Category: Salvation – How to get to Heaven

Spiritual Gifts

My second sermon.

Listen (mp3)


Indonesian headhunter, BMW, New suit (Romans 6:4)
He is not going to just sew a spiritual gift onto your old garment.
You have to learn. Sure there is child-like faith, but you have to grow. (Later Pg. 3)
Watchman Nee
Body, Soul, and Spirit 1 Thessalonians 5:23, Hebrews 4:12.
The Tabernacle and the veil rent
Conscience: C.S. Lewis “Mere Christianity”
Communion: Romans 8:16

Intuition: 1 John 2:20b, 27 (NLT)
…the Holy One has given you his Spirit, and all of you know the truth.
Pp. 86-87 Big Book.
In thinking about our day we may face indecision. We may not be able to determine which course to take. Here we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or a decision. We relax and take it easy. We don’t struggle. We are often surprised how the right answers come after we have tried this for a while.
What used to be the hunch or the occasional inspiration gradually becomes a working part of the mind. Being still inexperienced and having just made conscious contact with God, it is not probable that we are going to be inspired at all times. We might pay for this presumption in all sorts of absurd actions and ideas. Nevertheless, we find that our thinking will, as time passes, be more and more on the plane of inspiration. We come to rely upon it.
Spiritual gifts are a God-given talent to do things that are beyond a person’s unaided capability.

Fruits (mature Christian) vs. Gifts (What you do for the body of Christ) vs. Witchcraft. (God is not giving you “powers”)
The purpose of the Spiritual gifts are not to make the gifted person famous, they are intended to benefit the entire body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13).
1 Corinthians 12 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit (NIV).
? message (word) of wisdom
? message (word) of knowledge
? faith
? healing
? miraculous powers
? prophecy
? distinguishing between spirits
? speaking in different kinds of tongues
? interpretation of tongues
Greater things than these: (John 14:12)
“Sign” and “Serving” gifts: (Healing, tongues, miracles, interpretation)
What is our gift?
We can choose our gifts!  We need to eagerly desire them! 1 Corinthians 12:31 and 14:1

Probably not Gifts
“Everything from laughing, crying, barking like a dog, meowing like a cat, passing out at the altar, jumping over pews, to transforming into Superman seems to be claimed as a true manifestation of the Spirit”.
Greg Heisler, Spirit-led Preaching (Nashville, Tennessee, B&H Publishing Group, 2007), 13.
Ecstatic experiences with soulical characteristics.

Some people overemphasize the gifts, some have erred to the other extreme and even attributed the gift called “speaking in tongues” to demonic activity.
1 Corinthians 14:2 For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit.
Acts: more accounts of people who did not speak in tongues than who did.
Paul interrupted Chs. 12-14 with Chapter 13.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts
Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body
The Preacher and little old lady with the pot-luck and a hotline to God.
Baptism Romans 6:4-6
God has to break through the soul to get to the spirit
Living Sacrifice
Let the cross do its work
You are not your own!
Like ripping off a Band-Aid. Peter never prayed for people’s relief, he prayed for them to be strengthened. Nor did Paul (1 Peter 1:6, 2 Thessalonians 1:4)
Let God rip off the Band-Aid

Spiritual advancement is measured by faithful obedience.
~ Watchman Nee

How to get God to fill you with the knowledge of his will:

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. (Colossians 1:9-12)

1. spiritual wisdom and understanding
2. live a life worthy of the Lord
3. please him in every way
4. bearing fruit in every good work
5. growing in the knowledge of God
6. being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might…

Crystal Jesus
Altar Call

The Law vs. Grace

My First Sermon!

Tony got my names transposed. All three of my names can be first or last names, so after 51 years, I’m used to it. 🙂

Note that if you download it, it registers as being about 44 minutes long, but it is only 27. I used the RealPlayer trimmer. Tried it twice. It is just mis-marked on the file. I may try to trim it with another piece of software.

Player may not work on Firefox browsers? If player doesn’t work, you can download by right-clicking the link, below and choose “Save Target As”.

Right-click here to Download

Exodus 20

Rabbi Simlai 3rd century AD says there are 613 laws in the Torah, the first five books of the Bible.


A bunch of rabbis over the centuries had put together an enormous library of
interpretations of these laws. There were laws telling you how far you could
walk on a Sabbath day, and how much weight you could carry without breaking the
Sabbath, and numerous others. These are the kinds of things that the Pharisees
went by that Jesus complained about.

Law is necessary for an eternal society

Sin is destructive.

Housebreaking a puppy

During the World War

a luxurious French villa lay in the path of the oncoming armies. Although
deserted, it was shelled and left with great gaping holes in its stone sides. A
few swine, which had somehow escaped extermination, rooted their way into the
magnificently furnished drawing room. Over the rich, velvet carpet they tracked
their muddy feet, overturned the upholstered furniture, tore the expensive
draperies and chewed whatever gave any promise of satisfying their hunger. The
beauty, the elegance, the cultural characteristics of the place meant nothing to
the beast nature. They were not partakers of the intellectual or spiritual
qualities of the owner.

To the unregenerated millions of earth, the glories of Heaven would be like
the French villa was to the swine. They are not partakers of the Divine nature
and would have no capacity for enjoying the holy atmosphere of the Glory Land.

I’m sure the pigs were “good” as far as pigs go. But they did not belong in a
French villa.

Isaiah 55:8-9

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your
ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Jesus will bring you peace, joy, love, lasting happiness…

A lot of people try to entice people into the Kingdom: “Jesus loves you! He
will make your life better” Which is true, but not true from a fleshly
standpoint. Jesus promised tribulation (John 16:33). He did not promise a bed of
roses. People who are told, “Seek Jesus, he will make your life better” will be
disillusioned when life happens. “I thought you told me…!”

Gal. 3:21b (NIV)

the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by

How should Christians deal with the law?

We obviously cannot go around killing people and committing

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. ……I
have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with
as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle,
for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be
an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however,
regarding some other elements of God’s Laws and how to follow them.

  1. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a
    pleasing odor for the Lord as written in Leviticus.1:9. The problem is my
    neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite

  2. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2
    clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him
    myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

  3. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an
    abomination, Leviticus. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality?
    I don’t agree. Can you settle this? Are there ‘degrees’ of abomination?

  4. Leviticus. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have
    a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my
    vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?

  5. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around
    their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Leviticus. 19:27.
    How should they die?

  6. I know from Leviticus. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes
    me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

  7. My uncle has a farm. He violates Leviticus.19:19 by planting two different
    crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two
    different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and
    blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of
    getting the whole town together to stone them? Leviticus.24:10-16. Couldn’t we
    just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who
    sleep with their in-laws? (Leviticus. 20:14)

We’ll see if we can go back and answer these later.

“There are lots of people worse than me. It’s not like I killed

Try saying that to a judge.

Law is a schoolmaster (Gal. 3:19-25)

Law was not meant to save.

Galatians 2:16

know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus
Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified
by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no
one will be justified.

Adam was not promised damnation.

The Ten Commandments never offered eternal life.

The Jews had only a vague understanding of the concept of hell

Judaism 101

Torah emphasizes immediate, concrete, physical rewards and punishments rather
than abstract future ones…


Abraham’s bosom

The law cannot be kept

See how successful the Hebrews were

James 2:10

“For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is
guilty of all.”

Romans 3:20 (NIV)

Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the
law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.

Grace has superceded Law

Matthew 5:17

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not
come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

Fulfilled the sacrificial law and holidays

(except the ones that are future)

Jesus said he did not do away with the law. But Paul said we are not under
the law!

Confused? Me, too…

The concept of laws being superceded is not foreign to the Jews:

Exodus 20 vs. Jeremiah 31:29-30

… visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and
fourth generation…

‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on
edge.’ Instead, everyone will die for his own sin; whoever eats sour grapes–his
own teeth will be set on edge.

The book of Galatians

Circumcision on the 8th day

Galatians 3:10

All who rely on observing the law are under a curse

Romans 10:4

Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone
who believes.

I Corinthians 15:56-57 (NIV)

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks
be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Colossians 2:14 (NIV)

God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled
the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood
opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.

Colossians 2:16-17 (NIV)

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with
regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These
are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in

Hebrews 9:9b-10

the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience
of the worshiper.

Matthew Henry wrote:

So Christ made an improvement of the law and the prophets by his additions
and [clarifications]… the Christian institutes … promote [the law] to the
highest degree. The gospel is the time of reformation, not the repeal of the
law, but the amendment of it, and, consequently, its establishment.

Love thy neighbor vs. Ten Commandments

(Which were divided in two: Love the Lord thy God 1-4 and Love they neighbor

The law won’t save you, but we are expected to act like the
King’s kids

Jesus’ first sermon

Some behavior will keep you out of heaven:

1 Corinthians. 6:9-11

God is not mocked (Gal. 6:7)

We will be Judged according to our works (Rev. 20:13 )

Don’t use grace for an occasion of the flesh (Gal 5:13)

Galatians 4:4-7 (Abba)

Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the
Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”

2 Peter 1:5-8

(These things do not save us, they keep us from being unproductive.)

Answer the Leviticus questions.

Get on the Ark

Judaizers – The Law vs. Grace

The Judaizers

The entire book of Galatians is Paul’s effort to correct the heresy of Judaizers who were trying to tell people that they had to be circumcised and follow Jewish law to be saved. Paul explains at length that we are not saved by law or ritual (i.e. Galatians 4:4-5). In Chapter 5, he is talking about circumcision: how if a person trusts in circumcision to save them, then Christ is of no value (5:2). Paul was furious! He even went so far to say that he wished the people who were trying to convince the Galatian believers to be circumcised (Judaizers) would emasculate themselves!

How Paul deals with the Judaizers

In Galatians 5:19-25, Paul helps distinguish what proceeds from the Spirit, and what proceeds from the flesh. He describes the evidences of living by the flesh (sexual immorality, drunkenness, etc.) and then he proceeds to describe the results (fruits) of walking in the Spirit (Love, Joy, Peace, etc.) and encourages us to continue to walk in the Spirit.

Judaizers were telling people that they had to follow Jewish law to be saved. If they had succeeded, Christianity would have become just another Jewish sect (Barclay, 1976). In the preceding verses, Paul is talking about how if a person trusts in circumcision to save them, then Christ is of no value (Gal 5:2). Paul was furious! He even went so far to say that he wished the Judaizers would emasculate themselves! In verse 13, he warns the church not to use our Christian freedoms to indulge the flesh. Verses 5:16-18 may have been seen by the 1st century church as a “how-to” guide for living in grace instead of under the law. Paul explains that if we live by the Spirit, we will not satisfy our fleshly nature. It’s not going to be easy! Our flesh and spirit are at war, and this conflict does not allow us to do what we want (cf. Romans 7:14-25). And that if we walk in the Spirit we are not under the law. The verses that follow (vv. 19-26) are indications of a life of walking in the flesh contrasted to those of walking in the Spirit. Gal 5:16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

Gal 5:17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.

Gal 5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.

How might the Galatian people perceive Paul’s letter?

The poor Galatian people had to be so confused! Judaizers were telling people that they had to follow Jewish law to be saved (Barclay, 1976). Paul was furious! (Gal 5:12) If they had succeeded, Christianity would have become just another Jewish sect (Barclay, 1976, p. 3). Paul devotes most of this letter to answering the judaizers. Chapter 5 is the peroration (summary) of his argument (Fausset, 1871). In the preceding verses, Paul tells us we are called to freedom but warns us not to use our Christian freedoms to indulge the flesh (v.13). The poor Galatian people might see vv. 5:16-18 as a “quick-start” guide for living under grace: Live by the Spirit, and we will not satisfy our fleshly nature. But it’s not going to be easy! Our flesh and spirit are at war; we are never free from this conflict (Gl 5:17b NLT). Verse 18 reminds us that if we walk in the Spirit, we are not under the law. The verses that follow (vv. 19-26) describe the fruits of a life of walking in the flesh vs. those of walking in the Spirit.

We could relate to the Galatian people!

We in the Western World could easily relate to the Galatian people. The Galatians, as a part of the Roman Empire, would have been bombarded on all sides by a myriad of religions competing for their attentions just as we are today. And I dare say the subtleties of law vs. grace would easily be lost on the average new believer in America. A new believer in America (and many “old” believers) would be easy prey for a slick-talking judaizer.

The Theology of Galatians 5:16-18

Gal 5:16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

Gal 5:17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.

Gal 5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.

The theological principles of Galatians 5:16-18 are: 1.) How to live a clean life – to keep from following through with our carnal desires with the help of the Holy Spirit (v. 16); 2.) The ongoing war between our flesh and spirit (v. 17) and; 3.) Christian liberty – living by grace rather than under the law (v.18).

How can we apply God’s Grace to our lives?

1.) In the year 1531 AD, Martin Luther wrote: “When I was a monk I thought I was lost forever whenever I felt an evil emotion, carnal lust, wrath, hatred, or envy. I tried to quiet my conscience in many ways, but it did not work, because lust would always come back and give me no rest…” You don’t have to be a monk to feel this way. I also tend to be a “perfectionist” and have a very hard time dealing with any shortcomings. It is comforting to know that we are not under the law. And as I walk in the Spirit, though I feel unholy desires at times, when I walk with God, I need not carry them out.

Today I am free of the obsession to drink by the grace of God. When I first got sober, I tried everything I could think of to be at peace when not drinking – to no avail. Today, I am doing what is suggested in the 12-steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. The 12 steps are a “spiritual program” based on Christian principles. It is not about being “good”, it is about getting rid of the garbage in our mind that is blocking God, then improving our relationship with God and helping others. Today though once in a while, a drink sounds tempting, it is no longer a losing battle because I walk in the Spirit. I quit trying to cure myself long enough to let God in to do His work.


Barclay, W. (1976) The Letters to the Galatians and Ephesians Revised Edition. Philadelphia: Westminster Press.

Fausset, A.R. (1871) A. R. Fausset commentary on Galatians: The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians

Luther, M. (1531) Martin Luther’s Commentary on Galatians

Wikipedia (2011) Retrieved April 3, 2011 from

Is God’s Judgement of Zero Tolerance for Sin Righteous?

God is Love (1 John 4:8)

Some people tend to believe that their sins will be overlooked because “They’re not that bad”; “There are a lot worse people than me”; Or, “I’m basically a good person”; “Hey, I never killed anybody”; or “I didn’t hurt anybody but myself”…

Imagine this scenario: You have been arrested for a relatively minor offense – say shoplifting. The judge gives you jail time. As you are handcuffed and hauled away to jail, would any of those arguments work? You would not even dream of it, would you?

Sin breaks God’s Heart

Now, imagine the saddest situation you can think of. How about a mother clutching her dying baby to her chest with no way to help. Remember, God is Love – not that he has Love – Love is His very nature. God has been watching things like this happen for thousands of years. If we, being mere humans are grief stricken, imagine how a scene like that breaks His poor old heart.

God’s Wrath

How can God feel anger if He is love? Imagine another scenario. You are walking down the street and you see a poor old lady being robbed… Would it not make you furious? You are furious because even though you may not know the lady, you have a certain measure of love in your heart. God’s wrath is clearly justified.

Victimless crimes (or “I never hurt anybody but myself”)

All sin has consequences. How about alcohol and drug abuse? According to the book, Alcoholics Anonymous, the alcoholic is like a tornado roaring through the lives of others. Even people who drink alone affect people other than themselves: Their employer, family and so on… Pornography, for another example. Looking at porn has consequences for you, and the person who posed for it. And whether or not you believe it him, it twists your mind and opens the door for Satan. Here is an excerpt of a study on pornography’s effect on the mind.

Internet pornography is the new crack cocaine, leading to addiction, misogyny, pedophilia, boob jobs and erectile dysfunction, according to clinicians and researchers testifying before a Senate committee Thursday.

Witnesses before the Senate Commerce Committee’s Science, Technology and Space Subcommittee spared no superlative in their description of the negative effects of pornography.
Mary Anne Layden, co-director of the Sexual Trauma and Psychopathology Program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Cognitive Therapy, called porn the “most concerning thing to psychological health that I know of existing today.”…

Pornography addicts have a more difficult time recovering from their addiction than cocaine addicts, since coke users can get the drug out of their system, but pornographic images stay in the brain forever, Layden said…

What about Grace?

God’s grace is not a license to sin. God wants to help release you from sin through grace. If you have given your life over to God, your whole perception on sin will change over time. I used to enjoy and actively pursue sinful pleasures. And at some point, if you are honest with yourself, you will find that you did, too. Or if you have not been baptized, you still do. But if you turn your life over to God, his Holy Spirit will “quicken” your spirit to life. Your whole perception will change. Now you will regret your sins and try to get rid of them. You may never completely get rid of them, but you will want to. You are not suddenly better than anybody else, and with cooperation from God, you will not become hypocritical and look down upon people who are still lost in sin – you will feel sorry for them and try to help.

Don’t you know that someday we Christians are going to judge the world?… Don’t you realize that we Christians will judge angels?… (1 Corinthians 6:2a,3a NLT)

On Judgement day, which side of the bench do you want to be on?

How to Be Good Enough to Get to Heaven

Why we can’t save ourselves

Yesterday, I was reminded of something that I’d noticed a few months ago. There was a wasp in my car trying to fly through the glass. I rolled down a window so he could fly out, but the only way he could see was through the window that would not roll down. I even tried to coax him over to the open window but he became even more determined to fly through the glass.

Also, yesterday, our dog had her cable jammed under the tire of a car. Had she pulled left instead of right she would have been free. But she pulled so hard in the wrong direction that it became terribly jammed under the tire. And she was immobilized.

God told me that we are the same way. We see only one way to a solution, but that solution will never work. And when it fails we try even harder… accomplishing nothing at best — or at worst, getting ourselves really jammed up.

But if we let go, and do what God leads us to do, no matter how ridiculous it may appear to us, we can fly right out of that glass prison.

It was that way with me and the 12-steps. There is no way the human mind can go from reading the 12-steps off the wall to understanding how doing these things can make it possible to stay sober. But once you do the steps, it just works. As simply as flying out the open window.

Stop beating yourself against the glass and let God guide you out.

Deathbed Conversions – Can Seriously Wicked People Like Mass Murderers and Serial Killers Get Saved?

Deathbed conversions are entirely possible, according to scripture (The term “Scripture” now applies to both the Old and New Testaments, though when the New Testament writers referred to Scripture, it referred only to the Old Testament until the time when Peter compared the writings of Paul and the “other scriptures” in 2 Peter 3:15-16)

God does not make too hard terms with those who seek Him (Alcoholics Anonymous Page 46)
All that is required to get to heaven is to believe. (John 3:18)

There are still a few people out there who believe that you must be baptized to get to Heaven. And I have argued until I am blue in the face. Yes, baptism in the common circumstance is indispensable. Once you believe go get baptized immediately! But on the same token, for instance on a battlefield, somebody laying there dying sees the light, I do not see God turning him away. So God inspired John 3:18. God is willing that none should perish. God is love. (1 John 4:8) Not that He has love, but He is love. God has more love in his little finger than any of us will ever have our entire lives.

If it is as easy as believing, can’t everyone go to heaven? What about seriously deranged people like mass murderers and serial killers? Will they see the light at the end of their life and get saved?
I am sure there will be many people in heaven that will surprise a lot of people. However, it is not so easy to see the light. It is simply not possible with the unaided human mind to discern God. Jesus said it (Matthew 16:17) and I have confirmed this in my own personal experience. There is ample proof in both the Old and New Testaments. Think about this. Peter and company followed Jesus for three years, seeing miracle after miracle, and they were still basically as spiritually blind as bats. And think about the ancient Hebrews. How could anybody be delivered by miracle after miracle, walk through the Red Sea, and all that and still make a golden calf to worship?
And in my personal experience, I have debated with atheists until I was blue in the face… and it just cannot be done. You must seek God, and God must call you in order to find Him.

God made it as easy as believing to get to Heaven, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:9). At the same time, going from belief to unbelief is an infinite chasm that cannot be jumped by human power. Most of what God is and stands for makes no sense at all to the unbeliever. This is further exacerbated by the devil, explained below.

Some People Cannot Be Saved

God wishes that every man would come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9) However, He knows that many will not. Jesus said that there are children of the devil and children of God (1 John 3:10). This is by the individual’s choice. There are some people who hate God and everything he stands for. Sad but true. And these people will never see the light. I am sure there are a lot of people reading this aghast… So a word of explanation is in order.
Satan is the god of this world system. Back when Adam ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he gave title deed of the planet over to Satan. Note that Eve was deceived, but Adam flat-out disobeyed. Adam had been given title deed to the earth. (Genesis 1:26) Adam, by his disobedience gave title deed over to Satan. Your God is whom you follow (Romans 6:16). Adam followed Satan and made Satan his god. Sad but true. This is how Satan was able to offer the kingdoms to Jesus, if Jesus would just worship him. But in the same way that one man’s disobedience plunged us into this system of pain and tears, another man’s obedience (Jesus) wrested it back.

God allows the “god” of this world to keep the spiritual eyes blinded of people who do not love God and God’s ways.

I said all that so that this Bible quote might make sense.

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:3-4 NIV)

And Satan’s best deception of all? That you have to be good enough to get to heaven. The Gospel makes no sense to unbelievers who are trying to work their way to heaven (1 Corinthians 1:23 ) But there is no such thing as earning your way to heaven. It is simply not possible. We cannot even comprehend what it would take to be “good enough” much less have any hope of achieving it.

For no human being will be justified in his sight by works of the law, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. (Romans 3:20 NASB)

God has a sense of justice that far surpasses ours. As much as He hates to destroy anyone, He also gave us a free will and He is not going to ram His ways down our throats. And by allowing Satan to keep people blinded, He is unlikely to allow unrepentant seriously wicked people into the kingdom of heaven.

Do we get a second chance to go to heaven after we die?

Do we get a second chance to go to heaven after we die?

This is of course a sensitive subject. Especially if you have lost a loved one, or about to lose a loved one who is unsaved.

And it is also complex and difficult to explain.

Firstly, there is a difference between Eternal Life and Salvation. Technically they are not interchangable. I am not going to go into the details here, but for purposes of this discussion, “salvation” or being saved, means you are going to heaven.

Eternal Life is not something  we “do” or earn. It is a free gift from God. If you believe in your heart that Jesus rose from the dead, and confess this with your mouth, you have eternal life. You cannot be good enough to get to Heaven. God knows that, so He gave us a free gift. All you have to do is accept it like a child accepting a Christmas present. Smile, hold your your hands and say thank you.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16 KJV)

Our spirits are immortal. (The term “immortal soul” is not technically correct – it is the spirit that is immortal) And I have it on good authority that when our hearts stop beating, it is not the end.

One thing God told me was so opposite to my theology that it was hard for me to adjust my understanding to the actual facts. I have preached that once you quit breathing, if you are not saved, and do not know God, you have missed heaven. God said that was not necessarily so. He said that there is a spot where the spirit of mankind may linger for a little time before going on to their permanent abode. Many people who have been clinically dead know they have had this experience.
Angels on Assignment Page 59 (1979) By Roland Buck Hunter Books.

I am not going to argue with you if this book is true revelation from God. I am strongly convinced that it is. The book is no longer in print, but his family has made it freely available online in HTML and PDF formats. Read it for yourself — don’t depend upon other people, even me.
Ask God to reveal if it is the truth or not.

God is very merciful and wishes that none should perish. (2 Peter 3:9) He literally bends over backwards to get people saved. I know it grieves his wonderful heart to see anyone reject Him…

So, does it do any good to pray for the deceased? Does deathbed salvation occur? I don’t think any prayer is wasted. I believe just about anybody has a chance. I believe God won this war, and that Hell is going to be a mighty empty place!

Legalism Or Obedience

Lessons Learned: Legalism Or Obedience

2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Greeting and blessings to you all! Yes, I am behind in sending these out and I ask your pardon. Recently, I have been wrestling with a particular concern and only at the point that I have received some resolution have I been led to share it here.

Recently, I had dinner with a close spiritual sister in Christ at IHOP and while my fare was actually ‘breakfast’, after the joking and light conversation, I got down to the concern at hand. You see, I had been subtly, and through implication, accused of legalism. Now I received some very godly advice which I will share shortly.

The dictionary defines legalism as “strict, literal adherence to the law or to a particular code, as of religion.” Often this is the definition that many in the secular and Christian world have in mind when they think of legalism. However, a slightly different understanding of the word defines legalism as “any attempt to rely on self-effort to either attain or maintain our justification before God.” Amazing how different the two definitions are. The world would have us believe that any time there is a strict adherence to God’s law, there is legalism. [Also, justification is the declaration of a person to be just or righteous.]

The basis for that belief often rests with this portion of scripture, “for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:6b) yet without the verses that precede this section of scripture, we can easily lose context (4-6: “And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”). Obviously God is not teaching us that obeying His laws kills us, nor is He saying that we can be obedient to the letter of the law (which would be blasphemy). God is telling us that “Salvation by trying to keep the law” is futile, and will only bring the judgment of death for failing to keep it faithfully.

We are insufficient, in and of ourselves, to gain or maintain justification before God. In other words, if we depend upon keeping the law (our own righteousness), our failure will condemn us to death, but a dependence upon Christ (and thus His Righteousness), will bring everlasting life. There is no possibility of man standing ‘justified’ before God because no man can keep the “whole” law perfectly, and that is what would be required for anyone to be justified by it. Consider James 2:10, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” (Wow!)

So the next question that may be asked is if self-effort is insufficient, is obedience to God important? Isn’t strict obedience wrong? Consider what is given to us in 1 John 2:3-5: “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a Liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: Hereby know we that we are in him.”

Obedience to God’s Word is not legalism but more of an exhortation to obey and follow God. A recent article speaks to the disturbing trend of defining obedience as legalism for the sake of modernism:

The sad reality of modernism is that more and more Churches are using the word “legalism” pejoratively (as criticism) so that keeping God’s commandments is almost seen as a bad thing. That is to say, they are misusing the word so that it might come up in a conversation condemning anything from preaching against homosexuality to preaching against women Pastors. In fact it has become increasingly popular among Ministers and Parishioners alike to accuse Christians of being legalistic whenever they bear witness to anything that the Lord has forbidden.

Typically they will abrogate or make void any testimony against immorality, impropriety, or illegality, by labeling them examples of legalism. Likewise, those who faithfully witness that we should remain obedient, are called Pharisaic. And both these terms are usually used by those who don’t really understand what either of them really mean. Many of these have fallen so far from the faith of our fathers that they no longer recognize the difference between legalism, and the righteous exhorting the Church to adhere to God’s laws.

Scripture also reminds us, Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end. [Hebrews 3:12-14 (NKJV)]

Now is a good time to ask yourself if you have been “hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” for the sake of modernism. Now as for the advice given me by my sister in Christ, I was reminded that anytime we are inclined to believe that God’s word is outdated, has not kept up with the times or is in need of a more current revision, refer to Psalm 119:89 (NIV): Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.

A more direct translation of the same verse is seen here in The Message Bible: What you say goes, God, and stays, as permanent as the heavens. Your truth never goes out of fashion; it’s as up-to-date as the earth when the sun comes up. Your Word and truth are dependable as ever.

So I offer to each person that reads this message to exhort obedience to God’s Word, not only to yourselves but to others as well. Do not let the deceitfulness of sin cloud your minds and harden your hearts. God’s Word is simple and pure yet we can make it confusing when we operate by feelings or anything that is contrary to the Word of God.

Yes, legalism is wrong but obedience to God’s Word is never wrong. Our own efforts do not make us righteous, only the righteousness of Christ Jesus has made us worthy of salvation. Remember that the friendship of the world (or modernism, in order to blend in) is enmity with God. There will be some that feel that pursuing obedience to God’s Word is legalism but I hope that some confusion has been removed here. Not all will embrace these words. Some may experience persecution for their obedience but know this, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12). If the world despises you because of your obedience, take comfort; Jesus said, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.” (John 15:18)

I pray God’s favor upon each person that receives this message. And as always, be blessed and be a blessing.


The Narrow Way

Lessons Learned: The Narrow Way

Matthew 7:13-14

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

Greetings and blessings to you all! Recently I had a conversation with a man that I have great deal of respect for and look up to. We somehow got on the topic of religion and spirituality. I have known this man to be an devout attendee of his church for quite a few years and he would rarely miss attending unless it was due to illness. I guess I always saw him as just a solid Christian. Maybe that was why I was so surprised when he mentioned in our conversation that Jesus did not die on the cross for us but for himself (only). We each have to be accountable to God for our own sins and deeds (a true fact). Yet to make matters even more interesting, I heard his wife state ‘who is to say that there is only one way to heaven or even that Christianity was the only way; that we need to be more tolerant and accepting of other faiths and beliefs.’

At this point, I inquired, where possible, about how they reached this conclusion without leading up to an argument because no point would have been served through arguing. No satisfactory answer was given other than these were the beliefs emphasized by their church. But I was bothered nonetheless. I knew what church they worshipped at and decided to visit the website. It was equally as interesting. One of the more interesting mission statements of the church declared that they did not believe they should focus as much on helping the poor and underprivileged. Their concern was with helping to educate them so they could feed themselves.

Now this was a mega-church that has a rather upscale following (i.e. it has been joked that the most inexpensive car in the parking lot might be a Buick or low end Cadillac). They take great pride that the congregation is upscale. The doctrine and teachings of this church are based on prosperity and healing the body yet even as I write this message there is an on-going search for a new pastor because the one that founded the church cannot carry on due to severe illness and has stepped down (with no successor).

I bring all this up for one simple reason. We must come to terms that being a church attendee does not make you a Christian any more than being in a garage make you a car. As true Christians, there are two facts we must continually focus on: 1) the absolute authority of God’s Word, and 2) the divinity of Jesus. In my conversation with the man and his wife, he felt that we had the ability to ‘pick and choose’ what was applicable to us in the Bible (and since the Bible was written by man we had quite a bit of leeway). Yet if the Bible is the absolute authority, then every promise, every scripture, every command has to be respected and followed. If you do not believe that the authority of scripture is absolute, without question and doubt, you are not ready to proclaim yourself a Christian. Secondly, if you cannot believe that Jesus is God who died on the cross for the sins of the world (that’s you and me), you are not ready to be called a Christian.

I remind everyone that we are not to argue the Bible, merely proclaim the good news. In Luke 4:18-19, Jesus read from the book of Isaiah these words:

The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me
  To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
  To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind,
  To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”

 And then he sat down.

We, too, must share the Word with those willing to hear and let the Holy Spirit make any changes to that person. We preach and proclaim. That’s all!

So let us be mindful of the verse above. Narrow is the way that leads to Jesus. The narrow path we are called to follow will not be quickly or readily chosen by most. It will appear difficult and constrictive but that is only a perception and often a mistaken one. When we spend eternity with Jesus we will be free and filled with joy. Oft times, we follow the masses because there are just so many people going a certain way or doing certain things that we just want to blend in. I recent met an extraordinary woman who made a decision not to follow the same paths that her peers were taking…no drugs, no alcohol, no promiscuity. Did she stand out? Yes! Was she treated differently even poorly? Yes? Does she enjoy a close relationship with the Lord? YES! Does she regret her decision to take the ‘road less travelled’? NO! She feels hurt and pain just like anyone else but she had made up her mind to follow the Lord because the rewards she knows are hers will come to her later.

Choose this day if you are going to be Christian in word only or truly in deeds. Resist the pull of the popular philosophies of this world. We cannot afford to become complacent or ignorant to what the Word of God tell us we should be doing. The easy way is seldom the better way. Take a stand and choose the only way that leads to joy, peace and contentment. The broad gate that so many people choose to go through leads to pain, confusion and destruction. The narrow gate is the only one that leads to life, which is Jesus. If you don’t want to take my word for it, read it yourself. The Bible has all the answers. No pride, no arrogance, no political correctness and no shame – only truth!

As always, be blessed and be a blessing!

Ernest Marsh, Houston, Texas

Keeping the Law (10 commandments, etc.)

The Apostle Paul on Keeping the Law (10 commandments, etc.)

The entire book of Galatians in the New Testament is devoted to the apostle Paul countering some people’s assertions that gentiles (anyone who is not Jewish) must be circumcised and follow Jewish law to be saved. It is not a long book. Take the time to read it, you will find it very informative.

One particular portion really jumped out at me because I had to read it a few times to understand what he meant. Here it is:

Just as no one can set aside or amend an irrevocable agreement, so it is in this case. God gave the promise to Abraham and his child. And notice that it doesn’t say the promise was to his children, as if it meant many descendants. But the promise was to his child–and that, of course, means Christ. This is what I am trying to say: The agreement God made with Abraham could not be canceled 430 years later when God gave the law to Moses. God would be breaking his promise. For if the inheritance could be received only by keeping the law, then it would not be the result of accepting God’s promise. But God gave it to Abraham as a promise. (Galatians 3:15-18 NLT)

Do you see it? Abraham was promised, among other things, that salvation would come through his bloodline 430 years before the law was written. If the law was neccessary for salvation, God would’ve had to have given the law to Abraham instead of Moses.

Paul goes on to explain that the law was not given to save us, it was given to show us how sinful we are. Well then, why was the law given? It was given to show people how guilty they are. (Galatians 3:19 NLT)

Joyce Meyer says that the law is a mirror. We are glad to have one so we can see that we have dirt on our face, and that our hair is mussed up. But the mirror cannot save us.

How to Get to Heaven

How to Get to Heaven

For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. (Romans 10:9-10 NLT)

First you must believe in Jesus. You must believe that He was raised from the dead. You must believe this in your heart.  This makes you right with God.
And you must confess (tell someone) that you believe. Paul says (above) that this is what saves you. The words of your mouth.  Before any church I’ve ever heard of will baptize you, you will need to confess that you believe that Jesus is Lord, and he was raised from the dead. Baptism is useless without confessing that you believe, becasue baptism is not what saves you. One preacher (Smith Wigglesworth — but he may have been quoting someone else) said something like, “The devil, himself doesn’t care what you believe as long as you keep your mouth shut about it.” The preceding quote paraphrase was attributed to Smith Wigglesworth by Mark Hankins. Note: If anyone knows the exact wording, or knows that it wasn’t Smith Wigglesworth, please send me an email.

But now God has shown us a different way of being right in his sight–not by obeying the law but by the way promised in the Scriptures long ago. We are made right in God’s sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have done. (Romans 3:21-22 NLT)

 “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12 KJV)


The first thing that Jesus began to teach after his baptism and temptation was “Repent”.

From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matthew 4:17 KJV)

Repent is also the first thing that Peter told the crowd to do on the day of Pentecost. (See Acts 2:38, quoted, above)

Realize down in your soul that you are a sinner; there is nothing you can do to fix yourself, and you want to turn from your ways. Ask God to help you realize this if you do not feel like you are a sinner. You may not realize the depths of your problems because your conscience can get so hard that it is like a callous if you ignore it long enough.

Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” (Acts 3:19 KJV)

“The Sinner’s Prayer”

The Sinners prayer is under fire. The sinner’s prayer is important, but it cannot save you by itself. (See the first paragraphs of this article, above.) Some preachers have put too much weight in the sinner’s prayer. But just being able to say the prayer from your heart is evidence that you have been touched by God.

The Sinner’s prayer must come from the heart. It is not a set prayer that you memorize from rote. Everybody is a little different.

Pray this out loud. Though God knows your heart and thoughts, there are some things that should be prayed out loud. This is really one of them. “Heavenly Father. Lord Jesus, Creator of the Universe, I am now willing that you have all of me. Both good and bad. I give my life over to you to do with as you wish. In Jesus’ name, Amen”

That should pretty much get the point across. Remember what you are doing. You are giving your life over to God. You have made a wreck of things, and realize you cannot do it without Him.

God is very smart. He will hear, understand, and answer you.

Get Baptized!

Now, go get baptized! Do not delay. You have an enemy out there whether you know it or not, or believe it or not. The enemy’s name is Satan and he rules this world system. The enemy wants you dead. You cannot fight him alone. You must get baptized so God can quicken your spirit to withstand this world system. According to Watchman Nee, Baptism separates you out of the world.[1]  Remember, you must be saved (believe and confess) before you get baptized. Baptism is not really optional unless you are near death and have no way to get to water. It is truly that important.


1 A Living Sacrifice by Watchman Nee

Chapter 1
Christian Fellowship Publishers
ISBN 0-935008-08-X

Will Non-Christians Get to Heaven?

Will People from Other Religions get to Heaven?

I do not think that eternal torment is in store for everyone who is not saved. God did not threaten Adam with eternal punishment. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (Genesis 2:17 KJV)

Jesus did not threaten the general population with hell, either. (Though In Matthew 23:33, He wondered how the Pharisees would escape…)  Hell was created for Satan and his demons. Though there will clearly be people in hell, I see no evidence that the default destination for people is eternal torment.

Jesus spoke of people who refused or reject Him. He spoke of people who will be outside of Heaven. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 25:30 KJV) There were also the foolish virgins who were not invited to the wedding. That doesn’t sound like the best of fates, but it also doesn’t like eternal torment to me.
People will be judged according to their deeds. The children who die before they are five years old will not suffer the same fate as a mass-murderer. Jesus also spoke of eternal fate being determined by your deeds. He said that it would be better for a person who offends children who believe in Him to have a millstone tied around their neck and be cast into the sea. Clearly people will be judged according to their deeds.
People who are not written in the book of Life will be cast into the Lake of Fire. The first mention of the Lake of Fire is in Revelation. This is one of the few opinions of mine that you will see on the website. The way it is written, it looks like everyone is written in to the Book of Life until such time as their rebellion forces their names to be blotted out. See if you don’t agree. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. (Revelation 3:5 KJV)

Allen Howard

Must You Be Baptized to get to Heaven?

Misconception: “You Must be Baptized get to Heaven”

This is another very common misunderstanding.  Don’t get me wrong, Baptism is of supreme importance, but many people will be in Heaven who have not been dunked.

And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:43)

Jesus was hanging on the cross when he made the promise, above, to the man hanging next to Him. Nowhere is it implied that Jesus got the other man got off the cross, baptized him, and got back on. Surely baptism is not strictly required to get to heaven.

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans 10:13 KJV)

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16 KJV)

Pretty simple, huh? All you have to do is believe in Jesus.

Actually it is not quite that simple. It is not as simple as believing that 2+2=4. This sort of faith is a gift from God. You can never find God with your mind, alone. Trust me on this, I have tried to explain God to a devout atheist. Using the most convincing arguments I could find, he just could not see. God must reveal Himself to you. The disciples walked with Jesus for nearly three years before it started to become clear to them who Jesus was. And then, once they realized that, Jesus said that God had revealed that to them. Surely if a person can hang around the Son of God, see miracle after astonishing miracle for three years and not realize Who He is, there is a certain blindness in the natural mind. Wouldn’t you agree?

But have heart! If you want to find Him – it is because He first wanted you to find Him. So keep looking! The natural mind does not want to find God because the natural mind wants to be in control and do what it pleases.

No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him (John 6:44 KJV)

Watchman Nee says that Eternal life and Salvation are not the same thing. Salvation is salvation from this world. Eternal Life is of course self-explanatory. [1]

Watchman Nee says that Salvation is salvation from the world system. Salvation is not a personal thing, it is a positional thing. Like being on Noah’s Ark. Either you were on the ark or you were not.
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:38 KJV)

Baptism is absolutely critical for this life For it is by believing and being baptized that one gets the gift of the Holy Spirit. There is no way to make any spiritual progress in life without the Holy Spirit. I could explain it for a week and you would not understand unless you have experienced it.
It is like trying to explain to someone the feeling you get of a job well done. The satisfaction of looking back at your work and realizing you’ve done a great job. If you’ve never experienced it, there is no need to try to explain it.

The Holy Spirit quickens your spirit to allow God to communicate with you.  [2]

The unregenerated spirit is dead to God. Though He can communicate with you (mostly by conscience) There is very little God can do, except to try to lead you to the cross by making your conscience unbearable.

1 A Living Sacrifice Chapter 1
By Watchman Nee
Christian Fellowship Publishers (October 1972)
ISBN-10: 093500808X
ISBN-13: 978-0935008081

2 The Spiritual Man Part 1, Chapter 4 (Combined Edition)
By Watchman Nee
Christian Fellowship Publishers (1977)
ISBN-10: 0935008-39-X

How Good you have to be to get to Heaven

Misconception: “If I am good enough, I will get to Heaven”

For no one can ever be made right in God’s sight by doing what his law commands. For the more we know God’s law, the clearer it becomes that we aren’t obeying it.
(Romans 3:20 NLT)

Perhaps because so many religions call for people to please God to achieve salvation, this is probably the most commonly misunderstood concept in Christianity.

But the law brings punishment on those who try to obey it. (The only way to avoid breaking the law is to have no law to break!) (Romans 4:15 NLT)

There is no way to be “good enough” to get to Heaven. God’s standards are so much higher than ours, that we cannot even comprehend what it would take to be good enough — much less accomplish it.

But the Jews, who tried so hard to get right with God by keeping the law, never succeeded. Why not? Because they were trying to get right with God by keeping the law and being good instead of by depending on faith. (Romans 9:31-32 NLT)

God is so Holy that any sin you ever committed in the past would have to be held against you. Only believing in Jesus can get you to Heaven.

For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one [point], he is guilty of all. (James 2:10 KJV)

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