There are many self-professed “experts” in spiritual matters. They claim to know about heaven and hell but have never been there. They generally offer weak reasons for trusting them: they have degrees from a seminary; they’ve been ordained by some religious body; they’ve been voted into a position of authority by a committee; they’ve written some books; their denomination is the oldest or largest; their church is the only correct one and outside of it there is no salvation; they are apostles or prophets and get continuing revelations from God, and so on. Where is the evidence that they should be believed and that we should therefore follow them into eternity? We dare not take that trip without absolute certainty.
The gravest error associated with prayer is to imagine that it is essential for salvation. On the contrary, as we have seen from the Scriptures (which alone deserve our trust), God offers salvation as a free gift. When a gift is offered, one does not beg for it, plead for it, or agonize for it. One simply receives it. To beg or plead or pray for the gift is to betray one’s lack of faith in the giver and his offer.
In order to get serious about faith, one must realize that faith is not a magic wand we wave to get what we want. Far from having some power within itself, faith must have an object. There are two essential ingredients in faith: what one believes and in whom one believes.
Faith can either fulfill or disappoint. Remember, faith is in the invisible and eternal and thus determines one’s eternal destiny. Obviously, to believe what is false about eternity and the God of eternity is to set oneself up for eternal loss and remorse.
No tragedy could be greater.