No One Can Get to Heaven?

For the purposes of this video, I will assume that “heaven” is being what we might say is “right with God,” or “achieving righteousness.” Therefore, the claim of this video becomes “No one can ever get right with God.”

Well, at this point, I have no argument. The Bible clearly shows that man is totally depraved and has no ability or desire to get right with God (see Rom 3:23, 8:10; Eph 2:1-3; cf. Ps 14:1-3). The desires of our flesh are far more important to us. This war with our very selves creates an impossible situation for man to be in: necessity to right ourselves with our Creator, for in Him is life; but no ability or desire to do so–the “wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23).

If all that this video was supposed to do was show us that we cannot get to heaven by our own works, then it has done its job well. In fact, Marshall Brain may actually have created an evangelistic tool without realizing it. However, we know that it is not the purpose of this video. The purpose is to say that the Christian faith in heaven is ridiculous, the path to heaven is riddled with contradictions, and that these many contradictions somehow prove heaven is imaginary.

God’s grace is the path to heaven. Only by God’s grace, through our faith in Jesus Christ, can anyone actually get there–achieve righteousness.

As the video points out, there are 613 laws in the Old Testament. I’m concerned right now with the ones that talk about forgiveness of sins. They involve animal sacrifices–each and every one. Why? The book of Hebrews states “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” This is why the animal sacrifices had to take place at all; we are essentially trading a life for a life.

The concept is in the Law, therefore, for a propitiatory sacrifice. But an animal’s blood is a poor trade for human blood (Heb 9:12-14). Therefore, a better sacrifice was necessary: Christ. He was offered for all of mankind’s sins–past, present, and future. The Bible says:

Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites [the animal sacrifices], but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. (Heb 9:23-28, emphasis added)

Perhaps Brain is like the Galatians of Paul’s day. After entertaining the notion that we are saved by grace through faith, the Galatians reverted back to following the Law, which is foolishness:

For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. (Gal 3:10-14)

So, why the Law? Paul tells the Galatians it was added for sin (3:19), and he repeats the same thing to the Romans: “. . . through the law comes knowledge of sin” (Rom 3:20). And now:

. . . before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. (Gal 3:23-29)

The true path to righteousness in the sight of God is faith in Christ. This is the Bible’s unimpeachable testimony, and the Good News that the gospels bring us. Marshall Brain wants us to revert to the old ways of the Law.

Let’s just look at the video’s eight steps to heaven in the previous light, and see if Brain’s claims hold any water whatsoever.

Step 1 – Love Everyone

No argument here.

Step 2 – Sell Everything

The verse cited to support this is misunderstood by Brain. The story is found in Luke 18:18-30. Does this somehow mean that having possessions is wrong, or inherently sinful? Well, that would mean that the commandment not to steal is ridiculous. The very fact that there is a commandment not to steal indicates that God sees nothing wrong with having possessions.

So what does this story really mean? Well, this person was testing Jesus, and so Jesus gave him a test–Jesus put him on the spot instead of the other way around. The whole point is that it isn’t possible for man to save himself, which was covered above.

Step 3 – Hate Everyone; Sell Everything

Let’s look at Luke 14:26-33:

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”

This passage, as a whole, is speaking dramatically about something simple. Christ must be first in everything. You can’t place your father, mother, brothers, sisters, or any possessions above Christ. He is asking you to follow Him no matter what it may cost you along the way, whether it be your family or your possessions. The metaphor about the kings going to war or building a tower underscore this point.

He is telling you that following Him may well cost you your family and everything you own, and is asking you to count up the cost of following Him before you do it, so that you can give yourself completely to Him. This passage, therefore, is about devotion to Christ, not about hating relatives.

Step 4 – Eat Flesh! Drink Blood!

John 6 is one of the most complicated chapters in the entire Bible, and the short treatment that Brain gives it does it no justice. This is a spiritual or metaphorical teaching that would have been crystal clear to the Hebrews that Jesus told it to. Eating flesh and drinking blood, subsisting on something, was thought to change you to make you like that thing. That is why the Jews avoided the unclean animals, since God had declared them unclean, the Jews didn’t want to be unclean by subsisting on the flesh of an unclean animal.

Jesus is asking us to subsist on His teachings, and that will give us life. He makes it clear that this is spiritual (not a literal) teaching later in the same chapter with verse 63, saying that the flesh is of no avail and that His words are spirit and life.

Step 5 – Be a Little Child

Since Brain’s only comment is asinine, I will move on.

Step 6 – Be a Born Again Infant

This is again a metaphorical teaching. We were born of the flesh, but Jesus wants us to be born again of the Spirit; that is, have the Spirit indwell us producing its fruits (Gal 5:22-23) instead of the fruits of the flesh (Gal 5:19-21). This is really a simple and straightforward teaching but Brain seems to get it wrong anyway.

Step 7 – Follow 613 Old Testament Laws

This was covered above: the Law does nothing for us, justification is the work of God alone and He does it through our faith in Christ, plus nothing.

Step 8 – Believe in Jesus

This final step is deeper than that, as Romans 10:9 eloquently states: “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” It’s more than just believing that Jesus was sent by God, it is confessing that He is your Lord and believing that God raised Him from the dead. It requires a deeper devotion than just believing that Jesus was real and that He died on a cross.


1 Comment Add your own

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