Tag Archives: afterlife

Missing the Obvious

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Texts: Luke 16:19-31 and Amos 6:1-7

Many heirs of the reformation can get tangled in a web of worry about legalism and works righteousness. But it is not works righteousness to encourage Kingdom values. And that is what Jesus is warning about. Decisions we make today solidify in eternity. Nobody sets out for hell, but we can end there anyway.

We all have a Lazarus at our gates wanting mercy. Can we see him? Can we discern who or what he is? If you can’t maybe its time to listen to Moses and the prophets.

One the one hand there are two big tempting fallacies: 1) history is one long decline, the past was more righteous and 2) to let the law overwhelm the gospel. They both reinforce the other. We never live up to the law. And if we become too disappointed in that, everything looks bad in comparison to the heroic saints who have gone on to their reward. I walked the line here. I’m sure some would say I walked over the line and then some. But this parable is the end of Jesus’ two chapters of parables of how the kingdom works and his great warning for those who don’t get with the program. It is the law in service to the gospel. The law is suppose to show us our sin, and chase us to the Word for grace.

From a very this worldly practical standpoint, we become what we practice. We are creatures of habit. If we practice virtue, it becomes easier. (Never easy, its a fallen world.) If we practice telling ourselves and our kids that the Word of God is meaningless, then we quickly find that we can’t hear it at all. And when you can’t hear the Word, you miss the Lazarus sitting at your gate. Luke 15-16 is a very this worldly section. Its about how the Kingdom works right now. What you choose hardens. Gates become chasms. We are all being forced into the Kingdom, the question is which side of the gate/chasm?

After lives…

This is from a review of a new book called after lives…

Augustine won out in his battle against two early Christian thinkers, Origen and Pelagius, who were declared heretics for suggesting that moral self-help could co-exist with divine grace as a means of gaining salvation. Mr. Casey notes an irony: The Vatican has never formally repudiated predestination, but the church “now in practice allows the faithful to be as cheerfully and unconsciously Pelagian as everyone else.” And “everyone else” is just about right when it comes to the U.S. A recent Gallup survey reported that 71% of Americans believe in heaven and that 93% of them think they have an excellent, good or fair chance of getting there.

I’m not sure if there is a better definition of what is wrong with religion and specifically Christianity in America. Last week we read Jesus in the Gospel of mark telling the disciples “how hard it is to enter the reign of God” (Mark 10:24) and that it is only possible with God (Mark 10:27). 93% of America has accepted the cheery notion of an easy heaven. They have accepted the Gospel without feeling the weight of the law. Matt 7:21 might be instructive to those thinking of a warm-fuzzy Jesus.

And you get the quip that we are all Pelagians now, which goes hand in hand with the above. If you think you can save yourself thorugh moral improvement, the natural consquence is a watering down of the the level of moral improvement needed until the general notion of I’m a good person, after all I’m not Charles Manson, is the required bar. What I’d really like to know is why those 7% didn’t think they had a good chance at heaven. Probably the 3.5% hard core atheists who object to the question and the 3.5% that have read the gospels.