Q Am I going to hell?
a Your Creator does not want you in hell, but in heaven. Some people think they are going to hell because they have been told that the Lord sends evil people to hell. In reality the Lord, our loving and merciful God, does not send anybody to hell because doing so is contrary to His Divine nature (Heaven and Hell 545). However, hell does exist, and the Lord will not prevent you from going there if you choose it. He has given you the freedom to choose good or evil, heaven or hell. If you continually choose to do evil, you will cast yourself into hell after death (Heaven and Hell 547). Thousands of years ago, the Lord said to the Israelites, “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19). I believe the same message is addressed to us today. The Lord is asking us to choose heaven over hell.
Q I have done some bad things in my life. Can the Lord forgive me?
a There is nothing the Lord is unable to forgive. Remember, when Peter asked the Lord how many times he should forgive his sinful brother, the Lord said to him: “up to seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22). The Lord taught Peter always to forgive. Why wouldn’t He do the same thing? So, yes, the Lord can and will forgive every bad thing you have done in your life if you repent—that is, if you ask for forgiveness of your sins and you amend your ways and your doings.
Q There are so many religions that claim a path to salvation. Which religion is saved?
a The Lord does not discriminate between Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, Voodoo people, etc. All are His creatures and as a loving and merciful God, He wants to save every human being (Heaven and Hell 522). The New Church teaches that all human beings born into any religion can be saved, provided they acknowledge God and live according to the Ten Commandments (Divine Providence 253). Those who worship the Lord Jesus Christ and live according to His commandments are saved. Still the Lord leads not only Christians but also people from other religions according to their own precepts. He has provided that in every religion there should be precepts similar to those in the Ten Commandments (Divine Providence 254:2). So it is how people live their religious life which saves them, not their religion itself.
Q How do my works affect my salvation?
a Our works affect our salvation in many ways. Secrets of Heaven 3934 states that works are what save a person and what condemn him, for the will of a person is in his work. Good works save us, while evil works condemn us. The Lord requires good works from us so that we can be saved: “If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17).
Q Which is more important: faith or good works?
a Jesus said in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotton Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” From the words in John 3:16, some people may conclude that faith is more important than good works. This is not true. Faith and good works are equally important because they are the two essentials of salvation. A person’s faith can be seen in his work. And “good works are the fruit of faith” (Secrets of Heaven 1873).
The Rev. Guillaume Anato is the pastor of the New Church group in Cotonou, Benin. For more information, contact him at [email protected].