There’s a dude on the street corner wearing a big sign with flames on it telling you in a rather angry voice that you’re going to Hell. Or maybe you’re more familiar with the church folks who say all the right Christian things but exhibit lives that are less Christian than most of the non-Christians around them. Or perhaps you’re more bewildered by those who accept the gospel earlier in life or at a particularly emotional moment but never experience any lasting change in their lives to accompany that profession.
What’s going on here? Is there just nothing to Christianity to produce such a genuine change? Is it all just hypocrisy? How much of it has do with the perpetrator and how much with the observer? All of us can point to several examples-even concerning ourselves-of self-proclaimed Christians speaking and acting inconsistently with what Christianity teaches. And it’s easy to fall into one of two typical responses: use such an instance to reject Christianity or ignore such an instance as covered by God’s grace. Hypocrisy needs to be honestly acknowledged but also honestly evaluated in order for anyone to react to it appropriately. In Healing Hereafter we explore what hypocrisy is and isn’t, why no one can afford to ignore it, and healing ways for all to respond to it. Check out the corresponding chapter summary below to get thinking, and download Booklet 5 (FREE and direct!) to get the complete picture.
Since we now know how our works fit into one’s salvation process, we turn our focus to precisely what the good deeds are which our faith and the Holy Spirit work together to accomplish. We find that God does not simply consider them as evidence of a person’s salvation and desire for Heaven; he also efficiently uses them to produce glimpses of what Heaven is like for the benefit of everyone on earth now. The salvation process is not only meant to get a person to Heaven; it’s also meant for him or her to reflect Heaven to others, so that they learn what it truly is like and know how fulfilling choosing it would be for them as well. We distinguish this reflection from the argument that Heaven—or Hell—is actually brought to or is a part of our current existence, and we find that it is biblically and logically unsupportable to diminish the distinct natures of these places by relegating them in any way to earthly experiences. In fact, it is a faith-led desire to reflect God’s ideals combined with the acknowledgement of an eternal Hell and Heaven that motivate human evangelism of the gospel. Even though God has made provision for those who have no meaningful access to Jesus’ message during physical life, we peruse several reasons why sharing this solution with others is absolutely necessary and how it offers immediate and eternal benefits for everyone involved.
But even as we recall the truly staggering amount of good deeds and good news God has used and is using his people to offer the world, we admit and address the very real presence of hypocrisy as well. We can now explain why much (though certainly not all) of it is actually committed by those who are not Christians, but rather those who have attempted to enter the salvation process without saving faith. Since they want to be saved but don’t want to believe that all of God’s words are the best, they adopt the Christian label but don’t exemplify Christ’s deeds or words. But regardless of whether the culprit is not yet saved or saved but still not finished becoming like God, we discover why the argument against Christian hypocrites is-ironically but truthfully-a strong argument for Christianity, especially by those who use it the most. However, because many have legitimately suffered from such hypocrisy, we’ll search in the next chapter for a more reliable and complete way for God to respond to the evil in our world, whether hypocrisy-related or not.