Search

The Bible Blotter

Turning the Bible Into Behavior

Tag

Salvation

Things Christians Just SHOULD NOT DO!

Christians do a great job of judging the state of other people’s souls. We’re mind readers, really. We know the condition of your life just by looking at the things you do. If we like the things you do, you’re obviously heaven-bound. If you do things we don’t approve of…well, you’re headed the other way. Some of things that reveal the state of your salvation? Well:stop-1077973_1920

  • you like beer? You’re not really saved.
  • you like R-rated movies? You’re not really saved.
  • you struggle with addiction? You’re not really saved.
  • you have tattoos? You’re not really saved.
  • you got pregnant out of wedlock? You’re not really saved.
  • you got divorced? You’re not really saved.
  • you voted Democrat? You’re not really saved.
  • you don’t read the King James Bible? You’re not really saved.
  • you smoke cigarettes? You’re not really saved.

The list of taboo things can go on and on. But in reality, most of the list really comes down to this:

You disagree with how I interpret the Bible and live a Christian life? You’re not really saved.

And that’s a shame. The Bible is actually not as black-and-white about all of these side issues as Christians are. Salvation really comes down to faith in Jesus. Can you smoke weed and have a saving faith in Jesus? Can you vote a certain political party and have a saving faith in Jesus?

I think so.

In the end the “You’re not really saved” lists that we all have come down to us – what we dislike or disapprove of. Don’t get me wrong – the Bible does talk about sin and Christian behavior. But we seem to add a lot of things to the lists. Look at the Mark 7:

Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,

“‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’

You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”

And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)— then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”

That’s pretty powerful. Jesus tells these upstanding religious elite that they’re holding on to human traditions and letting go of God’s commandments. Won’t we be surprised when we reach eternity and find people who didn’t live the way we wanted them to live?

Might we have some good ideas about how to life a righteous life? Sure. You might have your own list of things that you feel you need to do to stay in right standing before God. There is nothing wrong with that. The Holy Spirit works in each of us at different times, convicting us of some things and freeing us to do other things. But our personal conviction, even if it’s from God, doesn’t mean that it’s supposed to be imposed on EVERYONE. Even within Christianity, there is a lot of room for Christian freedom.

Don’t get me wrong – some things are downright forbidden. Adultery is always wrong in God’s eyes. Murder is always wrong. Idolatry is always wrong. The Bible does relay to us concrete do’s and do not’s. But if it’s not specifically spelled out in the Bible, God gives us a lot of latitude to work within our consciences. It doesn’t make you less of a Christian. It doesn’t make you a better Christian.

This is actually a call to unity. We are unified as believers, even if we disagree on some of the peripheral issues. How we live out our faith on these other issues shouldn’t cause us to break fellowship with people. Our Christianity is bigger than these issues – we are united in our faith in Christ and it’s time to let go of our pet issues.

If you’ve ever had your salvation doubted because of this or other issues – I’m sorry. Christians mean well (usually) but we have a horrible way of judging anything that doesn’t fit our mold. And if you’ve ever doubted or questioned the salvation of someone else because of some behavior you disapproved of it’s time to repent.

The condition of someone’s salvation is really up to God.

Jesus is Better Than Your Bible

Recently I had a conversation with a Christian friend who made the statement, “When it comes to the core elements of what makes a Christian, it’s a toss up for me between the Bible and Jesus Christ as Savior.” Jesus vs the NTI stopped him fast and said, “Whoa, there! Jesus is far more important than the Bible.”

Before you stone me as a heretic, hear me out.

Between the Ascension and the writing of the first book of the New Testament there is a gap of roughly 20-some years. The New Testament wasn’t even finished for decades after that, then even more time for the book to be compiled into a single volume.

In fact, it wasn’t until the 16th century and the printing press that we had the ability to put the entire Bible in everyone’s hands.

So the question is, “What did the Apostles preach before the Bible was written, completed, and disseminated?”

Easy – they preached Jesus! Jesus is the common denominator among all those who would consider themselves Christians. Jesus is God incarnate. He physically died as a substitution for humanity. He rose again, defeating death once and for all.

Peter once preached that there is no other name than Jesus by which we must be saved. That’s it. If you don’t hold to Jesus, you don’t fall under the title Christian.

Yes, I believe that the Bible is inspired by God. It tells the story of God redeeming humanity. It is God’s Word to us. But people have been getting saved without having a Bible since the beginning of the faith. Let’s not turn the Bible into an idol.

It’s all about Jesus!

——————————————————————–

I welcome all discussion, just keep it civil and polite. If this post resonates with you in any way, please share it on Facebook, Twitter, or email!

Dear Christian, Can You Be More Bigoted Please?

Look up any single word in a dozen dictionaries and you may find a dozen varying definitions. IntoleranceThe other day I saw someone on social media calling Christians bigots.

It made me want to look up the word to see the variations. While you will find definitions that fit the way liberals use the term against Christians, dictionary.com had this:

big-ot [big-uh t]

noun

1. a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion.

In some sense, then, I believe that Christians SHOULD be bigoted.

Yes, we need to be utterly intolerant to a different creed, belief, or opinion. In Acts 4:12 we see the Apostle Peter preaching:

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

Peter is merely reflecting the words of Jesus in John 3:18:

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

There is no room for allowing other creeds to coexist along side of the Christian creed. Jesus is not A way to God.

Jesus is THE way to God.

So yes, call me a bigot. I won’t waver in my belief that the Christian way is right and any other way is wrong.

Where Christians and non-Christians get confused, though, is understanding that we can treat people well in spite of religious differences. I can believe that my way is the only way and still treat people decently. A difference of beliefs does not necessitate anger and animosity towards those who differ.

Liberals tend to see this as a cop out. I’ve been told if Christians really treated people decently we’d allow people to believe what they want to believe (ironically, they are refusing to allow me to believe what I want to believe).

Conservatives tend to see this as a sell-out.Sellout If we hold firm to our beliefs then we will separate from the world around us and shun evil. This is why so many Christians are up in arms about selling wedding supplies to gay couples. This is why Christian doctors are refusing to treat infants of gay couples.

I will be blunt: THIS IS NOT TREATING PEOPLE WELL!

We can disagree theologically and still be decent human beings. So I will do my best to treat people well.

But don’t ask me to cave on my belief about salvation just because you feel excluded. 🙂

_ _ _ _ _ _ _
I welcome all discussion, just keep it civil and polite. If this post resonates with you in any way, please share it on Facebook, Twitter, or email!

Worshipping With Fred Phelps

Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you’ve been around the news today you might have heard that Fred Phelps, the founder of Westboro Baptist Church, has passed away.

Even CNN did a piece on it.

While the media outlets are trying to report the “news” of it, the reaction of individuals is (so far) pretty slanted towards hate. It’s amazing irony. People loathed Phelps for his hate and, now that he’s gone, they are expressing their own hate. I call shenanigans.

Humanity really is broken.

Here’s the thing – hate and loathing is never okay. When we see people fail and do things we know they ought not to do it should break our hearts, not fill us with our own hatred.

Here’s the kicker for people of faith: Was Phelps saved? In an Evangelical Christian sense, saved simply means that, because of faith in Jesus as God-incarnate and his propitiatory work on the cross, we will spend eternity in the presence of God.

Did Phelps have that faith? He said he did. If he did, does God’s grace cover Phelps’ failings? That’s the whole teaching of grace. What we lack and cannot make up on our own, Jesus covers on our behalf.

If Phelps did have that faith that brings salvation then when we reach eternity we’ll be worshipping God alongside of Brother Fred.

So what’s our take-away from all this?

Ultimately God is the judge of our souls. Rather than waste our time judging the condition of other’s souls and stewing in our own hate, let us strive to embody Christ’s character as best we can.

That means even loving those the world believes to be the least-lovable.

You’re Not Really Saved!

salvation

So it started like this: an Anonymous friend of mine in an online group I’m part of made a comment that he was going to go watch a Dexter marathon.

I jokingly said, “You say you’re a Christian but you watch those terrible shows. You must not really be saved.”

Then it hit me. Let’s play a game! Let’s come up with all the ways Christians downplay the salvation of those who don’t fit the mold. Let’s face it ~ we’re masters at belittling the salvation and faith of those who don’t fit our own mold of what it looks like to be a Christian.

I called it: Not Really Saved

Then the game took off like wildfire. Dozens of people jumped in and came up with hundreds of ways we belittle others’ salvation. Here’s but a small sample of some of the things we came up with.

You say you’re a Christian but:

1. you like beer? You’re not really saved.
2. you like R-rated movies? You’re not really saved.
3. you struggle with addiction? You’re not really saved.
4. you have tattoos? You’re not really saved.
5. you got pregnant out of wedlock? You’re not really saved.
6. you got divorced? You’re not really saved.
7. you voted Democrat? You’re not really saved.
8. you don’t have a home church? You’re not really saved.
9. you don’t read the King James Bible? You’re not really saved.
10. you smoke cigarettes? You’re not really saved.
11. you smoke weed? You’re not really saved.
12. you enjoy sex? You’re not really saved.
13. you don’t listen to Christian music? You’re not really saved.
14. you think the earth is more than a couple thousand years old? You’re not really saved.
15. you don’t pray before every meal? You’re not really saved.

The list went on and on. Some were jokes (and quite funny). Some were serious. It was clear to me that many people have been hurt by others who claim to be Christian but, for whatever reason, don’t allow certain behaviors to be part of their theological circles.

Most of the list really comes down to this:

You disagree with how I interpret the Bible and live a Christian life? You’re not really saved.

And that’s a shame. The Bible is actually not as black-and-white about all of these side issues as Christians are. Salvation really comes down to faith in Jesus. Can you smoke weed and have a saving faith in Jesus? Can you vote a certain political party and have a saving faith in Jesus?

I think so.

In the end the “You’re not really saved” lists that we all have come down to us – what we dislike or disapprove of. Don’t get me wrong – the Bible does talk about sin and Christian behavior. But we seem to add a lot of things to the lists.

Won’t we be surprised when we reach eternity and find people who didn’t live the way we wanted them to live?

If you’ve ever had your salvation doubted because of this or other issues – I’m sorry. Christians mean well (usually) but we have a horrible way of judging anything that doesn’t fit our mold.

And if you’ve ever doubted or questioned the salvation of someone else because of some behavior you disapproved of it’s time to repent. The condition of someone’s salvation is really up to God.

Are You Saved Enough?!?

In the beginning

Salvation is a funny word that Christians like to throw around. Sometimes it feels like we use it so much that we’ve lost the sense of what it really means. Put simply, salvation is the idea that this world is not the end but that there is an eternal afterlife. Those who are “saved” spend eternity in the presence of God. Those who are “unsaved” spend eternity outside the presence of God.

In honor of last night’s debate on the question of the origin of the world (creation vs. evolution) here’s a little reminder:

The Bible says in Ephesians 2:8-9

For it is by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

The Apostle Paul also writes in Romans 10:13

For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Did you catch what the Bible lists as the requirements for salvation? It’s faith. Those who call on Jesus as savior are those who are saved.

Did you catch what the Bible DOESN’T list as a requirement for salvation? Your view of how the universe began. Or your view of how the universe will end. Or your view on what church should look like, sound like, feel like, etc.

That means that even evolutionists can go to heaven. GASP! I know this is really gonna tweak some people, but the Bible is clear that salvation is offered to those who believe. There is no benchmark of belief that says, “You start at saved level ALPHA but don’t have access to heaven until you reach saved level FOXTROT.”

If we understand what the Bible is saying then we see that there will be people in heaven who disagree with some of our most dearly held ideologies.

In the big picture, we need to be okay with that. It’s all about Jesus. I happen to believe that the cosmos has a divine foundation – that YAHWEH was the creative force driving the car. If someone else who calls on the name of Jesus says he believes that God started the evolutionary ball rolling, my disagreement with that issue should not prevent me from worshipping alongside him as a fellow disciple of Jesus.

Difficult as it may be, we are called to do better. It’s time to lay down our pet issues for the sake of the kingdom. The only real issue is Jesus Christ. If you’re with him, then you’re with me.

And one day we’ll be worshipping him together for eternity.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Why You’re Going to Hell: Part I

Image courtesy of bandrat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of bandrat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The other day I had an interesting conversation with a young youth pastor. For the record, it was not the youth pastor at my church. He made the statement:

“The sinner’s prayer has sent more people to hell than any one thing in our time.”

If you’re not familiar with the Sinner’s Prayer you can read about it here.

In a nutshell, it’s a prayer that Christians (usually pastors or evangelists) walk non-Christians through on the path to following Christ. Billy Graham’s version went like this:

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. In Your Name, Amen.

What?!? How on earth could such a prayer send people to hell? The youth pastor is a young man, and young men tend to be very fiery in their speech. His point, though, was that repeating a few sentences after a pastor does not save you.

Time out.

What’s all this talk about saving? If you haven’t been in the church your whole life you may be wondering what on earth we’re talking about. Simply put, this life is not the end of existence – it is only temporary. Upon death we leave this life and begin the next. Depending on your spiritual condition you’ll be “saved” and in eternity with God or “lost” and in eternity apart from God.

Now, back to the prayer. The young minister was trying to express the fact that reciting words does not mean that one is saved. It’s not a magical incantation. Many people believe that if they simply say the words then they are guaranteed salvation and eternity in heaven.

But the Bible never says that you have to say magic words to get to heaven. The Bible does say:

– To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12)

– Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)

– For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

The Bible is clear that there is only one way to eternity with God, and that is through faith in Jesus. It’s not about Mohammad. It’s not about Buddha. It’s not about doing or saying the right things (works). It’s about our faith in Jesus. The youth pastor I was talking to was frustrated that too many people say the magic words, think they’re saved, and then stay exactly the same they always were.

Authentic, saving faith goes beyond reciting words – it’s about faith and the condition of our hearts, and that saving faith results in a changed life. Jesus once said:

“If you love me, you will obey what I command.” (John 14:15)

Pastors, evangelists, and churches do a good thing to share the truth about eternity and salvation with people. It is a good thing to bring people to an understanding and a saving faith. Then the Sinner’s Prayer becomes a useful tool for expressing that faith.

If you’ve ever said the “magic words” for fear of going to hell, saying the words won’t save you – you’ll still end up in hell if all you have is mere words.

The prayer itself doesn’t save.  Our faith does.

Stay tuned…in Part II we’ll look at why a loving God will send sinners to hell.

Related Posts:
Why You’re Going to Hell: Part II

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: