Carried By Christ

O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether. Psalm 139:1-4

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Romans Road, Grace, and Religion

The Comment:
That still doesn't make any sense to me. If he took the sins of all mankind, that's really irrelevant to each individual. I am my own person. I am not you, or anyone who came before me, nor somehow tainted by merely being born. You are always espousing the characteristics of "individual responsibility", yet are completely socialist when it comes to original sin. Why can there not be a human being born, and live a life without sin, without Christ, and still be "with" God in the after life?

You ever stop to consider that your god has all the characteristics of a human being? Chief among them is ego. God demands his worship. I've seen you say things along the lines that we are even required to "worship" him.

It goes even further than that. All Abrahamic religions have one god, which is a fairly novel idea in the history of humanity, which much preferred many gods. Your particular brand of it excludes everyone else who worships Yahweh, but not Yahweh on earth, i.e., Christ. Even though you and, say, Jewish people or Muslims, worthip the same exact God, you insist that they are to be "seperated" from God because they reject the "salvation" of Christ.

Doesn't ever seem odd to you that you are completely convinced that all of those other people are going to burn in a "lake of fire", or whatever metaphorical language you want to use for "seperation".. even though you all worship the exact same god?

How do you explain that?

I'm sure you know from simple demographic studies that people who identify themselves as Christian are less than the majority of people in the world. I'd have to look up the actual percentage, but I know it's less than 50%. Would you agree with that? If so, then you'd also agree that more than half the people that die every day are going to spend an eternity "seperated" from God.

I've asked you that question in many ways, many times. You always delete the comment. I'd simply like to know how you feel about that? What is your opinion of a god that does that? What is your opinion of Christ, that allows that? Why is that such a difficult question to answer? I'm truly curious about that one.

When you consider the requirement that all must belong to one particular brand of religion, or burn for all eternity, doesn't that strike you as a man-made construct? If you wanted control.. real control.. over people's lives.. their property.. their money.. everything that they are about, would not the cleverest way to do that be giving them the answer to the ultimate question? Wouldn't it be a great idea to scare them into your church?

Doesn't religion (and God as well), seem totally human?

The Response by me:

I agree, none of us are alike. We all have individual concerns. One thing we all do have in common is sin. Romans 3:10 "There is none righteous, no, not one." There is no perfect human. The only person ever to walk the Earth to never sin is Jesus Christ. Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

Since none of us are perfect, none of us have the ability to "earn" our way to Heaven. Our very sin is a death sentence. Adam and Eve were created to be immortal, but because true love comes with choice, God gave us Free Will. Adam and Eve, as with all of us, chose to sin (be disobedient to God). Romans 5:12 "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned."

God, being a "just" God, requires a payment to be paid for that sin. The payment is a blood sacrifice. Israel offered animal sacrifices for cleansing, for without forgiveness and repentence, a relationship with God is impossible, and the spirit dies - unable to commune with God. We are then, because of sin, to suffer two deaths: a physical death, and a spiritual death. However, Jesus was the ultimate blood sacrifice, and to accept His gift He gave by dying on the cross for all of our sins breaths life into our spirit because His shed blood blankets our sins, so that when God looks upon us He does not see sin, but instead Jesus' sacrifice. Our spirits are enlivened, hence the term 'Born Again Christian.'

Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." God loves all of us, including you, and yearns for a relationship with us, but because of our sinful nature, He is unable to look upon us unless we repent and accept the Blood of Jesus as our salvation. This is why He sent Jesus - otherwise, we would be unable to have that relationship with Him. Romans 5:8 "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

The gift is a simple one. We must simply accept His gift. Acceptance comes with all of it, meaning we must repent (turn away) from our sins. This is not to say we will be perfect. As fleshy beings we will still screw up, but with Christ within us we will call upon Him for guidance, and hopefully live Godly lives. Romans 10:13 "For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." It is a two part process of salvation. We must accept it in our heart, and then say so with our mouth. For Christians like myself, Baptism is a part of that proclamation. Romans 10:9-10 "That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes untio righteousness, and with the mouth confession is make unto salvation."

Remember, however, Christians believe it is a gift. We cannot earn our salvation by living good lives. Ephesians 2:8 "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast." In other words, you can't earn your way into Heaven, so God gave us the opportunity to gain access to Him through faith. This is not to say that our actions are not important. We can't say that since we are saved we can do whatever. The grace of God is our salvation, faith is the channel, not the cause. God alone saves. Salvation never originates in the efforts of people.

James 2:26 "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." Meaning that if the conversion was true, the works of the person will be more Godly. It takes time, as new Christians we stumble a lot, but yearning to please God leads us in a direction of better works. If our works do not follow our conversion, then the conversion may very well have not been real, making the faith dead.

There is no "requirement" of religion. One must remember that religion was created by man, but faith in Christ is God-made. There are a lot of religious people that go through the motions, but unless they have it straight with God, all of that "religion" means nothing. Therefore, I do not believe people must belong to one brand of religion to be saved - all they have to do is accept the gift of the cross.

As for your statement about God having human attributes, we are, after all, made in His image (spritual image). But His attributes are a little different. For example, when God is jealous it is not a petty jealousy like we experience, but a longing to be our only God, so He does not want us worshipping false gods, be they idols, money, or whatever. In other words, He should be the most important thing in our lives. There is nothing wrong with being rich, for example, but if the money becomes so important that God does not remain the most important thing in our life, we have replaced Him with money (hence the "easier to thread a camel through an eye of a needle than a rich man to get into heaven" verse you are so fond of).

God desires us to worship Him (does not demand it, remember, we have the choice to reject Him - with consequence) and He created us for that reason. Jews worship the same God, but the church leadership and most Jews rejected Christ as their messiah. The Old Testament is written with over 700 references to the coming messiah, and they decided Jesus was not it. But remember, the first Christians were Jews, and then they were told to spread the message to the gentiles (non-Jews) as well.

My love for Israel is that I love God, and He loves His chosen people, despite their disobedience. Therefore, because of my love for Him, I share His love for Israel.

I have a number of Jewish friends who I talk about Christ to often. They understand my perspective, I tell them about Jesus because I love them and am concerned about their souls. They know I believe their rejection of Christ will land them into eternal damnation. One of those friends jokes with me, says when "Mr. J" comes he'll ask Him, "Is this your first time here, or your second? If He says second, I have some apologizing to do." We laugh at that, but he and I have talked about my Christianity and my tendency to sometimes witness to him, and he says he's glad I do, because he figures if I didn't like him, I wouldn't bother.

As for Muslims, they do not believe in the same God. If you take all of the descriptions of Allah from the Quran and compare them to biblical text, the individual they worship according to biblical text is Lucifer (aka Satan). It is a deep and complex study, so I won't go into detail here, but there are a number of good reads regarding this, one is "God's War on Terror: Islam, Prophecy, and the Bible" by Walid Shoebat (a former devout Muslim, and former terrorist, turned Christian).

It is unfortunate that most people die without Christ. The Great Commission is to share the good news with as many people as possible. Unlike Islam, the act of sharing the Gospel is not to build some big army to control the world, and create a theocratic government - it is simply to save as many people as possible because we wish none to perish without Him. My love for my fellow humans demands no less.

My opinion of God's consequences for those that reject Him is simply that He is a just God, and if there is to be a choice (because of free will), making the wrong choice must carry consequences. True Christianity is not about control, as you suggest. This is not to say that there are people who use religion for that reason. Be it Islam, the Morman Church, Cults like Jim Jones, or Catholicism, whenever men create an organization of centralized power, even in the construct of a religion, power and evil is sure to follow. In other words, big government attitudes within the church is just as dangerous as when such an ideology is used in politics. Therefore, as I stated before, I am not religious. Religion is man-made. I do attend a non-denominational church that is not a part of any conference, religion, or organization. It is an independent church. It does have a loose relationship with the Calvary Chapels, but even those churches are independent. They are connected sort of like the Tea Party groups are - with very little organization, and joined simply by shared beliefs. I believe that God looks down from Heaven and is disappointed in our tendency to make religion. Religion, I agree, is totally human, and can be evil.