FORGIVENESS or HELL!!
"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'" Matthew 7:22-23.
Nothing could be more fearful than getting to the judgment seat of Christ and finding out you didn't meet the conditions for eternal life, after all. At the judgment seat, it's too late to repent and redo one's life. Worse than that, these people to whom Jesus spoke words of harsh truth were not aware than anything in their life was amiss...or were they? They were quite sure they had met Jesus' approval.
Yet, Jesus spoke very sobering words when He made His pronouncement to them.
Just what did Jesus mean? Clearly, His words say that only those who do the will of God will enter heaven. Those against whom He made this pronouncement practice lawlessness or walk contrary to the will of God. Lawlessness means that a person ignores God's commandments or flaunts their ungodly behavior in His face.
Yet, these same peoples' argument on judgment day will be that they did all sorts of miracles and spiritual works in Jesus' name. Surely, they qualify for heaven according to the evident blessing of God on their lives! Yet, Jesus will say, "I never knew you; depart from Me!"
Rationalization or explaining something to make it seem more acceptable is a dangerous mindset to maintain and practice. Many who profess to know Jesus approve of their own sinful behavior because they figure as long as they can do many wonderful works in Jesus' name, they must be OK and getting by. People talk themselves into believing a lie! What a delusion that is!
Doctrines are afloat in the Church today that are completely false and misleading souls who profess to know Jesus. A great many followers have bought into these heresies and believe they are safe in embracing them, but how wrong they are!
The first of these is: "Once in grace, always in grace." I knew a little boy who at age five or six really knew Jesus and probably had a call on his life to become a preacher of the Gospel. However, after not seeing him for a while, I had occasion to talk with him again. Something had changed even in that six-year old. His talk about Jesus wasn't as vibrant as before and I mentioned that to him. He looked up at me and without hesitation, exclaimed, "Once in grace, always in grace!" That ended our conversation. He wanted to hear no more. And, he never preached as an adult, either.
Another term for this lie is 'eternal security.' One of the most prominent and popular female Bible teachers on TV and religious meetings talked about the Christian life and as much as said that once a person knows Jesus, nothing can change that relationship and they will go to heaven, regardless of what they do. She is propagating a lie!
Nowhere in the Bible does it say that we are safe once we've been born again. Oh, I know. I had pastors illustrate our eternal safety by quoting John 10:28:
"...and I give them eternal life, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand."
As they said the verse, they put something into their hand and made a tight fist around it. How convincing an argument that was for eternal security! Many evangelical preachers and teachers who do not promote being Spirit-baptized espouse the fallacy of eternal security. This heresy is creeping into Spirit-filled churches, as well!
As for sinning after one has been forgiven, John the Apostle wrote of forgiveness thus:
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." I John 1:9.
John went on to say farther in his first letter:
"Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness...no one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him...the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning...no one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin because he is born of God." I John 3:4-9.
God gave to the prophet a message that he took to heart:
"Again, when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I place an obstacle before him, he will die; since you have not war ned him, he shall die in his sin, and his righteous deeds which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand." Ezekiel 3:20.
Ezekiel 18:20,24 continue this thought:
"The person who sins will die...the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself...when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity and does according to all the abominations that a wicked man does, will he live? All his righteous deeds which he has done will not be remembered for his treachery which he has committed and his sin which he has committed; for them he will die."
Sins of commission erase the righteousness God gives a soul when he or she is born again. Sins committed must be taken immediately before God and confessed for forgiveness. Either a person is a good tree that bears good fruit, or he is a bad tree that bears bad fruit. A person cannot be both and go to heaven. Sins of omission, committed unknowingly, become sins of commission once the Holy Spirit has warned the person to forsake and repent for them, and He has been pushed aside or ignored!
A second wrong teaching that is growing among evangelicals is the hyper-grace movement. It is a spin-off of eternal security and is more subtly dangerous. It claims that just as God forgave our past sins when we repented and were born again, at the same time God also forgave our future sins. Believing that whatever sin you commit going forward has already been forgiven is a license to sin freely with no consequences! It is a lie hatched in hell!
A popular young preacher propagates this damnable lie on Christian television and many followers swallow it! Souls who believe and practice a sinning religion because it is boldly proclaimed over Christian TV will find themselves in hell one day! Hyper-grace goes against all John wrote in his letter as quoted earlier.
Akin to that error and much more insidious is one which allows professing believers to cling to unforgiveness. Perhaps they've been hurt in a church dispute or by someone else in the church. Maybe they were wronged as a child by a parent or relative, or a teacher in school --- you fill in the blanks. Although God deals with them about the incident, they refuse to forgive the person who offended them and nurse it as a grudge or resentment.
A few years ago a Nigerian pastor and his wife had an argument that must have been quite severe. They went to bed without resolving their issue. The next morning the wife wanted to 'kiss and make up,' but her husband refused and stormed out of the house to go to a preachers' meeting. En route, his car hit a tree and he was fatally injured. In the ambulance an angel came and took him to heaven.
Once in heaven, the angel showed the pastor around. Finally he said, "Now it's time to go down." They went down, down, down and entered hell. A fellow pastor who had died previously ran up to the newly deceased pastor and confessed, "Yes, I stole money from the church, but I'm willing to pay it back!" However, it was too late. The pastor saw others he recognized, and after a time asked the angel when they were going back to heaven.
The angel replied, "You are not going back. Because you did not forgive your wife, this is where you must stay." However, the angel said God was going to make an exception in this man's case. In answer to the plea of the rich man in hell recorded in Luke 16, this preacher was going to be the man to go from hell back to earth to warn people about the awful suffering and separation from God he had experienced because of his unforgiving spirit.
Fast-forward the story: The pastor's wife, a godly woman of prayer, insisted that her husband, already embalmed, just be taken to a church where Reinhard Bonnke was holding meeting. It was a Sunday morning and the custom of the country did not allow the body to be taken into the main door or sanctuary. Instead, they took the corpse to a room beneath the church where several men were sitting. One had a video camera and recorded what happened to that dead body. It made a movement, so the men began massaging him, one limb after the other as life slowly came back into the flesh. It took hours to restore his circulation.
I heard that resurrected man speak on Christian television from an Orlando studio. He warned his viewers that unforgiveness will damn professing believers to hell. God says the same thing in the Lord's Prayer and following:
"...and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors...for if you forgive others for their transgressions, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions." Matthew 6:12, 14-15.
Just as this discussion began with a quote Jesus will make on the day of judgment, it closes with an explicit parable in which Jesus exposes the sin of unforgiveness:
"For this reason (forgiveness) the kingdom of heaen may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. Bt since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, 'Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.'
"And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denari; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, 'Pay back what you owe.'
"So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, 'Have patience with me and I will repay you.'
"But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. Then summoning him, his lord said to him, 'You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?'"
"And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart." Matthew 18:23-35.
It's a long parable, but states clearly that as God forgives our sins through Jesus, we ought to forgive our fellows for their infractions and sins against us. Do we really realize how great was the debt of sin Jesus paid for us? Are we really thankful for His suffering and death on our behalf? We do not have license to hold resentment and unforgiveness in our heart for something a brother or sister does to us.
R.T. Kendall authored a wonderful book, Total Forgiveness, in which he uses Joseph and his dealing with his brothers in Egypt as the example of real forgiveness. Professing brother or sister, do no harbor or secretly succor unforgiveness against anyone! Your eternal destiny hinges on what you do with offenses against you.
Hell is a horrible place beyond description. Do not ignore the Holy Spirit when He moves you to stop sinning. Confess your sins to God and receive His forgiveness. Extend forgiveness to anyone toward whom you hold unforgivensss and resentment. God says without holiness you will not see Him! You are just one step away from either heaven or hell. Obey Him now!