Charlie was a gangster. In fact, he was the leader of the pack. If there was no trouble to be found, Charlie manufactured it. He and his crew were blamed for every misdeed in the neighborhood, usually with just cause. Anyone on the same street gave Charlie a wide berth. He wasn’t looking for friends. That was for suckers. His typical greeting was a vicious snarl with bared teeth. Charlie was a dog. His pedigree boasted all 57 bloodlines, a true American mutt.
But Charlie had one friend, a little boy. The boy’s parents vehemently disapproved and Charlie didn’t advertise it to his canine associates. Always the tough guy, Charlie refused the chance to turn his life around and leave the streets.
One cold winter night, the little boy’s home caught fire. The parents and the older sister escaped, but the little boy was trapped. His screams reverberated over the conflagration as the family and firemen watched in horror. They knew it would be suicide to try to rescue the little fellow. So did Charlie as he crashed through the window and sprinted upstairs.
Suddenly the crowd gasped. Highlighted by the flames in the second floor window, there was Charlie, his fur ablaze, with the now unconscious boy in his grip. With the last breath of strength from his scorched lungs, Charlie pushed the lad out to the waiting net below. Then the flooring caved in and Charlie vanished.
Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man (dog) than this. That he give up his life for his friends.” Charlie never heard of Jesus, but he knew all about love.
It has become politically correct (and financially profitable) to preach a watered down gospel complete with universal salvation to eternal life. Gone is the concept that, “No man comes to the Father except by me.” As the world marches in lockstep to a one-world government accompanied by a one-world religion, “tolerance” is the watchword and “sincerity” is the slogan.
I attended a church service some time ago to hear a widely advertised sermon on the book of Revelation. It was a short one. The preacher spent all of ten minutes assuring the congregation that the events portrayed would not affect them. He closed the service with the statement that, “Since everyone here is saved, we should not be concerned about it.”
As I left the sanctuary I asked him, “How do you know I’m saved? We have never met before.” I received a blank stare for an answer.
Another church, very prosperous and politically powerful, advertised a Bible study on that much-maligned book. They were attempting to determine which parts were true using the erudite publication, “The Revelation Code” written by a Dr. Metzger. The conclusion: The Bible is simply a loosely knit collection of allegorical stories with some historical factual basis. As long as you “sincerely” believe in “something”, everything will be OK. The parishioners nodded sagely in agreement.
The BMW’s, Mercedes, and the occasional Rolls or Bentley in the parking lot attested to the wealth and educational attainments of the congregation. A former Vice President of the United States, Spiro Agnew (I hope he is out of prison now), defined this crowd as “supercilious sophisticates.” I believe these folks were simply educated beyond their intelligence.
This concept of tolerance coupled with sincerity is convenient. We each, individually, get to define “good”. Not only that, we all go to heaven (That’s called Universalism), as long as we are sincere, that is. And, of course, we must respect the rights of others to define their good as they see fit, i.e. “tolerance”.
One denomination that has experienced meteoric growth since its establishment in 1966 is the Church of Satan. Founded by Anton LeVay, its creed is, “If it feels good, do it!” One of its most sincere practitioners of the faith, LaVey’s daughter, was the church’s High Priestess. I’m certain she looks forward to a better eternity after serving her life sentence for first-degree murder.
One has to wonder that there haven’t been more frequent examples of such atrocities emanating from this organization. I guess even the Church of Satan has problems with hypocrisy.
No one could seriously question the ardent sincerity of Nawaf Alhazmi or Khalid Almidhar. These men were two of the terrorists that drove airliners into the World Trade Center on 9/11 murdering thousands of unsuspecting helpless people and sacrificing their own lives in the bargain. They traded their earthly existence for an exalted place in Allah’s heaven.
If we really all end up in the same place, don’t expect to see much of these men. Frolicking with seventy virgins is a time consuming affair. Everyone will be there; from Stalin and Milosevic to Sadaam Hussein. You may even rub shoulders with such notables as Richard Heydrich (a true believer) or his boss, Adolf Hitler.
These individuals all have something in common. They all had a personal code by which they lived, complacency, anything goes, carnal lust or a thirst for power. But they all rejected Jesus Christ.
Another group rarely mentioned in today’s rarified intellectual climate are the five hundred plus men and women who encountered the risen Christ. They testified to the signal event of their lives with fervor and conviction. They willingly went to their deaths on the cross, at the floor of the coliseum torn apart by lions, or as human torches lighting the spectacle below. Many of these courageous souls watched as their families shared the same fate rather than recant that which they saw with their own eyes.
Believable? Eyewitness testimony backed up by this degree of sincerity is the very barometer of truth for any court on this planet.
Today, we are assailed by any number of theories, “codes”, and academic “studies” attempting to mold our thinking into what is called “a post-Christian era.” Despite the intellectual tone of these endeavors, we should never forget the evidence.
Dr. Simon Greenleaf, former Dean of the Harvard School of Law and once a committed atheist made this observation, “The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most conclusively proven event in human history.”
Invariably, those who have rejected Christ always, without fail, always raise this question. “What about those who have never heard of Jesus? Are you saying that they are going to hell?”
It’s a fair question! The Bible teaches that each of us will be held accountable according to the level of our knowledge. “To those whom much is given, much is expected.” With the fulfillment of the Great Commission occurring before our eyes, it is becoming very difficult to find anyone who has not heard the old, old story. In America, it may be nigh impossible. They are an endangered species.
Paul told us that the message of the cross is offensive to those that are perishing. Yet, we all have friends and relatives who, to this point, have rejected the Lord and rationalized instead their own brand of sincerity. We have an obligation, not only to them, but also to the Lord who died for us.
Speak the truth in a million voices. It is silence that kills.
- Catherine of Siena, 1347 – 1380
You may, and probably will, experience personal rejection, ridicule and perhaps ostracism. You might also encounter someone who asks, “What do I have to do to be saved?” If you’re one of the few, the brave, the vocal, you’ll know the answer and, like Charlie, you’ll do the right thing.
By the way, when you cross the river and arrive up there, give Charlie a friendly scratching behind his ears. He would never admit it, but he always liked that.
(My thanks to the producers of the wonderful animated film, ALL DOGS GO TO HEAVEN, from which the title was drawn.)
Well, I must say, Austin, the title caught my attention. But it was the rest of the story that held it. You have made a lot of good points. I have had that question asked me more than once, "What about the people who have never heard the gospel? Will they go to Hell?" You answered it the only way possible. God is the judge and He does all things well. Everyone will be held accountable for what he HAS heard, and what he does with it. But that doesn't let Christians off the hook, does it? We are commissioned to get the Word out to people. What they do with it is not our responsibility. We need to do what Charlie did, pull people out of the fire. ... A well written, soul searching article. Thanks.