Saturday, June 16, 2018

CAN AN ATHEIST BE SAVED?



This little boy, whose recently deceased father was an atheist, cries out to Pope Francis wanting some hope that his father could be in heaven even if he didn't believe in Christ as the Son of God. And the pope's response that his father could be in heaven created a firestorm of negative responses from Christians accusing the pope of giving false hope to the child. Some wanted the pope to tell this little grieving boy that his father was in hell and to deal with it.

Nonsense! Pope Francis was within his God-given authority and within Biblical perimeters to tell the child his father certainly could be in heaven.
Even an atheist can be saved! The Catholic Church has always taught that. Pope Francis gave the boy a hope supported by scripture. The Gospel of Christ is good news, not bad news! If what you believe of God is bad news then you don't understand the gospel. Pope Francis understands it! He understands that we are never to judge whether certain individuals are in hell.

SIX BIBLICAL PROOFS THAT AN ATHEIST CAN BE SAVED

Because often the real Christ is not presented by Christians and when a person rejects the Christ they have been shown by other Christians, they are not truly rejecting Christ but rejecting that Christian who has warped the character of Christ.


1. GOD'S PEOPLE CAN BE OUTSIDE THE SHEEPFOLD

Jesus told us that He had followers that were some not of the visible sheepfold. We can assume the faithful sheep who live in the Kingdom of God are not aware of these people outside of sheepfold. Among them could be atheists. That is why we can never judge any specific person as lost.

2. GOD KNOWS OUR HEARTS BETTER THAN WE DO

Scripture says that our hearts—above all things—are deceived. We do not understand our own mind at times. God knows our hearts better than we know them ourselves. It is absolutely possible that some atheists have not rejected God but think they have. Atheists are all different and have differing reasons for rejecting God. I knew a woman who refused to believe in God and when we dug deeply into her reasoning, she discovered that her atheism was a wall to actually protect God. She saw a terrible world and believed that a good God would have never allowed suffering. So she rejected an evil God who allowed suffering. If God was good, she finally thought, she would believe in Him. 

Some atheists reject the God that confrontational, smug and arrogant Christians portray to them. While they call themselves atheists these people are really not different than believers (perhaps in a different denomination) who reject that God. I know lots of people who may not call themselves atheists, but they reject the mainstream fundamentalist or liberal God so many espouse. So, again, these "atheists" haven't rejected the true God, but the false God they were presented. And that is a good thing. Perhaps the authentic gospel was never shown to them.

So don't judge an atheist by his or her cover. The pope knows that a man's words may not be the last word on his beliefs. Look at his actions. In fact, lest we think we become prideful, Christ spoke often  against those who trust in money. And trusting money more than God is a type of atheism.
God knows the heart. The pope understands that our words, at times, may not reflect what is truly going on in our hearts and minds. The father of this young boy baptized his children which may tell us something about what he might have believed in his heart. We, of course, do not know for certain but that evidence is hopeful.

3. OBEDIENCE TELLS MORE THAN WORDS

I will repay each of you according to your deeds.  Rev. 2: 23

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5: 10

While this is similar to number two, this goes further to say that our deeds come from our hearts and often reveal a lot more than our words do. In general, actions speak louder than words. That is Biblical. Jesus reminds us of that in a parable. 

[A] man had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ The boy answered, ‘I will not.’ But later he had a change of heart and went. The father went to the other son and said the same thing. This boy answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did his father’s will?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, tax collectors and prostitutes will go ahead of you into the kingdom of God!” Matthew 21:28-30

If an atheist's life is full of good works, we simply cannot say they are going to hell because they bore good fruits. 

A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit….by their fruits you will know them. Matthew 7:16-20. 

This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” John 3: 19-21

Many who claim to be Christians have lives that bear bad fruit, and many who do not claim to believe have lives that bear good fruit. There will be people who practiced the truth without ever claiming to be Christians and when their life is brought into the light at judgement, their works will be seen to have been brought about by God. This is evident only at the judgement.

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25: 34-40

This texts tells us that some among the saved were not aware of their deed to God. They simply acted in love. And in the end, we will be judged by our self-sacrificing actions of love. The pope took the evidence of the father and understood that an atheist who had their children baptized may not truly be an atheist. Look at his actions—his fruits, not his words. His actions were in accordance with love and obedience to God.

4. ATHEISTS CAN BE SAVED BY BELIEVERS INTERCESSION

For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 2 Cor. 2: 15. 

Jesus called His followers priests—for each Christian is part of the royal priesthood. What is a priest for? To intercede for others through prayers and sacrifices. Christians should understand the important position given them as priests. Our intercessions have enormous powers to save even atheists. We must never give up hope and we should never stop praying for our loved ones because God is outside of time, therefore our prayers are outside of time. When God judges a person, He knows the prayers that were said and will be said for that person, and God has always pardoned a person because of another person's requests. That is so scriptural that there are too many verses to list here that back this up. I will just remind you of a few:

Lot was rescued out of Sodom because of the prayers of his uncle Abraham. Moses saved the entire nation of Israel when God was angry and about to wipe them out. When Jesus mother asked Jesus to help at the wedding at Cana, Jesus did what she asked and miraculously made wine out of water. When the paralytic was lowered before Jesus it was the faithful actions of his friends that made Jesus—not just heal the man but forgive him! Sons and daughters were healed by Christ at the request of their parents.

We should keep in mind our great power as Christians because St. Paul told us that our lives sanctify our household:
But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her. And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy.  I Corinthians 7:12-14

Jesus listens to the intercessory prayers of His righteous people and they avail much! The little boy in the video seems to have had a mother who was a Christian and this could mean that his father was sanctified through the believing wife.


5. ATHEISTS WILL BE JUDGED BY THEIR LOVE

This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister. I John 3: 10
[L]ove comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. I John 4: 7
Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. I John 2: 10-11

God will judge the atheist according to his love. 

While we are saved by our faith, we are judged by our love. That give all humans who have ever lived hope that they will be in heaven. There is much biblical evidence of this.
If you Protestant readers still don't accept that the pope spoke truth to the boy, just remember that "Love coverth a multitude of sins." Even if the pope's compassion overcame him and he told the boy something more hopeful than he should have, let us remember that the pope's love will cover a multitude of his sins. And he gave the child hope. Is that ever wrong?

6. WHATEVER YOU BOUND ON EARTH WILL BE BOUND IN HEAVEN

For the Catholics, this should be easy. Pope Francis has the keys and whatever he binds on earth will be bound in heaven. If the pope was given a special revelation that the boy's father is in heaven, that is the pope's prerogative. May we pray that God bound in heaven what the pope bound on earth! For our faith tells us that God promised to do that for the man who holds the keys. And what a wonderful promise!


Saturday, May 12, 2018

Adventists Do Not Keep All Ten Commandments


While this video is old, it is important for Adventists to see. You cannot say you are a church that keeps all Ten Commandments when you are a pro-choice church whose hospitals do abortions on demand.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_lGDBMml28&feature=youtu.be

Friday, April 27, 2018

Sabbath Debate Review: Part VI

SABBATH IN THE FUTURE

Isaiah 66

Adventists bring up the passage that the prophet Isaiah tells us that in heaven we will be keeping the Sabbath. Yet, did Isaiah mean in chapter 66 that the sabbath will continue? Is that really a literal description of heaven? 
And I, because of what they have planned and done, am about to come and gather the people of all nations and languages, and they will come and see my glory…. And they will bring all your people, from all the nations, to my holy mountain in Jerusalem as an offering to the LORD—on horses, in chariots and wagons, and on mules and camels,” says the LORD. "They will bring them, as the Israelites bring their grain offerings, to the temple of the LORD in ceremonially clean vessels. And I will select some of them also to be priests and Levites,” says the LORD. “As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,” declares the LORD, “so will your name and descendants endure. From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,” says the LORD. “And they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind. Isaiah 66:18-24

Please read the context of this passage. Is this really saying that literally, post-apocalypse in heaven there will be Sabbath keeping? Because if we take this passage as written, we have some real problems. First, does God re-establish the Temple and the sacrificial service? Because the prophecy says that Israel will bring offering to Jerusalem's Temple. Two, the New Covenant says that the Levitical priests have been replaced by the line of Melchizedek, so will God's system go back to the Levitical priesthood? And let's look at the end of the passage. Is this what heaven is going to look like? God says that we will be able to see the rotten, decaying bodies outside the city. I think rather that God is not giving a literal view of heaven but a symbolic one of warning to Israel.

Finally, Adventists will have to admit that if God is keeping the weekly Sabbaths around post-Second Coming that He is also keeping the New Moon Sabbaths too. So if this is to tell us because the Sabbath is required forever, then surely the New Moons will be still required. And yet Adventists do not teach that we must keep the New Moons. 

Matthew 24: 20

Matthew records that Jesus tells His Apostles about the destruction of Jerusalem and warns them, "Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath." Does the fact that the Jews will still be keeping the Sabbath laws up until the destruction of the Temple surprise anyone? Of course not. The Temple system continued even after Christ died. And Jesus was not speaking of a continuation of a Sabbath Christians were to observe. He was telling them that His followers will continue go to the Temple to preach the gospel, pray that they will not have to flee on a Sabbath because they Temple was shut up on Sabbaths to prevent buying and selling. Also it is well known among most Christians scholars that the early Jewish Christians still were abiding by Sabbath rules that included limited traveling on the seventh day—a "Sabbath day's journey." This would keep them from fleeing to the mountains. 

THERE REMAINS A SABBATH REST


Steve Gregg brought up Hebrews 4 where the Apostles taught that there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God! Indeed! But it is not a day of physical rest.

The beauty and peace of the Sabbath day transformed at the Cross. The Sabbath day foreshadowed and pointed to the Great Sabbath rest day that Jesus had for us when He rested in the grave. Now the world can enter that rest by faith when they believe in Christ.

If we look at verse 4:7 of Hebrews we will see exactly what day this rest for Christians is: "Today!" Today Christians enter His rest! Each today, we can rest in Christ. It is a soul and spirit rest. A rest from the terrors of death, a rest from the enslavement of sin and rest from fear of our enemy the Devil. For the Lion of Judah has cast down this roaring lion seeking whom he will devour. Our Father, the Prince of Peace and Truth has conquered the Father of lies! This rest is far, far greater than any day, for this rest is moment by moment eternally.

IF IT WERE JUST THE SABBATH….

Most Christians who know who Adventist are, may understand that they keep Sabbath, but they have no idea how all-encompassing this Sabbath is to the SDA church and its last-day prophecies. In the Apocalypse lies the basis of the SDAs' insistence that everyone keep the Sabbath. The importance of the Sabbath goes way beyond the Ten Commandments. They believe that the Sabbath commandment will one day become the most important commandment of all and everyone who attends worship services on Sunday will lose their salvation and receive the Mark of the Beast.

The great enemy of God will be those who worship on Sunday, and the remnant church that makes it through the last day is the Adventist people who remain faithful to keeping the Sabbath. According to Adventist last-day prophecy, it is imperative, the very reason Adventists exist, to get as many people to stop attending worship services on Sunday and worship and rest exclusively on the seventh day of the week. You cannot worship on both days, that isn't exclusive enough. Only the seventh day is holy to an Adventist.

CHANGING TIMES AND LAWS

The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings. He will speak against the Most High and oppress his holy people and try to change the set times and the laws. The holy people will be delivered into his hands for a time, times and half a time. Daniel 7: 23-25
(40 min.) Pastor Batchelor refers to the above passage and then makes an astonishing leap and conflates Daniel 7: 25 with the Sabbath Commandment. He claims that the "changing of times and laws" by the man of sin in Daniel's prophecy points to the Sabbath because, "There is only one time and law in the Ten Commandments and that is the Sabbath." Why on earth would Pastor Batchelor just assume Daniel was referring to the Ten Commandments or the Sabbath when saying "times and laws?" The Hebrew word of "times" means annual holy seasons. So it is likely, if Daniel is speaking of anything remotely like a sabbath, he would be talking about the annual sabbaths that come with the seasons. And if Daniel were referring to the Ten Commandments, it sounds as if all of them would be changed, not simply the Sabbath.

REMNANT KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS


Adventists believe themselves to be the exclusive, sole remnant of Revelation 14: 12 because they claim they are the only Christian group keeping all ten of the Ten Commandments because they keep the Sabbath. All other churches just keep nine of the ten—they teach. But when you really know the Adventist Church, you will see that they emphasize the Sabbath commandment to the exclusion of the others. So while at worst, other churches are keeping nine of the ten, Adventists really only keep (or at least teach) one of the ten.

YOU CANNOT SERVE TWO MASTERS


At minute (1:39:05) a question from the audience was read, "Can we celebrate both days?" (meaning Saturday and Sunday.)

"You cannot serve to masters," Pastor Batchelor replied. 

Doug finally puts his cards on the table—Sabbath is about salvation and the final test. Doug's response to that question sets up a dangerously false premise: As if worshipping on Sunday would be evil—serving another master. The Christian Church worshipped daily (as did the Israel). They had no such concept of a "day" of worship. Mankind is to worship God every day of their lives! Here we can see the length and breadth of fear they have for Sunday. It is not enough that they insist we all keep Sabbath as a day of rest, but they add that going to church on Sabbath  must be exclusive. But they don't stop there—they teach that is it so wrong to worship on Sunday that if you do you are worshipping another Lord. 

CONCLUSION:


Doug has a few empty catchphrases he uses as a clever diversion tactic: such as, "God isn't going to give us a ten percent discount" (on the Ten Commandments.) And "we forget the only commandment that God says to remember." These quips are based on straw man arguments. It seems to me that Doug truly does not understand non-Sabbatarians. He went from an agnostic-leaning youth to an Adventist without ever really understanding other Protestant and Catholic perspectives. He makes false assumptions at every turn. 

This assessment isn't personal against Doug Batchelor. I love him dearly. This is about truth. Some people think I am too hard on pastor Batchelor, but I promise that I give him the greatest possible benefit of the doubt. Because I can assure you that other Christians cannot understand why, when he has available to him the doctrines and beliefs of other Christians, that he persistently mischaracterizes what they believe. Many Christians believe Doug to be purposefully and deliberately lying and deceiving people. Because I grew up Seventh-day Adventist and have lived in the depths of their misunderstanding and fear, I am convinced that Doug sincerely believes what he is saying. Like scriptures tell us, when the New Covenant is revealed to Israel, there is a cloud over their minds.
But their [Israel's] minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away.  Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 2 Corinthians 3:14-16

While I believe that Pastor Batchelor is indeed a true Christian, for some reason the Holy Spirit has yet to remove the veil from his eyes about the Old Covenant.

It is heartbreaking because Adventists wound themselves when they set up this us-against-the-world ideology. They make other Christians their spiritual enemies which builds impervious walls of distrust and suspicion. They are unable to listen to those who they perceive have been deceived by the devil—because they fear they will be pulled into the deception.

When SDAs are confronted with the overwhelming ocean of Biblical and historical evidence that proves their beliefs wrong, they respond (or think), "We just feel it is simple," and default to repeating the commandment as if that was the only thing Jesus ever taught. They either willfully turn from the truth or fear makes them blinded to anything but what they have been taught. They must believe us to be liars, they must, for their entire faith system is fully based on this idea that Sunday is the wrong —in fact evil—day for worshipping God. If they let go of this, their church is destroyed. Their identity will survive only if they continue to see worshipping on Sunday as evil or they will have to admit that their deepest values, that which they have given their entire loyalty and lives for, is untrue.

And this is why I continue to spend so much of my time and energy on Adventists. I know the vast majority of Christianity have never even heard of Seventh-day Adventists and the small percentage that has dismiss them as an inconsequential cult that has rejected truth. But they are not. These are beautiful souls who deserve to know the truth, who we should search out as Christ did the little lost lamb, and seek to bring them into the safety of the fold. They are worth it, for Jesus said we are to all be one!

When we see them cling to their misinformed beliefs about us—mainstream Protestants and Catholics—we must keep this post in mind. We must pray for special grace that the Holy Spirit will give them such security, they will feel God's love so deeply that they can extricate from their death-grip on Ellen White's false statements. We need to show them the safety and lovely peace outside Adventism, the love of brothers and sisters in Christ.

I will leave you with a quote from one of their top theologians and evangelists, Pastor Randy Roberts, about the controversy within Adventism on women's ordination. This quote could easily be used by the rest of Christianity to remind Adventists the same allowances should be made about Sabbatarianism:

"When you have an issue, like this one, where you have scholarly, thoughtful, Bible-believing, Christ-following people who fall on both sides of the issue, that in itself should be enough to tell us, this is a matter where there had to be difference allowed."


Here is the link to the quote;