Posts Tagged ‘salvation’

As a Christian, On Atheism

This post of mine isn’t actually going to be one I’ve written. It’s simply going to end with a link to someone else’s blog that I would encourage you all to read. So often we (and I am definitely included in this) get lost in the sniping and nit-picking of little details that we often miss the point of why we’re even having this discussion. I’ll admit I’m not entirely sure why atheists continue to come on WordPress and other forums and try to derail Christianity, Islam and any other religions they can get their hands on. I’m not an atheist, so I can’t speak to that. But as a Christian, I can speak to the underlying cause behind even being here with this blog. Much of it is meant to be encouragement to other believers, but given that it has an apologetic tilt to it, the link below describes excellently the motivation for reaching out. I’m glad this gentleman posted it, and I hope I can remember to read it myself from time to time to remind myself that this is a war that is far greater than you or me. Maybe that will give me a little more compassion and a little less condescension for those who don’t agree with me. Thanks for stopping by, and if you have five minutes, check out the link below.

Re: Atheism

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I Am Second – Brian “Head” Welch

Here’s a great video with Brian Welch, better known as “Head” from the rock band Korn, talking about how having it all wasn’t enough. How awesome a God do we serve that He loves each and every one of us, no matter our past or our circumstances. No one is denied access to Christ; He wants everyone to come to Him. If you haven’t considered it before today, perhaps this video might offer some insight or perspective into what it means to truly give up everything and trust that God knows best.

A Circle of Trust

WIFE has recently been going through Romans 8, and that is the inspiration for this blog post.

Anyone who has seen the movie “Meet the Parents” starring Ben Stiller remembers that a common theme running through that movie was the “circle of trust.” While initially this meant the group of people which the father-in-law (Robert DeNiro) trusted with key information, it ended up being a perfect phrase when describing the wedding ring Stiller’s character gave his girlfriend.

Now, I love how the Bible not only shows consistency when it comes to names, dates, locations (I recently discovered a great consistency involving Genesis 6:3 and Psalm 90:10), but also when it comes to Biblical principles, and in this case, it does so in a completely circular way so as to tie all of these principles together. God revealed in the Bible His own little “circle of trust.” Let me explain.

Romans 8:1 says this: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,…”. Christians have taken this a variety of ways, but the simplest way to look at this verse is to say that those who have accepted Christ as their Savior are not condemned to an eternity away from Him in hell. We have been redeemed.

But how is this reprieve from condemnation achieved? 1 Corinthians 10:32 gives us a good piece of the answer: “When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.” This could be thought of in terms of sanctification, where the discipline is not necessarily punishment, but more in terms of instruction to help set us apart through the process of making us holy. This is to allow us to step into this perfect holiness upon death and be fit to enter the kingdom of God. This discipline keeps us from condemnation. It’s very evident how these two principles (discipline and rescue from condemnation) fit together.

Now the word “discipline” triggered another verse in my head during discussions with WIFE. I looked it up, and you find it in both the Old Testament (Proverbs 3:11-12) and in the New Testament (Hebrews 12:5-6). It says this: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” So according to these verses, the discipline of the Lord is done because He loves us, and it ties in well that in love He would want to make us holy through sanctification.

This is where it all gets tied up so beautifully. The Bible, in one of the most famous verses, explains why we are able to get the rescue from condemnation that comes from discipline. John 3:16-17: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” It was God’s love that caused Him to send Jesus Christ as a means of salvation and a rescuing from condemnation!

So these three concepts (rescue from condemnation, discipline, God’s love) are all interwoven so easily and with the same terminology in God’s Word. It’s not like these things are rocket science, or even hard to find. But the fact that God makes it so clear that salvation comes through the effect of sanctification and as a result of His love that it makes believing in this truth that much easier.

Thank you Lord so much for loving us in spite of ourselves. We turn away from you to our own way so often that we don’t deserve to be even recognized by you, let alone disciplined in love. We are completely unworthy of your salvation, but you made a way by sending your Son to suffer for our sakes, so man cannot say that God doesn’t know how to suffer like man does. I praise You for the ability that You alone possess to offer salvation and sanctify such an unclean heart, so we can spend eternity praising your matchless name. You are a great and loving God, and you reveal that every day through your Word and by sustaining us and supplying all we need. I love you, Jesus.

The Concept of Salvation

So I finally read the book “Easy Chairs, Hard Words” and have to say it was definitely an interesting read. Lots of real-world examples that make very compelling arguments. At the end of it, I had to sit back and think about whether or not my theological perspective had changed. I came to the conclusion that mostly it had not. However, as I started thinking about one particular position, it led me to an interesting idea, and one that I’ve tried to defend: that salvation only affects us as we cross from this life into eternity.

Here’s my thinking. If salvation is a gift from God (as is explained in Ephesians 2:8), then it seems like if we have free will we have the choice to open the gift or not. However, God has predestined some to open that gift, and others not to. This allows for the idea of unconditional election while still giving credence to unlimited atonement. I’ve been thinking that if salvation is really being “saved from our sins,” it doesn’t really take affect while we’re still on the earth, because it doesn’t really stop us from sinning. In that sense, salvation is the removal of our sins from us when we die, so we can be made perfect (the concept of glorification) and fit for heaven.

However, WIFE brought up a good point earlier this week. She said that salvation isn’t necessarily just from our sins, but from being enslaved to past sins and tied down to them. Another friend, who we’ll just call Theology Man, said something similar in a brief text discussion. I tend to think this is more in line with the concept of regeneration by the Holy Spirit, the point at which we accept Jesus as Lord in our lives and the Holy Spirit begins to work in our lives (sanctification). This is how 2 Corinthians 5:17 becomes a part of our lives, as the old is gone and the new has come.

Interestingly, I was surprised that Paul addressed this very issue of salvation vs. sanctification in 2 Thessalonians 2:13, which says, “But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren, beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.” It seems evident from this verse that salvation and sanctification are tied together with faith. So what is the relationship between salvation and sanctification? The relationship between salvation and glorification?

In short, my theological perspective has changed slightly. I now believe (which I assume is not an uncommon position) that the 3 big Bible words (sanctification, justification, glorification) are encompassed by the overarching concept of salvation. Salvation includes these three things, which is why God is able to use the past, present and future tenses in the Bible when discussing the salvation He has given us. I still believe that salvation is an eternal decision that is extended to all men, but I think at least now I better understand why.

Is WIFE correct? Yep. Is Theology Man correct? Most definitely. Am I correct? I think so now. What once was a belief that salvation is tied to glorification has now turned into glorification as the final step to salvation. Thank you Lord, for providing a Word that gives us a glimpse into Your awesome ability to do such works in us, and what exactly that means in the course of eternity!

My Take on Calvinism’s 5 Points

So in reading back through some of blog posts I remembered that I said I wanted to tackle where I stand in terms of Calvinism versus Arminianism. While I haven’t seriously studied Arminianism enough yet to see how I view that theology, I did do some research on the 5 points of Calvinism. While these points don’t comprise totally the philosophy of Calvinism, they are tenets that strong Calvinists adhere to. I like that they form a pretty word acrostically, but as for the tenets themselves, some questions arise.

Total depravity
Unconditional election
Limited atonement
Irresistible grace
Perserverance of the saints

TOTAL DEPRAVITY – due to the fall of Adam, everyone born into the world is enslaved into the service of sin (i.e. we are born with sin)

My take: I agree with this one completely. No objections.

UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION – it is God’s choice from eternity whom He will save, and it is not based on foreseen virtue, merit or faith in those people

My take: This idea is supported by Paul in both the book of Romans and 1 Corinthians, so I agree with this one too.

LIMITED ATONEMENT – since God predestined the elect, Jesus’ death that atoned for sins was only meant to atone for the sins of the elect, and not all of the world

My take: Paul doesn’t make the claim that “Christ came to the world to save SOME sinners, of whom I am the worst.” I believe that Christ came to testify to the truth (as He states in John 18:37) to all of the world, otherwise Christ wouldn’t have said, “Go and make disciples of ALL NATIONS.” The Word of God is readily available to anyone who wants to read it, not to an elect few who were destined to read it. The caveat comes in the form of free will. I believe God would give everyone the chance to accept the atonement; it’s just that not everyone does, and He knew that from eternity

IRRESISTIBLE GRACE – the Holy Spirit is able to overcome any obstacles put up in the way of saving those whom God had predestined to be with Him

My take: I like the idea of this one, but not the explanation. This explanation makes it sound like the Holy Spirit tries harder to reach some than others, because they are the elect. I think God tries with the same earnest to reach every individual, because as He tries to reach someone, another might come to Him in free will as a result.

PERSERVERANCE OF THE SAINTS – Those whom God has called into communion with Himself will continue in faith until the end. Those who fall away were either never really saved or will return.

My take: I don’t like this explanation either. What happens to a person who is undeniably saved but dies in a sinful act? For example, what happens to the saved pastor who is killed while trying to murder a man who raped his daughter? No chance to return, but no one doubts the salvation. If you simplify the explanation of POTS to simply “You can’t lose your salvation,” then I agree.

So that’s it. I guess I’m a 3 1/2 point Calvinist, which means I must agree with some of Arminius’ beliefs too. Or perhaps not. I guess we’ll find out eventually.