The Road Got Narrow Somewhere…

***Also borrowed from Shane Vanderhart’s ‘Christ Alone’ blog 

“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets. 

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.

“For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:12-14)

Prior to Matthew 7:13-15 we have 2 chapters of teachings and one verse prior (vs. 12) we see this “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets’ (summing up Jesus’ whole view of his faith – which was Jewish and based on the Law and Prophets).

Oddly enough, Jesus narrows down a whole 39 books to one sentence – wow! So what does narrow mean in that exact passage? Could it be something very foundational to his idea of faith – something he teaches against quite regularily in the gospels – maybe faith needs to be made simpler so everyone can be involved? It would seem the current view of faith was well known but also quite complex – and it this was common knowledge. Maybe there is few there be that find out religion is not something that needs to be supremely complex and filled with 100’s of rules.

The false prophets things brings us into a point I am trying to make all along – Jesus wants us to ‘follow him’ (theme of Matthew) and this means his teachings.

By verse 23 we see Jesus casting out people who thought they knew him – quite intricately knew him it seems – but they did not know him…their lone problem – ‘lawlessness/unrighteousness’ – the same point of the fruits of parable (vs. 16-20). Then we move into the foundations (vs. 24-29) and we see something odd – what makes the foundation (or one could say a righteousness)? – listening to and following/doing Jesus’ teachings. It seems quite plain to me – Jesus is clearly asking us to acquainte ourselves with his sayings (to do them) and thus build our faith in way that is ‘wise’. Some did not – in this parable, nor in the fruit parable, or even those that claimed to know him – all coming back to one simple idea – to follow Jesus (ie: be Christian) is to incorporate his teachings ‘proving’ to Jesus you do ‘know him’.

There is no simple salvation idea in chapter 7 – Jesus seems to be asking his followers to be a certain ‘way’.

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43 thoughts on “The Road Got Narrow Somewhere…

  1. “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

    Having spoken on this topic a few times over the years, I would like to add my perspective to the narrow road, small gate idea. I’m not one to advocate my opinion as the only true understanding on this idea of the narrow road, but I have an interpretation that works for me.

    Traditionally I was lead to believe that the narrow road, small gate was a reference to following Jesus and that was how it was always taught or rather preached in Pentecostal and evangelical churches. They never ever ventured into believing it could more than that, as this one idea seemed to be forever settled in their mind. The attitude seemed to be, gate equals Jesus, narrow road equals follow Jesus. Case settled, no need for futher reflection, lets move on.

    Well that seemed a little too simplistic for me and left me wanting, not that I want to make things complicated, but the idea I believe Jesus was trying to express is more deeper than just some simple “follow Jesus” statement.

    It seems to me the reason that the gate is small, the road is narrow, and there are only few that find it, is because it takes a great deal of introspection to actually find the gate/road.

    I think the road is narrow because it is made for only one person. That one person being you, in my case “me”. You have a road, that leads to life, that only you can walk, as it is your road. You have your own road and I have mine. I cannot walk your road, nor are you expected to walk my road.

    The reason its so hard to find is because you have to know yourself and you have to know what makes for peace within your own being. I don’t think you can truly know yourself, without the help of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and The Father of All. So in some sense the gate/road is Father/Jesus/Holy Spirit, but it also you (I) interacting with them and you (me) following the path that develops because of your (my) relationship with the Father of All.

    I think Jesus was trying to inspire people to look for their road, and He would just help in the search.

  2. Just1, you may very well be onto something – I have also heard that interpretation before – and I think it is fitting (personalization of the road). Can’t say I am right on this one either – but the passage does lend itself to the idea of making religion something not so burdensome also.

    “The attitude seemed to be, gate equals Jesus, narrow road equals follow Jesus. Case settled, no need for futher reflection, lets move on.” (Just1)

    I had a similar introduction to this passage also – needless to say – it seemed quite weak to me on closer introspection also.

    “I think the road is narrow because it is made for only one person…You have your own road and I have mine. I cannot walk your road, nor are you expected to walk my road.” (Just1)

    I actually like this interpretation also – it makes sense. It’s the idea we can’t be someone else and being who we are is quite good in it’s own right. God has given us guidance – we don’t have to worry about that – but each of us walks a road unique to the person (agreed).

    I think your interpretation also adds more flavor to the food – and not just that same old salt.

  3. ”You are aware in that sentence the verbs are action words right? We need to repent, recieve, and trust in that scenario – how is that not doing something (action) to earn our salvation?”

    Repenting, trusting, and asking are not earning…. but if you feel better defining them as such go ahead. But that is still the only way to be saved. Yes, it is exclusive.

    Matthew 7:21-23
    “21. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
    22. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
    23. And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

    These people were not saved… these people tried works to get them saved and it did not work.

    Matthew 25:41-46
    “41. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
    42. For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
    43. I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
    44. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
    45. Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
    46. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.”

    Those people were not saved either… Neither of these verses show that salvation is not eternal life!

    “God will not lie – I agree – but humans will make theological mistakes when assuming ideas about Him. is it possible your theology is flawed?”

    The idea I am “assuming” about Him is that He does not lie. Nope… not flawed.

    When I say “if you are TRULY saved” I am talking about people who are saved and not just saying that they are saved… there is a difference between being “TRULY saved” and just saying you are saved… and you are nit picking.

    “So there are various types of Christian lives one could lead in following Jesus – kind of like 2 ways if you will.”

    Nope there is one way to be Christian… and the the other way is just being saved and going to heaven and is not considered Christian in my definition.

    “Whether you like this or not I am of the same faith as you (Christian) and this shouldn’t pose as any problem for you.”

    No, you are not. How you define being a Christian and the doctrines that go with it are not the same as mine. What I say is Christian and what you say is Christian are two different things. Call yourself whatever you want to… we are not the same. I do not ascribe to a “believe in Jesus” and you are Christian idea… Being Christian takes more than being saved. Being saved is just the beginning. What comes after salvation that makes one a Christian, I’m sure you and I disagree on greatly… thus we are different.

    “I will ask this also – does heaven have various levels of reward also”

    And yes ,there will be various levels of rewards in heaven. I do not believe it in the same way as Mormons (my belief is not even close to that). Some will have rewards and some more than others and others will not have any at all.

    “Let’s say we are back in the 1800’s and in the time of slavery in America – where those people were considered ‘less than human’.”

    Excusitivity has it’s place.. I didn’t say it was to be used in everyting… you stretch the point.

    “listening to and following Jesus’ words. It seems quite plain to me – Jesus is clearly asking us to acquainte ourselves with his sayings (to do them) and this build our faith in way that is ‘wise’. Some did not in this parable, nor in the fruit parable, or even those that claimed to know him – all coming back to one simple idea – to follow Jesus (ie: be Christian) is incorporate his teachings ‘proving’ to Jesus you do ‘know him’.”

    Isn’t that rather exclusive? Yup!

    Comments from Christ Alone – by Cpt. Starfox

  4. Okay time to clear some of this up – I will try to be as succinct as I can about what I believe – based on the very teachings of Jesus from the gospels – we can disagree – but I have no clue how I cannot be a Christ-ian – that makes no sense to me.

    “Repenting, trusting, and asking are not earning….” (Starfox)

    Actually, it is – cause you take the salvation idea (which you have nothing to do with – happened 2000 years ago) and make it so we have something to do with it (acceptance) – and via our ‘response’ then, and only then, is salvation or no salvation made complete.

    Either way, we are both saying salvation is in your hands and mine.

    “These people were not saved… these people tried works to get them saved and it did not work” (Starfox)

    That passage has nothing to do with earning salvation via works – it had to do with people working ‘iniquity’ (not works in a general sense). You are actually taking a doctrinal ideology and placing it into the text and making the words try to say something they do not. This has nothing to do with ’salvation via works’ as a teaching – although it used like it fits…but if you read it carefully when Jesus says he does not know the people it comes down to one simple thing ‘ye that work iniquity’. Jesus’ own judgment in that passage is based on someone’s works…go figure.

    “Neither of these verses show that salvation is not eternal life!” (Starfox)

    I have never said salvation does not lead to eternal life – I think it does. The point of those passages is to show what Jesus is judging by – and simply put – people’s good works (or bad).

    “The idea I am “assuming” about Him is that He does not lie” (Starfox)

    C’mon…you have to be kidding? I can assume God does not lie also but that does not mean I am going to make the same assumptions about salvation and ‘the way’ as you do…so God does not lie – cool.

    “there is a difference between being “TRULY saved” and just saying you are saved… and you are nit picking” (Starfox)

    Honestly, this is like saying there is 2 ways to heaven – a gold road and a stone road – I may be nit-picking – but for good cause – your theology is flawed.

    “I do not ascribe to a “believe in Jesus” and you are Christian idea… Being Christian takes more than being saved” (Starfox)

    Explain away then…I must be wrong on my beliefs in Christ some way – I ask you to explain it all to me so I can be very clear on this.

    “And yes ,there will be various levels of rewards in heaven” (Starfox)

    Prove this one also – and who cares about rewards in heaven anyways – isn’t the glory just being there anyways?

    “Isn’t that rather exclusive? Yup!” (Starfox)

    Not really – I think a lot more people than you think actually follow the teachings of the Christ – which have been on this planet for over 1900 years and have had their influence all over the place. Just because they don’t adhere to some dogmatic structure of religion and tradition doesn’t make a good person bad.

    Jesus taught one very simple idea – here it goes – ‘do unto others as you would have done unto you’ – do that and you fulfill all the law and prophets (ie: follow the whole intent of the law). Tell me, do more people follow this idea than just what we see in the church?

    Society Vs’ comments from ‘Christ Alone’ blog (rebuttal)

  5. I said in a previous comment that Cpt. Starfox is also displaying a cognitive dissonance in some of his answers – saying one thing then almost betraying it another sentence.

    “Cognitive dissonance is a psychological term describing the uncomfortable tension that may result from having conflicting thoughts or beliefs (cognitions) at the same time” (Wikipedia)

    Now he thinks I am betraying his own words – I think I am pretty fair about what he is saying – and to be more fair I posted his comments so, if you wanted, you could see the banter back n forth.

  6. What if the road finds you?

    There are two roads being shown here — a road to destruction, which is wide. And a road that leads to life, which is narrow. But the road that leads to destruction. What does that road destroy? The person itself? Or all the destructive impulses, until the true person is revealed? Either one would be an unpleasant experience.

    Yet the road that leads to life. Jesus says there are few that find it. Perhaps this “find” is attached to looking? Those who actively look for it, and take the “easy” way out of the destruction impulses are few. But perhaps there are many who suddenly see that the narrow road surrounds them, they just weren’t actively looking for it. Rather, they took the unwise route, and pursued unhealthy impulses, which then lead to other unhealthy things.

    It would be like trying to find a way up a mountain. One person decides to hire a helicpoter, and gets there in the “easy” route (assuming the top of the mountain is big enough for a helicopter pad). He knows he’s aiming for the top of the mountain.

    Whereas another person maybe can’t see the top of the mountain, even though it’s in plain view. So they go get a drill, a hand-held one, and start chipping away at the mountain to find a path, until one day, the top of the mountain is just there. And they realize, after all that digging, the top of the mountain is what they wanted all along. The top “found” them.

  7. Well, at least you quoted me correctly even if you did misunderstand me again….

    “Cognitive dissonance”

    I am having no “conflicting thoughts or beliefs” – Thank you

    “saying one thing then almost betraying it another sentence.”

    Oh please, I am not… somehow you find interesting ways of misunderstanding the things I say. I hope the people on your blog can read and see what I am saying better… I really didn’t think I was putting out anything too difficult to grasp.

    Well, before you go to copy paste my lastest comment… let me save you the trouble:

    I said: “Repenting, trusting, and asking are not earning” (Starfox)

    you said: “Actually, it is”

    I say: When you earn something you deserve it because you have worked for it. Salvation is not deserved, we do not work for it… we did not pay the price for our sins… Salvation is mercy and grace. The part of salvation that is up to us is the receiving part. “Repenting, trusting, and asking” is how we recieve it.

    You are missing te point of that passage… Those people thought they had done all these great works and so they thought they must be good enough to get to heaven… but Jesus says depart from Me ye that work iniquity. You interpret scripture very different from how I do aparently.

    I assumed God did does not lie… and so assumed that salvation is eternal… and aparently so do you eh?

    you said: “I have never said salvation does not lead to eternal life – I think it does.”

    I said: “there is a difference between being ‘TRULY saved’ and just saying you are saved. and you are nit picking” (Starfox)

    you said: “Honestly, this is like saying there is 2 ways to heaven – a gold road and a stone road – I may be nit-picking – but for good cause – your theology is flawed.”

    My theology is not flawed… maybe your understanding of what I am saying is flawed (likely). There is obviously a difference in just saying that you are saved when you are not and actually being saved – that is what I am saying… very simple concept, right? (I hope)

    I said: “I do not ascribe to a ‘believe in Jesus, and you are Christian idea’ Being Christian takes more than being saved”

    You said: “Explain away then I must be wrong on my beliefs in Christ some way – I ask you to explain it all to me so I can be very clear on this.”

    Very general explaination: Christian = living like Christ

    Slightly more detailed: There is an example layed out in Acts 2:41-42
    “41. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
    42. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”

    gladly received his word (they were saved)
    were baptized (they were baptized)
    were added unto them (they joined the church)
    continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. (they learned the doctrines and grew in knowledge and fellowship)

    This is how to start being a Christian… there are many more details to living the Christian life, but this is the beginning and a broad overview.

    I said: “And yes ,there will be various levels of rewards in heaven”

    you said: “Prove this one also”

    1 Corinthians 3:14-16
    “14. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
    15. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”

    And as Paul said to Timothy:

    2 Timothy 4:7-8
    “7. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
    8. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”

    “Jesus taught one very simple idea – here it goes – ‘do unto others as you would have done unto you’”

    Jesus taught many things, there are many doctrines (teachings) in the Bible. He obviously taught more than just one simple thing.

  8. Starfox,

    **Salvation is mercy and grace. The part of salvation that is up to us is the receiving part. “Repenting, trusting, and asking” is how we recieve it.**

    I think Society’s point here was that salvation hinges on our response. If we receive salvation in response to our repentence, then we have done an action that has then “earned” us salvation. We receive salvation through what we did — repent.

    **Very general explaination: Christian = living like Christ**

    I’m curious — you say that to be a Christian is to live like Christ, but in your specific example, you don’t really show any “living like Christ” ideas. There’s no helping the poor, loving one’s neighbor. There involves joining a church, being baptized, and learning correct doctrines/growing in knowledge. Granted, you say that this is how to start being a Christian. But why doesn’t it involve anything Jesus actually did? (With the exception of the baptism).

    **Jesus taught many things, there are many doctrines (teachings) in the Bible. He obviously taught more than just one simple thing.**

    But his two biggest commandments are loving God, and loving one neighbor as yourself (which is tied into the Golden rule). He prefered those above anything else.

    **Those people thought they had done all these great works and so they thought they must be good enough to get to heaven… but Jesus says depart from Me ye that work iniquity. **

    The Matthew passage of 7: 21-23 isn’t saying that works dont’ get one saved, it’s making sure that those who do/act are doing the will of the Father. They clearly did not do what they claimed — if taken literally, it would’ve been impossible for them to cast out demons, given that’s a power God bestows — so what their “works” had really done was the exact opposite. Perhaps they did the works for selfish reasons. But we see this today — people who are absolutely concinvced that they are saved, and behave selfishly. They don’t think their selfish works are what gets them saved, they already realize they’re okay.

    As soon as you do a good work in order to “earn” something, you have done the good work for a selfish reason. But in the sheep/goats parable, those that were rewarded had done what was good because it was the right thing to do. They didn’t do so to earn anything. Had they, the sheep wouldn’t have been so surprised that they were chosen.

  9. “Well, at least you quoted me correctly even if you did misunderstand me again….” (Starfox)

    Again? I do understand your theology – I have been a part of it’s working myself for a good 6 years – but I am differing now in what it all means and why.

    “The part of salvation that is up to us is the receiving part. “Repenting, trusting, and asking” is how we recieve it.” (Starfox)

    That’s the whole point Starfox – those are actions we do to solidify our ‘salvation’ – without them – you would admit there is no salvation – right? So how can any person say ‘we do nothing to gain/earn salvation’ – when it is very apparent we are required to do something in that formula.

    Jesus died for sins (propitiation) – we accept that sacrifice – we repent – we confess – and now we trust God. Even that is a very weak way to ask people to follow Jesus in my opinion – because all that is truly needed is those steps of ‘believing’ for salvation – which I think is a flawed way of looking at the term ‘believe’. For me, this formula cheapens what it means to ‘follow Christ’ or even ‘believe in God’. I think at some point everything becomes hyper-spiritualized vs. experiential living.

    “You are missing te point of that passage… Those people thought they had done all these great works and so they thought they must be good enough to get to heaven” (Starfox)

    Isn’t it ‘works’ that kept some of them out of ‘heaven’ (ye that ‘WORK’ iniquity)? What is also quite odd is it says nothing about anything outside of works in that that passage – nothing about simple belief getting you to heaven. The 2 parables (1 prior and 1 after) truly sum it up: the one of the fruits is about ‘good and bad’; the one about the foundations – is also about adhering to the teachings or not. There seems to be a direct correlation, within the chapter 7 portion of Matthew, between adhering to God’s words and not doing so.

    Our passage in question falls in between those 2 parables and states clearly this line ‘he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter’. Key word being ‘ ‘does’.

    “There is obviously a difference in just saying that you are saved when you are not and actually being saved” (Starfox)

    But you do state the even those that say the prayer will get to heaven (even if not Christian) – just vary in reward? As for the ‘not being saved part’ – do you think I am not ‘saved’? Reason I ask is because you and I think differently – and have various interpretations on the same passages – do you think this makes me less Christian or not Christian at all?

    “This is how to start being a Christian… there are many more details to living the Christian life, but this is the beginning and a broad overview” (Starfox)

    (1) gladly recieved HIS WORD – now this is all that is said about salvation in Acts 2:41 – how can you lambaste me for saying this exact same thing to a tee concerning salvation? I have been saying all along the salvation calculation is off kilter – yet this is the proof you offer me about being ‘saved’? How is it your not questioning that formula right about now?

    (2) they joined the church – I would say they joined the community but that’s neither here nor there.

    Let’s finish that portion of Acts – since there is quite a bit more to being a follower of Christ: (Acts 2:43-47)

    “Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.

    Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.”

    Some key phrases to pick out and see if we find them in mainstream faith these days:
    “had all things in common” (ie: shared everything)
    “began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all”
    “continuing with one mind in the temple” (not a church – but the Jewish temple)
    “breaking bread from house to house” (no church it would seem – ie: building)
    “having favor with all the people” (ie: people did not really dislike them)
    “Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved” (problem – isn’t enrolment in churches actually going down?)

    I think you can isolate one portion of Acts 2 to show some pathway into the church and salvation – but irregardless of that pattern – this above pattern is lost in the West with our churches becoming Capitalistic, Politicized, Exclusive, and Institutions.

    “1 Corinthians 3:14-16”

    This is Paul addressing the Corinthians about doing something like this: “For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men?” (vs.4). Then we see the idea is about the here and now issue – “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth (vs.6)…you are God’s field, God’s building (vs.9)…each man must be careful how he builds on it (vs.10)”.

    By verse 12 and 13 we see that Paul starts using some metaphoric ideas about building on this foundation and being tested by fire – “Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw…each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work”. Fairly symbolic language – obviously. Obviously in this scenario Paul paints – a fire will burn the house but of you built with the best products – they will remain.

    By 14 and 15 Paul does go into some theology but the reward aspect seems to be a ‘here and now’ thing – based on the little metaphor he just finished using. Verse 15 is strange – “If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire”. This can be here and now also I think. If someone’s teachings and ideas were not useful for the community – they will soon come to nothing and be gone. The person will suffer some setback and even feel beaten for their endeavor – but will still have hope (saved) – even if through this period of judgement (fire) they went through.

    2 Timothy is symbolic language as well ‘crown of righteousness’ – is this literal? I think Paul seems to be stating he will be approved by God for his actions – like being crowned for heroic deeds. I am not sure that is a literal reward – a crown – but Paul playing with metaphors.

    “He obviously taught more than just one simple thing.” (Starfox)

    Oh, he taught a lot of things – but they all go back to a few ideal – namely those ideals found in Matthew 5 – the beatitudes. Which, oddly enough, rotate around the 2 commandments (which are about love) and ‘treating others like we treat ourselves’. I have a tough time finding Jesus’ teachings going beyond that scope – they usually are about the betterment of humanity.

  10. I think Jesus was trying to inspire people to look for their road, and He would just help in the search. (just1)

    I like that idea.

    There are two roads being shown here — a road to destruction, which is wide. And a road that leads to life, which is narrow. But the road that leads to destruction. What does that road destroy? The person itself? Or all the destructive impulses, until the true person is revealed? Either one would be an unpleasant experience. (onesmallstep)

    Personally, I would say the latter. If it destroyed the person themselves, IMO, that would make God no better than the devil; and every Christian should deconvert right now! 😉

  11. That is actually the teaching in Judaism as well, that at the end of time all evil will be destroyed and all people will ‘flip’ to belief in one God. People will not be destroyed, evil will be destroyed.

    Some might say what is the point of God now then if in the end everyone is OK, but I could counter what is the purpose in living life? To do good so that the world becomes a better place, tikkun olam, repair of the world? Or to spin our wheels waiting to die so we can go on to ‘a better place’? What is the point in striving to be a righteous person? To get some reward later on? Or is doing good enough of a reward all on its own right here, right now?

  12. “What is the point in striving to be a righteous person? To get some reward later on?” (Yael)

    That whole reward system idea is a little strange to me – which I think starfox mentioned as a ‘Christian’ ideal – and even varying levels of reward (which is actually a very Mormon idea). I always think – wouldn’t someone just be glad to be in ‘heaven’ irregardless of the size of the house given or whatever reward system is used. Wouldn’t it just be good to see God and be around communities that love God and one another? In the end of that type of thinking, I am thinking – let’s just try to get as close as we can to that while on earth.

  13. To OneSmallStep,

    “We receive salvation through what we did — repent.”

    It is an action that we do to reciece salvation, yes. But is this earning salvation as in deserving salvation? Do we deserve salvation ever? No, it is mercy. We may have to act in order to recieve salvation… but we still do not deserve it because we did not truly earn it. the little actions of belief, repent, trust, and ask do not make you “good” enough to get to heaven… what you are believing in, trusting in, repenting towards, and asking of…makes you good enough… and that is the sacrifice of Jesus. It makes you good enough because it covers your sins. The insignificant amount of action we do does not mean we deserve salvation (although we do get it). Call it earning if you want to… maybe this is an argument of definition. Whatever, either way, we do not deserve it although we recieve it.

    “Granted, you say that this is how to start being a Christian. But why doesn’t it involve anything Jesus actually did?”

    Don’t you need to start on the right path before you can follow it? hehe Yes, there are many, many more things to being Christian. And as was said, “loving God, and loving one neighbor as yourself” are the big ones. Now I would not say He “prefered” them above the rest, but I think the point was that if you do those, the rest will follow… not to mention without those, the rest mean nothing… so those are the foundation or as He says… “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

    Matthew 22:37-40
    “37. Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
    38. This is the first and great commandment.
    39. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
    40. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

    You could say He “prefered” them though I guess if ya want because it doesn’t make a lot of difference, but this does not mean the others are not important of course… just means without the first two greatest, the rest mean nothing.

    On the subject of Matthew 7:21-23, I’ll agree that we have a difference of interpretation.

    “if taken literally, it would’ve been impossible for them to cast out demons, given that’s a power God bestows — so what their “works” had really done was the exact opposite. Perhaps they did the works for selfish reasons.”

    On this I agree, but I still think that these people thought they were good enough to get into heaven on their own merrit (all the good they *said* they did)… but then found out they were not as Jesus tells them that they were really workers of iniquity. You can not do true good without being saved. And after being saved, you can not do true good without relying on God. I believe in this passage, these people were not saved as Jesus tells them “I never knew you: depart from me” :

    Matthew 7:23
    “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

    Maybe you do not agree with the way I see this verse – ok, we have a difference of interpretation.

    “As soon as you do a good work in order to “earn” something, you have done the good work for a selfish reason.”

    So, doesn’t this mean that if you believe, repent, trust, and ask in order to earn salvation… then is that selfish? Thus, again, I do not believe we litterally earn salvation (in that we deserve because of those few actions we do) even though we do actions to recieve it… You can selfishly ask for salvation and really hate God but ask because you fear hell (although I don’t know who would do this)… but that will get you nowhere because it isn’t true repentance of sins, and in that case, maybe you can say they were trying to earn it through just going through the actions, but you can bet it won’t work.

    – – – – –

    Now to societyvs,

    “Again? I do understand your theology – I have been a part of it’s working myself for a good 6 years – but I am differing now in what it all means and why.”

    If you differ on the vary basics of my theology (what it means and why), then you have certainly not been a part of my theology. We are too different to be considered the same by my definition. As far as to if you are saved or Christian, it matters not what I think. What matters is what God thinks. I just know we are different, and I believe you are wrong on some things, but you think I am too… so oh well.

    About the actions for earning salvation thing… I think you can read waht I said above and get my viewpoint.

    “(1) gladly recieved HIS WORD – now this is all that is said about salvation in Acts 2:41 – how can you lambaste me for saying this exact same thing to a tee concerning salvation?”

    Yes, that is all that is said in verse 41.. but honestly… I can’t understand you, I just don’t believe you. You even put “HIS WORD” in all caps and didn’t even go back into context to see what “HIS WORD” was. Yes, that is all in verse 41, but for goodness sake, look at the context.

    Let me add just a little bit more context.

    Acts 2:38
    “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

    Three parts to this,
    “Repent” – obviously means repent which means be truly sorry for your sins and turn away from sin toward God.

    “and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” – Old English word “for” here meaning “because” as in “because of” so let me resate with this in mind:
    “and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ because of the remission of sins”
    or litteraly “because your sins have been remitted.”

    “and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” – they recieved power from the Holy Ghost to carry out the work of the Lord.

    So we find in just this small piece context that repenting is needed for salvation. In more parts there is described the death and resurection of Jesus hence belief in Jesus and what He did is needed for salvation… context – important, you’ve said this yourself.

    “Let’s finish that portion of Acts – since there is quite a bit more to being a follower of Christ: (Acts 2:43-47)”

    Well, at least you looked at this part of the context… (even though I disagree on parts your interpretation again…)

    “Obviously in this scenario Paul paints – a fire will burn the house but of you built with the best products – they will remain.”

    Yes and if it remain you have reward. Thus, there are rewards in heaven.
    1 Corinthians 3:14
    “If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.”

    But if your work is burned then no reward for it, thus levels of reward.
    1 Corinthians 3:15
    “If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”

    I say the rewards are in heaven… thus “the day shall declare it” being judgment day in heaven. Again, we have a difference of interpretation. I say the rewards are in heaven and it is easy to see. You put them on earth and say your point is easy to see.

    “2 Timothy is symbolic language as well ‘crown of righteousness’ – is this literal?”

    I believe it is. This isn’t the only place reward crowns are found in the Bible. Again, you like to make almost everything have some form of symbolism or hidden meaning or something (reminds me of Gnosticism)… And so, we differ on interpretation yet again.

    About Jesus’ teaching and the the two main commandments, I think you can find my view on that in what I’ve said above to OneSmallStep.

  14. Starfox,

    **But is this earning salvation as in deserving salvation? Do we deserve salvation ever? No, it is mercy. We may have to act in order to recieve salvation… but we still do not deserve it because we did not truly earn it.**

    Yes. We do deserve salvation/love, in the same manner that a child deserves the love from a parent. The way a friend deserves the love from another friend. It is deserved givne the very fact that we are created and we exist. It’s not a matter of being “good” enough to have anything. The point is that the love and salvation are there simply because you exist. You don’t have to “earn” a parent’s love. Why would you have to earn the Father’s love?

    **Don’t you need to start on the right path before you can follow it? hehe Yes, there are many, many more things to being Christian.**

    But the path of being a Christian was clear in the two great commandments. Or in the Samaritain parable — to be Christian is to be Christ-like. It is a life of action, of deeds. It wasn’t so much focused on baptism, or meeting in a church, or holding to doctrines. When you say someone is Christ-like, do you mean they acted as Jesus did, or that they believe the right things?

    **On this I agree, but I still think that these people thought they were good enough to get into heaven on their own merrit (all the good they *said* they did)**

    But the problem is is that the verse itself is a very action oriented verse. Only those who do the will of the Father enter the kingdom of Heaven (and this doesn’t necesarily mean heaven. It could be the heaven on Earth that was soon suppose to come). However, their confusion came from the fact that they didn’t know why Jesus said he didn’t know them, since they did what his followers were supposed to do. The focus there isn’t on “you can’t earn salvation,” but rather make sure you truly know what doing the will of the Father entails.

    **You can not do true good without being saved. And after being saved, you can not do true good without relying on God.**

    This is very much untrue. Gandhi is one such example. And we are given specific criteria as to how to identify good fruit, or the fruit of the Spirit — and there are people who meet both who are not Christian.

    **So, doesn’t this mean that if you believe, repent, trust, and ask in order to earn salvation… then is that selfish?**

    If you do so only to get into heaven, then yes. It’s selfish. The entire thing has become a rewards system. The whole thing behind Paul’s “it is grace that saves you” in Ephesians is so that people don’t get prideful and boast about all the glorious things they did. If it becomes about how your works saves you, then the focus immediatlly becomes selfish. You start measuring the works themselves, and it’s almost like a scorecard. You let the works go entirely. You’re in. Don’t worry about keeping it/losing it. Don’t focus on the works. They’re already there. Just focus on helping/loving others. The point should be that whenver you face God, you did good works because it was the right thing to do, rather than you did good works in order to get a reward. The work should be done whether there’s a reward or not.

  15. Good stuff Starfox – thanks for the response – good to see we are all looking at these issues – I couldn’t be more thankful. Here is my response.

    “Do we deserve salvation ever?” (Starfox)

    Interesting point but it would have to be wrong in order for you to have salvation in the first place…obviously we were deemed worthy of it on some level by God Himself. Can we earn it – likely not – but do we deserve it – yes.

    “just means without the first two greatest, the rest mean nothing.” (Starfox)

    Then why follow the commandments if they are not part of ‘your salvation’ plan? That’s the part that makes no sense – all we truly need is the story and acceptance of that story for salvation – we follow the appropraite formula and we are done. Unless the commandments signiify the use of blood on the doorposts? Maybe?

    “We are too different to be considered the same by my definition” (Starfox)

    Theologically or Christian? I think we differ on the interpretations and certain theologies that influence that definition (namely exclusivity inherent in the idea of Jesus’ teachings) – heck – granted we are different now does not mean we were not very alike at one juncture of time. I think it is all good to differ on these issues – but I also think discussion of said passages needs to be kept open.

    “So we find in just this small piece context that repenting is needed for salvation” (Starfox)

    I looked over the whole speech by Peter and found a little more in that context worth considering ‘”Be saved from this perverse generation!” (vs. 41) – even Peter thinks in terms of the ‘here and now’.

    What is also very noteworthy – is the people did all that symbology – and still were ‘continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching’ (vs. 42). The symbology clearly comes from the Passover event and reason for it – but as with Moses we see the Passover event (blood on the doorposts) and eventually the giving of the Torah from God to Moses. I think this is also evident in the first community of Christians – an event involving blood (also lamb symbology) and we then see the apostles teaching of Jesus to their community (I think they are so closely tied to have the event without the teachings is to also disgrace the event.

    “death and resurection of Jesus hence belief in Jesus and what He did is needed for salvation” (Starfox)

    Death (atonement idea) + resurrection (hope/life) – I think they are ideas to be followed and not just to be believed in. Salvation is a much deeper idea than I think you are portraying – it seems the apostles viewed it as a lifestyle.

    “Thus, there are rewards in heaven” (Starfox)

    Do you want rewards in heaven? Just because you re-ittirate an idea twice does not mean it is valid. ‘The day’ is mentioned but nowhere in that idea is it clear Paul is referring to heaven – or why doesn’t he just say it? Even if Paul is referring to the ‘day of judgement’ (which would makes sense since he does use ‘fire’ as a symbol here) – it does not neccesarily mean in ‘heaven’. He could also very well mean ‘fire’ in terms of judgment that helps clarify your life (refiner’s fire type thing). Check this little ditty out:

    Psalm 66:10
    For You have tried us, O God;
    You have refined us as silver is refined

    We see the term of refinery used their (ie: fire example again) and it’s used in the past tense – as something that has happened and made one better – even in their present situation.

    “Again, you like to make almost everything have some form of symbolism or hidden meaning or something” (Starfox)

    See here’s the problem Starfox – not everything these writer’s wrote is straight-forward or literal…the NT is littered with so many examples of literary nuances – including metaphor – it would be impossible to interpret the passages of any writer without a very good read of the passage.

    Paul is using a metaphor for a real situation in both examples – kind of like we see in the gospels a lot (you really should study some Jewish rabbi’s and their symbolism). Paul admittedly says he studied under a Rabbi (Gamliel) – so he would be quite familiar with this type of literary nuance – plus the Tanakh is chalk filled with the stuff – of th which – he bases teachings on.

    So when Paul mention ‘fire’ in that one passage – he is using it symbolically to mean something else – or can we literally build ‘gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw’ on Christ or even people? No – we cannot. So obviously Paul is using metaphor or allegory to make his point.

    In 2 Tim 4 we see Paul using metaphor again just prior to this passage in question ‘I am already being poured out as a drink offering’…is Paul being literally poured like a ‘drink’? Also Paul says ‘I have finished the course’…are we in some kind of race or something? No and no again. Now he says ‘crown of righteousness’ and you want to take that as literal – I guess it is possible – but it is as likely as James saying this ‘he will receive the crown of life’ (James 1:12) – is there literally a ‘crown of life’ also? I am starting to notice there are quite a few crowns out there:

    Psalm 103:4 ‘Who crowns you with loving kindness and compassion”
    Proverbs 12:4 ‘An excellent wife is the crown of her husband’
    Proverbs 14:18 ‘But the sensible are crowned with knowledge’
    Isaiah 28:3 ‘The proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim’
    Isaiah 62:3 ‘You will also be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD”
    Philippians 4:1 ‘my joy and crown’ (paul addressing a community of people)
    1 Thess 2:19 ‘For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation?’
    Heb 2:7 ‘CROWNED HIM WITH GLORY AND HONOR”
    1 Peter 5:4 ‘the unfading crown of glory’
    Rev 2:10 ‘I will give you the crown of life’

    Are those all literal also? Paul seems to thrown around crown like it is used in the Psalms and Proverbs (wisdom lit by the way) – where symbology is everything. Do I think Paul is getting a literal crown – only if the Phillipian community is being used by Paul as a crown of some sort. Now that’s rather funny.

  16. As far as deserving salvation. We are His creation but not His children until we are saved – then we are His adopted sons and daughters (plenty of reference to this including the fact that we “must be born again”). Before that, as His creation, we have rebelled against Him. His own creation rebelling!? And yet somehow we are to deserve salvation!? We most certainly do not deserve it. If we deserved it then it would not be mercy (check the definition of mercy). God loved us anyway! He loved us because He is all love and gave us mercy when we did not deserve it. He he gave us waht we deserved using only His justice, then we would all go to hell. Good thing God is not only all justice but also all love. All love and offering us mercy!

    “Then why follow the commandments if they are not part of ‘your salvation’ plan?”

    Because it is part of being Christian… Be saved does not make you Christian. Being saved gets you to heaven… living Christian gets you a life worth living and something to show for it when you get to heaven (not that rewards is the reason though).

    “When you say someone is Christ-like, do you mean they acted as Jesus did, or that they believe the right things? ”

    Both. Being Christian is indeed a life style you have… but why would you live right if you did not believe right? Also, it has to begin somewhere and Acts 2 gives an example of where and how to start.

    No, you can not be good and be unsaved. You can be good in the eyes of men, but before God, all good without salvation is as filthy rags. And if saved but relying on yourself instead of working through God and according to His will, then still the good in the eyes of God is as filthy rags. What true good we can do, is by the power of God and is therefore really His good if we truly give Him credit for all things as we should. No, I do not “do good” just o recieve a reward, and that should not be our focus. But, we can know that we will recieve rewards for what we do, but as was said, we should do it because it is right and it is waht God wants us to do.

    Not everything is talking about the here and now. Some does and some does not. Paul mentions “Be saved from this perverse generation”… but why? because that generation was on its way to hell. That is looking ahead!

    “Do you want rewards in heaven? Just because you re-ittirate an idea twice does not mean it is valid.”

    And, just because you re-ittirate that it is all symbolic and there are no rewards doesn’t make it so either.

    I think the Bible is fairly clear as to when it is symbolic and when it isn’t. And, not everything is symbolic. Some crowns are syumbolic and others are literal. You example of the Phillipians I would interpret to mean that he would recieve a crown for the work he did with them. – we differ a lot on interpretation. I don’t think everything is symbolic and you do for most things it seems. Let’s leave it at that because I doubt we will agree on very much of anything concerning interpretation of scripture.

  17. Starfox,

    **And yet somehow we are to deserve salvation!? We most certainly do not deserve it. If we deserved it then it would not be mercy (check the definition of mercy).**

    Yes. We do deserve it. Or do tell your family and friends that they deserve nothing from you except punishment? Would you tell your children that? Would you go tell a starving African that they didn’t deserve help or healing?

    We even deserve it more if we had no choice in the rebellion. If we have inherited a “sin nature” and can do no good on our own, through no fault of our own, then we deserve it even more because we’re stuck in a situation through no fault of our own. And we are his children way before being saved — the Lord’s Prayer, to the disciples who were not born again at that time. Or Matthew 7: 9-12, where since your father would give you bread if you ask, then the heavenly Father will give more. They still weren’t “born again.” Or the peacemakers will be considered the children of God.

    Justice is also a restoring force — I believe in Judaism, to do justice to someone or behave righteously is a good thing. “What doth the Lord require of thee, but to act justly, to love loyalty, and to walk wisely before your God.” (Micah 6: 8). That type of justice had nothing to do with punishment. Many times in the Psalms, when they speak of “justice” it is an anticipated event, because it would be considered a liberating one. God, in His justice, liberates His people from evil. He saves them from oppression. That is what a just God does.

    Mercy, in a basic form, is a kind or compassionate behavior. Oftentimes, when the Psalmst cries out for mercy from God, it’s through a situation that is not the fault of the psalmist. So it is still mercy even if we deserve it, because it is kind behavior. It is helping out someone who is in trouble. You do show mercy on someone if you don’t fully punish them. But you also show mercy on someone if you give them bread when they’re starving.

    **Both. Being Christian is indeed a life style you have… but why would you live right if you did not believe right?**

    Except the very word Christian doesn’t encompass both. To be Christ-like is to act like Jesus. It literally means “To be anointed-one like.” IT’s all about actions, not a belief set.

    **No, you can not be good and be unsaved. You can be good in the eyes of men, but before God, all good without salvation is as filthy rags.**

    You seriously think that Gandhi was only good in the eyes of men? He lived a Christian life better than probably about 80% of the Christians throughout history. If you knew nothing about his belief set, and only had actions to go on, you’d think he was a Christian, because he was demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit. We know those who follow Jesus if they love one another. The defining features of how someone is in terms of God is by their behavior. That’s all we really have to go on — the whole ‘actions speak louder than words.’

    Job was considered righteous. Zechariah and Elizabeth were considered upright and devout. In 1 Kings 22: 41, Jehosaphat did what was right in the sight of the Lord. I believe there are others who did so as well in the 1 Kings. But the Isaiah verse itself — are you sure it can be applied to everyone, or just in context of who is speaking in the verse? Psalms 9 says that man is made a little lower than angels/gods, and crowned with glory and honor, which does imply that man can do good.

    ** Paul mentions “Be saved from this perverse generation”… but why? because that generation was on its way to hell. That is looking ahead!**

    Question — how many times does Paul mention hell, specifically? Not in terms of destruction or such. How many times does he say that those who don’t accept Christ are going to hell, in those exact words? Judaism doesn’t really have an afterlife where the “unsaved” suffer eternally, and this is the religion that Paul came out of. Salvation in the Tanakh did not mean “not going to hell.” He doesn’t say that the crooked age/generation is going to hell in that context.

    Most of the time when Jesus used the word ‘hell,’ he was referring to “Gehenna,” which was a literal dumping ground for all the trash. The fires there were constantly burning, and a certain type of worm lived there.

  18. “And, just because you re-ittirate that it is all symbolic and there are no rewards doesn’t make it so either” (Starfox)

    I am not stating something either that I ain’t backing up from proof of the writer’s background in scripture…so I am not merely re-ittirating it without massive proofs from all over scripture or within the person’s own writings. That being said – I just wrote a post on another symbolic idea – ‘the temple of God being our body’ – is that literal? Obviously not – but it states the point the writer wants to make.

    “because that generation was on its way to hell. That is looking ahead!” (Starfox)

    But Acts 2 does not mention that anywhere and Peter seems to be using that in reference to the ‘present state of affairs’ and ‘hell’ never appears in that whole speech made by Peter (not even a hint to that place).

    “Be saved does not make you Christian” (Starfox)

    Alright – but it makes you worthy of the kingdom of heaven anyways – isn’t that just as good as being a Christian (same place when you die)?

    We obviously disagree on the nature of salvation and what that means to the faith – but I think you’re adding in theology where the passages themselves do not contain the theology…and no amount of interpretation of some scriptures can truly change that.

  19. “We do deserve it. Or do tell your family and friends that they deserve nothing from you except punishment?”

    As I said we are not His chilredn until after we are saved, and yes, the disciples were saved. I do not know how you can say otherwise.

    “We even deserve it more if we had no choice in the rebellion.”

    We are not only sinners by nature, but we are sinners by our own choice. We most certainly do have a choice in the rebellion, and we fall short by our own choices. We have a choice to resist our flesh, just as Adam and Eve had a choice to resist their flesh.

    There are aparently different types of justice. Read the whole Old Testament and then try to tell me justice did not include punishment. Read about Ananias and Sapphira in the New Testament in Acts

    5:1-11. Punishment, even if you don’t call it justice (for whatever strange reason you might come up with), it is still punishment.

    Mercy = unmerited favor – Kindness when deserved harsher justice. God has mercy on us because He loves us… watering down the definition of mercy doesn’t mean we deserve salvation – just means you have a soggy definition for mercy.

    “[Christianity is] all about actions, not a belief set.”

    How can one call themselves a Christian if they do not have the right beliefs? As you yourselves put it, belief is an action! So believing like Jesus is an action by your own statements.

    I do not know who Gandhi is.. and it really doesn’t matter. Just because he did good all his life doesn’t mean he went to heaven – and if he didn’t go to heaven, then what do those “righteous works” amount to as far as God is concerned – how about nothing. I do not know, maybe he was saved… beats me. Only he and God know that for sure. If he was, then you can call him Christian and maybe be correct. Otherwise, nope.

    “Job was considered righteous. Zechariah and Elizabeth were considered upright and devout. In 1 Kings 22: 41, Jehosaphat did what was right in the sight of the Lord.”

    They were saved, although I imagin you will come up with some reason to say that they were not, and if you do – I just…. *sighs and shakes head*

    “Psalms 9 says that man is made a little lower than angels/gods, and crowned with glory and honor, which does imply that man can do good.”

    We can do good, if we are saved and are depending on God. Maybe the whole misunderstanding is that I am talking about how God sees what is good, and you are talking about how man sees what is good.

    “He doesn’t say that the crooked age/generation is going to hell in that context.”

    One, it is Peter talking, not Paul (*sigh*). Two, if that generation was not doomed, then why save themselves from it?

    “(not even a hint to that place).”

    I said that what I pointed out was “hint to it” indeed! – We disagree on interpretation again.

    I take it that you think that hell is not litteral? What is the lake of fire in revelations into which all whose names are not written in the book of life are cast?

    “so I am not merely re-ittirating it without massive proofs from all over scripture or within the person’s own writings.”

    Btw, I back my stuff up too… I just do so in a different way and you just don’t accept the facts I present, and I do not accept your symbolizing and obscuring everthing.

    “Alright – but it makes you worthy of the kingdom of heaven anyways – isn’t that just as good as being a Christian (same place when you die)?”

    Aparently some amount of re-itteration is needed. Being saved gets you to heaven. Being Christian gets you a life worth living and sometihng to show for it when you get there.

    “I think you’re adding in theology where the passages themselves do not contain the theology”

    And, I think you are adding symolism and obscurity where things should be plainly obvious. Even where symbolism is used, I believe most if not all times, it is used to make things easier to understand – not used so that you have a degree in Jewish customs/writting and/or Greek and/or theology to understand it.

  20. Starfox,

    **As I said we are not His chilredn until after we are saved, and yes, the disciples were saved. I do not know how you can say otherwise.**
    Because they hadn’t confessed Jesus as Lord and Savior at that point, in a Christian context. Nor had Jesus died, so there was no resurrection to confess in. And the Sermon itself was directed towards an entire crowd, who marvelled at the teaching. He was telling that entire crowd, who also wouldn’t have been “saved” by your definition. That entire crowd was told that God was their Father, way before there was any sort of salvation based on Christian understanding.

    Or, look at Acts 17, with Paul addressing those worshipping an unknown God. They would not have been “saved” at that point, lacking the right beliefs. But they were called God’s offspring, for in God they lived, and moved, and had their being.

    **We are not only sinners by nature, but we are sinners by our own choice. We most certainly do have a choice in the rebellion**

    No. If we are born sinners, then we will sin by default. If we cannot do good without the assistence of God, if we cannot do good on our own, then we don’t have a matter in the rebellion. We rebel by default.

    **There are aparently different types of justice. Read the whole Old Testament and then try to tell me justice did not include punishment.**

    If it’s punishment for the sake of punishment, then it becomes an “eye for an eye” sort of deal, which is exactly what Jesus spoke out against. And I never said that justice doesn’t include punishment. It does, but it needs to be a corrective kind. But half the time in the Tanakh when the Psalmist speak of justice, they are talking about a liberation from oppression. God’s justice in that sense was something they embraced. Again, the Micah quote — what the Lord looks for is to do justice, and that doesn’t mean punish evil-doers. It means to help those less fortunate. SAme with Psalms 10: 17-18. Psalms 11.

    Think of it this way: if you say a society is just, do you mean that society has lots of punishments? Or do you mean that the society is fair and equal, and everyone is okay?

    **Mercy = unmerited favor – Kindness when deserved harsher justice. God has mercy on us because He loves us… watering down the definition of mercy doesn’t mean we deserve salvation – just means you have a soggy definition for mercy.**
    Watering down? It’s part of the dictionary definition: http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/Mercy. At its core, mercy means kindness, and not always an unmerited kindness. If you show mercy to someone who is starving, you are doing so because they do deserve your help and love.

    **How can one call themselves a Christian if they do not have the right beliefs? As you yourselves put it, belief is an action!**

    Because of what the word means — to be Christ-*like.* That means to behave as Jesus did. Nor did I say belief was action — repentence is the action. Trust is the action. Belief is a lot harder to be an action. I can’t “choose” to believe that the sky is polka-dotted.

    **They were saved, although I imagin you will come up with some reason to say that they were not, and if you do – I just…. **
    Saved how? Saved for what? If you ask a Jewish person if they are saved, their first question will be “Saved from what?” Salvation in the Tanakh had nothing to do with going to heaven, nor avoiding hell. Oftentimes, it was referring to a physical liberation. Or look at Psalms 7. The Psalmist says he should be judged according to his righteousness, for he is clearly innocent, compared to his enemies. The Psalms verse doesn’t say that man was saved, it is describing how man was created. A generic man. Where in Job does it say that Job did good because he was “saved?” (This is defining salvation as “not going to hell.”)

    **We can do good, if we are saved and are depending on God. Maybe the whole misunderstanding is that I am talking about how God sees what is good, and you are talking about how man sees what is good.**

    Nope. I’m talking about what the Bible specifically labels as good — the fruits of the Spirit. Loving one’s enemies. Gandhi had those (just type the name in a Google search. MLK Jr. modled his tactics after Gandhi).

    **One, it is Peter talking, not Paul (*sigh*). Two, if that generation was not doomed, then why save themselves from it?** I was aware that it was Peter talking — you were the one who referred to the speaker as Paul. Second, you didn’t answer the question about Paul: where does Paul say there’s a hell? Third, there isn’t a hint. The word “generation” can also be translated as “age.” Save yourself from this crooked age. But it doesn’t say that the age/generation are going to hell. The age might simply end. The generation might simply be destroyed. But the core meaning behind salvation is healing/rescue/liberation. Perhaps from a certain behavior one has, or from physical circumstances.

    **I take it that you think that hell is not litteral? What is the lake of fire in revelations into which all whose names are not written in the book of life are cast?**
    This same lake of fire where hell (Sheol/Hades) itself is cast into? And death is cast in as well?

    Again, most places where the word “hell” has been translated does not refer to a is modifying a literal garbage dump — Gehenna. It is also mentioned in the Tanakh as “valley of Hinnom, valley of the son of Hinnom or valley of the children of Hinnom.” Such examples are Joshua 15:8, 18:16, 2nd Kings 23:10, Jeremiah 19:2.

    No, I don’t believe in a place of literal eternal torment. God’s presence is everywhere, even in Sheol — Psalms 139. And in the end, when creation has been redeemed, God will be all-in-all. If there is a place where God can’t be, such as “hell,” then God won’t be all-in-all.

  21. Starfox,

    ****One, it is Peter talking, not Paul (*sigh*). Two, if that generation was not doomed, then why save themselves from it?** I was aware that it was Peter talking — you were the one who referred to the speaker as Paul. **

    I apologize for this comment. It doesn’t relate to what we’re discussing, and got a little petty on my part.

  22. “God has mercy on us because He loves us…” (Starfox)

    Better question – why is God so angry with us? We need mercy from punishment (which you state is merited and deserved) – what did any of us do to Him that would make Him so mad – mad enough to push us into a literal burning hell forever?

    “How can one call themselves a Christian if they do not have the right beliefs?” (Starfox)

    On this question – concerning beliefs – I have studied it quite intricately. Believing in something as used in the gospels – and even by Paul – seems to be so tied to one’s actions the word ‘believe’ is synonamous with ‘acting upon what you claim’. I think in our day in age we use belief sets/doctrines to try make it mean the same thing – like ‘we believe this creed to be true’ (all verbal assertion and does not require action of any kind) – but that is not how belief was used in the 1st century – or at the least – in the NT.

    “I take it that you think that hell is not litteral?” (Starfox)

    Fact: in Acts 2 Peter does not mention ‘hell’ at all (read it and check)

    Hell – interesting topic to be honest – I have not done any deep study into this whole area of theology – although it does intrigue me. As of now, I cannot say there is a literal place called ‘hell’ – then again – I cannot so much as point to a place called ‘heaven’ either (even if they are – they are not known by us).

    I do know hell was not used in Jewish theology but comes from Greek theology – Hades for example. Then there are various names for hell used in the gospels and I guess the big question is how are they used.

    The bigger question – can you live with a God that would punish someone forever?

    “you just don’t accept the facts I present, and I do not accept your symbolizing and obscuring everthing” (Starfox)

    I look at your scriptural pieces and I am not debating the whole idea within them – obviously your passages are valid – but some of your claims come off to me as very doctrinally upholding and nothing more – and maybe you’re right and I am wrong – I say let our teachings and what they bring forward in others bear that out (as true proof).

    As for the symbolizing, whether you like that or not – that isn’t going to change the way Jewish people used literary devices in their scriptural writings – you can ignore it and even say ‘I am wrong’ – but how many examples do you need before this becomes a reality to you? Not everything has to be literal – and sentences using literary devices do not make the point of the passage any weaker. I am just stating what I see when I read the Tanakh, the gospels, the letters, and Revelations – some things are said literally and some things are told with figurative language – it’s a fact.

    “Being saved gets you to heaven. Being Christian gets you a life worth living and sometihng to show for it when you get there.” (Starfox)

    I would ask the crowd about this – does this seem like there are 2 ways/paths to heaven? Or does Jesus (as the way) have seperate paths for people to walk down each varying in degree of reward? Why stop at 2 paths?

    “Even where symbolism is used, I believe most if not all times, it is used to make things easier to understand” (Starfox)

    I agree – but I would add as an addendum – Jewish symbology is vastly misunderstood and not even talked about in any real depth in our churches. I think it would be fair to say there will be misunderstandings about Jewish symbology – namely Revelations – since this is not an area we have firm roots in (in Western societies). In essence, we are far removed from the times of the writings and have been helped to be further removed by generations of interpretations coming from non-Jewish perspectives.

  23. “Because they hadn’t confessed Jesus as Lord and Savior at that point, in a Christian context.”

    What do you mean “in a Christian context” They had indeed trusted in Jesus. Later they actually met Him though and then had to discover that it was He in whom they had trusted (and I don’t think that took long).

    “way before there was any sort of salvation based on Christian understanding.”

    Before Jesus came and died, there was salvation just as we have it today. They looked forward toward the time of His death and resurrection and repented of sins and trusted that Jesus would come and they were saved and we look backward at it and repent of sins and trust Jesus to save us and are saved.

    —-

    “Nope. I’m talking about what the Bible specifically labels as good — the fruits of the Spirit.”

    You won’t have the fruits of the spirit unless you are spiritually alive. As far as God is concerned, you can not produce fruit unless you abide in the true vine!

    John 15:4-5
    “4. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
    5. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”

    —-

    We are God’s offspring in that He created us. That is the point Paul is making if you read the context. We still still do not become the adopted sons and daughters of God having an inheritance until after we are born again into the family of God. Why else would we need to be born again into the family of God if we are already in it?

    “If we are born sinners, then we will sin by default.”

    We are born with a sin nature, but we fall because of our choice. We chose to sin. Thus, we can not do good on our own apart from God and being saved.

    “what the Lord looks for is to do justice, and that doesn’t mean punish evil-doers.”

    Justice can mean punish evil doers… I guess you didn’t read the Old Testament… shame. Here is just one of the many obvious examples in the Old Testament: Sodom and Gomorrah.

    Justice is fair and offers reward for good and punishment for evil.

    Concerning mercy from justice,
    As quoted from the very page you gave me:
    “compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one’s power; also : lenient or compassionate treatment”

    Romans 5:7-9
    “7. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
    8. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
    9. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”

    Seems there is a comparison made here. We as humans would hardly die for a good man who might “deserve” it, yet Jesus died for us even when we were sinners and did not deserve it. Why? Because God loves us even though we are sinners and did not deserve it… even though we did nothing for Him to love us. Even though we were sinners and did not seek Him or love Him, He loved us first anyway.

    1 John 4:19
    “We love him, because he first loved us.”

    We did nothing to deserve His kindness, grace, and mercy. Now having said that… I went back and re-read…

    “obviously we were deemed worthy of it on some level by God Himself. Can we earn it – likely not – but do we deserve it – yes.”

    To some degree I guess I can agree to this. God obviously thought we were worth saving. But, as I think you are also saying, Societyvs, we still did notinthg to deserve it.

    As to what we did to make Him angry? We reject Him and we reject His Son (the human race as a whole does). For those of us who accept His Son, He is not angry.

    “mad enough to push us into a literal burning hell forever?”

    If He wanted to, He could do it right now, but hE doesn’t want to! He sent Jesus so we would not Go to Hell. He doesn’t send anyone there, they send themselves through willful regection of the simple way God has provided them. God hates sin, not the sinner… and some sinners chose to die in (with) their sins having never taken the payment for sins that was offered freely to them. So, they go to hell with their sins by their own choice.

    —-

    Moving on…

    “Nor did I say belief was action”

    Maybe you didn’t but I think Societyvs did… but if not oh well, beliving is an action. People chose to believe in God all the time (or not believe in Him) just like they can chose to repent or chose to trust. You can hardly deny that.

    “Believing in something as used in the gospels – and even by Paul – seems to be so tied to one’s actions the word ‘believe’ is synonamous with ‘acting upon what you claim’”

    So you just pretty much said what I said. If what you claim or “believe” is not right, then your actions which come from “acting upon what you claim” will not be right… and therefore, how can you be Christian and not have the right beliefs?

    —-

    “you were the one who referred to the speaker as Paul”

    Yup, I did, sorry about that. *sigh* *shakes head*

    “Save yourself from this crooked age. But it doesn’t say that the age/generation are going to hell.”

    So we differ on interpretation. I say it means save from hell, and you make up something different and sound like you’re not even sure what exactly. Obscurity of simple, obvious truths.

    “This same lake of fire where hell (Sheol/Hades) itself is cast into? And death is cast in as well?”

    Yes, if I remember correctly
    Note: hell (Sheol/Hades) can= the current “hell” where they go until the lake of fire is ready. This is the hell of…

    Luke 16:23-24
    “23. And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
    24. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.”

    (And, please don’t tell me this is a parable without a literal hell… parables don’t use real people with real names like Lazarus – if you really know parables then you know this.)

    “Again, most places where the word “hell” has been translated does not refer to a is modifying a literal garbage dump”

    I think so… at times… but at other times not… and I don’t know about “most” times. The “garbage dump” is obviously not the hell of Luke 16:23-24 thought it is I believe the “hell” of other references. Still in some places I think hell refers to the grave and in other places, yes, the hell of luke 16:23-24.

    “God’s presence is everywhere, even in Sheol — Psalms 139. And in the end, when creation has been redeemed, God will be all-in-all. If there is a place where God can’t be, such as “hell,” then God won’t be all-in-all.”

    Sheol is not the final lake of fire… and let me tell you how God will be in the final lake of fire… God’s punishment for sin will be there… that is how God will be there, and that is the only way.

    “(even if they are – they are not known by us)”

    They are known to us via the Bible and via the words of Jesus Himself.

    “can you live with a God that would punish someone forever”

    Yes, and if you want to question Him… well, that’s your choice.

    “but some of your claims come off to me as very doctrinally upholding and nothing more”

    There’s nothing wrong with upholding good doctrine (teaching) and there is more than just doctrine upholding, there is living by the doctrines.

    “and maybe you’re right and I am wrong – I say let our teachings and what they bring forward in others bear that out (as true proof)”

    Guess we’ll see one day.

    “Not everything has to be literal – and sentences using literary devices do not make the point of the passage any weaker.”

    “some things are said literally and some things are told with figurative language – it’s a fact.”

    I agree, true, but I believe your interpretation of those “literary devices” is flawed into obscurity. I believe the symolism and “literary devices” are normally used to make things clearer and make a basic, obvious point. I don’t think you have to know a lot about Jewish writing to understand them, and I do not think the meanings are as “obscure” or “blury” or “unsure” or whatever as you find them to be.

  24. Oh yes and…

    We sin by choice. First we are born innocent, then we learn right from wrong, and then we CHOSE wrong and make ourselves sinners by choice.

  25. They looked forward toward the time of His death and resurrection and repented of sins and trusted that Jesus would come and they were saved and we look backward at it and repent of sins and trust Jesus to save us and are saved.

    No we didn’t. There is no such teaching to be found anywhere in Judaism.

  26. “Before Jesus came and died, there was salvation just as we have it today. They looked forward toward the time of His death and resurrection and repented of sins and trusted that Jesus would come and they were saved” (Starfox)

    Where did you pull this out of the Tanakh? Show me a few examples – I mean – if it is true – it would have to be all over the place in there. Start with Adam, then go through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (names used specifically by Jesus), Moses, Elijah, David, Solomon, the prophets, etc.

    “Why else would we need to be born again into the family of God if we are already in it?” (Starfox)

    Good point but are we sure this relates to someone’s eternal resting or torture place?

    “As to what we did to make Him angry? We reject Him and we reject His Son (the human race as a whole does). For those of us who accept His Son, He is not angry” (Starfox)

    Rejection makes God angry? Now when we talk about rejection here – we mean more than just verbally turning down someone right? And for acceptance – we mean more than just mere verbal acceptance right?

    For example – a girl asks me to the strawberry social and I am not sure I like her – I think I like another girl in my class (I am in grade 8 in this fictional account). I turn to the girl who likes me and say ‘I am not sure I want to go with you – I have my eyes on another person – sorry’ (rejection). I then in turn go to the girl I like and ask her to the strawberry social – and she gladly says ‘yes’ (acceptance). All of that is verbal acceptance/rejection – and yes – I am cooler and always get the girl in my plays.

    Point being, is that what we would compare ‘belief in God’ as – verbalization alone?

    “If what you claim or “believe” is not right, then your actions which come from “acting upon what you claim” will not be right… and therefore, how can you be Christian and not have the right beliefs?” (Starfox)

    I agree to a certain extent – I think you are on the right path here concerning belief. Now I will draw a comparitive picture about 2 beliefs.

    Belief A: Jesus is propitiation for our sins
    Beilef B: Take up your cross and follow me (Jesus)

    Both of those are beliefs in the church – which one of the 2 requires something of you (an actual action – alliteration)? Which one is found in the doctrinal statement?

    Point of Exercise: Belief A requires no action on your part – it’s a ‘just is’ statement that happened sometime in history. However, the church paints this belief is of absolute neccesity to be ‘like Christ’ – however – even if you believe it – it requires nothing of you. Belief B is asking ‘you’ something and even has action verbs (take/follow). In that belief you have to do something to ‘prove’ you actually believe the saying (take up your cross and follow). I think the gospels when they use the term ‘believe in Jesus/God’ mean to use Belief B as their definition (and what you do is the teachings).

    “And, please don’t tell me this is a parable without a literal hell… parables don’t use real people with real names like Lazarus – if you really know parables then you know this” (Starfox)

    It does fall in the parables section of Luke – I noticed that. But parables do use vague terms like ‘rich man’ – who is oddly enough – not given a name (just that title). Lazarus was someone Luke would of been familiar with – maybe it has dual meaning – pointing to the Lazarus event (from John I believe) and using this person as the one of ‘meek’ surroundings.

    But if it is not a parable – what did Lazarus do to get a heavenly reward – believe in Abraham? Verse 25 simply states “But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony”. So if I recieve bad all my life – I deserve heaven?

    “They are known to us via the Bible and via the words of Jesus Himself.” (Starfox)

    Have you ever seen heaven – the place – the land – the kingdom? Have you ever seen hell – the place – the lake – the dungeon? By ‘known to us’ that is what I am getting at – can physically attest to them. I know the terms heaven and even hell are used in the NT – again these are for debate on what they all mean – as Yael pointed out to me once – heaven had 3 meanings in Jewish texts – a place, God, and the will of God. Now we see this same term and give it one meaning – a place – that my friend is where we need to be more studious.

    “Yes, and if you want to question Him… well, that’s your choice.” (Starfox)

    Interesting, are you scared of God? Do you not pray to Him? Why should we fear the one who loves us – perfect love (which God had toward us) casts out all fears.

    “and I do not think the meanings are as “obscure” or “blury” or “unsure” or whatever as you find them to be.” (Starfox)

    Really? Explain this little tidbit to me:

    “for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham.” (Matt 3:9)

    Children from stones? I think this one little problem reveals something about looking at these scenarios and saying ‘they are all straight-forward and not hard to understand’. Sometimes they are.

  27. Starfox,

    The Christian context is the Jesus is their Lord and Savior, in that Jesus died for one’s sins and was resurrected. They certaintly didn’t understand any of that, given how many questions they had throughout the Gospels, and by the fact that they all fled (with the exception of the beloved disciple) when Jesus was arrested. Any trust they had in Jesus would’ve been nothing like the trust Christians are supposed to have today.

    **They looked forward toward the time of His death and resurrection and repented of sins and trusted that Jesus would come and they were saved and we look backward at it and repent of sins and trust Jesus to save us and are saved.
    **

    As Yael said, this isn’t a teaching of Judaism. That’s not how Job or Zechariah would’ve been considered upright or righteous. In Hebrew MEssianic prophecies, there was no hint of a dying and resurrecting Messiah (and I mean what they considered prophecies, not Christian interpretation).

    **You won’t have the fruits of the spirit unless you are spiritually alive. As far as God is concerned, you can not produce fruit unless you abide in the true vine!**
    If this were true, then all the non-Christians would never be capable of doing anything good, such as helping others, or loving others, or any of that. Clearly, based on the world, that is not the case.

    **We are God’s offspring in that He created us. That is the point Paul is making if you read the context. We still still do not become the adopted sons and daughters of God having an inheritance until after we are born again into the family of God. Why else would we need to be born again into the family of God if we are already in it?**

    “Offspring” implies that there is a parent, and thus God is our parent through creating us. I again point to the Sermon on the Mount, in that Jesus told that crowd — who were not “born again –” that God was their Father.

    It could mean “born from above.” Because it later says that flesh can only give birth to flesh, and spirit gives birth to spirit. I read that as a reminder that God is a Spirit, and so to worship God, one cannot do so in a fleshly way.

    **We are born with a sin nature, but we fall because of our choice. We chose to sin. Thus, we can not do good on our own apart from God and being saved.**
    If we are born with a sin nature, then we are not born fully good. We are born tainted. We therefore have no choice but to act according to that tainted nature. We cannot “choose” to sin if sin is a part of us from the moment of birth. If we can’t ever do good without first choosing God, then without God, we can only do evil (per your logic). If you can only do evil, then you can’t “fall” by choice. There’s nothing to fall from. We can’t even be born “innocent” under this idea.

    **Justice can mean punish evil doers… I guess you didn’t read the Old Testament**
    I never said it didn’t. In the context of what the LOrd looks for, with the Micah quote, it’s not about punishing evil. It’s about restoring and helping. Same with the Psalms I pointed out. I again point to my example of a just society. What does it mean when we say a society is just?

    And I did look at the Tanakh — which is why I referenced all the Psalms, or the Gehenna examples in it as well. IT’s why I’m using the place where the Psalmist describes how God made man, crowning man with glory and honor. What do you do with that one? What do you do about the fact that to simply punish evil-doers is the whole “eye for an eye” mentality?

    **“compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one’s power; also : lenient or compassionate treatment”**
    Yes, that is one of the definitions of mercy. Did you look at the other two? The core meaning, in all three definitions, is that mercy equals kindness. That’s it.

    **We as humans would hardly die for a good man who might “deserve” it, yet Jesus died for us even when we were sinners and did not deserve it. Why? Because God loves us even though we are sinners and did not deserve it**
    So we don’t deserve love? Would you tell your child that they don’t deserve love? Or your spouse? I am again using “deserve” here in the sense that a child deserves a parent’s love simply because it is the child of the parent. Offspring don’t “earn” the love of a parent. That’s not how it works. That’s what I see in the Bible — we are to love others because they deserve it, the same way that God loves us. Otherwise, under this idea, you might as well say that people deserve to be burned alive Or someone deserves to be mutilated.

    **1 John 4:19
    “We love him, because he first loved us.”**
    Or, we love because He is the source of love. We love, because He created us to love. If He loved us, then He would’ve created us with the same ability to love. Hence, we love Him because He first loved us.

    **Maybe you didn’t but I think Societyvs did… but if not oh well, beliving is an action. **
    Really. You can choose to believe that the sky is made of polka-dots? That chickens can speak? I can’t. Repenting is something one can choose to do — an act. Belief is something that just occurs based on evidence. We can choose to try and fight against a belief. But not really choose a belief itself.

    **So we differ on interpretation. I say it means save from hell, and you make up something different and sound like you’re not even sure what exactly.**
    Starfox, it’s not an “obvious truth.” I pointed out the interpretation of the word, which can either mean “generation” or “age.” If it means age, then it’s not referring to the people, but rather the present age, compared to the age to come. Or it could mean don’t act like the current generation, but rather search for healing. If the speaker truly meant hell, why not just say, “save yourself from hell?” It focuses more on saving from this age, because the second coming was soon to occur. So where do you get the “make up something different” when I’m going based on the words themselves, as well as the Greek meaning?

    **Note: hell (Sheol/Hades) can= the current “hell” where they go until the lake of fire is ready. This is the hell of… **
    In Judaism, Sheol/Hades, has nothing to do with eternal torment. It was simply a place one went to after death. And no, that lake of fire isn’t the same hell as in Luke 16: 23-24, because the hell of Luke is also Hades — which is the very thing cast into the lake of fire.

    And if you’re going to take this as a literal hell, then you have to take the entire story literally — including what got the rich man cast into hell in the first place. Which has nothing to do with belief in Jesus, but more of his treatment towards the poor man.

    I** think so… at times… but at other times not… and I don’t know about “most” times.**
    In the NT, there are ten references to Hades/Sheol. In Judaism, it did not function as a place of torment. Rather, it was more like a grave/pit. There are thirteen references to “Gehenna,” which goes back to the garage dump. And I ask for the third time — does Paul reference any sort of hell, like Jesus does? Does the good news he spread ever mention that people will no longer have to go to hell?

    If this were truly a main concept, don’t you think it would be prevalent throughout the entire Bible? Because a good 66% doesn’t include this idea — the Tanakh. Or do you say that everytime someone prayed for salvation in the Tanakh, they were praying to be delivered from hell?

    **that is how God will be there, and that is the only way.**
    And really makes no sense. The point of a fire is to incinerate something until it doesn’t exist. Such as Hades or death — they must cease to exist. It also goes against the concept of God being all-in-all (1 Corinthians 15:28).

    This is also using Revelations to support a viewpoint, which is always tricky, given how symbolic it is.

  28. “There is no such teaching to be found anywhere in Judaism.”

    Well ya know… I aint talking about Judaism, and the Tanakh isn’t the whole Bible.

    Adam: Genesis 3:15
    “15. And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”

    Jesus Vs Satan
    thou shalt bruise his heel = Jesus death on the cross
    bruise thy head = Jesus final victory and/or His victory over death

    Sacrifices of the Old Testament were a picture of Christ coming sacrifice:
    Hebrews 9:23-26
    “23. It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.
    24. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:
    25. Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;
    26. For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.”

    Moses – The serpent in the wilderness pictured Christ:
    John 3:14
    “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:”

    David prophecied:
    Acts 2:29-31
    “29. Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.
    30. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;
    31. He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.”

    The Law in general:
    Galatians 3:11
    “11. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.”

    All are/were justified by faith… by faith in the promise that Jesus would come as shown in picture of sacrifice and in prophecy throughout the Old Testament.

    Galatians 3:22-25
    “22. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
    23. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.
    24. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
    25. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.”

    Matthew 5:17
    “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.”

    The Law was to bring them to Christ… to trusting faith in Christ.

    I said: “Why else would we need to be born again into the family of God if we are already in it?”

    You said: “Good point but are we sure this relates to someone’s eternal resting or torture place?”

    Yes, I am sure.

    “Rejection makes God angry? Now when we talk about rejection here – we mean more than just verbally turning down someone right? And for acceptance – we mean more than just mere verbal acceptance right?”

    Right

    “Point being, is that what we would compare ‘belief in God’ as – verbalization alone?”

    Nope, the belief is not just a verbal belief.

    “Belief A: Jesus is propitiation for our sins
    Beilef B: Take up your cross and follow me (Jesus)”

    Belief A: 1. You still do the action of believing. 2. You can live like you believe something.

    Belief B: This is a command to action. How is this a belief? I guess you can just believe that Jesus said it and then not act… but then that isn’t anymore Christian than trying to act without belief in God.

    “But if it is not a parable – what did Lazarus do to get a heavenly reward – believe in Abraham?”

    Luke 16:29
    “29. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.”

    Aparently Lazarus heard Moses and the prophets and believed on the promises concerning Jesus.

    “By ‘known to us’ that is what I am getting at – can physically attest to them. I know the terms heaven and even hell are used in the NT – again these are for debate on what they all mean”

    You can debate over it all you want, but for me, it isn’t all that hard to comprehend the existance of both heaven and hell. As to what they will be like, I have a general idea but do not know all the specifics because as you have stated I can not yet “physically attest to them.”

    I said: “Yes, and if you want to question Him… well, that’s your choice.”

    you asked: “Interesting, are you scared of God?”

    nope.

    “Do you not pray to Him?”

    yep

    I said you can question Him if you want to… that is your choice. I question Him, and I find that He answers me… and He does so through His word. So again I say, if you want to question Him, that’s your choice, or you can just muddle through it all you want and continue debating and being puzzled over simple things trying to find “deeper meaning apart from the obvious” and missing the whole main point of simple passages.

    As far as,
    “for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham.” (Matt 3:9)

    Well, might help if you quote the whole verse and look at it in context. Here is the whole verse and a little more context:

    Matthew 3:7-9
    “7. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
    8. Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:
    9. And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.”

    I’d say the answer is obvious. John is saying that to be a physical child of Abraham is nothing as God could make stones into physical children of Abraham if He wanted. So what John says really matters is repentance and showing that they had repentance.

    —-

    “In Hebrew MEssianic prophecies, there was no hint of a dying and resurrecting Messiah (and I mean what they considered prophecies, not Christian interpretation)”

    What about New Testament interpretation as I have pointed out above? You can not separate the Old and New Testaments in that way… they go together. The message of the Old Testament was “Jesus will come,” and the message of the New Testament is “Jesus has come and will come again.” That is the broad overview of the Bible. The Old Testament prophecied and in the New Testament, it was fulfilled. If you don’t believe all that, don’t argue with me, go argue with Jesus and the writers of the New Testament and leave me alone.

    Matthew 5:17
    “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.”

    “then all the non-Christians would never be capable of doing anything good, such as helping others, or loving others, or any of that.”

    This is true, they can not do good in the eyes of God. In the eyes of man it all seems good, but to God, in the end when it is all said and done, if they are not saved their “good” means nothing and it is not true goodness. You can try to debate your point with God on judgment day (although I have a feeling that you will not because it will be all to clear on that day).

    “I again point to the Sermon on the Mount, in that Jesus told that crowd — who were not “born again –” that God was their Father.”

    I would not say the whole crowd was a crowd totally of unbelievers. But I guess you would… oh well.

    You side step and ignor the Bible and the very words of Jesus… debate Jesus and see what He has to say.

    What I said: You won’t have the fruits of the spirit unless you are spiritually alive. As far as God is concerned, you can not produce fruit unless you abide in the true vine!

    What Jesus says: John 15:4-5
    “4. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
    5. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”

    And all you do is point at the world and say it is good. I say, take your debate up with Jesus because He knows better than I do and I’m getting tired anyway.

    “If we can’t ever do good without first choosing God, then without God, we can only do evil (per your logic).”

    Yup, in the eyes of God, all our own righteousness apart from God is as filthy rags.

    Isaiah 64:6
    “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”

    Our own righteousness apart from God is worthless being to God as nothing more than filthy rags. This verse I think which concerns Israel can be applied to us as well. If the righteousness Israel tried to do apart from God was nothing, how can our righteousness apart from God be anything either?

    “We can’t even be born “innocent” under this idea.”

    Yes we can.

    Romans 7:9
    “For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.”

    Paul was alive unto God once in innocence without knowledge of right and wrong (the Law), but he came to know right and wrong and then sinned and fell.

    I said: “Justice can mean punish evil doers… I guess you didn’t read the Old Testament”
    You said: “I never said it didn’t.”

    Then why are you debating me about it?

    “how God made man, crowning man with glory and honor.”

    God made man and crowned him with glory and honor, and man fell in sin.

    “What do you do about the fact that to simply punish evil-doers is the whole “eye for an eye” mentality?”

    God is the One who gave the law with an “eye for an eye” in the first place. This was punishment under the law… punishment by the government of the people.

    Paul said this concerning government – Romans 13:4
    “For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.”

    Jesus says
    Matthew 5:38-39,
    “38. Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
    39. But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

    Which I take it to mean this is between two people,and that we should not exact revenge because revenge is the Lord’s.

    Romans 12:19
    “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”

    Now that I have given an answer to your questions (even if you don’t like them), why don’t you answer mine… how can you bear fruit apart from the Vine when Jesus says you can not.

    “Did you look at the other two? The core meaning, in all three definitions, is that mercy equals kindness. That’s it.”

    That is not just it or just all… just because there is a central theme of kindness doesn’t mean that kindness is all that mercy is. You ignor the specifics I guess and pay attention to only the central theme.

    “So we don’t deserve love?”

    Right (we don’t “deserve” by way of “earning it”), but we have it anyway because God is mercyful. The fact that He loved us enough to make us His offspring by our being saved is a testament to His mercy. Like I said before somewhat in agreement with Societyvs… God obviously thinks we are worth saving and loving because He created us… but we really did nothing to deserve it or earn it ourselves (just like you are saying).

    If I remember right, the original point was we don’t earn salvation, and it seems you are finally saying that we don’t earn it but we do deserve it. To that I can agree to a point that God in His mercy has counted us worthy to be saved and be His offspring.

    You said: “Offspring don’t “earn” the love of a parent. That’s not how it works. That’s what I see in the Bible”

    Thank you for finally agreeing with and making my original point for me.

    “Or, we love because He is the source of love. We love, because He created us to love. If He loved us, then He would’ve created us with the same ability to love.”

    Those are differnt points not really made in the verse given (1 John 4:19)

    “Belief is something that just occurs based on evidence. We can choose to try and fight against a belief. But not really choose a belief itself.”

    Go argue that point with an Athiest. Chosing to believe is an action.

    “it’s not an ‘obvious truth.'”

    Maybe it isn’t to you… but it is to me.

    “And no, that lake of fire isn’t the same hell as in Luke 16: 23-24”

    True, when did I ever say it was?

    “And if you’re going to take this as a literal hell, then you have to take the entire story literally”

    I really do.

    “including what got the rich man cast into hell in the first place. Which has nothing to do with belief in Jesus, but more of his treatment towards the poor man.”

    Could you be more wrong? I’ll bet you can figure some way to be hehe.

    Luke 16:29
    “29. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.”

    Aparently Lazarus heard Moses and the prophets and believed on the promises concerning Jesus and the rich man did not.

    “And really makes no sense. The point of a fire is to incinerate something until it doesn’t exist. Such as Hades or death — they must cease to exist.”

    So you mind can’t wrap around the idea of eternal fire that does not burn things out of existance? Oh well. Some things you accept by faith… maybe you don’t have the faith it takes to believe this.

  29. Starfox,

    **What about New Testament interpretation as I have pointed out above? You can not separate the Old and New Testaments in that way… they go together. The message of the Old Testament was “Jesus will come,” and the message of the New Testament is “Jesus has come and will come again.”**

    You originally claimed that all the Tanakh writers were “saved” because they foresaw Jesus. Yet to prove this, you’re using NT quote after NT quote. What we’re saying is that Judaism — which is where the Tanakh comes from — does not teach this. Use the Tanakh to support your claim — that’s what we’re asking. If the message is that “God will become flesh and die for the sins of the world and resurrect,” why wasn’t that taught in Judaism? Rather, it seems that you are using the NT writers in that the NT writers say that the Tanakh does this.

    The problem with the Genesis quote is that it’s vague. In reading it own its own, you get no hint that it deals with a dying Messiah or Satan. The story itself doesn’t mention Satan at all. All of the serpents descendents are punished by having to move on their stomach. Anyone reading that on its own would assume that there’s enminity between snakes and mankind.

    The Acts quote is problamatic because it’s using how the NT quotes the Tanakh, rather than the Tanakh itself.

    I’m also asking that if salvation from hell was a prevelant theme, and specifically what Jesus came to save people from, why wasn’t this a huge idea in the Tanakh? Why not from the very beginning of the Bible? When the Tanakh writers asked for salvation, what did they mean by “salvation?”

    **This is true, they can not do good in the eyes of God. In the eyes of man it all seems good, but to God, in the end when it is all said and done, if they are not saved their “good” means nothing and it is not true goodness.**

    I have said time and time again, I am using the definition of good that comes from the Bible. Such as the Sermon on the Mount, or love one’s neighbor as oneself.. What the world would define as good would be opposite of the Sermon, given the contrast you’re setting up between world and God. Though I feel the two correlate. If the world says that it is good to help the poor, and God says that its good to help the poor, how can their be a discrepency?

    The problem here is that “good” has become a relative definition. The works themselves are no longer defined as good — such as feeding the poor. That only becomes a good work if someone “saved” is doing so. But then the work itself is defined based on who does the work, rather than the merit of the work itself.

    Yet if we reversed this, I’m sure you would say that someone who professed to be saved who then slaughtered a village was doing the wrong work. You wouldn’t base this on who the person is, you would base this on the work itself — the slaughtering of innocents. But that same criteria wouldn’t be applied to an atheist who then saved the village. You would say the work isn’t true “good.” The criteria is inconsistent.

    **I would not say the whole crowd was a crowd totally of unbelievers. But I guess you would… oh well.**
    I am defining “unbelievers” in the sense of Jesus as God, or LOrd/Savior. I have no doubt the crowd believed in God. But they wouldn’t have believed in Jesus the way Christians do now, or even after the resurrection. Yet that entire crowd was told God was their Father.

    **Yup, in the eyes of God, all our own righteousness apart from God is as filthy rags.**
    My point with this is that man cannot then “choose” to fall, since man is born fallen and thus man is not born good. Man is born “fallen” if man can’t ever do good outside of God. And so to say that man can choose this doesn’t equate.

    Second, in pointing to the “world,” I referenced Gandhi. Who very much did practice the “turn the other cheek” philosophy that JEsus espoused. He returned good for evil. He was incredibly Christ-like in his actions, and if you didn’t realize that he wasn’t a Christian, you’d think he were based on his actions.

    **Our own righteousness apart from God is worthless being to God as nothing more than filthy rags. This verse I think which concerns Israel can be applied to us as well. **

    It also states that the deeds they do are now evil, rather than good. Their deeds don’t become good based on their faith in God. The deeds themselves are just evil, and this is determined not based on faith in God, but on the works themselves, which is why the deeds have become filthy. This also seems more towards speaking at a specfic time. If there were a group of people that said, “We have turned to evil and have become unclean,” the sentence functions as the “we” is limited to the group. If the group then says, “What is man?” the sentence functions as a universal sense, because of the term “man.”

    **Then why are you debating me about it?**
    Because your entire concept of justice seems to be that Jesus died in order that man wouldn’t have to face God’s justice: and that’s overlooking a huge way that justice was used in the Tanakh. Isaiah 1: 16-17: “Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed.” The Micah quote that I’ve already used. Amos 5:24: “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” Isaiah 20:19-20 or Isaiah 11: 1-4 or Isaiah 33: 5-6. All of this justice is tied into restoration, into eliminating evil. This type of justice was embraced, and anticipated. Whereas how you present justice is that it’s something to be feared only, and something that we escape through Jesus.

    **God made man and crowned him with glory and honor, and man fell in sin.**
    That’s not what the Psalmist says. He is contemplating the works that God has done, and then is asking what “man” is — a generic man, what all of them are. He doesn’t then go into the idea of man falling into sin, or really any sort of fall. Nor would he, because Judaism doesn’t have a concept of original sin. He could be making a statement of how man is made in his time — a little lower than angels, and crowned with glory and honor still. This one is a lot less time-focused than the Isaiah verse.

    **God is the One who gave the law with an “eye for an eye” in the first place. This was punishment under the law… punishment by the government of the people.**
    And JEsus specifically said that people had to go beyond the “eye for an eye”
    In your Matthew 5: 38-39 verse, Jesus says going beyond the “eye for an eye” mentality is to be like God — verse 48. If you are doing the “eye for an eye,” then you are not like God.

    **Now that I have given an answer to your questions (even if you don’t like them), why don’t you answer mine… how can you bear fruit apart from the Vine when Jesus says you can not.**
    What I haven’t seen an answer to is where Paul speaks about hell, what the Tanakh means when it speaks of salvation, and why if hell is that important of a concept, it wasn’t in the Tanakh from the beginning. Or how God will be all-in-all, in a reconciliation sense, and there still be a lake of fire.

    To answer yours: Paul makes that mention that “in him we live and move and have our being.” Psalms 139 makes mention that God’s presence cannot be fled or escaped. I think that abiding in Jesus/God is something people have done from birth. It’s not something people always realize. We are all already abiding in God. But if someone must confess a certain belief in Jesus in order to bear fruit, or be connected, then there would be a limited number of people who’d be doing good works. It would be impossible for any non-Christian to do what the Bible terms as good. Yet people are capable of great goodness, even non-Christians. Half the time, non-Christians can act better than Christians. Those people are already part of the vine.

    **That is not just it or just all… just because there is a central theme of kindness doesn’t mean that kindness is all that mercy is. You ignor the specifics I guess and pay attention to only the central theme.**
    Because your definition of mercy is only encompassing something that isn’t deserved, and that’s not supported by the dictionary definition. The “specifics” of two of the definitions deal with kindness and love: the core meaning of mercy. That same idea of mercy would’ve been seen in the Tanakh as well. It wasn’t always tied with something that wasn’t deserved.

    **You said: “Offspring don’t “earn” the love of a parent. That’s not how it works. That’s what I see in the Bible”

    Thank you for finally agreeing with and making my original point for me.**
    Because earning was never part of the equation. I was focusing on “deserve,” the way a child deserves the love from a parent. That’s what I see in the Bible. To make love as something “earned” through effort puts all the power in the hands of the earner. Rather than the person being free, they’re too focused on making sure they can still have salvation. Your original point was that we dont’ deserve it — I said we did, not based on what we did, but who we are.

    It’s like with a parent: I know my parents love me. I never had to earn it. Earning it was never even a factor. It’s not about being good or bad enough. Love simply is, based on who you are.

    **Those are differnt points not really made in the verse given (1 John 4:19)**
    Why aren’t they? That same chapter mentions that God is love — which can be a source. Those who love are children of God, and know God — which is something God created us to do, as part of being children is made in God’s image. And since God is the creator, we’d never be able to love “first.” We’d have to exist first, which is impossible.

    **Go argue that point with an Athiest. Chosing to believe is an action.**
    Every single atheist I’ve had conversations with lacks the ability to choose to believe in God. As I said, it’s like believing that the sky is made of polka-dots. It’s simply not something they can do because the evidence doesn’t point in that direction for them.

    **Maybe it isn’t to you… but it is to me.**
    Then why doesn’t the speaker say for the crowd to save themselves from hell?

    True, when did I ever say it was?**

    You said: “hell (Sheol/Hades) can= the current “hell” where they go until the lake of fire is ready. This is the hell of…

    Luke 16:23-24

    However, I combined the “this is the hell of” with the “lake of fire” in your statement. I can see now it can be read two ways (your statement).

    **Aparently Lazarus heard Moses and the prophets and believed on the promises concerning Jesus and the rich man did not.**
    And where does it say he believed on the promises of Jesus? Hearing Moses and the prophets is not the same as having faith in Christ. THere is a huge call for social action in the Tanakh. There is a huge call to rescue the oppressed and love the unfortunate, which is precisely what the rich man did not do. Lazarus was one of the needy and oppressed, and thus was rescued — and this ties into what Jesus says about helping the poor. It doesn’t say that Lazarus had faith in Jesus.

  30. “said you can question Him if you want to… that is your choice. I question Him, and I find that He answers me… and He does so through His word” (Starfox)

    What more can I say on that point – except – cool. I agree with you and this is one of the central tenets I tell people.

    “I’d say the answer is obvious. John is saying that to be a physical child of Abraham is nothing as God could make stones into physical children of Abraham if He wanted. So what John says really matters is repentance and showing that they had repentance.” (Starfox)

    Actually – it’s a little more confusing than even that – although your point is on the mark about repentance. Here is a tidbit from Jaroslav Pelikan’s book ‘Whose Bible Is It Anyways?’:

    “interpreters of the passage were often puzzled about what connection, if any, there is between ‘children’ and ‘stones’ until, in the process of translating (or retranslating) this saying from Greek back into Aramaic (or Hebrew), it became evident: ‘ben’ as in the title of one of the Apocrypha, ‘Ben Sirach’, means ‘son’ or ‘child’, with the plural ‘banim; and ‘eben’, as in ‘Eben-Ezer’, means ‘stone’, with the plural ‘ebanim; so what John the Baptist was saying was that God was able to make ‘banim’ out of ‘ebanim’, a play on words that is lost not only in the translation from Aramaic to Greek to English, but the transcription from oral tradition to written text’ (pg. 10)

  31. “Rather, it seems that you are using the NT writers in that the NT writers say that the Tanakh does this.”

    Hmm, I believe the NT and its writers… don’t you? The Tanakh isn’t the whole Bible… you want to debate using the Bible at all, then use it all.

    “The problem with the Genesis quote is that it’s vague. In reading it own its own, you get no hint that it deals with a dying Messiah or Satan.”

    So don’t read it on its own! Good grief.

    Anyway, what do you think the point of all those sacrifices was anyway if you don’t agree with the NT writers? Seems they were picturing something to come eh? Maybe… just maybe… the NT is right and they pictured the coming of Jesus?

    “The Acts quote is problamatic because it’s using how the NT quotes the Tanakh, rather than the Tanakh itself.”

    “problamatic” ? Bah – problamatic with you maybe because you seem to take issue with the NT…

    “Man is born “fallen””

    Man is born innocent. I pointed this out before… you must be a professional side stepper.

    “Our own righteousness apart from God…. It also states that the deeds they do are now evil, rather than good.”

    Perhaps, but still even the “righteousness” they had amounted to nothing… why? Because they were not with God. And just because it was said to them – to that group of people – doesn’t mean it can’t serve as an example ot us.

    “Whereas how you present justice is that it’s something to be feared only, and something that we escape through Jesus.”

    You just don’t get it…
    Justice for evil and for the unsaved is something to fear. Here’s an OLD TESTAMENT example for ya – Sodom and Gomorrah. There are many more examples but that is a well known one. This is the justice we escape.

    Justice for the saved and righteous is something else and is good.

    I said: “God made man and crowned him with glory and honor, and man fell in sin.”

    You said: “That’s not what the Psalmist says. He is contemplating the works that God has done, and then is asking what “man” is — a generic man, what all of them are.”

    If you want you can say that it means man is the crowning glory of creation – but that still doesn’t mean man is good on His own, just means man is God’s most treasured/prized/glorious (as in marvelously made) part of creation. This would be an obvious conclusion to come to… but still doesn’t make man good on his own without God.

    “But if someone must confess a certain belief in Jesus in order to bear fruit, or be connected, then there would be a limited number of people who’d be doing good works. It would be impossible for any non-Christian to do what the Bible terms as good.”

    Exactly what I say.

    “Yet people are capable of great goodness, even non-Christians.”

    Only in the eyes of men are these “good works” any good.

    “Those people are already part of the vine.”

    Nope. Go re-read that passage and the stuff around it… not everyone is part of the vine. I can hardly believe you’d make that pitifully weak claim. Good grief.

    John 15:4-6
    “4. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
    5. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
    6. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”

    1. Why even make this a point if we are all already abiding in God without choice!?

    2. It is painfully plainly obvious from these verses that there are those who DO NOT abide in Jesus as the True Vine.

    3. Even if somehow you can twist and blur and try to squirm out of #1 & #2, My point is still made even by your own words. If we automatically abide in Jesus… then the good done is not done apart from Him. Thus, as Jesus said, we can not bear fruit on our own. Wow… maybe Jesus knows what He is talking about? Yup.

    “It wasn’t always tied with something that wasn’t deserved.”

    I’d say in some way or another it is always not deserved… but even going by waht you just said… you said “wasn’t always” which means there is certainly room for my point on mercy and how being saved is recieving mercy in an escape from justice sense.

    “Your original point was that we dont’ deserve it”

    I think if you will read back you will find that my original point was that we do not earn it… and you all were trying to convince me that the little actions we do to recieve salvation means we earned it. And so again Thank you for saying that we do not earn it.

    And as far as deserving it… I have said again and again that Societyvs had a point on that: Obviously God says we are worthy of being saved. But then I add, that this deserving is not because of anything we did to make us deserve it but instead just because we are His creation… which I think is what you are saying too only using the wrong picture to show it… but let’s not go into that again please.

    “Every single atheist I’ve had conversations with lacks the ability to choose to believe in God. As I said, it’s like believing that the sky is made of polka-dots. It’s simply not something they can do because the evidence doesn’t point in that direction for them.”

    Lacks the ability to chose believe? Because of evidence!?

    -_-

    Romans 1:19-22
    “19. Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
    20. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
    21. Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
    22. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,”

    “Hearing Moses and the prophets is not the same as having faith in Christ.”
    As I pointed it… it is. But, you don’t believe that.

    —-

    “Here is a tidbit from Jaroslav Pelikan’s book ‘Whose Bible Is It Anyways?’”

    interesting

  32. So far, this has been a great discussion and I like the avenues and alleyways we are uncovering in the process – but hey – that’s the process of growth/learning. So I will chime in again because something ‘caught my eye’ – the vine analogy from John 15.

    Terms used:
    Vine (vs. 1, 4-5)
    Vine-dresser (vs. 1)
    Branches (vs. 2, 4-6)
    Fruit (vs. 2. 4-5)
    Fire (vs. 6)
    Abide in me (vs. 4-6)

    The key to this passage is finding out what that all means first and foremost – since it very allegorical in nature (symbolic) – even similar to a parable. However there are a variety of terms used – in relation to a vineyard and pruning.

    Verse 1 is about Jesus being the vine and God being the vine-dresser. We know Jesus is making a complete split with God in this passage (they are not one in the same) – Jesus is the vine that the vine-dresser also takes care of. However, Jesus is the vine that will contain the branches – even them the vine-dresser will address.

    Verse 2 we see the role of the vine-dresser to (He) and Jesus is still the vine – but the people that follow Jesus are the branches (kinda like his disciples). God will continue to prune the branches that stay connected to the teachings but those who do not – he will break off.

    Verse 3 is interesting – ‘You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you’ – Notice as the vine Jesus is saying it his ‘word’ that keeps the branches ‘clean’ (useful?).

    Verse 4 Jesus states the idea of how the vine works. If a branch abides/stays connected to the vine it will produce ‘fruit’ – if it does not abide/stay attached to the vine it will not bear fruit – which is quite obvious.

    Verse 5 Jesus re-ittirates he is the vine and the inter-connection of life flowing back n forth (relationship) is dependant on the branch staying connected to the life source. Apart from the vine a branch does not have the continuance of life and will wither away.

    Verse 6 Jesus states the when a branch withers/drys up it falls off of the vine and is gathered by the vine-dresser (care-taker of the vine) and thrown away – even burnt up. Now if this relates to some end judgement or just people losing sight of the teachings is not quite said – but it does mean the withered branches become ‘meaningless’.

    How would I sum up the abidiing aspect:
    “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you…” (vs 7)
    “My Father is glorified by this…you bear much fruit…prove to be My disciples” (vs. 8)
    “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love” (vs. 9)
    “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love” (vs. 10)
    “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you” (vs. 12)
    “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (vs. 13)
    “You are My friends if you do what I command you” (vs. 14)
    “This I command you, that you love one another” (vs. 17)

    It seems very clear to me that abiding/staying connected to Jesus is simply following his teachings – namely the one about love (one of the 2 commandments Jesus ever left). So who is to say who abides in Jesus? Easy – wouldn’t it be evident by their ‘fruit/actions’?

    I am not sure how any Christian can say someone that does not believe the same way they do (doctrinally) is not following God – when to stay in the vine is to simply be like the vine – and love one another (even as Jesus and God love one another) – and follow what Jesus taught (shown by your actions). For me, that leaves the door open to all who want to follow God – and the teachings – but not the strictness of faith that is doctrinally restricting – the vine seems less restricting.

    The point – stay connected to the teaching of ‘love one another as I have loved you’.

  33. Starfox,

    **Hmm, I believe the NT and its writers… don’t you? The Tanakh isn’t the whole Bible… you want to debate using the Bible at all, then use it all.**

    No. You specifically stated that the Tanakh writers were looking forward to Jesus,

    You: “They looked forward toward the time of His death and resurrection and repented of sins and trusted that Jesus would come and they were saved”

    This is a claim about Judaism, and how it interpreted the Tanakh. So I am asking you to find something in Judaism, which used and deciphered the Tanakh, that specifically states what Christianity believes. Or find a quote from the Tanakh itself that would clearly support this, on its own. We don’t see you as making a claim about the Christian Bible, we see you making a claim about 66% of the Christian Bible.

    **Anyway, what do you think the point of all those sacrifices was anyway if you don’t agree with the NT writers? Seems they were picturing something to come eh? **
    Then find something in the Tanakh to support this. Find a reference in the Tanakh that states someone can only be forgiven through a blood sacrifice.

    **Bah – problamatic with you maybe because you seem to take issue with the NT**
    Yes, because you are using something in the NT to make a claim about Judaism. If the Tanakh was truly about pointing to Jesus, why didn’t Judaism contain this belief? At all?

    **Man is born innocent. I pointed this out before… you must be a professional side stepper.**
    Because you have two ideas in conflict: one states that man is innocent, which means to be “free from guilt or sin, especially through knowledge of evil”, and the other than man is born with a sin nature — which means that man is not born free from sin. You also say that man “chooses” to fall. But fall from what? If man is incapable of doing good without properly relying on God, then how can man “fall” to good, if he can’t do good in the first place?

    **Justice for the saved and righteous is something else and is good.**
    Then what is this justice? You state later down below: “there is certainly room for my point on mercy and how being saved is recieving mercy in an escape from justice sense.” You state earlier: “He loved us because He is all love and gave us mercy when we did not deserve it. He he gave us waht we deserved using only His justice, then we would all go to hell. Good thing God is not only all justice but also all love.”

    Justice and love here are set up in contrast, as is justice and mercy. This is the same justice you reference with Sodom and Gomorrah. Yet you also say that justice for the saved/righteous is something else. So what is that justice? Justice can’t mean “liberation from evil” across the board here, because then the justice the unsaved face would mean that they’d be liberated from their own evil. Justice here would also correlate with mercy and love. Justice can’t mean “punishment you deserve” across the board, because the saved no longer face that punishment. Does your idea of justice alter depending on who is facing the justice?

    If you are saying that Jesus died to satisfy God’s justice, so that we wouldn’t have to meet those requirements, then justice is seen as something to escape.

    **Only in the eyes of men are these “good works” any good.**
    Starfox — the Bible says that to be peacemaker is to be a child of God. That is what God sees as good. It is good to hunger/thirst after righteousness. That is seen as good (and it should be noted here that the Greek word translated as ‘righteousness’ can also be translated as ‘justice.’ So the statement could also read ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after justice.’) It is good to feed the poor, help the oppressed. That is what God sees as good. Non-Christians do this, and according to the Bible, it is called “good.” That is an objective good, as I stated. If “good” comes down to a matter of its only good if certain people do it, then good has become relative. The very concept of morality has become relative. You don’t judge “good” based on the actions alone, under this system.

    So how do you determine if someone has done a good work? Do you use the action itself? Or the person’s religion?

    **1. Why even make this a point if we are all already abiding in God without choice!?**
    Because we are. “In him we live and move and have our being.” If you look at God as filling the whole creation, since God is Spirit, then you are abiding with God at all times. There may be times when we can’t feel this/sense this, or feel too overwhelmed, and think its all up to us. It can be a reference that it’s not up to us, we don’t have to work or try — we just have to let go, and the works come naturally, because of who we are.

    ** If we automatically abide in Jesus… then the good done is not done apart from Him. Thus, as Jesus said, we can not bear fruit on our own. Wow… maybe Jesus knows what He is talking about? Yup.**
    But where am I saying we don’t abide with God? I’ve used two different verses to show that God is everywhere. Psalms and Acts. For me, saying that someone lacks a belief in certain Christian doctrines does not mean I’m saying that they’re apart from God. Society is also making a good point, in terms of “to stay in the vine is to simply be like the vine.” And with his whole response.

    I think that Gandhi abided in God. I think anyone who follows the teachings of Jesus abides in God. You seem to be saying that only those who correctly believe in Jesus do good works. I think the spectrum is a lot broader than that.

    **I’d say in some way or another it is always not deserved**
    So a starving person doesn’t deserve another person giving them bread? Because that’s mercy. A genocide victim doesn’t deserve to be rescued? Because that’s also mercy.

    **I think if you will read back you will find that my original point was that we do not earn it…**

    Except this is what you said, in two instances:

    You:

    As far as deserving salvation. We are His creation but not His children until we are saved – then we are His adopted sons and daughters (plenty of reference to this including the fact that we “must be born again”). Before that, as His creation, we have rebelled against Him. His own creation rebelling!? And yet somehow we are to deserve salvation!? We most certainly do not deserve it. If we deserved it then it would not be mercy (check the definition of mercy). God loved us anyway! He loved us because He is all love and gave us mercy when we did not deserve it. He he gave us waht we deserved using only His justice, then we would all go to hell. Good thing God is not only all justice but also all love. All love and offering us mercy!

    You:

    1. It is an action that we do to reciece salvation, yes. But is this earning salvation as in deserving salvation? Do we deserve salvation ever? No, it is mercy. We may have to act in order to recieve salvation… but we still do not deserve it because we did not truly earn it. the little actions of belief, repent, trust, and ask do not make you “good” enough to get to heaven… what you are believing in, trusting in, repenting towards, and asking of…makes you good enough… and that is the sacrifice of Jesus. It makes you good enough because it covers your sins. The insignificant amount of action we do does not mean we deserve salvation (although we do get it). Call it earning if you want to… maybe this is an argument of definition. Whatever, either way, we do not deserve it although we recieve it.

    Now, if you’re that we do deserve in based on who we are, then okay. But your original argument was focused on that we don’t deserve salvation, ever.

    **and you all were trying to convince me that the little actions we do to recieve salvation means we earned it.**
    Well, what we were saying is that if we obtain salvation through the actions of repentence, then it is “earned” because our actions triggered it. It becomes directly tied to what *we* do. We were finding a disconnect between you saying that we don’t earn salvation (as in, not up to us) and that we must accept salvation in order to be saved (because then it is up to us).

    **Lacks the ability to chose believe? Because of evidence!?**

    Yes. Why else do you think so many scientists, the ones who study the world/universe and how it works, are atheists? If your Romans quote is correct, they should be the most *devout* out of all us, and cling to your doctrine. And yet the more they study, the less likely they are to believe. Why? Because of where the evidence points.

    To scientists, there isn’t a choice in this. Can you choose to believe that the sky has polka-dots? Because you haven’t answered this one.

    **“Hearing Moses and the prophets is not the same as having faith in Christ.”
    As I pointed it… it is. But, you don’t believe that.**
    Then where, in what Moses and the prophets say, do they point to the fact that having faith in Christ is salvation?

  34. “It seems very clear to me that abiding/staying connected to Jesus is simply following his teachings – namely the one about love”

    Because without love everything is meaningless and vain in the eyes of God. 🙂

    “We don’t see you as making a claim about the Christian Bible, we see you making a claim about 66% of the Christian Bible.”

    Give it a rest… I don’t care to argue without using the New Testament as well as the Old Testament. The two go hand in hand. I make my claim based on the New Testament interpretation of the Old Testament because I believe the New Testament Writers knew what they where doing when they interpreted it… and I believe they know it a lot better than you and I.

    “can only be forgiven through a blood sacrifice.”

    That is not my claim, my claim is that “blood sacrifice” pictured Christ coming. There is no saving power in “blood sacrifice,” but there is in looking to Jesus whether looking back to the cross as we do or forward to the cross as they did before the cross.

    “Because you have two ideas in conflict”

    Let me put it this way… We are born innocent and spiritually alive unto God, but with a sin nature. We stay innocent until we willfully and knowingly give in by our own choice to the sin nature then we spiritually die. So, I guess you can say we fall from
    innocence into sin. – This is a fairly simple concept. When we are saved we are born again and made spiritually alive and are shown as innocent again being covered by the blood of Christ (having accepted His payment for our sins). – Another fairly simple concept.

    “Then what is this justice?”

    Justice for the righteous means we are declared innocent because Jesus has taken the punishment for our sins. Salvation being something that we did nothing to deserve or earn, but God still deemed us worthy (or deserving) to have it simply because we are His creation and He loves us all. Justice for the unsaved/unrighteous means they receive the punishment for their sins because they did not accept the sacrifice of Jesus – the payment for their sins offered through salvation which they rejected.

    “then good has become relative. The very concept of morality has become relative.”

    Correct, they are relative to God.

    “You don’t judge “good” based on the actions alone, under this system.”

    And neither does God.

    “I’ve used two different verses to show that God is everywhere. Psalms and Acts. For me, saying that someone lacks a belief in certain Christian doctrines does not mean I’m saying that they’re apart from God.”

    You have being in the presence of God mixed up with actually abiding in the Vine. To live in the presence of God is different from abiding in the Vine. You have no choice but to abide in the presence of God seeing as how God is everywhere. But, you most certainly and obviously have a choice to abide in the Vine and be like Jesus following His teachings or not.

    “Society is also making a good point, in terms of “to stay in the vine is to simply be like the vine.” And with his whole response.”

    And the Vine is spiritually alive, and so should we be spiritually alive (by being saved) to abide in Him – the Vine.

    “You seem to be saying that only those who correctly believe in Jesus do good works. I think the spectrum is a lot broader than that.”

    Only those who are saved can do truly good works in the eyes of God. Among those who are saved, doctrines vary and works vary and so the amount of fruit varies.

    I said: “I’d say in some way or another it is always not deserved”

    I mean: Mercy from Justice. And as far as salvation, again, we did nothing to deserve it or earn it but God still counted us worthy to receive it. – That is God’s love in combo with His mercy and His justice.

    “But your original argument was focused on that we don’t deserve salvation, ever.”

    Forgive my misstatment, Societyvs pointed out to me that God does at least on some level deem us worthy because we are His creation. This is mercy and we did nothing to earn or deserve it, but God deemed us worthy of receiving it 🙂

    “If your Romans quote is correct, they should be the most *devout* out of all us, and cling to your doctrine. And yet the more they study, the less likely they are to believe. Why? Because of where the evidence points.”

    You sound like an Atheist saying that garbage. Did you not read all of the Roman reference?

    “Can you choose to believe that the sky has polka-dots?”

    Yes, but it would be folly against the evidence, and so is Atheism. We can believe what we want to believe.

    “Then where, in what Moses and the prophets say, do they point to the fact that having faith in Christ is salvation?”

    Again, I use the New Testament interpretations of the Old Testament because I know the New Testament writers were inspired and wrote error-free which gives plenty of reason to believe their interpretation of the Old Testament.

  35. “Because without love everything is meaningless and vain in the eyes of God” (Starfox)

    I would say so – I never much liked people’s help when it wasn’t done in a manner of compassion and concern (love) – plus our faith has at it’s cornerstone the actions of a person that loved people so much he chose to die for them.

    “When we are saved we are born again and made spiritually alive and are shown as innocent again being covered by the blood of Christ” (Starfox)

    Then can we fall into ‘sin’ again and lose that salvation – as when we were born innocent and could taint that via sin? And if so, is there no end to sin’s power?

    “And neither does God” (Starfox)

    You made this statement in regards to how God judges a person’s goodness (is not based on their actions) – in the end judgment I am guessing – that is a very bold statement to make on behalf of God – how sure are you this is God’s standard and not something you have been merely taught?

    “Only those who are saved can do truly good works in the eyes of God” (Starfox)

    I used to believe this once upon a time also – then I realized it does not actually bare out in reality. Either the doctrine is wrong or reality is wrong – which is it?

    “ack! my text got all spaced out” (Starox)

    I fixed that – figured I had the time to do it so I mine as well (plus you kinds asked with this comment for it to be fixed).

  36. “Then can we fall into ’sin’ again and lose that salvation – as when we were born innocent and could taint that via sin? And if so, is there no end to sin’s power?”

    Being born innocent and being washed innocent are two different things. Born innocent means we did not know better, but being washed innocent means our sins are washed away, covered by the blood of Jesus Christ. When Jesus washes away sin, it is a total washing of sins past, present, and futur. Jesus died and paid for all sins. When you accept His payment for sin then all your sins are paid for. You can fall again into sin, but you are already forgiven. However, for those saved and falling back into sin, God does not just sit by and do nothing. We are His chilren after being saved, and as such, He chastises us out of love to bring us back to the way that is best for us.

    “You made this statement in regards to how God judges a person’s goodness (is not based on their actions)…. how sure are you this is God’s standard”

    I am very sure, God looks at the thoughts and intents of the heart more than any outward actions. For example, on judgement day, if your heart still bears your own sins because you never accepted Christ, then your “good” actions don’t amount to a hill of beans – They will never come close to even beginning to pay for your sins – Only the good work that Christ did on the Cross can pay for sins because only Jesus could live perfect and be the perfect sacrifice (as the Old Testament pictured using the spotless lamb).

    “Either the doctrine is wrong or reality is wrong – which is it?”

    Neither, maybe your perception of reality and/or the doctrine is wrong?

    “I fixed that – figured I had the time to do it so I mine as well (plus you kinds asked with this comment for it to be fixed).”

    Thank you so much! 🙂

  37. “For example, on judgement day, if your heart still bears your own sins because you never accepted Christ, then your “good” actions don’t amount to a hill of beans – They will never come close to even beginning to pay for your sins – Only the good work that Christ did on the Cross can pay for sins” (Starfox)

    So Christ died for everyone – however – this is dependent upon whether we accept that action of Christ or not. Do our decision(s) nullify the actions of Christ? Is there something we do (ie: not accept the sacrifice) that can make it not exist?

    Way I see it Christ died for all – and this is not dependent upon whether we want to accept that or not – it happened and ‘just is’. But for some odd reason we still have to accept this as our covering of sins (or else our works mean nothing) – which means we have to do something to make the salvation formula take effect – in essence – we are adding to the work of the cross (via our decision skills).

    Christ died (historical action) + atonement for sins (meaning) + we accept or reject action of Christ (present action) = salvation or not (outcome)

    The action of Christ is not complete in the salvation formula until we decide it is. If we decide it isn’t (reject) then Christ did not die – since there is no covering for sin. If we decide to accept – then Christ has died for us – we have a covering for sin – and all is well and right (and the bible matches up).

    “Neither, maybe your perception of reality and/or the doctrine is wrong?” (Starfox)

    That’s a cop-out – all you have to do is write a sentence supposing the other is wrong – no proof – just a sentence saying that. I would say my perception of reality is quite alright and doctrinally – no problems with what I am stating (it’s all based in scripture).

    I just don’t think good people will go to hell – I can be called wrong all I want – but those same people on earth seem to do quite well for themselves and offer a lot to their communities. They may not have the strongest faith system but that’s never been a requirement for ‘doing good’ – as far as I can tell in any passage I have read in the gospels and letters.

  38. “Do our decision(s) nullify the actions of Christ? Is there something we do (ie: not accept the sacrifice) that can make it not exist?”

    Not “nullified” exactly and certainly not made non-existant… but for those who decide not to accept it, then it is non-effective to them. Their sins are paid for… but they chose to accept the payment or not. – Simplified example: Like a million dollar check (salvation) is written to you when you are poor as dirt, do you take it from the hand that is offering it to you in good will or say that you don’t need it because you’re rich enough (good enough) on your own when in truth you have nothing.

    You can say our “decision skills” play a part in making salvation effective for us – fine… but it doesn’t mean we earn it lol. That tiny little action of deciding to accept can not even begin to pay Jesus back for what He has done for us.

    “Christ died (historical action) + atonement for sins (meaning) + we accept or reject action of Christ (present action) = salvation or not (outcome)

    The action of Christ is not complete in the salvation formula until we decide it is.”

    Since you like nice little spiffy formulas for some reason… here’s a revised one:

    Christ died = Atonement for sins
    We accept atonment = salvation from our sins
    Christ atonement + our acceptance = our salvation
    Christ atonement + our rejection = our loss

    Christ atonement is Christ atonement and is done and complete, period if we accept it or not. It is our salvation that is not complete until we accept the completed atonment.

    You asked: “Either the doctrine is wrong or reality is wrong – which is it?”
    I said: “Neither, maybe your perception of reality and/or the doctrine is wrong?”
    You said: “That’s a cop-out ”

    Are you kidding me? What I am doing is taking into account another possibility. My perception is obviously different from yours – I don’t know that we can both be right on it.

    I say the doctrines are right and reality as I precieve it does not contradict doctrine – and I use doctrine to back myself up to…

    You say your doctrines are right and reality as you precieve lines up with your interpretation of doctrine and of course you lay claim to being correct in your interpretation as well.

    So… seems our perception / interpretation matters a great deal when it comes to your question. Cop-out? Hardly – I’m just pointing out something it seems you missed.

    Also, please note my main points:
    1. Having the right doctrines doesn’t get you to heaven – Salvation does (granted you of course have to have the right “doctrine of salvation”).

    2. Only those who do are saved truly do good in the eyes of God – all others who try to do good are viewed as trying to be good enough to meet God’s standard and make it to heaven thereby. And, I’d say they really are… ask them, and what do they say? basically: “I’m ‘good’ so I figure I’m gonna make it.” That is also pretty much what you are saying. What they do not realize is that God’s standard is perfection!! No-one on earth has ever or will ever meet that standard except Jesus, and Jesus died and took all our sins upon Himself and paid for them on the cross. When we are saved, then we are view by God as being white as snow and meeting His standard because our sins are covered. Now, do we accept this payment and be viewed as clean or try to be perfect on our own which won’t happen?

    “I just don’t think good people will go to hell – I can be called wrong all I want ”

    People who are truly good (which you can only be truly good after salvation) will not go to hell. People who only apear to men as being good will end up coming short of perfection and end up in hell having tried to be good enough to make it on their own. And, I can be called wrong all anyone wants as well… doesn’t change the facts – none can make perfection which is required to make it to heaven unless they accept the atoning sacrifice / covering of Jesus.

  39. *sigh* don’t see how I could stop you lol… just don’t know that I want to get into another looooooong discussion lol – tiring it be.

    Do as you will I guess…

  40. I haven’t decided whether to use it or not – I have another post I am going to use first – but I think your 3 points makes for good convo…maybe after that post (we’ll see).

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