The Bottom Line! --By Charles Slagle
So people are trying to scare "hell" back into you again? I understand what you're going through, my friend. It is sad that many of our fellow Christians have yet to grasp the obvious truth that gospel means GOOD news. Because they are (presently!) blind to the glory of our Heavenly Father's infinite love, they just will not open their hearts to ALL that the Bible teaches. They steadfastly ignore the many passages we show them that contradict the unbiblical hell dogma and reveal a far better God with a far better plan for His creation.
Why do they stubbornly keep trying to drag us away from this life-transforming grace and back into hell-based religiosity--which is ANYTHING BUT good news? And why do they seek to carry out this dark agenda by use of subtle (and not so subtle!) fear tactics? I'm so sorry for the grief this has caused you. Believe me, I have experienced the very same kind of flak myself! However, all I can tell you is that they are blind. And that is because God has not yet given them eyes to see the light of this glorious good news of Christ's total victory. The day will come when He will do it, of course. Even now, believe it or not, He is IN PROCESS of doing it. Don't you think so? Of course He is! That is what the gospel is all about! All people will eventually have the mind of Christ.
Meanwhile, however, when folks try to lure you back into hell-based religion, you will not waver as long as you calmly remain focused on THE BOTTOM LINE ISSUE. And it is simply this: If God does not save everyone, that is either because--
(1) He cannot
(2) He will not.
Pure and simple, either one of these bottom line doctrinal concepts is rooted in arrogant, TOXIC religiosity. If it is true that God cannot help us unless we assist Him, then of course we will come to feel that Omnipotence needs our help, not vice versa! Or if He does not want to save all people, but only some of us, then some folks will be prone to boast (at least inwardly) that He loves them and hates others.
Can you see how self-righteousness and self-centeredness are the fruit of these bizarre concepts? The weak god who needs our help fosters pride and a false sense of superiority to other people, based on human performance. The biased god engenders pride in some people who feel that he loves them and despises others. Those who opt for this god can have a basic heart-attitude something like: "I am sure that God has chosen ME for salvation, but I'm not so sure about YOU!"
Jesus refers to these kinds of self-centered religious perspective as "the leaven of the Scribes and the Pharisees" and warns us against ingesting it.
If God's success at saving us depends on our success at making wise and timely choices, then--bottom line--we are in control, not God. Salvation cannot not totally be His gracious work. No, we are our own saviors--bottom line. For God can succeed ONLY IF we weak, sin-impaired, unpredictable little humans do. This is absurd. Yet it is what is generally taught as "gospel" in the evangelical church realm. It is the empty philosophical balderdash commonly described in the old catch-phrase, "God helps those who help themselves."
This goofy, bogus wisdom is contrary to both Scripture and reason. As you know, the Bible clearly states that salvation is not of him who wills or runs but of God who shows mercy. Paul tells us that when we were "without strength" Christ died for the ungodly. The Lord Himself must be the Author and Finisher of our faith--just as the Bible says.
Otherwise our faith originates from ourselves and we have grounds for boasting in our own righteousness. We vainly imagine that the Lord did not seek us out and woo us and win our trust. No! We sought for Him and found him, and then chose to trust Him due to our own wisdom and diligence.
WHAT UTTER NONSENSE!
If at the end of the day, God's success in helping us depends on our success at helping HIM... if it depends on our shaping our own heart-motivations, responses and choices...then, let's face it: HE IS NO MORE RELIABLE THAN WE ARE. In other words, we are all there is of God--bottom line.
Actually, this is the "New Age" teaching in a nutshell. Atheism, cloaked in religious jargon! Why do professing Christians say they oppose New Age philosophy and yet constantly proclaim it themselves with slightly different semantics? Food for thought!
If number 2 is so, and God simply WILL NOT save everyone, (and some folks known as Calvinists do teach this) then He does in fact practice favoritism, despite many Biblical passages that clearly teach that He does not. This makes Him to be unjust, a liar, and a double-talking hypocrite.
Having come to embrace this whole gospel of God's infinite grace, you already know that the New Testament teaches that the Wisdom that comes from above does not show favoritism. And I'm sure you know that it also declares that God loves the WORLD, not just a mere part of it.
Furthermore, we read in the Bible that Jesus has come to seek and to save that which was lost--not merely some of that which was lost. And the first epistle of St. John also assures us that Christ died not only for the sins of Christians, but for those of the whole world. So again--to embrace this god of favoritism would be to settle for a warped understanding of our Heavenly Father that is at conflict with Scripture, conscience and reason.
This is the BOTTOM LINE.
Are you seeing it now?
It really is just that simple, my friend. So henceforth, when folks try to scare you back into the old hell-hyping religiosity by saying "But what if you're wrong?", etc.-- go back and prayerfully meditate on THE BOTTOM LINE issue. Are you willing to worship and adore a lesser god than the Glorious One who, as the lovely chorus says, "makes all things beautiful in His time"? If so, then you have only one of 2 bottom line god-versions (perversions!) that you can opt for. And both of these reek of the dung of prideful religiosity. They are the fabrications of self-righteous, self-centered, self-focused, God-dishonouring phariseeism.
And once again, that is simply because to opt for either of these actually means that you are choosing to worship either--
1) a god who cannot help us unless we help him. His success depends on ours. This unpredictable, wispy little god is widely advertized as "Unconditional Love" and claims "Omnipotence." Yet, at the end of the day, He is only as reliable as we are.
2) a god who is cruel, hypocritical, double-tongued, one who hates many of his little neighbors while teaching us that we must love and show kindness to ours. Furthermore he insists that he does not practice favoritism, yet that is EXACTLY what he does.
And so I repeat once more--this is the BOTTOM LINE. Pure and simple.
Never forget it. Not ever. Then you can Savor and enjoy the real and lasting peace that only the True and Living God can give. Your heart yearns for that and so does His.
Yours with love and prayers,