This is why I am not 'religious'.
I do not worship God under any church denomination, attend any church building, do an A-Z in order of service on a Sunday... you get the picture.
What God wants with every one of us is a deeply personal relationship, one-on-one, without anything in the way. And that includes religion.
What strikes me when I hit the streets trying to explain this simple message of the gospel is how confused most people are about this. Here are some examples of what folks say. See if you would say something similar:
- I am a good person so I will probably go to heaven when I die
- The universe is chaotic, there is no God
- I'm already a Christian (sort of) / Buddist / Muslim / JW / tree hugger etc
- Hell's gonna be one big party - bring it on!
Most people say the first one, believing that there is 'something' after death but not really knowing (or really wanting to know) for sure. This would seemingly be a fairly innocuous answer, neither here or there, kind of sitting on the fence, non offensive, non agressive. And there's the problem. There is no fence to sit on!
This is what God says (not me - check it for yourselves).
We are ALL sinners. The penalty for being a sinner (and therefore at emnity with God) is death - not just the inevitable physical death that everyone experiences, but the death of the soul in a place called hell.
This poses a distinct problem doesn't it? If we are all sinners (which we are and most honest people freely admit this) then we all have a major problem on our hands, like a ticking time-bomb on a countdown to an incomprehensible and eternal horror. That's the bad news.
Here's the good news - actually almost too good to be true news. Your sin debt and my sin debt has already been dealt with, paid in full by God Himself, on the cross. Jesus Christ has paid for us as a gift of total and complete love so we won't have to go to hell.
So why are some people (sadly most people) still going to hell? The answer is painfully simple to anyone who has attempted to evangelise the gospel of Christ and explain this simple message - the reason is pride.
Pride, or to put it another way, self-righteousness, is in my experience, the no.1 barrier to people accepting God's free gift of salvation. Many believe that they don't or have ever sinned, or that even if they are guilty of sin they are good enough on their own merits, relying on their good deeds or works getting them though and into heaven. If that is what you truly believe then read on.
If you turn up at God's doorstep with a handful of good deeds as an entrance fee into the Kingdom of Heaven, He will look down at your works you have proudly fanned out like a deck of cards and what 'He' will see before Him is your hands full of 'filthy rags' which is to say (from the Hebrew translation for) used sanitary towels - to God, your good works are nothing more than used tampons. Nice.
You cannot 'earn' you way into heaven, that is impossible. There are NO good people in God's view. All are sinners and fall well short of His perfection - the minimum entrance requirement into heaven.
So what can I do to achieve that, you say?
Nothing. You and I can do nothing to be as righteous as God, how can we?. But what we can do, and what He wants us to do (because He dearly wants to be with us and give us all the blessings He can - which will be huge and unlimited) is to come to him just as we are - as a sinner. Christ died for SINNERS!
We approach God with a humble, repentant heart, contrite in spirit (not full of ourselves and challenging Him). We ask Him for forgiveness and willingly accept the gift of His Son Jesus Christ, acknowledging Him as God in the flesh, that He has paid for us in full and washed us clean by the shedding of His blood. By making Jesus Christ our 'personal' saviour, our sins have been dealt with once and for all. Jesus does not have to be re-crucified again when we inevitably screw up.
I'm not being big-headed here when I clearly state that, when I die, I will be in heaven - guaranteed. That is God's promise to me, to you. My sins died on that cross and were buried with Jesus Christ. When Jesus rose again on the third day, I rose with Him (so being born again in Spirit). It has absolutely NOTHING to do with me being a good person, as anyone who knows me will tell you, I'm not a good person. I'm getting better though, day-by-day. Being sanctified is a process through faith, but any 'good works' (deeds) done now are 'additional to' and not 'instead of' salvation.
Now what is difficult about that? No religion, no frills, no forms, rituals or works involved. Just faith in what Jesus Christ has done for each and every one of us.
Question is, will you humble yourself enough to accept His free gift of pure love or will you reject Him? Remember this - there is no fence to sit on!
I hope I see you all there. x