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(Pulled from POFO), RE: Evangelizing, A Response for Christians Between Christians

Discussion in 'Religion and Spirituality' started by Finrunner, Sep 3, 2008.

  1. Finrunner

    Finrunner Season Ticket Holder

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    I wanted to address something that troubled me on the POFO forum (I originally started to do so there but then I thought it was out of place), and I thought maybe this was the place. I’m not arguing here, and I could be off-base. I know the apostle Paul, in prison, wrote that he was just happy people were talking about Jesus or the message about Christ (even if he didn’t necessarily agree with exactly everything said or every way it was painted. And perhaps that's the way I should be here. But then again… here goes. Here were some of the quotes that I’m referencing – and all these are from the Christian side (if you’d like to read the whole exchange, go to POFO, and it's probably unfair if you don't, but I can't post every quote):

    resnor (and Doc, I guess),

    First, I'll say this: Jesus is Lord. In that, I think we agree. And just to start with some disclaimers, I'm probably the last person that needs to say stuff, and you're welcome to take it with a grain of salt or throw it away or attack me. I'm a hypocrite, a sinner, a fake, a liar - every bad thing you can label me. But I'm also redeemed, or being redeemed, as I live and breathe.

    Saying that, I agree in principle about showing and telling others about Christ. He commissioned His followers to do so (and I appreciate you doing so). His coming, death, and Resurrection are the # 1 greatest event in humankind's history, so much so as to make anything else almost non-existent in comparison. At the same time, what does it mean to be His follower (a Christian as we're called)? More than anything else, shouldn't we act as He acted?

    Time after time that I can think of in His associations with others He exhibited love and compassion, especially relative to a person's sins. Yeah, He took on the institutions that were obstructing people's path to the One True God (who He Himself was/is) -- the Pharisees, the Saducees, the Temple traders, scribes and teachers of the Law, etc. -- but individually, to each person he came in contact with, He showed concern, love, and care.

    -- People at a Wedding - He gave them more wine, the best wine (although it may be offensive to Christians for people to be drunk and if I was betting, I'd hazard a guess to say there were some drunk folks at that wedding, and some drunk off the wine Jesus made)
    -- The Woman at the Well - With only slight admonition, He simply told her He offered Living Water (although it may be offensive to Christians to be a fornicator, adulteror, or living with someone other than a spouse)
    -- Nicodemus - He told a Pharisee, one on one, how much He/God loved the (sinful) world in one of, if not the, most precious discourses in the Bible (although Nicodemus was a part of the prideful, hypocritical institutions that Jesus railed against and Christians should be offended about if there are such today - and there are)
    -- Zaccheus - He invited Himself to eat with the tax collector who had stolen from others (although it may be offensive to Christians for people to steal)
    -- Peter - His denier He instantly forgave and made Him the rock of the Church (although it may be offensive to deny Christ)
    -- Rich Young Ruler - Jesus looked on him, most likely one of the reprobate, in compassion (although it may be offensive to Christians for people to hoard their wealth)
    -- Judas - While Christ knew Judas would betray him from the beginning, He walked with, taught, and loved Judas as one of His disciples for three years (although it may be offensive to Christians to betray Christ)
    -- Saul/Paul - Christ came to him on the road to Damascus where he planned to execute followers of Christ and converted Paul then and there (although it may be offensive to Christians for people to kill them)

    People should know they are sinners (or at least claim Jesus as Lord - Romans 10:9) to be saved, but who makes people aware? Is it not the Spirit of God that awakens a man's/woman's soul to see his/her true self? If it's me, if I do it myself, I'd almost have cause to brag. Everything is grace, is it not?

    And as far as sin being offensive, which it is to God I realize, He's still bigger than it in such a way that sin really has little bearing to Him. He has conquered it. I have enough sin in me that needs to be dealt with on a consistent basis that I know pre-marital sex being offensive and homosexuality being offensive are just drops in the bucket. What I need to do more than anything else is not harp on that other stuff, but follow what Christ said were the two most important commandments. Love God. Love others. If I spent all my time doing that, I'd have less of the bad stuff into which to be delving. I guess, if we want to rationalize it, we can say we're loving them when they think we're telling them they're going to hell, but that's not the sense of what I see in Jesus' actions at all. I see no condemnation there. In fact, although both Old and New Testaments have laundry lists of the Sin in us and sins in us that keep us from God, it always seems like Jesus looked beyond that (though not altogether ignoring it) and showed His True Self through His relationship with each of the persons He dealt with.

    Even with the "stiff-necked" verbiage, God had a long and tried relationship with the Israelite people before He called them stiff-necked. Once you have that relationship, it's a little easier to digest. I'm not saying not to witness/evangelize on a forum such as this (I'd never say that), but it just seems to me that referencing Jews as "stiff-necked" and singling out homosexuality and pre-marital sex as offensive because of the political aspects as opposed to all the other plethora of sins that could be named before having built a relationship, even if it's merely a relationship of respect built on posts and PMs, seems counter-productive. In other words, if people haven't seen you "being Jesus" to them or others they love, I think they'd probably have a harder time accepting what is said for someone whom they deem is some religious nut on a ThePhins.com POFO forum. (And I’m not calling anyone a nut [besides myself] – far from it.)

    I guess I’d just like to know your (resnor and Doc) thoughts or the thoughts of rest of the Christians in the forums here. There are many parts of the Body of Christ, I know, and some of them are silent on the back row of a church, some of them are in far off countries who have names I cannot pronounce, some of them are on Bourbon Street yelling through a bullhorn, and some of them are Dolphin fans on The Phins.com. I guess reading through this, some of it does sound like I’m judging – so I’m sorry for that. If all of this or any of this sounds condescending, just disregard it. That's not how I mean it. I just think the relationship part of being able to talk to people reasonably about the Savior of the world is important – and talking to people about Christ on a forum such as this can be a lot of things (tricky, intimidating, frustrating, loving, rewarding, sorrowful, etc.). I commend you for trying. You're certainly welcome to fire back. I'm sure I'm wrong in a lot of places and a lot of ways in writing this - but I just sort of cringed and was troubled reading the back and forth (of course, if I read enough on a lot of threads, I’d probably get numb to it) on the Palin's church thread, and I wanted to address my thoughts, illogical and unorganized as they are. If you want, just let me know yours.

    And then, maybe you didn't bother to read down this far, in which case, I'm having fun writing to myself.

    Lastly, if it sounds like I'm calling you guys out (resnor and Doc), I'm not sure I could help that. I surely don't mean this in such a way and hope it isn't taken as such. I just have a hard time with the whole pointing a finger, saying someone's going to hell, and then telling them they need to be saved by Jesus who loves them. That just sounds off to me. resnor didn't do that, but I think that was the way it was perceived. Not sure what the answer is there (although I know WHO the Answer Is), and I figure there are wiser Christian minds than mine on here to say what truly is wisdom here.
     
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  2. DrAstroZoom

    DrAstroZoom Canary in a Coal Mine Luxury Box

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    Well, for those of you just joining us, you really do need to read the whole thread to grab the context that set up the back-and-forth. For my part, as far as the address given to Palin's church by the rep from Jews for Jesus, I was simply making the point that his characterization of Israel was not made out of hate or a desire to stereotype, but to point out that they have been in a perpetual state of denying Christ, and his organization was trying to make a difference. In that respect, I disagreed with the premise it was controversial.

    As to your larger question, I try not to wield my Christianity like a hammer on the forums because (a) I'm far from a model Christian; and (b) like you, Fin, I don't feel that's the best way to win people. I rely on my body of posts to represent me as someone of faith but with a complex belief system and someone who, above all, is willing to listen and desirous of meaningful exchanges.
     
  3. Finrunner

    Finrunner Season Ticket Holder

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    As Sparano says, "I feel you" there. Your posts do that in spades.
     
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  4. resnor

    resnor Derp Sherpa

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    First of all, I'll say this...I would have posted earlier, but I had to go to work. LOL. Secondly, I think that you missed my point with my posts. My intention was to show that Christianity is inherently "offensive" to unbelievers because of what it stands for.

    Ok...a couple of other things:

    1. The Wedding at Caana. Jesus did not turn the water into alcoholic wine. There is a pretty good book out there called "Wines of the Bible," and it does a really good job of looking at the contexts, and the words in Hebrew/Greek, and showing where wine was alcoholic, and where it wasn't. Even if you discount that book, which would be somewhat difficult, it would be wise to consider Scripture, in relation to other Scripture. Since the Bible says that Jesus is the Word of God (John 1), would it make sense that Christ would write warning after warning after warning about alcohol, and then turn around turn water into wine, thereby causing people to sin by becoming drunk? I think not.

    2. Jesus called the Isrealites of his time a "generation of vipers." That doesn't sound very loving...

    3. Simply claiming Christ is Lord does not save someone. Matthew 7:21-29
    "21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." The Bible clearly teaches that you must come to the conclusion that you are a sinner, and that the only way to be saved is through belief in Christ's death on the cross.

    4. I fully understand, and believe, that we need to love our brothers, both believers, and unbelievers. That, however, does not mean that we don't take a stand against sin.

    I don't try to use internet forums as a way to evangelize. I'm not afraid to post my beliefs, however.
     
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  5. Finrunner

    Finrunner Season Ticket Holder

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    If you think I missed your point, fair enough. I do think the Gospel is offensive, but our facets might be a little different. Perhaps not.

    Personally, I kind of feel that if I invited Jesus to my house, He'd sit and have a beer with me, if I was so inclined. A fine glass of wine, imo, is a really good thing. A pretty woman is a really good thing. I don't think Christ causes people to sin in any way, shape, or form. People do that well enough on their own. I know I do. So in the same way, despite warning after warning after warning about fornication or adultery, I don't think God creating woman causes men to sin, neither do I think Christ turning water into (alcoholic) wine caused people to sin. I know that's not a perfect analogy, but it is 1:31 a.m., and I'll cut myself some slack. Gluttony might be a better analogy, but I'm sure you get what I'm saying. We'll probably agree to disagree here, but as I've really never seen the need to study the wines of the Bible, I'll capitulate.

    God is love. Jesus is love. Again, as I mentioned, Jesus railed against the sects and institutions and the hard line teachers of the law, all these made of people to be sure, that kept His people from knowing Him/God. But to my point, name one personal relationship He had where He spoke in condemnation. To His parents? No. To any of His disciples (which were Israelites of His generation), even after every single last one abandoned Him, fearing for their lives because usually false messiahs' followers at the time were hunted down and killed? No. To Thomas, who wouldn't believe Christ was resurrected unless he saw with his own eyes? No. To the Roman (Gentile) centurion asking for healing for his child - the Romans being the occupiers of the Holy Land, the land God set aside for His People, at the time? No. Apparently not to Joseph of Arimathea, who was a member of the Sanhedrin (another sect of the vipers mentioned), if Joseph cared enough to bury the Christ. Even with Judas, each time Jesus mentions the "one of you is a devil" or "one of you will betray me", I can almost feel the anguish in His words when I read them. And then I've listed a number of others besides Judas Iscariot above.

    In every instance, care, compassion, and love. Yes, there was also some admonition, but it was done with a passion for that person He was relating to at the time. And that does sound loving to me.

    Gotcha. For the most part when I refenced Romans 10:9, I was speaking like Paul was to the Roman jailer. "What must I do to be saved?" he asked. Paul told him, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved, you and your whole household."

    Now, not to quibble as I think we'll both agree that each person in the jailer's household needed to independently come to a decision of belief in Christ to be saved, but when asked, that was what Paul said. My statement above was similar.

    I agree we must come to the conclusion we are sinners. Sort of what the Law helps us see, right? But my son walked the aisle and professed faith as an eight year old. With everything that he has, he believes on Christ. However, he was eight at the time and is nine now. For him to see himself as a sinner like I, a 41 year old see myself as a sinner, well, it's sort of like East and West there. He knows he's done wrong and is sorry for it, but I would say it's hard for most children to grasp exactly what sin or being a sinner really means. Still, I rest pretty assured that God has my son tucked into His bosom. He believes Jesus as Lord (and not as demons "believe" in Jesus and tremble, if that's a counter-argument). He's saved.

    Sin is wrong. I stand against it. I do it and continually struggle with it, unfortunately, (and know God abhors it), but I stand against it. At the same time, if I have to say what I believe in stronger - to love others or take a stand against sin - I'm gonna go the love others route (at least in theory - as I fail a lot in that, too) every time. Obviously, they're not mutually exclusive, so we try to do both. However, and again, looking at what Jesus did when He was here - that is, God showing who He Is and how we should act - in every instance I see, Jesus never engaged in sin but His love for others always seemed the bigger issue (almost like it was something he might command :wink2:), and imo, it seems like mountains to molehills.

    Maybe I put too much emphasis in the Four Gospels. I don't know. But to me, the whole Bible, from Creation to the Fall to God's People Israel and the Law, and then Advent to Resurrection, and then the Epistles and the Church - all the scripture points to Jesus. The whole Bible. The first three show God's holiness and why we need a savior, the next is the climax - Jesus' life, death, and Resurrection, and the rest bolster the claims of His redemption and start Christ's bride. But it's all about Him. And I don't think we get a better picture of who He is than in the Four Gospels.

    Lastly, I hope you're not taking any of this different than I mean it - I know with the Internet it's sometimes hard to convey sincerity, sarcasm, laughter, anger, etc. I'm very happy you're not afraid to post your beliefs:hi5:, and once more, I think that's awesome:up:! I do get troubled, as I said, when I feel like Christians are finger pointing at others they hardly know, and then oh yeah, by the way, "you need to be saved." Maybe that's my own problem. But thanks for responding! Truthfully, I'm probably a lot more afraid to post my beliefs than you are yours. But now I've gone and done it... again...:wink2:
     
  6. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    Wow, what a discussion! I am not sure what to make of all of it. I haven't seen this much verbiage since a final in systematic theology!

    Let me be Lutheran here for a moment. (ducking the rocks) One of Luther's greatest contributions to Christian thought was the doctrine "simul eustis est peccator". For those of you whose Latin is deficent, "We are, at the same time, saint and sinner". To say we are at any point not a sinner is to say that at some point we no longer need Christ, which for the Chirstian is unacceptable, but to say we are not a child of God is to deny God's gracious act of redemption. We are, at best, always both!

    How does someone oppose sin or speak out against it? First we must always do it humbly and in light of the above.

    But just like it is the obligation of a good parent to point out error for the sake of learning, it is likewise the obligation of a Christian to point out sin and help the other person to amend their ways. It should be done humbly and in community, always with the understanding that the teller could likewise be in some aspect also the hearer.

    The text "Judge not...." could better be translated "Pronounce sentence not..." Sentencing is left to the judge (God) but holding one another accountable is always all of our tasks.

    Got to disagree about the wine by the way. The euphamism "good wine" is used in a number of non Biblical texts from the time and the phrase refers to "fully leaded" wine not grape juice. The author you quote is well meaning but imo, wrong. Congregations and individuals which use grape juice should not be doing so not because the Bible prohibits alcohol but as a public witness to a self limiting of an individual's free will so as not to put a stumbling block in front of weaker folk. That is virtious.

    Not every Christian understands how a person is "made righteous" before God the same way. We see texts in different lights. Resnor, I would disagree on your understanding of how someone is "saved" because it puts too much on the individual and not enough on God's gracious act in Christ. I can add nothing to what Christ has already done. No work "earns" me merit not even the "work" of accepting Jesus. I have come to understand that God has selected me and everything I try to do from that point on is to live my life in gratitude for that unmerited gift.

    Finrunner, love is not equal to acceptance. The law both condemens us, driving us into a gracious God, as well as providing us a framework to live life now. Love sometimes means calling sin, sin and speaking out in some fashion against it.

    Doc, you have no need of defending yourself to me, for what its worth, we have traded notes too often in the past for me to doubt the sincerity of your faith. I think you were trying to make a contribution to the verbiage and it got misunderstood.

    I don't know if this helps but its my contribution.
     
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  7. Finrunner

    Finrunner Season Ticket Holder

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    Wow. All that is so good. I'll say thanks, first and foremost, for caring about this post.

    Regarding your specific address to me, if you're getting that I think love and acceptance are the same - by no means do I think that.

    Like the woman caught in adultery (where was the man by the way?), Jesus' first act and words were to forgive. "Neither do I condemn you." How relieved do you think this woman, crying and in shame must have felt as people with rocks in their hands slowly dropped them and trudged away at Jesus's rebuke? That was love, compassion, and care. But he certainly left her with, "Go and sin no more." That's what we try. Now, here's the question, who do you think this woman is more likely to listen to? Jesus, who saved her in too many ways to count just in that instance alone, or one of those with a rock in his hand?

    My major point, I suppose, is this: I have a close friend, sort of an accountability partner, if you will. He holds my feet to the fire on a great many things, and it means something to me. I need to repent, and at times I do the same for him. When he admonishes me, it's many times like God Himself is speaking though my friend. Conversely, if a well-meaning member of my church sees me laugh at what might be construed as a dirty joke and lambastes me for it, I'm a little more hesitant to just accept what he says, although he may be fully correct in what he states. I still probably need to repent, but I have to go through a process within myself before I even accept what someone who doesn't know me at all has to say. And this is stuff between Christians. How much different then is calling someone who is not a Christian out as offensive? It a standard and it's cliche', but I fully agree with the "Love the sinner, hate the sin" line. I guess, though, for me, I'll take them in that order.

    But here again, I've got to keep going back to Jesus acts - the thief on the cross, those casting lots for His clothes - people full of sin, just like me and just like you. What did he do? He forgave them and spoke even through pain, and certainly with the thief, loved him immediately. I don't even remember Him saying word one about the sins themselves or anything to the other thief that mocked Him (and from a human standpoint, that seems like a time one might lash out) - although to be fair, Jesus was suffering as I have never suffered at the time.

    More than anything Ohiophinphan, I'm probably a good example of a little knowledge is a dangerous thing (which makes it good that you and Doc have commented here). And then I guess I'm not fully coming across correctly if you think I accept ANY type of sin and try to say I am loving someone by that acceptance. I do not. I do not accept sin. Not being cross with my child when I wake up on the wrong side of my bed, not lying to my boss that I'm sick on a "mentally ill" day, not pre-marital sex, not hating my brother, not my divorce from my wife, not my lusts, not my sins of my eyes, not my sins of my flesh, and not my pride of life. I accept none of it. Yet I do it. So, I will sit and eat and talk with people (read - others sinners, Christian or no) getting to know them before I ever call them on any of it. Or really yanking out one of the scriptures "laundry lists" of sins that prevent humans from the Kingdom of Heaven. I fully admit, though, the way I look at things is likely flawed. It is, however, the way I look at things.

    More than anything else I wrote in between, however, I'll go back to my thanks. Appreciate every word you wrote.
     
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  8. Finrunner

    Finrunner Season Ticket Holder

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    Also, thanks for quoting Martin Luther. You're always welcome to sprinkle in a little Luther if I well up and start a thread on the Religion forum. I was being honest when I told resnor I'm probably more afraid to espouse my views than he is, so chances are, this one will be one of the few. Still... Luther... :up:
     
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  9. resnor

    resnor Derp Sherpa

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    What about what I said about salvation is incorrect? If someone doesn't believe that they are a sinner, then they cannot be saved. It is your sin, and your status as a sinner, that keeps you from being able to enter heaven. Realizing that you are a sinner in no way, shape, or form gets you saved, however. You are only saved when you accept Christ's sacrifice as the cleansing for your sins. It's still Christ that saves, and nothing else. It's not your good works, it's not anything other than Christ. So, I'm a little confuse at someone telling me that I'm basically adding to salvation.

    Good wine in the Bible, contrary to popular belief, is actually freshly sqeezed grape juice. Christ giving people alcohol would be tempting people to sin, and that is something that Christ doesn't do. By the way, there's no way that Christ, if he were here on earth, would drink a beer, or a glass or alcoholic wine with you (my opinion, of course).

    I think people are missing something. I wasn't naming sins that I thought anyone here had, in an attempt to call them out about it. For instance, I work with a girl who's a lesbian...she actual has gotten a civil union so that her and her partner and officially together. I don't preach at her about her lifestyle. I'm actually pretty good friends with her. What I'm trying to say is that I think people took a slightly sarcastic post, basically made to show that being a Christian means that oftentimes you have to take positions that are "offensive", and turned it into something else.
     
  10. Finrunner

    Finrunner Season Ticket Holder

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    Like I said, I think we're going to end up agreeing to disagree here, which is why I capitulated. If He wouldn't, and I've already stated I think He would, but if He wouldn't, it wouldn't bother me in the least. Again, no biggie to me.

    By people, I think you mean me, and if I turned what you wrote or the conversation back-and-forth into something it wasn't, then I'm wrong and I hope you'll forgive me. While, no, I don't think you were personally calling out sins, the conversation worked itself into the personal, and imo, schmoolioot definitely thought the finger was pointed at him, specifically in regard to the "stiff-necked" stuff. If it's all in the name of standing up for your beliefs and those beliefs being offensive, then you're right. I'm wrong, and this thread is a mistake. However, when someone ends up saying he/she feels like someone else is telling them they're going to hell and calling them stiff-necked, and then ends the thread with "I'm done with this post" I think it has crossed over from standing up for your beliefs into the personal, at least from schmoolioot's POV. And then after that, everyone thinks they're right and goes away righteous. That pretty much ended the whole Palin's Church thread, and it seemed like a sorry way for things to end (imo).

    But, yeah, I'm probably wrong. I have no prob with this whole thread being deleted. Just say the word or PM me, and I'll ask that it is.
     
  11. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    To me those "acts" are adding to the cross. They make salvation my act and not Christ's. That is my point. I doubt we will agree but that is my argument.

    Clearly here we are not going to agree. I've done the Greek and the word study myself and I believe, humbly, you are incorrect. Not even close. Drunkeness is rejected but not alcohol use directly. Just as slavery is not rejected and yet Christians have come to understand that slavery can never be "benevolent" so many Christians today recognize acceptable use of alcohol use in the Bible and yet voluntarily reject it today.

    Now as to whether or not Jesus would have a drink today, couldn't guess. The situation is radically different with how alcohol is used, what alternatives exist, etc.

    Didn't think that. My argument is whether or not you believe that someone can be without sin? Your argument suggested to me that you believe that someone can attain, with God's help, to some sense of holiness that is without sin. That concept I reject.

    I am not trying to change your mind. My only hope, if any, is for you to acknowledge that there are other views of how Christianity "works" beyond your view and that some of them may be correct.
     
  12. resnor

    resnor Derp Sherpa

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    I haven't said anything even close to the idea that a Christian can be without sin. It's not possible until we get to heaven, and God gives us our perfect body.

    I can't help that you think that "belief" is adding to the act of salvation. Without belief, you can't be saved. In fact, it takes more than just belief to get saved, as the Bible tells us that the demons believe in Christ, yet they aren't saved. You must come to the conclusion that you are a sinner. Until you come to that conclusion, you cannot be saved. Even still, it's not anything that a person does that saves them. It is still the blood of Christ that saves us. However, because humans have free will, we have to either accept or reject God's plan of salvation...but, that isn't adding to salvation.

    Slavery in the Bible was indentured servitude, not the slavery that we had earlier in this country.
     
  13. vt_dolfan

    vt_dolfan Season Ticket Holder Club Member

    So....by that definition you use....

    All Catholics have no chance in going to heaven...correct? I believe..and I may be wrong...that Catholics believe you can get to heaven by taking part in communion, and taking the body and blood of Christ.

    "Sola Scriptura:" The Bible is the sole authority for Christian beliefs and practices. The Catholic Church stresses a balance between Biblical support and the tradition of the Church itself.

    "Sola Gratia:" One is saved through grace alone, given to the believer by God directly. The Catholic Church stresses the importance of church sacraments as a channel for God's grace.

    "Sola Fide:" Salvation is by the individual's faith alone in trusting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Again, the Catholic Church stresses the importance of church sacraments.


    Now...when I would question my good friend, who is studying to be a Baptist Pastor...he did hesitate to get in a whos right and a whos wrong....but to me...if the core issue is salvation...then according to his beliefs...and conservative Protestanism..all Catholics are going to hell...and the that point he had to conceed,

    And THAT is the single biggest problem I have with Evangelical Christian religions...
     
  14. Finrunner

    Finrunner Season Ticket Holder

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    Ohiophinphan (it feels weird now "speaking with handles in a conversation like this - my name is Rich, btw),

    We've kind of moved from the point of the post here, but this one gets a little deep, and I don't totally understand it myself. I think it's sort of the monergism/synergism debate, which several denominations are split over, I'm pretty sure. I have my own questions on this one, because it seems a difficult one to understand, especially if you're more of a layman, so to speak, which I am, than a devout student of the Word - to which I mean, studied the Bible in its original languages like I'm pretty sure you do and have done.

    I think your last line, regarding acknowledging other views of Christianity that may be correct, is probably a key one for all of us (I don't necessarily mean we three - I mean all Christians). But moving on...

    Would I be correct (in your view, I guess I should say - but more it's probably my view I'm stating here) in stating simply that its GRACE (through the Cross) that saves - nothing else - however the vehicle used to bestow that GRACE is faith? In a sentence, I'd say that's how I understand it (and I don't think I'm alone in my understanding as this sentence is probably plagiarized from many similar I've read over the years), but I'm certainly willing to hear alternative views if yours is such.

    It's a difficult subject and probably one that will take more explanation than an answer on a forum would allow - but I think it's hard for anyone to hear/read:

    What must I do to be saved?

    Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.


    (my paraphrasing of verses in Acts - sorry, these are off the top of my head and may not be quoted directly but I think it's the discussion with the Roman jailer)

    and then feel like the belief part isn't a part of the saving process, if you get my meaning. Same with John 3:16, "...for everyone who believes in Him shall not perish..."

    From Paul's letters (mostly), the act of Salvation, to me, seems totally God's act, but it doesn't seem like men/women are free from responsibility here.

    Hope this makes sense as a question.
     
  15. DrAstroZoom

    DrAstroZoom Canary in a Coal Mine Luxury Box

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    At the risk of oversimplifying, let me use an old standby metaphor: salvation is the gift. Belief is accepting the gift. You can't enjoy a gift unless and until you accept it.
     
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  16. Finrunner

    Finrunner Season Ticket Holder

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    vt - I'm not great with answers like these, but here's what I'd suggest, and you're probably going to think it sounds curt, and I don't mean it that way.

    Instead of looking to the religions or denominations for the right answers, look to Jesus, Himself. Look at what Jesus said and what He did. It (Scripture) is all about Him. Because here's the deal (from my POV), either the Resurrection happened or it didn't. If you ever come to the point where you think it did, then it validates everything Jesus said and did, which includes being the Creator of the Universe and Creator of you and me. If it didn't happen, then we're all off the hook and should be seeking something else. And to me, Salvation isn't the core issue. Jesus is.

    This is what all the denominations are seeking, and I dunno, maybe one has their theology all correct, but I doubt it. Sometimes, they help and when you're where you are (where we all are, really), other people (from denominations, generally) are going to play a part in our learning. However, the only ONE that truly knows everything would be God. That's Who to seek.
     
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  17. dolphindebby

    dolphindebby Season Ticket Holder Luxury Box

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    I'm with you Doc. My salvation is a gift. And since receiving that gift, I must do the very best I can with it. I study Gods word. I love going to church and learning. I love to fellowship with other Christians, it keeps me stronger.
    I fail the Lord every day, but yet, He still loves me and forgives me. That's what I hang onto in the darkest of times. He may not always answer my prayers, but he'll see me through my problems.
    I just love Him, I don't know how else to put it.

    You guys posts have been wonderful to read. Thanks to all of you.
     
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  18. Finrunner

    Finrunner Season Ticket Holder

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    Debby,

    Love what you wrote, especially the highlighted. I think in one paragraph and really one sentence, you probably said more than the entirety of this thread.

    Thanks.
     
  19. dolphindebby

    dolphindebby Season Ticket Holder Luxury Box

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    And thank you.
    To me, He's wonderful, loving, caring, forgiving, beautiful, my friend. There's really no mere words to describe Him.
    If I had nothing else here on this earth, I'd still have my Jesus.
     
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  20. resnor

    resnor Derp Sherpa

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    VT...

    According to the Bible (and this is where I get accused of being offensive, and unloving)yes, any Catholic, Protestant, Baptist, Methodist, Calvinist, Lutheran, whoever, that thinks that following church theology/good works/anything other than believing on Christ's death to get you to heaven, has no chance of going to heaven. Specifically, since you asked me about Catholics, I do believe that most Catholics are not going to heaven. They depend on living a good life to go to heaven. They depend on being baptized as a child (not even Biblical baptism at that) and last rites. They believe in Purgatory, and praying people out of that and into heaven. Ask just about any Catholic if they KNOW that they are going to heaven, and they will tell you that no one can know that...but, they hope that they will because of how they live. That, however, goes in direct contrast to Holy Scripture, that tells us that we can know that we are going to heaven.

    I'm sorry, but the Bible is clear. I don't like to get into discussing religions. I think that religion is the devil's way of clouding everything. If everyone simply took the Bible, and followed what it said, we would all be in the same religion. It doesn't matter what religion you're in, as long as you're following what the Bible says. However, in most cases, the religion that someone is in dictates which parts of the Bible the believe and accept.
     
  21. vt_dolfan

    vt_dolfan Season Ticket Holder Club Member

    Res...

    In no way do I think your being offensive, or un loving....I wont even say you are wrong. But what I will say, is there is no way I can believe that....I just cant. If that means Im going to Hell...well...what can I say. In my heart...I know that cannot be the way to Jesus or God...for me...and my family.
     
  22. Finrunner

    Finrunner Season Ticket Holder

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    resnor, with respect, I'm not accusing you of being unloving. Offensive? I don't know, but I believe you have a genuine belief system that guides you, and, to me, it certainly falls in the realm of Christendom.

    However...

    Do you really want to presume this much? You're stating here, pretty definitively, that you know what most Catholics believe - that they depend on living a good life to go to heaven (which I'd bet a dollar to a doughnut that your presupposition is not true) - and then saying based on what you believe they believe, they're not going to heaven. Here, you don't really even know what they believe, yet you've stereotyped most of the lot of them to some place other than heaven, which we all know what that is. Do you not see how that might be offensive? It's only not offensive if all your presuppositions are totally - or at least majorly - true. And I mean that in a totally different way than "the Gospel is offensive or scandalous" way. I guess you're pretty confident that you're correct.

    What about this - because I think this is more than merely hypothetical? What if a Catholic or Baptist or Lutheran or Methodist or Anglican or Pentecostal (etc.) held to what you're saying. They believe they're a sinner in need of Christ, and they repent and believe on Christ's death and resurrection for salvation. But then, along with that, they've got some theology you don't think fits with what the Bible says. Let's say they believe all that, but they also pray to saints or believe in Purgatory or believe there's a second work of grace, i.e. a Baptism of the Holy Spirit after an initial indwelling or they go back and forth with some works-related issues being involved in salvation or they sin boldly from time to time or, for goodness sakes, what if they stop believing for a time but then start belieiving again. What then? How are you dividing the wheat from the chaff then so as to make a statement like most of the "XYZ Denomination" is not going to heaven? Because people in different Christian denominations - the Church - believe a lot of different things. Only God has the definitive say. So why do we need to be so bold as to make declarative statements on who's going to heaven or hell, here, when if only God knows (hearts other than our own), we are being offensive? Every individual that the Father has given to Christ Jesus, He won't lose a single one, be they Catholic, Protestant, non-denominational, etc. Of that, I do believe the Bible's quite clear.

    Not sure if you've read C.S. Lewis' Narnia chronicles, but if you have and remember, at the end of The Last Battle (the final book of the series) where the new heaven and new earth are being created, just outside, there's a battle raging. And then, suddenly, the Pevensies and other Narnia children sort of make it from that battle into the new creation. When they get there they see a lot of their friends in heaven with Aslan (the Jesus figure) and some notable people missing as well (like their sister, Susan, who was once one of the four kings and queens), but then, they also see some of the very people who they were fighting against - people who were serving Tash, frolicking in the new heaven with them. They notice that for a second, and then they don't really care anymore. Similarly, I think we might be pretty surprised for a moment or two just who all "get into Heaven", but then that'll pass because, and I'm beating a dead horse here (but it's a horse that can be forever beaten, imo), it's all about Jesus.

    Anyway, take it for what it's worth... if anything.
     
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  23. The Rev

    The Rev Totus Tuus Administrator Luxury Box Club Member


    I'm sorry brother, but I SO disagree with what you are saying. As a Catholic I am being misrepresented and I am a bit insulted, too. First of all, instead of looking at my splinter called Catholicism, we might need to address that log in your eye called arrogance.

    While you may have the Bible, I can claim tradition but we won't even go there, we'll look at it your way and I'll try to do as much with love as possible.
    You claim that all I have to do is believe in Christ's death and you win. I disagree. Look at what James tells us about faith. it is dead without works. Look at what Jesus says in Matthew about discipleship. There is so much more that needs to be done besides belief. If you want to follow the Bible, I have no problem with that. But to make a blanket statement about my denomination and base it on the Bible is wrong.

    You don't know me, my family, my church or my group.
    I rarely (if ever) go off. But this kind of talk is what leads to divisiveness in churches. What we should be trying to do is build up the body of Christ instead of trying to find out what's wrong with each other. I will pray for you, please pray for me.
     
  24. dolphindebby

    dolphindebby Season Ticket Holder Luxury Box

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    I'm Baptist Rev and our beliefs are so similar. Sometimes I think people just want to divide us, for their own reasons (Not talking about posters here).
    My wonderful mother taught me that whatever church some one attends isn't what makes that person. It's what we do with our faith and love for the Lord that's important.
    I would love to just sit with you and Ohio and talk for days. It would be so full-filling.
    In all our posts, we always come back to the basics--We love Jesus--and to me, that's all that matters. Because, if you love Him enough, you'll want to do good works etc. just to please and honor Him.
     
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  25. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    I go to a conference for a day and half and look what happens. :lol: At the risk of trying to edit "War and Peace" let me try and answer a bunch of stuff in one long, hopefully readable answer.






    I see your blue comments and your red one as contradictory. Appearantly you do not. I don't see how they can't be!

    Regarding your green comment, I must disagree there also. While some slavery is indentured, much was just as onerous as what we saw in the American south. The greek word "doulos" can be translated servant or slave. That is true. Other levels of servitude existed however.

    The classic three Sola's!!!! I am impressed. You have done your study well! btw, while Luther is quoted as having forcibly espoused them, his writings suggest they were more slogans than actual lines in the sand. He understood his work to be in line with the best of the historic faith.


    I think the lines I bolded are pretty good. Well said. The on and in that I colored are in Greek both "eis" literally into and not just in or on. To believe into Jesus was to make HIM an integral part of your life. To be Baptized INTO Jesus, becoming one with the cross and resurection. I think we are agreeing with each other, right?

    I would say, coming to know the gift is yours. I must admit, I get a bit persnickety in this area about language. I want to avoid any suggestion that we have to do something to add to the cross of Christ. Any kind of acceptance language gives me pause. That said, I think I know where you are at and would, with my codicil addended, agree.

    OK, but what does that get you? The only authoratative way to know Jesus is rooted in scripture and even a cursory reading of the Bible leads one to community and away from any lone rangerism. Community comes to be a belief system and thus you have theology, denominations, etc. Now I am the first to admit, that the divisions in the Body of Christ are a scandal and ultimately sin itself, yet I am at a loss to know how to do without them. They are a byproduct of the Biblical call to community.

    Thanl you, Debby. Maybe I haven't said it enough or plainly enough, I love Jesus. I talk with him daily, even hourly. I work hard at hearing his voice and have spent a lifetime trying to discern what he wants me to do in every situation. He is my life and my salvation. Thank you for rooting us in that.

    I do not doubt you are loving. You believe you have a vital answer and you want everyone on the same page. That is loving almost by defition. That said I also think you are arrogant and sometimes just wrong in your logic. I have studied the Bible for decades and much of it is anything but clear. It also speaks to me knew each time I read it, thus its clarity often seems to change though I must acknowledge what is changing is my ability to understand and appreciate it.


    Thanks, Raul, I feel much the same way. Being told bluntly that I am not a Christian (I don't fit your perfect categories, Resnor) makes me a bit more agressive than usual as well. I got used to crossing swords with Pagan (we even grew to respect each other, I think) but to be attacked by someone from the Christian side is a bit harder.

    The folks here in this thread and indeed on this site have been and remain in my prayers.
     
  26. vt_dolfan

    vt_dolfan Season Ticket Holder Club Member

    At this risk of sounding silly....is it ok to call you Kieth? Or is it more appropriate to use Pastor Keith...and I ask this more out of ignorance than anything else.

    I do think it is important to become part of a congregation...I think its supportive and nurturing for both myself, and my family, and feel that this is something sorely missing in families today. The Church, what ever church belong to, is a place to go for celebration, support, guidance, healing, and learning. Im not saying the Church is the only place to get this..but rarely does one find them all under one roof.

    As I stated before...its figuring out where my heart lies..is most difficult. I struggle with my belief in God, and Jesus as it is written in the Bible. I wonder why it is not so clear to me...as it is so clearly obvious with many of you. You all use the word love so freely, and genuinely, I honestly feel a bit jealous. Not becuase I dont love, I think its quite obvious that I do...but you arent torn or conflicted in your beliefs.

    I would ask my friend...why did the people of Jesus's time get to witness his miracles...according to the Bible..and in such great numbers. Maybe I am naive...but actually seeing or touching Jesus, or anything Super Naturally connected with him or God, would ease my soul terrificly.

    I really would like to pick a Church to go to....and have thought very hard about attending a Lutheran Church here in Vermont...from what I have read...they seem to be less conservative in their beliefs....and probably align with my beliefs more so.

    I also thought strongly about attending the Unitarian Church because of their religious tolerance....and ability to accept all faiths.

    It is wonderful discussing all of this with you all....you cant even imagine how this is helping me.

    Thanks,

    Bryan
     
  27. resnor

    resnor Derp Sherpa

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    Ok...

    Let's review. To be saved, according to the Bible, you must accept Christ's death on the cross as your payment for your sins. The Bible teaches that it is not merely belief in Christ, however, as it talks about the demons believing in Christ, but we know that they will end up in the lake of fire. We also know that the Bible says that at the end, there will be many who say "Lord, Lord," and will point to their good works as to why they should be in heaven, and Christ will say, "Depart from me, I never knew you." Is everyone with me so far?

    As far as my characterization of Catholics go...my mother, and grandmother, were raised Catholic. My pastor is a former Catholic...he was Catholic until he came to the realization that he had to repent of his sins, and accept Christ's death as the only way to heaven. When I say "most Catholics," I suppose I should say "Catholics that I have met/talked with." While it is true, I am saying that it takes an action on the part of an individual to be saved, i.e., he must ACCEPT Christ's death as the atonement for his sins, it is not his action that saves, it is Christ's blood. Does that make sense? It's like getting a gift. The act of accepting the gift does not equal the gift. God has given man the gift of salvation...if we will accept it. If man didn't have the option of accepting or rejecting salvation, man would not have free will...which the Bible teaches that we do have.

    Of course, now I get called "arrogant," simply because I say what the Bible teaches? I'm sorry...even if I were being arrogant, it wouldn't make a practicing Catholic right...at least not any of the Catholics I've met. Catholics, correct me if I'm wrong, believe that to get to heaven you must live a good life. Correct or incorrect? Do Catholics pray to Mary, or do they pray to Jesus? The Bible says that HE is the only "mediator between God and man." Do I think that it is possible that there are Catholics that are truly born again? Yes, yes I do. However, I believe that most practicing Catholics are not. Why? Well, quite simply, I have never met a Catholic who told me that I could know that I was going to heaven. A truly saved person knows this. Also, please, show me in the Bible where it claims that man's traditions hold more water than Holy Scripture...isn't that what one of the biggest problems with the Pharisees was?

    As to faith without works being dead...how does that relate to salvation again? Our works are how we can examine our lives, and others, and see whether or not or works are showing our new life. If someone claims they are born again, yet their works show a different story, then they should really search they heart, and see if indeed they did accept Christ as their Saviour.

    If you read the book of Acts, that chronicles the early church, you see a pattern. An apostle would preach, and people would accept Christ as their Saviour, and then they would be baptised by immersion, signifying their decision to follow Christ, and also signifying their joining of the local church. What was it that Philip told the Ethiopinan eunuch? "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. I will end with Romans 10:9-11:

    9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
    10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

    I think that it's pretty clear how one is saved.
     
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  28. vt_dolfan

    vt_dolfan Season Ticket Holder Club Member

    Res....

    Thank you for your words...obviously you are very strong in your beliefs...and you just dont say that...you obviously have the knowledge and have spent the time to gain such.

    Which is why....for those like me....this whole idea is so very complex...and vexing at the same time.
     
  29. vt_dolfan

    vt_dolfan Season Ticket Holder Club Member

    Also....as a very objective observer....

    I dont think what anything you said you meant to be callus. You merely called it as you "saw it".

    Heaven and salvation are very powerful things to think about...very powerful.
     
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  30. resnor

    resnor Derp Sherpa

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    Thank you, VT. I don't mean to be mean, or arrogant, or anything else. I just believe that when it comes down to where someone will spend eternity, it's better to be honest, than to beat around the bush. I'd rather put my faith in what I see in the Bible, than in what some religion, with man made tradition (not a shot at Catholics, as pretty much every organized religion has tradition) tells me.
     
  31. vt_dolfan

    vt_dolfan Season Ticket Holder Club Member

    But..if I may ask..again..purely based on ignorance...

    What proof exhists that the Bible is actually the word of God? It was written by man...and stories were recounted by men....

    For example.....it is taken for Gospel that Jesus performed miracles....and that Jesus died on the cross for our sins....because prophets were witness to him after he rose from the dead....but still again....these are accounts from other people....and they are believed fervently by Christians....

    Now....many..MANY very honest...trustworthy people as it would appear...have written about seeing UFO's....and in some cases infront of masses of people....and then they write about it....and arent believed.


    Do you see what I am getting at?
     
  32. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    Keith is fine, some choose to use the descriptive Pastor Keith but either is fine. Thank you for asking.

    I am not sure how to tell anyone to experiance love. Clearly you are capable of the emotion.

    Indeed love in the New Testament has a number of different meanings. The most important is "agape" which is the sacrificial love of God. A love which would not spare even his own son. As I consider this and my, indeed all of our feeble attempts to model that, I am struck by the degree God loves us, loves me. I suppose that's where I start. Worship is first about saying thank you for all that.

    I hope you give a Lutheran Church locally a try. Unitarians do not believe in the divinity of Jesus, so while I respect them, we would differ.

    If you are waiting for imperical data, I'm sorry, it will not come. Even witnessing the miracles did not bring everyone into relationship.

    It is popular today to deny Jesus even existed or that the Church was founded on lies, or that the Bible is part of some ancient conspiracy. I suppose all could be true. Yet, the God I read about in that Bible lives in my personal experiance. I may be delusional but I will take that risk.

    I think I understand your angst. Are my answers clear?
     
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  33. vt_dolfan

    vt_dolfan Season Ticket Holder Club Member

    Your answers are very clear...and are very meaningful.

    Its not really Angst....but for some reason...the only thing that really gets me...is a religious conviction that "it clearly states in the Bible....do this....or this happen"

    I mean...I look at it from what I think is logical...( I freely admit alot wont think it is)...but if you take the Bible at its word....God created Adam and Eve, they were his Children....again...Im looking at this from a Father's point of view....and he banished them from paradise because they did something he forbade them to do? Now...would a Father do that to his children? And...since we are all descended from Adam and Eve, we are all...also Gods children....and if we do not accept his word, or follow that of Jesus as it is written in the Bible...we will all go to hell....but as a Father....I would never cast my Children into Hell because they didnt believe my word was the only word. No more than I would cast your Children...or any Children into suffering because they refused to worship me. I guess I would great them at the Door afterwords, and welcome them all...

    That seems like what a loving God would do...
     
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  34. Ohiophinphan

    Ohiophinphan Chaplain Staff Member Luxury Box

    I am leading two services today and then we are hosting a stop on the community's "Tour of Homes". It will likely not be until much later today or tommorrow that I get to answer your last questions but I do think I have something of value for you. I ask you to hold on and I'll be back!
     
  35. resnor

    resnor Derp Sherpa

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    God is love. However, God is not only love. God is a jealous God. God is a God of judgement. God is a God that is to be feared. God is also your friend. God is multi-faceted, yet, too many times, we as humans want to pigeon-hole him as simply a God of love, and we want to assign to God the actions that we as humans would exhibit. God's ways, however, are not man's ways, as the Bible says.

    Finally, God is holy and sinless. God could not be God if had sin. It is this characteristic of God that requires that humans be sinless in order to gain entrance to heaven. It is because of this requirement that God sent Jesus to die on the cross, so that we could have the chance to accept his gift as the way to absolve us of our sins. In the Garden of Eden, God communed with man in a way that we have not seen since. Once Adam and Eve sinned, they erected a wall, so to speak, between them and God...a wall that has been passed down as our sin nature to every human being since. God is just, and a just God cannot, and will not, allow sin in heaven. It is not that God sends us to hell. It is that we send ourselves to hell by not accepting God's way out of hell.
     
  36. vt_dolfan

    vt_dolfan Season Ticket Holder Club Member

    Res...

    I have heard all of that....honestly....but again....where I lose this...is that everything you said...is based on Bible scripture...and solely Bible scripture...so if you don't believe that the Bible is the sole authority....then this causes pause for me to completely accept as the one and only truth.

    Are their sources OTHER than the Bible that back this scenario up? Again...not asking as an argument...but because I dont know...but want to know.
     
  37. vt_dolfan

    vt_dolfan Season Ticket Holder Club Member

    Isn't Jealousy a Sin?
     
  38. padre31

    padre31 Premium Member Luxury Box

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    That notion is incorrect Resnor, here is why, there was no such thing as "non alcoholic grape juice" until the 1870's and pasteurization was applied to grape juice, raw grape juice, as soon as it is pressed, starts turning into low grade alcohol, the longer it sits, the higher the content.

    When Jeremiah offered the Racchabites wine, they refused, they refused to eat even raisins, the reason being they have an alcohol content.

    (Jer 35)

    And the Nazarite vow also precluded those things for the same reason.


    Which brings up an interesting question, is it only that Generation that he was talking to, was that a blanket statement, or a timely one?


    True, Magic Candy Mountain people do not like to hear that....now I will say, when the Lord said "I will bless whom I bless..." it is my biblical view, that there are "Naiman's" in other faiths, meaning the Lord may have revealed Himself to them in order to save them.


    My view is that people will believe what they will, without a insight from God into their hearts, it really won't matter what we say, all that can be done is to do as Christ commanded, Love your enemies and bless those that curse you.

    My view of the Jewish/Evangelical dynamic is we both could learn from each other, IMO, Rabbinical Scholarship (Orthodox and Ultra Orthodox) is a treasure trove of insights into the Four Gospels, there are layers upon layers where Chris interacts with Jewish Authorities and just plain folks that reveals volumes of those practices.

    And IMO, perhaps Evangelicals can offer a sort of clear eyed enthusiasm with works to the Jewish Community.

    In my experience Jews can be Cynics Cynics....:lol::lol:
     
  39. resnor

    resnor Derp Sherpa

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    Jealousy is not always a sin, no, at least it is not for God.

    As to the only source being the Bible...uh, you're dealing with religions that are based on the Bible. I don't follow what a man says, I follow what the Bible says. If you don't want to follow the Bible, you wouldn't call yourself a Christian. You could be a Muslim, or perhaps a Mormon...
     
  40. resnor

    resnor Derp Sherpa

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    Incorrect, Padre. That is a common misconception. If you leave unpasturized grape juice out, it does not become alcohol. Fermentation of it requires certain things. I suggest you read the book I mentioned.
     

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