Discourse 96 - Why believe?




The basic problem

The background.

Why must I be "saved"?

What must I do?

Summary: The eternal existence of every human being.

Hell’s best kept secret.



The basic problem

The main reason for the lack of interest shown by many people in the Christian religion is to be found in the "explanations" of some Christian preachers which they have heard or read in the past. These tend to be something on the lines of “You must come to belief in God, otherwise you are lost”, or the like. A statement of this kind is practically incomprehensible to unbelievers, who are going to wonder, “Who is God? What is belief? And why should I be lost? ‒ It’s bullshit!” And so they turn their backs in disgust.

As should be fairly plain, this is a matter of bridling the horse at the tail. And we would hardly expect this to turn out well, either with the horse in actual fact, or ‒ metaphorically speaking ‒ in terms of the argument. If I am to be persuaded to believe, I must first know why. And when I have heard the relevant arguments, I can then consider whether they appear to me correct and convincing or not. Only then am I really in a position to make a sensible decision either for or against. So I would like here to try to do exactly that ‒ first of all to present the reasons why a person should come to biblical Christian belief, and only this belief, in the first place, and then give a few brief indications of the way in which this can happen.


The background

True Christian belief has its origin and foundation in the Bible. This is roughly comparable with the origin and foundation of human society (the national community) being located in the family. Recent attempts to found a society on the homosexual “family” are condemned to failure for want of fertility, in just the same way as the endeavors of many world religions to redeem humanity without the Bible are. Pointless effort in both cases, for neither is able to bear fruit.

The Bible makes some fundamental statements about the origin and future of humanity. Seeing that there has already been more than enough controversy about human origins between evolutionists (including scientists who deny the existence of God) and creationists (including Christians who believe in God as the creator of all things), we will just give a short account here of what scripture says about the future of human beings.

According to the Bible, human beings have a quite different kind of life to look forward to from what is generally known: God has created humanity for eternal life. And that does not just apply to Christian believers! All human beings ‒ including unbelievers, criminals, mass murderers, blasphemers and idol-worshipers ‒ have eternal life! The fact that we must all die does indeed mean the end of our material and earthly life, but the spirit of the human being lives on ‒ and in the resurrection, at the end of the world, it will be reborn and come back to life with a new body.   

The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven.

1Cor 15,46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. 15,47 The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. 15,48 As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. 15,49 Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly. 1Cor 15,46-49;


Sometimes at this point we find the argument advanced that “No one has ever come back from the dead”. But this is contradicted by a whole cloud of witnesses in the Bible. After rising from the dead Jesus Christ appeared first of all to his disciples, and then to more than five hundred people (1Cor 15:5-8). The fact of the resurrection, then, is on much the same level of reality as the persecution of Christians by the Roman emperor Nero, or the persecution of Luther by the Catholic church. And as the apostle Paul confirms in the above passage (1Cor 15,49): “Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.” That is to say, we human beings will go exactly the same way as Jesus Christ went before: we will die, certainly, but we will rise again, be clothed with a new body and continue to exist for all eternity.

And now we come to the crucial point of the argument: while all human beings have an eternal existence, they will not all spend this existence with God. This is because after the resurrection of all human beings, at the end of the world, there follows the judgment of God, where people will be judged in accordance with their deeds. And this is where the good are separated out from the bad. The just and the faithful will enter into the eternal community of God in the light ‒ into “eternal life”, as the Bible calls it ‒ but sinners will be banished into eternal separation from God, into darkness from which no further salvation is possible. Just as darkness is driven out by light, so it is inevitable that sinners will be banned from God’s holy presence.

This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.

1Jn 1,5 This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. 1,6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 1Jn 1, 5- 6;


Why must I be “saved”?

As we have seen above, only the just and the faithful will live in the light of God in eternity, while sinners will end up in the darkness, far distant from God. God is light ‒ not just symbolically, but in actual fact: God “dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see” (1Tim 6:16). But on the other hand the Bible tells us that all human beings are sinners, and as such are already in spiritual darkness while they are alive and so have no community with God. The reason for this distance from God, in the case of normal human beings, is their sinfulness. But what is sin, actually, and why does it separate us from God?

We do not propose here to give a listing of individual sins, but rather to give a brief account of sin as a basic principle. God gave human beings Ten Commandments (Ex 20:1-17), so that they should be able to live peacefully on this planet and to develop and prosper. Any disrespect of these commandments, then, is the same as disrespecting God, and in face of God’s absolute justice is sin. Some people, now, will say that they haven’t killed anyone, they haven’t stolen anything, they haven’t brought false witness. But meanwhile they busily overlook all the other commandments ‒ like that which says you shall not have other gods besides me, you shall not covet, and so on and so forth.

But Scripture tells us that in face of God’s absolute justice every sin, even the smallest, is punished by death. “For the wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23). And this does not just refer to physical death (the “first death”, as Scripture calls it) but to the “second death”, namely condemnation at the Last Judgment to eternal damnation far from God. But here our own experience confirms that under these conditions there really are no human beings without sin, and so all human beings are sinners in the sight of God and are separated from him. But this again is unacceptable from the point of view of God’s love, since the love of God desires that all human beings shall be saved.

God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

1Tim 2,3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 2,4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 2,5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 2,6 who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time. 1Tim 2, 3- 6;


And here we have some inkling of God’s “dilemma”: his absolute justice calls for the death of the sinner, but his love wants all human beings to be saved. It was a very similar situation that was experienced by Prince Shamil, an Avar leader of the northern Caucasus in the early 19th century, of whom the economist Roscher relates the following incident:

“In order to ensure unity and discipline in his tribe, the Prince had issued the strict order that no one was to take anything from the booty, which belonged to the tribe as a whole. Anyone who transgressed against this order was to be punished with a hundred lashes of the knout.

Then the order was disobeyed for the first time ‒ by the Prince’s elderly mother. What was now to be done? If the punishment was not carried out, the justice of the Prince would be put in question, and the seriousness of his orders for all future time would be undermined.

Rosher tells us that the Prince shut himself in his tent for a whole day. Then he came out, and gave instructions that the punishment was to be carried out.

But as the first lash came whistling down on the back of his mother, he tore off his coat, threw himself over his mother’s body, and called out to the soldiers, ‘Keep on striking, and not one blow too few!’

And so he had found the solution! His mother was saved, and at the same time the torn and bleeding back of the Prince showed how seriously his commands were to be taken and how important to the tribe were justice and righteousness.”

(After Werner de Boor: Der Brief an die Römer [The Epistle to the Romans], WStB Publications, R. Brockhaus Verlag [R. Brockhaus Publishers]).


And neither could God abate the demands of his justice: sin must remain sin, and be punished by death. In Old Testament times, however, God had permitted the Jews to atone for their sins by sacrificing an animal, so that the animal died for their sins. But there would hardly be enough animals in the world, now, to atone for the sins of the entire human race, So a sacrifice needed to be found which would be of such value in face of the justice of God that it would be able to atone for the sins of all human beings who had ever lived and who ever would live. And that is why God sent his own Son into the world, so that he should provide the vicarious sacrifice for the sins of every individual human being.

I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

Jn 14,6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
7 "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him." Jn 14, 6- 7;


So the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, ransomed us from our guilt with his death, and from this point on every human being has the possibility, through his or her personal acceptance of this redeeming sacrifice, to have all his or her sins forgiven, whatever the nature of these may have been, and to enter into community with God. But the prerequisite for this is first of all belief in the grace of God shown in his Son, and then the actual, personal acceptance of this offer from God by the sinner in prayer. This gives people community with God while they are still alive, as well as in eternity after their death and resurrection. Anyone who does not do this, however, remains in darkness and will be condemned by God’s judgment. .

I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.

Jn 12,46 "I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness. 12,47 "If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 12,48 "He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day. Jn 12,46-48;


So as we can see, it is not a matter of obtaining eternal life. That is something all human beings have already. It is rather a question where we will spend this eternal life, after our death and resurrection: in the light, with God, or in the darkness of eternal damnation. We only have to look at the unbelievers and the godless all around us: they just live for the day, and have no idea what they have to expect. In the resurrection they will be delighted to find that they are by no means dead, but will live eternally. But then their God will condemn them in the judgment, because all their lives they have paid no heed to God and have denied him. And he will have them thrown into the eternal fire, into outer darkness. There they will weep and gnash their teeth because of what they have neglected to do in life and can now never more make up for. .

Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;

Mt 25,41 "Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; Mt 25,41;

Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth

Mt 25,29 "For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. 25,30 "Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Mt 25,29-30;


The consequence of sin and salvation through grace

Sin is every act that goes against the commandments of God (Ex 20:3-17; Mt 5:21-48). The consequence of every single one of these acts is the death of the perpetrator - and not just the first, physical death, but the second death (Rev 21:8), to which the sinful person will be condemned at the Last Judgment after Resurrection from the dead with his or her new and eternally existing body. Just as the first death is merely a transitional period up till the resurrection, so too the second death is not an extinction of the human person but rather an eternally prolonged existence, distant from God in the darkness of damnation.

In order to meet the righteous demand of God that his commandments be fulfilled, while at the same time offering those human beings who infringe them the possibility of being saved from this eternal damnation, the Son of God died on the cross for every single human individual (1Cor 15:3-5). Thus all those who accept in faith the redeeming sacrifice of the Son of God in atonement for their own sins can be saved, and as sinners who have been justified by grace can enter into eternal life with God (Rom 5:9-11).



What must I do?

A basic prerequisite for conversion is the realization that God does not compel us to do anything. We have complete freedom, either to accept this offer of God’s or to decline it. From this we can also infer the fact that we cannot obtain redemption by our own efforts, of whatever kind ‒ not by any good deeds, generous charitable donations, pilgrimages, ascetic practices, self-chastisement, recitation of masses and so on and so forth. We could never settle this price which the Son of God has paid for us on the cross. It is a gift and a grace of God. God offers us redemption. But he doesn’t force us to accept it.

Now in order really to become a Christian, I must carry out the following three simple steps:

1. I must admit that in God’s eyes I am a helpless sinner.

This is stated unambiguously in Rom 3,22-23: “For there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” All human beings are sinners without distinction. That means that while there may be differences between human beings in the scale of the sin, there is still no difference between them, as all have sinned. This statement includes me. In thought, word and deed I have constantly neglected God’s commandments and have fallen short of that which I should have been. In consequence I have been banished from God’s presence, as Isa 59,2 explains: “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.” I cannot do anything about this condition myself. Even the best deeds on my part are unable to obtain God’s goodwill. I am a hopeless, helpless sinner. I need a Redeemer to bring me back to God.

2. I must believe that Jesus Christ, who died for me on the cross, actually is this Redeemer whom I need.

The Son of God loved me and sacrificed himself for me on the cross (Gal 2:20). He carried my sins in his own body (1Pet 2:24). He was made sin for me (2Cor 5:21). And what is more, he voluntarily underwent the punishment that was due to me for my sins. He was wounded for my transgressions, and smitten for my iniquities. This is best expressed in 1Pet 3,18: “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God.”

3. I must come to Jesus and lay claim to my personal share in that which he did for all of humanity.

He died so as to be the redeemer of the world; I must ask him to be my redeemer. He carried the sins of all human beings; I must ask him to take away my sins. He suffered in order to bring all men back to God; I must ask him to bring me back. Jesus explains in Revelation 3,20 exactly what I must do: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him.” The house is an image standing for my life. Jesus stands outside, at the door. He doesn’t push against it with his shoulder. He doesn’t need a crowbar. He waits patiently until I open the door. Then he will enter, and through his entering he will become for me the redeemer I need, as I have confessed. I will find myself reconciled with God. The wall between God and me will have fallen away and I will enjoy the communion with God for which I was created.


Before this last step, however, it would be as well to be quite clear about the consequences. The Lord Jesus himself constantly warned the people who followed him when they were in danger of being driven by irresponsible emotions while under his dominion. He insisted that they should not start to build without having first calculated the cost. We too must consider, before taking this step, what the implications of it are. It is a rich reward we have in Jesus, but we will also find that we have to pay a price. What demands does Jesus make of me, if I accept him?

I must renounce sin. “Repent and believe in the gospel,” he says in Mk 1:15. Faith that accepts Jesus must be accompanied by repentance which rejects sin. Repentance does not mean that I am just sorry for the past. It isn’t enough to be upset about it, I must actually repent ‒ and that means that I must turn my back on everything that I have recognized as being wrong in my former life, and I must be willing to banish it for ever from my life for Jesus’ sake. I will not be capable of doing it with my own strength, but I must be willing to let him do it for me.

I must give myself to Jesus. He wants to be both my Redeemer and my Lord. He wants to take possession of my house ‒ my life ‒ and to rule there. So as from today I make the decision to place the future in his hands, to do my utmost to discover his will and to follow it, in both small and great matters. I do not want ever to forget what he has said about self-denial and following in his steps (Mk 8:34).

I must confess Jesus before men. I realized that I cannot be a disciple in secret. If I confess my Lord, he too will confess me before the Father (Mt 10:32). I am well aware that I may lose some of my friends and acquaintances as a result, and that it may make me the object of some derision. But I will not be ashamed of my Redeemer, and so neither will he be ashamed of me when he comes. (Lk 9:26).


As a properly believing Christian, you should then talk to your God every day. Not by rattling off some texts you have memorized, but in a real dialog ‒ where we tell God in spirit about our daily cares, and also our joyful experiences. Then we give thanks for the help we have received, and pray for important things. But this talk with God should not be carried on in a church or in public, but in a quiet room of our house or apartment where we can be sure of being alone and undisturbed.

But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, and pray to your Father who is in secret.

Mt 6,5 "When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 6,6 "But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. 6,7 "And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. Mt 6, 5- 7;


As the Lord tells us here, God is not to be found in churches (synagogues) or in public. The people who pray there do it in order to be seen and heard by others. We do not have to look for God in any kind of church, because if we believe, God is already here with us, his spirit indwelling our spirit.

God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.

Jn 4,23 "But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 4,24 "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." Jn 4,23-24;


And as our first prayer after our conversion, perhaps we should address our Lord as follows:

“Lord Jesus Christ, I confess humbly that I have sinned in thought, word and deed. I am conscious of my sin. My sins have separated me from your holy presence. I am incapable of pleasing you.

“I believe firmly that you died on the cross for my sins, that you carried them in your own body and suffered the punishment that is due to me. I have contemplated in my own mind the cost of following you.

“I seriously repent the sins of the past, and turn away from them. I am willing to give myself to you as my Lord and God. Help me not to be ashamed of you.

“So I come to you now. I think that you have been standing at the door and knocking for a good while already. Now I will let you in. Come in, Lord Jesus, be my Redeemer and my Lord, now and for all time. Amen.”


And finally just two words of advice: after our conversion we shouldn’t expect any overwhelming feelings. Our faith does not depend on the momentary state of our emotions. The only thing that we can expect is an inner tranquility and peace, through the Holy Spirit. And then, of course, along with our daily prayers we should read the Bible every day, seeing that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God (Mt 4,4). And this word of God, as spiritual nourishment, can only be found in the Bible.

Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of GOD.

Mt 4,4 But He answered and said, "It is written, ‘man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of GOD.’" Mt 4, 4;


(See also Chapter 13: “The Last Judgment.”)


The biggest mistake of all time.

A lot of people share the view of the well known American actor and film producer John Malkovich, who said in a recent interview: “… Life just comes to an end, and then it is over.” - But these people will be surprised when they get to this supposed "over", and suddenly find themselves alive again.

Human beings are created for an eternal existence, and after their deaths all human beings will come back to life in the "rebirth", the Resurrection. But their initial rejoicing will soon turn into terror when many will realize that this situation is one they had completely failed to anticipate while they were alive

This is the biggest mistake of all time - that so many people in the course of their life try to reach such a vast range of possible goals, only to miss out on the biggest realization of their lives:

that they will live for ever and there is a God.
(Rev 21:1-3,5).

In the light of this, the well known evangelist and preacher Wilhelm Busch said to his hearers, “You don’t need to accept the message I am giving you. You can choose not to convert to Jesus. But just be aware that this means you are choosing hell! You have complete freedom - it’s your choice!” (Discourse 55)




Summary: The eternal existence of every human being.

The eternal existence of every human being.

Every individual human being who leaves the amniotic sac of his or her mother alive in being physically born – who is "born of water" (amniotic fluid), that is to say (Jn 3:5) – receives a human spirit (1Cor 2:11) from God (Jn 4:24) with eternal existence (Mt 25:46). In the first, temporal and earthly part of their existence – in their life, human beings have the possibility of deciding, in complete freedom, without any compulsion and with the help of the spirit given them by God, whether or not they will give this God, the creator of all life, their complete trust and entire love.

After death, the human body returns to the dust from which it was made (Gen 2:7), but their spirit goes to the Kingdom of the Dead (Dan 12:2; 1Pet 3:18-19; 1Cor 15:23-24), where they pass the time until their resurrection in a state resembling sleep (1Thess 4:15-16).

In the Resurrection (Rom 6:4-5), the "rebirth from the spirit" (Mt 19:28; 1Pet 3:18; Jn 3:7), human beings are again given a body (Mt 22:30; Jn 3:8; Rom 8:10-11), similar to that of the Son of God after his resurrection (Jn 20:26-27).

If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

1Cor 15,42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; 15,43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 15,44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 15,45 So also it is written, "The first MAN, Adam, became a living soul." (Gen 2,7) The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 15,46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. 15,46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. 15,47 The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. 15,48 As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. 15,49 Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly. 1Cor 15,42-49;

With this body the human being will then stand at the Last Judgment before the Son of God, who has been given the task by God (Jn 5:22, 26-27) of judging every human being on the basis of their earthly deeds and their decision for or against God while still alive (Rom 2:16).

Anyone who has decided for God and faith in his Son Jesus Christ in the course of his or her life (Jn 17:2-3) has the possibility of invoking before this court the expiatory death of the Son of God as a vicarious sacrifice for the sins of all humanity, and so atoning for his or her own sins and derelictions against the law of God (Jn 3:16), and so will meet with the mercy of God (Jn 5:24). Those people who have not accepted this faith cannot have their sins forgiven them, and so they will be condemned (Jn 3:36).

After the Last Judgment these condemned persons will spend their eternal existence in the darkness (Mt 22:13) of the damnation of the eternal fire (Mt 18:8), with weeping and gnashing of teeth (Mt 13:49-50) over the fact that they refused to come to faith while they were alive and have now come to realize that they can never again make up for it, and so cannot ever expect any further change in their condition.

Those who have been forgiven, on the other hand, will spend their eternal life (Mt 25:46) in the New Creation in the light of God on a new earth (Rev 20:11) and under a new sky created by God (Rev 21:1-3,5).

In the light of this, the well known evangelist and preacher Wilhelm Busch said to his hearers, “You don’t need to accept the message I am giving you. You can choose not to convert to Jesus. But just be aware that this means you are choosing hell! You have complete freedom - it’s your choice!” (Discourse 55)

(See also discourse 22: “Is there such a thing as the immortality of the soul?”)




Hell’s best kept secret.

The proof, that this false evangelization in the congregations is a worldwide problem is constituted in a Youtube-video by two correctly believing preachers in the USA highlighting this very issue of false doctrine in the congregations in exemplary fashion and explaining it in an approachable way:

Hell’s Best Kept Secret, why modern evangelism often fails.



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