Posts Tagged ‘tracts’

Did you know that you make the bible say anything you want? One of the main problems that we see from the pulpit and from Christians in general is that we used eisegesis instead of exegesis. What do I mean? What many people do is start with THEIR thoughts and their views and then read that INTO scripture instead of starting with scripture and read OUT of it, not having any pre conceived thoughts or ideas and letting the scripture speak for itself, taking into account the historical context. A typical example of eisegesis is with Pastor Clarence McClendon in this clip at the 1:15 mark

Here he starts with a view of the prosperity gospel and then reads INTO 3 John 2 where it states that:

” Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.”

But you only need to go back one verse to see who he was talking to

The Elder,

To the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth:

John was not trying to make a doctrine about prosperity here. All he was doing was greeting Gaius. It would be the equivalent of us today writing a letter saying “I hope everything is going well with you”. That is all

However, if I told them that the White Camelia Knights of the Klu Klux Klan use the same process to justify doing what they do, I’m sure they would not agree. For example on their website which can be viewed here, they have started with their racist views and then use scriptures such as the below to justify their views

Exodus 33:16 “So shall we be separated: I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the Earth”

Leviticus 20:24 ” I am the Lord they God which have separated you from other people”

Now some may say that this is extreme but it really no different than what is preached Sunday after Sunday in many churches. It is so easy for us in the western world to imprint our western thoughts INTO scripture which is where many false doctrines begin.

Francis Chan explains the difference between eisegesis and exegesis below

I saw this video below which is mainly for those who are preaching sermons but the general princple here should be used by every Christian when interpreting the scriptures and I would encourage every Christian (not only preachers) to use these very useful tips and guidelines when studying the bible. It could put a lot of fasle teachers out of business.

So next time you hear your preacher talking of Blessings, Breakthroughs and Divine Favor and your destiny which seems to be the norm now, ask yourself, are they reading that stuff INTO the scripture or OUT of the scriptures?

One of the things that really frustrates me about Christians sometimes is that we sometimes believe that we above non-christians. We think that somehow that we are exempt from some of the troubles that life throws at us. Yes, we expect to ‘go through’ but there are some things that we don’t expect to go through because we are the ‘King’s kids’. And at one point early on in my Christian life, I used to think like that but then my check engine light came on. Things didnt ‘work’ as I was taught on the pulpit. I started to ask questions. I gave tithes but never saw blessings (in what I thought was blessing) happen to me that was any different to those who didn’t give. I saw those who didn’t give tithes who were getting ‘blessed’ above me. However, I looked at the scriptures and looked at the the life of the main person (apart from Jesus) in the New Testament and that was the apostle Paul. Did I see him being exempt from certain trials as a believer? On the contrary. This is what I saw in 2 Corinthians 11:

But whatever anyone else dares to boast of—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast of that. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they offspring of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?

30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 At Damascus, the governor under King Aretas was guarding the city of Damascus in order to seize me, 33 but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped his hands.

A gospel full of Blessings, Breakthroughs and Divine Favor, is not a gospel at all. If this is all you are hearing in your church, then I would say that you need to run from such teachings and don’t be blinded by false promises. You cannot plead the blood out of a situation. Life is life. Here are some issues that Christians sadly have had to go through in life

- Rick Warren’s son committing suicide
- Tedashii (the Christian rapper) losing his one year old son
- Marvin Sapp’s wife dies of cancer
- Rev David Wilkerson dies in car crash

Then Hebrews 11 goes on to talk about some who…

….were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.”

When we have a false view and expectations God and Christianity based on some of the rubbish that is perpetuated on many pulpits, when stuff happens, we have just set ourselves up for a fall.

So lets be real Christian and not give others this false impression. We will go through EXACTLY (and maybe more) problems than a non Christian but know we have Christ with us THROUGH the trial.

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Happy New Year readers. As you may have noticed, I haven’t really blogged a lot lately. Why I hear you say? In a word….LIFE. I have been doing a lot of learning and self examination in recent months as well as going through some stuff personally in my life….but God is still on the throne and I love him for being faithful to me even when I haven’t been faithful to him. So what have I learned last year? Here are a few things.

  1. First I have learned more about myself. The more I learn about God and closer I get to him, the more of my sin comes to light and I recognize how unworthy I am of God’s grace. Paul said he was the chiefest of sinners. I am forever in debt Christ for the sacrifice that he made to bridge the gap between me and God and to take the punishment for my sins. On the surface, everything may seem OK, but we all struggle with something in our lives which may not always been seen externally. This can sometimes be something as subtle as pride or self righteousness. Romans 7: 15-25 statesFor I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! 
  2. I have learnt that for some reason, Christians are afraid to question things and reluctant to ask questions that are not normally asked in Church. Many are satisfied to follow the crowd without checking things out for themselves. This can be questions such as is Tithing biblical, why do we have Armor Bearers or where in scripture do we see anyone pleading the blood? I thank God for my friends Elgin Bailey and the twins John and Jonathan Bolton on Real Talk Radio who are not afraid to address this issues and questions head on. Check out their shows here.
  3. More and more I am learning that the hardships of life is no respect of persons and just because you are a Christian does not give us any special pass. No matter how many times you try to ‘speak those things’ or ‘decree and declare‘, you will go through EXACTLY the same things that a non believer goes through. Whether that be sickness, financial difficulties, relationship problems and the like. The difference is as Christians, we are going through it WITH Christ and that gives us hope unlike unbelievers. Even though I have always known this, this year has bought it to the forefront in my life
  4. Life is like a vapor. As I get older, I know that I am just on the conveyor belt of life. I saw last year that the older generation are now beginning to drop off like flies. And not only them, but people who are not far away from my age are dying as well. James 4:13-14 says  “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” I have to make this life matter, not just for now on earth but for eternal. I know that I wont be here forever, so I want to leave an eternal legacy, especially in the life of my children.
  5. I have to make the most of the ‘windows’ in my children’s’ life. What do I mean? Well last year, my son turned 16, my daughter turned 20 and my step daughter also turned 16. There are many windows in your children’s life that you have to make the most of because that window of  opportunity will not last for ever. For example, when they were younger, we used to do a lot of things together. As I stated on my Dear Daddy post, this could be swimming, going to the park. going to the cinema etc. Now they are at that age where I am no longer the person to go out with because they have their own friends and its not cool to be out with Dad all the time. I cannot get those old windows back. It makes it even harder that I do not live with my biological kids but I am still determined to be there for them, no matter what.
  6. People go through some really hard things in life and sometimes, it can be so comfortable to live in the church/christian bubble without ever really engaging in the culture or the real world with real people who have real problems. I don’t want to be so involved in churchianity that Christ is in the background and is not relevant at all to the man on the street. I want Christ to be seen in me IN ALL of my daily life and that may mean sometimes doing stuff that traditionally ‘church folk’ don’t do. God is interested in the whole man.

These are just a few of the things that I learnt last year. I know that I will learn more this year in this school called LIFE. The question is, what will I do with these lessons?

If you put a human in a cage with a tiger, the chances are that person will get mauled to death. Why? Did the tiger do something wrong? No. It was just being a tiger and doing what it does by nature?

If you have a cat like I do, you know that cats love scratching things, hence why I have a scratching post. Even though it can be annoying sometimes, again, I cannot expect the cat not to scratch because it is only doing what it does by nature.

So what is the nature of the gospel? No matter how we like to dress it up sometimes, the nature of the gospel is offensive. Why is that?  Because it targets the sinful and proud heart of man. It tells them that they are not good and that without repentance from sin and faith towards God, they will remain dead in their sins and end up eventually in a lake of fire. That is not the kind of message that society wants to hear today because we are such a ‘ME’ society and its all about OUR rights and how dare anyone tell US how we should live OUR lives.

So does that mean we go around telling them to ‘turn or burn’. Not in so much words. Ephesians 4:15 instructs us to speak the truth IN LOVE. Our conversation should be seasoned with grace (Colossians 4:6) when we speak to others and even though there is bad news, for that individual, it can end with good news. In the post when it is OK to offend other believers without remorse, I mentioned this quote from Trip Lee

The Bible is clear about the fact that if we stand for truth, we will offend people. The crazy thing is that it doesn’t treat it like a possibility, it speaks of it as if it is a fact. And it goes as far as to say we will be hated!

In Matthew 10 the Lord Jesus says this:
“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues… you will be hated by all for my name’s sake.”

It is pretty rare in our country that we are flogged or injured for Jesus, but when we offend, we are indeed hated. Did you see why we he said that they would be hated though? For His name’s sake. We see that Peter refers to Jesus as “a stone of stumbling and a rock of OFFENSE.” The offense is the message of the Gospel, the truth of the Scriptures.

So then, this second category of offense isn’t wrong at all. It’s a result of preaching Jesus. This type of offense has nothing to do with the messenger, but has to do with the message. Some people are too abrasive, or condemning, or self righteous and they add offense to an already offensive message. This is what we must avoid. We are to lovingly present an offensive message to those who need to hear it. This includes Christians and non-Christians.

As a matter of fact, I have talked with some within the body who have been offended by me and my brothers hard stances on biblical truths. For some, we’ve hurt their feelings *[see below]*. And while I strive to speak with them lovingly and graciously, I am not apologetic. That is unless I’m shown that I’ve misunderstood what God said in His Word. I strive to proclaim truth boldly even if it offends man, because to shy back would be to offend God. That’s the other mistake we must avoid- not standing for truth in fear of offending others.

So in conclusion, when we preach the gospel, and even if we speak it in love and with grace, we should never be surprised if people are still offended by our message. That is the nature of the gospel. That is the nature of the cross.

I mentioned this in the ten things I don’t want to be as a Christian but last year I began to realise more and more about how God is interested in the whole man and not just one part as they are all related in one way or another. Let me give you an example of what I am talking about. If you feel stressed (the emotional side), it can cause you to have a stomach ulcer (the physical side). If you have a painful ulcer, it can affect your prayer life (the spiritual side). Lack of prayer may result in things not changing in your life which my stress you out, and the cycle carries on. Admittedly, that was a simplistic example but I hope you understand the point I am trying to make. God does not want you to only take care of your spiritual side but wants you to have a life more abundant in other areas as well. As I stated in the blog,

This may be going to the cinema, going to the park with the family, taking a holiday, going salsa dancing, going out to dinner with friends, going to a wine bar and the list goes on. If you haven’t got one, take up a hobby. I personally love roller skating. Just remember that  “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor 10:31)

balance-wheel

Some people think that doing the practical things above is not spiritual but all these things can enrich a person’s life. Just spending quality time with the children is practical but is part of a bigger puzzle when it comes to the quality of the child’s life and how it will shape them as they become an adult. Also it is those small things that will matter in the end. My friend tweeted

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”

There must be a balance in everything. If you have to miss church to spend some quality time with your spouse, don’t be made to feel guilty doing so. If you have to miss a prayer meeting because you are physically and/or emotionally drained. Take a rest and replenish yourself. Even God took a rest on the seventh day. If you have been working all the hours that God sends, take a vacation and refuel. Take care of yourself in EVERY way. Make sure you try to stay healthy and get regular exercise. That is the way God made the human body, to be mobile. Not for you to be a couch potato watching the Christian channels all the time

Don’t neglect one part. God is interested in the whole man and not just the ‘spiritual’ side.

1: I don’t want to follow the crowd

I have done this in the past and you can see a bit of my story in the About Me section on this blog. I have followed the crowd in the past and even though I did question a lot of stuff internally, externally I just did what everyone else did. However, as you may have guessed from some of my posts, those days are well and truly over. I have to be a Berean and make sure that everything I hear lines up to scripture. I refuse to swallow any spiritual junk that maybe fed to me, whether that be in the pulpit, or on the tv/radio by a popular preacher

2. I don’t want to bring just a bench warmer in church.

Jesus said that he did not come into this world to be served but to serve. Yet many of us as Christians do not want to serve in our local church at any point. The Bible says that the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. I have personally decided to be fully committed to just one ministry in my church as I would rather be effective in one ministry than ineffective in two or three. In many churches you find the few carrying the load of the many. If you are not involved in your local church, just think what could happen if every christian got involved (and was committed) to at least one ministry, sharing the burden. I understand that different churches will have different requirements e.g. a smaller church, but I hope you get the gist of what I am trying to say. I also understand that there are exceptions and circumstances which may be unavoidable but try to be a participator and not just a spectator

3. I don’t want to be a person who never tells other people about Jesus.

If you read my post about the fishless fishermen, you will understand where I am coming from. I dont want to just have a come to my church and see mentality. As much as I enjoy church, if I don’t periodically give someone the gospel in one form or another, I feel as if I’m being selfish in keeping this good news to myself. If I know how to be saved from Gods wrath, because of the price that Jesus paid on the cross for my sins, how can I not share this with others and tell them how they can be rescued as well? Jesus has commanded me to tell others. My christianity should not just stop with myself

4. I don’t want to be a success at church and/or work and a failure at home

God’s order has always been God > Family > Church/Work. If you change the order in any way, the order is messed up. I have witnessed many times people who have been burnt out by church. I am very fortunate to be part of a church that is VERY family orientated and puts a lot of emphasis on family and actively makes sure that we have a healthy rest from ministry if need be and that there is a balance. I am part of the music ministry in my church and one of the thing that my leader actively enforces is that we are not ministering all the time and that we take a break. In one of my previous churches, this was not the case and we were made to feel guilty if we were not ‘ministering’ every week, even at the expense of spending time with the family in the congregation. This only is not healthy but can actually have a negative affect on the person, even to the point where spiritual abuse may come into it. I particularly would like to leave a lasting spiritual legacy to my children. To see them live for Christ. Not because of me but because that is their own desire even though at present, they don’t wan’t to follow God 

5. I don’t want to be a Sunday Christian who just go through the motions

I’ve done that in the past and my Christianity became a burden instead of being joyous, even when serving as per number 2. I want to be passionate everyday of the week and see how my Christianity can be lived out and affect people directly or indirectly every day of the week, whether that be at home, at church, at work, on the street and just going to the shops

6. I don’t want to be self righteous

This does not mean that if I see wrong, that I refrain from pointing it out but at the same time, I must remember that people are at different stages in their Christian journey and may not be as mature as I am. When I was young in the faith, I did a lot of things in ignorance and learned a lot of things along the way, some through my mistakes, some through following incorrect doctrine. But I am where I am today because of the many up and downs of my journey and I’m sure in 10-20 years time, I will look back at today and still see some faults in my current thinking. I am constantly learning.

7.  I dont want to be a dumb Christian who doesn’t think

I have found that for some reason, some Christians don’t like to use their brains and think for themselves but just swallow everything that they hear. Some like to spiritualise everything and forget that we live in a physical world and God has given us a brain to use. We go to work and school and we use our brains and do things practically but when it comes to God stuff, we leave our brains at the door. Yes I understand that God doesn’t always do things according to logic but on the whole, we just need to use wisdom in a lot of things. This can be something as simple as choosing a school for your child or looking for a partner which I have mentioned in a previous post.

8. I don’t want to be a Christian who isn’t real

One of the things that we as Christians are very good at is putting on a mask, pretending that we don’t have personal struggles. We like to make people think that we have it all together. We don’t like to share our struggles. We are humans and we go through EXACTLY the same ups and downs of life like anyone else and are not exempt from it. We suffer tragedy and heartache. I have found that the people who helped me the most are those who can relate to me with what they are REALLY feeling and are not ‘faking it to make it’

Blessed by the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; 4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  5 For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. (2 Cor 1:3-5)

9. I don’t want to be unbalanced.

I will be writing a separate post about this but life is not all about church. 1 Tim 6:17 states that God has given us ALL things to enjoy. God has given us many things non-church related to enjoy. This may be going to the cinema, going to the park with the family, taking a holiday, going salsa dancing, going out to dinner with friends etc. If you haven’t got one, take up a hobby. I personally love roller skating. Just remember that  “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor 10:31)

10. I dont want to be a bad witness for Christ

I am always conscious that for some, my life will be the only ‘bible’ that they will read. What will they see on the pages? Will they see hypocrisy? Will they see a light shining bright or a light hidden. Will they see a reflection of Christ or will they see a fleshy Alan. I know that my life should NOT primarily be about me but should be about Christ. My favorite scripture is “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21)

What are the things that you don’t want?

Ten of my favorite blog posts on Real Christianity

Posted: October 31, 2012 in Christian Living, Evangelism, False Doctrine, False Teachers
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I cannot believe that I have been blogging for over five years beginning with How Important is Doctrine and as of today, have written 619 posts, this being my 620th. Every now and then, I go back to my old posts and re-read some of them, if not for anything else to re-encourage myself. So out of these 600+posts, below are ten of my favorite posts in no particular order and my reasons why. Just click on the titles to read the posts

1. The Marks of False ‘Christian’ teachers and teaching - OK, I am going to cheat on the first one as it was my first series (11 parts in total) called The Marks of False ‘Christian’ teachers and teaching starting with A Form of godliness. I saw so much foolishness in churches and on Christian TV and I knew that a lot of people were beginning to question a lot of things but were afraid to say anything. I just said what they were thinking. So I wrote the series and gave my reasons for doing it as I know a lot of people would think that I was just a heresy hunter. If you want to read the full series, just follow the links at the bottom of the posts

2. To tithe or not to tithe - Tithing was one of those things that kept me in bondage early on in my days and I know keeps many in bondage today. Many preachers use old testament scriptures like Malachi 3:8-12 to manipulate people into giving money and making them feel that they have robbed God if they don’t give their 10%.  That was until I searched the scriptures for myself only to find that the new testament principle of giving is proportional giving and giving out of what you have and not out of what you don’t have thus getting yourself into debt. It is also about a person giving what THEY purpose in their heart (2 Cor 9:7) . I wrote this to make it plain why Christians are not under any obligation to tithe anymore under the new covenant.

3. How do you know that you are saved (that you are a Christian)? - I really enjoyed writing this blog because it became very apparent to me that many people thought that they were Christians but they were actually self-deceived. This troubled me so I wanted to have some kind of ‘test’ whereby a person could measure up themselves to. Luckily the books of 1 and 2 John has such a test and has been one of my most popular posts that is found when people do searches, which tells me that a lot of people really do want to know if they are a Christian or not.

4. So you think that you’re a Christian. Power testimonies from former false converts - This ties in to number 3. When I heard these testimonies, I knew there were countless amount of people in this situation and I wanted to share it because I wanted others to see if they could see themselves in the mirror and if so, do something about it. The worse deception ever is to think that you are a Christian when, in fact, you are not

5. Spending Quality Time with God - This post always comes to haunt me because I know that this is something that I am constantly guilty of not doing but it is a constant reminder of where our priorities should be  

6. When your children don’t want to follow God – This post was and still is a very personal one to me. It hurts me to know that my children (so far) have decided to not follow Christ. I can only pray that God orchestrates the events in their life to point them to him.

7. Every Man’s Battle - I wrote this because it is a taboo subject amongst Christian men but can be a deadly poison if not dealt with….especially when it comes to the summer.

8. The Money Challenge - If anything, this is a shame on most of us as Christians about what motivates us to share the  gospel with others. I never want to be  Christian that as the gospel group, Commissioned, say in one of their songs that we “tend to find security in our salvation. We should constantly think about the lost”

9. Should we ever question what the man of God says – This post goes hand in hand with the post of Touch not the Lord’s anointed. Say goodbye to the untouchable preachers. The reason why I started this whole blogging stuff is because I questioned everything that I had previously heard and decided to go back to the basics of the gospel. You know, things like the cross, salvation, sin, repentance, faith, discipleship and NOT breakthroughs, blessings and divine favour which seems to be so prevalent in churches these days.

10. Christ is the only way, now you choose - I have posted many videos over the years but I love this video because it puts everything in perspective about what Christ has done and how he has provided a way out for those who have repented and put their trust in him

In a post a few years ago, I talked about using Facebook and Twitter for the glory of God and how I have been able to use it to tell my friends and family about Christ whereas previously, I would have been limited. I cannot save anyone and God has not given that responsibility to me. My responsibility is to tell people the message of the gospel and leave God to do the saving. The sad fact though is that the majority of my unbelieving friends and family will not respond to the call of Christ because they are on the broad road that Jesus talked about below

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)

Courtesy of Reclaiming the Mind, here is a letter to my unbelieving friends and family

Dear friend/family member,

This is written to those of you who I know and are without Christ. By that I mean you have never fallen on your face before Christ and asked for forgiveness. Many of you are friends —close friends—whom I have talked to about Christ, but you are unconvinced. I would love to be able to push a button, write a check, or perform a task that would make you believe as I do. However, the stark reality that I have to deal with is that many of you whom I love very dearly will die in this state. And, according to my deep convictions, you will not be in the presence of the Lord but in a place of terrible judgement.

Now, I know what you are thinking. Don’t quit reading though. Hear me out. I am not necessarily trying to evangelize you or make you love Jesus. I am trying to tell you how to prepare for hell. Just give me some slack here. Though what I am offering to you is still as far from heaven as the east is from the west, it may do some good. Though you do not believe in heaven or hell, you have to admit: you could be wrong. Yes, I admit, I could be wrong too. But if I am wrong, what awaits me? Eternal darkness?Nothingness? Fine and good. However, if you are wrong, something terrible is coming. I can’t prepare for nothingness. You can prepare for Hell. This is a “just in case you are wrong” letter.

You see, I believe that when we die, we will all present ourselves to God. Let’s put it this way for illustrative purposes. When life as we know it comes to a close, there will be two lines in heaven and two sets of book. One line will stand before Christ, one line will stand behind him. Christ will have two books: one which has the name of those who stand behind him written in it called “the Book of Life”. The other book is for those who stand in front of him called “the Book of Judgement”. In this book of judgement is written all the wrong things that those who have not trusted in him have done. Every selfish act, every sexual sin, every cutting word, and every time you failed to love your children. In short, every sin that you have ever left your fingerprint on will be represented. Your disbelief in God will find a prominent place as it is the reason the ink will have dried on the pages of this book.

If I am right, I will be in a line behind the judge, Jesus. I will have eraser residue all over me. You see, my name used to be written in the same book of judgement. My issues were just as bad as yours (if not much worse). I had many pages reserved in that book. However, there is an invitation given to everyone in the line of judgement. It says that God loves us and does not desire that we should stand in this line and be judged. It says that Christ took the judgement upon himself for all those who will accept it. It says that who ever wants to leave this line and stand behind Christ can do so. I got in the line behind Christ many years ago. Because of this, Christ took a blood stained eraser, turned to my pages in the book of judgement, and erased it all. He then wrote my name in the book of life with permanent ink. Look at me. I have more eraser pieces on me than anyone. But the point is, because of what Christ did and because I trusted in him, my sins are no longer in that book. Because you failed to believe that Christ is God’s eternal Son who died on a wooden cross for your sins, your sin remains in that terrible book. I elected to have Christ take my penalty; you elected to stay in the line of judgement and stand on your own. I elected to have Christ be judged in my place; you have said, “If it is true, I will make my case before the Lord and stand on my own.” Therefore, we are in different lines. While these lines become permanent upon death (i.e. the Bible does not present an after death chance to change lines), in some sense, we are in these lines right now.

However, since you are determined to remain in the line of judgement (which breaks the Lord’s heart and mine), I am trying to think of what I can do for you. I am scrambling here with tears in my eyes as your future is so bleak. Of course, if you reject Christ, there is nothing you can do to avoid the ultimate fate that awaits you: eternity away from God’s love, eternity in torment, eternity in hell. Hell is your decision; it is not the decision of God who loves you. However, I do believe that while hell will be unimaginably terrible for everyone, it will be less unimaginably terrible for some than for others.

In the Bible, Christ says as much. Comparing hell to being whipped, he said that some will receive ”many lashes” and some will receive “few” (Luke 12:47-48). Hell will always be eternal. Hell will always be outside of the grace and love of God. But for some it will be worse than for others. I would that you would just trust in the God who loves you and sent his Son to erase your part in the book. I would that your name was written in the “Book of Life” not the “Book of Death and Judgement”, but, again, I have to deal with the reality that you may never change your heart toward God.

For this reason, I want to give you some advice about how to make, what I believe to be, your terrible future, less terrible. Here is how to prepare for Hell:

1. First and foremost, whenever the Bible is being taught, run.

I know that this sounds kind of odd (especially coming from me), but it is true. If you are determined to remain an unbeliever until death, don’t go to church where the Bible is taught, don’t listen to the Bible on your iPod, don’t even pick up a Bible and thumb through it. Stay far away from that book.

Let me illustrate. The other day, I yelled from the living room to my daughter Katelynn to get to bed. Fifteen minutes later, she was still up. I became upset with her. I thought it was a deliberate act of disobedience. However, when I talked to her about it, she said that she did not hear me. Once I believed her, my anger went away. Why? Because she did not actually know that I told her to go to bed. Now, she was still in a little bit of trouble because she already knew what her bedtime was. But her trouble would have been more severe had she not only known what her bedtime was but heard what I said and still disobeyed. The point is the more you hear what I believe to be God’s word and disobey, the greater the offense.

Listen to what Christ says about this:

Luke 12:48 “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.”

2. Don’t try to persuade others, especially children, of your unbelief

Christ said some terrifying word to those who are evangelists of unbelief:

Mark 9:42 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea.”

3. Whatever causes you to sin, get rid of it

I think that this one will be the hardest of the three so far, but if you can do it, it is sound advice. If your television causes you to neglect your family, get rid of it. If your iPad is distracting you from productivity, throw it away. And (and this is going to sound crazy), if your eyes are causing you to lust (i.e. pornography?), cut them out. It is that serious.

Mark 9:43-48 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, 48 where ” ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’

This does not mean that if you do these things, your deeds will cover all the other things written in that book, but it does mean that you will have fewer pages in that book than you would otherwise.

4. Take care of your family

Don’t neglect to work hard and provide for them. Whether it is your parents, wife, husband, or children, take care of them with all your might. Love them dearly. Let me get real practical here. Some of you men are divorced and are failing to pay for the support of your wife and children. Don’t do that. Some of you have parents who are elderly and you are more concerned about the advancement of your career than caring for them. These type of things are written in bold in the book of judgement.

Listen to what Paul tells Timothy:

1Tim. 5:8 “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

5. Don’t give yourself too much credit

If you were in the same line as me, I would simply say “Give credit to God for every good thing”. But I cannot say that to you since you do not follow or believe in God. However (and I am doing the best I can here), you have to do whatever you can to remain humble. Pride will create a full chapter in most people’s section in the book of judgement. It causes your heart to be darkened in so many ways and leads to the sins of vanity, selfishness, and the devaluing of others. Even in your worldview without God, you can understand that you are not essentially better than anyone else can’t you? If you are an atheist, you are the way you are due to fate, not your own ingenuity or efforts. I would that you would give credit to God for all things, but I will have to settle for second—a far distant second—best: just don’t pat yourself on your back too much.

Paul sees the wrath of God as centered on people’s lack of thanksgiving to him.

Rom. 1:21 “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

Again, you cannot thank God, but you can keep from thanking yourself.

I have more to say . . . much more. But I fear that you may become overwhelmed. I may write more someday.

However, although I said that this was not written primarily to evangelize you, I must pass this invitation from God over to you once again. You do not have to stay in that line. As long as you are still breathing, you can join me over here behind Christ. You don’t have to pay anything, give anything, or do anything to join me. Just have to turn to Christ and ask him to erase your pages in that book. God is beckoning you to come.

Listen to this from John 3:18: “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

One more thing. The line illustration is not really original with me. John uses a similar theme in a book in the Bible called “Revelation”:

Rev 20:12 “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.”

I would that your name was written in the book of life.

We all make decisions everyday. However some decisions are more important than others and some have eternal consequences.

This could be the most important 1 minute and 16 seconds that you decide to watch.

O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? (1 Corinthians 15:55)