Posted in assurance, theology

“All you need to do to get to heaven is to die”

By Elizabeth Prata

I’m listening through RC Sproul’s current Daily Video series on the topic of Assurance. In his lecture on “Four Kinds of People”, Sproul made the point that most people think all they need to do to go to heaven is to die.

That statement is boiled down from all the false notions of how the unsaved/falsely saved people comprehend heaven.

They believe, he said, that if one has lived a good life, then they will go to heaven. This false notion is affirmed by the silent removal of all mention of sin at their funeral. Listening to eulogies, one can easily believe the person lived a perfect and good life.

So, when you die, you go to heaven.

Anyone who has lived on earth for any period of time knows that there are benchmarks to achieve when you’re progressing along in any sphere, whether it’s hobbies, employment, education, or life in general. Even a kindergartener moving to first grade knows that you have to pass tests and acquire enough knowledge. There are standards to attain. You need to attain educational standards before entering the next grade level. Colleges have standards for entry. You can’t drive a car unless you pass a test. The Army has standards for enrollment. Your employment depends on achieving a standard, whether it’s anything from a rigorous medical certificate to passing a drug test. Acting requires auditions. Sports requires tryouts.

On this earth, a person practically can’t do anything anywhere without achieving an externally set series of standards.

Except heaven?

Because we all go there? So anyone can get in, anytime, for any reason? There’s no standard for entry?

It makes no logical sense.

Just like everywhere else on earth, where man has set a standard, of course there is a standard for entry into heaven. God made it. And since God made this entry requirement, it is perfect and good.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

To enter heaven, you must do the will of God.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven”. (Matthew 7:21).

So, what is the will of God?

God … desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:4).

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).

The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel. (Mark 1:15).

Because, 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. (Romans 10:9)

God’s will is for people to repent of their sins and believe on His Son, the resurrected Christ.

Jesus is the standard, the one and only standard for entry to heaven.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6).

It is true that all people die. But life does not end there. There is a test. Will you pass?

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! (2 Corinthians 13:5).

The test is to determine whether, at death, if Christ is in you.

When we die, there is a Judgment Day. (Hebrews 9:27). The one and only test will be whether Jesus knows us. Is Christ in you? If yes, you look forward to that glorious Day. If no, then you will come face to face with the Judge who will declare that you failed to meet the test, having failed to repent and believe in Him. He will cast you into hell to be punished for your sins, forever.

This is a pass-fail test. If you meet the standard, you’re in. If not, you will be barred from entry. There is no re-do. There is no auditing the class. There is no re-take. There is no bell curve. You won’t be graded on a scale. There is one and only one benchmark to meet, and it must be completed in this life before the last breath exits your lungs.

Repent of your sins and believe in Jesus.

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Posted in assurance, theology

We all need the Gospel, especially the falsely assured

By Elizabeth Prata

Isaiah 5:20- -“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”

It sure seems like lots of people are acting like this today, doesn’t it? And I’m speaking of Christians!

As Barnes Notes says of the Isaiah verse, “Woe unto them that call evil good … – This is the fourth class of sins denounced. The sin which is reprobated here is that of “perverting and confounding” things, especially the distinctions of morality and religion. They prefer erroneous and fake doctrines to the true; they prefer an evil to an upright course of conduct.”

1 Timothy 4:1 – “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.

In the verse above, in various translations, we read that The Spirit says it expressly, explicitly, directly, clearly in well defined words, that’s what it means. And He is now saying it present tense. ~John MacArthur

Present tense means that the Spirit is still saying that people will abandon the faith and follow doctrines of demons.

The first sign Jesus gave in response to the disciples’ question about the last days in Matthew 24 was religious deception. This theme is carried throughout the other verses in Old Testament and New where we read even in Amos 8:11 that He will send a famine on the land, a famine for the Word. That prophecy was fulfilled when the time came when no prophet spoke the words from the Lord. It is also coming again, when doctrines of demons tickle the ears but fail to fill the soul.

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” (2 Timothy 4:3)

Apostasy is a process. Hebrews 2:1 says “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” No one falls away from the faith all at once. It’s incremental.

Therefore the antidote to apostasy is to pay attention. Pay attention to what? The Gospel. Pay attention to Who? Jesus. Always test one’s self to see if we are in the faith. (2 Corinthians 13:5). If we do not pay careful attention, making constant small course corrections, the tiny drift eventually becomes a wide sea, and the person is adrift on a stormy ocean of spiritualism but is far from a peaceful shore.

Believers cannot lose their salvation, the Holy Spirit is in us, a deposit as the guarantee. (2 Corinthians 1:22). What kind of guarantee would it be if we could possess a guarantee then it turns out to be void? (Isaiah 55:11).

I’ve been enjoying RC Sproul’s daily lectures on the topic of Assurance. His most recent lecture (Wednesday, May 1, 2019) was on the 4 kinds of people:

Folks who know they aren’t saved
Folks who know they are saved
Folks who believe they’re saved but struggle with doubt
Folks who assure themselves they’re saved, but aren’t.

It’s an interesting lecture. Sproul said that those people in the 4th category, fully assured they are saved but aren’t, may have a lot more doubt inside themselves than they are showing.

People who you believe are saved need the Gospel too. We all do. People you know who say they are saved but you havent’ seen any fruit, perhaps aren’t, and they might need the Gospel as well. People you know who seem saved, who talk the talk and even walk the walk, if they begin drifting, do not be afraid to share the Gospel and evangelize them. They, too, need Jesus, the Anchor, the Light, the One who saves. Actually, every person on the planet needs the Gospel. What a joy it is to know the Good News. We might not know who is saved or are unsure of our own salvation, but we know the Answer. Jesus’s Gospel.

Twitter Gospel

Posted in assurance, encouragement, pilgrim's progress, salvation

How to guard from carnal thoughts and actions. What will do it?

I am reading and studying the John Bunyan book Pilgrim’s Progress. John Bunyan wrote this book in 1678. I am using a study guide from Mount Zion Bible Institute (free) and also notes and commentary from Ken Puls of Founder’s Ministries/Founder’s Press.

I absolutely love the language of the old Puritan times. At one point, Christian had fallen asleep and now had to retrace his steps because he had lost his scroll. The sun was setting and he worried would not make it to the safe and secure way-station Porter’s Lodge before dark. He had been told there were lions awaiting (though chained). He was nervous about the noise the doleful creatures would make.

I wrote this during my reflection time-

When I stray from the righteous path or lose my scroll, the night time noise of the doleful creatures disturbs my heart and troubles my mind.

Christian made it to the Porter’s Lodge, where he engages in conversation with Prudence. She asks Christian,

Saco Museum Panorama of Pilgrim’s Progress

Prudence: Can you remember by what means you find your annoyances at times as if they were vanquished?
Christian: Yes:
–when I think what I saw at the cross, that will do it;
–and when I look upon my broidered coat, that will do it;
–and when I look into the roll that I carry in my bosom, that will do it;
–and when my thoughts wax warm about whither I am going, that will do it.

What a wonderful summation of how to remain on the righteous path, and so to banish carnal thoughts and wayward behavior!

Ken Puls wrote: [excerpted]

The conversation at Palace Beautiful continues with Prudence asking Christian some questions. Prudence represents our carefulness to walk in the wisdom and truth of God’s Word. To be prudent is to live and act with discretion and to exercise good judgment. Prudence is the practical outworking of wisdom. Christian prudence is godly wisdom in action, as we apply God’s Word to what we think, say and do.
Piety began the discussion by drawing out Christian’s story and testimony for the benefit of all in the Palace; Prudence probes deeper. She presses Christian into a more weighty conversation that explores his inner motivation and struggles. Her questions focus on: 

1. His inward battles with former lusts
2. His fortitude to fend off carnal thoughts and worldly temptations
3. His strategy to guard his heart and mind against sin

I’ll focus on the third question and excerpt Puls’ notes here-

Prudence then asks Christian about his strategy to guard against carnal thoughts. What means are most effective in vanquishing besetting sin? 

Christian mentions the value of meditating on God’s Word. He ponders the truth of Scripture and preaches it to himself. He anchors his thoughts in the promises of the gospel: the cross of Christ (the place of deliverance), the imputed righteousness of Christ (the coat he now wears), the assurance of salvation (his roll that he carries close to his heart), and his destination (eternal life in heaven). 

Finally Prudence asks him why he is so eager to reach heaven. Christian is anchored in God’s Word and aiming for eternity. He has embarked on a journey and understands that this world is not his home. It is filled with sin, death, trials and afflictions, and it can wearisome as we press on day by day. We must remember that we are just passing through. Christian longs for the joys that await us in glory: 

There we will see Christ face to face (1 John 3:1-3; Revelation 22:4).
There we will be free, not just from sin’s condemnation and power, but from its presence (Revelation 21:27, 22:3).
There we will have life eternal; there will be no more death (Isaiah 25:8; Revelation 21:4).
There we will be in the company of angels (Revelation 4:8) and the redeemed (Philippians 3:20) forever.

When you are discouraged…plagued by carnal thoughts…have sinned…drifted a bit…with ease and alacrity one can return to Jesus! Think of the cross, reflect on your salvation, look into the Book, and ponder your eternal destination.

That will do it.

Posted in assurance, faith, john macarthur, salvation

The dreadful reality of the apostate Church

One of my most fervent prayers is that your church is not filled with comfortable unbelievers. Why? I dread this day:

Artist: Boris Sajtinac

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 

On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ ” (Matthew 7:21-23)

Today is the day we should…

...draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:22)

Here is a resource for you to test your faith and find assurance

Is It Real?– 11 Biblical Tests of Genuine Salvation
1 John; 1 John 5:1; John 10: 10; 1 Peter 5:10

Throughout the letter is a series of tests to determine whether you possess eternal life. If you don’t pass these tests, you’ll know where you stand and what you need to do. If you do, you’ll have reason to enjoy your eternal salvation with great assurance.