Friday, October 28, 2005

Once Saved, Always Saved?

I usually do not direct blog posts specifically towards Christian believers, but I think that this particular question and the message that it could convey towards Christians and non-Christians alike, is extremely important.

Of course, everyone is most welcome to post a comment or question about this topic. However, it is my hope that fellow Christian believers who frequent this blog might be led to participate and share their beliefs regarding this question.

The question is:

Do you believe in the doctrine that states "once saved, always saved" or is there more to consider?

It might be interesting to see the answers to this important question.

Later today, I will share an answer from an individual who previously posted at my Talkwisdom message board. It was quite good.

But first, would anyone care to share their thoughts?

Christine

P.S. Please feel free to share any Scripture verses (or just the reference, e.g. Luke 7:50) when answering this question in your comments. Thanks!

*******

Here is the post from my former message board. It was written by an individual whose screenname was "Prather." Within the post, he was responding to someone with the screenname of "Shipwreck," so when you see that in the comments you will understand that his post was in response to another post. You will notice that he uses the term "shipwreck" too. It appears to me that this was in response to the poster "Shipwreck" using that term as an analogy. Confused? Sorry! Unfortunately, I don't have Shipwreck's post to share here. However, when I first read Prather's comments I knew that I wanted to save them. It was a great response to our question today about "OSAS" - Once Saved, Always Saved.

Although most people know about this abbreviation, just for clarity I will share that the IMHO stands for "in my humble opinion."

Prather's Comments:

Ecc 12:12-14 - And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

This debate has gone on for millenia. God says what He says He will do, which is believe and you will be saved, walk in your belief and you will please the Father, keep His ways and you will testify Him. IMHO, it is unwise to enter into the will of the Father and meddle in His sovereignty. God examines the heart, the motives of the people who claim His name. It isn't just in what one does, but why one does it and what they do with their error. David certainly erred in a great way before the eyes of men and the ways of God, but his heart always belonged to God and his repentance was always genuine. In this regard, it would appear IMHO that one can decide in and decide out, but cannot lose their salvation by accident. I.e., it isn't dependent upon our works but rather the desires of our heart and what we do with our errors.

1Jo 5:16-17 - If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.

IMHO this means that one can choose (all sin is a choice) to leave God behind in their heart and cling to the deceiver instead. This also IMHO deals with many of the verses that are so confusing. That is if we sin, we die. If we say we do not sin, we lie and do not tell the truth. If we confess our sins, He's faithful and just to forgive us our sins. In all of these things, what we see is not the action, but the choice and the condition of the heart.

Certainly in Nebuchadnezzar we see a man that was not a Jew, but given by God to do a certain thing. Then he went through 7 years as a "stump" in the ground and when he repented in the end, he was made great again. This, not even a Jew, is recorded in Daniel.

In David, as long as he sought himself, he failed. When he repented and sought the ways of the Father, he was again blessed. A cycle repeats itself. Hmmmmmm . . . I don't see "shipwreck" per say, but I certainly see decisions.

In Ezekiel, we see the watchman and what happens to the righteous when they turn from their righteousness and what happens to the wicked when they turn from their wickedness. Not shipwreck, but decisions. Shipwreck says that even if one is ignorant in their sin, or lost in their emotions for a moment, and dies, they will not be saved. This IMHO is works-based salvation, not faith-based salvation. But, lest we become "stiff-necked" as were the Jews of the OT (and observably so today as well), we cannot rest in the notion that we have absolute liberty in grace either. We choose to accept Him, we can choose to deny Him as well.

Another example of how our motives are examined:

Jam 4:2 - Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

Heb 12:16-17 - Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

Esau may have sought with many tears his birthright, BUT, what was the motive of his tears? To have his own honor and rights restored, not to serve God. David, on the other hand, in his repentence sought to serve the Lord alone. Once again, God knows the heart, not just the ways of our errors alone - one doesn't stand without the other.

So, IMHO, if the heart is right, certainly salvation is assured, i.e. OSAS. But, if the heart is openly willing to seek only itself and in complete opposition to the will of God and without any regard for His will in one's life, then that is a choice to deny Him and would be evaluated the same as denying Christ IMHO - a sin unto death.

Heb 6:4-6 - For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

And yet, we are told if the wicked turn from their wickedness and walk in His statutes, they will certainly live. If the righteous turn from their righteousness and walk in wickedness, they will certainly die. But if the righteous having turned from their righteousness into wickedness, turn again to their righteousness, they will certainly live (Eze 3 and 33).

So - - - bottom line, it's the condition of the heart and not just the acts of sin, followed by the condition of the heart in repentance after acknowledging the sin we clearly see. It's all a matter of choice IMHO . . . salvation is God's sovereignty and we shouldn't be evaluating that nor attempting to say that God is limited to the doctrines of our own understanding.

Just some thoughts.

God bless.

Jam 3:18 - And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

28 comments:

Clandestine said...

Oh why not.

So, you see, at one point, I suppose people who share your beliefs considered me 'saved.' The point being when I was in high school and found myself in an evangelical Christian youth group where a lot of my friends spent their Sunday nights (much to the chagrin of my mother, which probably added to my desire to belong to said group). Anyway, I was in high school, and therefore very naive and wasn't really sure what all was happening. However, at the retreats and things, the people said that 'being saved' meant believing in Jesus and His teachings. And I did. So I suppose I was saved.

Now, I still am a fan of Jesus, but I know for sure none of you would say I am 'saved' because I don't think homosexuality is wrong, among other reasons. Even if I was still as convinced as I was then, I still didn't believe the same things you believe. But, again, they said that I had to "accept Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior" and I did, in the way I thought He would have intended, so they said I was saved.

So.....................

I don't know what that means.

But anyway, my sister was a born-again Baptist for a spell. So she was DEFINITELY "saved." Homosexuality being evil and all. But a couple years later, she admitted/came to terms with the fact that she is a lesbian...so I think she's off your list, anyway.

I'm not so sure about which ones of us will end up on Jesus's list.

So what do you think of these two saved-but-unsaved-sisters?

Jojo said...

Christine,
I think when we are saved, it's for life. I don't think God uses an eraser or white out in the Book of Life.

The thing is, He knows all things. He knows our hearts and He knows the future. I think The Way of the Master helped me to have a more clear perspective on this issue. There are many false converts who make a decision for Christ but fall away. I think Jesus teaches about this very thing in Mark chapter 4 where he talks about the four soils.

Only God knows our hearts, but He gives us things to look for to know if someone is saved. I have had friends who have strayed from God, but I never doubted their salvation. Every time they came back and their faith was stronger than before. If someone is saved they have the Holy Spirit living within. The Spirit convicts and teaches, so if that isn't happening, then that is a pretty good indication that the Holy Spirt is not residing there.

Anna said...

Hi Christine -

I think one has to define one's terms. Some people think just because they went to a particular church for a period of time and perhaps mentally agreed with certain teachings, they are "saved." Yet, salvation is not about giving mental assent to who Jesus is. It is truly recognizing you are a sinner and asking Jesus to come in and be both Savior and Lord.

Jesus commanded the twelve to go out and make disciples. A disciple is a follower, a learner. If you look at how the disciples followed Jesus, as well as the terms of discipleship which Jesus laid down in the Gospels, it's a far cry from what some teach today.

We come just as we are, recognizing our sinful condition, receive forgiveness and then allow the Lord to change us from the inside out. This comes from spending time with Him in prayer (conversation with God), renewing our minds with the Word and being connected with other believers. The necessity of connection with other believers is made clear in various Scriptures such as
I Corinth. 12.

As far as "once saved always saved," there are two primary schools of thought. The Calvinists believe once you've committed to Jesus, that's it forever. The Arminian viewpoint at its extreme point believes you can lose your position in Christ if you commit even one sin. With that last point, we'd all be in serious trouble. In fact the Scripture provides for cleansing after the initial salvation experience (I John 1:9).

Jesus did say there is an unpardonable sin - the sin against the Holy Ghost. There are various interpretations of this. I don't have time to go into all of them. I think this is probably a rare occurrence. There are also other Scriptures which indicate the possibility of losing one's salvation. However, I think once again this is not very common.

Bottom line, I want to go on with the Lord. I don't want to mess around with sin. I love Jesus and want to please Him. Why would I want to flirt with the possibility of losing the love of my life? If I'm having struggles, I'd much rather deal with them than just give into them.

Blessings,
Anna

mamalicious said...

Clandestine, your experience is very close to mine. Thanks for saying it.

Jojo said...

Anna,
You explained salvation very well. I didn't even think to do that. Thanks for what you shared.

Christinewjc said...

These are all really good, heartfelt answers everyone.

I wonder Clandestine, did you find an answer to your question through Jojo and Anna's posts?

I've been busy running errands over the last few hours so I haven't been here at the blog much.

I was hoping that more people might share their thoughts. Where is Charlie Lehardy from the GodBlog conference when I need him?

Be back in a bit.

Charlie said...

What a relief... for a minute there I thought you were going to ask something hard. ;)

In Eph 1:13,14 Paul says that when you believed, God gave you the Holy Spirit as a guarantee that he has purchased you to be his own. Sounds pretty final and irrevocable.

In 1 Tim 4:16, Paul warns Timothy to stay true to what he has learned so that God will save him.

There are passages that seem to go towards eternal security, and others that seem the opposite.

The question is tied to how free will works. If we are completely free (even though we're confined to the box God has created for humanity), we have the ability to choose God and/or reject God. The sin against the Holy Spirit that Anna speaks of could be the act of accepting Christ but changing our mind (heart) and rejecting God and his Spirit.

But if we're free in the Calvinist sense, we are always subject to God's sovereignty, we can never get outside of his will, and we cannot reject him because he has chosen us, and that's that. In other words, we're free, but we always choose what God has planned for us.

I'm not a Calvinist, so I've probably said that poorly. But in that theology, you can't ever lose your salvation, because God's sovereignty trumps whatever you might do.

My personal belief is that we can lose our salvation. I think that's what the parable of the sower is about -- a caution to us personally and the church that some who embrace God will ultimately turn away from him.

But God's grace towards us in Christ is huge, and perhaps it is too huge for us ever to escape once we've been covered by it.

I guess my final thought is that I can have confidence that God is not a trickster. He has purchased us in Christ, and we are his. That's not the end of the story, though. He is transforming me day by day to be like Christ, and if I am submitting myself to that process, I won't have any desire to leave him.

Susan Smith said...

One person said: "Now, I still am a fan of Jesus, but I know for sure none of you would say I am 'saved' because I don't think homosexuality is wrong..." The same person concluded: "So what do you think of these two saved-but-unsaved-sisters?"

Another person responded: "... your experience is very close to mine. Thanks for saying it."

How refreshing to see posts written with such honesty. I thank God for both of you. You are a blessing in my life! So often as a Christian, I have covered my intellectual doubts and even overt sin in my life by pretense. I accepted Jesus as my Savior at the age of 12. I was in bondage to lesbianism and alcohol abuse for more than 20 years. God delivered me of homosexual acts in 1985 and of the identity of being a lesbian in 1988. He delivered me of alcohol abuse and a 40+ year addiction to nicotine years later. When was I saved?

Does it matter? Not to me. Eternal life has NO BEGINNING and no end. No Christian has the right to judge another's salvation... period. Only God knows our hearts. He is our Judge. God bless those who are honest and transparent. (ss)

Christinewjc said...

Good morning!

I was feeling bad about not getting back to post, but now I'm actually glad that I fell asleep early last night. It gave Charlie and Susan extra time to respond and their posts are excellent and have added so much to our conversation!

I will now add to the original blog post with two additional opinions about this question. Then I will follow up with my own response.

Please feel free to add additional thoughts and comments as you feel led.

God bless,
Christine

Christinewjc said...

Other questions can come up and be considered here as it relates to this topic. For instance, is there a distinct difference in recognizing the willful act of sinning in pride and rebellion against God, vs. the backsliding event of sin in one's life after being saved through Christ?

I think that Prather's comments (go back to original blog post to see his comments) discuss the difference between these two "types" of rebellion.

My question is, does the willful and prideful act of sinning in rebellion to God (e.g. doesn't think repentance or turning away from that sin is required) indicate the distinct possibility (or, even probability) that a person is not genuinely saved? Does this indicate a person's refusal to recognize they are a sinner in need of the Savior and thus are guilty of the "sin unto death?"

My next question is, if a person is genuinely saved but has a backsliding experience (could last for the duration of days, weeks, months or even years?)"count" (for lack of a better word) the same as the willful rebellion described above?

Am I asking too many questions? I think these are extremely important questions to ask. We may not resolve the issues here, but discussion can be very beneficial.

Anyone have a headache yet? :-/

Christinewjc said...

Hi Charlie,

Thanks so much for coming over and sharing your thoughts.

I have a question. Do you happen to know if Charles Stanley's ministry adheres to Calvinism? I read his book, "Eternal Security, Can You Be Sure?" and his conclusion was similar to the Calvinist viewpoint.

However, Stanley also makes a distinction between the willful, unrepentent attitude of non-believers (and those who might be considered as 'false converts') and the backsliding event of sin that can happen to a genuine believer.

I see the difference between the two this way.

1. A person's recognition within his/her conscience that they are sinning against God; thus having guilt for it (whether it was suppressed for a time or not), and then coming to the point of eventual repentance for sin committed.

2. The person who holds to a refusal to admit personal sin, refuses to recognize the actions as sin or even to be willing to admit one's sin, thus, they inevitably come to the point of rejecting that they are a sinner and do not become convicted within their soul for that sin. (sorry for run-on sentence!)

So, as Prather's post hints, it is the condition of the heart that can reveal evidence of true conversion. The true state of one's soul is ultimately, between God and the person so we cannot have a 100% accurate evaluation of another's salvation, but Jesus said, "By their fruits you shall know them."

What do you think about all of this? Same question for anyone else who wishes to share some thoughts on this.

Thomas said...

What about the people who are "saved"; i.e., have a transformative experience, come to know Jesus Christ as their personal lord and saviour, acknowledge their sins, feel the power of the Holy Spirit within them, affirm with all their heart the Divinity of Christ, develop personal relationships with God etc., proclaim the Nicene creed, etc., -- but then, a few years, they decide they've made a mistake, and abandon their religion to become atheists or agnostics or maybe a Buddhist.

What happens to them? Still saved?

Christinewjc said...

Thomas,

I think that the two key terms ("decide" and "abandon") in your statement might indicate that the person didn't experience a genuine conversion in the first place.

This is why studying God's Word is essential. The "decision" to repent, confession of sin, acceptance of Christ as Lord and Savior, and inviting the indwelling of the Holy Spirit into the heart of the believer transforms the person from within. True believers are "sealed by the Holy Spirit."

Ephesians 1:13,14 - 13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who* is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.


Think of it this way. Prior to conversion, the average person has himself/herself on the "throne" in the center of their own life. After conversion, the Lord Jesus takes that position in their life. The process of sanctification occurs over the lifetime of the individual (thus he/she may still sin because he/she may "backslide" into the flesh), but the conviction within the soul sears the conscience within the person so that they wouldn't deny that what they did (or are doing) is wrong. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit doesn't allow for the person to ignore this, even if they suppress it for some time. Eventually, they have to admit their error(s).

Romans 12:2 - And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Once the Holy Spirit indwells a believer, he/she is "transformed by the renewing of your mind." For this reason, I don't think that a genuine believer could abandon their faith. They may have been a false convert in the first place.

Scripture also tells us:

Titus 3:3-7 (NKJV) For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

See, the Holy Spirit's indwelling leads to "the washing of regeneration and renewing" (by the Spirit). What this means is that when a person trusts Christ as Savior, his/her sins are forgiven and his/her life is made clean by the blood of Christ. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit helps the believer live for God.

As a believer, I know that Jesus is the promised Messiah of the Old Testament who fulfilled the Law and the Prophets in the New Testament. What Christ did for me (Isaiah 53:5-6)helps me recognize the immense sacrifice Christ made for me and how I wasn't redeemed by or through anything (anyone) that could spoil or be destroyed. When taking communion, I am remembering the precious blood shed for me by Christ. His offering of His body and blood for my sins so that I can be reconciled to God, does not give me the inclination to EVER desire to return to what (or who) I once was! (see 1 Peter 1:18-19)

Also, the act of willfully sinning against my Lord would hurt the heart of God and I don't want to do that. I'm positive that I don't want to ever return to a way of life that is useless (without God) and without meaning (not serving Him).

The admonition not to return to willful disobedience against God is where we get the phrase, "God forbid."

Romans 6:2 - God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

Rom 6:15 - What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

1 Cor. 6:15 - Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make [them] the members of an harlot? God forbid.

Gal. 2:17 - But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, [is] therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.

And, consider this. After knowing that one has been "justified by His grace" and know that "we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life", why would anyone in their right mind want to abandon that?

Charlie said...

Don't know about Charles Stanley. I haven't read any of his books.

The answer to Thomas' question kind of depends on your views about salvation to begin with. If he recants his faith utterly, some would say he was never indwelt by the Holy Spirit to begin with (and how could we argue one way or the other?). Thus, he was never actually part of the elect.

If he recants his faith outwardly and claims to be an atheist, but inwardly maintains a certainty that God exists -- in other words, he is running from God -- one might say he has never truly separated himself from God.

Ultimately, I get a bit dizzy thinking of the possibilities, and I tend to just shrug and say "God's gonna do what God's gonna do." And whatever God does, it will be just, fair, and a product of his love and his holiness.

Thomas said...

Once the Holy Spirit indwells a believer, he/she is "transformed by the renewing of your mind." For this reason, I don't think that a genuine believer could abandon their faith. They may have been a false convert in the first place.

Aiiyeee! I should have known that was coming! You see, this is known as the the "No True Scotsman" fallacy. The original formulation goes as follows:

Argument: "Ach! No Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge."
Reply: "But my uncle Angus likes sugar with his porridge."
Rebuttal: "Ah yes, but no true Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge."

This is a logical fallacy which diminishes the quality of the labels we use. Let's bring it back to the original example.

Both Jen and Jane are converts to Christianity, as orthodox, Bible-believing, and Holy Spirit infused as you can get. One of them, 10 years down the road, will become an atheist (maybe as a result of listening to NPR). Can we tell which one it will be?

Let's say Jane is the "false convert," the one who accidentally listens to Public Radio at peril to her immortal soul. How could we tell at first, if Jane's religious convictions and outward behavior were identical to Jen's?

The notion of "once saved, always saved" is an empirical proposition. To test it, we form a set of people who identify themselves as saved and meet all the standard requirements. Then we check up on them every few years, and see how their doing. If they die without recanting their faith, we can say that they were indeed once saved and always saved. If they recant instead, we can say that the proposition broke down in their case. We can then formulate a percentage of the people who were originally saved and remained saved until they died. I'm sure that the percentage would be pretty high, in the high 90's, I would guess. People tend to remain stuck in their ways. But it seems most unlikely that 100% of the original converts would stay that way the rest of their lives. We know that there are people who chang their minds. It happens.

That's what's so pernicious about the "true convert" category. To say that someone is a "true convert" means not only that they are saved but that they will remained saved for the rest of their life. If we knes someone was a true convert, it would be tautological that they would stay that way. Yet we would never be able to tell who is saved and who isn't just by observing a person, and we would never be able to test the proposition that "once you're saved, you're always saved" -- it would be unfalsifiable. As Karl Popper showed, unfalsifiable hypotheses make for bad science.

I've seen atheists make the same fallacy many a time. For instance, some claim that no "true atheist" ever converts to Christianity; i.e., C. S. Lewis was never a "true atheist". I can't speak for C.S. Lewis, but it's a lousy argument. It always sets my hair on fire!

Christinewjc said...

We can't have that now can we Thomas...you're hair on fire, that is.

Read and follow Charlie's explanation then.

Thomas said...

Well, I'm not sure that I have much of a horse in this race, honestly. Calvinism v. Arminianism - feh. I'm afraid I think that nobody's ever saved. We're all doomed, I tell you! Doomed! And once doomed, always doomed. My favorite religion is the Viking one, where everyone goes to hell. At least you know what's coming to you, and there's no need to fret over things. I think Judaism is the same way, although I never paid attention in Saturday shul. My connection to my Jewish heritage never went past the level of learning the names of the letters on dreidel. My local rabbi once said that the only people who have ever gone to heaven according to the Bible were Enoch, Elijah, and Elisha, for no apparent reason. This rabbi didn't believe in God or the afterlife mind you, so opinions may differ. Judaism believes in nothing so much as in argument.

It seems clear to me that people can convert and then deconvert. It also is obvious that apostates are a big headache for believers, more so even than plain old infidels. In Scientology (that charming little cult), ex-converts are subject to endless petty lawsuits and other forms of harassment. Islam commands to believer to kill apostates -- although if I had to choose between instant death and being sued for the rest of my life, I'm not sure which I'd choose. Born-agains merely cast aspersions upon the Holy Spiritedness of folks who choose to go back to being born just the once. It could be worse.

People often claim that religion makes people more moral than otherwise. This might be the case in some do-gooder faith like Anglicanism or Unitarianism, but in contemporary born-againism and in traditional Calvinism, there's no incentive to behave at all. As long as you believe you can sin all you want -- Jesus provides you with a blank check. Now, I know you're going to say that true Christians have no desire to sin, but common, as Bru used to say. (And whatever happened to Bru?) If you're in the elect, you're in the elect. If not, you're doomed anyway. (Doomed!) So you might as well live it up while you can. Atheistical humanism does give us reason to be kind to each other. Because our lives are so short and because no person is more important than any other person, we might as well do what we can while we are here to take care of each other and leave a legacy of happiness after us. Furthermore, most people are basically good and do not deserve their fates in this rather unfair world, and so we should love them and help relieve their loneliness. Calvinism (not regular Christianity) preaches that all humans are "utterly depraved" -- even our grandmothers. I think that's a lousy thing to believe, and patently untrue on the face of it. Incidentally, there is a wonderful children's fantasy series by Philip Pullman called "His Dark Materials," about the adventures of a young girl named Lyra in an alternate history version of Europe in which John Calvin had been elected pope. The horrors...

Anyway, what can I say to the claim that apostates and other backsliders were never filled with the Holy Spirit? I'm sure that they weren't. After all, I don't believe in the Holy Spirit. But then again, I understand that blaspheming against the H.S. can get one permanently damned without possibility of parole, so I'll watch what I say. Jesus doesn't take kindly to those who make fun of his little baby brother!

Clandestine said...

Okay, so I guess this is my question - and I know you all don't KNOW the answer, but what do you believe?

Which of the following means a person is saved:
1. A person who believes in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior and also is a lesbian.
2. A person who believes in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior and hates homosexuals.
3. A person who believes in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior and is heterosexual, lives with their significant other and is unmarried.
4. A person who believes in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior and thinks homosexuality is a sin.
5. A person who believes in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior and is heterosexual but thinks homosexuality is not a sin.
6. All of the above.
7. None of the above.

Please support your answer with Bible verses if possible.

Christinewjc said...

Thomas,

"Feh?" What the heck does that mean?

Why do you say we are doomed? Don't most atheists believe in annihilation?

The term "doom" on the other hand, indicates that we would have something to lose at the moment of death as it relates to eternity.

Thomas: "It seems clear to me that people can convert and then deconvert."

What makes you draw such a conclusion?

Thomas: "It also is obvious that apostates are a big headache for believers, more so even than plain old infidels."

I don't know about that generalization. But I do think that apostates can lead non-believers astray from true faith in Christ and that is truly a shame. Talk about the lost leading the lost.

Thomas: "but in contemporary born-againism and in traditional Calvinism, there's no incentive to behave at all."

Not true at all. Go back and read my earlier reply in this thread to read the incentive(s).

Thomas: "As long as you believe you can sin all you want -- Jesus provides you with a blank check."

I don't think you are even being serious here, Thomas. Anyone, even you, would realize that this isn't true.

Thomas: "Furthermore, most people are basically good and do not deserve their fates in this rather unfair world, and so we should love them and help relieve their loneliness."

Again, not true. Go Here and take this test. If you pass the "good" test, let me know. You will be the first!

Thomas: "Anyway, what can I say to the claim that apostates and other backsliders were never filled with the Holy Spirit? I'm sure that they weren't."

Apostates are different from backsliders. Apostasy means complete abandonment where a backslider might drift away for a while but they eventually return (similar to Prodigal son story in Scripture).

Thomas: "I understand that blaspheming against the H.S. can get one permanently damned without possibility of parole, so I'll watch what I say. Jesus doesn't take kindly to those who make fun of his little baby brother!"

First, it's curious that you want to "watch what you say" if you don't believe in the Holy Spirit. Maybe this verse explains your fear:

Romans 1:20 (NLT) - "From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God."

One more point. The Holy Spirit is not Jesus' "little brother." Of course, you already knew that. You were just attempting to be humorous, perhaps?

The Holy Spirit is equal with the Father and the Son of God. He is present in the world to make mankind aware of our need for Jesus Christ. He also lives in every Christian from the moment of salvation. He provides the Christian with power for living, understanding of spiritual gifts, and guidance in doing what is right. The Christian's responsibility is to seek and to live under His will daily.

2 Corinthians 3:17; John 16:7-13; John 14:16,17; Acts 1:8; 1 Corinthians 3:16; Ephesians 1:13; Galatians 5:25; Ephesians 5:1

Christinewjc said...

Clandestine,

I will get to your post either sometime late tonight or tomorrow afternoon. Just wanted you to know that I'm not ignoring your questions.

Christine

Christinewjc said...

Forgot to say this. The Kent Hovind post at my message board has had over 2,400 views, yet only one person attempted to answer the first 12 questions! Isn't that curious? I thought so. Should I post them here so that you (Thomas) can attempt to answer them? They're kinda tough...

Christinewjc said...

Hi Clandestine,

I'm so sorry about the delay in my response here. It has been a busy couple of days for me lately!

I will apologize, in advance, for the length of this comment! I just try to be thorough...

You said: "Okay, so I guess this is my question - and I know you all don't KNOW the answer, but what do you believe?"

I think that we can know the answer based on what is revealed in Scripture. What someone chooses to believe about the Scripture revelation, is another thing entirely. But since you asked and it appears that you really want an answer (or, perhaps, as you might perceive it to be, namely, an 'opinion')here goes.

First, I think it is important to establish one thing. We must decide whether or not God's Word tells us that homosexual behavior is sinful.

I often read that many people think that Jesus "never said anything about homosexuality." With a preconceived notion and mindset such as this, one might be led to believe that it must be okay, right? Trouble is, Jesus didn't say anything directly about other questionable behaviors such as rape, incest or domestic violence. Are we to assume that those things are okay, too?

There are many teachings and deeds of Christ that are not included in the Gospel accounts, as John writes in John 21:25. However, as this excerpt from "Mission America" will demonstrate, perceived 'absence of condemnation' doesn't mean that a behavior is approved.

Before I answer your list of questions, I must re-post this statement so that others reading here will understand what I base my answers on.
*******

Christ did say that God created people “in the beginning” as male and female, and that marriage is the union of one man and one woman joined together as “one flesh.” (Matthew 19:4-6 and Mark 10:6-9) Nothing is said about any other type of union.


When He discussed sexual morality, Christ had a very high standard, clearly affirming long-standing Jewish law. He told the woman caught in adultery to “Go and sin no more.” (John 8:11) He warned people not only that the act of adultery was wrong, but even adulterous thoughts. (Matthew 5:28) And he shamed the woman at the well (John 4:18) by pointing out to her that he knew she was living with a man who was not her husband.


Christ used the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah as an example of God’s wrath ( Matthew 10:15, Mark 6:11,Luke 10:12, and Luke 17:29). Throughout the Old Testament, prophets clearly described these cities as being notorious for the practice of homosexuality. (Genesis 18:20, Genesis 19:4-5, Isaiah 3:9, Jeremiah 23:14, Ezekiel 16:46-59). Jesus certainly knew that this was how the comparison would be understood.


Christ was God incarnate (in the flesh) here on earth. He was the long-expected Messiah, which was revealed in Matthew 16:13- 20, Matthew 17:5-9, Mark 8:27-30, Luke 4:16-30, Luke 9: 18-21,John 4:25-26, John 8:57-59 and elsewhere. As one with God, He was present from the beginning (John 1: 1-13; Colossians 1:15-17; Ephesians 3:9 and elsewhere). So, Jesus was part of the Godhead as the laws were handed down through Moses to Israel and eventually to the whole world. This Old Testament law clearly prohibited homosexuality (Genesis 19, Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13; Deuteronomy 23:18 and elsewhere). The apostles understood this also, as shown by Paul’s writing in Romans 1:24-27, Peter’s in 2 Peter 2:4-22, and John’s in Revelation 22:15.

So--the apostles, who were taught by Christ, clearly understood that homosexuality was a sin as it has always been. When people say, “Jesus said nothing about homosexuality,” they reveal that they really haven’t understood Scripture, or Who Christ is. Maybe some of these points can help them toward a clearer understanding.

*******

In addition, I will share two comments from other people who read the quote above.

1. "Poolx" wrote: "This was an excellent reply based upon the truth of the Bible. Christ is God, the Holy Spirit (God also) inspired the Bible's writing, So when God declared homosexuality an abomination in the Old Testament, it was in fact Christ (God) who was the one declaring that. So, Christ did say a lot about homosexuality...everytime God says it in the Bible, Christ (part of the Godhead) is dittoing it."

2. "Nitsuard" wrote, " Excellent indeed! But I had a bad link to the original article and hope to read it b4 continuing my comments except to say that John 1 explains that Christ was GOD in the flesh and was the Creator who made everything, including every word written by man to be included in the Bible."

With all of that being said, I will handle your questions one by one.

Clandestine wrote:

Which of the following means a person is saved:
1. A person who believes in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior and also is a lesbian.

Only if they repent of their lesbian behavior, ask for forgiveness for that as well as all of their sins, and invite Jesus into their heart as Lord and Savior of their lives.

1 John 1:9 - If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

John 8:11 - She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.


2. A person who believes in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior and hates homosexuals.

Only if the person repents of their hatred for homosexuals, asks Jesus for forgiveness of this and all other sins, and invites Jesus into their heart as Lord and Savior of their life.

Matthew 5:44 - But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

Matthew 5:46-48(NLT) 46 If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends,* how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. 48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.

3. A person who believes in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior and is heterosexual, lives with their significant other and is unmarried.

Only if they repent of their fornicating behavior, ask for forgiveness for that as well as all of their sins, and invite Jesus into their heart as Lord and Savior of their lives.

2 Corinthians 7:1 - Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

1 Corinthians 6:11 - And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.



4. A person who believes in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior and thinks homosexuality is a sin.

Only if they repent of their sin, (for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God) ask for forgiveness for all of their sins, and invite Jesus into their heart as Lord and Savior of their lives.

5. A person who believes in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior and is heterosexual but thinks homosexuality is not a sin.

Only if they repent of their sin, (for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God) ask for forgiveness for all of their sins, and invite Jesus into their heart as Lord and Savior of their lives.

I would add a caution. Thinking that homosexuality is not a sin might cause them to lead others away from the need to repent (of such a sin) and might cause a homosexual friend to miss heaven.

That would be teaching them not to recognize the Law.

(You could replace the "sin" being discussed with any other sin (e.g. murder) to see the danger here.)

Matthew 5:17-20 (NLT)

Teaching about the Law
17 "Don't misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to fulfill them. 18 I assure you, until heaven and earth disappear, even the smallest detail of God's law will remain until its purpose is achieved. 19 So if you break the smallest commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God's laws and teaches them will be great in the Kingdom of Heaven.
20 "But I warn you-unless you obey God better than the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees do, you can't enter the Kingdom of Heaven at all!





6. All of the above.
7. None of the above.

Lastly, these verses cover everyone!

1 Corinthians 6:9-11

9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor *homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

Why forgiveness requires not only confession of sin, but repentance....the turning away of sin:

1 Corinthians 6:13b-20
Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power.
15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For "the two," He says, "shall become one flesh."* 17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.
18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.

Clandestine said...

Hi Christine,

Thanks for the answers. They were very consistent, I think, which is helpful :)

So here's my follow-up question -

If a person accepts Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, but disagrees with your philosophy that a particular lifestyle or trait is a sin, would you think they were saved or not?

The root of this question is, of course, whether being saved means accepting JC... or if it means accepting JC...and also believing homosexuality to be a sin.

I know for a fact there are a lot of Christians and a lot of Christian pastors who would say that homosexuality doesn't matter in the eyes of God. They could quote the Bible right along with you, and you'd never reach a consensus. BUT you all believe that "accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior" saves you. But do you really believe that's what being saved is?

Jojo said...

Hi Clandi,

Clandi, I wanted to respond to your questions. You ask about being saved and belief about homosexuality. I would be curious to know what you think the verses in the Bible that say homosexuality is wrong mean. Yes, there are those who say they are Christian and say God doesn't care about homosexuality, He is about love and there are those who say they are Christian and say they believe homosexuality is wrong because that is what the Bible says. One group has to be right and therefore one group has to be wrong. Each one is convinced their belief is right so how do we know for sure who is right?

I believe God gave us the Bible to know Him and to know how to have a personal relationship with Him. I believe we have to believe all of it or none of it. I do not think God would give us His Word and make it confusing so that we don't know what to believe. I also don't believe that He wanted us to know Him thru it and then allowed the translation to be messed up.

I don't believe that I should conclude that homosexuality is ok when everything the Bible says about it is that it's wrong. I also don't believe I should hate homosexuals, and I don't. Life as a Christian is about sharing God's love and His truth with the world so everyone can know God and be saved. The only way we can be saved is to agree with God that we are sinners, separated from Him because of our sin, and receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. We receive Him as Savior by believing that He died for our sins and repenting of our sin. Repenting is agreeing with God that we are sinners and turning from that sin. We receive Him as Lord by allowing His Spirit to guide us in righteous living. We can only do this by knowing and obeying His Word. We cannot pick and choose what we want to obey and what we don't. It is not possible to do this on our own - we have to have the Spirit of God living in us and we have to spend time with God (by reading the Bible and praying) on a regular basis. The key for any Christian is reading the Word. It is a lifelong transformation. We don't and can't turn from all sin immediately. The Holy Spirit works to convict us of our sin one by one. Each time we are convicted of a sin, we need to confess it and repent of it. We must stay in the Word to have communion with God. We can never exhaust His truth or teaching - there is way too much to learn. We start out with the milk and move on to the meat and potatoes. As a baby starts out on eating only milk and then moves on to the solid food little by little - this is what God calls us to do. We have to have the faith of a child to first believe but we must not stay there - we must grow and mature in our faith. That only comes thru regular time in the Word. I cannot stress that enough. It's not enough to know "about" God - we have to desire to know Him personally.

Jojo said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jojo said...

Father, You are such an awesome God. You desire to have a personal relationship with each person who lives on this earth. You gave us so much beauty and blessing to show us your power, your goodness and love. And You gave Your only Son so that we could know You and live eternally with You. Thank you Father for all of this and more.

Thank you for Clandestine and her willingness to be my friend. Thank you that she wants to communicate and know what I believe and why. Lord, there are so many beliefs in this world, it gets really confusing for us sometimes. I pray right now to ask You to help Clandestine to see You clearly. Help her to see what is from You and what is not. Help her to recognize Your truth. You have warned us that there is one prowling around waiting to devour us who is the father of all lies. Please protect her from him and let her know beyond any doubt what is true and what is false. May she never quit searching to know You, Lord. Please give her a clear understanding of salvation. Thru Jesus I pray, Amen

Christinewjc said...

Wow Jojo! That was beautifully stated!! I am praying right along with you. I also pray that Clandestine and anyone else who reads these words shared by you will see your love from the heart, (and, especially the love of God being poured out through you) to them!

In Him,
Christine

Clandestine said...

Thanks, Jojo. You're so sweet.

We could go around and around forever about what the Bible says about particular things and what it doesn't say, and what all that means. You know I think that either a person has to take the whole Bible literally or acknowledge that there are particular issues that are left for interpretation. If a person chooses to take the Bible literally, they would have to apply equal weight to all lessons, including the portions that say it is proper to stone a boy for being stubborn (which I posted on your site, Jojo), or the portions where it is clear that women should be property and can be bought and sold, that the world being created in 7 days and all that.

OR, if you say that portions of the Bible are up to interpretation, it means ALL of the Bible is open to interpretation. Of course, some parts are more straightforward (the 10 Commandments) that others.

If the Bible is to be interpreted and studied, as opposed to being taken completely literally, it then becomes impossible to say exactly what Jesus would have said. Sometimes, we hear that Jesus affirmed everything in the Old Testament. However, that is not true, as he specifically disagreed with "an eye for an eye" with His "turn the other cheek" business.

There are some great sites out there that argue quite logically and professionally, by deeply Christian people, that there is no reason to believe that homosexuality is against God's will. How can a person know whether or not that's true? We really can't until or unless we die and meet Jesus face-to-face and ask him.

You all say everyone is a sinner - you, me, everyone - yet, if I did believe that "Jesus is my personal Lord and Savior," my being in a relationship with a woman would make some people think that I could not possibly be saved.

So, it seems to me that a sort of double standard or conflict has been created here. There seems to be a belief, that many Christians share, that simply believing homosexuality is fine is enough to damn you eternally. However, then it is said that you are saved if you "accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior." I'd say that alone is supported by the Bible as the true path to salvation, but for some reason, there is a belief in evangelical, fundamental Christianity that there is more to it than that. That for some reason, a Christian also has to try to make everyone else believe as they do, even if their beliefs are based on an interpretation of the Bible.

What I believe is that if Jesus were to come down and join our blogging conversation (can you imagine!?), He'd tell us that he doesn't care about the gender of our significant others nearly as much as we do. I think He'd tell us that His main point was for us to help, love and take care of one another, and leave the judging and carrying on to God.

I think it is great when we all can communicate in an open and caring way, which is why I respect Jojo so much. She believes in essentially the same way as many other "right-wing" Christians, but is so much more kind and loving than so many others. I think she's a great example to other people who believe the same way she does, and those of us who don't, of how to live on the same planet and communicate with people with whom she does not agree.

How I wish that we could leave religion to these conversations, and keep it out of the political and legal parts of the United States. As I see the Christian and political worlds overlap more and more, I am truly frightened. I wish that Christians who disagree with the concept of the separation of Church and state could understand that once that foundation is destroyed, there is no way to keep another religion, one with which you don't agree, and one that could destroy all of us (like the Taliban in Afghanistan) from overcoming our country.

Do you know that in Afghanistan, women used to be able to go to college, walk freely, live freely, teach, work, etc., just as we do here? Do you know that what happened there is not an impossibility here? Our laws and Constitution protect all of us and allow all of us to make our own choices about how to live our lives and what to believe. If you are on the majority side here now, and you allow religion to play a role in government, you're just setting the stage for disaster later on.

Okay, enough. Off of my soap box and on to my work...