Wednesday, February 24, 2010

God Provides a Way for Our Salvation

There were some comments on the day when we talked about our salvation that I want to address, because they are so very important. Important views on how we see God the Father, His Son Jesus as our Saviour, and God's viewpoint and treatment of the unsaved.

I know there are many wonderful people in the world that are not Christians. People that are caring and help others. People who lead a pious life, who dedicate themselves to helping the poor, feeding the hungry, and taking care of the sick. People who spend their lives working for the betterment of mankind; but if they have not asked Jesus into their hearts they will not be living eternally with Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit in Heaven. I know to some this may seem harsh and narrow minded. I understand how you might feel this way. This is how God has established this, it isn't something that organized religion has just came up with.

One of the most quoted verses in the Bible is John 3:16. Most of us memorized this in Sunday School when we were very young. But have you read and contemplated the next two verses? Sometime we don't get the complete thought and explanation in just one verse, or if we take it out of the original context.

Version: NAS

John 3:16-18
16. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. 17. "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him. 18. "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Then the Revised Standard Version says it slightly different:

Version: RSV

John 3:16-18
16. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. 18. He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

God provides a way for our salvation. He is perfect and just and loves us so very much. Because of His holiness we cannot come before Him unless we have been "justified". Jesus provided that sacrificial "payment" on the cross. We are now covered in the blood of Jesus. When Father God looks at us He sees that covering on us. We still sin, yet our belief and faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, allows us the redemption from that sin.

So many people use the argument against Christianity of "How could a loving God condemn us to eternal death and damnation in a place such as Hell?" Because they have that thought they cannot get past it to see that God is loving and kind and good. They have not read the 17 and 18 verse of John 3.

Let's read it again: 17. "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him. 18. "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.



Our lack of belief in Jesus as God's Son and Savior of the world, causes us to condemn ourselves. God does not point His finger at us and send us into the darkness of eternity. We do it ourselves with our unbelief. You may say, It's the same thing, but it is not. God in His great mercy and love has set up a way for us to be delivered. If we do not choose to believe we are condemning ourselves.

Look at it this way: If a ship was sinking and a life boat was provided we have the choice to take a seat in the lifeboat and in doing so find salvation, or we can stay on the sinking ship and then curse the life boat captain for condemning us to death. Make sense?



God does not condemn us. Our lack of belief in Jesus Christ condemns us. Now as the thought that a good person might not make it to Heaven, I have to say, that being good does not get you to Heaven. 
Feeding the poor, finding new cures for disease and all the good intentions in the world will not get you there. There is only one way to Eternal Life and Jesus Christ is the Way.

John 14:6
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.

And as to the thought that a good God could not and would not condemn those to Hell that had not heard the salvation message, I will tell you what I believe. I believe that the Holy Spirit makes Himself known to each and every human being. They may be in another "religion" or without one, but I believe that God will personally seek out each one of us and give us an opportunity to know Him. Then it is up to the person to either accept or reject this approach of the Holy Spirit. This may be up for debate, but I feel this is what the Bible speaks of in Romans the first chapter.

Romans 1:20
"For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they (mankind) are without excuse."

God's creation speaks of Him and causes all mankind to know that God does exist.
So for those in other religions, I believe God is so good that He desires no one perish. That does not mean all will go to Heaven. He will attempt to make Himself known to those who do not know Him. Each person then has an opportunity to be willing to hear more about Jesus. And if you are in a church or denomination that holds no "spark" of the Holy Spirit, I would seek God if that is where He wants you. If you have been in a religion, or even a denomination that offers you no hint of the power of the Holy Spirit I would question if that is where you are supposed to be.

Matthew 28:18-20
18. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20. teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."


This doesn't let us off the hook for evangelism and the spreading of the Gospel; we are clearly called and mandated to do this. But I do feel like that, even those who have not heard the Gospel message of Jesus Christ will be given a chance to know the Truth. They are given a chance to know Jesus. I have read (can't give you particulars on this, but I know that I have) that certain people groups in various parts of the world have had dreams and visions of Jesus, without ever having been exposed to the Bible or missionaries.

So we see that God does all that He can to bring us to the point of salvation. He is good, loving, not desiring anyone not know Him. But inevitably the decision to ask Jesus into your heart is your own personal decision. If you have not done that, please pray for Him to do that right now.

Love, in Jesus,
Debra

17 comments:

  1. Debra,
    Is it possible that those who have not "heard" are accepted into the kingdom for believing in God, but that those who have heard and refused are condemned? I had never thought about this before now.
    Debbie

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  2. Debra, I love the way God has made it very clear the way to salvation...sandi

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  3. Debbie, this is a really good question. I know this is a controversial and debatable idea, but one that I feel pretty strong on. (This is just my concept after years of prayer and anguishing over lost souls) If someone dies who has heard the Gospel and refuses the invitation of the Holy Spirit,it is clear that he will not be in Heaven. But if someone lives in a place where He has not heard the Gospel message, I believe God has some sort of provision for them, not to be sent to Hell. God is pure and just, and also good and loving. This is where I truly believe He reveals Himself to them in some manner. They still have the opportunity to reject the Holy Spirit's advances.
    We can't use this as an excuse to not spread the Gospel message, because I think this way would be more difficult. But I feel like each individual is given some kind of opportunity before they die.
    I know this may seem unscriptural to some, but something I just feel God has spoken to me about.

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  4. AMEN...He does all except force us! He still gives us choice. It is sooo sad to watch those who adamantly refuse HIM.

    Blessings, andrea

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  5. Let's all pray for those whose shackles are so heavy that they cannot lift them off to get into the boat. With the power of our prayers, they will!

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  6. Kitt is so right, our prayers for those who do not know Jesus are so very important. That their heart may be softened toward the Holy Spirit and that God will allow them to get to a place where they are ready to listen. Sometimes those are hard prayers to pray, especially if they are loved ones. This is good subject matter, on praying for the lost.
    As Kitt comments about the heavy shackles, that's where we come in to extend our hands and strength through prayer and friendship.

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  7. I am such a novice here.
    I believe with all my heart, and mind, and soul in God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but I have never known to look at the differences in people who hear the world but do not accept the holy spirit.
    I have never known to equate that with them not being in heaven.

    I strive daily to let go and let God- as frequently as I fail- yet again I feel like such a novice.

    L-

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  8. Reading Laura's comment made me go back and see that maybe I need to clarify a little better the following from the post.

    "He (God) will attempt to make Himself known to those who do not know Him. Each person then has an opportunity to be willing to hear more about Jesus. And if you are in a church or denomination that holds no "spark" of the Holy Spirit, I would seek God if that is where He wants you. If you have been in a religion, or even a denomination that offers you no hint of the power of the Holy Spirit I would question if that is where you are supposed to be."

    I have been in a church where week after week I could not "feel" the stiring of the Holy Spirit. It was not "me", but there was an emptiness there. No emotion, no conviction, no tenderness, no warmth from God. The music felt lifeless, the preaching was lifeless. It felt dead. It has been said to me that our spititual standing is not based on emotion, and that is true, but if you cannot "feel" the Holy Spirit in a place, if you have not been touched in your heart by God, are you in a place that God truly is at work?
    I want to be where you can feel God moving and feel His presence. Some churches are lifeless, and empty of the Presence of God. This is what I'm refering to. Being "touched" by the power and spark of the Holy Spirit.

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  9. This is fantastic! Your analogy with the sinking shipped was perfect and also allowed for awesome imagines! Great writing Debra!!!

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  10. Good one Debra. God is so fair and just. Romans 2 basically tells us that God will judge according to the amount of "light" a person has received. For me that covers those who have not "heard" the word. The inherently know the difference between right and wrong and if they live by those standards, God is fair in his judgment of them. Praise God that it is all left of to HIM anyway!

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  11. I must say I have always struggled with this ~ this post has helped to clarify some things, but the "who gets to Heaven" has always left me feeling uneasy, if that is the right word? As I've been taught, a Nun, who devotes her life to God does not go to Heaven? This is one concept that makes me struggle. Judi

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  12. Hi Judi, I hope I didn't give the impression that I felt people of the Catholic faith were not going to heaven, because I surely didn't imply that. In refering to those that work their lives dedicated to helping "mankind", I was speaking about people outside of Christianity, such as The Peace Corp, World Health Organization, etc. or any other establishment that provides betterment and help for cultures and countries. (These are all good organizations, not saying they aren't)Anyone who does "good things", but not as a Christian.
    As far as I'm concerned there will be people of all denominations in Heaven. I do not hold to the view that some denominations have that say they are the only ones to get there. (and there are a few that believe that) Heaven will be populated by a diverse group of believers, just as being a member of a church will not get you into heaven either. It's all about having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Being a Nun is not conclusive of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, but I would think that the concept of "marrying Jesus", would not work for an unbeliever.
    Hope that clarified what I was thinking.

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  13. Wow! What can I add to this discussion other than...I myself worry(and pray) for those of EVERY Faith and Denomination as well as those never exposed to the teachings of Jesus.
    I pray for my own loved ones who I fear for varied reasons do not walk with the Lord.
    I believe that it is a very personal, one on one relationship that God has with us... One where no matter our denomination , we can speak directly to the Lord, he hears us and responds in His way to the happenings in our lives. I know that we, all of us, are Jesus'Church...his bride as the bible calls the church. And that requires a very close connection to work.
    I believe that "Church" attendance is not required, but preferred to help our walk. It is an opportunity to worship God and to further our knowledge of Him.
    I also believe that you can go to church everytime the doors are open and not be going to heaven and... just the other direction, never enter a building called a church and be admitted.
    All of this because it is a personal relationship...one that must be had with Jesus.
    I know that this is just my personal belief, but I feel that this is what you are saying too...am I right?

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  14. dear debra,

    i love the lifeboat analogy. it puts such a different perspective
    on my choosing whether or not to get in. He has made the
    boat available to me.

    praise the Lord!

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  15. Hey girl! I have been praying about this topic all day! I am so thankful for this little study group...It really has me thinking about how amazing God is and how He uses these little discussions to get me into serious devotion and study time...It is something that I truly needed to spend more time doing.
    I am so excited about "my role" and how easy the Lord has really made it for all of us to be with Him forever...(I too love the analogy of the boat...
    It really is after all just that simple...
    I just had not thought of it in such a way before)

    Blessings dear friend...donna

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  16. Hi, Debra! I was so happy and surprised to find your blog because I really like what you write and post. I think we need to look to the world through God's eyes. I had breast cancer at the age of 35 years old and without him and his mercy, love for me I wouldn't do anything with my life. He has my life in his hands. I pray that I agree with his wishes to my life. Sincerely, Carol from Brasil.

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  17. By the way, I put your blog as a link in mine www.minhavidaeagora.com.br (mylifeisnow). Carol from Brasil

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