Monthly Archives: May 2015

Romans 6:1 – Grace, Extravagant Grace

Romans 6:1 says, “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?” (NIV)

I’ve just read an excellent blog post about that verse, which is well worth reading.

Here’s the link

Also worth special attention is this comment, where the poster mentions ‘sin-management’ churches. -not a healthy prospect!

Readers of this blog know I’m into Freedom in Christ. The article linked to in this posting will help you make another step towards your personal freedom. Enjoy it!

 

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Once saved, always saved!

I’ve just read on another blog where yet another hardline Christian makes the statement that “there is no such thing as once saved always saved*. Do not deceive yourselves…”

I disagree. I believe that once saved, is always saved.

It simply must be.

If our salvation depends *in any way* on us; on our flesh – and in that I include behaviour, belief, anything we can *do* or *think* that will somehow negate our salvation – then what right do we have to rejoice in our salvation?

Because if there is any way we can lose our salvation by something we do or think, then it’s a shaky salvation indeed. And we would have no cause to rejoice in such a salvation.

But, praise God, its *He* who is in charge of your salvation! From the moment you accepted Him, it became His responsibility to look after your interests in the salvation stakes.

It’s up to Him to transform you, up to Him to lead you; all you need to do is to follow and obey. The trips and falls you suffer on the way will never, can never, make you lose your salvation. Would you send your toddler son off to be punished for stumbling as he learns to walk? I think not….how much more, then, will Father God be gracious and patient with His children?

“Amazing love, immense and free | For O, my God, it found out me!” – Charles Wesley

 

*Definition: ‘Once saved, always saved’, means that once a person is ‘saved’ by becoming a Christian, he/she cannot ever lose that status.

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The Forced Landing

As part of good airmanship, a good pilot will practise his safety drills regularly. One such drill is called the Practice Forced Landing, or ‘PFL’ for short. You pretend that your engine has failed, by simply closing the throttle (it’s very much like when you are sitting at a traffic light with your engine just ticking over) and it’s then just a question of ‘simply’ gliding the aircraft down into a suitable field – or nearly so; when you think you would have made the safe landing, you put the power back on and climb away. Job done.

This story happened about fourteen years ago, when I was still flying the Piper Warrior four-seater. Here’s the actual aeroplane in the story:

g-btsj

On this occasion, I had in the aircraft (names changed for embarrassment reasons) my friend Andy and his two sons Mike (16) and Ian (14). We were flying out from Plymouth to the Newquay area and back, and we’d briefed very thoroughly about the flight and talked about what to do in an emergency. I’d mentioned that at some point on the way back from Newquay, I would do a PFL, setting it up as a practice engine failure and practising the whole thing including a practice Mayday call.

Guys, watch what I do and be impressed; the whole thing is a bag of fun.

So off we trot with Andy in the front and the two boys in the back; we managed to find Newquay and then turned back towards Plymouth. About half-way back, I let everyone know what was happening. ‘OK guys, remember the practice engine failure drill? I’m commencing now; watch and learn!”

Carb heat to ‘hot’, throttle closed. Everything goes quiet, just the sound of the windrush on the aircraft to be heard. On with the drill. Trim for the glide. Pick a field. Plan the circuit and set the aircraft up for it. Restart drills – fuel, mixture, throttle, magnetos, fuel pump; no joy (of course not, I’m practising a complete engine failure, innit), committed to land. Practice Mayday call (say the Mayday call out loud but don’t press the transmit button or the Press will think there’s about to be another of their favourite ‘plane crash’ incidents). Height: 1,000 feet; field one mile away. It’s looking good: plenty of height so preliminary flap selection; ten degrees of flap. Mike leans over my shoulder, “Which field did you say we’re going in to?” (Oh that’s good, he’s showing an interest in what’s going on!)

“That big field there, with the farmhouse next to it”.

“Oh, ok”.

600 feet. Final flap selection. Committed checks: mime the actions – Fuel off, magnetos off, master switch off, straps tight, doors open.

“Which field was it again?”

“That one right there, with the track across the middle”

“Oh, ok”.

500 feet. Ok, if that had been a real emergency, we’d have lived for sure. Good. Practice emergency completed: carb heat ‘cold’, select full power (everything gets noisy again), prevent the strong nose-up pitch tendency, re-trim for climb power, positive rate of climb, flaps up, engine temperature and oil pressure in the green. Climbing to cruise altitude, establish track back to Plymouth.

Mike leans over again. “I thought you said the engine had failed?”

Suddenly it all made sense. The poor kid had forgotten that this was a drill; everybody else knew that there was no engine failure, it was just a practice. But for him, this was his first real in-flight emergency. He seriously thought that we were going to be in a field with sheep for company until the emergency services arrived. If we were lucky.

“Didn’t you remember? I told you before we set off that I was going to do a practice emergency; that was it!” Mike sat back in his seat, very relieved and (to his credit) with clean underwear too.

There’s an epilogue too, which is pretty important considering what had happened. About ten miles out from Plymouth, I was setting up the aircraft for circuit rejoin and landing when all of a sudden a fight broke out in the back seat. Andy turned round immediately and stopped Mike laying into his brother Ian. “Idiots! Fighting in a plane! You’re going to get us all killed!!” Things calmed down pretty sharpish…..

Then I learned after we’d landed that the reason why Mike had started hitting Ian was that, as soon as I had ‘failed’ the engine, Ian had leaned across and muttered to his older brother, “The engine has failed; we’re going to crash!” Ian, of course, knew exactly what was going on and was just winding him up.

So, for poor Mike, this was, to all intents and purposes, his first real brush with death in an aviation sense. And the lessons I learned? Only do a PFL if the passengers are a) veteran light aircraft passengers, and b) thoroughly briefed on what is going on. Yes, I’d briefed them, but they were obviously too excited to take it all in.

Well, we live and learn!

 

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One man’s escape from legalism.

I can identify so much with what this guy says. Not all of it, but his honesty is refreshing.


My Journey from Fundamentalism

I was raised a fundamentalist, and I personally embraced fundamentalism at a very early age. I felt a need to be ‘saved’, so I went to the altar and prayed through. I ‘accepted Jesus’ as my ‘Lord and Savior’; and, along with that, I accepted all the harmful and misguided baggage of fundamentalism that came with it.

However, before I was out of high school I began to question certain things. I didn’t rebel, but I started to consider things that did not make sense to me. My first big issue was legalism. In our fundamentalism of that time, we could not watch movies, wear shorts, swim with the other gender, dance, drink, listen to ‘worldly’ music, or do a host of other things. Women could not wear pants or cut their hair short, and men could not wear long hair.

Besides imagined specific biblical prohibitions, there were two driving principles behind these restrictions. The first was to ‘Abstain from all appearance of evil,’ as it was stated in the King James. This meant that anything that was remotely questionable was prohibited. For example, it was a bad idea to walk on the sidewalk in front of a movie theater because someone might see you and assume you had been inside. It was a bad idea to drink a Coke from a can because someone might think it was beer (this was in the 1960s when canned soft drinks were new).

The second principle was, in the King James, ‘It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.’ The idea was that, even if something was not a ‘sin’, if someone else thought it was a sin then don’t do it. We should not offend others with our behavior, and self-righteous legalist constantly ‘took offense’ at other people’s behavior.

In the beginning it was not legalism as a concept that I questioned but specific items. Perhaps my first serious issue was movies. At 17, I worked through the arguments and supporting biblical principles that were applied against Christians watching movies and, after considerable struggle, concluded that the prohibition against movies was not biblically valid. Christians were free to attend movies.

This was not rebellion; it was theology. In fact, I had no great need for movies, but one day I stopped by a movie theater on my way home from work and saw a delightful film called My Side of the Mountain. Funny thing about tradition and guilt–even though I was 100% convinced that there was nothing wrong with watching the film, my conscience still yelled “Guilty!” I felt as though I were sitting in a den of iniquity. I was sure the ‘rapture’ would occur while I was in the theater.

Sometimes you have to tell your conscience what to do.

In addition to things we could not do, there were lists of things we had to do, such as tithing, constant church attendance, memorizing Bible passages, and ‘witnessing’. Over time, I abandoned legalistic rules completely. I also dealt with other baggage that came as part of my fundamentalist religious tradition and asked:

  • Is the KJV the exclusive word of God? Answer: No
  • Is the dispensational worldview biblical? Answer: No
  • Are our beliefs about Satan true?  Is he even real? Answer: No; No
  • Is our traditional understanding of hell biblical? Answer: No
  • Are the Genesis creation and flood meant to be understood historically? Answer: No
  • Is the Bible equal to ‘God’s word’ (inerrancy)? Answer: No
  • Are those who never heard of Jesus ‘lost’? Answer: No

As I worked through many other questions as part of my journey from fundamentalism, I attended a conservative evangelical college and received a degree in Biblical-Historical Studies and even took some seminary classes. Parts of my journey from fundamentalism were very scary, but gradually I discovered that much of the baggage I had accepted along with the message of Jesus was not legitimate.

My journey from the baggage of fundamentalism was quite significant and enlightening. But, at one point, a fundamentalist preacher told me I took away everything and left nothing for people to believe in. He was correct; I focused on exposing the baggage instead of sharing the positive message, and there is a very positive message. After sorting though the baggage, I found that the person of Jesus (as described by his earliest followers) is still very compelling. He is the good news for us.

Jesus remains the most important thing in my life. He included me in his invitation, ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’ And I accepted his invitation (he also included you.)

Issues of baggage are not exclusive to fundamentalism. Most Christian traditions contain baggage of different sorts. Many evangelicals, Catholics, and others are well aware of it. On this blog, we discuss unloading the burden of the religious baggage that has been added to the message of Jesus, but we will also discuss that wonderful message itself. I invite you join us as we explore Jesus without baggage.

One more thing, starting the journey from fundamentalism or traditional evangelicalism can be very frightening, as we have constantly been warned to avoid being deceived by ‘Satan’ or ‘false prophets’ and from leaning to our ‘own understanding’ (instead of the understanding of our teachers and our tradition).

In fact, at one point I descended into more than a year of anguish and of grief over the loss of God, which developed in three phases during my journey from fundamentalism. I talk about that in My Spiritual Crisis.

~Tim Chastain

 

Click here to read the original article

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The Equation of Flight and Faith

On the back of my ‘Thankfulness as a Weapon‘ post, which largely concerns attitudes of mind and spirit, I thought I’d add this post too.

As my readers will know, I’m a light-aircraft pilot.

One of our ‘equations of flight’, if you like, is that ‘attitude plus power equals performance’.

Performance = power + attitude.

So, where does the faith bit come in to it? Well, for believers it’s like this; it’s a parable if you like: Because we feel we have God’s power sustaining us, and our attitude is positive, we get performance – the ability and strength to live day to day despite or circumstances.

Just sayin’

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Thankfulness as a Weapon

Several months ago, our Vicar spoke some key words into our lives. He told us that thankfulness is a powerful weapon; we decided that from then on we were going to live in Thankfulness. We are thankful for every day, every good thing; we can even find it in our spirits to thank God even for the horrible things, and to be honest, we wouldn’t be where we are today were it not for the horrible things that have happened.

1 Thess 5:18 says to “…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”. This does not mean that God commands it – that it’s His WILL that must be obeyed at all costs! – rather, it means that it’s His will that this is the way we live. To put it another way, this is how we were always supposed to live. This is how it’s supposed to be; how we were designed to operate. Everyone has trials in their lives, big or small. But for those for whom God is King, they trust that those trials are all part of God’s purpose; that He has a reason and a plan for those things. Romans 8:28 says that “…we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, and have been called according to his purpose.

We can thank God that He’s working in all things for our good…..and you see there, the natural response to all this which is of course Thankfulness. Thank You, Lord, that You know what You’re doing. Thank You, Lord, that my life is in Your Hands.

There’s little that I can do, personally, to change the really big things. My wife Fiona is fighting cancer. If I could make the cancer go away just by waving my hand, of course I would. But until God actually steps in and destroys the tumour (and of course He may well already have done just that!), we can choose to live either in despair, or to live life in fulness. To live it in misery, or to live it in thankfulness. Gratitude (another word for thankfulness) for every day, and the blessings it brings, or ingratitude and churlishness and the despair they engender. I know how I’d rather live!

And being negative has no positive benefits at all, so why not simply be positive? Granted, for an Aspergic like me, it’s pretty black-and-white, and I appreciate that it’s not always that easy. But surely, the desire to be positive can lead to the habit of positivitiy, and then it just becomes a normal part of your life. And you have been transformed. Such is the power of thankfulness. You don’t even need to be a believer to practice Thankfulness. You can be thankful without having to address that thankfulness to a deity or whatever. You can just ‘be grateful’ and call it at that! What I’m saying is that Thankfulness is a decision; and it’s your decision. Where your circumstances take away your power, you can re-empower yourself by making the decision to be thankful. And life will feel so much better!

Thankfulness concentrates on the Good, and brings that Good into the forefront of the consciousness, where it can work its magic. Having a positive attitude is not simply important for being happy, it can also have beneficial medical effects. Of cancer survivors, the vast majority are those who are positive. That’s not to say that having a positive attitude will always cure you of cancer; however the converse is almost certainly true: those who do not have a positive attitude will be more likely to succumb.

One way of ‘doing’ thankfulness is to sing out my thankfulness. Whenever I am feeling down, worship and thankfulness usually contribute towards making me feel uplifted again. Making me realise just what God has done, is doing, and will do in the future. Being a pianist, I am extremely blessed to be able simply to sit down and just let it all out at the keyboard. One of my favourite songs to play is ‘Thank You Lord’, by David Hadden, the lyrics of which are reproduced below with his permission:

When I consider all you mean to me
My heart responds in worship
The songs you’ve given me, O Lord to sing
They’re songs of worship
They’re songs of praise
They’re songs of gratitude

Thank you Lord
Thank you Lord
Thank you from the bottom of my heart
Thank you Lord
Thank you Lord
Thank you from the bottom of my heart

You mean so much to me my God and King
My heart is full of worship
I long to bless you and to build a throne
Through my songs of worship
Through my songs of praise
Through my songs of gratitude

Thank you Lord……….

Great is the Lord and worthy of your praise
His name endures for ever
People of Zion come and sing your songs
Sing your songs of worship
Sing your songs of praise
Sing your songs of gratitude

Thank you Lord……….

Singing that song, and occasionally spontaneously making up my own extra verses too in Holy Spirit, is my way of declaring my thankfulness to the One Who has it all in His control. And He’s good.

So, of course, it’s not all about me, nor about how I feel. You see, Thankfulness takes the focus away from our circumstances and places it on to the One Whom we can trust completely. Remember that when you thank someone, you are thanking them for something they have already done. Thank you for the lift, thank you for the flowers, thank you for the music. Thanking God for the circumstances, whether good or bad, is thanking Him for things He’s already done and for things He’s already doing. And because He has your future already in His hands, in some ways you are also thanking Him for what He’s going to do. Because you know it’s going to be good.

Remember that, for the Christian, it’s always a happy ending. The very worst that can ever happen does not compare to the amazing experience that Heaven is going to be! Romans 8:18 says that “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us”. How cool is that? Thankfulness, life, power over your circumstances here and now! This is not pie in the sky, this is real and it’s here and now!

Decide today to practice Thankfulness, or Gratitude if you prefer to call it that. This is a real life-changer!


[Edit] Nearly four years after writing this piece, I have actually managed to get my hands on an audio copy of David Hadden’s song ‘Thank You, Lord‘, and I have published it on my blog with David’s permission. Here is the link.

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The definition of Sin??

Much of the definition of sin in the modern Church revolves around the passage in Romans 14:23*, “…. and whatsoever is not of faith is sin”. Most people entrenched in Conservative church finger-pointing and condemnational philosophy will point out that this means that unless you can ‘justify’ as coming from faith, usually to the satisfaction of the questioner, a particular action, habit, pastime, orientation or whatever, then it’s sin.

It’s SIN, do you hear me?!!

But that’s not what that passage in Romans is all about. It’s actually about freedom from rules and regulations. The verse does not define sin; it simply says that if a person does something [effectively] against his own conscience, then that’s the sin. It doesn’t mean that everything has to be from faith, else it’s a sin. Read in its context, and with the presumptions of a ‘nice’ God who wants us to live life in its fulness, that’s what it means. There is a certain irony in that this passage, which is meant to encourage freedom, has been hijacked by the legalism brigade and used to create yet more bondage! I’ve written about this freedom in some depth elsewhere in my blog here.

On a blog I frequent, a contributor wrote, “…men invented some interpretations of things they didn’t like and called it evil”.  And I agree. This is exactly what happens when people’s good feelings are perceived by them to be under threat by something they don’t like, be it rock music, dancing, smoking or some ‘false’ doctrine. The Christian musician, Don Francisco, once wrote this lyric, “I know that you don’t like it but just listen my friend | just ‘cuz you don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s a sin”.

Evil itself is obvious when it happens. The behaviour of ISIS, cancer, toothache 😉 I could go on. There’s certainly no need for religious people to invent more of it! 😀

So I really suspect that actually much of the modern definition of ‘sin’ is just that certain people don’t like something, so proclaim it a SIN so they get their own way about what’s allowed and what isn’t – and all backed up by an angry, almighty God etc. etc. It’s almost laughable, isn’t it?

——-

*Interestingly, I Googled that verse to find out the exact reference. And the fact that I only had to type in the words ‘whatsoever is’ before Google realised what I was trying to find, speaks volumes to me in that it must be searched for by lots of people, for that to happen! Hmm, I wonder why? People focusing on sin (usually others’ sin) instead of salvation, perhaps?

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Life after Death – A Contentious Post on Decision Points

This is going to be a contentious post, and you should be warned that a lot of sacred cows are in danger of their lives 😉

It’s about who will be saved; who will be in Heaven. Life after death. Just a fairly superficial look at a very deep subject, but paradoxically, one that’s probably much simpler than we humans expect – we do love to complicate simple things! Let me say up front that this is not a Universalist perspective – where everyone gets ‘saved’ no matter what – but, well, you can of course form your own opinions on what I am saying, ok? 🙂

Firstly, let me set out my premises. Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the Way, I am the Truth, I am the Life. No-one comes to the Father except through Me”. Acts 4:12 says, ” Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name [Jesus] under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

So far, so good. We establish that Jesus is the Way to the Father; the Way to Heaven.

Now, let’s look at Romans 10:13 where it says, “Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved”. There appears to me to be no other condition for salvation…. and remember we need to take into account the passages above which set out that Jesus, and only Jesus is the Way to salvation.

You may have noticed that the Bible does not contain a formula or prayer that makes someone suddenly ‘saved’ where they weren’t before. So often, for example in Mark 5:36, Jesus Himself said ‘Only believe’. He mentions being ‘born again’ (John 3:3ff) but it does not really explain in the Bible how this happens, except that in the same passage Jesus says we must be ‘born of the Spirit’. The Bible also talks in Galatians 6:15  about being a ‘new creation’.

But there’s a lot more unanswered questions as well, in addition to these. For instance, what happens to those who have not heard the Gospel? What happens if someone kind-of ‘believes’, but isn’t sure? What about those who would have loved Jesus, if only they’d been given a proper representation of Him, but the Church people were not showing Christ’s love? Can you make the choice after death, or must you make the choice while you’re still on Earth? Is it too late once you’re dead? The Bible is silent on most if not all of these questions; I would also hazard that many of the currently popular answers to these questions have been made up by well-meaning people in order to propagate a certain doctrine or another. And I suppose in writing this piece, I am doing the same!

So, what do I think? Well, I’d need to write a book….and in a similar way to how I sometimes feel that the doctrine of Hell is not necessarily founded in Scripture – I have read some very interesting interpretations of the Bible’s ‘teaching’ on Hell – I also have some issues with finding evidence or answers in the Bible for having a ‘time limit’ on receiving Christ. And for the other questions above too.

I am Aspergic so please bear with me; my lines of thought are sometimes hard to follow 🙂

So here goes. Let’s use an illustration first. Ok, as an ex-College tutor I have issues with the academic assessment of students. I don’t believe in exams or qualifications (despite having loads of them) because they do not reflect either the way in which knowledge is absorbed or used. It’s the same with a quiz show – a player may know the answer but unless it is given before the answer is revealed by the quizmaster, it does not count. If the answer is given by the quizmaster, and the player says ‘But I knew that answer’, he would not get the prize because he did not prove that he knew the answer before it was revealed. So the assessment, or the quiz, is more to do with regurgitating the answer on demand, and at the actual time, rather than actually knowing it internally despite not being able to recall on demand.

It’s difficult to explain how this relates to life after death but as an Aspie I am making a non-logical transition…..please bear with me.

So, a second or so after a person dies (but what is time in the Eternal Realm? Another reason for my doubts on this matter!) – anyway in that second or so, the person can see God right there (whether it’s Judgement Day or whether he sleeps and then wakes up in Heaven, whatever) but basically the person can now see things as they really are. So, like in the quiz, just because the answer is now plainly obvious, does not mean that the person cannot say ‘Oh yes! I understand now!’ and ‘qualify’ for Heaven based on Jesus’s already-done, all-encompassing sacrifice. He died for everyone!

Then there’s C.S. Lewis’s ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ which you may be familiar with. In ‘The Last Battle’, remember how there’s a Judgement: “But as they came right up to Aslan one or other of two things happened to each of them. They all looked straight in his face, I don’t think they had any choice about that. And when some looked, the expression of their faces changed terribly – it was fear and hatred: except that, on the faces of Talking Bears, the fear and hatred lasted only for a fraction of a second. You could see that they suddenly ceased to the Talking Beasts. They were just ordinary animals. And all the creatures who looked at Aslan in that way swerved to their right, his left, and disappeared into his huge black shadow, which (as you have heard) streamed away to the left of the doorway. The children never saw them again. I don’t know what became of them. But the others looked in the face of Aslan and loved him, though some of them were very frightened at the same time. And all these came in at the Door, in on Aslan’s right.”

I think that this is more or less what it will look like. There will be people who, all along, have loved Jesus without having met Him. Or, at least, they would have done, had they met Him. And when they do see Him, they will love Him. The answer to the quiz is right there and they will either already know the answer, or they will not. But the timing has nothing to do with it.

These people have been denied the chance to see Him as He really is – either because, as we have seen, they are perhaps newborns, those from far away or whatever – or simply those who have never had Jesus presented to them realistically and given the chance to respond.. I am Jesus to my colleagues at work, and yes I ‘witness’ to what God is doing in my life. But I am not challenging them – or at least I don’t think I am (and, of course, under the rules of the old ‘religion’ I used to have, I would have been condemned for that, for not being a pushy Witness!) but at the end of the day, Jesus is being presented. The challenge – the conviction, if you like – is up to Holy Spirit. That’s not my job. And neither is their response.

What happens to those who don’t love Him? We don’t know for sure. Personally I don’t believe that God would inflict eternal suffering; I think it is a device made up by the Mediaeval Church to keep people under their control. You couldn’t even commit suicide to evade the Church’s repression because they made that a ‘cardinal sin’ – to me that’s a dead giveaway! It’s a control thing. That’s what I believe at the moment, anyway.

And what about people from other faiths? Not only people who perhaps have never heard of Jesus the Son of God (as opposed to Isa the Prophet or whatever), but also those whose birth faith precludes ever having ‘correct’ knowledge of Him?

Well, again, for me Christ died for all. So this is my starting point. No-one comes to the Father except through Him. But this does not necessarily mean that it’s only Christians who can come to the Father. It means to me that even those of other faiths only get to come to God because of what Jesus did. Either before or after He came – which caters nicely for those who died before He arrived. Incidentally, the Old Testament saints were convinced that they were going to be with God. How? Interesting….Jesus must have had something to do with that!

Anyway, because of this, I think there are going to be many surprised Muslims in Heaven. They’ll be surprised partially because their religion has told them that they will never be good enough. And there will equally be a number of very, very surprised Jehovah’s Witnesses in Heaven, where all along they thought they’d only make Paradise Earth…. You see, I believe God looks on the heart. The story of Emeth in C. S. Lewis’s ‘The Last Battle’ is absolutely brilliant, “But the Glorious One bent down his golden head and touched my forehead with his tongue and said, Son, thou art welcome. But I said, Alas, Lord, I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash. He answered, Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me”. I am in tears just reading that once again…. I love Emeth and I am looking forward to meeting those like him in Heaven.

So, when it comes to the few seconds immediately after death, a person may find that they have loved Jesus for ages without having ever actually realised it.

And I believe that this is the basis for entry to Heaven. Your love for Jesus – the Real Jesus. The Jesus you always hoped He’d be like. It still fits with the Scriptural framework – Jesus is the Only Way – but it’s not necessarily what mainstream Christianity teaches, and certainly not what Fundamentalism teaches.

A wise friend of mine said, when asked the same question,

“I think there *might* be a possibility for people to come to faith in Christ after death. I would say this more than a possibility for children who died before they could understand the gospel, for mentally ill, and for those who have never heard the gospel. Similarly, there are countless people who have lived through horrible “religion” and so rejected the Gospel as a result. Are they to blame for rejecting God? I am not so sure.

“I do know this: God is loving and just. He will do what is right. From my perspective, what is “right” is to give people a real chance to believe in Him, a chance that this life does not always afford. But then, that is just my human perspective”.

And that opinion, too dovetails nicely with mine. You see, even in the Christian faith, or should I say especially in the Christian faith, there is room for discussion and differing opinions, even on the deepest and most eternal of matters.

Of course, none of this takes away from the absolute assurance that those who believe here and now have for their salvation. If you believe in Jesus for your salvation, in whichever way makes sense to you, you are saved, and that’s all there is to it. You can rejoice in that simple fact. You will be in Heaven. Your sins are forgiven. So why, then, should we become Christians in the here and now, with all the sacrifice that entails, if after death we’ll possibly make it to Heaven anyway? What benefit is there? That’s another whole issue, involving the reality of God in today’s life, assurance of salvation here and now, and the presence of the Kingdom of God. But more on that later. [in fact it’s here.]

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