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I think the reaction that a reader will have to this short piece of fiction by Tolstoy will rather depend on their own religious sensibilities. For me, as a Christian, I found this a rather poignant reminder of the power of grace and how, at the end of the day, all of us, no matter when we repent or if we repent or not, have committed far more sins than good deeds. All of us therefore are in need of the kind of love of God that the sinner trying to gain admission into heaven testifies to when he speaks to the Apostle John, the last of the three Biblical characters to come and interrogate him and see if he can enter. God's grace and love is something that we can cling on to in the face of our sin and complete inability to gain admission to heaven based on our good deeds. The sinner only manages to enter at the end of the story because of the love of God and his sacrifice for him, and thus this is a powerful reminder of the grace of God.
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