Monthly Archives: February 2014

Who Gets in to Heaven?

I got onto the source of the last note (or blog) by thinking about the source of the idea for this note.  There are these pious people who say, as you have heard them, “The Lord told me….” and sometimes this strikes us as sounding like they have a hot-line to heaven, versus the rest of us ordinary mortals. But actually, if properly understood, every one of God’s children does.  Not that God approves of our “by-passing” such channels as his Good Book, in which we “have it in writing” – which is hard to beat even in human communications – but the fact is, as I said in my previous note, all of us get them from Him (via angels, “directly”, of through some other spirit, including our fellow man) or from the devil via the same mediums.  Which is where the struggle or tension comes in, that I have been talking about – deciding the origin of our brainstorms.  It’s called the “gift of discernment” in Scripture, which we should covet much more than the gifts of tongues, healing, or even “preaching.” For what can a person preach except that which he has been told, heard?

So I say all that to say, “The Lord told me” what I regard as a real insight, or break-through in my understanding of His will and His ways, and that is something which can be put as simply as this:  The only people who go to hell are those who want to.  The same applies, of course, to heaven, which might be a better way of putting it, namely, everybody who wants to go to heaven will get there.

I know that such songs as “There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus” say all this in such statements as, “Will He refuse us a home in heaven?  No not one.”  Meaning, of course, those who ask, want to.  But I, like so many others, sing such songs thoughtlessly and contradict them in thinking and theology.  We “Calvinists” especially, with our corrupted notions of predestination, which make salvation an arbitrary  and capricious “enny, menni, mini….”  Like Russian elections.

I’m not going to elaborate or argue for the idea.  It’s big and wonderful enough to stand just that way, answering a lot of our “blocks” about good people going to hell, heathen who “do their best,” etc.  Proof of it all is found in Scripture in such plain statements as, “God is not willing that any should perish.” (2 Pet 3:9)  “He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked.” (Ezekial 33:11) Those who are lost have only themselves to blame.  Other statements in the Bible say equally clearly, “I wanted…but you didn’t want to!”  That sure clears up for me a lot of unnecessary or false sympathy for some people, a sense of injustice on God’s part, the presence of counterfeit Christians in the church, and so forth.

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The Source of Ideas

 

I got to thinking at my desk this AM, in splendid solitude in one of the teacher’s rooms, surrounded by empty turtle cases and dying plants, about the source of one’s ideas.  Obviously they come in large part from outside ourselves, even though our marvelous mind comes into the world with a lot of ideas of its own, which are added to, developed, corrected, replaced, etc.  And there are just two kinds of minds or rational beings, whether human or spiritual (God, Satan, angels – good or bad), so it’s a constant “battle” or contest, even when we are sleeping, as to what kind of thoughts and ideas are going to enter our heads – right or wrong.

We go to school to accumulate as many right ideas as possible from people who presumably have them, and we seek the companionship of people (friends, etc) who can do the same for us (and we, hopefully, for them).  Unfortunately, through work and other unavoidable contacts we are thrown into, a lot of people have kookie ideas.  We do our best to laugh them off and ignore them, or resist them if they have appeal.  But, unfortunately, we tend to absorb and adopt even what we once dismissed as nuts, if the idea is repeated often enough by enough people.

On that score, it has helped me to read newspapers more critically, consisting as they do for the most part of the negative and bad; given enough reports of evil and pretty soon you aren’t upset about it all any more, or even think it is so bad – like abortion, divorce or even murder, on the highways, say.

And it has been no great struggle to pass up TV and most of its offerings, with such reasoning as  – would you really invite guys like the late night hosts to your house, especially repeatedly? But that is what we do via TV, and a lot of people’s thinking (really that of their copywriters, who are often an unprincipled bunch) rubs off on oneself.

This has helped me to as much serious readings as I have, when I stop to think that buying and reading a book by some brain, be it regarding astronomy or psych or Christianity, is also the same as having him in your house for hours, giving you his best ideas and stated in his best possible fashion.

All of which leads up to saying that a guy is only shortchanging himself by neglecting the blessed Book which God himself wrote for the particular purpose of telling us how he operates in our lives, what we are like, etc.  Any one of us would fall all over himself if Christ, who is God in human form, were available to us for an hour’s conversation, or even a “bull session” of a few moments, the way be bat the fat over “coffee break” or a coke at night, etc.  But that’s exactly what reading the Bible is all about.

It is simply amazing what marvelous insights you get from letting God talk to you through it.  Not just what it says obviously, by way of good directions for one’s life, but what is “in between the lines” by way of sparking thoughts of your own.  People who’s only acquaintance with the Bible is largely through such go-betweens as the preacher and his insights, never get beyond him in their thinking, and they allow such limited folk to set their own levels of spiritual understanding and growth.  So be your own preacher; your own priest.  Be a Melchizedek, says Hebrews, to whom a man like Abraham (whom we make so much of in sermon series, baptism forms, etc.) bowed down, recognized as superior, closer to God, more godlike, more of a “man.” Be your own man, is what I am saying.  Unlike many Christians, go beyond your own folks in this regard; build on them.  Correct where they were wrong.  Elaborate and think through what they had in “seed” form.  Hand on more to your kids than what was handed on to you.  Too long we have regarded the “faith” as something of a package to be passed on, unimproved.  We parents fail if we don’t give our kids more than what our folks gave us.  Most parents, even Christian ones, are satisfied to give more to their kids by way of education, money, than they were given.  Nuts on that noise.  Or, as Jesus said better, “Do both! Pass on more (of the good) in every area.”

Confession

This note is more in the form of a confession, which the Good Book says we should do to one another, and that is the old temptation to gripe, especially regarding fellow Christians – plus the world in general such as taxes, inflation, alcoholism, etc.  Double fault; I like to kid myself into thinking that it is righteous concern, principle, fairness, desire to make thing right. Happily, I know the real cause of it is that I’ve got it “too good.”  I have no personal problems, like unemployment, to occupy my mind, and I have to the contrary, been loaded with so many blessings that I have become like a spoiled kid, who wants EVERYTHING his way regarding his environment which includes other people.

So the thought came to me, “OK, what difference would it make to you if so-and-so did work harder, or that somebody else didn’t bust things; that a third guy would get fired, somebody else hired; so-and-so not marry, and somebody else find a good mate?” I would just find something else to fret about, in “righteous indignation,” such as wheat sent to Russia that sits rotting in warehouses, or girl brides in India being burned alive.

So back to the basics of not trying to be the world’s Savior; even Jesus didn’t, in that sense, though injustices were worse in his day which must have angered him.  Just leave it with the Lord, if you are not the problem nor the solution.

Two other admonitions:  It is only by these encounters with other people who rub us the wrong way that we get polished up ourselves, and that is what life is all about. Not getting houses built or inventing computers, but “producing” people literally and spiritually.  Jesus’ brother James says that we ought to welcome, rejoice in personality clashes for they are just “money in the bank” in giving us those costly virtues of godlikeness – patience, serenity, forgiveness.

A practical point is that you learn not to look to human beings for your models, with their fickleness, selfishness, thoughtlessness, etc. That encourages fighting fire with fire, imitating them. Because they will do things that will make me envy them, or get mad at them for doing it. Then, says Jesus, I have done the same thing in my heart!  And felt righteous for not doing it in deed!

In my college days I was involved in a lot of extracurricular things.  And I found out this universal and perennial principle: That everywhere and anytime about a third of the race wants to do things or improve them; another third will go along (and let the others do it or pay for it); and another third will buck you.  But, even the third group is useful and helpful.  We are not always correct in our bright ideas and they help us to eliminate the weak points in our position and, as in the case of “resistance exercises” or isometrics, actually make our position stronger.

Science, Vocation and the Bible

Editor’s note: This post, as was the previous one, was from a “lunch box” note.   I think the contents were meant to be observational and not a critique of society.  So no offense is intended.  Just food for thought.

Some of the criticisms of the Bible’s accuracy or unscientificness are amusing.  Of course, in the past, some naive “Christians” contributed to such criticisms by insisting that the earth was flat.  Such statements in scripture as “the four corners of the earth” are comparable to our ‘four directions’ or points on the compass. Talking about the sun rising and setting, as scripture does, is paralleled by every evening weather reporter on TV who talks in the same terms, without reverting to the idea that the sun goes around the earth.  In fact, scripture shows its pre-science accuracy by such statements in scripture as “when Jesus returns, one will be sleeping, another working in the field,” etc. which definitely shows the circular character of the earth and “time zones” in an age when everybody thought that it was light all over the world simultaneously, and dark, etc.

And, I am told, that multiplication of seeds and fruit is always even-numbered. That would figure since multiplication is always by division or pairings with one cell becoming two, two to four, etc.  Strikingly, in the parable of the sower, Jesus does not say that some brought forth twenty-five fold, but forty, sixty, etc.

Anyway, in reading in the Bible that at the end of the world people would be buying and selling and so forth, nothing is said about productive based employment, be it either farming or construction, or manufacturing.  Buying and selling are commercial, what is known as “service employment,” which is increasingly taking the place of “traditional jobs.”  Those engaged in farming and manufacture are decreasing in number every year.  Did you ever notice that in the typical TV dramas that menfolk are salesman, advertisers, executives, desk men?  Only the sitcoms seem to depict men as plumbers, etc. And even they are service oriented primarily.

Now, in terms of Plato’s “Utopia” of the ideal society, with a minimum of people even in government, how can any society flourish when the majority are not “productive,” but “taking in each other’s wash” so to speak?  Only via a false economy which prints money, practices deficit spending, living in a “fool’s paradise” that figures, “What the heck; let the next generation worry.”

So apart from any moral to be drawn for a balanced government budget or one’s life calling (living off the other guy instead of “producing” something, making the world a better place, which includes auto repair as well as manufacture), it does seem, again, as though scripture, 2000 years ago, was predicting the very thing for the latter days which we find to be true today.  In Jesus day, virtually nobody except the despised “scribes”, were engaged in “service”  occupations.  Even priests had their farms, Paul made tents, Jesus was a carpenter, etc.  The buyers and sellers in that day sold their own stuff, were engaged in exchange and barter, rather than the deceitful hucksters we have today who can sell anything because they are such con artists.  Most advertisers “sell themselves,” rather than the products they fight to get contracts to promote, but that is another story.