Hey, all. We here at Camp Coming Evil make no attempt to hide that we are dedicated to bringing glory to God, leading people to the Scriptures, and obliterating evil with a Bible and twelve gauge shotgun. Most of the entries you find on this blog are designed to keep you up to date on my attempts at getting "The Coming Evil" out to the world. But, I wanted to take a sec and slow down and direct your attention to my brother Jeff Mitchell's new blog. He's been hard at work on an epic, era-spanning mythology for a number of years and he's starting to write these stories down and make them available for the viewing public to read and offer input. The main title of the story is "When Good and Evil Collide". Each book (he's got eight planned so far) is set during a different era with new characters and it all centers around this massive macro plot.
Anyway, I was checking out his blog today and he's written a really wonderful post that simply (and quite conversationally) lays out the Gospel found in the Bible. Now, like I said, our small blog here mostly consists of promoting and information on the books and what I'm up to as a writer, but I don't want to forsake what I'm about as a Christian. So, below is my brother's post taken from his blog. He's really done a great job at making an accessible explanation of the Bible and I was pretty impressed and wanted to share it with you guys. If you've ever had any questions about Christianity or "salvation" or what Jesus is all about, this is a really concise and colorful presentation. I hope you take a few minutes and look at it.
It could change your life.
First Thing's First by Jeff Mitchell
Okay, before I start worrying about When Good and Evil Collide, I have to get one other thing off my chest. As I say in my "About Me" section, I'm a Christian. Due to that, I feel it is my responsiblity to tell you about that before I get into the details on my story, so here goes.
I'm not going to beat around the bush about my intentions here; I'm going to talk about the Gospel(a word that means good news) about Jesus Christ. Straight up. I realize that not everyone wants to hear it, but I feel that I need to say it anyway for those that maybe do want to hear it. However, before I begin, I need to put out a brief disclaimer.
As I say these things, I am not implying that I am perfect or have figured everything out. I'm not better than you guys or anything like that. That would be foolish for me to believe, especially considering some of the stuff I'm about to talk about. So please, don't look at this like I'm staring down my nose at you like your beneath me. That's not my intention at all. Oh, and for those that already claim to be Christians, I have a different thing to say to you guys at the end of all of this. So, anyway let's get this thing started.
The first thing I want to say is a bit of a comforting thing. For those that are questioning the afterlife and everything, the Bible offers a nice statement that should give you some hope. By the way, the Bible I'm using to quote the verses here is going to be a New Living version. If you don't know what I mean by version, I just mean it's one of the various translations of the Bible(which is a whole different issue that I won't go into right now).
1 John 5:13 "I write this to you who believe in the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life."
What I'm about to say will help you figure out if you have eternal life or not. Simple as that. We're going to start off with the matter of grace. Christianity(and by that I mean the lifestyle, not just some organized religion) is fairly unique amongst other religions, due to the fact that Christianity does not state you have to earn eternity. In fact, it's quite the opposite.
Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord."
As you can see in that verse, sin = death. To those wondering what exactly sin is, it is any action that is in direct violation of God's commands. Harsh, right? Now, a lot of people try to overcompensate by doing various "good" things that they feel will somehow save their souls from Hell. I mean, just acting good can save you, right? I want you to especially pay attention to the last part of these upcoming two verses.
Ephesians 2:8-9 "God saved you by His special favor when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it."
I suppose that kind of nips the "earning your way to heaven" theory in the bud, huh? See, eternal life isn't earned or deserved. Now, I'm sure that some of you will think, "Oh, but I haven't done anything that bad. My life has been pretty clean so far,". It's an easy thing to think. It's hard for us to comprehend punishment for sins sometimes, especially the ones we view as "smaller". Well, there is a distinct problem; everyone sins. It's fact. Even if you have said some little lie at any point in your life, you have sinned.
Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned; all fall short of God's glorious standard."
1 John 1:8 "If we say we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and refusing to accept the truth."
So...yeah. You've sinned. I've sinned. Now, I'm sure that you're probably thinking, "But it doesn't matter. The good has outweighed the bad. I should be fine,". Also, sometimes will use the defense that, "God is more about love, not wrath or anger,". Well, these next few verses will touch on both of those statements.
1 John 4:8 "But anyone who does not love does now know God-for God is love."
Yes, God is a God of love. He loves you. Everyone. Even those who screwed up. However, focusing on His love is leaving out a very important part of His character. He is a just God and must punish sin.
Exodus 34:7 "I show this unfailing love to many thousands by forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion. Even so I do not leave sin unpunished, but I punish the children for the sins of their parents to the third and fourth generations."
So he can't leave sin alone. He has to punish it. Well, if you remember what I said before, I said that sin = death. The punishment for sin is eternity in Hell. Now, if we've all sinned, we're screwed, right? What can we do? See, the thing is we can do absolutely nothing. Every little old lady that you helped across the street, every good deed you did in your life...they may all be great things to do, but none of them will save you.
Thankfully though, that's not the end. This is where the Good News comes in. God, in His love, has given us a way to defeat sin and be in Heaven with Him. He did this through Jesus Christ. Now, there's obviously a lot of debate on who exactly Jesus was. Some say he was merely a prophet, or a great man. While he was both of those things, the truth of the matter is that he was the Son of God.
John 1:1 "In the beginning the Word already existed. He was with God, and he was God."
John 1:14 "So the Word became human and lived here on earth among us."
Now, if you actually go back and look at the really meaning of "Word", you'll find that the writer was referencing Jesus. So basically, when you read that verse, replace Word with Jesus. That's who Jesus is. As bizarre as it sounds, he is his own entity, yet at the same time he is God. There's even a third part of this Trinity called the Holy Spirit, which I'll touch on a bit later. That's a concept that's hard for many Christians to wrap their heads around. It's just a bit much for our human minds to comprehend. However, a friend of mine gave me a decent example once, which I'll share here.
He said to look at it like this. Take your grandfather. Now, think about his roles for a moment. On one hand, he is his own separate entity. He is a normal guy. However, he also serves as a father to his son. He is his own person, while also being a father at the same time. And on top of those two roles, he is also a grandfather to you. Three complete and separate roles, but only one being.
Now, admittedly, the Trinity is much more complex than that, but it might help you grasp the concept a bit more. Anything helps. So, now we have Jesus, who has been hanging out in Heaven all this time, and now he's been sent to earth to be a human(even though at the same time, he was still God. Crazy, eh?). So what for?
Well, here's what went down. Jesus lived his life flawlessly. No sin. At all. He was completely perfect from beginning to end. Unfortunately, due to his radical views on things, he was viewed as a threat to people, so he was put to death by being hung on a cross. Now, first off, this was all part of God's plan. This didn't catch Him off guard. In fact, the entire Bible contains clues and hints toward Jesus and his death, even in the Old Testament, which was written far before Jesus was alive. There are references everywhere.
So anyway, here Jesus is on the cross, dying. What's the point? Well, in that moment, something amazing happened. Every sin in the world, including ones that hadn't even been committed yet, came into Jesus. He took on the burden for every wrong thing that anyone has ever done, ever. When Jesus eventually did die, after a grueling several hours, everyone was quite defeated. Their supposed savior had completely been slaughtered. However, that wasn't the end. Three days later, Jesus miraculously managed to raise from the dead. Despite having every sin of the world on him(remember, sin = death), he was able to defeat death and Satan and ascend back to his place in Heaven. Jesus, is not some dead martyr. Jesus is alive and well, a being of extreme power that still exists along with God.
Now, what did this do? Here's another example for you. Hold out your right hand, palm facing up. That hand represents you. Now, grab a nearby book or other flat object and place it on your right hand. This book or whatever object you chose represents all of your sins, past and present. Now, look at your left hand. That hand represents God. Okay, place your left hand on top of the book and try to grab your right hand. Doesn't work, right? It's a complete obstacle. You cannot reach God because of your sin. Now, I want you to shift your hands so that the book is resting on your left hand now. This represents that Jesus has come and he has taken the burden of your sin as he died. Okay, now I want you to place the book on the table with your left hand. Both hands are free now, right? That's what Jesus did when he rose from the dead. He left your sins there as well. Now, put your hands together and interlock your fingers. This is what you can do now because of Jesus. You and God can finally meet.
Galations 2:21 "I am not one of those who treats the grace of God as meaningless. For if we could be saved by keeping the law, then there was no need for Christ to die."
Isaiah 53:3-6 "He was despised and rejected-a man of sorrows, acquainted with the bitterest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way when he went by. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weakness he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God for his own sins! But he was wounded and crushed for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace. He was whipped, and we were healed! All of us have strayed away like sheep. We have left God's paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the guilt and sins of us all."
As a little resolution to something I was saying earlier, the Holy Spirit is the third part of the Trinity that came into play once Jesus ascending into Heaven. The Holy Spirit is what lives in Christians, and helps us to determine what is right and wrong, and is what keeps up a constant communication between us and God. The Holy Spirit is the link that Jesus created, somewhat.
So, now that you know all of this nice information, what do you do with it? First off, it's not just enough to know these things, like you know stuff in a textbook.
James 2:19 "Do you still think it's enough just to believe that there is one God? Well, even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror!"
It's also not a temporary faith. Being a Christian doesn't mean you just pretend to love God when you need help. He's not a genie. No, what you need to have is faith. True, genuine faith. Faith that no matter what is going on, you trust Jesus with everything in your life. This is an eternal decision. This isn't something you can just flip-flop on.
Being a Christian isn't just about trying to be a nice guy. Anyone can do that. Being a Christian means that you live your life for Jesus. You do whatever you can to please him. It's about having a real relationship with him. It's not a free pass out of Hell. If that's all your relationship with Christ is, then it is very possible you don't have one at all. When you become a true Christian, your desires change. You don't want to be the person you used to be. You want to repent. Repent means to turn around. Now, remember how I said that everyone sins? Christians do to. You're always going to sin at some point. The difference though, is that you are actively trying to turn away from sin for the rest of your life.
You don't do these things because you want to earn Heaven, no, you do these things because you want to please the person who SAVED YOUR LIFE. This isn't just a decision. This is a lifestyle. This isn't just going to church(even though you should) either. This is a thing you do every single day, every single hour. Sound serious? It is. I'm not going to play around and say it isn't. But it's worth it. It's so worth it. It's impossible to realize where your true place in life is without it. I can't even imagine my life being any different than it is now. I don't want to.
Now, I'm finally going to start wrapping things up. I have three main things to say.
First, the reason why I'm doing this. I'm doing this because I don't want to see you go to Hell. Sure, I can say that I'm just doing this so that I feel better and I don't really care if you accept this stuff or not, but that would be lying. I don't want to see you go to Hell. It's just that simple."
Secondly, to those that accepted what I have just said here. If you really want to start on this new path of life, please just post that you want to be saved, or if that's too public, just PM me, and I'll try to talk to you a bit more about it, and say a prayer with you.
Third, to those that claim themselves to be Christians, including me. I urge you to examine your life. Just saying you're a Christian isn't enough. You have to live like it. Examine your heart, and make sure you have the right intentions with all of this. Make sure that you really are following Christ, and not some idea of it that you have in your head, just so you can get out of Hell. And like I said, this is talking to me too. I need to go over this stuff just as much, to make sure I don't get the wrong heart about these things. So please, just make sure you're doing the right thing, and living up to what you say you are.
Okay, this is the end. If any of you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll try my best to answer them, even though I'm not exactly the most educated person on the face of the earth. And please, even if you just need someone to talk to, even if it's not about this subject, I'd be perfectly willing to talk and offer any advice I can possibly give. If I have offended any of you by doing this, I am afraid that it is unavoidable. I must say these things, even if they aren't what you desired to hear. However, I will have to just live with your responses. There is nothing I can do to affect your heart about these things. I can only hope that God speaks to you.
I hope that you all take this matter seriously, and give it some real thought. It deserves it.