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Episode #3: The Limitations of Religion

March 16, 2015

Does a person get to heaven by living a good, religious life?

Pastor Colin Smith, author of Heaven, How I Got Here: The Story of the Thief on the Cross, discusses the value of religion and what the thief on the cross learned about what it takes to enter heaven.

This excerpt is taken from Heaven, How I Got Here: The Story of the Thief on the Cross by Colin S. Smith, Christian Focus Publications, Scotland, UK, 2015.

Hope began for me in the strange words of Jesus that at first had filled me with hate: ‘Father, forgive them, they do not know what they are doing.’

Forgiveness! If Jesus could offer forgiveness to His torturers, perhaps He would offer forgiveness to me.At first this had sounded like the very weak­ness I despised, but at that moment it seemed to open a glorious and unexpected window of hope.

Forgiveness was scarce in the legalistic, moral world my mother spoke of so often. To her, the universe was an unbreakable system of cause and effect, regulated by a rules-oriented God. ‘Do good, and all will be well. Do bad, and you had better watch out.’ There was no hope for a person like me in that. If you honestly measure your life by the commandments of God, I suspect you will come to the same conclusion. Reaping what you sow is not good news for any of us. Forgiveness is.

If Jesus remembered me when He came into His kingdom, there might be some hope for me. But what would be in it for Him? I couldn’t think of anything. If He took an interest in me, it would not be because of anything I had done or anything I could offer. If He remembered me at all, it would be an act of undeserved mercy and kindness. But that was exactly what He offered to the soldiers who crucified Him. He showed them mercy and kindness.Would He do the same for me?

The Author
Kristen Wetherell

Kristen Wetherell is a writer and Bible teacher. She has previously served as content manager of Unlocking the Bible. She is the author, along with Sarah Walton, of Hope When It Hurts: Biblical Reflections to Help You Grasp God’s Purpose in Your Suffering (The Good Book Company, April 2017). She blogs at her website, and you can follow her on Twitter. She and her husband Brad are parents to their sweet daughter and members of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Itasca, Ill.

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