There is alot of difference of opinion about what it means to be saved. The scriptures are clear about what Jesus said, but if you take some of his and Paul's teachings out of context to the exclusion of others I can see how the various denominations arrived at their doctrines concerning salvation.
What are the foundations of your faith that lets you know you're saved ?
These are what I believe must be the foundation of our salvation :
1. We must believe the " good news " of the teachings of Jesus Christ about the kingdom of heaven.
2. We must accept our Heavenly Father's forgiveness for our sin.
3. We must by faith, recognize God's Holy Spirit living within us, and when we accept this " gift " we become a child of God.
4. Our salvation is a " gift " from God and was revealed by his son Jesus and all who follow him. Accepting it by faith makes us a partaker of the " divine nature " and a child of God.
5. By faith we are justified, by faith we are saved, and by this same faith are we forever advanced in " the way " of progressive and divine perfection.
6. Righteousness is the natural " fruit of the spirit-born life " of being a child in God's heavenly kingdom. We live a righteous life because we have already been saved and have recognized our sonship as the " gift " of God. Our service in the kingdom of heaven is the most wonderful joy of our life on this earth.
7. To be a child of God is incompatible with the desire to sin.
8. Kingdom believers hunger for righteousness and thirst for God's perfection.
9. By faith was Abraham justified and he recieved salvation through the teaching of Melchizedek. Down through the ages this same faith has saved the children of men, and now Jesus Christ has come to make salvation more real and acceptable.
Consider these scriptures :
" In the Lord I have righteousness and strength "
" My righteousness is near, my; salvation has gone forth and my arms shall enfold my people. "
" My soul shall be joyful in the love of God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation. "
" His name shall be called the Lord Our Righteousness "
" Take away the filthy rags of self-righteousness and clothe my son with the robes of divine righteousness and eternal salvation. "
" It is forever true that the just shall live by faith "
" Entrance into the Father's kingdom is wholly free, but progress, growth by grace, is essential to continue therein "
I was so wanting to reply to this discussion, but wasn't brave enough and deleted what I had written for fear of being shot down, especially being the first one to comment. How cowardly is that? The one thing I will say though, is that I love Him with all my heart and I try my hardest not to hurt the One who came and died for me.
Why would you say that we could save ourselves when salvation is a free gift from God ? The question is how do you know that you have actually recieved this " gift " in faith ? What are the fruits ? What is the evidence ? How do you know that you are really saved ? How would you prove to an unbeliever that you were different from them and that you were better off than them ? What is it that you have from God that non-believers can see and want for themselves ?
Would you say that going to church is important, reading the bible, paying your tithes and offerings, helping other people and caring about those less fortunate than yourself ? Some people view this issue of salvation very different from others. If God loves all people and wants that none should perish, then what distinguishes a person who is truly saved from a person who only thinks they're saved but isn't.
Woah, I don't think Michael's question carried a tone of condemnation at all. This is an interesting issue and worth thinking about. For instance, B.E., your response seems to embrace a kind of fatalistic predestination- God will do what He will do, save who He will save, and condemn who he will condemn, nothing I can do matters, so why even think about it. That's certainly one extreme of the spectrum.
Personally, I agree with Michael that there is a necessity of human response to God's grace. Free will is a different (if connected) issue that I don't think we should get into here, but I do believe that God wants all to be saved, offers his grace to all of us, and lets us decide if we will accept it or not.
1. We need to recognize our own sinfulness, and desire a change
2. We need to accept God's unconditional forgiveness through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ
3. We need to continue to grow in our faith, guided by the Spirit, through prayer, scripture study, membership in a community of believers, and the application of our growing faith to our daily life.
I think the interesting debate takes place at #3. Does not going to church mean you can't be saved? Tithing? Reading the Bible? I don't think that any one thing means you aren't a "real" Christian, and only the Lord knows the heart, but the point is your overall attitude. From my own experience, faith is not something you can set on a shelf and dust off once in a while. You are either actively engaged in growth, or, by negligence, you are engaged in destruction. Is it possible to lose salvation? I would never make that judgement about another person (again, only God knows), but I believe that, yes, it is possible to turn so far from God that you are actively telling him you want no part in His salvation.
"I resent someone asking me "did God really save you?". It reminds me of what satan said to Eve about the tree."
That's a very interesting comparison, I never thought of that at all! :)
Why does God choose to save people by faith? Because it was unbelief that killed man in the first place, when the evil one managed to convince man that he had to do something to be more like God, when he already WAS like God, both in image (external appearance) and likeness (inner nature).
I think you can see where I am going with my train of thought...
There is a world of difference between living right to be saved and living right BECAUSE we are already saved. On the external the behavior may look the same, but the motivations are entirely different. And I think motivations count in God's eyes. One way is living by the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the other is living by the Tree of Life. One is living by works (that has the outward form of faith) and the other by faith (that will over time produce the right works, read the examples James gives in James 2).
We all agree on the importance of good works. Now let's look at the motivations, because the motivations will show what we REALLY believe, whether we believe that our righteousness comes from the Lord or we have to add some of our own because his wasn't good enough... :)
Very well said Jenjie, you always dig to the heart of the matter in any and all discussions. And that is really the issue here - our heart.
What is the condition of our heart when we first believe that there is a God who loves us and wants to give us a way out of this sinful life we've been born into and have embraced in various ways ? Do we remain skeptical and become very analitical as we begin to research who God is and what he's trying to do with us or do we have a revelation that, in itself, changes our whole life and we are reborn into a completely new reality of love, hope, peace, joy and all the other fruits of the Holy Spirit's presence in our life ?
Depending on how God's gift impacts your life, your reactions will vary. I would hope that we could have enough faith in the reality of our discovery of God's presence in our lives to allow him to remold us into the image of Christ. I would also hope that our motivation would become to submit our wills to his and follow his lead as much as we possibly can.
I would rather trust God, as much as I know how, than to trust in myself, but this is not the way of the world. This goes against the grain of the way of the flesh because in the world it's all about me, who I am and what I believe to be the truth. It's all motivated by what I want or need and doesn't consider other options because that will take the focus away from me.
Remember the encounter that the rich young ruler had with Jesus ? He asked the same question - " What must I do to have eternal life ? He addressed Jesus as Good teacher and Jesus corrected him by saying that nobody was good, only the Father is good. Then he asked the young man if he kept the laws of Moses and the man said that he had kept all of the commandments since he was a child. Then Jesus told him that the next thing he needed to do was to sell everything he had and distribute the money to the poor and come and follow him, but the young man walked away because he thought that Jesus was asking too much of him, for he was very wealthy and was not about to sell all that he had and give it all away to the poor. At this point Jesus commented that it would be very difficult for the rich to enter God's kingdom.
How could a person walk away from eternal life because of money and wealth ?
He actually makes it pretty easy....maybe He say's it in a lot of different ways....but I think we will do good if we only remember 'one thing'...'Jesus' ...just call on His Name. Continue to call on His Name. We tend to get lost in 'spithifics'.....'how to's'. "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father but by ME."
[ Take Up the Cross and Follow Him ] Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
[ Take Up the Cross and Follow Him ] When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”
[ Take Up the Cross and Follow Him ] Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.
If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.
Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.”
Well said Robert,
We must follow Jesus in all ways. We must act like him, talk like him, do the things he did and obey his commandments. He said love one and other as I have loved you, then the world will know that you are my disciples because you love one and other. We must decrease so that he can increase in our lives, and with the Holy Spirit living in us we can do all that Jesus needs us to do. We can't do it without the Holy Spirit, because our flesh will get in the way in every difficult situation.