The following is an updated version of the short story “Bag with Holes,” which was written nearly twenty years ago in response to the false ‘prosperity’ doctrine.  This errant doctrine came crashing into the church my wife and I first attended after answering the call to ministry. At the time, we did not have the theological depth to know exactly what we were seeing in this doctrine that sounded so good to the flesh but so bad to the spirit. However, we knew it was evil to the core as it caused the hearer to become hyper-focused on self and the things of the earth.
Recently, the Lord has had me writing about the various false doctrines which have shaped the last days landscape.  While these topics may not be popular, they are a necessary part of understanding how the church has become so ineffectual in this late hour. As watchmen, we are to watch and warn all who will listen… until our last breath.  May this short story bless you.
Bag with Holes – 2003
One late autumn evening, Jim awoke in a strange place, in strange clothing. He thought he had fallen asleep in his lazy boy, in front of a crackling fire, in the den of his lakefront home. But that’s not where he was now. He awoke to find himself in a place where the streets were paved with a glistening white substance that appeared to be gold. The air was filled with a fragrance that was more beautiful than anything that he had smelled in his entire life, and soothing music seemed to come from all around him. Everyone seemed so unhurried, almost as if they had forever to get where they were going.
At this point, Jim looked at his clothes and staggered with surprise from what he saw. He knew that he had taken off his three-piece suit and changed into his lounging clothes before going to his den to take a nap. Now he stood in this beautiful place wearing the clothes of a common beggar. In his hand, he held a cloth bag that was tattered and torn and empty of anything but many holes.
All of this puzzled Jim, and he knew none of this could be right, so he began to look for someone familiar. Someone to tell him what was going on, to tell him why he was here and why he didn’t know anything about it. Jim looked around, and he saw many faces, but none that he knew. He did note that everyone seemed to be going in one direction, and they were all dressed in similar fashion. Some had on clothes similar to the ones he wore and carried bags like his, while others had on fine clothing and carried bags made of sturdy material that was stretched almost to bursting with some unknown cargo.
All of these strange circumstances began to worry Jim, and he began to reason with himself and say maybe he had fallen and hit his head – yes, that was it; he must have amnesia. That is why no one seemed familiar to him. Of course, they wouldn’t if he had amnesia; he wouldn’t know anyone. Just as he began to like this solution, a problem arose with it. He suddenly realized that he could remember all of his past, from early childhood right up to the moment he had reclined in his lazy boy chair in the den.
With amnesia ruled out, he reasoned that he must be dreaming. Surely that would explain the bizarre circumstances, the clothes, the music, the fragrance, and the streets of gold. As he continued to reason, he had a flash of a childhood memory of a children’s church story about heaven and the streets that were paved with gold. But this couldn’t be heaven because, after all, he was just in his lazy boy taking a nap in his den. Besides, he pondered, a person has to die to get to heaven. At that instant, it all became clear to him. This was no dream; he really was in heaven, and he was walking on the streets of gold that he had been taught about at church for so many years.
As reality began to set in, Jim felt a tugging at his heart, pulling him down the street along with the others who carried bags. As he went, he began to notice that people were carrying all sorts of bags. Some carried a bag like his, while others carried large, fully stuffed bags. Still, others carried bags that were filled to differing degrees. He did notice, however, that everyone, no matter how else they differed, carried a bag.
While continuing to walk, Jim began to notice some similarities between the people around him. All that carried a bag with holes like him wore the clothes of a beggar, while those that carried the large overstuffed bags all wore the finest clothing he had ever seen. Those that carried the smaller bags that contained cargo were dressed in nice clothing, but not as nice as those that carried the large overstuffed bags. As a matter of fact, Jim noticed that the bags seemed to be the common denominator among the people. The bigger the bag, the better the clothes.
Jim was just beginning to wonder why everyone was going down the same street, when he finally saw someone else he knew. It was Jerry Windlap, his childhood friend and now the janitor at his church. He shuffled through the crowded street to talk to him and finally reached him, and they greeted each other with a smile and a hug.
Jerry’s story just further confused Jim. It turned out that Jerry had fallen from a skyscraper while riveting on the superstructure. Safety requirements called for the wearing of a safety harness, but Jerry had forgotten to put his back on after lunch. He had been working on the 23rd floor, and all he could remember was falling and hitting the beams of the 22nd floor and being knocked unconscious. Jim then told him what he knew about his own circumstance, which wasn’t much. He also told him that he was really curious about where they now were and why.
Suddenly Jim and Jerry felt a great peace come over them, and they realized that something had changed. Instead of everyone walking alone, they each now had an angel with them. The angel that walked with Jim and Jerry told them his name was Raphael and that he was their escort. He also told them that he would answer any questions they might have.
Jim was full of questions, and he didn’t hesitate to ask them all at once. He asked where they were and why. He asked where they were going and when they would be there. He asked about the bags they all carried and the clothing they all wore. The angel smiled and said that he would explain everything to them as they traveled.
Raphael began by telling them that they were indeed in heaven, because they had died on earth and that they were all headed to the judgment seat of Christ to be judged for all that they had, and had not, done on earth. He told them that they were actually already in the line that extended from the judgment seat, but it would take some time to reach Christ because of the multitude of people that preceded them.
It was at this point that Jim realized that he had been so busy talking and asking questions of Jerry and the angel that he hadn’t even noticed that Jerry carried one of the largest bags that he had seen since arriving in heaven. Jim looked from his old friend to Raphael and asked him why Jerry carried such a large bag. The angel’s reply startled Jim to the core. He told him that the clothing that was worn and the bag that each carried was a reflection of that individual’s wealth in heaven. Those that wore beggars’ clothing and carried a bag with holes in it were those that were rich toward themselves on earth, while those that carried the large overstuffed bags and wore the finest clothes were those that were rich toward God while on earth.
At this, Jim said he could not believe that surely God would allow a person to bring what they had accumulated on earth to heaven. Raphael then told him that God had told man time and time again, in His word, that they were not to seek to build their own kingdom, but His.
Jim asked Raphael how Jerry had managed to transport his wealth to heaven, and Raphael’s reply was again a shock to him. He asked if he remembered when he and Jerry were teenagers and their Sunday school teacher had taught them that it was better to give than to receive. Jim told him that he did seem to remember something about it, but he thought it was just a nice thing that people said. Raphael told him that Jerry had taken what the teacher had said to heart and began to look for ways to give as much as he could to others in need.
He told him Jerry had skipped the high school prom so his best friend, who didn’t have any money, could borrow his tuxedo and go. This was his first real act of sacrifice, and instead of it making him feel bad that he had missed the prom, it made him feel good that his friend got to go. As a matter of fact, it felt so good that he wanted to give more and more.
Raphael then asked Jim if he knew that Jerry had cleaned their church absolutely for free and that he had provided all of the supplies as well. Jim’s face was flush with embarrassment as he nodded no. He also asked if he knew that Jerry had decided long ago to give better than half of his income to help those that were needy. Again, Jim nodded no. Did you notice that every time the church needed help, Jerry was the first to volunteer? Did you notice that Jerry would go out of his way to help anyone with a need? Twice more, the answer was no.
Do you remember the time that you had a flat in the church parking lot? Yes. Do you remember who it was that came to your assistance in their Sunday best? Yes, of course, it had been Jerry. He was there with a smile and lug wrench before you could even begin to ask for help. These were not isolated incidents; Jerry lived his life on earth in this same manner every day. This is why he carries one of the largest bags in all of heaven.
At this, Jim said that he had been a deacon at the church for many years, and surely that should account for something. Raphael replied, you see, Jim, God does not judge your accomplishments by whether or not you are a Deacon, or Teacher, or even a Pastor, but by how you have loved and given to others. Jerry understood this, and he did all he could to follow God’s leading in his life. Jerry became a servant of all, and because of that, he will now be among the greatest of all here.
Jim staggered as he realized the ramifications of what Raphael was telling him. He had been the complete opposite of Jerry. He had only been concerned about what he could obtain while on earth. He hadn’t been the least bit concerned about others or their problems. He thought he was doing more than his share by just being a deacon and taking an hour a month to attend a meeting. He thought that all his fancy cars and all of his houses and fine antiques would be worth something here in heaven. But now he realized that those things, the things whereby your wealth is judged on earth, are exactly opposite of what God judges.
Now, far too late, Jim understood that he had missed the truth of all of the messages that he had heard concerning the Kingdom of God and that because he had not been rich toward God, he would now spend all of eternity dressed as a beggar and carrying a “Bag with Holes.”
Eternal life is assured for all who place their trust in Christ and His finished work. This understanding is only the beginning of what a Christian is. Remember, this life is finite. The next is infinite, and our rewards in the eternal are based upon what we do with the time we are given in this temporal life. While it is true that the Lord will give to all the same wage (salvation) whether the laborer works all day (long life) or just one hour (short life) (Matt 20:1-16), this wage is not what is in question here. No, the case in point here is about the treasures we lay up in heavenly places by being rich toward God with whatever time He grants us.
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
The article, ‘Heaven or Earth Bound?’ speaks to this issue, and it would serve as a good starting point for those who desire to understand how Christians are to live. 
**Special Message… If you are reading this after the rapture, you still have hope, even though you rejected the truth previously. See the article, “Open Letter to Those Who Miss the Rapture.” 
Website: In His Commission
*All characters in the short story are fictional.
 For greater understanding, see the article, “Prosperity Gospel: Creator of the Laodicean Church.”
 For greater understanding, see the eschatology articles at, “In His Commission.com”
 For greater understanding, see the article. “Watch – Warn – and Win Souls.”
 For greater understanding, see the article, “Heaven or Earth Bound?”
 For greater understanding, see the article, “Open Letter to Those Who Miss the Rapture.”