Dying Sinless: What Christians Get Wrong
How can people be so wrong for so long?
Christians have been getting things wrong since a few hours after Jesus ascended into the heavens. Though it is common for modern Christians to hold up Acts 2 as the model of Christians in action, the New Testament immortalizes things such as Paul’s split in ministry, churches not getting along, and Christians suing each other!
If I was going to invent a religion, I sure wouldn’t talk about the kinds of things that the New Testament does!
"The beauty of grace is that it makes life unfair"
As I created a vlog about the idea of dying sinless as a prerequisite for going to heaven (or the good place, or being resurrected), I had to come to grasps with the fact that for the vast majority of Christian history, we have believed that confession before death was essential for securing salvation. If you didn’t die sinless, you may not go to heaven!
Protestants like me hate this idea. It’s logical syllogisms like this that sparked the Reformation. This is logic, not grace, Luther might say. And we’d be right. But still, why did a belief like this exist for over a thousand years?
In their book Pagan Christianity, Viola and Barna note that in the second and third centuries, baptism became such a huge deal that “ [some] young converts had to wait three years before they could be baptized!” Instead of the instantaneous baptisms of Acts 9, we see the exact opposite!
This kind of approach towards baptism evolved into deathbed baptism. People believed that baptism forgave past sins, but not future ones. This practice, of course, led to the necessary confession of sins as one dies.
Is it wrong to convert to Christianity before you die? Of course not! One of the greatest stories in the Gospels show a thief turning to Jesus as he is dying! He didn't get baptized. He didn't confess any sins!
He does however, cause a bunch of problems when we try to figure out how to "get saved." I don't think that the thief got a special pass. I don't think that things were different for him.
I just think that's how grace works.
are great for Christians
Is it wrong to confess sins before you die? Of course not! Though confession of individual sins is not required for salvation, it should definitely be done more often than we protestants do!
But we can’t let any sort of process, tradition, or act distract us from the most important theme in the Bible: God’s grace. God’s forgiveness, and His gift of the Holy Spirit, forgive our past and our future.
Does it make sense?
Of course not.
Is it fair?
Not at all.
But as one of my favorite Christian songs says, “the beauty of grace is that it makes life unfair.”