Sunday, February 27, 2011

God's Perspective

Last week there was a problem with those of you who were trying to send comments to the post. I'm sorry about that and I think we have that fixed. If you post and it does not show up, send me an email at dougbartel@siouxfallschurch.com and I'll look into it right away. Here's today's post:




So, I’ll ask the real question here. Is salvation a once saved always saved reality? In saying that, I mean in the traditional context that once you do your conversion element (altar call, sinner’s prayer, etc) you are saved even if you willingly and defiantly reject God later? There seem to be verses that support this notion and it has been one of the pillars of evangelical conservative Christianity for many years. This philosophy is comfortable but turns salvation into an act and only requires you to be sincere at that moment of conversion. After that you’re off the hook.

The alternative might worse because it says you can lose your salvation and in saying that, one must wonder when or how, which opens up another long list of divisions and theories. Do you lose it when you sin? If so, how do you get it back? This leads a person to the belief that salvation is earned or based on good deeds or good works. Is it a series of sins or an amount of time that you sin? This seems to lead the Christian into just as much of a dilemma as the once saved always saved mentality.

Is Judas going to heaven or hell? How about Adam and Eve? What about David? He ended his life in the bed with a young virgin, getting warmed up. What about the child who grew up in a home, country and culture that believed in a false religion the distorted Jesus or didn’t even speak of him? What about the person that grew up in a Christian church where the pastor molested children and did it in the name of God. I would suspect that they would run from organized religion and denounce anything that resembles Christianity. What about them? I could go on and on.

What about you? Did you do something to earn your place in eternity? Did you do something to force God to let you in? Or are you still trying to get your golden ticket?

3 comments:

sherrymeneley.com said...

Well, I was lucky (opps I mean blessed) enough to have been born a Christian.

Oh, that’s not possible? Let me tell you it is (of course Doug you know this).

I was born into the right family, in the right country, etc… I was going to Sunday School as a baby. I prayed a magic prayer when I was 4. So, yeah – I was born a Christian. Or was I?

Growing up, I did the “Christian thing” because it was normal. Expected. Then I left home, and with that ironically—yet based on different circumstances—I played around with life, my faith, and I think my salvation. I never said “God, I don’t believe in you” but I know I didn’t fear Him and that made Him powerless over me. (wow, I was an idiot)

When I thank back to those times, I shudder. I thank God for His grace and putting up with my arrogance. I can’t say 100% that I’d be going to heaven during those wandering years. But on the other hand, it doesn’t mean I’d be separated from God for the rest of eternity.

Let me go out on the biggest limb of my life: I think everyone gets a chance to get to heaven. Even an Aborigine that has never heard of Jesus gets a chance. Even a Buddhist, Hindu, or Muslim that dies in their faith. More and more I play with the notion that somehow God has a way… and it doesn’t require us. It’s a scary thought, because the Bible is really clear about salvation through Jesus. And this isn’t about Universalism. I still think Jesus is key.

Helen Keller said (or fingered…) an amazing thing: When Annie signed Helen the word "God", Helen asked her to explain. When Annie told her that God is our creator, who loves us, and will never leave us, Helen replied "So that's who it was who was with me in the darkness. I knew there was someone there, but I didn't know His name."

I don’t know how salvation works for everyone, but I think we all get a chance. But as for me, now that I know better (which makes things harder for me), I “work out my own salvation with fear and trembling.” (sorry for the dissertation, it happens to be an upcoming post).

Pastor Doug said...

I agree with you. I firmly believe that as it says in Romans 2:14-16 that no matter how we grew up, even if that was in a devote "false religion" and believed it to be the only truth, God will not punish us for our lack of "luck" in being born in a Christian home or condemn us to hell because no missionaries made it to our village. God will still speak to that person and hold that person accountable for how they responded to however God revealed himself to them.

Even in that, if God does choose to save that individual, he could only do that by applying Christ's sacrifice to the sinner. It is still through Christ that the person is saved. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father but through him.

I am strongly opposed to universalism because God is clear that all roads do not lead to him, only one road does and that is Christ. How God decides the heart of each person is his business and I'm sure it is not our role to figure it out or give it our blessing. I do know that I’m accountable for what I know and understand about Christ. I know we are to love the world and in that love they will see Christ. I know that just telling about Christ without being a fleshly example of Christ is weak and unconvincing. But that’s about all I know.

Steve Peterson said...

Doug & Sherry,

Well said. I totally agree with your views.

I have come to believe that because God IS love, therefore Jesus IS love and therefore if we have love and show the evidence of love in our lives, then God has come to us and lives in us. And the evidence of the love we show others is evidence of the faith we have and that we have chosen the correct path when offered to us by Jesus.

Just as the absence of light is darkness, so the absence of love is evil. I have to believe that if you chose love, you are choosing Jesus, who is love, and the only way to salvation.

It is all about the heart condition. I don't think God is just looking to populate his eternal Kingdom with people that know how to spell J-E-S-U-S. I believe it is about God loving his children with more love than we can imagine and Him wanting us to learn to love Him and others in return. As we choose to let go of our earthly desires and choose the path of loving others as God has first loved us, we start to get it. And I believe God is spreading His love even outside the boundaries of the labeled Christian organizations. And many of them are choosing to take Him up on His offer.

My point, in simple terms, is that, Jesus is the ONLY way, the Truth and the Life. And, indeed, No one comes to the Father but through Jesus. I just believe some of us may be limiting God's reach by assuming that He is only concerned with those that have access to Christian organizational messages.

But then, what do I know. I'm just sharing where I'm at currently in my beliefs. Only God knows Who's In and Who's Out.