Friday, January 23

Good Intentions?

You can't take it with you, so they say. But then, who would want to? Do we imagine that there is something lacking in Heaven, if indeed one is headed there? Or any comfort to be found in Hell, no matter how big a suitcase we carry?

Hell, they say, is paved with good intentions*. We can easily believe that, as we think of all the pain suffered by people waiting on promised help that never came, denied even the option of finding real help elsewhere from trusting in false promises. The indulgences that become deadly addictions, and abuses continually suffered, despite the best and most sincere intentions to stop. The living corpses of the lost, piled up on those streets of good intentions, in perfect pain outwardly and complete regret inwardly, resting without rest on streets of good intentions.

We read in the Revelation that the streets of the Heavenly City are paved with gold so pure as to be clear as glass. In "One of those stories," there was a man gained permission to carry something with him to Heaven: He knew his days were short, and so he sold everything off and bought gold. He arrived at the gates with his trunk, and the angels all gathered around to see what kind of treasure he had chosen. Upon seeing the shiny gold bricks which he so proudly displayed to these mighty creatures, he was shocked into reality as he heard them say, "What? You brought paving stones?"

In Peter we read that our faith is to be compared with the most precious gold, as the heat of the trials and temptations we face serve to purify that faith; and also in Psalms that God's word to us is as gold purified in fire seven times. We also hear, from old time, that Hell is paved with good intentions. This leaves us with a clear picture of two choices. If we walk by faith, then each step we take we take by faith when our sight may tell us there is no place there for our feet. But our
focus is not on the pavement under our feet, but the Lord Who leads the way. Real faith is the stuff of an effective Christian life. Good intentions can allow us to sit back and comfort ourselves that we are "moving in the right direction" whether or not there is any motion involved. Jesus gave us a story about two sons, whom their father sent to do some work. One said he'd go, but never got there. The other said, "Forget it," but wound up going. And the Lord asked, asks us today, which was the obedient son? If our faith today is not producing results, if we are not expressing that faith outwardly, then either the faith is mere opinion, or it is being stifled and suffocated by fear, pride, and other forms of un-faith. James never tries to pick out a difference between the two except to say of opinion, "the devils also believe, and tremble;" and that, whether in effect or in the final tally, "as the body without the spirit (or breath?) is dead, faith, also, without works is dead."

The United States now has a President who openly endorses the murder of the unborn up to the moment of birth, and who asked the "blessing" of a pagan cleric "bishop" to pray for him to "the god of all understandings." We have, first of all, our own Christian selves to thank as we have drawn away from any effective Christian witness for the sake of our own self-esteem, American dream, and personalized comfort zones. We live complacently in our little religious presumptions,
willingly ignorant of the thousands of souls being stupefied in the clubs, embittered in the prisons, or just sweetly assured of false hopes in their day-to-day "normal" lives, with not so much real prayer in our own lives to even be aware of the Lord's burden for them.

*Someone will say, "But isn't it that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions?" Well, it seems that the 18th century version didn't mention the road going there, but the fact is that we are each one either citizens of one city or the other, and in a real sense we are already living there. So let me ask: Is your own life one of self-gratification and lust, of frustration, grudges, regrets, and coveting? Or is your heart free of these things, and are you living a life of single-minded love to God, the Church (all Christians), and your neighbor? Let's each of us examine ourself in these real ways, to see whether we be in the faith, or merely in the traffic flow on the broad road that leads to destruction.


  1. Well stated Robert. I like the sack of bricks.

  2. Well, hey, Bill! I thought I'd lost ya there! It struck me after posting that piece that if the "conservative, evangelical" churches back off of warning people about Hell because "people don't want to hear about that kind of thing," then whose word are we preaching? Sure, it's not the main point, and we can get off track in a heartbeat if we present the Gospel in terms of "fire insurance," but "teaching them all things..." does have that pesky "a" word there, doesn't it?

  3. Ahhh Robert,

    I do appreciate your thoughts and writing at times it seems our just looking for a debate. I get the impression your views on the evangelicals are about as sued as the Jews are about Christens and the Southern Baptist are about the Catholics. Notwithstanding the fact that your obviously more educated then most you seem to put the whole aside and focus on that which, in your mind, defines the shortcomings of the groups at large.

    You and I both share a longing for the CHURCH to be much more then it is. However you, or so it seems to me, seem to focus on the church (by church I suggest the organization, structure and clergy,) as something sacred. While I see the church as just a vehicle.

    Christ did not call us to promote the church. He called us to call all men to him and to offer ourselves in service to them to help them become more like Him. The church has no purpose other then to serve as the vehicle to take us to the lost. It does not exist to build buildings and pass on meaningless dogma and traditions. It exists to bring believers together so that we can support and feed off each other. Not so that we can sit in pews and listen to a choir, then a homely, then partake of a ritualistic remembrance of His suffering. It exists so that in fellowshipping, one with another we see Christ in our midst.

    WOW, that dint end up anywhere near where I intended.

    I hope the Lords Day is a blessing to you and you to those around you,


  4. Bill, you're exactly right, and maybe wrong too. I dunno.

    Looking for a debate? Yep, guilty as charged. There are some things I'm dealing with in my own life & walk that I can just sit here and think about, or put out for discussion. The first choice can make it too easy to paint myself into a corner from missing some point along the way, and the second not only helps me put the pieces together but maybe turns up a piece that somebody else has overlooked. Well, maybe, anyway.

    But I'm not against Evangelicals (I thought I were one!), or anybody else, as far as I can imagine. Each "branch" of Christianity has its strong and weak points, and if it is a question of this or that branch, then the farther we get from the source, the farther out on a limb we find ourselves.

    At this point we have any number of traditions being passed on to support the positions of any number of branches. Can we afford to toss all doctrine out as "meaningless?" If not, then which teachings do we hold on to, and how do we know? If we see the Church as a vehicle rather than a building, how do we know who is or ain't on the bus, or if the driver is fit to drive it? Those are the kinds of questions that make me want to engage in what discussions I can, because those are questions we all need to be considering.

  5. running out the door, Great responce, will get back to you soon

  6. Hell, they say, is paved with good intentions*.

    The United States now has a President who openly endorses the murder of the unborn up to the moment of birth, and who asked the "blessing" of a pagan cleric "bishop" to pray for him to "the god of all understandings." We have, first of all, our own Christian selves to thank as we have drawn away from any effective Christian witness for the sake of our own self-esteem, American dream, and personalized comfort zones. We live complacently in our little religious presumptions...

    I am tired here, but as usual you are thought provoking. Thanks for your recent comments on thekingpin68 and I am preparing to do my revisions.

    I also have just done an article on my nine British Isles tours. Your feedback would be relevant.

    Cheers, Robert.

  7. Belated thanks for the drop-by, Russ! So you're a revision away from a Ph.D. in theology now, man, that is exciting. Does that make a third or fourth post-grad degree? Whatever you do, do not repeat, in familiar territory, "I heard about this great new program....."

    Kidding aside, I'm really tickled for ya. Looking forward to hearing some great stuff from your corner.

  8. Hi Robert,

    This will be my second research only degree and I will spend the required time on revisions. I hope you like my British Isles post.



So what's your take?