Shocking Truths from the Bible: Heaven is NOT the Reward for the Righteous

Almost everyone believes that good people immediately go to heaven when they die. In fact, one of the most popular teachings of mainstream Christianity proclaims that the righteous will go to heaven! What if right now, this very moment, I will tell you that this belief is wrong, that their teaching is not based on the Bible but instead rooted in ancient paganism?

If you die today, where will go?

If you die today, where will go?

In this article, I will show you proofs that heaven is not the reward for the righteous straight from the Bible.

Is King David in Heaven?

If there is one person that should be in heaven right now, it will be King David, right? After all, he is regarded in the Bible as the author of Psalms, the righteous king of Israel, and even called a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). But you will be surprised that the Bible says that David never even get close anywhere near heaven. Let’s read the account in Acts.

Acts 2:29, 34 – “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, the he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day… David did not ascend into the heavens.” Read that again. David was dead, buried, and still in the tomb. He never went anywhere but in the ground.

What did Jesus Christ say?

If what Apostle Peter said is not enough, then let us hear what Jesus, our Master and Savior has to say with this particular subject.

John 3:13 – No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, The Son of Man”.

Nothing can be clearer than that. Jesus Christ is the best and perfect witness who can provide us a precise picture of what heaven is like. Since He came from heaven, He is more than credible to tell us if there are people who ever went to heaven. But His remark is quite surprising because NO ONE HAS ASCENDED TO HEAVEN. These include all the righteous people who lived and died before Him.

Another statement of Jesus that is startling to His audience is made in the Gospel of John.

Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come” John 8:21).

“Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you” (John 13:33).

Both of these scriptures are told by Christ when His crucifixion is imminent and near. He told His audience that they cannot come where He is going. Obviously, He will be going back to His Father’s throne after His resurrection. In effect, He is telling the Jews that they cannot go to heaven. They will die in their sins and they cannot still go to heaven.

In the second verse, it was repeated to Jesus’ disciples. The disciples, Jesus’ closest circle of friends, are not entitled to go to heaven! Imagine that. If His disciples cannot go to heaven, what is the possibility we can go there? If people assumed that heaven is the righteous’ reward, then who is lying, Jesus or the preacher in your church? You decide!

In one instance, Jesus taught His disciples how to pray. In His prayer, you will find a key factor to what the future holds for us.

Matthew 6:10 – “Thy kingdom come.”

Jesus taught us to pray for God’s Kingdom to come here on Earth. He never told us to pray that we go to heaven. Instead of us going to heaven, the Kingdom of God will come and be established here on Earth!

What will happen when Christ returns?

Another proof that people will not go to heaven when they die is found in John 5:28-29 which reads:

“Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:28-29).

Jesus Christ said that those who kept His words will hear is voice from the heaven??? No, from the grave! Read that again. The righteous were never in heaven all along. If that is the case, what is the use of Jesus coming here on earth when all the while everyone is already in heaven?? Or why resurrect people if they are already in heaven?? Think again.

If not heaven, then what is the reward of the righteous?

Now, we came to the real crux of the matter. We made it very clear that heaven is not the reward of the righteous. So what else can it be?

A careful study of the scripture will make the greater picture of what God’s eternal plan for us is. Let’s read Psalm 37.

Psa 37:9 – For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth.

Psa 37:11 – But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

Psa 37:29 – The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever.

The righteous will inherit the EARTH and not heaven. Their inheritance will be FOREVER as what verse 29 tells us. This is repeated in one of the beatitude mentioned by Christ, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

In addition to this, let us have a peek to what will happen when Jesus will be back here on Earth.

Rev_5:10 – “And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.”

When God will make us kings and priests, we will not be reigning in Heaven but on the earth as what we can read in Revelation.

Now that we read the biblical proofs that support the statement that the righteous does not go to heaven, we can conclude with all confidence that we will reign on earth instead of heaven. The inescapable and obvious fact that we can derive from the Holy Scripture is very clear.

God has better plans for us rather than spending an eternity in heaven doing nothing. We have a mission to fulfill and that mission is to be fulfilled by reigning here on the earth together with other saints.

Additional reading:

Is Heaven God’s Reward for the Righteous?

Free Booklet:

Heaven and Hell: What Does the Bible Really Teach?

If you have questions, reactions, and comments, please leave a message below.

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23 thoughts on “Shocking Truths from the Bible: Heaven is NOT the Reward for the Righteous

  1. While I respect your writing, I find that you read the bible in the literal sense and out of context. For example, positing that Jesus had siblings is wrong. There is also error in this article —please refer to Jesus’parables on the kingdom of heaven.

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  2. Hello Kalondu,

    Thank you for your comment.:)

    I know it is hard to understand, but this is the plain truth found in the Bible. If you think that I am writing out of context, let me hear your explanation then.

    Jesus has siblings and you can read this in mark 6:3.

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  3. I’m posting in sections, due to the length. Sorry!

    Where do we go when we die? This is a very good question and one that should be carefully examined to determine what the truth is. We can believe what we want, argue our beliefs, but in the end the reality is the truth, not what we wish or believe, unless those beliefs are rooted in the truth. It is critically important that our beliefs be based upon truth. Jesus stood before Pilate at the crucifixion and Pilate asked him, “What is truth?” One of life’s most important, if not the most important question. And the Truth (John 14:6) was standing right there before him. Sometimes the truth is easy to miss.

    Statements have been made and articles written about believers not going to heaven. Various verses are presented, with bold claims that “traditional Christianity” or Christianity in general is wrong about going to heaven after death. It is my purpose here to share various Scriptures and truths of the Bible (John 17:17) as a defense for the thoughts and doctrine of heaven after physical death. Some of these truths and Scriptures were not presented to me while I was in WCG. Rather the same “canned” line of thinking through the use of certain scriptures was presented over and over again.

    Perhaps a good place to start is with Scripture about how Jesus (as God) viewed death. This can be found in his dialogue with the Sadducees – the religious lawyers of the day who knew the Scriptures very well, but denied the resurrection. Just a few days prior to the resurrection, the Sadducees concocted a story with the intent of causing Jesus to stumble. The story can be found in Matthew 22:23-33. I think a good description of this story comes from evangelical pastor and teacher, John MacArthur:

    “Watch this: “As touching the resurrection of the dead, have you not read,” that just so sarcastic, “have you not read that which was spoken to you by God?” Haven’t you been reading your Scripture about the resurrection and he (Jesus) quotes in verse 32, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Stop there. You know where that’s from? Exodus 3:6. That’s the Pentateuch. You say, well wait a minute. Is that supposed to be a statement about resurrection? It is; is indeed a statement about (the) resurrection. He quotes Moses because that’s what they demanded and the statement is an emphatic statement. In the Greek it’s egome I am, present tense, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And the argument here is an argument of the verb tense. He doesn’t say I was the God of Abraham, I was the God of Isaac, and I was the God of Jacob. You see in Exodus 3:6, Abraham was dead, Isaac was dead, and Jacob was dead already. How then can He say I am the God of Abraham, I am the God of Isaac, I am the God of Jacob, which is exactly what the Hebrew of 3:6 implies?
    Well you can see it also in Genesis 26:24, Genesis 28:13, God says I am the God of Abraham and in both of those passages Abraham is already dead. And in Exodus 3:6, Exodus 3;15, Exodus 3:16, Exodus 4:15, God says I’m the God of Abraham, I’m the God of Isaac, I’m the God of Jacob, and they’re already dead. And His point then, at the end of the verse, is God is not the God of the dead, but of the living, so if God says I am the God of these people they must be, what? Alive. Alive. God is not worshipped by corpses. He’s not the God of people who don’t exist. Who wants to be the God of people who don’t exist?
    Now note that each is individually singled out there, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and He’s talking about personal intimate relationship of each of them. Now the genitive here of the God of, the God of, the God of, can be seen two ways. It could mean this: the God to whom Abraham belongs, the God to whom Isaac belongs, the God to whom Jacob belongs. Or it could mean the God who belongs to Abraham, the God who belongs to Isaac, the God who belongs to Jacob, and I like to see both. I am the God to whom Abraham belongs and who belongs to Abraham. I am the God to whom Isaac belongs and who belongs to Isaac. I am the God to whom Jacob belongs and who belongs to Jacob. In other words, I am the God who continues to have an intimate relationship of life and worship with these who are dead, which means they still must be, what, alive.
    Profound, absolutely profound. He is not the God of dead men. He’s the God of the living, and if He said after they were all dead He was their God present tense now, and they belonged to Him and He belonged to them, then they were still some place. The unchanging, eternal, covenant-keeping God who made His promises to His chosen will bring them to fulfillment and they are alive and they are alive to rise again, they are alive to enter the fulfillment of the covenant given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They are alive to inherit all that was ever promised to them.
    Source: http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/2357/ Sermon by John MacArthur on Jan 22, 1984; Accessed via Internet on September 6, 2013.

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  4. Part 2
    So Jesus refers to God revealing Himself to Moses, as a God of the living, not the dead. Why didn’t Jesus just quote some Scripture out of the Old Testament, arguing the patriarchs were dead and then quote Daniel 12 to evidence there will be a resurrection of the dead in the future? I believe Jesus’s point to the Sadducees is clear, to know God is the God of the living, not the dead. Jesus knew this as He conversed with the Sadducees, and surely this was on His mind as He was going to be crucified in two or three days.

    The point again is that God is the God of the living, not the dead. Jesus told the Sadducees they were “deceived (greatly mistaken), not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God” (Matt 22:29). 1 Corin tells us the power of God is Jesus Christ, our life.

    Is there any other evidence that this statement made by Jesus is true? Yes, the transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-6). How did Moses and Elijah show up at the Mount of Transfiguration if they were not living? Matthew writes in verse 3 that both Moses and Elijah appeared to them and were talking to Jesus. Do dead people talk? Yes, dead physically, but very much alive spiritually awaiting the bodily resurrection.

    Let’s look at another Scripture that helps bring truth and a little more clarity to heaven in 2 Corinthians 4:16. Paul tells us “the outward man is perishing, but the inward man is being renewed day by day.” Verse 18, “while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” Paul is clearly telling the Corinthians the things we do not see (the inward, implied believing man is the context – 4:16 & 5:1) is eternal.

    Now he goes on to describe our bodies as tents – temporary. But what swallows up the temporary? Does the inward man perish? No! Look at verse 4. Paul writes we don’t want to be unclothed (shedding our temporary physical body), but further clothed that (and notice this) that mortality may be swallowed up by life.” He further writes, “Therefore (because of this truth) we are always confident knowing (always assured, not doubting or lacking faith) while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord…We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”

    The Greek word for “absent” is interesting. That Greek word (ekdemeo) can mean figuratively “vacate” or emigrate – to move residence from one country or state to another; to migrate from home. In other words to move from the physical tent (body) and be present with the Lord.

    I desire to continue in much detail, but I just do not have the time or space. The above Scriptures are just the beginning. There is much more! Please, I challenge you, consider the following truths from Scripture and study them:

    John 14:6 Jesus states at the Passover meal (an intimate time with the disciples), “I go and prepare a place for you.” This can be debated and in my view this Scripture is overused by Protestants to proof text heaven. The Scripture does provide support to the idea of heaven after death, once the other truths are established.

    John 17:24 Jesus praying, “Father, I desire that they also, whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am.” The Scripture implies being with Christ after physical death.

    Acts 7:59 As he is dying Stephen says a similar phrase that Jesus said on the cross, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

    1 Thes. 5:10 “that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him (Jesus).” As you well know, “sleep” is a euphemism for death. It does not necessarily mean we are unconscious or unaware as WCG describes it. Read the verse carefully: “Whether we wake OR sleep, we should live together with (Jesus).” If we as believers are physically alive we are with Jesus, or if we “sleep” (physical death) we are alive with Jesus. Either one is a win-win.

    Jude :14 “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints.” Saints, being with Jesus, come back to the earth.

    Eph 3:15 “…from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.” The family of God is currently both in heaven and in the earth. Part are alive in heaven. Part are alive on the earth.

    Phil 1:21-23 Paul writes that “…to live is Christ and to die is gain (not death).” He continues that he has “a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.”

    Eph 2:5-6 The awesome Gospel is in this verse and is overlooked by too many. Paul writes that “we were dead in trespasses” but God “made us alive (past tense) together with Christ.” After physical death we are alive with Jesus. Paul continues, “and raised us up (past tense) together and made (past tense) us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” We are already there with Jesus! It’s a done deal. This is a difficult saying for some. But it’s true!

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  5. Rev 6:9-11 the martyred souls under the altar cry out to God with a loud voice. Where is the altar? In heaven. God tells them to rest (wait patiently). The Greek word for “rest” is used in the NT for both unconscious sleep and conscious (awake and aware) rest. Because the martyrs were restless and talking, it seems God is not putting them back to sleep, but they were seeing what was happening and God was telling them to “take it easy.” The deaths of all the saints had not been completed yet.

    Matt 24:31 & Mark 13:27 “And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” The elect are in heaven.

    Phil 2:10 “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth”. This Scripture tells us every person (believer or not) will bow to Jesus – those in heaven (physically dead, but spiritually alive), those on the earth (physically alive) and those under the earth (dead unbelievers in hell / grave awaiting judgment).

    There are many other Scriptures to cover. These are just a few.

    Please know this: 1) I am not saying the righteous have received their reward. The Bible seems to say otherwise and that the rewards will be given out at the judgment of the saints. 2) Neither am I denying a bodily resurrection. The bodily resurrection of the saints is clear. It’s just a mystery how it all works. There are abundant Scriptures / truths in the Bible about the resurrection. 3) It is WCG theology that fails to consider other viewpoints of those who are “in Christ” rather choosing to claim exclusive truth about heaven. In reality WCG theology seems to lack confidence in salvation, believing a person who has passed from death to life can then pass back and forth by losing their salvation and gaining it back.

    In summary, Jesus is the LIFE (John 14:6), the believer’s life. The truth is “God has given us (past tense) eternal life. He who has the Son has life” (1 John 5:11-12). He who believes in Christ “has passed from death into life” (John 5:24; 1 John 3:14). Why was the entire epistle of 1 John written to believers? John answers that question, “These things I have written to you who believe…that you may know (strong faith / confidence) you have (present tense) eternal life” (1 John 5:13). In contrast John wrote his Gospel to unbelievers (John 20:31).

    There is still much yet to discuss. I did not cover what a “soul” is. Suffice it to say that WCG teaching that “traditional Christianity” believes in the immortality of the soul is myopic and a gross generalization. Our soul, according to the Bible, is complex (perhaps existing as our spirit, mind, will and emotions) and is clearly not immortal. Bible dictionaries address this topic, for those willing to study it. I also did not cover the fact of the bodily resurrection – how the new body unites in the future with a believer’s spirit / soul. That again is a mystery, but one that can be studied further.

    I wish you the best. For a thorough and thought provoking book on the subject of heaven, one that even contains some views similar to WCG theology, I recommend “Heaven” by Randy Alcorn. http://www.amazon.com/Heaven-Randy-Alcorn/dp/0842379428/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1378503366&sr=8-1&keywords=heaven

    Be warned it is the largest undertaking on the subject and can be dry and presumptuously bold in places that Scripture is unclear, but a great book for respectfully viewing / understanding Biblical ideas and thought on the subject of heaven. May we all be ready to meet our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ when we draw our last breath on this earth. May we each be confident in His sacrifice as being sufficient and not our own good works, fruit or commandment keeping. He is our life. He is our hope. We fail. He never fails and will not lose one of His children. To Him be the power and the glory for ever and ever.

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  6. Part 4
    One last comment. I should be clearly note that the righteous (I believe, based on what I see in the Bible) will inherit a new earth. Randy Alcorn’s book does a great job explaining that logic and reasoning Biblically. They do go to be with Jesus when they physically die because their life is secured and hidden (things we don’t see) in Christ. I didn’t mean to imply that the Bible teaches that the righteous are in heaven forever.

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    • Hi Markwise07,

      First of all, thank you for taking time to comment to my post.

      It seems that you are part of the former WCG. Im actually part of UCG now, one of the splinter groups of WCG after the apostasy.

      Anyway, after reading your comment, I am fully convinced that there are flaws in your argument. At this point, I want to apologize though that I cannot go through each point as I dont have the luxury of time.

      As of now all I can say is that the Bible is very clear when it comes to people who are dead. They don’t have any knowledge or consciousness as the book of Ecclesiastes 9:10 tells us. After a person dies, his spirit will go back to God (eccle. 3:20-21). In addition to this, to say that people go to heaven after they die will contradict directly to Jesus’ and Peter’s statement (John 3:13 and Acts 2:29, 34).

      You have cited some verses that may suggest that there are people in heaven. I can explain it to you, one by one but as I have said, I dont have the luxury to do so. For this reason, make sure that you read these two booklets.

      http://www.ucg.org/booklet/heaven-and-hell-what-does-bible-really-teach
      http://www.ucg.org/booklet/what-happens-after-death

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  7. Joshua: Thanks for the reply. I’m sure you’re quite busy, and the fall Holy Days are upon you, too. I wish you safe travels to wherever you’re going for the Feast of Tabernacles. Those were good times.

    RE: the Scriptures you mentioned. I would just generally recommend that you examine each passage in context to get what the writer / speaker is communicating and intending.

    Let’s look at each of the passages you mention and look at them in their context.

    The context of Acts 2:29, 34 is Peter’s sermon contrasting the resurrection of Jesus Christ (already happened) to David awaiting the resurrection like all other men. Peter speaks the truth, king David has not been resurrected yet. The prophet and king is awaiting the resurrection (the joining of mind, spirit, emotions, and his will to his newly glorified body) like all others who have died in faith. There is nothing in that passage that says David’s spirit, mind, will or emotions are or are not in heaven with Jesus. The body of David is in the tomb. Jesus’s body is not.

    John 3 – the context in this Scripture should be easily seen, too. Throughout chapter 3 Nicodemus is having great difficulty understanding Jesus figuratively. He takes Jesus literally – verse 4 – “How can a man enter his mother’s womb a second time?” By verse 9 Nicodemus is apparently dumbfounded stating, “How can these things be?” Verse 13 is not a statement about what happens to men after death, but taken in context is a statement contrasting the fact that literal man (implying in man’s fullness – body, mind, spirit, will, emotions) does not ascend into heaven, but God descends to earth in the form of a full man (implying body, mind, spirit, will and emotions).

    The question becomes, what makes up “man”? The Bible defines man composed in different ways. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t know of any Scripture where the word “man” is spoken of in the Bible without a body. A body is essential to describing man. The body is referred to as a temple, implying the essence is what is in the heart, soul, mind, will and emotions. Even the devil apparently argued over the body of Moses (see Jude), but that wasn’t Moses, only his corrupted physical body.

    One should not automatically assume that when the Bible speaks of a man ascending to heaven that the Bible means no part of a man goes to heaven at death. Other Scriptures seem to hint that part of us (inward man) does, as I shared before. Do you not believe yourself that something returns to God? In the 1980’s when I was at Ambassador Herbert Armstrong said he did.

    Ecclesiastes 9:10; 3:20-21 Like the two passages above these passages in Ecclesiastes are often used by CG’s to build their theology on what happens after death. In conversation after conversation, this Ecclesiastes passage is used like a trump card. This seems strange to me, given the context in Ecclesiastes. Why would a church place such emphasis on a passage of Scripture like this that questions whether the end of animals equates with the end of man and not place the most emphasis on what is written after the coming of our Savior who overcame the grave and was resurrected? Do you not see how people wonder why you guys (CG’s) perhaps are missing the Gospel? It’s due to that kind of thinking.

    The answer to Solomon’s question is Jesus! Jesus knows and God sent Him. Jesus was a huge “game changer.” I think there is little doubt if Solomon were around today, he would ask, “Why are you building doctrine on my musings? Especially after Jesus (the resurrection and life) has come to earth?” If Solomon wouldn’t say anything, we know from Jesus that the Queen of the South would (Luke 11:31) – she will condemn the generation who lived during Jesus’ time. What would she say about our generation who know Jesus on this side of the cross?

    Joshua, I appreciate the fact that you’re “fully convinced.” I can’t convince you otherwise. When you and I die, Jesus will not ask us in the judgment if we had the right doctrine about heaven.

    By whom are we measuring our Christianity? By us or by Him?

    Doctrine is important, only to the extent that it points to and glorifies Jesus Christ. Anything else is dung.

    When a person trusts in doctrine like I did and then have it ripped to shreds by what some call “apostasy,” the only thing that person is left with is no hope – my obedience failed; my beliefs crumbled; my commandment keeping failed; my goodness failed and WCG failed (in fact it shattered, splintered and keeps splitting). Why is that?

    When a person has no hope, like prostitutes, drunks, drug addicts and other sinners, Jesus is more than a welcome sight. He becomes EVERYTHING. Thank God He saves Pharisees like Nicodemus, Matthew the tax collector and me. Praise God, He sent Jesus who saved us by His grace and changed my life. That makes me want to tell others about Him.

    For the King, Mark

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  8. Pingback: WARNING: 5 Surprising Things A Christian Should Never Say | Christian Living 101

  9. Both Joshua and Mark are correct, as are all the other millions of opinions formed about the Bible. They are both completely correct because the Bible contradicts itself. It’s the very reason we have 41,000 denominations of Christians all over the globe. One has to eventually ask themselves, why bother? And the truth is that people aren’t bothering anymore. Recent polls have shown that Christianity is dying because people are simply fed up with the constant bickering and utter uselessness of it all. I was a devout Christian for 30+ years, a doubting Christian for 6 years and now an atheist for 4 years. How does an all powerful god not know how to keep his written word from being distorted and interpreted so awfully. You’d think that an omniscient creator of the universe could insure that his followers had a guide that couldn’t be used to decimate the planet and deceive billions of people … and yet …

    Look, if you’re a Christian who believes that the one true god out of the THOUSANDS that exist just happened to be the god of your parents and the primary god of the country you live in, than I’m sorry – you’re a gullible twit. Research it for yourself. Every religion has an ancient book. Every religion is plagiarized by the next. Every religion offers punishment and reward and a vengeful, wrathful, jealous, genocidal deity. Christianity is no exception.

    Let go of your darkness. Free yourself of your shackles and join us in the light of knowledge. The god of the Bible, like every other god ever invented, could never love you as much as he loves himself. The evidence is everywhere.

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    • Revelation 9:12 mentioned that the WHOLE world is deceived by Satan. So we must not be surprised why there are a lot of religions and Christian denominations. The Bible is the very word of God (II Timothy 3:16). However, we must not just believe the Bible on BLIND faith. As a matter of fact, there are a lot of proofs of the veracity of the Bible. This includes fulfilled prophecy, archeological findings, historical accounts, and others. If you want to know more, please make time in watching this Beyond Today Program, Is the Bible True

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    • Sebastian, thank you for sharing your thoughts and your journey, moving from devout Christian, to doubter and now to atheist. I assume that you have found some sort of contentment now, although there are elements in your post that seem to evidence a streak of deep pain and hurt.

      You ask a couple questions,

      “Why bother (since there are “41,000 denominations”)?”
      “How does an all powerful god not know how to keep his written word from being distorted and interpreted so awfully?”

      Questions, such as you raise, are important.

      Well-known speaker, Ravi Zacharias, says that he sees a difference between questions and doubts, “A question is probing, trying to unpack, trying to get deeper and deeper into a subject. A doubt is a stumbling block in (one’s) journey to an answer.” It is in this manner that I would like to share some of the knowledge I have discovered. I’ll include YouTube links below that address each of these topics. Quite honestly I don’t believe I can provide a sufficient answer to your second question. It’s just too deep.

      Before I begin, allow me to briefly explain why I wrote the response to Joshua that I did. The topic of heaven and the afterlife fascinates me for various reasons, two of which include:
      1. I didn’t understand there were reasonable alternative views to the Church of God teaching as I grew up (it simply was not explained very well, only ridiculed); and
      2. I spent 15 years in Hospice around death and dying (sort of stimulates one’s thinking about death to search out answers). That’s why I was so overly in-depth in my post. My apologies for continuing incessantly.

      You ask, “Why bother?” This reminds me of a time a few years ago when I was teaching youths in the NC prison system, providing a treasure trough of free useful information from the State on how to be successful when these youths get on the outside. Oftentimes these young men came into my class with a “why bother?” attitude. While they had to be somewhat respectful in the class, they didn’t have to be after the class. Most teachers were called names, ridiculed and made fun of as we entered and exited the building. One day after one of the young men who normally was interested in my classes, turned on me in a direct confrontation where an officer had to be summoned, I became so discouraged. On the 30-minute drive back home, I turned off the radio and drove silently with some tears. Why do these young men feel so oppressed? Why bother teaching these men? They generally don’t care, and according to statistics most will end up back in prison later.

      I believe there are a number of reasons to the “why bother?” question. I’ll provide two:

      1. Truth matters. I believe the most important question in life is, “What is truth?” Truth provides a reference point and an anchor to life when times get difficult. If we don’t know what truth is, life can seem to be spinning out of control, can be quite bleak, painful and discouraging. I find great encouragement that truth is not a set of doctrines or beliefs, but a person. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” When He said that, He was excluding all other religions and paths. Truth by definition is exclusive. It is important we find out what that truth is. For more information, see the Michael Ramsden link below.
      2. Purpose. You write, Sebastian, that you are now an atheist. What that means is without God, man is just a combination of time + matter + chance. There is no ultimate purpose in life, no basis and foundation for morality, no explanation of origin, and no destiny. As Richard Dawkins has written, “DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music.” If Dawkins is speaking truth, that to me is so depressing. I can self-serve me as much as I want and ultimately nothing else matters. Of what high value is love and beauty with the atheist except as something self-fulfilling? Had I been an atheist or agnostic, I would have just given up on the young men in the prison. However, I believe I was there for a higher purpose (to help and assist them), thus I stuck it out.

      It’s interesting that in your last paragraph you invite us Christians (and all theists) to join you in the light of knowledge. Science and knowledge are generally the atheists’ trump cards. Yet science and knowledge have significant limitations. It was the brilliant Albert Einstein who rightly said, “You can talk about the ethical foundations of science, but not the scientific foundation of ethics”. As important as science is to humanity, it cannot provide significant moral and ethical answers to life. Ethics (and morality) have no scientific foundation. Should a scientist, for example, be fully honest in reporting his/her facts? Science and general atheistic knowledge cannot give us an absolute answer. In fact, evolution tends to teach that the stronger and more powerful should win out. That lacks serious ethics and morality. I find it interesting that your problem with God is ultimately moral in nature. How can you have any basis of a claim or question like that, if there’s no God?

      Sebastian, you have judged that religion is bad and evil. In a sense, you have experienced (some might use the word, tasted) religion’s poison and deemed it bad for humanity. I would tend to agree to a certain point. Religion (all of them) is man’s best solution to get right with God. There is a little good in religion, but left to its own, it will be self-seeking.

      Ironically you have followed a principle set out in the very book you criticize, for you have chosen to taste and eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and you’re inviting theists to do the same. It’s entirely your free choice to choose to go there. I would encourage you to keep looking for answers, not in knowledge, but in a relationship with the very person who said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”

      I have listed some video links below. These links are presentations from three different men.

      In regards to atheism, John Lennox has an interesting presentation this past March in Toronto. He’s debated Dawkins and other atheists. It can be accessed at:
      The Delusion of Atheism: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPaBXf0gXNg

      Answering the Biggest Objections to Christianity by Ravi Zacharias at:

      Michael Ramsden’s talk, “God of Love; Church of Arrogance” at:

      Regardless of your ultimate choice, I wish you the best in finding satisfying answers, not stumbling on doubts.

      Like

    • The links aren’t working for some reason. So at YouTube in the Search field, just enter the name and title of the talk(s) in which you’re interested. The appropriate talk should come up. All the best.

      Like

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