I am rarely at a loss for words, but it seems to be happening more frequently now that my three-year-old son can ask questions. He asks questions constantly.
“Momma, where’re we goin’?”
“To Wal-mart, son,”
“Because the weather’s supposed to get bad this afternoon, so we need to get groceries now instead of later.”
“What’s weather, momma?”
Oh, boy. How in the world do you explain “weather” to a three year old? I went with, “It’s what makes the rain and sun. It makes it hot or cold, you know, stuff like that.”
“No, momma. God made the sun.”
“Yes, baby. God did make the sun. But the weather, well…. We’ll ask your daddy when we get home, okay?”
I was torn between being exasperated because I had no idea how to explain this seemingly intangible concept and being proud that he realizes at three years of age that God is our Creator and the Creator of all things (including the Hulk and Coell’s underwear, as he informed me yesterday). As usual, my son sparked another idea for a blog. My son, my little muse, recognizes that everything has a maker. I am constantly humbled and reminded by my son of the complexity of human life. And yet, it’s so simple. God made it. We play a game in the car almost every time we go anywhere that involves Coell asking, “Momma, who made the ___?) And I respond with “God did.” Fill in the blank with anything you can imagine. And I mean anything. The slides. The McDonalds. The toilet paper. The railroad tracks. I know that God made men and that men actually made all these things. They had to be designed and built. But without God, we wouldn’t have the mental capacity to carry out those plans and materialize them. Someday, I will explain that to my son. But for now, “God made it” is good enough.
He asks others questions, too. Sometimes, staggeringly serious questions that I just don’t have an answer to. He is intrigued by sickness and death right now. As morbid as that sounds, the reason is simple. We, unfortunately, have several sick beloved friends that we make a point to pray for each night. He knows that being sick is when someone “doesn’t feel good”, to put in his terms. He also knows that sometimes, sickness ends in physical death. In his short little life, he has attended a couple of funeral home visitations, after which my husband and I had the responsibility of trying to explain the concept of death to him. We decided to go with the explanation that anyone who dies is not with us anymore, and that they’ve gone to a place where they will wait for Jesus to come back. You see, we don’t tell him that everyone who dies “has gone to Heaven”, because that is actually not a Biblical fact.
Hear me out.
Many people believe that after a person dies, they go straight to Heaven. Well, that would be wonderful, but the Bible actually teaches that no one gets to go to Heaven until after Jesus returns on Judgment Day. The Bible teaches that on the day that Jesus returns, every man (and woman) will have to give an account of their lives here on Earth (Matt. 12:36,37, Romans 14:12). There will not be any “Rapture” as is often taught in the denominational world. Most teachings about a “Rapture” indicate that Christians will be taken by the Lord to Heaven after giving an account of their lives to avoid a “tribulation period” that will take place on earth during their absence. After this “tribulation period” is over, Jesus is to return and establish his earthly kingdom. This is false, because Jesus has already established his Kingdom. The Kingdom is the Church, and is not of this world (John 18:36).
The more important fact I want to get to is this: Not everyone is going to go to Heaven. As wonderful as that sounds, as comforting as it is to believe after the loss of someone near and dear to us, it is simply not true. We can hope against all odds that everyone we know and love will go to Heaven, but the Bible teaches otherwise. You see, Jesus died an agonizing death to atone for our sins. He did it for every single person that has ever or will ever be born here on this earth. But we don’t get to take that atonement for granted by living in disobedience and then expect him to ignore such an offensive gesture.
Matthew 7:21 says, “Not everyone who saith unto me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”
The interesting thing about that verse is that it isn’t addressing those who openly and adamantly oppose the will of God. It addresses those who call him Lord. It is referring to those who, for whatever reason, are not living in obedience to His will but believe that they are. It indicates that there are those among us who will not enter the gates of Heaven, even though they believe they are doing God’s will. That calls for a pretty intense reality check. It disproves the idea of “I’m okay, you’re okay” religion. God in no way, shape, or form indicates that we can get to heaven by worshiping Him however we so choose. We must worship and live by the guidelines and standards he has given us in His Word, the Bible.
It seems that in all areas of life, other than religion, man has standards that are deemed true and indisputable. Think about sports, for example. Each sport has a set of rules that athletes must abide by in order to be deemed victorious. The rules are stated, and if they are not followed, a penalty is issued. Everyone agrees that if your team doesn’t score more points than the other team before the time clock runs out, your team loses the game.
Apply this same principal to religion. The Bible clearly teaches that baptism is necessary for our salvation. 1 Peter 3:21 says, “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth now save us (not by the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Even baptism doth now save us. Mark 16:16 says: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be condemned.” I have quoted now two very direct statements indicating that in order for man to be saved, he must be baptized for the remission of his sins.
So let’s look at this again. If you don’t score more points than the other team, you don’t win the game. No one will dispute that. If you are not baptized, you will not go to Heaven. Waaaiiitt a minute. Hold on now. Most members of the denominational world will say I am taking that out of context, but it is pretty clear what God wants us to do.
We are capable of following simple, direct rules in sports, but when it comes to God’s Word, we simply won’t accept it. Why is that? I believe it is because being a Christian is hard. Abiding by God’s word is not, by the world’s standards, always the fun thing to do. So the world takes God’s word and adds to or takes away from it until it’s easier for them to “obey”. Sometimes, doing what God wants us to do can make us very uncomfortable. Admitting that we are living in sin, according to God’s standards, is a hard pill to swallow. However, we have been very plainly warned against changing God’s will to make us more comfortable.
Revelation 22:18-19 states, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”
God’s Word isn’t complicated. Our feelings and desires make it complicated. Our need for earthly satisfaction leaves us short-sighted and impatient. We need to see the simplicity and beauty of God’s word, accept it for what it is, exactly how it is, and reap the benefits of obedience for eternity.
So the next time my big boy asks me a question about, well, anything, I know I don’t have to be at a loss for words. I will just use His Word to give him an answer.