Travel light and fast to heaven

Pastor Mel Svendsen on how to become a true Christian

Pastor Mel Svendsen: “In the smallest things, I see God’s fingerprints.”
  • Pastor Mel Svendsen: “In the smallest things, I see God’s fingerprints.”

Riverview Church

4980 Sweetgrass Lane, Bonsall

Riverview Church

  • Membership: 900
  • Pastor: Mel Svendsen
  • Age: 59
  • Born: Brooklyn, NY
  • Formation: Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Chicago; Northeastern Bible College, Essex Fells, NJ
  • Years Ordained: 35

San Diego Reader: What’s your favorite subject on which to preach?

Pastor Mel Svendsen: How to become a true Christian, and by that I mean, how to understand what Jesus did for us on the cross. That message is so badly misunderstood by most of the world, which would say we all get to heaven by good works. Jesus makes clear that good works aren’t enough. You have to believe that, by what Jesus did on the cross, he paid the price for our sins. The message is so misunderstood but the message in God’s word is so straightforward.

SDR: What’s your main concern as a member of the clergy?

PS: I’m concerned about the compromises I see in regard to the message of Christ. Many will compromise that message to fit in or be politically correct or accepted by the world. There’s a tendency to compromise the clear message of Jesus Christ. You’re not doing anyone any favors by telling anyone a lie. That’s what compromise is, ultimately — it’s changing the truth of Jesus and giving people false information.

SDR: What’s the mission of your church?

PS: Our mission is to have a passion for loving God and a passion for loving others. It comes out of the two great commandments — to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself. As a church, we have 25 missionaries we support around the world. Locally, too, we have a loft-house ministry in which we build the components of houses in our parking lot here and drive them down to Ensenada, Mexico, and give them away to people who are living in cardboard boxes so they have a house to live in for free.

SDR: Where’s the strangest place you found God?

PS: In the smallest parts of creation. I love reading about science and nature and the miraculous ways in which bees collect honey and ants can line up and work together to get their job done. There’s amazing information found in every cell in the human body. Where did that biological information come from to tell the cell what to do? Within that cell, I am amazed at how these biological machines do amazing tasks of turning light into energy, transporting nourishment from one end of the cell to the other and reproducing this amazingly complex one cell. In the smallest things, I see God’s fingerprints, although sadly that’s not the message our kids are often taught in science classes in school.

SDR: What’s your view on the afterlife?

PS: For those who have placed their faith and trust in Jesus Christ, you go to heaven immediately, absent from the body and present to the Lord. If you reject Jesus Christ, then the Bible says you go to hell. It’s an eternal conscious punishment, separated from God. The Bible is very clear about that. In fact, in scriptures Jesus talked more about hell than about heaven. Sadly, people want to say that’s not the case when it comes to hell. “You simply cease to exist” or something like that, they say. The fact that Jesus came, died, and rose again from the dead gives his message and his words more authority than any other religious leader that walked the planet.

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