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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Being a Christian and believing in the Bible

I received this comment, on one of my posts, recently:

Can a person consider a true believer if he believes only the modified version of the scripture? Should he consider himself to be a true believer if he believes on the selective part of the scripture? Should he consider himself to be a true believer if he mentions certain part of the Bible is not genuinely from God or is not applicable to him? Should he consider himself to believe in God and Jesus if he changes the God’s words to suit his own intention? If he should not be considered as truly believing in the scripture when he changes the meaning of the scripture to suit his intention, how he could be saved then. Salvation is through our faith in God and Jesus.

I hope God would save them.

What if God do not treat them to have genuine faith in Jesus, their salvation is questionable.

Good questions, and I'll try to deal with them, although I'm not an expert in such matters. (The questioner's first language is not English, but I believe what he asked is quite understandable. I didn't want to change what he said.)

First, we aren't redeemed by having correct doctrine. No one, including me, is correct on all points. The early church had disagreements about various matters, especially how to treat Gentiles, but, it is generally agreed, most or all of the disputants were, and still are, after their deaths, redeemed. We are redeemed by belief in the sacrifice of Christ, the sinless Son of God, for our sin, and in His resurrection, and acceptance of Christ as Lord. We don't have to have every jot and tittle of doctrine right. Christians who are believers, and part of Christ's Kingdom, disagree about many things, such as church government, eternal security, ordination of women, the mode of baptism, end times, the meaning of communion, speaking in tongues.

Second, it is true that there are limits to how far we can go in our belief, as I understand the Bible. It's up to God to judge, not me, of course, but if our beliefs don't conform to the bold statement in the previous paragraph, we are in spiritual danger. Deliberately changing the meaning of scripture, or leaving part of it out for that reason, or adding to the scripture to suit one's fancy, is a mistake, a sin, and puts one in spiritual danger. It doesn't matter how one "consider[s] himself." How God considers us is what does matter. Followers of Christ should continue to read, pray over, and think about God's revelation in the Bible, and read and listen to the teaching of others. As we do so, some of our peripheral beliefs will probably change.

Third, interpretation of scripture is a tricky business. If you want examples, see my book, Does the Bible Really Say That?, which may be obtained free of charge, or purchased from Amazon for $0.99, which is the lowest price Amazon lets an author set. I'll summarize very briefly. The Bible was written for all time, but it was also written, usually, so that the people of Bible times could understand it, in their culture. For example, Christ wasn't in the tomb for three days, even though the Bible literally says He was -- He was placed in the grave on Friday afternoon or evening, and had arisen by Sunday morning. That culture used an expression for time differently than we do. For another example, the Bible was written with the understanding of science of that day -- bacteria aren't mentioned, and the solar system and the universe are assumed to have a fixed earth at their center. Bacteria weren't known, and it was assumed that the universe was geocentric. We should remain suitably humble about what we personally believe -- we may not be interpreting scripture as God meant for it to be interpreted. It wasn't all meant to be taken literally. See my book for more on this.

Thanks for reading, and thanks to the commenter for the questions.


z said...

I agree we are redeemed from the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Without the sacrifice of Jesus, none of us could be saved. Without it, there is nothing to talk about salvation.

Let’s meditate the verse below:

John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

If we should modify the verse from the scripture to suit our purpose, John 3:16 should not be applicable to us. The reason is we should not be considered to have genuine faith in Jesus.

Without the genuine faith in Jesus, how John 3:16 could be applicable to us then.

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks for your comment.

I think I agree with you, except that, as I said, it doesn't matter what we consider, it's what God considers.

zuma said...

Agreeably, salvation is through the acknowledgement of the resurrection of Jesus. Without it, salvation could not be initiated. However, faith in Jesus is significant to the way of salvation as well. Without faith in Jesus, we could not be saved.

Let’s assume all the people have turned up to be Theistic Evolutionists. What if God have treated them not to be truly believers, all of them would turn up to perish eventually. The reason is simply they believe in the modified translation of the scripture. The entire scripture has been abused and be distorted without any truth.

zuma said...

I too hope God would save all of the people.

This is God's will but not your will or my will.

If God would turn them down eventually, they will grieve eternally in the hell.

I hope this should not occur.

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, but I didn't know that this was going be a discussion of origins. I said nothing about that subject in this post.

As I indicated, Christians, or at least those who say that they are such, disagree about a great many things. I didn't list origins, on purpose. But sure, Bible-believing Christians disagree on origins, too.

Whatever your beliefs on "church government, eternal security, ordination of women, the mode of baptism, end times, the meaning of communion, speaking in tongues," are you willing to say that those who don't agree with you on one or more of these topics are also unbelievers? Most people say, and believe, that their position on these matters is supported by scripture, and there are those who defend various positions on all these things, and on origins, too, based on scripture.

Thanks again. I suggest that you read my book, which is free -- see the post above.

Steve Finnell said...

There are those who advance the position that, by saying, the Sinner's Prayer your sins will be forgiven and you will be added to the Lord's church. The question remains, can saying a prayer save anyone? Let us investigate that supposition.

The typical sinner's prayer: "Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner. I believe that you have died for my sins and arose from the grave. I now turn from my sins and invite You into my heart and life. I receive You as my Lord. Amen."

The birth of the church of Christ was A.D. 33 the Day of Pentecost. How were they saved?

Acts 2:22-41.....36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ---this Jesus whom you crucified." 37 Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren what shall we do?" 38 Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The events on the Day of Pentecost that lead to salvation.
1. Peter preached the death, burial , and resurrection of Jesus.(Acts 2:22-35)
2. Peter proclaimed Jesus as both Lord and Christ. (Acts 2:36)
3. Men believed the message and were convicted of their sins and ask what they should do. (Acts 2:37)
4. Peter told them to repent and be baptized (immersed in water) so their sins could be forgiven and they could receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
5. How were they saved? Act 2:40-41..."Be saved from this perverse generation" 41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. (Notice they were not saved until they were baptized).


What did they have to do to be saved?

They needed to have faith: John 3:16, Mark 16:16
They needed to repent: Acts 2:38, Acts 3;19 (repentance means to make a commitment to turn from sin and turn toward God).
They needed to confess: Romans 10:9-10, Acts 8:36-37.
They needed to be baptized: Acts 2:38, Mark 16:16, 1 Peter 3:20-21.

The apostles never taught the sinner's prayer as the terms for pardon.

No one is questioning the sincerity of those who recite the SINNER'S PRAYER, the question is, can the SINNER'S PRAYER SAVE ANYONE?


Martin LaBar said...

Thank you for your comment, Steve Finnell. I'm not sure why you put it on this post, as there is nothing in it about the "sinner's prayer."

In response, no, the "sinner's prayer" won't save you. Neither will having faith, repenting, confessing and/or being baptized. (The list you gave.) Salvation is by an act of God. Granted, there are pre-requisites on our part, and I agree with your list.

The "sinner's prayer" you gave seems to me to cover your list, except for being baptized. I don't see anything wrong with using it, if the Holy Spirit leads one to. And, of course, baptism should be mentioned to the convert. So should obedience and fellowship with other believers! See here.

In Acts 2, confession and faith aren't explicitly mentioned. In Acts 16, Paul didn't mention confession, repentance, or baptism as prerequisites for salvation. (The jailer was baptized right away, but baptism wasn't mentioned first by Paul, according to Acts 16.) I conclude that the Holy Spirit works in various ways with different people, in different circumstances, or possibly that Acts doesn't tell the whole story.

Thanks again for your comment.