Friday, March 20, 2009

Making It to Heaven

Most people hope to make it to Heaven. Regardless of how much fun you might be having now, there is an inherent recognition that life will eventually end. But many wish to delay departure for as long as possible. As a popular country song puts it, “Everybody wanna go to Heaven, but nobody wanna go now.” For every person, however, the time to pass on will come.

Assuming you wish to enter Heaven’s gate, how will you get there? Understandably, there are some very diverse opinions on this subject. We know that God is holy, just, merciful, and good. Hence, it seems perfectly logical that to be granted an eternal home in Heaven one must strive to be as good as possible during one’s years on earth.

Indeed, a survey of 1000 randomly selected adults last year confirmed this perspective as dominant. Only 28% were convinced that it is impossible for someone to earn their way into Heaven through good behavior.

The critical flaw in this perspective, however, is that it is God who determines the qualifications for residency in Heaven, not human reasoning. He has spoken decisively on the subject: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” Thus the door to Heaven is opened by the work of God Himself in changing the human soul and imparting spiritual life. Through the work of Christ, God grants saving grace. The changed soul responds by embracing Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

Don’t be deluded into thinking that you can achieve sufficient goodness through your own efforts. God doesn’t grade on a curve. The required perfection for heavenly citizenship comes only through the merit of His Son, Jesus. The necessity of the crucifixion points to the inability of humans to be saved apart from Christ and His work.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Prudent Investing

We are told that, since the 2008 general election, three trillion dollars have evaporated from investment portfolios across the country. Retirement accounts have been decimated, causing no small degree of consternation among those concerned about preparing for the future. The pattern continues.

What should a prudent investor do in these turbulent and distressing times? Which investments are likely to pay off in the long term? Which are most likely to appreciate or at least maintain their buying power in the face of a severe recession or worse? If you investigate these matters you will find a spectrum of responses proposed by financial gurus and money managers. Whom should you trust? Which advice is worth risking your future financial solvency by following its prescription? There are no easy answers.

The fact is, however, there is a capital depletion of far greater consequence than the precipitous decline on Wall Street. If we desire America to prosper in the long term, it is vital that we rebuild her spiritual capital. For, without such a foundation, we are headed for crises that will dwarf the current economic turbulence.

During the Great Depression times were economically tough, but the moral fabric of the nation prevented widespread chaos. Today, we have lost much of the spiritual foundation that once held communities together. Weekly church attendance, as one indicator, has been steadily declining. In 1990, 20.4 percent worshipped weekly in church. In 2007 the figure dropped to 17 percent. And it is projected to be just 10 percent by 2050. Our society has become secularized and relativized to the point that many no longer believe in objective truth.

While the importance of a free market, sound money, and a government that fulfills only its God-given mandate are important, they pale in significance to the spiritual values of our civilization. Christians must be busy recapitalizing true faith and character. From the right spiritual capital will eventually flow the economic stability we all desire.