Not everyone agrees with me that full qualification for eternity is not instant or automatic or painless. I can only hope that you are wise enough, desirous enough and spiritual enough to face up to the truth that every day is another day of spiritual preparation, another day of testing and discipline with our heavenly destination in mind. I hope, too, that you may begin to understand why many evangelical churches are in such a mess. It has become popular to preach a painless Christianity and automatic saintliness. It has become a part of our "instant" culture-"just pour a little water on it, stir mildly, pick up a gospel tract, and you are on your Christian way!" "Lo," we are told, "this is Bible Christianity!,' "It is nothing of the sort!" To depend upon that kind of a formula is to experience only the outer fringe, the edge of what Christianity really is. For when the new birth is real and the wonder of regeneration has taken place, then comes the lifetime of preparation with the guidance of the Holy Spirit!
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There is a close cause-and-effect relationship between deeds and consequences. No right-thinking person would try to deny this.
The whole scheme of rewards and punishment is a solid and substantial part of the belief of both Jews and Christians, as well as of many moral philosophers and of religions other than the Judeo-Christian. The human race at first was put on probation with the words, "but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die" (Genesis 2:17). This is truth so generally accepted by Christians everywhere as to call for no further comment here.
To live our lives reverently in the fear of God and in view of eternal consequences is right and good, but to live our moral lives in fear of temporal consequences is an evil, a great and injurious evil for which not one shred of justification can be found. Yet the shadow of the fear of consequences lies dark across the church today and its blight is seen almost everywhere.
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