to death while looking at a table full of food. Food does no good, unless one actually ingests it. That’s what relationship Christianity is all about: ingesting and applying the forgiveness offered by Jesus Christ, and beginning a relationship with Him. Yes, those who have a relationship with Jesus also have the Bible, doctrine, and faith. Yes, our relationship with Jesus is the source of our social construct, purpose, and meaning. We proselytize, and although for many of us, rituals and symbols aren’t especially important, we still have them. The key difference is that these things aren’t the foundation – our relationship with Jesus is the foundation.

RelationshipnotreligionIs Christianity a religion? It depends on which kind of Christianity being discussed. It has been claimed that, “Christianity isn’t a religion – it’s a relationship.” I only partially agree with this. A better way of stating this would be, “True Christianity isn’t just a religion – it’s a relationship.” Much of what people know as Christianity is a religion, and is ultimately no different from any other religion. It makes people feel good, and act a certain way, but cannot restore a relationship with God. The other kind of Christianity is a relationship with God, through the blood of Jesus Christ. This second kind of Christianity still has most of the marks of religion, but is much, much more than just a religion. Religious Christianity is based on trying to make one’s self acceptable to God, which cannot be done, and ultimately leads to death and Hell. Relationship Christianity is based on what Jesus did, not what we do. We become acceptable before God because Jesus took our sin on Himself. Relationship Christianity restores our connection with our Creator, and leads to eternal life, not Hell.

Application

What difference does this make? It makes all the difference in the world! If you are a religious Christian – you have the doctrine, faith, rituals, and symbols, etc., but you don’t know Jesus personally – your sins are not forgiven, and you have not had your relationship with God restored. You are headed for Hell. You need to repent of your religiosity, acknowledge that you cannot make yourself acceptable to God, and receive forgiveness and restoration through Jesus Christ. Head knowledge is not the same as a relationship. Religion makes people feel good, but leads to Hell. Stop having faith in religion, and place your faith and trust in Jesus Christ. If you profess another religion, or no religion at all, you also need Jesus. You may have a wonderful life, but in the end, you will spend eternity separated from God in Hell, unless you turn to Jesus.

jesus_talkingIf you know Jesus already, you probably already understand this distinction. Make sure you keep your heart and mind focused on Jesus, not on all the religious stuff that accompanies faith in Jesus. Sure, the “religious” stuff, like reading your Bible, trying to do what is right, giving to the poor, and regularly attending corporate worship are important, they are no substitute for developing your relationship with Jesus. When you share your faith in Jesus with others, they will often think Christianity is no different from any other religion. In a sense, they are right – most of what they have seen is the religious Christianity, not relationship Christianity. Make the distinction between Christianity the religion and Christianity the relationship. Both exist, but only one leads to eternal life.

One final thought: the two kinds of Christianity are usually mixed together in any given church or denomination. That is, in most solid, Bible-believing churches, there are some that don’t actually know Jesus, along with those that do. There are also Christians who truly know Jesus in some very religious churches. Knowing Jesus isn’t a matter of whether one belongs to the right or wrong denomination or church.

If you want to know more about knowing Jesus, leave a comment, or send me a message. I’d love to tell you more.

Atheist Day – April 1 – Psalm 14:1

I had the following exchange (paraphrased) on Facebook the other day:

Me: Atheist Day is April 1. Psalm 14:1 – The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”

Atheist: Atheists aren’t fools. You’re a moron.

Me: Can there be anything more foolish that telling God that He doesn’t exist?

Atheist: I don’t tell gods they don’t exist. I don’t talk to fictional characters.

foolI had to paraphrase the atheist’s remarks, because she blocked me from seeing her comments a few minutes after she posted them.

I was both amused and saddened by this person’s answer. She apparently had no idea that by stating, “I don’t talk to fictional characters,” she was doing precisely what she argued she doesn’t do – she was telling God He doesn’t exist.


According to urban legend, a judge in Florida once declared that April 1 is “Atheist Day,” citing Psalm 14:1. This legend has been debunked; it apparently originated as a joke on a humor mailing list in 2002.

Is Atheism Foolish?

The fool has said in his heart,
“There is no God.”
They are corrupt,
They have done abominable works,
There is none who does good.

~ Psalm 14:1

Atheism is a very foolish worldview to hold. For one thing, atheism is completely illogical. An atheist contends that he or she knows there is no God. Logically, one cannot know that something does not exist.

sasquatchLet’s use Bigfoot, also known as sasquatch, as an example. In order to know Bigfoot does not exist, one would have to look in every place Bigfoot could possibly exist. They would have to look in all of these places at the same time, to ensure Bigfoot wasn’t moving from place to place. They would also have to know what Bigfoot is. Otherwise, they might actually see Bigfoot, but not recognize it. Logically, no one can know Bigfoot does not exist. The best one can logically know is that they have never seen Bigfoot, or any evidence for the existence of Bigfoot. One can conclude that Bigfoot probably does not exist, but one cannot logically conclude absolutely that Bigfoot does not exist.  Personally, I don’t believe in Bigfoot.  However, it would be illogical to say I know Bigfoot does not exist.  I would be a sasquatch agnostic rather than an a-sasquatch-ist.


The same logic applies to God. In order to know God does not exist, one would need to be looking everywhere in the universe simultaneously, and would need to know what God looks like in order to recognize whether He was present, or not. Such a person would need to be omnipresent to look everywhere at once, and omniscient to know what God looks like. Unless a person is indeed omnipresent and omniscient, it is illogical to claim one knows God does not exist.


The most a person can logically claim is that they don’t know if God exists. This would be agnosticism, not atheism. At least with agnosticism, there is enough intellectual integrity to acknowledge not knowing for certain.


Blaise PascalAnother reason atheism is foolish is what is known as Pascal’s Wager. Blaise Pascal (1633 – 1662) was a French mathematician, physicist, and philosopher. He argued that if a Christian is wrong about Christianity, they basically live a happy life, and when they die – they’re gone. They really haven’t lost anything by being wrong in their beliefs. However, if a non-Christian is wrong, although they may live a happy life here on earth, when they die, they end up in Hell. In other words, if one “wagers” on Christianity and loses, they lose nothing; if one “wagers” against Christianity and loses, they lose everything.


Although many atheists have devised convoluted scenarios they believe work around Pascal’s Wager, the same basic question remains: What if one is wrong about Christianity? If I, as a Christian, am wrong about Christianity, I’ll never know. When I die, I’ll just rot in the grave, and cease to exist. But, if an atheist is wrong about Christianity, they end up in Hell for eternity. That’s one bet I would not want to lose!


The most foolish thing about being an atheist is that atheist actually do know God exists. However, they intentionally suppress that knowledge.

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

~ Romans 1:18-23


God’s existence is obvious to anyone who is willing to see it. Everything in the universe points to His existence. The problem is that all people are born in rebellion against God.

The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men,
To see if there are any who understand, who seek God.
They have all turned aside,
They have together become corrupt;
There is none who does good,
No, not one.

~ Psalm 14:2-3


Every person is born separated from God. Yet God, in His grace, reveals Himself to each of us, and gives us the opportunity to turn to Him.


For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

~ John 3:16

Those who choose to respond to the Gospel and receive Christ as Lord and Savior gain an eternal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Those who foolishly suppress the truth of the Gospel remain eternally separated from God, and spend eternity in Hell. This is why atheism is foolish. For God to offer forgiveness, reconciliation with Himself, and eternal life, yet to choose to tell Him, “No thank you. You do not exist,” is the most foolish thing a person could ever do.

Acts 2:38 – Is Water Baptism Necessary For Salvation?

37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”
38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
40 And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” 41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.

Acts 2:37-41 (NKJV)

Acts 2:38 is one of the major proof-texts that those who believe water baptism is necessary for salvation use to support their belief. I disagree with this assessment for three reasons:

  1. There are far too many other passages in the Bible that contradict the notion of water baptism as a requirement for salvation. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” According to this verse, eternal life is based on belief in Jesus Christ – and nothing else. Romans 10:9-10 says “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Again, there is no mention of baptism in these verses, nor anywhere else in the chapter. In several other passages in the book of Acts, baptism is mentioned in conjunction with salvation; however, in every one of these passages, baptism always happens immediately after the person has been saved.
  2. There are also many other passages that contradict the notion that water baptism is the means for having sin removed. 1 John 2:1-2 says, “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.  And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” Hebrews 9:22 states, “And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.” It is the blood of Jesus Christ that removes sin, not water baptism.
  3. A careful examination of the text of Acts 2:38 has convinced me that Peter is not talking about physical water baptism, but rather the immersion of the believer in Christ. The Greek word βαπτισθήτω means “dip, submerge, baptize.” When examining the context of Biblical passages concerning baptism, it is important to understand A) who or what is being immersed, and, B) what they are being immersed in? In the case of Acts 2:38, the answer to “who or what is being immersed?” would be the Jews who heard Peter’s sermon, and believed. The answer to the second question, “what they are being immersed in?” would be, “in the name of Jesus Christ.” Peter is telling his audience that in order to be saved, they must be immersed in Jesus Christ; His blood then covers their sin; and then they will receive the Holy Spirit. Peter does not say, “be baptized in water for the remission of sins;” he says, “be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” When a person receives Jesus Christ as their Savior, they are put into Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. Water baptism is done afterward, as an outward sign of the spiritual transformation that has already taken place (Acts 2:41). In Acts 2:38, the instruction is to be immersed into Jesus’ name, not into a pool of water.

Salvation is based on confessing sin before God, repentance, and placing one’s faith and trust in the atoning blood of Jesus Christ alone for the remission of sin. No ritual or work – including water baptism – can add to or take away from one’s salvation.

Seven Obstacles to Sharing Your Faith, Part 4

While web-surfing one day last month, I ran across an article on christianitytoday.com by Chris Lutes entitled Seven Reasons Not to Share Christ (and why we should go ahead and do it anyway). I thought it would make a good a good blog series.

Lutes writes for his fourth reason:

4) “None of my Christian friends do it”
Ever talk to your friends about why they don’t witness? There could be a ton of reasons—like those in this article. Maybe they’re just not sure how to witness. Why not use this article to get the conversation going? You could also do a book study together. Suggestion: Witnessing 101 by Tim Baker. Of course, you may need to take the lead and be the first in your group to witness. Your friends just might follow.

Many Christians, if not most, rarely share the Gospel with non-Christians. There are many reasons why, as this series suggests. Yet, Jesus has commissioned us to spread the Gospel.

Matthew 28:18-20
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Each of us is responsible for our own obedience or disobedience to God. We can’t base our actions on what our friends do. God will hold each of us accountable for our own actions, not for the actions of our peers. It takes courage to be obedient to God when those around us don’t. Each of us is called to share our faith, regardless of what others do.

Lutes is correct in saying that if one Christian in a group of peers begins to share his or her faith, the others in the group are more likely to follow. Sometimes, all it takes is one Christian who is willing to be obedient to what God has called them to do in order to start a movement. Granted, God doesn’t call everyone to start a movement, but God can use anyone who is obedient to Him.

Don’t give in to peer pressure. Rather, give in to Holy Spirit pressure. Learn to trust in the Holy Spirit’s leading and instruction. Just step out in faith, and tell people about Jesus.

Did Jesus Die For the Whole World?

Some Christians would argue that Jesus Christ only died for the “elect” – that God chose, or elected, certain people that would be saved (the Elect), and chose to send the rest (the Reprobate) to Hell.  Human beings have no choice in the matter; if God picks you, you will believe and be saved, but if He doesn’t pick you, you have no chance to be saved.  This belief is fundamental to Calvinism.

There are several verses in the Bible that contradict this belief.  One of these is 1 John 2:2:

 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

First, what does “propitiation” mean?  Propitiation can be defined as the act of appeasing one offended and gaining his favor.  When John says that Jesus Christ is the propitiation for our sins, he means that only the blood of Jesus Christ can appease God’s wrath against human sin, and can put sinners into God’s favor.  Only through Jesus Christ can our sins be paid for; only through Jesus can we be reconciled to God.

The problem for Calvinists is the second part of the verse:  “…and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”  Taken in a straight-forward manner, this verse says that the propitiation for sin is available not only to John’s audience, but to everyone.  Who was John’s audience?  Most scholars believe John was primarily writing to Jewish Christians – first century people who were born and brought up as Jews, but who became Christian believers after the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

John Samson, a reformed pastor, writes on reformationtheology.com:

… we approach the First Epistle of John, and remember that it is a letter written to a primarily Jewish audience. So in 1 John 2:2, as in the rest of the letter, we have the Apostle John, a Jew, writing primarily to fellow Jewish believers in the Messiah. He writes of Jesus Christ being “the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the whole world.” It is possible that the word “world” here refers to every person on planet earth, but in my estimation, not very likely, because of the fact that we have a Jew, writing to fellow Jews. I think it is far more likely that John is here declaring that Christ died not only for our sins (the sins of Jewish people), but for also for those of the whole world (the sins of Gentiles throughout the world).

Samson is arguing that the phrase, “the whole world,” doesn’t mean the whole world, but the elect gentiles.  This is an example of coming to the text with a preconceived idea, and forcing one’s understanding into the text.  Samson presupposes Calvinism, but when the text contradicts his presupposition, he simply forces his presupposition into the text to make it say what he wants it to say.  He even acknowledges that a plain reading of the text doesn’t support his view –  “It is possible that the word “world” here refers to every person on planet earth” – but he then explains why he thinks the text means exactly the opposite of what it says.

What did John Calvin have to say about this verse?  Quoted on calvinandcalvinism.com, he writes:

Here a question may be raised, how have the sins of the whole world been expiated? I pass by the dotages of the fanatics, who under this pretense extend salvation to all the reprobate, and therefore to Satan himself. Such a monstrous thing deserves no refutation. They who seek to avoid this absurdity, have said that Christ suffered sufficiently for the whole world, but efficiently only for the elect. This solution has commonly prevailed in the schools. Though then I allow that what has been said is true, yet I deny that it is suitable to this passage; for the design of John was no other than to make this benefit common to the whole Church. Then under the word all or whole, he does not include the reprobate, but designates those who should believe as well as those who were then scattered through various parts of the world. For then is really made evident, as it is meet, the grace of Christ, when it is declared to be the only true salvation of the world.

Calvin is arguing that “the whole world” actually means “the whole church,” which would exclude the reprobate, and only include the elect.  Again, the problem is that John didn’t write, “the whole church.”  He wrote “the whole world.”  Again, this is an example of trying to fit one’s personal beliefs into the Scriptures, despite the fact that they don’t fit.  In effect, Calvinists must claim that John didn’t write what he meant to write; he didn’t phrase his statement clearly.  And, since God Himself inspired John to write 1 John, God must have gotten it wrong, too.  It is ironic that Calvinists, who focus so much on God’s sovereignty, must in effect deny His sovereignty, and argue that God goofed, because  1 John 2:2 doesn’t mean what it says.

What does 1 John 2:2 mean?  Does it mean, as others would argue, that everyone is saved?  1 John 2:2 states that Jesus is the propitiation for the whole world.  This means that in Christ is found everything that is necessary to appease God’s wrath, and gain His favor.   What is doesn’t state is whether the propitiation is actually applied to the whole world.  Other verses, such as John 3:16 and Romans 10:9-10, make this clearer:

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Romans 10:9-10 – if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.   For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

These verses, as well as many others, indicate that a person must believe in order to be saved.  Neither the one extreme of Calvinism, nor the other extreme of Universalism, is correct.  What is correct?  I think Calvin himself stated it well, although he didn’t believe it to be true: Christ suffered sufficiently for the whole world, but efficiently only for the elect.  The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ were sufficient to cover the sins of every person in the whole world, but are only applied to those who God elected, based on His foreknowledge of who would choose to receive the gift of salvation.  1 John 2:2 makes it very clear that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world; John3:16 makes it clear that one must choose to believe in order to receive the benefits of Jesus’ propitiation for sin.

Theological Positions I Don’t Understand, Part 3

Losing Your Salvation, or Conditional Preservation of the Saints

According to some, once a person is saved – they have repented of their sin, placed their faith and trust in Jesus Christ, and received eternal life – it is possible for them to lose that salvation.  This is the Arminian belief that believers are preserved by God in their saving relationship with Him upon the condition of a persevering faith in Christ. If a Christian stops believing, they are no longer saved.

This makes no sense to me.

In order to analyze this position, one must first understand exactly what happens to a person when they receive Jesus Christ as Savior.

Why does a person need to be saved in the first place?  In Genesis, God created humankind (Adam and Eve) to live sinless lives in a perfect relationship with Him.  However, they sinned, and that sin has been passed to all of humanity (Romans 5:12).  Sin separates us from God.  We are all born condemned because of sin (Romans 5:18).

How does a person get saved?  Romans 10:9-10 states, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”  John 1:12 says, “12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name,”  and John 3:16 says, “16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  So, salvation is based on believing in Jesus Christ and His resurrection, and receiving His forgiveness.

What happens to a person when they are saved?  First, the penalty for the person’s sins is removed, and placed on Jesus Christ, Who paid the penalty for sin on the cross.  Second, they are “born again” (John 3:3-8). When a person is born, their spirit – the part of us that connects us to God – is dead.  When we are saved, our spirit is brought to life.  This is eternal life (John 3:16; Romans 6:23). Third, at the moment of salvation, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in the new believer; he or she is then sealed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13).  The person becomes a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15).

What does all of this mean?  It means that there is a fundamental change in the person’s nature.  The new Christian undergoes an instantaneous transformation from death to eternal life.  He or she is instantaneously changed from guilty to innocent before God, and immediately saved against the wrath of God.  They are immediately placed into God’s family, and are instantly given the Holy Spirit within them who will guide and direct them.  But, the new Christian does not become instantaneously perfect and sinless. They are still trapped in a fallen, sinful body, with fallen, sinful minds.    But, the process of becoming like Christ – called sanctification – begins immediately.  Christians don’t receive new, perfect bodies and perfect, sinless minds until we arrive in Eternity.

There are numerous Bible passages that allude to salvation being permanent and unable to be lost.  Here is a partial list (links provided for context verification or translation change):

  • John 6:35-37  35 And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.
  • John 10:27-29  27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.
  • Romans 11:29  29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
  • Ephesians 1:13-14  13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 whois the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
  • Hebrews 9:11-15 But Christ came as High Priest … with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption… that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.
  • 1 John 5:11-13  11 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life,and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

There are several passages that seem to indicate a Christian can lose their salvation.  Under closer scrutiny, each passage can easily be understood to either refer to persons who were never saved in the first place, or refer to something other than salvation.  Here are two of the most problematic:

Hebrews 6:4-6  For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.

The first question is, what is the context?  The book of Hebrews was written to Jewish Christians of the first century.  The author has just completed a discussion of spiritual immaturity.  He then continues by discussing the consequences of not progressing from immaturity to maturity.

What does Hebrews 6:4-6 mean?  Some would argue that it means Christians can lose their salvation – “fall away” – and can never be again saved.  I disagree; in fact, I believe the author is arguing exactly the opposite.  It appears to me that he is arguing that since it would be impossible for someone to be saved again if they lost their salvation, it is therefore impossible to lose one’s salvation.  In context, the author is arguing that spiritual immaturity cannot result in a loss of salvation!  The author continues in verse 9:  “But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation.”  He is saying that what he just talked about – losing one’s salvation – does not apply to them.  In verse 11, he mentions “the full assurance of hope until the end” – eternal security!  In verse 19, he states that “this hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast.” Again, our hope – salvation – is an “anchor” that is “sure and steadfast” – eternal.

Another key verse that some claim says that Christians can lose their salvation is Hebrews 10:26:  “26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.”  The question is, to whom is this referring?  The saved, or the unsaved?  I contend that receiving “knowledge of the truth” is not the same as being saved.  Many people understand the Gospel message, but reject it.  These are the people Hebrews 10:26 talks about.  The author is saying that when a person fully understands the Gospel, yet consciously rejects Jesus Christ anyway, it makes no difference that they understand.  Belief is more than mere intellectual assent; it involves receiving and applying the truth to one’s life.

There are several other passages that proponents of conditional preservation point to in order to support their position, but a closer examination of each shows that the texts either do not refer to salvation, or else refer to the unsaved, not the saved.

With all of this background information in mind, let us now consider the possibility of losing one’s salvation from a logical viewpoint.  How can a person who has been “born again” become “unborn” again?  How can eternal life become temporary?  If the penalty for sin has been removed by Jesus Christ on the cross, does Jesus give it back to the person if they stop believing?  How can a person who has been eternally sealed by the Holy Spirit become unsealed?

When a person is saved, there is a fundamental change in the person’s nature.  The human spirit, which is born dead, is brought to life.  For a person to lose their salvation would mean that they would have to spiritually die again.  The fundamental change known as being “born again” and becoming a “new creation” would have to be reversed.  The Holy Spirit would have to leave them.  And, according to Hebrews 6:4-6, they could never again be saved.

The Christian is promised eternal life upon trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior.  If this can be lost, then it isn’t eternal.  If a Christian could lose their salvation, then John 3:16 should read, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in and remains obedient to Him should not perish but have everlasting life, as long as they continue to believe and remain obedient.”  However, that’s not what it says.

What then of those who have professed to be Christians, but later deny Jesus Christ?  I see two possibilities.  By far, the most common view is that they were never truly saved in the first place.  Many people have an intellectual understanding of the Gospel, but never actually put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ.  I believe these are the people Hebrews 6:4-6 talks about.  Jesus said in Matthew 7:21-23:

21 “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. 22 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?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

How horrible it will be for those who understood the Gospel, but never received Jesus Christ as Savior!

The second possibility is considerably more controversial.  I believe there are some true born-again Christians who later change their minds, but are still destined for heaven nonetheless.  I believe some people can come to true faith and trust in Jesus Christ and receive eternal life, but at some later time are deceived by Satan, and intellectually conclude that Christianity is false.  Perhaps they backslide to the point where they no longer care; or perhaps they suffer a hurt so deeply that they blame God, and want nothing more to do with Him.  Whatever the circumstances, they are deceived into the intellectual conclusion that Christianity is false.  However, since they are eternally saved, and have eternally received the Holy Spirit, they will still go to Heaven when they die.  And, since they still are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, Who continues to convict them of their sin and unbelief, they are probably the most miserable people on the face of the earth.  Some of the so-called “angry atheists” may fall into this category.  The only way they can maintain their intellectual atheism is by actively ranting and persecuting anything related to God, the Bible, and Christianity.  I do not think there are many who fall into this category, because it would be extremely difficult for a person to deny the Holy Spirit when He lives inside of them, but I think there are some that do.  How extremely miserable they must be!

In conclusion, I do not understand the belief that a Christian can lose their salvation.  I understand where the belief comes from; but, I don’t understand how it makes any sense whatsoever.  As Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 1:12, “for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.”  If eternal life can be lost, then it wasn’t eternal life to begin with.