An Assumption Too Far

Lethal Mistake

Last Friday, Duckie posted a fantastic speech by Major General Robert Scales USA (Ret), given at Truman Library on September 12, 2009. If you haven’t read it, I strongly urge you to do so. It’s an inside look at the world of the warrior, especially an American warrior. If you haven’t “been there and done that”, you’ll learn from it. If you understand and value honor, you’ll love this speech and come to appreciate our military much more than before. There’s also a lot of just plain WISDOM in that speech, and we can all use all the wisdom we can acquire.

But as much as I loved the speech and respect General Scales, there was an assumption in his speech that troubled me deeply, because it is a serious risk for any warrior who takes it at face value. We all know that assumptions are risky, and this one is potentially deadly.

God forbid that anyone, least of all I who have not served in combat, should be critical of soldiers. But as a Christian I have a duty to speak about it. I don’t want to, because it may be considered criticism of General Scales, or of the military in general. In fact it is because I respect and honor our military that I have to speak about it, because this assumption is an unfailingly lethal mistake. Eternally lethal.

That’s the idea that combat earns a place in Heaven. General Scales said, “Some day we will all join those who are serving so gallantly now and have preceded us on battlefields from Gettysburg to Wanat. We will gather inside a firebase to open a case of C rations with every box peaches and pound cake. We will join with a band of brothers to recount the experience of serving something greater than ourselves. I believe in my very soul that the almighty reserves a corner of heaven, probably around a perpetual campfire where some day we can meet and embrace all of the band of brothers throughout the ages to tell our stories while envious standers-by watch and wonder how horrific and incendiary the crucible of violence must have been to bring such a disparate assemblage so close to the hand of God.

I say as I’ve said before that the Bible teaches that everyone will have some praise from God on the Judgment Day. That definitely includes those who risked their lives for others. But there is a difference between praise for one good moment, or for a good lifetime, and salvation.

Praise is earned, but it is spoken and it ends. It’s over. Rewards in Heaven are only for those who are admitted to Heaven. Before we are given citizenship in Heaven, we have to deal with the issue of our sins.

Long before sin kills, it damages. In time it cripples. Mutilates. Strips the sinner of all honor and dignity. Corrupts the most innocent. Debases every desire and action. If we consider sin as a lethal disease for which there is only one vaccine, we have a truer picture of the seriousness of it. This analogy fails in one point: we were born sinful, but we have also chosen sin uncountable times since then. We are responsible. Guilty.

I recommend that those who take sin lightly live among a hardcore prison’s general population for a few days.

No one is immune to the disease of sin. In fact we all have this disease, from birth. In some of us the symptoms are disguised or minimal, and it seems trivial. But God’s Word says that it is all the same disease, whether the symptom is gossiping at a lady’s tea party or the depraved crimes of a serial killer. This means that given enough time, we would all degenerate into total depravity. Time is important because 1) we are eternal beings and 2) our bodies will die in a relatively short period of time. Then where will our souls go?

Because God loves all of His Creation, He will not allow us to roam the Universe freely if we carry this disease. We have a choice: get vaccinated or be quarantined. Forever. The “vaccination” is faith in King Jesus – faith that He died for our sins, took our just, deserved punishment, and was raised from the dead by God the Father three days later.

A soldier should understand this better than most civilians. When a CO gives an order, it is expected that the soldier will obey. When God gives an order, we are expected to obey. In both cases, there are consequences for disobedience.

There was an occasion when the apostle Paul was in Athens, then a center of learning. He noticed all the false gods the Athenians worshipped, including an altar inscribed, “to the unknown God”. Because Paul kept telling the Athenians about Jesus, he was invited to speak to their council, the Areopagus. He began by saying, “The God you worship in ignorance I now declare to you.”

He warned them, “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

The “times of ignorance” are past. We are responsible for responding to God’s command to repent. The Greek word translated “repent” is “μετανοεῖν”, “metanoein”. It means “change your mind”. About what? About Jesus.

In Jesus’ time, there were many views about Him, ranging from “He’s a good man” to “He’s demon-possessed” and every point in between. But God presented the truth about Jesus, and demonstrated it by raising Him from the dead after three days in the grave. Now we are responsible for responding to this revelation.

Peter expressed the exclusivity of salvation through faith in Jesus perfectly when he told the priests and Sadducees who had had him arrested, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

By all means, be proud of your service, warriors. Yes, we need you. Every genuine American is proud of you and grateful for your service. And that is one reason why Christian patriots warn you that only faith in Jesus will get you into God’s Kingdom. It’s the reason I’m writing this article. I hope to see tens of thousands of American warriors in Heaven. All genuine Americans who are Christians want you to be rewarded and honored eternally, along with every other believer in Jesus. We pray for your safety in this life because we do respect you and honor you. We pray for your eternal life for the same reason. God grant that we do meet you there, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

May Americans always

REMEMBER EVERYONE DEPLOYED!

And respect and honor those who have returned.