Wednesday, February 2, 2011

BIG QUESTION #1 - Who gets to Heaven? How "narrow" is the gate?

You may need a few days to fully get through this post - many rabbit holes to go down.

SO!  Just how narrow is the gate to the Kingdom of Heaven?

We'll start with the basics.  "Struggle to enter the Kingdom through the narrow door.  The road to hell is wide with plenty of room and most go that way.  But the door is small and the path is hard and narrow that leads to life and only a few find it." (Mt 7:13-14, Luke 13:23-24).

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  (Eph 2:8-9)
So why do we have to struggle?  Satan believes/has faith in Jesus, so is he saved?  Of course not, so there has to be more to it than that.

“And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief.” (Heb 3:18-19)
So faith and obedience go together.  Here's where it gets tricky.

There are plenty of places that Jesus says "keep my commandments" - one if which is 1 John 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.
I think it's easy to show that you are to keep MORE than the original 10 (also "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind" among others), but it is obvious the 10 commandments are for sure in the list you are to keep.

Many of these 10 commandments, I think, are not hard to keep.  I think the easiest to misstep on (perhaps even unwittingly) is keeping the Sabbath.
I was originally planning on another BIG QUESTION post dealing with the Sabbath, but it fits here too well, so I'm going to go with it now.

Disclaimer:  I grew up a Catholic and this is not bashing the people that are.  I have to stick with what I see that are things that are unbiblical, however, and if those things are not in agreement with the bible, I have to say that.

First of all, this keeping the Sabbath must be a pretty important rule to God, as the punishment for not keeping it in the Old Testament is death by stoning.  So...WHEN is the Sabbath and how do you keep it holy?

Many people that love God disagree on this, so it's not exactly an open & shut case.  You can argue it doesn't matter after Christ - Colossians 2:16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.
Also, once Paul heads out to the gentiles in the New Testament, the Sabbath is not mentioned.  More quotes:  
Galatians 4:9–10 9 But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? 10 You are observing special days and months and seasons and years!
Acts 20:7 On the first day of the week [this would be Sunday] we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.
1 Corinthians 16:2 On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.
Since Paul designates this offering as "service" (2 Corinthians 9:12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.), this collection must be linked with the Sunday worship during their assembly.  This would date a Sunday gathering of believers back to the 1st century.

Romans 14:5 One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.
So each person decided for themselves?  You can cop out and say that you should worship God every day, not just on the Sabbath.  Now that is true, but it doesn't answer the Sabbath question.

The things referred to above mention gathering, worshipping, etc, but do NOT use the word "Sabbath".  I would think that is important.  In fact, NOWHERE in the bible does it mention anything regarding moving the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday.  So When did this change take place?

Fun quotes:

“Question - Which is the Sabbath day?
Answer - Saturday is the Sabbath day.
Question - Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday?
Answer - We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church, in the Council of Laodicea (A.D. 364), transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday.” Peter Geiermann, C.S.S.R., The Convert’s Catechism of Catholic Doctrine, p. 50, 3rd edition, 1957.

“Perhaps the boldest thing, the most revolutionary change the Church ever did, happened in the first century. The holy day, the Sabbath, was changed from Saturday to Sunday. ’The day of the Lord’ was chosen, not from any direction noted in the Scriptures, but from the (Catholic) Church’s sense of its own power...People who think that the Scriptures should be the sole authority, should logically become 7th Day Adventists, and keep Saturday holy.” St. Catherine Church Sentinel, Algonac, Michigan, May 21, 1995.

“It was the Catholic church which...has transferred this rest to Sunday in remembrance of the resurrection of our Lord. Therefore the observance of Sunday by the Protestants is an homage they pay, in spite of themselves, to the authority of the (Catholic) church.” Monsignor Louis Segur, Plain Talk About the Protestantism of Today, p. 213.

“I have repeatedly offered $1,000 to anyone who can prove to me from the Bible alone that I am bound to keep Sunday holy. There is no such law in the Bible. It is a law of the holy Catholic Church alone. The Bible says, ’Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.’ The Catholic Church says: ’No. By my divine power I abolish the Sabbath day and command you to keep holy the first day of the week.’ And lo! The entire civilized world bows down in a reverent obedience to the command of the holy Catholic Church.” father T. Enright, C.S.S.R. of the Redemptoral College, Kansas City, in a lecture at Hartford, Kansas, February 18, 1884, printed in History of the Sabbath, p. 802

“It is well to remind the Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, and all other Christians, that the Bible does not support them anywhere in their observance of Sunday. Sunday is an institution of the Roman Catholic Church, and those who observe the day observe a commandment of the Catholic Church.” Priest Brady, in an address reported in The News, Elizabeth, New Jersey, March 18, 1903.

“For example, nowhere in the Bible do we find that Christ or the Apostles ordered that the Sabbath be changed from Saturday to Sunday. We have the commandment of God given to Moses to keep holy the Sabbath day, that is the 7th day of the week, Saturday. Today most Christians keep Sunday because it has been revealed to us by the [Roman Catholic] church outside the Bible.” Catholic Virginian, October 3, 1947, p. 9, article “To Tell You the Truth.”

“They [the Protestants] deem it their duty to keep the Sunday holy. Why? Because the Catholic Church tells them to do so. They have no other reason...The observance of Sunday thus comes to be an ecclesiastical law entirely distinct from the divine law of Sabbath observance...The author of the Sunday the Catholic Church.” Ecclesiastical Review, February 1914.

Catholics quoted above seem VERY proud of themselves that even though these other sects have broken off, they still observe what Rome says to do.

All of the above seem to make it clear that the Catholic Church changed the Sabbath to Sunday.  How does that sit biblically?
Daniel 7:25 “And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.”
Not well, it appears.  I can make the case that the Catholic Church is Babylon leading people astray, but that will have to wait for another day - this post is long enough as it is!

Another big point when discussing this is, where exactly does SUNday come from? 

The Romans called the sun god “Mithra” and “Apollo,” and they especially worshiped the sun on “the first day of the week,” also called “Dies Solis” (Latin), which means, “day of the sun.” The name “Sunday” was adopted “because this day was anciently dedicated to the sun, or to its worship. The first day of the week.” Webster’s Dictionary; 1929 edition.

So - does it sound like you're worshipping God or the Sun on Sunday?

I digress.  Getting back to the original question of the post.  How narrow is narrow?  I think it's fair to easily argue that you MUST follow the commandments if you are to get to Heaven.  From there, you can argue that most people don't keep the Sabbath properly.  That would certainly limit the people to a "fewer".  Not sure we are at "few" yet, but certainly we've taken a great number of people out of the mix with Sabbath worship.

One more large pasasge:  Matthew 19:16-30

And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?
And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.
But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.

I'm not sure I have the background to hit all that is covered here, but I'll take a small shot.  First of all, let's say we're keeping the commandments.  Based on the above text, we are not locks to get into Heaven.  Are we then to sell all we have and give it to the poor?  You could argue that.  How far do we go, though.  I have a big screen TV, 2 in fact.  Could I do without them?  Yes.  Will I sell them and give that money away?  Probably not.  Am I going to hell for that?  Maybe.  See where I'm going with all this?

I always thought that the reason so many things are labeled as sins in the bible are so that everyone knows that no one is good enough to enter Heaven based on themselves.  Everyone needs a savior, no matter how "good" you think you are.  Back to the point.  How much do I need to give away?  Everything?
We are all "rich" compared to what people thought about things being like in biblical days.  Then you get to the latter parts of the above text and you see that although it's almost impossible for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, with God it IS possible.

So again I ask, what do we need to do?  This is not an easy question in the least.

1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

It's not money that is evil, it's the LOVE of money because you then place it above your love of God.

Let's take this already hard question a step further.  Let's say you make $x and give away 95% of it.  Is that good enough (on top of already following the commandments)?  What if you are spending some of that 5% on a nice bronze statue of Venus so that you can worship it?  Obviously that wouldn't cut it either.

1 John 3:17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?

Obviously you shouldn't sit there with "extra" money when you see a fellow believer (or anyone for that matter) that is truly in need of help.

In the closing of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warns people that claim to know him but of whom he will someday say "I never knew you; depart from me..."

"By their fruits you shall know them" - Can people tell you follow Jesus from the outside if they didn't know you personally?  How many people can really say that truthfully?

I can't, thus I may not be one of the "few".

I pray we can all make our way through the narrow gate and get to where we truly want to be - nothing else matters.  I hope, though God's work, not mine, that I can get there someday; and I hope I can share a laugh or two there with others that I will meet here.


  1. John I'm certain of the fact that that we are here to please God first and not the whims of men spreading false paths for men to go with the flow of the world and have them believe they are on the road to eternal life when it is just the opposite. Churches so called do not save us, Jesus does.

    Actually Only His presence in the midst constitutes Church. It's very helpful to have fellowship in truth with true believers and that kind is getting fewer everyday with all the prosperity preachers that are living a high life of this world that is unbelievable and in the multitude of sin.

    It is not popular to be of the truth anymore and the true saints will be the ones who are going to be martyred in the very near future.

    I surrender all is our hearts desire and His Law of Love no longer is chaffing in any way because they have become what we too love to do.

    We become a witness as you are doing here for the TRUTH.

    Blessings for stepping out in following Him in Truth and Spirit.

    A fellow traveller in Him.


  2. I only hesitated in writing because of the thoughtfulness and importance of the subject matter. I,too,have wrestled with that concern,and a good friend of mine shared these words,which were of great comfort to me.

    I pray for you they are as well.

    In Christ,

    ..."Those who have delayed a preparation for the day of God cannot obtain it in the time of trouble, or at any future period. The righteous will not cease their earnest agonizing cries for deliverance. They cannot bring to mind any particular sins, but in their whole life they can see but little good. Their sins had gone beforehand to judgment, and pardon had been written. Their sins had been borne away into the land of forgetfulness, and they could not bring them to remembrance. Certain destruction threatens them, and like Jacob they will not suffer their faith to grow weak, because their prayers are not immediately answered. Though suffering the pangs of hunger, they will not cease their intercessions. They lay hold of the strength of God as Jacob laid hold of the angel, and the language of their soul is, "I will not let thee go except thou bless me." The saints at length prevail like Jacob, and are gloriously delivered by the voice of God.

    ...That season of distress and anguish will require an effort of earnestness and determined faith that can endure delay and hunger, and will not fail under weakness, though severely tried. The period of probation is the time granted to all to prepare for the day of God. If any neglect the preparation, and heed not the faithful warnings given, they will be without excuse. Jacob's earnest, persevering wrestling with the angel should be an example for Christians. Jacob prevailed, because he was persevering and determined. All who desire the blessing of God, as did Jacob, and will lay hold of the promises, as he did, and be as earnest and persevering as he was, will succeed, as he succeeded. Why there is so little exercise of true faith, and so little of the weight of truth resting upon many professed believers is because they are indolent, in spiritual things. They are unwilling to make exertions, to deny self, to agonize before God, to pray long and earnestly for the blessing, and therefore they do not obtain it. That faith which will live through the time of trouble must be in daily exercise now. Those who do not make strong efforts now to exercise persevering faith will be wholly unprepared to exercise that faith which will enable them to stand in the day of trouble."

  3. "And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments."~! John 2:3

    You hit on this already,and that sure can't be diminished in it's importance! I am shocked when I hear the accusation against keeping the Commandments being equated with "legalism"! Have you come across that before? To me that sounds like Satan saying,in Genesis,"God didn't really say...?"!


    "Every man is an antichrist, who denies the Person, or any of the offices of Christ; and in denying the Son, he denies the Father also, and has no part in his favour while he rejects his great salvation. Let this prophecy that seducers would rise in the Christian world, keep us from being seduced. The church knows not well who are its true members, and who are not, but thus true Christians were proved, and rendered more watchful and humble. True Christians are anointed ones; their names expresses this: they are anointed with grace, with gifts and spiritual privileges, by the Holy Spirit of grace. The great and most hurtful lies that the father of lies spreads in the world, usually are falsehoods and errors relating to the person of Christ. The unction from the Holy One, alone can keep us from delusions. While we judge favourably of all who trust in Christ as the Divine Saviour, and obey his word, and seek to live in union with them, let us pity and pray for those who deny the Godhead of Christ, or his atonement, and the new-creating work of the Holy Ghost. Let us protest against such antichristian doctrine, and keep from them as much as we may."


  4. Sandie - your first comment did help somewhat. On a human scale, I don't think my sins are anywhere near that of your general sinner, yet in God's eyes, a filthy rag is a filthy rag. And yet everyday, I pray for forgiveness and that I may be saved. For even the "small" things I've done, my heart is heavy. I hope all of that matters.

    I'm still not completely sure on how to properly keep the Sabbath, though. A follow-up post will be up shortly! :)