Joseph Herrin (12-09-2015)
I am often surprised at the number of men who write to me and request to receive the Parables Bookshelf Newsletters who are serving a sentence of “Life Without Parole.” These men have no expectation of ever being released from prison. The court systems have determined that they should never walk as free men in society again. Most often, but not always, the offense that has resulted in such a harsh sentence is the crime of murder. Such is the case of a man who wrote to me recently. At the age of 21 he was convicted of murder. This man is now 42 years old, having spent half his life inside a prison.
Would you expect a man in this situation to be bitter? Would you envision him as a hardened criminal? Sometimes this is the case, but there are many exceptions. The man who wrote to me communicated with patience, expressing well reasoned views, and manifested humility and appreciation for the material I am sending him. He asked some excellent questions which I will share with you below.
Dear Joseph Herrin,
First of all brother, I would like to greet you in peace, and say that I truly do appreciate you placing me upon your mailing list. By faith, I am not a Christian. In fact, I claim no said religion as my own. I instead believe in God and therefore I read any and all religious material that I come across. However, I am very much aware of the fact that not all who profess to be righteous are righteous. I know that some people in religions have hidden agendas.
Nevertheless, what actually brought your material to my mind’s eye was, one day I was having a debate with this guy who is gay, but he professes to be a Christian. He was telling me that maybe God meant for him to be the way that he is, and that one day God would save him from it... Okay, here’s the thing. This guy is in here (prison) for child molestation, and not once, but several times, he’s preyed upon the youth. He then has the nerve to tell me that God made him that way. So we argued (not violently). He more or less thinks he’s justifying his devilishment to me for some reason, but he did say that he hopes I don’t miss the bus on its way to heaven because I don’t call myself a Christian. Yet (and this is real!), I strive daily, harder than any so-called Christian I’ve seen in my 42 years of living. I don’t just quote the Scriptures, I strive to live by them. I believe my relationship with God is a one-on-one personal relationship. I’m not perfect, but I believe He understands my struggle.
Then this homosexual (and I believe others) advocate that they can keep raping little boys and maybe if they aren’t killed before they can use their last breath to call on Jesus to forgive them for their sins, they’ll go to heaven?
Before me, knowing they’re not sincere within their hearts, they’ll probably enter heaven with thoughts of corrupting it as well. My question is, “Why would I want to enter the same place as these people, willingly? Is this what heaven is going to consist of?”
Because truth is truth, these people do not mean it, when you repent today and then molest another innocent child 3 days later (4 separate times). And you’ll go to heaven before me simply because I refuse to label myself a Christian by name or association?
Honestly, brother Herrin, I’m simply trying to digest a logic that doesn’t seem real. So I ask, could you give me some insight? Do I have to declare myself a Christian to enter heaven, especially when all of the Christians I see make the word look worse than the name of Satan? I haven’t seen one person whose really Christ-like simply because they love Jesus, but instead because they want something from Him, and they still do devilishment.
How do you feel about Islam? I study that as well. I’m open-minded in my search for the truth. I’m not a Muslim.
Is any of this making sense to you? I know I have a lot of questions, but I am searching.
I was blessed to receive your letter with your sincere comments and excellent questions. I applaud you for your evident desire to arrive at truth, and to reject the evident hypocrisy and deceptive reasoning that many individuals manifest who call themselves Christians. In your letter you described a homosexual man who has repeatedly abused children sexually who was telling you that you needed to confess to being a Christian in order to get to heaven. Although he is not manifesting a transformed life, he is expressing a confidence that he will be accepted by God and go to heaven simply because he confesses belief in Jesus Christ.
Chester, you are quite right to view such attitudes and belief with disdain. Such people are deceiving themselves. God will not declare the wicked to be righteous, nor the righteous to be wicked. Much of Christianity has been swept away by deception, believing that confession alone saves them. This is a great error. If these individuals loved truth and studied their Bibles, they would recognize the gross folly of the things they are confessing. Following are just a small sampling of the many Scriptures that reveal that God will judge men according to both their words and their actions. Words alone are not sufficient to save any man.
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life.
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh - for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
II Peter 2:18-22
For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved. For if after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment delivered to them. It has happened to them according to the true proverb, "A dog returns to its own vomit," and, "A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire."
Chester, what Christ and His apostles taught is that Christ came to set men free from the bondage of sin. It is not the will of God that those who have received the grace of God and who have been set free from the bonds of sin should continue to live as slaves to their fleshly desires and evil passions. Yahweh will not declare such men to be righteous, no matter what they are confessing. The apostle John stated the matter very plainly in the following words.
I John 3:7-10
Little children, let no one deceive you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.
Note how often the passages of Scripture that deal with this subject of the need to live righteously and to depart from evil practices, admonish people to not be deceived. The reason for this emphasis is that there are a great many people who are deceived in this matter. The man you described in your letter appears to be such an individual. In another of his letters to the churches, the apostle Paul specifically addresses those who were homosexuals when they came to Christ, and the need to lay aside all such behavior and walk in holiness and righteousness.
I Corinthians 6:9-11
Do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.
When Paul says that Christians have been washed and sanctified, he is speaking of them having been cleansed and separated from their former sinful behavior. If they have been cleansed and separated from this behavior, then they are also justified before the eyes of God. However, if they continue in their sinful behavior, they will not be justified in God’s sight. As we read earlier, “God will not be mocked.” To understand better what this statement means, let me quote here these same verses in the Amplified Bible translation.
Do not be deceived and deluded and misled; God will not allow Himself to be sneered at (scorned, disdained, or mocked by mere pretensions or professions, or by His precepts being set aside.) [He inevitably deludes himself who attempts to delude God.] For whatever a man sows, that and that only is what he will reap. For he who sows to his own flesh (lower nature, sensuality) will from the flesh reap decay and ruin and destruction, but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
Chester, this is precisely what you were expressing in your letter. You recognize that God is not going to be satisfied with superficial professions of faith. God requires that men walk in righteousness and put away all sin from them.
In your letter you wrote, “I don’t just quote the Scriptures, I strive to live them... I’m not perfect, but I believe He understands my struggle.” The Son of God does understand your struggle. The Bible testifies the following of Christ.
Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
These words reveal that Christ does understand our struggle, and He will demonstrate mercy toward our weaknesses and give us grace to overcome the sin we struggle with. In another place the apostle John wrote:
I John 1:8-9
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Chester, these Scriptures are not giving Christians license to sin. They are merely acknowledging the fact that even the most sincere believer who is devoted to pleasing God will at times stumble and transgress against Yahweh’s righteousness. A disciple of Christ should never use the grace and mercy of Christ as a justification to continue in their sins. They should never reason, “Christ understands my struggle, and He will forgive me if I sin, so I will not concern myself very much with trying to overcome the sinful temptations I face.” Such reasoning is unworthy of one who professes to be a Christian.
What shall we say [to all this]? Are we to remain in sin in order that God's grace (favor and mercy) may multiply and overflow? Certainly not! How can we who died to sin live in it any longer?
The apostle Paul gives a stern warning to those who after having come to faith in Christ, and having become partakers of the Holy Spirit, have turned back to their former life of sin.
For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay." And again, "The Lord will judge His people." It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Sadly, many who profess to be Christians today have abandoned all fear of God. They live careless lives, participating in all manner of wickedness and sin with very little concern for the consequences when they stand before God. Yet, the truth is, God will not be mocked. He will judge each man according to his works.
This is a very important point that many Christians today give little thought to. In the book of Revelations, the last book of the Bible, we are given a description of Christ addressing seven churches. Repeatedly, the Son of God begins His address to these churches by stating, “I know your deeds/works...” He does not say, “I know your confession of Me,” or “I know your faith.” We are shown that Christ judges these churches based upon their works. It is the actions of a man that truly reveal his heart and character. This is why Yahshua told His disciples, “You will know all men by their fruit” (Matthew 7:16, 20).
Chester, you asked me what I think about Islam. This question provides me with a good opportunity to share some further truths about the unique character of Jesus Christ/Yahshua the Messiah. Many people are confused and wonder what is the true way to attain right standing and fellowship with the God who created them and all things. Some teach that all religions represent different paths to God. This is the Rosicrucian belief. The Rosicrucians see all religions as petals on the same flower, all representing paths to right relationship with God. Such a belief is folly, for the various religions do not even describe the same God. Some even worship multiple gods and goddesses. Neither do these gods have the same character. How then could serving the god of one religion possibly satisfy the god of another religion? These religions also present widely varying teachings of the afterlife. Some, like the Hindus, proclaim a message of endless reincarnation. It is quite obvious that all of these religions are not equal, nor are they compatible with one another.
The same is true of Christianity and Islam. Islam arose 600 years after Christ and it co-opted the patriarchs and prophets of Judaism and Christianity while redefining their lives, their history, their beliefs, and their character. Islam is incompatible with the teachings of Judaism and Christianity. The teachings of the Koran do not conform themselves to the truths set forth in the Bible. An obvious example is that the Bible teaches that Abraham took his son Isaac up to the mountain to offer him as a sacrifice to God (a sacrifice that Yahweh provided a substitute for, as there was a ram caught there in a thicket). The Koran teaches that Abraham took his son Ishmael to the mount, and not Isaac. Ishmael is the father of the Arab peoples, while Isaac is the forefather of the Hebrews. It is obvious that the Koran’s account differs widely from the Bible.
Yet, the most important deviations occur when the Koran mentions Jesus, whom the Muslims call Isa. The Muslim religion denies that Jesus is the Son of God. It is declared heresy by the Muslims to even suggest that God/Allah could have a son. They believe that to suggest that Allah had a son is to declare that He was somehow incomplete and imperfect. For Allah to have a son suggests to the Muslim that Allah needed something, and that he was not complete and entire in himself. This to them is a repugnant thought.
The Muslims teach that Christ was merely a man and a prophet, and that Mohammed is a greater prophet. The Koran denies that Jesus Christ/Yahshua the Messiah died on a cross, rose from the dead, and now sits at the right hand of God the Father. They deny the atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross. By doing so, they have denied the very reason that Yahweh sent His Son to the earth, which was to serve as a substitutionary payment for the sins of mankind and provide a way back to fellowship with God.
Chester, the simple truth is that if the Bible is true then the Koran is a false and lying document, and if the teachings of Christ and His apostles as set forth in the Bible are true, then the Muslim faith is a work of antichrist. These two faiths are teaching very different things.
The Bible presents Christ as the Son of God and that only through His life and sacrifice can any man be restored to fellowship with God the Father.
Yahshua said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.”
“Let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead - by this name this man stands here before you in good health. He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the very corner stone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.”
This exclusiveness of Christ as set forth in the Bible further reveals the error of those who believe all religions represent paths to God, and all are equally acceptable. Either the word of God in the Bible is true, or it is a false religion. It cannot be both, and Christ cannot be the only way to the Father and merely one way to the Father at the same time.
Chester, the uniqueness of Christ, and the truth of His divine nature and the ministry of reconciling God and man that has been granted exclusively to Him, can only be understood as one has a proper foundation of truth laid in their life. A man needs to know what caused the breach between God and man to begin with. He needs to know what the consequences of man’s original sin are. The man must also understand what must be done to restore the breach between God and man and bring them back into fellowship. The man needs also to know what provision Yahweh has made for man to overcome the sin that all men are born in bondage to.
I have set forth all of these teachings in the book Overcoming Addiction by the Spirit of Christ. I believe it is important that you have this book in your possession so that you can consider the message in it. Since it would be a couple months yet before you would begin receiving this book in the newsletters, I am going to print it out and mail it to you now, for I believe it is important that there be no delay in your having this information before you to study and consider.
I encourage you to pray before reading this book and ask God to reveal truth to you.
May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days,
In closing, I encourage the readers of this blog to pray for this man. I sent this letter to him today. He will likely receive it in a couple days along with the book I printed out for him. Please pray and ask God to open Chester’s eyes that He might see the truth of the gospel and to apprehend that Christ alone is the Way through which all men must enter who wish to be reconciled to their Creator.
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