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Do Christians go straight to Heaven when they die? September 29, 2011

Posted by Henry in Matters of the Faith.
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43 comments

This issue was raised by Marianne under another post on “The Heresy of the Heaven’s Gate cult” and I thought I would separate the issues out by dedicating this issue to its own post.

It is my firm belief that Christians DO NOT go straight to heaven when they die and that is what I believe scripture is saying. By the same token though we might equally ask do sinners go straight to hell when they die?

Here is a detailed study which I believe has done a fine job in presenting the case that Christians do not go to heaven on death.

What do others think? Lets hear your views.

The heresy of the Heaven’s Gate cult September 21, 2011

Posted by Henry in False Doctrines.
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27 comments

I first encountered the heavens gate cult when I read a news article about how the brother of the Star Trek actress Nichelle Nichol’s (who played Lieutenant Uhura in the original series) committed suicide in 1997 in what was a mass suicide conducted by the Heaven’s Gate group to coincide with the passing of Hales Comet by the earth. It was believed by those who were involved that the comet would take their souls to heaven. From a Christian point of view this of course is preposterous but what should be more surprising is the fact that this group claim also to be followers of Christ and cloak their beliefs in scripture. I personally have not studied the beliefs of this group extensively however from what I have learnt about them I know enough to designate them as a cult which promotes false doctrines.

 

Our Lord Jesus Christ warns us many times in His word that we should beware of false christs and false teachers who if it were possible would deceive the very elect. I fear that those who are involved with the heaven’s gate group are both deceiving and being deceived. For instance, where is it written in scripture that believers should commit suicide in order to attain to heaven or even that space objects such as comets would come to take our souls to heaven so that we should take our own lives to gain entry such a vehicle? Anyone who believes this must necessarily believe a different gospel than that written in the Bible. However, as Paul admonishes us we should test every spirit to see if they are of God, in like fashion as the Bereans who examined all that Paul had taught them against the word to see if those things that Paul claimed were so. The adherents of the heaven’s gate group would do well to study the scriptures daily to see if the teachings they received lined up with the Word of God.

 

Jesus Christ came into this world to die for our sins so that through Him – by believing in Him and His gospel message we might be saved and inherit eternal life. Paul writing to Titus said:

11For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 14Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

Rather than committing suicide to accelerate our journey to heaven we are to earnestly continue in the blessed hope, waiting for the appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. Moreover, when we die though we be in Christ we do not instantly go to heaven. Rather we remain asleep until the great and terrible day of the Lord when Jesus shall descend from heaven to gather the dead and the living who are in Him to Himself. See the following verses:

 

16For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18Wherefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thess 4:16-18)

 

The heaven’s gate group however believes there is actually a different way to get to heaven – mass suicide. To them what is written here in the Word is not true but rather what their teachers tell them is what they believe to be the truth. However you cannot have it both ways – it is either you believe the Word of God as written in the Bible or you make it up as you go along or follow those who make it up as they go along.

 

The heaven’s gate group believes in two characters called Ti and Do who they claim are Jesus and God and at the same time the Two Witnesses of Revelation 11. The first question we need to ask here is whether God can send witnesses who contradict His very word. Let us first of all briefly examine whether these two characters could actually be God and Jesus. Jesus came into this world a messenger of the Father to bring good news to the lost. Jesus however told us that He is going back but will come again to gather those that are His to himself (Matt 16:27, Rev 22:12). Jesus knew however that when He left many false Christ would arise after Him to lead the people astray so He gave the desciples the signs to look for of His coming so that we are not deceived. We read for example:

 

24For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. 25Behold, I have told you before. 26Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. 27For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. (Matt 24:24-27)

 

In spite of these clear warnings given by Jesus Himself that we should not go after another who is already on earth and claiming to be Him but rather to look for His appearing as the lighting flashes from East to West the heaven’s gate group rejects these very words. They claim that Jesus does not need to appear in this way but that His coming is phased and it is up to us to be able to recognize if when he is here. To reject Jesus’ words here and to say that Ti and Do are God and Jesus incarnate is nothing but a lie in the face of the Bible. Whom do we trust? The Bible, the revealed word of God or do we trust another who contradicts this very word?

 

Could these two therefore be the Two Witnesses of God – not if they contradict the very word of God they cannot be. More importantly they do not fit into neither the prophesy nor the criteria to fulfill the prophesy surrounding the ministry of the Two Witnesses. The Bible makes clear to us that the Two Witnesses complete their ministry during the opening of the 7th Seal at a time when the 5th angel (of the seven having the seven trumpets and the last seven plagues to judge the earth) sounded. These events occur after the 6th seal when the heavens were opened and when Jesus gathers those that are His to Himself. We know this because in Revelations 9 the 5th angel sounded and released the angel of the bottomless pit which I believe is the same beast of the bottomless bit which made war with the 2 witnesses in Revelation 11 and killed them following the end of their ministry. For the heaven’s gate group to therefore claim that the two witnesses have already fulfilled their ministry is again another lie in the face of scripture.

 

This has not been a detailed study on the heaven’s gate group nor was it intended to be but I believe I have left the reader in no doubt about the deceptive nature of the group. Their purpose is clearly not to fulfill the mission of Christ even though they may have been deceived into thinking that it is. I only pray that those who encounter them will stay clear of them and those who remain in the group may see the light of Christ and be awakened out of their deception.

God’s will for your life September 14, 2011

Posted by Henry in Teaching Things They Ought Not.
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I have always struggled when I read about or hear teachers saying that one needs to find out what God’s will for their life is and then seek to pursue it. Underpinning this message is the notion that “God’s will for your life” encompasses all aspects including, career options, who to marry etc and that “God’s will for your life” is something unique to each individual. In other words advocates of this “notion” believes that God has already selected a career path, a wife or husband or a range of blessings that will allow one to live a relatively comfortable and successful life. It is therefore believed that unless we know what God’s will for our life is we can actually miss it. Have you missed God’s will for your life? We shall come to that question later. The more pertinent question here though is whether this view is Biblically sound.

Since God is sovereign then the common denominator that everyone’s life is predicated upon is “God’s Will.” This applies to the believer and the unbeliever alike. The scriptures truly say that “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Ps 24:1). Jesus also made it clear that the Father sendeth rain upon both the just and the unjust (Matt 5:45). One question that could be asked here then is whether it is in God’s will for man to commit evil? The answer clearly is no but it is God’s will to allow man his free will. Back at the beginning of time God forbade Adam to eat of the forbidden fruit but at the same time God equipped Adam with free will. It should be said here though that it is not God’s will for man to exercise his free will the way he chooses. There is therefore a conflict here between God’s will and man’s will or desires as demonstrated by Adam disobeying God. So what then is God’s will?

In the simplest terms, God’s will for us is that we should serve Him by obeying His commands, not merely the Ten Commandments but rather the commandments of Christ as outlined in the New Testament. God’s will is for us to “Seek ye first the Kingdomof Godand His righteousness”(Matt 6:33). The interesting thing about this verse is that Jesus continues by saying that “……. and all these things shall be added unto you.” The “all these things” pertained to daily living as demonstrated by the previous scriptures:

31Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

The concept of seeking “God’s will for your life” therefore seems to be at cross purposes with what Jesus has said here in these verses. Jesus did not say that we should seek theKingdomofGodand His righteousness and then do something more but rather that once we make theKingdomofGodour priority “all these things” SHALL be added unto us. Why do these ministers and teachers therefore give believers the impression that they need to do something more than simply seeking theKingdomofGod? The concept of seeking God’s will for one’s life seems to me to be the direct opposite of what Christ said about not taking any thought for what we shall eat, drink or wear. Not only is it at odds with what Jesus said here but also with other scriptures as well as will be demonstrated below.

The Preacher for example says:

6Because to every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore the misery of man is great upon him. 7For he knoweth not that which shall be: for who can tell him when it shall be? (Ecc 8:6-7)

12For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them. (Ecc 9:12)

Against the backdrop of these scriptures how can one know “God’s will for their life”? As the preacher has demonstrated here you do not even know when your time (death) shall come let alone to know what will happen in the future. Does this not resolve back to what Jesus said about not taking thought for tomorrow and “sufficient unto the day the evil thereof? (Matt 6:34)”

We can learn even more from the Preacher in Ecc 9:

10Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

11I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

These particular verses are quite important to consider against what some pastors and teachers have been saying about seeking God’s will for one’s life. Firstly, it says in verse 10 “whatsoever thy hand findeth to do” as opposed to whatsoever we sought God’s will for our hands to do. In conjunction verse 11 made it clear that what our hands find to do is all down to time and chance rather than as a result of seeking God’s will for one’s life. Of course this is not meant to deny “God’s sovereign will” underpinning all this. For example, James demonstrated that if we desire to pursue a future endeavor we ought to prevail on ‘God’s will’ in allowing us to complete it:

13Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: 14Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. 15For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. James 4:13-15

The key verse here is “ye know not what shall be on the morrow”. To say that we can seek and know God’s will for what we shall do for tomorrow however seems to me to be somewhat presumptuous. The question here then is this: Do we reflect God’s will through our own desires and ambitions? Again, how can we say we have missed God’s will considering we know not what shall be for tomorrow? Of course with the benefit of hindsight we can have regrets about things we could have done or wished we had done in the past, but how do we know that it was even God’s will in the first place?

I believe God’s will for our lives is to seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness if we do we have not missed His will. The “in betweens” of what pertains to daily life does not matter and consequently I believe that teachers who teach the “God’s will for your life” doctrine are teaching a different gospel.

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