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Posts Tagged ‘salvation’

By Mike Edwards

A God whose focus is saving people from the threat of burning forever after death is about fear not a relationship. Fear often leads to hiding stuff; a loving relationship leads to life changes. Adult children don’t respect and devout themselves to their parents’ guidance because they fear them. It may surprise many that the traditional understanding of Hell isn’t in the Bible. The Bible also doesn’t talk a lot either about Heaven as an escape from earth. What is God’s good news?

The Bible says nothing about the traditional understanding of the word Hell.

Humans wouldn’t even create a place to torture their enemies after death. The only place we would get such an irrational idea of a supposedly loving God is from a Book. Gehenna, the Greek word translated as Hell in the New Testament, was the name of a real valley nearby Jerusalem with a history of terrible slaughter.  Gehenna is best translated Gehenna. There is no word in Hebrew or Greek for “hell.” Jesus used Gehenna to illustrate that spiritual death is as tragic as physical death. The Apostle Paul who wrote most of the NT never refers to Hell. Noah, or any prophet in the OT, never warned of Hell as a consequence for behaviors here on earth.

If there is no Hell, was Jesus main message to get the hell away from earth to enter Heaven?

The word “heaven” appears the most in the Gospel of Matthew. The Kingdom of Heaven isn’t talking about going to a place after death. Jesus speaks of bringing heavenly love to earth – “on earth as in heaven.” Jesus said nothing about dropping to your knees to avoid Hell to go to Heaven after death. But, didn’t the Apostle Paul say “the wages of sin is death” (Rm. 6:23)? Paul is speaking of spiritual death because Paul is still alive though sin has put him to death (Rm. 7:11). Romans is Paul’s longest and most theological letter and when Paul mentions Heaven twice, he says nothing about Jesus dying so we can go to Heaven (Rm. 1:18, 10:6).

What does the Bible say God is saving us from?

When Jesus was asked by a religious expert how to have eternal life, He simply said to love God and your neighbor (Lk.10:25-37). Jesus’ focus wasn’t on quantity of life after death but about a life worth living here on earth. Jeremy Myers says it best that the Bible isn’t about escaping Hell but being delivered from consequences of sin: “When Scripture teaches about being saved from sin, it is not referring to escaping hell and going to heaven when we die, but to the deliverance from the devastating and destructive consequences of sin in this life.”

https://redeeminggod.com/confess-jesus-romans-10-9-10/

God has a dream! 

God hurts because we are hurting ourselves and those around us. On this day as we celebrate Martin Luther King’s life and message, God too seeks to convince us of the evil of bigotry. Jesus came to earth to convey God seeks to empower us to constantly shun evil and do good. Seek and experience God’s help in being more the person you know deep down is in your and others’ interest. Consider misbeliefs about God that hinder that pursuit. Share with others such a God when they inquire.

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Growing up in church we were all told the story of Noah and the ark. A way that God saved the one family he found to be righteous in a world of sinners and terrible people. Supposedly things were so bad that God wondered why he created mankind and came up with a plan to destroy all his creation other than Noah and his family.

 

I accepted this story without question for many years. Yet when I actually sat and thought about the whole story I had questions and doubts, wondering if it was really a true and if so, why God would choose to do this terrible thing.

 

I have come to find that many stories in the bible are just that, stories. I relate many of the old testament stories to the parables of Jesus in the new testament. Nothing wrong with stories, and just because they are stories in no way negates the truth and importance of the meaning behind the story. Stories and parables are used to make real life truths easier to understand.

 

NoahsArkisJesus

I have come to see the story of Noah and the ark as a shadow of things to come. It was a parable about Jesus coming to save the world and restore fellowship with the Creator.

 

When we read in the bible that God is love, it is hard to make sense out of a story that the God of love would destroy people that he loves. We also know that our works are not what brings us into fellowship with the Father and whether we produce good works or bad works, our Father still loves us. So, to say God destroyed the earth because of evil works goes against the whole principle of salvation through grace.

 

Many people will point to the story of the flood and use it to discredit God or to say there is no God at all. Others will say the story is in the bible and the bible is inerrant, so it happened just the way it is written. For me, I have come to terms that the written word is not inerrant. It is a collection of writings by human beings over many years, telling how they view God, how they try to live for God and how God deals with his creation.

 

I have come to believe that the only inerrant Word of God is not a book but a person. Jesus is the Word of God and his Spirit lives within us. Rather than have a completely closed mind as to any other interpretation other than what we have been taught by religious institutions, we can let the Spirit of God within us teach us and we can learn to be open to new things under his guidance.

 

Did the flood really happen? Was the earth completely covered with water and all life destroyed? I personally do not think so. God loves us and created us for fellowship with Him. Our works do not earn us anything with God because he loves us and accepts us unconditionally.

 

Yet the flood did have real meaning. The sinful nature we had was washed away with the flood waters of his grace. Our unrighteous deeds were destroyed by the flood of his love. Jesus our ark made a way of escape so that we might live in his Kingdom for the rest of our existence, enjoying his presence and his love within us.

 

This post was part of the September 2018 Synchroblog on the topic of the flood. Here are the other contributors to this month’s topic. Go and read them all!

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by Jim Gordon

Is it our job as Christians to convert the unsaved? Are we to force our views and beliefs on others so that they might come to God? My answer would be no.

We are to follow Christ and love others. We are to let the Holy Spirit convict and lead people to the Father.

GoodNews

We cannot convert others. We cannot make them come to Christ by forcing our views and beliefs on them. Only the Holy Spirit can convict the world of sin and lead them to repentance.

So often we are taught we need to use every opportunity to preach salvation to everyone we meet. We end up using sneaky methods to force conversations trying to convert others. We are told their blood with be on our hands if we do not tell them about Christ. I feel loving others with ulterior motives is wrong and does more harm than good.

Jesus said to love God and love others. Apart from that we have nothing more to do than to be available to Him and allow the Spirit to work and love through us. If we are talking with someone or enjoying their company, there is no need to force the topic into trying to convert them. If the Spirit so chooses to use us, we are to be available but we are not to force the issue.

We are called to make disciples, but disciples would be those who already have a relationship with Christ. The dictionary describes a disciple as ‘a professed follower of Christ’. We are to be there to encourage and build one another up to grow into maturity in Christ.

The good news is that God loves us. He has provided freedom from the effects of sin and has restored fellowship between God and his creation. By being judgmental, pointing fingers, threatening and using other means to force others to accept Christ, we end up driving people away rather than draw them by love.

GodIsLove

When we show the love of God to others and accept them as they are, people will be drawn to Christ easier than through condemning and threatening ways. This does not mean we have to agree with everyone or say you can live anyway you want with no consequences. Yet we can show the love of Christ to non-believers and accept them without expecting them to change and start acting like we think they should. God accepted us as we were before we came to Him and we should do the same. If there is any changing that needs to be done, that will be between God and the individual through the guidance of the Spirit.

In love, share the good news to those you meet when led by the Spirit. Encourage and make disciples of those who know Christ. Stop trying to force salvation on non-believers through ‘holier than thou’ attitudes, guilt and condemnation. Love is the answer, and God is love.

 

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by Jim Gordon

I have noticed a very common saying recently in regard to the violence and killings that have made the headlines. It is heard on TV, online and in the newspapers. The saying is ‘our thoughts and prayers are with you’.

It actually sounds really nice and many times it is the only thing people can come up with when they do not know what else to say.

Unfortunately, it only sounds good and does nothing to help make a difference or to cause change.

Thoughts and Prayers WordPress

So often people say this because they do not know what else to do. I certainly believe in prayer to ask God for peace and comfort for the people involved. I also believe in prayer seeking guidance from God for things to do that will help make a change.

Yet many people use this saying because they do not think they are able to do anything to make a change, and often they do not want to make the effort to make changes. So, they make themselves feel better by saying our thoughts and prayers are with you.

In James 2:16 we have a similar situation when people would say “go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet they did not give what was necessary for their body, and what use was that? This falls right in line with James 2:26 which says, for just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

Obviously good works do not earn our salvation, but good works will be a result of our salvation. To put it another way we can say that love without works is dead. Saying you love someone but doing nothing to show that love is not real love.

Using good sounding words usually only makes the one saying it feel better. But putting action to our words can make a difference and truly show love and concern to those who are hurting.

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When we hear someone talk about the Kingdom of God, usually our first thought is a place in the distant future. A place we go when we die and leave this earth. It is where God lives somewhere way up in the sky, a place where we will live with Him forever.

Yet, when reading about the Kingdom of God in the bible, it sounds to me it is not some far away, future place. It is right now, and right here. A place where we live daily with our Father. Jesus said in John 14:23 “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them”. To me, if God has made his home with us, then we are certainly living in the Kingdom of God.

Kingdom of God 3

Jesus mentioned that the Kingdom of God is within us. He said that we were to ask that God’s will be done here on earth as it is in heaven.

The following excerpt from the article ‘Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God’ found on colsoncenter.org website is a brief explanation of the Kingdom of God:

The Hebrew word for kingdom is malkut and its Greek counterpart is basileia. Both terms primarily mean “rule” or “reign.” Only secondarily do they denote a realm, sphere, or territory over which a rule or reign is exercised. Both terms have a dynamic or active meaning, and refer to the exercise of God’s power, dominion, or sovereignty.

So then, we see that the expression “Kingdom of God” does not refer to heaven or the church or the heart or to moral reform or to a future realm. Rather it refers to the active, dynamic exercise of God’s rule, authority, dominion, and power in the world!

So when John the Baptist announced that the Kingdom of God was at hand, he meant that God’s rule was just about to break into the world through the Messiah. When Jesus Christ Himself preached and proclaimed the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, He meant that in and by Himself, God was exercising His power and authority in a redemptive way against all the evil in the world!

In short, the Kingdom of God is the rule of God manifested in Christ to bring redemption to the earth. No wonder the Kingdom is the central theme of the New Testament! …

Another good point is made on the web site thegospelcoalition.org, stating: Jesus is the kingdom. Where the king is, there is the kingdom. This is precisely why Jesus says to the Pharisees, “The kingdom of God is in the midst of you” (Luke 17:21)…

 

Kingdom of God 1

I have come to believe more and more that the Kingdom of God is not necessarily talking about the coming heavenly kingdom, but it is our life with God right here and now. Our old, earthly man was crucified with Christ on the cross and a new man was raised up with Christ. Jesus is our king, and we are living with him in his kingdom every day.

 

Another interesting perspective on the Kingdom of God entitled ‘What is the Kingdom of God about?’ and written by Susanne Schuberth, can be found at the following link:

https://enteringthepromisedland.wordpress.com/2015/07/17/what-is-the-kingdom-of-god-about/

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When we talk about the Word of God, we usually think of the Bible.

If someone says the Bible is just a book, we get all offended and ready to voice our opinion that the Bible is the Word of God.

Not to sound sacrilegious, but sometimes we can actually make too much of the Bible. People will hold it up and say it is the word of God and worship it more than we worship Christ. Christ is the true Word of God as mentioned in John 1:1. He is the living and powerful Word and His Spirit lives within us.

The Word

Many times we Christians focus so much on The Bible that we forget we have the living Word of God inside of us. The Holy Spirit, who is God in spirit form, just as Jesus was God in human form, lives within us.

In John 5:39 and 40, Jesus told the religious leaders “you study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life”. The religious leaders of the day spent so much time studying the scriptures that they missed the Living Word standing right in front of them.

There is certainly nothing wrong with reading the Bible, as it is God inspired. Through it we can learn from the past, we see the story of redemption throughout, we come to know the love God has for us and how he purchased our salvation through Christ. We learn what pleases God and we come to know that it is only by Grace that we are in right standing with God.

The Bible teaches us the Law and how we humans are completely unable to live a life pleasing to God through the law. The law was our tutor to bring us to realize that we need God’s grace through Christ.

The Bible teaches us of the freedom we now have in Christ and that only by His grace can we live a life pleasing to Him. There is nothing that we can do on our own to earn or deserve what He has done for us.

We need to focus on Jesus. He is the true and living Word of God. It is when we focus on Christ and listen for the leading of the Holy Spirit within us that the written words will come alive with power and meaning.

I like this statement by Mick Mooney, “Above all, trust the Spirit of God in you to guide you. It helps to remember that the Bible is a testimony of the life and finished work of Jesus, not the guide for your life; your Guide abides within you. Certainly the Bible has an important place in our faith walk, but it should never replace the work of the Holy Spirit in you. Christ in us is our hope. Christ in us is how we learn, and how we are led by God”.

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As Christians, we all want to live a life pleasing to God. We go about that in many different ways. We try to follow the golden rule, obey the ten commandments, read the bible more, pray more, attend church more and a various number of other things.

Of course we know that we cannot earn our salvation through works, so we need to think about what our motivation is for the things we do.

Many people emphasize good works and doing things for God because they feel they need to be doing something for God. Some feel we owe God for the gift of salvation, while others are trying to earn their salvation by their works.

There is nothing wrong with good works, as long as we are doing them out of love and by God’s strength and guidance.

Good works will be a natural way of life when we focus on Christ and allow him to do the works through us by his Spirit.

The problem is many people do good works out of a feeling of guilt, or necessity, or trying to pay God back for His gift of salvation. They think their good works will earn them salvation.

First, we need to realize that good works will not earn us more of God’s love, and not doing good works will not take away from God’s love. God loves us no matter what we do. Obviously, we want to do things that please God, but His love for us does not change no matter what. He has given us the gift of salvation because of His love for us.

Next, we cannot do good works in our own strength. It is by His love, strength and guidance that good works happen naturally. When motivated by love for God, and allowing Him to love through us, the good works done will be what is needed at the moment for the person receiving the benefit.

So we see in this that the motivation for good works is important. Are we doing these things because we feel obligated and should be doing something for God? Or are we resting in what He has done and allowing Him to love through us.

Stop trying to be so busy for God; rest in His love; wait for his moving and strength. Then allow Him to touch those you come in contact with throughout the day.

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