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  • Writer's pictureTroy Spradlin

Spiritual Mulligans?

by Troy Spradlin

    I used to love playing golf, although I was never really any good at it. My shots often went where I didn't want them to go, so I frequently used the "mulligan rule" (an extra stroke allowed after a poor shot, but not counted on the scorecard)! I knew if I missed the green, I could get a second chance at it because of that rule. I liked that rule. After all, who doesn't want a second chance when we make a mistake, right?

Yet, what about second chances with spiritual things? Can we get a "spiritual mulligan" if we mess up? Fortunately, the Bible gives us the answer and it all depends on when.

    First of all, Acts 17:31 teaches us that God "has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead." In other words, every human being that has ever lived and living will be brought to justice by Jesus - and God proved it by bringing Him back from the dead. Why is everyone being judged? Because "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). So, when will this happen? According to verses like Hebrews 9:27 and Revelation 20:12-14, it will happen in the next life, in life after death, on "Judgment Day."

    Secondly, according to the Bible, after we leave this world through physical death, our souls continue to live on in the spiritual realm. This is why John 3:16 is such an important verse, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." That verse works in concert with 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9, "and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction ..." Therefore, we all have a decision to make, choose eternal life or perish in condemnation. How does one access eternal life? By "obeying the Gospel." God has provided a means for us to escape punishment on that Judgment Day and instead, receive a "crown of life" (Revelation 2:10).

     Thirdly, since all mankind is guilty of sin and the "wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23), obeying the Gospel is sort of like a "spiritual mulligan." No matter what mistakes you may have made in life, God will forgive you of your sins and "remember them no more," according to Ephesians 1:7 and Hebrews 10:16-18. God gives you a "second chance" in this life to get your heart right with Him. How wonderful is our merciful Father?!

    However, some have questioned and even challenged this simple and beautiful gift of God's grace by teaching that one can get a "second chance" after death! That's the primary message of false teaching such as the Doctrine of Purgatory, Unconditional Election, or Premillennialism. So, is it possible to get a "second chance" after we die?

    Consider what Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 6:1-2. He said that we should "not to receive the grace of God in vain, ... Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." We should also take note of the urgency of those who obeyed the Gospel in the Book of Acts. The three thousand individuals "who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them," or the Ethiopian Eunuch immediately asking about baptism after hearing the Gospel, or Paul being told, "why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord" are all great examples of the urgency of making the decision today! (Acts 2:41, 8:36, 22:16)

    Lastly, Jesus clarified what happens after death in His account of "Lazarus and the Rich Man" in Luke 16:19-31. Between the saved and the condemned, "there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us" (16:26). The rich man then pleaded with Abraham to send back messengers to his family to warn them of what happens after death. Abraham responded, "They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them" (16:29). In other words, there are NO "spiritual mulligans" in the afterlife.

So, make the decision to get right with God today!

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