What we choose to do on earth determines where we will spend eternity. There are only two places where we can go after this life is over. We will live in either Heaven or Hell. Let us take a few moments to study this important subject and take heed to what the word of God teaches.
In the beginning, God gave man the ability to choose between right and wrong. After he created man, God said to him,
"Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die," (Genesis 2:16-17).
Even Eve, whom God created for man, realized the difference between right and wrong. She said,
"We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, 'Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die,'" (Genesis 3:2-3).
Unfortunately, Adam and Eve chose to sin.
Later in the Old Testament, we read a profound statement made by Joshua. In rebuking the Israelites for desiring to follow after other gods, he said,
"Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD," (Joshua 24:14-15).
Here again, we notice a distinction made between right and wrong. Following after other gods leads one to Hell, while following after the Lord leads one to Heaven.
Jesus, in the New Testament, also teaches this distinction. He says,
"Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it," (Matthew 7:13-14).
The gate that is straight and narrow, is the one that leads to Heaven, while the one which is wide and broad, leads to Hell. We must also be reminded that we will all be judged according to how we live on this earth. Paul says that
we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad, (2 Corinthians 5:10).
What are some things that will send us to Hell? What are some things that will lead us to Heaven? The answer to both of these and similar questions, is found in Galatians 5:16-25. Paul says,
Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Where are you headed today? Will the things that you are doing today lead you to Heaven where life is eternal, or to Hell, where there is everlasting punishment? You hold your eternal destiny in your hands. Whom do you serve now? Is it the Lord, or Satan?
At its 74th General Convention, July 28-August 8 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the church approved a $146.4 million budget for the next three years, with priorities including young adults and youth, reconciliation and evangelism, congregational transformation, justice and peace, and partnerships with other churches inside and beyond the Anglican Communion.
The church also broke new ground, confirming the Anglican Communion's first noncelibate gay bishop and approving a resolution accepting that blessings of same-sex relationships are taking place "within the bounds of our common life."
It didn't come easily.
There were predictions of schism, walkouts, and tears. World reaction has been strong enough to prompt the Archbishop of Canterbury to call a special primates' meeting this October to consider the ramifications of this convention.
But through it all, Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold has seen "an incredible strength and joy despite the difficulties of some of the decisions we have had to make and the painfulness some of these decisions have caused within the community."
And, perhaps more importantly, church leaders see opportunity. On the last day of convention, Dean George Werner, president of the House of Deputies, urged clergy and congregations to make the most of the evangelistic potential that lies ahead.
"Looking at the vast collection of [media] coverage this church has been getting," he said, "this Sunday may be one of the greatest if not the best missionary Sundays in the history of the church."
So begins the Episcopalian News Service's press release entitled "2003 General Convention Leaves Legacy of Crisis and Opportunity," a summation of the main events that occurred during the Episcopalian church's General Convention and what has caused considerable controversy throughout the nation and the world. We must first establish, of course, that as Christians striving to obey the New Testament we do not find authority for such conventions, "primates" of the church, or that such a body would have the authority to bind anything upon the universal church, and we also deplore not only the acceptance but the approval of homosexuals and the homosexual lifestyle as has been done by the Episcopalian church (more information about the Episcopalian church versus the Scriptures is available at A Study of Denominations: Anglicanism/Episcopalianism.
When we as Christians hear of news like this, we do not find it very suprising, for we are aware of the apostasy of the denominations from the authority of the Word of God and the actions thus performed by such organizations. We may believe, and with good reason, that such an issue will not pervade our churches. This does not mean, however, that there is nothing for us to learn from the example of the controversy created in the Episcopalian church, for within this controversy we may see it as a microcosm the issues of liberalism vs. conservatism and the true goal of liberalism. Let us now see exactly what we can learn from this Episcopalian controversy.
Does this sound familiar? For those of us who hold to the New Testament as our standard for faith and practice, it most definitely does! I could easily insert any number of practices-- using instrumental music in worship, building a fellowship hall, giving church funds to non-saints-- and the story would be very similar. Those who practice these things and who advocate these things in "churches of Christ" will often claim to "desire unity" and regret any division that may occur, but yet they will advocate these practices which are first and foremost not necessary and therefore not worth dividing over and then wonder why division occurs. Does it not follow that if they truly desired unity they would desist from advocating practices that they know will cause division? And in the end they always blame the more conservative Christians for the ensuing division for their "binding" and their "legalism," and profess to have clean hands regarding the division.
God, however, is not fooled, neither by the Episcopalians or by divisive brethren. Paul in Galatians 5:20-21 condemns those who would cause division and strife within the church: who are the ones guilty of division? Romans 14 establishes clearly that if there is a liberty with which members disagree, the practice of that liberty ought to cease to maintain unity. The necessary conclusion is that those who would advocate their liberties-- to advance their own desires despite any concern that may arise-- to the point of causing division are condemned for such. If unity is truly desired, why would anyone advocate a liberty to the point of causing division unless the desire to be "right" and to do what one wants to do surpasses the desire to maintain unity?
The actions of the Episcopalian church regarding their acceptance of homosexuality and even promoting such a person to any form of authority are certainly deplorable and we encourage any and all members of the Episcopalian organization to repent from their ways and to turn to the true Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. We as Christians, however, should always be mindful toward our brethren regarding liberties, and ought to always strive to not cause division in any way if it may be avoided.
Ethan R. Longhenry
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