I don't believe Jesus is the only way or that hell is eternal.

I appreciate your reply. Unfortunately it was laced with so much of the same traditional faulty Baptist theology I grew up with. That is you were referring to the doctrine of once saved always saved by doubting that one can turn away from God and have actually made a sincere decision to follow Him. After making further study of the Resurrection though I have come to believe again, because I believe it is a well established fact from the evidence I have garnered and without this the faith that is Christianity falls on its face unless the Resurrection is true. As to your question about was I ever saved to begin with well believe me I prayed that prayer, because I wanted to know God and I didn't want to spend eternity in hell having had so much pain in my life so I was sincere and I think that can show that once saved always saved is a faulty doctrine. I still disagree with you in terms of it being one point in time that a person is saved. I think it involves a daily surrender to His Lordship and in placing faith in Him each day we are saved, but to suggest that some of the people who are "Christians" now, because they prayed that prayer and one time and were sincere and now many of them do worse things in their life than the average atheists to suggest that they have more of a right to enter the kingdom than the atheist, because they said that prayer is ridiculous. Of course you could probably just say that they weren't Christian to begin with, because they didn''t demonstrate the fruits of the Spirit. I have done more research on the subject of hell and it would seem to me that their are 3 different names used for hell in the New Testament and that from what I have gathered only one is suggested to be eternal. Given how hard it can be for an honest person to put faith in God, I think that most will end up in the temporal hell of Hades rather than Gehenna. I think more of this shown in Jesus story of the separation of the Sheep and the goats in other words I think its possible that some who may not be believers in the sense that we think of them will be able to enter the kingdom and what did Jesus say about doing things for the least of his brethren? In other words I think one can just look at the Sermon on the Mount to realize it isn't just about belief and to dismiss the argument on the notion that we judge by our standards and God has a different standard while there is some truth to that, there is also a weak point in that even we know enough to realize what would be just and unjust in this situation I think. Baptists like to dismiss the notion that people can get into Heaven by being good, but I think if you look at the words of Jesus that may not be so far from the truth. To be honest I think Gandhi has a better chance of getting into heaven than say Pat Robertson, but that's just a personal opinion. I think it involves the whole notion of repenting from sin and what that really means. I have enclosed seven sins as elicited by Mohandas Gandhi and I don't think they are so far from the truth in terms of how God Himself sees it especially if you look at the things Jesus Himself said. I guess you could say I'm closer to Catholic theology on this point than Baptist, but whatever name you give it, I do believe it is the truth and Mohandas Gandhi once said that the only God he knew was Truth and that was the God he worshiped. Jesus did say he was the way the truth and the life. Sometimes I think there will be more Baptists in Hell than Atheists. Perhaps you may dismiss this as weak liberal theology or universalism, but I think it does have a ring of truth in it at least from what I read in the Bible.

May the Love and Peace of God in Christ Jesus go with you always.

Mahatma Gandhi once wrote that there were seven sins in the world; wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice, and politics without principle.

My response is in Green:

I am afraid you have made some assumptions that are wrong. You assume that I believe in once saved always saved, but you are wrong. I guess you assumed that because I asked questions about you being a former Christian and now an agnostic. I asked those questions because many people claim to be Christians but are not. I do believe that a person can have a genuine conversion and then walk away from their faith. If you read my testimony you would have seen that I accepted Christ as my Savior when I was a kid but later walked away from that faith too. I did not reject my belief in Him as you seem to have done but He was no longer Lord of my life. I believe if I had died during that period I would have spend eternity in hell.

The reason I asked you about your experience is that you seem to have not only walked away from Him as your Lord and Master but even from the belief that He is who He said He is. I find it hard to believe that anyone who truly had a relationship with Jesus Christ could later quit believing that He is God. That was and still is my point. It is one thing to walk away because you no longer want Him as Lord of your life and something quite different to decided that you are not even sure He exists. Which after all is what the word agnostic means.

You mentioned in this message and in the last message that you believe there are different places referred to in the New Testament as hell. I think you are part right and part wrong. If you look for instance to the story Jesus told of Lazarus and the rich man, you will see that Hades (also often called hell) had two compartments. One was called Abraham's bosom or Paradise and the other just Hades, hell or Gehenna. Here is the story to refresh you memory: (Luke 16:19-31 NIV) "There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. {20} At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores {21} and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. {22} "The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. {23} In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. {24} So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.' {25} "But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. {26} And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.' {27} "He answered, 'Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, {28} for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.' {29} "Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.' {30} "'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.' {31} "He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'"

What is my point? Well, this shows two of those references, they were both the same place and yet not the same place. Next you have to look at what happened after Jesus died. While hanging on the cross He told the thief that he would be with Jesus that day in Paradise. So we know from that statement and from the story Jesus told, along with Jewish tradition that when believers died they went to Hades (to the good side, Abraham's bosom, or Paradise). Then we read what Paul said: (Ephesians 4:8-10 NIV) This is why it says: "When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men." {9} (What does "he ascended" mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions ? {10} He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)

The captives Jesus took with Him to heaven were the dead believers who were in Hades up until that time. Anyone who believes in Jesus and has accepted Him as their Savior (and changed and lived for Him) and dies now will go directly to be with Jesus in heaven: (2 Corinthians 5:8 NIV) We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

Now lets look what happens to those people who are unbelievers and are now still in Hades: (Revelation 20:14-15 NIV) Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. {15} If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

So we need to know how long the second death will last: (Revelation 14:11 NIV) And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name."

(Revelation 20:10 NIV) And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

(Matthew 25:41 NIV) "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

As you see from the passages above this is an eternal fire.

I would agree with you that there will be many religious people in hell, but I will guarantee you something else; no one soul who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior will make it to heaven. Actually it is not me who guarantees that it is Jesus Christ Himself: (John 14:6 NIV) Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

This verse also shows that there is only one sacrifice for sins: (Hebrews 10:26 NIV) If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left,

So there you have it. No amount of good works will get you to heaven. I would agree that if someone really accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior they will do good works, but that is out of a changed heart not what gets them to heaven.

Either Jesus was the only way and He was the Son of God or He was a liar and we are all lost. There is no middle ground. I just want to tell you whether you ever really believed or not He still loves you and wants to either have you come back or come into the fold for the first time. Don't let Satan tell you there are multiple ways to heaven, there is only one way and that is through the blood of Jesus Christ. To accept anything other than Jesus is to reject Him totally and therefore lose any chance of spending eternity in heaven with Him. None of us are good enough to get there on our own. Satan knows that he will be tormented in hell for eternity but if he can convince people that punishment is limited then maybe some won't take it as seriously.

Well thanks for writing back. Take care and I hope you find what you are looking for to convince you that God loves you. Don't let people stand between you and God. People don't represent God, only God can represent Himself. Remember if someone is standing between you and God, they must be closer to Him then you are.

Ralph

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