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According to the Bible, is it difficult to get into heaven?

Discussion in 'Struggles by Non-Christians' started by Saramae, Jan 19, 2019.

  1. Saramae

    Saramae New Member

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    I posted a thread here a little over a year ago asking for verifiable, objective evidence that God exists. I have struggled with believing in something for which I do not see any verifiable evidence of existence. I wrote that post about 9 months after I started dating my boyfriend, who is Christian. He has never forced anything down my throat or tried to preach to me, but I occasionally have mocked his religion or Christianity in general....eventually, I just started demanding answers to various questions I had or inconsistencies I saw with religion.

    And yet here I am, just having purchased my first Bible last night. I decided to start with the New Testament, because I have tried reading from the beginning before and it made me bitter and angry. I still don't believe all of this, but I'm willing to give it a shot and read with an open mind.

    I finished reading the sermon on the mount and I'm on chapter 12 of Matthew. Most of it I can more or less agree with, but a few things have stuck out to me. For one thing, according to Matthew 12:32, it seems I am kind of S.O.L. if I ever do find my faith again, since I've committed the unforgivable sin of speaking out against God. According to this, that can't ever be forgiven, even if everything else can. So even if God is real, it seems I may be wasting my time, right?

    Also in general there seems to just be a lot of stuff you're supposed to do or not do or else you won't get into the kingdom of heaven. Which sounds a lot like what my church taught me when I was younger. It sounds nearly impossible, to be honest. And even if I could do those things, how could I be 100% sure that I would go to heaven? I guess I can't, right? Because the point is to have faith...

    I guess the plan for now is to read and then perhaps seek out other texts which explain the context of when the Bible was written and if there is evidence in other texts that confirms these events occurred as stated, or maybe some sort of geographical physical evidence for these events. If anyone has any suggestions for literature along those lines, I would appreciate it. I'm not sure what else to do. I mean....I can't force myself to believe something. It wouldn't be natural to say I believed it if I couldn't 100% commit to it.
     
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  2. com7fy8

    com7fy8 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    For one example of what I mean > the earth is evidence that God created the earth. But people might not see it that way. But if God created it, it is evidence.

    I would say trust God to be the Judge. And, by the way, God hears what you are thinking; your thinking might be the prayer God already is hearing from you.

    Jesus says it is "impossible" for humans > Luke 18:27. You're not the only one in a tough spot > we all are :) But God proves Himself in us.

    One thing I think of is how the Sermon on the Mount starts with four things about how to be. If God changes us to be the way Jesus means, then it is our nature to do all He means. And Jesus says, "My yoke is easy and My burden is light," in Matthew 11:28-30.

    Well, if I still am not perfectly the way Jesus wants, it might be that I can not really be 100% sure . . . since I'm not 100% perfect! But, one thing > as I get more into forgiving others, I can find myself more assured that I am forgiven. What can matter more than being sure is how God changes us to become able to love any and all people, in sharing with Jesus. It is not only about what happens to our own selves, but we get more and more into desiring to please our Father and love the way Jesus wants.

    1 John 4:17, to me, means that we are sure because of how God in us has changed us to be His way in real love. And with this, I find, I am much more interested in being more and more real and kind in love, and not only being concerned about how sure I feel or how sure I think I am.
     
  3. dogs4thewin

    dogs4thewin dog lover Supporter CF Ambassadors

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    It is not that it is hard to get into Heaven. It is that (particularly with respect to money) it is hard for people to trust God and not themselves or things of this Earth. Context also plays a large role in some things. For example, as it relates to self-defense and violence.
     
  4. Radagast

    Radagast has left CF Supporter

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    Good! :clap:

    That's where you should start.

    Please ask any questions you might have in the "Exploring Christianity" area.

    The "unforgivable sin" comes up a lot, but the general consensus is that nobody who's worried about it has done it.

    Well, yes, it is hard to get into heaven. So hard that it can't be done without help from God.

    Fortunately, that help is available.

    Many people recommend Evidence That Demands a Verdict.

    https://www.amazon.com/New-Evidence-That-Demands-Verdict/dp/0785242198
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2019
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  5. St_Worm2

    St_Worm2 Senior Member Supporter

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    Hi Saramae, the unpardonable sin involves a very specific kind of blasphemy against God the Holy Spirit (not a blasphemy against the Father or the Son), and it can only be done by someone with a heart so hard that they are 1. fully aware and fully understand that they are lying and 2. they don't care that they are. Worry that they may have committed this sin would never cross their minds, so there is no need for you to worry because it seems clear from what you've written that you have not sinned in this way.

    And as both Mark 3:28 and Matthew 12:31 state: "all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter...", except the one mentioned in the following verse.
    That is a great observation on your part :oldthumbsup: The "bad news" is this, that getting to go to Heaven in the next life requires that we be perfectly innocent and perfectly righteous throughout our entire lives here in this life, but no one has ever been able to do that.

    On the other hand, the "good news" (The "Gospel" as it is referred to in the Bible) is that God made a way for us to get to Him in spite of ourselves. He sent His Son here as our Savior, to do for us what we are unable to do for ourselves (be completely innocent of sin and lead a perfectly righteous life before God), and to save us from the penalty of our sins (which is everlasting death/separation from God in Hell), by dying in our places on the Cross. By this Jesus atoned for/paid the price for our sins, satisfied the wrath of His Father against us, and reconciled us to Him :amen:

    Romans 5
    8 God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
    9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.
    10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

    2 Corinthians 5
    21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

    So we are, as the Bible says, "saved by God's grace", and that on the basis or merit of the works and deeds of Someone else (IOW, of His one and only Son, Jesus). Our part in this is simply to have "faith" and believe in these works of Jesus', and to take God at His word, trusting that He is both able to and willing to save us on this basis alone (IOW, on the merits of His Son's works alone and not on the basis/merit of anything that we do ourselves), just like He told us He would do.

    I've gotta run, but I hope to be back a bit later as there was more that I wanted to say.

    Yours and His,
    David

    Romans 10
    9 If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;
    10 for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
    .
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2019
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  6. Radagast

    Radagast has left CF Supporter

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    Rough timeline of early Christianity:

    27 BC: Augustus becomes Emperor
    A few years BC: Jesus is born (yes, somebody messed up the dating system)
    14 AD: Tiberius becomes Emperor
    28-29: John the Baptist beheaded (Mark 6:14-27, see also the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus: "Now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod's army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the Baptist: for Herod slew him, who was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God" -- Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18, Chapter 5, Paragraph 2)
    Around 30 AD: Jesus is crucified & resurrected (on the Crucifixion, see the Roman historian Tacitus: "... a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular." -- Annals, Book 15, Chapter 44)
    37: Pontius Pilate is recalled to Rome (see Flavius Josephus: "the Samaritan senate sent an embassy to Vitellius, a man that had been consul, and who was now president of Syria, and accused Pilate of the murder of those that were killed; for that they did not go to Tirathaba in order to revolt from the Romans, but to escape the violence of Pilate. So Vitellius sent Marcellus, a friend of his, to take care of the affairs of Judea, and ordered Pilate to go to Rome, to answer before the emperor to the accusations of the Jews. So Pilate, when he had tarried ten years in Judea, made haste to Rome, and this in obedience to the orders of Vitellius, which he durst not contradict; but before he could get to Rome Tiberius was dead." -- Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18, Chapter 4, Paragraph 2)
    37: Caligula becomes Emperor
    41: Claudius becomes Emperor
    44: James the brother of John is killed by Herod Agrippa (Acts of the Apostles 12:2)
    Around 47: Paul makes his first missionary journey (see the Acts of the Apostles, for which there is archaeological evidence)
    49: Claudius expels the Jews from Rome (see Acts of the Apostles 18:2 and the Roman historian Suetonius's Life of Claudius)
    51-52: Paul appears before the proconsul Gallio in Corinth (Acts of the Apostles 18 -- Roman records indicate that Gallio was proconsul at this time)
    Early 50s: Paul begins writing the letters (epistles) that bear his name
    54: Nero becomes Emperor
    57: Paul is arrested in Jerusalem and imprisoned by Felix, later to be sent to Rome by Festus (Acts of the Apostles 23)
    Early 60s: Luke writes the gospel that bears his name, and the sequel, the Acts of the Apostles. He uses the gospel of Mark, which already exists, plus other documents which are now lost. The likely date of writing is the time that the action stops (with Paul alive and in Rome)
    62: James, the half-brother of Jesus, is killed ("And now Caesar, upon hearing the death of Festus, sent Albinus into Judea, as procurator. But the king deprived Joseph of the high priesthood, and bestowed the succession to that dignity on the son of Ananus... Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned" -- Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book 20, Chapter 9, Paragraph 1)
    64: Nero launches a campaign of persecution against Christians ("... covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired." -- Tacitus, Annals, Book 15, Chapter 44; see also the Roman historian Suetonius's Life of Nero)
    64-67: Paul is killed by Nero
    68-9: Galba, Otho, and Vitellius briefly become Emperor
    69: Vespasian becomes Emperor
    70: Romans crush a Jewish revolt and destroy the temple in Jerusalem, as foreseen by Jesus (Mark 13:2)
    79: Titus becomes Emperor
    81: Domitian becomes Emperor and renews persecution of Christians
    85-95: Revelation written (the last New Testament book to be written). Some people believe that Revelation makes reference to Domitian.
    96: Nerva becomes Emperor and frees people exiled by Domitian
    Around 98: the Apostle John dies
    107: Ignatius, Christian bishop of Antioch, is sent to Rome to be executed. He writes letters that still exist, quoting Paul's epistles (note: the "short forms" of these letters are considered genuine, the "long forms" not)
    Around 140: Rylands Papyrus P52, the first fragment of a copy of John's gospel (parts of John 18:31-33 and John 18:37-38, from a two-sided book page rather than a scroll). See Rylands Library Papyrus P52 - Wikipedia
    150-350: other New Testament manuscripts, including complete books
    Around 350: Codex Sinaiticus, the first complete copy of the Bible. See Codex Sinaiticus - Home

    [​IMG]
    An inscription by Pontius Pilate (because of damage it says "...US PILATUS") dedicated to Tiberius, found in Caesarea. See Pilate stone - Wikipedia

    [​IMG]
    An inscription from the middle of the 1st century at Corinth, by Erastus, the aedile (aed), probably the same man as in Romans 16:23. See The Erastus Inscription
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2019
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  7. ldonjohn

    ldonjohn Active Member

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    Saramae,

    Hi, Saramae, I am a believer who had many doubts and who was very much confused about many things I had read & heard about the bible before I became a true believer in Jesus. I don't think I can help you understand the bible, but I think I can give you some suggestions that might help in your search for the truth, and you won't find the truth if you don't search for it.

    First, I want to point out that the bible was written under the influence of the Holy Spirit and He is the one who can and will help you understand it, the bible. Here is a bible verse that says that - 1 Corinthians 2:14 “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly, foolishness, to him; and he cannot know them because they are spiritually discerned.”(KJV)
    The Holy Spirit will help you understand scripture as you seek after God and after the truth found in His Word, the Bible. The following bible verse is a promise to anyone is earnestly seek after God.

    Jeremiah 29:13, “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”(KJV) says that if you earnestly search after God you will find Him.

    I know from my experience in reading the bible that there can be many instances where the bible seems to contradict itself, but I have found that the bible actually explains itself. Even as a believer I still find things in the bible that I don't understand, but I don't fret over it. An example of something I don't fully understand is the Trinity; the teaching that God is three persons and still One God. Although I don't understand it I do accept it.

    Saramae, there is one central theme in the bible that I do understand, and it is the one that is the most important for all of us. That central message is called the Gospel, and it tells us how we can go to heaven.

    You said in your post that you think going to heaven seems impossible because of all the things you have been told you are supposed to do. Before I became a "believer" I had a similar attitude because of all the things I had heard preachers say about being "saved." I could write a very lengthy post about all of that, but I am going to try to keep this from being too long so I'll skip some things.

    You said you think you have committed the unforgivable sin because you spoke out against God. Well, no, you have not done that by speaking out against God. The following scripture tells us that there is ONE sin that will send us to hell.
    John 8:24, “Jesus said, therefore I said unto you, ye shall die in your sins, for if ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins.” That is the sin of unbelief, and that is the sin Jesus is talking about here. The ONLY sin that will send anyone to hell is the sin of unbelief. John 3:16 and many other scripture that tell us that we must repent and believe in Jesus, and receive Him into our life so that we can have the forgiveness of sin and eternal life with Him in heaven. When we “believe in Him” we receive the pardon from the sin debt we owed God that Jesus purchased for us with His blood He shed on the cross. That is the message of the bible; the Gospel message of the cross, and it is not confusing, nor is it complicated.

    May I suggest that you read the Gospel of John. It explains who Jesus is and how to become a believer in Him. That is where I found Him, and I really thought that finding Him & believing in Him was something that was impossible for me to do. As you read there ask God to show you the truth; ask Him even if you aren't sure He is real. That is what I did and I had no idea of how my life was about to change in a very short period of time.

    Hey, I have to stop now since this is already more than I intended write. If you are interested in hearing more about how God brought me out of the darkness of my unbelief into the light of His Word let me know.
    John
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2019
  8. 2PhiloVoid

    2PhiloVoid That figures! This isn't going to be easy! Supporter

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    I really don't have anything to add to what I said over a year ago when you first posted..............

    I never thought I'd be posting something like this, but...
     
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  9. Saramae

    Saramae New Member

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    One thing I don't understand about all of that...if God is all knowing, all powerful, and loving, then why would he need to do all of that stuff with having his son come to Earth to be completely innocent of sin, live a righteous life, and save us from the penalty of our sins? Why couldn't he just make it so if we believed in him and generally tried to live a good life, he could just read our hearts and let us in if were genuine?

    Also, what about all the people that lived and died before Christ? If it was impossible to get into Heaven without being perfectly righteous and innocent, then did they go to Hell and God just sent his son to fix what had been happening? And if they did go to Hell, did he at least give them a chance to redeem themselves? It doesn't seem fair if he's forgiving to make them be tortured for all eternity with zero hope of ever repenting...
     
  10. Radagast

    Radagast has left CF Supporter

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    That's a big question. I'd recommend reading the book Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis for an answer (and for an overview of what Christianity is about).

    As with people after Christ, some of them are saved. Christians have different answers about how that worked (different answers because the Bible doesn't really go into details).
     
  11. John Bowen

    John Bowen Active Member Supporter

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  12. Southernscotty

    Southernscotty Well-Known Member Supporter Angels Team

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    Hello friend and welcome to CF, You have some good info above so I will just say that I am praying that God will open your spiritual eyes and ears to understanding.
    Please take no man's word alone and always check everything with the Word of God.

    Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
     
  13. St_Worm2

    St_Worm2 Senior Member Supporter

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    Hi Saramae, that's a question that we've all asked at one time or another, but let me say this at the outset, if there was a "plan B" available to Him, I have no doubt that the Father would have chosen it, because He knew exactly what sending His Son here (the Person He loves above all others in the universe) was going to mean for Him, all that He was going to have to go through* to save us.

    As for some of the rest, "believing" (or acknowledging) that God exists and that He is, in fact, the only God, doesn't save anyone. After all, Satan and his demons do that much .. and more (since they not only believe that He exists and that He alone is God, they also "shudder" whenever they do .. James 2:19 which, if you think about it, is more than many human do).

    There are three nouns in the Bible that describe God, "Spirit, Light, and Love" (the rest are adjectives) so when the Bible tells us that "God is love", it is no small matter. That said, the fact that He is love does not negate the fact that He is also "just", "holy" and "righteous", which is a certainly a big part of the reason why He cannot simply choose to forgive us willy-nilly.

    As for saving us based upon who we are as individuals alone, the problem there is the fact that He can and does "read our hearts", so He knows w/o a doubt that we all fall short .. Romans 3:10-12, 23 (a fact that we too are well-aware of and agree wholeheartedly with, seeing that the most common saying we have among us is, "nobody's perfect"). When we say that someone is "good", we are only able to say that because we use a lower (or the lowest) common denominator as a comparison when we do. Many look pretty good in our eyes when we use Hitler as our comparison point, but none do when God is the One in view, and He's the One we need to be like (if we ever hope to stand in His presence), not simply a notch or two or three up from Hitler.

    Yours and His,
    David
    p.s. - just FYI, here is one of the many Messianic prophesies (concerning Jesus) from the Old Testament.

    Isaiah 53*
    5 He was pierced through for our transgressions,
    He was crushed for our iniquities;
    The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
    And by His scourging we are healed.
    6 All of us like sheep have gone astray,
    Each of us has turned to his own way;
    But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all
    To fall on Him.
    .
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2019
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  14. St_Worm2

    St_Worm2 Senior Member Supporter

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    Hi again Saramae, the Bible indicates that all who are saved, both before and after the time of Messiah, were saved by God's mercy and grace through faith in what He 1. was going to do or 2. what He did. IOW, those who lived before the time of Jesus looked forward in faith to His day, just like we now look back in faith to all that He did to save us. However, as @Radagast has already pointed out for us, some of the details about how those who predate Christ are saved are a bit sketchy (because the information that we have in regard to this is limited, nevertheless, God has told us all that we need to know, and more, to be saved).

    You might enjoy reading this short passage, Luke 16:19-31, because it's here that Jesus gives us an insider's look (if you will) at what the afterlife was like for people before His Resurrection, for both OT "saints" (those who will be saved), and OT "reprobates" (those who will be condemned).

    As for being given a "chance" to repent and to be saved, that's what 'this' life is for, and it won't be offered again apparently .. cf Hebrews 9:27. As the Bible tells us, in both the OT and the New, "Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart" as the Israelites did in the rebellion, as those who will never "enter His rest" because of unbelief .. e.g. Psalm 95:7-11; Hebrews 3:15-19 cf Mark 16:16; John 3:18.

    Yours and His,
    David

    John 3
    16 God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.
    .
     
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  15. JesusYeshuaisLord

    JesusYeshuaisLord Member

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    It's awesome that you started reading the bible!

    This, the best I've heard recently: His Name is Jesus - Dallas Northway

    The unforgivable sin: in the chapter Jesus is talking to the Pharisees who were the people who studied scrupulously the scriptures but despite that, they failed to recognise Jesus and worship him as Lord and they went even further, they called Jesus' works (which were the works of the Holy Spirit) as works of Beelzebub (Satan). Jesus explained again and again who he was, he used scriptures they knew full well. They had all the knowledge to know and recognise the Messiah but they rejected him anyway, they could not even admit that he was from God. They had the full revelation of the Kingdom of God in front of their eyes but still wouldn't accept him. The Kingdom of God is Jesus.

    Getting into Heaven: IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO GET TO HEAVEN!!
    For every human being that is: Ecclesiastes 7:20/ Romans 3:10
    However, with God everything is possible: Luke 18:26-27

    RC Sproul None Righteous by R.C. Sproul was the best teacher I've ever come across if you love the intellectual stuff!
    John Piper www.desiringgod.com is also so clear on his sermons of the bible. Brutally honest and an absolute joy to listen to. These are the two people that I trust 100% in their explanation of Bible texts.

    God bless you with His Holy Spirit so you might know Him and that you may be changed and bless forever for His Glory, Amen!
     
  16. Saramae

    Saramae New Member

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    I guess I am just having a hard time reconciling a loving, forgiving God with one who would just cast us away because we didn't believe and never give us another chance, ever, no matter how much we repented.

    I mean, despite being an atheist, I believe that it is logical to follow the Golden Rule (which happens to be very similar to what Jesus said was the second greatest commandment, I noticed when reading today). You don't do to other people what you would not want done to you, because you know you do not want others to inflict pain and suffering on you, so you don't do anything to them either, which keeps the peace...

    And generally, if you just look at the 10 commandments, except the ones dealing directly with God, I have no trouble following any of them and have in my life. I generally try to be a decent person to others and to be patient, empathetic, and compassionate. I'm obviously far from perfect and I occasionally slip up and get angry and say something I don't mean, but overall I think I am not a bad person. It hurts me to think that God could see that I earnestly did not see enough evidence to believe in him but otherwise lived a good life and just be like, "Too bad; you get to go to Hell forever with no chance whatsoever to redeem yourself, ever."

    I would really like to believe in God and I hope reading the Bible helps me. But I can't give lip service to something I do not truly feel in my heart. It is clear God did not want that either, which I noticed when I read Matthew 21:28-32. He would rather have me stray from him (as I did when I decided I was an atheist about 14 or so years ago) and then come back to him than for me to just say I believe in him but not truly feel it in my heart. So I guess I just have to wait and read for now and hope I figure it out before I die...

    Thank you for the resources; I will check out those links! I feel like perhaps it is human nature to doubt and our challenge to overcome that....it seems like all these people in the Bible doubted all the time, even with Jesus doing miracles and whatnot right in front of them. I'd like to think if someone proved to me in person that they could perform a miracle that I would believe, but....I guess if looked at from the context of modern times, most of us would think they were using tricks or technology to make it appear like a miracle.
     
  17. St_Worm2

    St_Worm2 Senior Member Supporter

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    When I became a Christian (at age 30, which is more than 32 years ago now), I left a very sinful life behind me. That, in fact, is the principle reason that Jesus came here, to save us from our sins .. and that, in the here and now, not just in the life to come. He also came to save us from His Father's wrath (which does concern the age to come), so receiving a "get out of Hell for free pass" from Him is really just a part of the salvation, "bonus package" (I guess you might say).

    That said, if your sins and resulting guilt become too much for you to bear, like mine did for me when I was 30, Jesus is the answer to your problem. Jesus came here to pay the price for our sins so that we can come to know Him and be forgiven by Him, so that the weight of the world (that we feel pressing down upon us from the guilt of our sins) can finally be lifted off of us (knowing from the very moment we truly believe that our "Enemy" and "Judge" has become our "Savior" instead :amen:).

    The only truly important thing to know and keep in mind is this, God (the Father) sent His Son here to die for us on the Cross to save us .. simply because He loves us (because none of us "deserve" to be saved). What seems to be the most important thing to you right now is that God needs to fit into a particular kind of mold before you'll have anything to do with Him. However, when you are longing/ready to be forgiven, and freed from your sins/sinful lifestyle, Jesus is here for you :)

    Yours and His,
    David
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2019
  18. St_Worm2

    St_Worm2 Senior Member Supporter

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    Hi again Saramae, I know that's how it seems to you (and trust me, I get it), but if you think about it, God has already given all of us two chances, 1. to obey Him .. like we were always supposed to do, and then 2. (when we all chose to be disobedient instead) He sent His Son to be obedient for us, and to die in our stead so that we could be forgiven. So He casts us away first because we don't obey, and then secondly when we steadfastly refuse the free offer of salvation that He gives us in His Son.

    BTW, the fact that we need to "repent" means that we've done something that needs to be repented of (obviously), and therefore forgiven, but outside of Christ and all that He did for us, there is no basis for that, for God to forgive us, that is. So if we die in our sins (apart from the forgiveness that can only be found in Christ), then we will end up being separated from God forever in the next life. That's what Jesus came here to try and prevent. IOW, He came to die for us so that He wouldn't have to live out the rest of eternity w/o us, and so that we wouldn't have to live out the rest of eternity w/o Him :)

    The author of Hebrews made this chilling statement to a group of Jews (I will call them "almost Christians") who attended church in the 1st Century, but the truth is still applicable to us today, of course:

    Hebrews 10
    26 If we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,
    27 but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES.

    The "sin" of these particular 1st Century Jews was their steadfast rejection of the Savior after receiving & truly coming to understand who He is. So instead of receiving Him as their Savior, and trusting Him and surrendering their lives to Him as their Lord, they chose to return to trying to be 'good enough' in the eyes of God again by keeping the Law (keeping Torah), which is not possible. As God told us through the pen of St. Paul,

    Galatians 3
    21 If a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law.
    22 But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
    Just FYI, that's the world's version of the Golden Rule (from which there is certainly great wisdom to be gleaned), but the actual Golden Rule, the one that God laid down for us in the Bible, sets a considerably higher standard for us to follow. It tells us, as Christians, that to fulfill the OT laws, we always need to treat others in the very same way that we hope they'd choose to treat us .. no matter how badly they have treated us in the past or how badly they are treating us in the moment.
    I understand what you are saying, of course, because I remember what life was like and how I thought before I became a Christian. In fact, before I became a Christian, I remember doing things like accidentally listening to Christian radio from time to time as I was driving along and hearing them say that I needed to be saved .. but all I could think was, "saved from what" ^_^

    It's wonderful that you've chosen to be a model & caring citizen, but getting to Heaven requires much more than that. In fact, it really has nothing to do with our innate, worldly goodness and who we are in comparison to others, but it does have ~everything~ to do with Him and 'His' innate goodness/earned righteousness, IOW who He is and what He did for us. The fact is, if any of us could make it from here to Heaven on the basis of our own merits, then the Father wouldn't have sent His Son here to die that horrible death on the Cross for us! This, in fact, is a big part of what St. Paul was getting at earlier in Galatians when he said,

    Galatians 2
    21 If righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.

    Again, you can't look at the lowest common denominator here on earth as a means of properly judging yourself to be good enough to stand in the presence of our holy and righteous God, you have to look at His goodness, and His righteousness, and His holiness instead, and compare yourself to that.
    You are correct, it does seem clear that God is interested in something more than a simple mental ascent to the truth, and/or a faith in Him that isn't even as great as the demons possess.

    I don't know if this would be useful to you or not, but a very outspoken 'former' atheist named Lee Strobel, who happened to be an investigative journalist for the Chicago Tribune at the time (if memory serves), wrote a book about his life and his attempts to finally prove, once and for all, that atheism is correct and Christianity is not (this became his principle concern in life when his wife, who was just as much of an atheist as he was, became a Christian one day). Lee's book is called, The Case for Christ, and it's available in book form, in Kindle, and now as a movie (which you can rent in video format, or buy as a Blu Ray and digital video combined from Amazon).

    Hopefully what I eventually discovered about Christ, and what Lee and his wife discovered as well, will be the same thing that you will eventually discover about Him :) To that end I will hope and pray for you. Just keep searching the Bible and asking Him to reveal Himself to you.

    I will continue to try to answer any other questions that you have for me (as I'm sure that many others around here will continue to do as well).

    Yours and His,
    David
    p.s. - very sorry about the essay-length reply to you. I should have broken it up into 2-3 posts instead!
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2019
  19. Saramae

    Saramae New Member

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    If we were always supposed to be obedient from the first place but were not able to do so then did God not foresee that this would happen? The way I see it, if he did not foresee human inability to do what he had asked in the first place, that would make him not all powerful and all knowing. If he did know and still chose to do it the first way initially but then later decided we could have his son so we could be saved, then he can’t be all loving/merciful, since there were people before Jesus that wouldn’t have been able to be saved.

    And if they were able to be saved, then it wasn’t necessary to send his son here in the first place. So either everyone before Jesus went to hell and God decided to send his son to save the rest of us (in which case, he lacks foresight), or he was able to save them (by going to heaven), in which case sending his son here was either just symbolic or perhaps as a way to help lead people back to the correct path (by giving them more proof of his existence), but not required for heaven.

    I’ve been trying to work this out for myself, but I feel like it just does not make sense at all.

    As far as Case for Christ goes, a lot of people who review the book said that the author pretty much just interviewed religious experts and not skeptics, and skewed the argument heavily towards religion without giving skepticism a fair chance. I may read it still, but I also would like to see the other side presented fairly.

    Thanks for all of your help, by the way!
     
  20. John 1720

    John 1720 Harvest Worker Supporter

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    • I simply have no righteousness of my own, but all my righteousness is in Christ who gave His all on my behalf.
    Dear SaraMae,
    These are probing and good questions you have, but perhaps those questions need to go just a bit deeper in order to gain perspective. If we do that, I think you may begin to discover God has given us all the answers that you'll ever need in His Word already.
    I'd start with the question, 'Why were you and I created?'
    I'd say it is because God is a Loving and Good Creator who desires His own goodness and love to permeate His Universe. He has from the very beginning desired to share Creation with us as the expression of His own Heart. His Word says that He created humankind to be like Him; we are made in His own image - and made to rule over all of it with the love and kindness He has. He endowed this to man by grace. We did not deserve it or earn that right - it was by Grace

    Look at Creation first whether the heaven above or the earth below or the abundance of life that permeates it and we see everything He made was good. The Bible echoes that:

    It was good but He made us "very good" for Creation culminated in God's sixth Day with us and then on God's 7th Day He rested His creation in us.
    • Genesis 1:27-31 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth." And God said, "See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food"; and it was so.
    God's intent was for us to be the caretakers of creation. This was all freely given for we are but formed from dust, just as the earth is, yet with the mind and ability to love our Creator as well as His creation. You might say we were blessed to be a blessing.
    • Mark 2:27-28 And He (Jesus) said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath."
    So, in the Garden, we had both union or fellowship with God, as well as union and fellowship with nature. Furthermore, being made in His image, means we had access to the Divinity by His 1. Love, 2. intelligence and 3. free will. The 3rd gave us the ability to rebel against the 1st even though the 2nd informed us that going against God's Law would sever that unity of Love. However freedom is inseparable from Love since it you cannot have love without free will - Love is simply not coerced but freely given.
    So the Word states that we chose our own fall and the evidence for that remains with us to this day; since men and women have continued to allow themselves to be led into corruption throughout the course of human history.
    There is one thing about love though that we never knew before the fall. Love will forgive you, Love will die for you and Love does restore you unconditionally. The apostle John teaches us

    • 1John 4:8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
    This the what the Greeks called AGAPE in this form of LOVE - This is the Divine Love and highest form of selfless unconditional love.

    You see, in the Garden, we were not in full possession of that proverbial tree of the knowledge of good and evil before our fall. Though God rested His works in us on the 7th day - that Sabbath Day belongs to Jesus, who is Lord of the Sabbath Rest. Yes, after the Fall we managed to immerse ourselves in so many things that run utterly contrary to our pure and loving God. We have been about the business of distorting His image in us almost beyond recognition. And even though we have fallen so far in our depravity, does not the 6 o'clock news hour sicken us when we see the disturbing images of man inhumanity towards men, women and children? We can be outraged by the things we hear and see and demanding that justice must prevail. Yet at the same time it seems to sell, indicating we like to hear it at some level. Hollywood markets that appetite and even seems to glorify the violence, greed, drugs, sex. It certainly does that more than it celebrates love, compassion, and kindness. The box office proves they only feed our demand. We do, however, all want justice to prevail in some sense. I did prison ministry for years and I can tell you that even murderers have a sense of justice. There are lines criminals can't cross without the danger of inmate retribution. We even understood this sense of justice before the Fall when we read the passage about their hiding from God. They hid in fear knowing they were no longer innocent and pure, but justly condemned expecting and awaiting judgment and not yet aware of the mercy of God.
    But God did have mercy and He made a way to redeem us while not compromising His justice and He did so by giving us His Son through the mercy of the cross. What Adam did in the fall, Christ not only undid and restored by the cross but He did much more. He completed the knowledge of Good and showed us that the goodness of God is the mercy of God and that ultimately Good in its fullness triumphs over evil. Jesus willingly took our sin upon Himself on that cross. This was done because He and the Father loved us. I like to say that on the cross justice and mercy kissed; for the penalty for sin was paid in full and the mercy of God burst forth in the glorious light of His resurrection as proof. The apostles were witnesses to the firstfruits of this astounding gift of humanity's regeneration through Christ. Thus we have in addition gained the full knowledge of God's Goodness through the Cross of His Son. We are dear to Christ who says whatever you do to the least of those that belong to me you do it to me. We are His and we are His for everlasting.

    One may ask how? The Bible teaches us:

    • 2 Corinthians 5:20-21 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
    We are no longer subject to live in the fallen state of Adam but have been offered by God and enabled by Him to live in the risen state of Christ, who said He is with us to the end of the age. He abides in everyone reborn by His Spirit. Everyone who believes and trusts in His Salvation is offered the gift of His Holy Spirit. He has commanded that we go into all the world and that it may be offered even to the ends of the earth and so we continue to do so; even to the end of the age. It is to be offered even to the worst sinners of us all and given without regard to the degree we have been overcome by our own sins. This then is a greater love than we knew back in the garden at the beginning of our journey. Christ then shows us the fullness of God's Love by the unfathomable mercies of God; for all of us lost in that awful fall that has handicapped the entire human race.

    When I was in the service we greatly respected the guys we knew who put themselves in harms way for their brothers. I came to the Lord by hearing my Chaplain compare the cross of Christ to a guy who covered a grenade to save his friends. No greater love hath a man than he lay his life down for his friends. That goes beyond tenacious love that will go the distance for his brother - that a love for friends that gives everything. The Chaplain truly put the cross of Christ into perspective for me. He explained God's love further by saying that Christ become the Lamb of God who took our sin upon Himself. I got it - L-O-V-E and I was running from God's love until that moment - it tore my heart open and I became His. Suddenly I understood Jesus' cry of 'Father, Father why hast Thou foraken me ' Jesus drank in all the dregs of that cup of justice for a sinner like me? He did this for me and wants to live in me when I had done nothing for Him except to use His Name as a byword? But, you see that is the love of God. None of us deserve it but there's no door He won't kick down coming after me for He has come to save all who call on His Name. The Spirit is ours for the asking for Jesus Himself has proclaimed this and He will live in you as well if you let Him tear down those walls that have held off that ocean of Love and mercy waiting for you. There just is no substitute for Christ in us.

    • Luke 11:13 “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
    • John 3:5 Jesus answered Nicodemus, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
    • Ephesians 2:8-10 For 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. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
    • 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.


    Galatians 6:14-15 But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2019
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