Friday, June 21, 2019

The Definition of Salvation

If the initial paragraph below seems typical, just be patient. There are points afterward that I think will help — the initial reading is necessary as a primer to the points afterword. I’m hoping that this blog will serve as a bridge to some who are curious about Jesus Christ and have been turned off of knowing him because of alleged and stupid conduct requirements, corruption, arrogance, and superficiality commonly exhibited by many “church” goers. The phony front doesn’t stop with some church organization members — it can and often does extend into the organization leadership and administration. I also expect that this blog will help liberate some people who already follow Christ.

In Jeremiah 17:9 it says, “The heart (of man) is more deceitful than all things and desperately wicked; who can understand it?” The last part, "Who can understand it," is an emphasis that we are blind to the extent of our own potential evil. While that probably offends some people — especially in this age of political correctness — it’s what God says about the natural condition of the human soul. People are naturally self-centered. Evidence of this is the fact that as children we have to be taught to share. We have to be taught that hitting is not right unless we’re are defending ourselves. We have to be taught that throwing tantrums is not right. We have to be taught generally that the world does not revolve around us as individuals. Because of the natural self-centeredness, we fall short of God's standard of righteousness and we need a savior. Jesus Christ saved us when he took the punishment on himself for the aforementioned evil (past, present, and future) when He allowed Himself to be crucified, rising from the dead three days later (that means he can save us — He is alive). If we accept what Christ did (and we tell him that), then, when standing before God on the day of reckoning after death, we’ll be allowed into heaven and not forced to live eternally separated from God in a place of suffering called Hell. Yes, Hell — I won’t be politically correct about anything in this blog. Hell is not a place God puts people for not worshiping Him (there are actually many Christians who at times become caught up in self-worship; another topic) — Hell is a place people go to for eternity after death as punishment for sin having rejected Christ’s forgiveness — again, the issue is not worshiping God — the issue is our sin. Romans 10:9: “…that if you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Upon accepting Christ’s forgiveness, one would be allowed into the gates of Heaven not because of good deeds done by the person, but because of what Jesus did. Jesus said, “…Nobody comes to the father (God) except by me”. People can’t do good deeds, keep the 10 commandments, or keep the Mosaic law as a way of earning their way to Heaven. The Ten Commandments were given to make our sin known to us — not to save us by trying to follow them. If we could be saved by doing good deeds then Jesus died on the cross for our sins in vain. In Galatians 2:21, Paul is speaking of that very principle: “ I do not nullify the grace of God. For if righteousness comes by the law, then Christ died in vain..” Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one should boast.” Salvation from sin cannot be lost once obtained — that would imply that we have to earn our way into heaven — we already established that salvation cannot be earned. However, despite being saved from Hell, doing things in this life that we know God disapproves of still leads to negative consequences that will be sustained in this life as well as in the afterlife. Every person who accepts Christ will give an account to God for the things they have done. Do not believe the voices that tell you otherwise — Galatians 1:8 says, “Although if we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel to you than the one we have preached to you, let him be accursed.” In other words, don’t listen to any other gospel or message of Jesus Christ that teaches salvation must be earned by being “good.”

Before moving on, I need to address the question about how people were saved before the time of Jesus, and how people who "never" hear about Jesus are saved because it seems to be a stumbling block for some. There is what we call “direct revelation” of God, and “general revelation” of God. The direct revelation of God comes through the bible and Jesus Christ himself. General revelation of God is the revealing of God via His creation and our conscience -- physical matter in the universe does not by itself give rise to a sense of morality in the mind. Romans 1:19-20 says, “For what may be known about God is clear to them since God has shown it to them. The invisible things about Him—His eternal power and deity—have been clearly seen since the creation of the world and are understood by the things that are made, so that they are without excuse.” .....Before the time of Christ, people were saved by only believing what God said and what was generally revealed to them. In Genesis 15:6, it says, “Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness” Now look at Galatians 3:11 in the New Testament where the writer Paul says, “Now it is evident that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, for ‘The just shall live by faith.’” Paul, in writing this, quotes old testament Habakkuk 2:4 as a description of how one was saved before Jesus came. That is, “The just shall live by faith."

Some may wonder how babies and children are accountable to God. God says that everybody will give an “account." Romans 14:12 says, “So then each of us shall give an account of himself to God.” Nowhere in the bible does it say that there is a specific age of accountability. However, the age of accountability is clearly implied but varies for each person. God revealed himself to man through his creation and through Jesus Christ as said above, and since an “account” is going to be given to God, it must imply that whenever somebody has the capability of understanding, an account is going to be given for the understanding and light retained by the person. Though, because of natural disabilities that people are born with which theoretically could serve to inhibit the ability to understand, I can only presume that they would not be accountable in the same way others are. Ultimately, God is perfect in his judgment and will not send anyone to Hell that doesn’t deserve to be there. Furthermore, consider King David from the old testament who had a close relationship with God. David made the mistake of having an affair with a woman. A child was conceived through it. Even though God forgave David for the deed, God let illness fall on the baby, who died. After David wept for the child (while he was sick) he was happy after the child died because David knew one day he would get to see the child again (in Heaven). In 2nd Samual 12:23, it says, “…His servants said to him, “What is this thing you have done? You fasted and wept for the sake of the living child, but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” He explained, “As long as the child was alive, I fasted and wept because I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me, so that the child may live.’ But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Am I able to bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” This implies that people who are not old enough to make critical decisions are not doomed to hell, but rather, God brings them to heaven if they die before the age of accountability.

Finally, I’ll move onto some interesting points, clearing up some misunderstandings and lies that some organizations propagate — making it easier for people unfamiliar with Christ to approach him. The following points (and examples of conduct) are what a lot of onlookers tend to see when observing people who claim to be Christians. Keep in mind when reading the points below that there are two types of churches in existence today. There is what is known as the “apostate” church which is composed of people who outwardly profess to accept Jesus Christ (but inwardly reject Him). The other type of church is the body of people who truly have accepted Jesus Christ as atonement for their sins — however, in many cases, this group has been led astray by lies. Though they are saved by the grace of Jesus Christ and cannot lose their salvation ever, they live in bondage to the acceptance of false doctrine.

1. We’re not required to go to “church” if accepting Christ as our savior. In the bible, Christians are called to have “fellowship” with other Christians. That does not specifically mean getting up every Sunday morning and attending services at some organization or building. The body of true Christians consist of all those world-wide, and are called the "church." Fellowship with other Christians can be done in several different ways — there are plenty of things to do. A pastor/congregation type of model is called for in the new testament but unfortunately, it's hard to find pastors that don't teach denominational gobbledygook or other bad doctrines. If one must seek a pastor-based fellowship, calling friends together to watch online sermons in a homegroup could work. The advent of the internet has broken down many barriers. Personal ministries of various kinds can also be started so that one can utilize their God-given gifts and talents for spreading the gospel.

2. There’s nothing wrong with doing “work” on Sunday, and Christians today are not required to keep the old testament Sabbath day. See Romans 14:5-6

3. We don’t have to give 10% of all our income (money) to an organization in order to receive blessings from God. In the old testament, again, as part of the Mosaic law, the Israelites were required to give 10% of certain resources to the service of the temple worship. At the temple worship, routine sacrificing of animals was done foreshadowing the coming of Jesus Christ to make the final sacrifice for all sin (dying on the cross). Once Jesus Christ came, died, and rose, the temple worship was no longer required so this requirement to give 10% of certain resources was implicitly done away with. For the record, tithe literally means 10%………We are now called to give as we are led to give by God and we are not to do it out of obligation. If giving 10% or more is desired that’s fine, but do it only if felt it’s the right thing to do. God is not going to bless us any more or any less on the mere premise of giving or not giving a minimum of 10% of all our income — thinking otherwise is essentially trying to bribe God. Some pastors will beat their members with a righteous stick until they start giving them what they want (including 10% of their income). In my opinion, pastors who propagate this idea are either ignorant or trying to scam people. See my blog here: The Cult of Tithing

4. WE DON’T HAVE TO SPEAK IN “TONGUES”. What in the bloody world is “TONGUES” ????… Basically, when the Holy Spirit indwelled the first body of believers, the gift of speaking in LITERAL other languages was given so that people who spoke literal (real) other languages could hear the message of Christ being preached to them. However, people try to interpret “tongues” to be a whirling dervish babble that is not understood by anybody, even the person speaking it. More about tongues

5. Water Baptism is not necessary to receive salvation from God: There are instances in the new testament of the bible were it would seem like water baptism is necessary to receive salvation. However, if we take the position that Christ did everything we need on the cross and that we cannot earn our salvation (which we already established above), it can be deduced that requiring water baptism is an attempt to add to what Jesus already did — which is just crazy. Here is a more comprehensive take on the subject.

6. Here are some miscellaneous things that a Christian does not need to do, which makes true Christianity look like a ridged and senseless routine. This is not an exhaustive or comprehensive list, by far. We don’t have to do “Hail Marys” or “our father” prayers. We don’t have to pray to dead people who don’t hear us anyway — which is something God actually detests (we are to pray to God, not created beings). We don’t have to dip our fingers in “holy water” before having fellowship with our Christian friends. We don’t have to go knocking on people’s doors for two years, preaching. All God cares about is whether we believe in Him and accept the one free gift He has to offer — His gift of forgiveness based on His death and resurrection. When the criminal hanging on a cross next to Jesus suddenly repented, just moments before the criminal died, Jesus said to him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Jesus didn’t say, “Wait a minute! Have you prayed to any of my dead servants? What good deeds did you do? Were you baptized in water?” The criminal on the cross next to Christ — and Christ’s acceptance of him — is a perfect portrayal of how easy God made forgiveness of sins.