I've been visiting my dentist in Yorktown Heights, Dr. Jennifer Wachs for the past four years. Two years between visits do not make me much of a loyal customer to her, but I've come back!! I promised her and my hygenist, Claudine, that I would make a better effort to have my teeth cleaned and checked on a regular basis.
Well at my previous visit for a routine cleaning led to a discussion about faith. I'm pretty sure the visit then was just after Easter too. From there she began to talk about the book and the movie The Da Vinci Code.
Claudine had read the book and understood that the book is fiction, but she did say that it made her question a few things regarding the church and some things about Jesus.
She had believed that because she was baptized as a child, she "believed" that is what is needed to be done in order to be able to go to heaven when she died. When someone is baptized, according to the bible, it is a representation of Christ's death in our lives, an outward expression of an inward change. Romans 6:3-5 explain this,
"Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,"
When a person has made a conscious decision to follow Jesus Christ, by becoming born-again (John 3:3-5), it is this decision that has been made which a Christian wants to publicly demonstrate their new life in Christ through baptism. I was baptized as a Christian on October 23, 2005 at my church because I wanted to demonstrate the newness of life I had as a born-again believer. Many catholic parishioners would argue that because they have been baptized as a child that they are good to go with God, have been forgiven of their sins, and are guaranteed a place in Heaven when they die.
I have a few questions about that. Does a child even know what sin is when they are baptized? Does a child realize that the wages of sin is death? Have a they done anything in a sinful way that has been disobedient toward God to bring their eternal life into judgment? If the understanding of a catholic baptism is to cleanse one from their sins, then what did Jesus die for? What was His blood shed for? The water does not cleanse us from our sin, it is the blood of Christ which cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7). Now, I'm not trying to suggest that one should be baptized in blood either. An infant cannot clearly know right from wrong where their eternal life comes into judgment. Being baptized does not save anyone from God's judgment of sin, only when someone has received Christ by faith, as the One who accepted the punishment of their sin so they could now gain eternal life.
I just found this passage regarding the forgiveness of sin through Jesus' blood found in the book of Hebrews 9:13-15
For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.
Only through the blood of Christ are we forgiven of our sins, called one of God's children, and guaranteed to spend an eternal life in Heaven with the One who sacrificed His life for ours.
Claudine had asked about purgatory too, believing that it must exist for those who don't quite deserve to go to hell, but just wait around for an undetermined amount of time before they can be permitted to enter Heaven. Sorry. Nowhere in the bible is the word purgatory ever mentioned. Jesus spoke of the promises of Heaven and warned everyone about hell. Hell is as real of a place as Heaven and it is not God's will for anyone to go to hell. The book of Revelation tells us of a day when their will be a new heaven and a new earth (2 Peter 3:13), but there certainly is no mention of a place called purgatory.
I shared with Claudine that hell is real according to this passage found in Luke 16:19-31. This passage describes two people who had died. One was a rich man, the other was a poor man named Lazarus. When the rich man died and had gone to Hades, or hell, and the rich man could see Lazarus who was with Abraham, but they were not where he was. The rich man asked if Lazarus could dip the tip of his finger in some water to cool his tongue because of the torment of the flames he was experiencing.
How much water can cover and remain on the tip of your finger? Even in 120 degree heat in the dessert of Twentynine Palms, a drop of water in your mouth would not satisfy your thirst. I know because I've been there. So little water could not even possibly satisfy anyone in that type of tormenting environment. Notice too, that the rich man recognized Lazarus who wasn't in a place of suffering. All five of his sensory abilities were functioning. He could see, hear, taste, touch and feel everything in the environment he was in. Abraham had told this man that neither Lazarus, nor anyone else could provide such a consolation to him because there was a permanent partition which separated the two of them and no one could cross over from either side.
In addition to that, the rich man had asked Abraham if his brothers could be warned of the place where he was so they did not end up with the same fate. This man could consciously recall his family members knowing that they might end up where he was if they didn't repent and turn toward God. He would rather spend eternity apart from them than to endure the torment and flames with them. Sadly, people today disregard this and have a misbelief that a deceased family member is in Heaven, because God is a merciful, forgiving and loving God. All of which is true, but how can one be forgiven if they have not asked for forgiveness? How can one know the love of God, when they don't know how God demonstrated His love toward us because we were sinners? Heaven is a promise from God which become fulfilled when we have asked for God to forgive us through Jesus' death on the cross. Each person has to come to God and verbally ask Him. It's not automatically given to anyone because they live and breathe.
Here is an eye opener from this passage that continues to be told to this day, and will continue until the day of Christ's return. The rich man thought that if Abraham could just send Lazarus from the dead, to warn his family of what their brother was experiencing, surely they would repent and turn toward God. Abraham responded by saying that if they didn't listen to what Moses said, or what the prophets foretold about Jesus' birth, death, and resurrection as the Son of God, how would they be persuaded to change their ways even if someone did rise from the dead? Well, Jesus Christ was crucified and buried and rose from the tomb three days later. He appeared to his disciples and to more than 500 people at one time, even having breakfast by the sea with Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael and two other disciples, which was the third time Jesus appeared to them after He vacated the tomb He was buried in (John 21:1-14).
Now, I didn't get to share all of this with Claudine, just the part about becoming born-again and the passage about the rich man and Lazarus. Since she didn't know very much about God and the relationship that He desires to have with her, I gave her a mini CD-ROM titled, Who is He? This CD-ROM offers some in depth, yet simple to understand, biblical information about the life of Jesus Christ. It's a great evangelistic resource too.
Jesus Christ lives and will one day return. If we have chosen to receive Him in our lives as Lord and Savior, then we will return with Him when He comes to judge the world of their sin and to restore His Kingdom, on earth as it is in Heaven. That day will either be a day so many will look forward to living, in eternal peace, or it will be a fearful day, because there were those who chose not to believe in the One who rose from the dead.
For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:17)
Dear God, I pray for the members of my family, and for those in this world, who have not acknowledged to receive Your Son Jesus Christ, as the One in whom You punished their sin. Father, it is my hope and prayer that for anyone who has read this message, that they have considered their life and the judgment they would face if they were to refuse Your forgiveness through Christ's death on the cross. I pray that they would not refuse such a precious and priceless gift of Your love and forgiveness. I thank you Father that those who have decided to receive Your love and forgiveness, through Christ, bless them and lead them in their new relationship with You. Thank you Heavenly Father for the salvation of souls tonight, in Jesus' name. Amen.
Click on the link in the sidebar, Steps to Peace with God, to discover what God has done to reconcile your debt of sin. God bless and have a great week.