For the past three weeks we’ve been talking about words, words, words. Is all this talk just a good suggestion? Nope, it’s a lot more serious than that. Turns out your future is at stake. More
I’m crazy about fruit: plump blueberries, juicy peaches, Honeycrisp apples. In Matthew 12 we catch Jesus, probably as He’s walking by some fruit trees, using fruit to teach the cream-of-the-crop religious folks an important lesson about their words. Let’s join them now. More
Are you good enough to go to hell? That might sound like a strange question, but check out these words of Jesus:
“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'” (Matt. 7:21–23).
Check out the résumé of these people to whom Jesus will refuse entrance into heaven. They:
- claim that Jesus is their Lord, the One who rules their lives.
- publicly teach about Jesus with passion and authority.
- cast out demons in Jesus’ name (something I definitely haven’t done).
- perform miracles—actual miracles—all in Jesus’ name.
Jesus says people will be shocked when He’ll ask, “Who are you? I never knew you.”
News flash: hell is for good people, too. People like you; people like me.
Tell me, do you:
- Read your Bible?
- Volunteer at the soup kitchen?
- Tell people about Jesus?
- Rescue helpless animals?
- Go on mission trips?
- Help in the church nursery?
If so, you’re good enough to go to hell.
You’re headed to heaven not because you were good enough, but because Jesus was good enough for you.
But if good people go to hell, then who on earth is good enough for heaven?!
And if your hope is in being good enough to get into heaven, you’re headed straight to hell.
I’ve heard Mark Vroegop say it like this: “Works don’t work.” Check out Romans 4:5 to see what he means:
To the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.
In case “does not work” sounds like a permission slip for a lifelong vacation, let me clarify. In 2 Peter 1:5–7 we’re told:
Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.
“The gospel is not opposed to effort but [it is opposed] to earning,” the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible explains.
There’s nothing wrong with good works—as long as they flow out of gratitude for the grace you’ve been shown by Jesus. You’re headed to heaven not because you were good enough, but because Jesus was good enough for you. He bore God’s wrath toward your filthy and your “good” works, and He gave you the record of always having been 100 percent good.
If you recognize that you’re good enough to go to hell, please, oh, please, would you stop counting on your “good works” to earn you a spot in heaven? Turn to and trust in the only One good enough to secure eternal salvation for you—Jesus.
“Are You Good Enough to Go to Hell?” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com
Thirty-three foster kids and six adopted children later, I joined Dan and Melissa Jarvis’ family for a few weeks. The stories I have learned since have boggled my mind. More
As I read your comments on last week’s post “The Most Influential Man In Your Life,” I realized we weren’t speaking the same language. Several of you made comments like,
I am in-between both of those characteristics: Adam and Christ. Some days I give into the world, other days I live my life for Christ. It is a never-ending battle.
Here’s the thing: Being in Christ is less about your experience and more about your position in Christ. There isn’t any in-between. You’re either all the way “in Adam” or all the way “in Christ.”
The fact is, all of us were born “in Adam,” but if and when we put our trust in Jesus to be our righteousness, we are born again “in Christ.” We are one with Him now.
Paul begins Romans 6 by asking should we keep sinning ’cause we’ve been shown such crazy extravagant grace in Jesus? No way, he bursts in on himself. We’ve died to sin. We died and were buried with Jesus, and now we, too, have brand-new resurrection life. We have power over sin.
Our job: believe it to be so,
You also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (Rom. 6:11).
As you begin to operate out of who you are (dead to sin, alive to God, and in Christ Jesus), it will drastically change what you do.
See what I mean in this excerpt from my book Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl: On Her Journey from Neediness to Freedom:
A Whole New Me
My whole life I’d struggled to defeat the power of sin—with no success. But now I was reading startling truths I’d never grasped.
It wasn’t just Jesus who had died—I’d died with Him. It wasn’t just Jesus who had been buried—my old self, packed with sin, had been buried with Him, too. And when Jesus burst out of that tomb with brand-new resurrection life, I, too, was given new life! Galatians 2:20 sums it up well:
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but
Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by
faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
For the first time, I understood that Jesus didn’t die to forgive me of my sin but leave me in it. He died to forgive and to free me from the power of sin. Suddenly I realized I didn’t have to be jealous of that pretty girl. I didn’t have to covet every guy I saw. I didn’t have to hate that guy for not liking me. I wasn’t powerless anymore.
In fact, in Christ I was no longer that helpless, hopeless, boy-crazy girl. I had a new identity now: I was dead to sin, alive to God, and in Christ Jesus. My only job? Believing it to be so and living in light of that truth.
From that point on, I saw God begin to change not only my outward behavior but even the hidden desires of my heart. Whether I actually became a Christian at this time or not, I can’t say. I asked Jesus to save me at about age four, but this was the first time I really understood why the Good News was such good news!
This was the beginning of my whole new life.
Notice I said “the beginning.” It’s not like I was instantly transformed. But as I remembered, believed, and personalized these truths, my overwhelming despair ebbed away and was gradually replaced by hope. I stopped trying so hard and just started dying. Or rather, I started believing that I had already died with Christ. I gave up control and let Jesus take over.
How about you? Have you repented of your sin and put all your faith in Christ’s righteousness instead of your own? If so, you are now dead to sin, alive to God, and in Christ Jesus. Regardless of how you lived yesterday (or today), this is true of you. Now, begin to thank God for this truth. Wear it. Remember it. Relish it. Live from it.
“The Three Truths That Forever Changed My Life” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.
I don’t know you personally, but I can narrow the most influential man in your life down to one of two men. I don’t have a glass ball, and I haven’t stalked your Twitter account, but I know because these two men have been the two most important men in my life, too. More
Have you watched this video of Catherine’s visit to the psychologist? More
Jennifer cussed the chaplain out when she arrived at prison to serve her sixteen-year sentence. But in the privacy of her cell, she repeatedly beat her head against the concrete wall until it bled. Without drugs, she knew no other way to mask the anger and bitterness she had known from childhood.
For most of her twenty-two years, Jennifer’s parents said she was a mistake—that she was supposed to be a boy. So, Jennifer believed that God makes mistakes.
At ten, a nineteen-year-old from church began molesting Jennifer. At this point, Jennifer wanted nothing to do with God.
She started drinking at age eleven to make the pain go away. By twelve, she was cutting, participating in criminal activity, and abusing drugs. By seventeen, she was a “mule,” trafficking drugs from Tulsa to Memphis.
One night, wondering how her life had turned out the way it had, Jennifer breathed a simple prayer, “Help. If You’re listening, help.”
She didn’t think about that prayer again until twenty-seven days later, when she saw six squad cars in her rearview mirror. As Jennifer was slammed to the pavement and cuffed, a load lifted from her. While she didn’t know what it would look like, she was certain life as she knew it was over.
After arriving at prison, Jennifer mocked the inmates in the Christian program. But she watched them. Their joy haunted her because it was something she had never known.
So she caved and joined them. For ten weeks, she heard things she’d never heard before: Forgiveness equals freedom; God uses authority for direction, provision, and protection for our lives. And, if she would believe in Jesus’ sacrifice for her sins, He would give her a new identity.
Ten weeks came and went, and the chaplain asked Jennifer to stay ten more. She couldn’t understand why—after the trouble she’d caused—but Jennifer agreed.
And on December 21, 2000, God’s Spirit interacted with her through His Word for the first time in her life. When that class ended, Jennifer got on her knees and told God if He could salvage what was left of her life, it was His.
And it has been, ever since.
“If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Cor. 5:17)
PS: Jennifer got out of prison on May 31, 2011, only to go back in . . . this time as a denominational chaplain. God is now using her mightily to help salvage other bitter, broken lives.