Really stupid question from an ignorant person

I have a really ignorant question for my Christian friends. I am under the impression that, if you are a fundamentalist Christian, accepting Christ as your savior is the one and only road to salvation. I think I’ve read this described as “faith, not acts.”

If I’m correct about this basic principle, and it’s faith and not acts that lead to salvation, what is the incentive for Christians to engage in affirmative good acts and lead a moral life? That is, could one say (and mean), “I accept Christ as my savior,” but at the same time live a life of immoralities big (e.g., theft) and small (e.g., acting without respect to ones parents)?

I can’t believe that this approach — accepting Christ but living immorally — can be correct based on the evidence of my own experience. As Dennis Prager likes to say, if he found himself alone in a dark alley, he’d feel a lot safer if the group of men heading his way came from a Bible study class, as opposed to any other point origin.

In other (inarticulate) words, my observations show me that having attained salvation by accepting Christ, Christians nevertheless do go on to live moral lives. But do they really need to if, as I understand it, their salvation is already assured? Clearly, I’m confused here.

33 Responses

  1. One can’t do both. Accepting Christ as savior entails living by Christ’s example and not living immorally. I’m not trying to preach; I’m hardly a fundamentalist or even devout, far from it. But as I understand the distinction, an atheist can perform good deeds, acts, but is not redeemed for not having accepted Christ. But those who claim to have accepted Christ but engage, consistently and willfully, in immorality, are hypocrites, or deranged. I’m sure this explanation is imperfect and incomplete and leave it for your posters who more faithful than I to explain.

  2. I’m still trying to get all the theology straightened out in my own head, it not being my strong point, but as I understand it, living a moral life is the evidence of faith, and contrition for the sins that made it necessary for Jesus to die. “Faith without works is dead”, so if truly saved, one will have the desire to live a moral life.

  3. As it’s been explained to me (and various denominations have historically different views about faith vs. works):

    Once you hear, accept, and understand the Good News (the Gospel) your life changes to such an extent, based on new priorities and perspectives, that you *want* to do good and be good, in accordance with Jesus’ examples and guidance. It becomes part of the “life lived abundantly,” and it is its own reward.

    Christians don’t necessarily do good acts because it gets them anything in Heaven besides being pleasing to God–contrition and faith in God through Jesus are the way to Heaven, and Christians know it is not what they do, but what’s in their heart that counts with God–but Christians do good acts because they have the joy and understanding and the love of others as Jesus taught us, and they want to express that, share it and pass it on.

    Not everybody can do this perfectly or all the time, of course. Christianity also brings a better understanding of one’s own failures and frailities (sins, historically called). Understanding God’s forgiveness of these, and his unfathomable love of all individuals (the example of the very-human and imperfect Disciples being called as Jesus’ friends, just for one graphic example) is not a case of being let off the hook for accountability so much as it is a continuing inspiration to keep trying, that God so loves all of us even while we are imperfect, and we will always be imperfect.

    I too have come to realize better how much all of society depends on the Christians among us steering faithfully by their own stars, staying honest and at least attempting or aspiring to be and do good (i.e. that they are in the aggregate okay to meet up with in a dark alley). I have come to believe that the strength of your average Christian’s morality is actually stronger under pressure (many times amazingly so) than the strength of your average atheist’s morality, precisely because even the most “honorable” atheist (by what definition?) in a pinch has no good reason not to do anything he REALLY, REALLY wants if certain he won’t get caught. In other words, it seems to me acceptance of accountability to an omniscient Higher Authority (i.e. God) leads to an aggregate of better behavior in a society, which is certainly a better society. Do you agree with that?

    If that is so, shouldn’t a society do all it can to support and foster the belief in a heavenly Higher Authority, just as it should support and foster strong, healthy families, in its own self-interest?

  4. I too am certain that accepting Jesus as your personal savior compels you to live a moral life. And yet, we are all imperfect, some of us vastly so. So yes, you would try to live by Jesus’ example, and yet often fail. Sometimes terribly fail.

    Therefore, I’m not sure Book’s question has really been addressed yet. Is it enough to accept Jesus as your personal savior, and yet, through weakness or misguidedness, or rationalization, commit truly horrible crimes. What if you were never to repent of those crimes, vs coming to a realization (and horror) of what you’ve done, and truly repent?

    Is it, in fact, enough then, to accept Jesus as your personal savior? Even while committing blackmail, extortion or theft, or murdering out of rage or righteous retribution (ie killing your spouse and your spouse’s lover), or, shudder of shudders, molesting a child? To even curse your own actions while simply not being able to stop or control them, while truly accepting Jesus as your personal savior?

    I lost my faith as a teenager and have never recovered it. I’ve read the Gospels many times, and the entire New Testament several times, trying to recover my faith, and have not (yet). However, I too am certain that a society of Christians is a wonderful society for me to live in. I am very interested in further answers to Book’s question.

  5. I’m not a Fundamentalist either, but the concept of being saved through faith alone, and not acts, seems unreasonable to most Christians, at times. My thought is that this is part of the concept of Grace. We have God’s Grace, regardless of what foolish, hurtful, or criminal things we do. It is the unconditional love Christ first offered on the Cross.
    Now He also is also trying to teach us to live life and live it more abundantly. This is where the “good works” come in.
    We all benefit by helping our neighbor. We all grow.
    Fear (of failure, of life itself) is eliminated by unconditional love. Hate (which warps our understanding and action) is changed to love for our neighbor. Acts, good works, strengthen all. We have the first. We have to choose to fulfill the second and third.
    It can be hard.
    Al

  6. This is not a stupid question.

    The concept that salvation is obtained by faith instead of acts (or “works”) depends on the realization that even a Christian is far from perfect. None of us, Christians or otherwise, are sin-free, so we have no hope of EARNING salvation through good deeds. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8)

    Instead, we put our faith in Christ. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes on him should not perish but have ever lasting life.” (John 3:16)

    However, just because one has belief, one doesn’t have a free ride with no obligations. “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:20)

    One of those works is repentence, which means to turn away from sin. “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38)

    This doesn’t mean you are better than anyone else, or no longer a sinner. It does mean you have a relationship with God through Christ, and attain forgiveness from that. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

    In short, we are saved by faith, and one expression of that faith is good works. “Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them.” (Matt 7:20)

    This is pretty superficial but I hope it help clears things up.

  7. Bookworm, I’m with Jose. You did not ask a stupid question. In fact, you touched on one part of the Catholic critique of the Reformed Christian emphasis on “faith alone.”

    That aside, your other commenters have pointed you in the right direction: accepting Jesus as your personal savior entails a change of heart that manifests itself in rigteous conduct. In short, for all the emphasis on faith, it’s made manifest in works. This is in part because we’re “created in the image and likeness of God” as both Hebrew and Christian scriptures say, and with God, words and deeds always match (in fact, God’s words are deeds).

    As the Catholic philosopher Peter Kreeft is fond of saying, “We don’t do good to get to heaven; we do good because heaven has already gotten to us.”

    Deathbed conversions obscure this dynamic a bit, but in cases like that, Christians figure that God reads hearts, and knows full well whether a dying convert is sincere. I hope that helps. I love discussions like this; feel free to email me if you want further thoughts on the subject, or sourcing for what’s here.

  8. What of “deathbed” repentance? How does the deathbed conversion “obscure the dynamic?” If, say, a murderer on death row comes to the faith… what does his life before his “salvation” mean? Do his acts mean nothing? How can he get forgiveness from the person or people he murdered? What exactly is he saved from?

    I once sat next to a delightful great-grandmotherly type on a flight from Raleigh to Pensacola. Thirty minutes into the flight and a pleasant conversation, she hit me with the Question, “If the rapture comes are you going to heaven?”

    My lame answer was, “I hope so.” and that certainly wasn’t good enough for her. She went from trying to set me up with her grand-daughter to trying to convert the heathen… she was on a mission. The conversation never turned ugly but I was extremely uncomfortable in trying to communicate that I believe deeds are more meaningful and more important than thoughts. But she was absolutely certain that simply by accepting Jesus I’d be “saved” no matter how I had lived my life… I have never quite figured out what I’d be saved from. It’s always sounded a bit like I’d be saved from personal responsibility for my actions.

    I don’t get it. Thoughts and beliefs are simply that… they mean nothing without action.

  9. I’m no theologian, either. However, I’ll give this one a shot.

    Matthew 7:17-20 (King James Version)
    “17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
    18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
    19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
    20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”

    Luke 6:46-47 (New International Version)
    “46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
    47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will show you to whom he is like:”

    James 2:14-20 (New International Version)
    “14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?
    15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.
    16 If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?
    17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
    18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.
    19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.”

    If a person truly accepts Christ as their savior, then that person will be compelled to perform “good works”; it’s part and parcel of Christ’s teachings. The “good Samaritan” parable shows that non-believers are also capable of good works, but those who truly believe perform good works _because_ of their belief.

    Those who proclaim their faith in Christ and the Lord, but act counter to Christ’s teachings, are pretty much hypocrites, and unrighteous. See also Matthew 25:31-46; it’s a bit too long to be quoted here.

    If I had to sum things up, it would be like this: only faith can “save” someone; but if someone truly has faith, it will manifest as “good works”.

    The “deathbed conversion” has occasionally made the waters more murky because it allows for a person to be as immoral as they want for nearly their entire lives, but at the eleventh hour repent, and go to heaven. A way of having one’s cake, and eating it too; all the fun of an immoral life, but with eternal salvation tacked on at the end. However, as Patrick stated above, God is surely able to spot those who are truly contrite on their deathbed from those who are merely hedging their bets.

  10. Thank you so much. I can see that it is an interesting theological question, because, while most of you have headed in the same direction, you’ve taken different routes to that destination. Clearly, the bottom line, as Mike said, is that, whatever my beliefs, I’d rather live in a society of good (modern, not medieval) Christians than in any other society (except, for me, a society of Israelis who are people, for the most part, of the same book).

    It’s also very interesting, because my understanding of the Old Testament is that it’s solely by the Acts that God knows those who keep the covenant. From circumcision on up, Jews manifest their faith by living life according to the rules God laid down. Either way, whether one lives these rules because of a covenant with God or because of the acceptance of Jesus, these rules (certainly as filtered through the modern Judeo-Christian sensibility) make for a civilized, humane society that should be the envy of the world.

  11. Book,

    Good question– lots of answers.. but most miss the main point of salvation in Jesus Christ alone — without works.

    Jesus is the Savior.. He does the saving and keeping. We just trust Him for it.

    We are sinners in need of a Savior. Jesus paid the death penalty price in our place. Those who accept Christ have eternal life. Those who so not trust Christ alone as Savior, have not eternal life.

    The best example of God’s Grace is from the Bible:
    Ephesians 2:8-10 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that[saved] not of yourselves: it [salvation] is the GIFT of God:
    [9] NOT OF WORKS, lest any man should boast.
    [10] For we [as believers] are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto [for the purpose of] good works, which God hath before ordained that we SHOULD [not a requirement but His request] walk in them.

    Here is a Biblical tongue-twister that explains why Grace and works cannot be mixed for salvation:
    Romans 11:6
    “And if [salvation] by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.”

    Salvation is free by faith in Christ. Service to our Savior is work and the two cannot be mixed.

    Good works do not save nor can they keep one saved. Grace is defined as “undeserved mercy.”

    None of us deserve the gift of salvation in Christ but He has provided it to any and all for the taking.

    When this simple Biblical principle is understood, it brings total assurance of eternal life. No doubts because it depends completely upon Jesus Christ and His mercy.. not on me or my faulty “good” works.

    ExP(Jack)

  12. Book
    While I am a regular reader of your blogs, I have not commented before. I have read the comments this time, however, and think there may be an element missing. First of all, Paul tells us in Romans 10:9 “that if you confess with your mout the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

    He also tells us in Galatins 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no I who live but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

    If we have accepted Christ, He promises to live within us and to help us live lives pleasing to Him.

    Rich

  13. Jack, if accepting entirely God’s grace is enough, why do you then go on to live a moral life, as I know you, and fellow Christians, do? If it’s not necessary for salvation, what is the incentive to make moral decisions, decisions that are often painful and against our own, purely selfish interests? Clearly, there is incentive to do the right thing. I just can’t put my finger on it.

  14. I tried to leave my comment last night, but it wouldn’t go through. I agree with the others — this is not a stupid question! Here’s my two cents:

    I think you mean “faith, not works“. We are saved through faith in Christ, not through any good works that we do. The faith that saves us, however, never remains alone; it is accompanied by good works. These works prove, or give testimony, that the faith is living and real. Why do we do good works? We do them out of gratitude for what God has done for us and out of love for our Father. A professed faith that is not accompanied by good works is a dead faith, not a saving one. (James 2:14).

    Does this help?

  15. That your comment wouldn’t go through, Anne, is unsurprising. something was wrong with Word Press last night and three (!) of my posts vanished. Very frustrating. Yours is a very clear explanation, and I appreciate it.

  16. It is not incentive, it is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that guides us to good works, Book. When you make a conscious decision to accept the sacrifice of Jesus, to believe that He is the Son of God, and that his death and resurrection will bridge the gulf between man and God, then you are “born again”, you have accepted salvation. The reason this is important, and why oceanguy missed it, is that faith in God is a rational and free choice. By making the choice, you allow God to instill faith in you. As Steve Brown always says, if you take the first step, God will take the second step, and when you get to the third step, you’ll see that God took the first step.

    To be born again means to bury the “old man” of sin, and join Christ in His resurrection as a new being. Upon our acceptance of the gift of grace, we are infused with the Holy Spirit, the third part of the Trinity. This is what people would call their conscience, although to Christians, the presence of the Spirit gives us a direct and inviable conduit to God. God speaks to the believer through the office of the Spirit. The reason we listen to the Spirit’s voice is that we recognize God’s love for us, manifested through the sacrifice of His Son for our transgressions, and we seek to reciprocate that love.

    When God looks at me, He does not see only the physical and spiritual me, He sees the image of His Son, who lives in me. That is salvation.

    Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Testament covenant. Until God entered time and space, the Law was the only method for expiating sin. Adherence to the Law was accepted as righteousness. Transgressions were expunged by following the prescription of the Law, by the physical sacrifices that were spelled out, and by the shedding of blood. Jesus’ willing blood sacrifice fulfilled the Law. As Paul said, the Law can only make us lawbreakers, it can never offer us total freedom from sin. Jesus’ sacrifice did just that, once and for all.

    Of course, the rub is always getting people to believe that they are sinners, and are in need of redemption. That is why that nice old lady was proselytizing oceanguy, because she inferred that he had not accepted Jesus, and bringing people to Him is, of course, the Great Commission that is laid on His followers.

    BTW, in my opinion, Christian belief is that salvation through faith in Christ is the only guarantee of eternal life. Jesus said that He was door through which all must pass in order to be reunited with God. Knowing Him and accepting Him means that when I meet Him, He will already know me, and will accept me. Other than that, you take your chances.

  17. Book, did you get an email that copied my comment for this thread?

  18. Book,

    Scripture says (and I concur) that “The love of Christ constrains me…” How I act and what I do is because of love for my Savior.

    As believers in Christ we are permanently and eternally in God’s family. He is our Father and we are His children. His Holy Spirit (The Comforter) indwells each believer, instructing and guiding 24 hours every day. As believers, we receive all of the blessings and benefits of a perfect loving Heavenly Father. Likewise, when needed, we receive the discipline of a perfect loving Heavenly Father. That is motivation.

    One big motivation is that I spent the first 35 of my 78 years without Christ. There is no comparison between my life then and now. I see people differently. I am torn inside when I see people refusing the greatest free Gift ever offered by God.

    Another great motivation is to see people trust Christ alone for their eternity. My behavior, morals, actions, etc have a definite bearing on whether or not others will think me credible and believe what I say about my Savior.

    My works, good or bad, do not determine or alter my eternal relationship with my Heavenly Father. But my works, good or bad certainly affect my day-to-day fellowship with my Heavenly Father. That is certainly motivation for good behavior.

    ExP(Jack)

  19. The incentive to do the right thing springs from the literally new life within that has been birthed by the Holy Spirit and that very slowly (in my case!) leads to a transformed life. Christianity is not a works based life because there is nothing you can do MORE than Christ has already done, so there is no earning salvation. The Old Testament was based on works – keeping the commandments. With Jesus death and resurrection, we live lives based on faith in the One Who now lives in us – the New Covenant.

  20. This has been hugely helpful, my friends. I was a European history major when I was in college, and became familiar with vast amounts of early Christian history. I’ve read both books of the Bible (more than once), I’ve read Augustine and Aquinas and Martin Luther and Thomas More, and on and on, but the finer doctrinal points in this thread — doctrine in practice, as opposed to theory, you might say — eluded me. That’s blind spot is also probably there because I did read many of these materials in college, two decades or so ago, and I wasn’t reading them with the same eye or understanding I have now.

  21. Well, either I forgot that I didn’t post my comment here or it got sucked into the hole. Either ways, I’m going to have to retype it from memory.

    But do they really need to if, as I understand it, their salvation is already assured? Clearly, I’m confused here.

    If someone gave you a second chance, Book, would you not be grateful to that person and hesitant to throw his gift away?

    In that sense, it compares favorably to my sense of the Born Again and “Saved” statuses. It is almost as if it is a second chance for you, to live life free from what might have shackled you before, such things as fear, regret, or guilt.

    The first thing that this reminded me of, Book, was Terror Management Theory. You can google that for a definition, but the short of it is that because humans are aware that they will eventually die, there are various means to cope with the knowledge that you, your culture, and your generation will eventually die and turn into dust. To put it another way, fear makes wise men foolish or foolish men wise. Dealing with the perpetual fear that is the gift of our human condition requires certain controls or methods. Religious institutions or movements have actually been one of those methods.

    So some of the fear comes from that. The fear that you will die, the fear of not knowing what will happen when you die, and the fear that you will lose what you value. There is also the question of Original Sin, in which if Jesus died to forgive you, then you owe some loyalty to Jesus to follow in his footsteps. Original Sin can after all, be seen as the fear of things you cannot control, such as the time alloted to you.

    There are many ways to deal with the knowledge of one’s eventual death. France does it by banning the word email, in order to protect French culture and language from contamination. That’s one way to do. But there are others as well. The Islamic Jihad deals with the fear of dying by making dying more pleasant than living. Christianity deals with it via the Born Again and the Salvation beliefs.

    In the end though, you can get a person to do a lot of good so long as they are not being controlled their fears, suspicions, doubts, and so forth. Or a lot of destruction. It depends.

    Humans tend to spend a lot of energy worrying about life and death. Some religions focus that energy into something a little bit more positive or constructive. A little bit goes a long way.

  22. Thank you, expreacherman Jack. I was hoping you’d post here on this question.

  23. Bookworm,

    I love what you said in comment #10 about how in the Hebrew scriptures (Old Testament from a Christian point of view), it’s the acts of the people that signify their keeping of the convenant.

    Per the frame of your original question, all Christians agree that we cannot “earn” our way into heaven. Nevertheless, our conduct matters. One of the areas where my church differs from Christians in the Reformed tradition like ExPreacherMan Jack is in our understanding of what has been promised to believers.

    If a Protestant Christian asks me whether I’ve been saved (that famous question among some fundamentalist and evangelical Christians), I’d hope to be articulate enough to answer not “yes” or “no,” but in the way suggested by one Catholic web site:
    “I am redeemed by the blood of Christ, I trust in him alone for my salvation, and, as the Bible teaches, I am ‘working out my salvation in fear and trembling’ (Phil. 2:12), knowing that it is God’s gift of grace that is working in me.”

  24. Ref Patrick’s statement about me.

    I am neither a “Reformed” believer nor a “protestant.”

    The reformed theology assumes Calvinism, predestination, etc — which is a whole other man made subject. I refuse to debate that here. Suffice it to say I am not of the “Reformed” theology.

    Likewise, I am not a “Protestant.” I am protesting absolutely nothing. If I were to coin a label, it would be “Proclaimant,” one who proclaims the good news that there is no works requirement in God’s salvation. It is free to all who will trust Jesus. There is liberty in Jesus Christ… which is not a license for immorality or sin. Nor is it a shackle to fear.

    John 8:32 “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

    John 8:36 “If the Son [Jesus] therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”

    True Christianity is not a “religion.” Churches, religions, sects, cults, dogma. pastors, priests, etc cannot save. Only a personal decision to trust Jesus Christ as Savior. He died in our place and paid our eternal debt and give eternal life to anyone who believes in Him and Him alone (without works, churches, pastors, etc).

    How wonderful to know that if (or when) I do goof up I have a the only Mediator between Man and God, the Man Jesus Christ. He is likewise my only Intercessor and my only Advocate before God Almighty.

    Sorry Book, I won’t need you as my lawyer. My case is already decided and settled in the Heavenly Court… and because of my Savior, He prevailed for me. Not guilty because of my Savior! — Not because of me.

    ExP(Jack

  25. Hi, ExPreacherman, and welcome!
    I’ve read your comments above (#11,18,24). I am still wondering and I would like more comments. You said:

    “Scripture says (and I concur) that “The love of Christ constrains me…” How I act and what I do is because of love for my Savior. As believers in Christ we are permanently and eternally in God’s family.”

    “As believers in Christ we are permanently and eternally in God’s family”

    I guess, my problem is with, what I would believe about myself, vs what others would believe about me.

    How does one know if one is following the will of God, or is misguided? Perhaps by Satan? I could be truly committed to living a life by Christ, and yet still perform actions that the vast majorify of other Christians would find horrifying. How is one to judge? Examine Eric Rudolph. Some believe him to be fully guided by God’s path, others find him guided by Satan.

    I did choose, above with Mr. Rudolph, a deliberately controversial example. Yet there are non-controversial examples of those who commit horrors while believing they are following God’s path. And certain that they are following Christ’s guidance, secure in His love, certain in their salvation due to their belief.

    What are the rest of us to do, when confronted with any such crime? This is important to me, because I feel I must reflect upon the radical Islamists, who too are certain in their belief in the nature of God, and yet whom I believe must be killed due to their evil actions.

  26. Mike, you asked:

    “I guess, my problem is with, what I would believe about myself, vs what others would believe about me.”

    Mike, our actions should be to please the God of the Bible, no other god, person, book, cult or religion.

    Therefore, I approach your question with two questions “Have you trusted Christ as your Savior?” “What, then, do you believe about yourself.”

    You asked
    “How does one know if one is following the will of God, or is misguided?”

    God’s Word, understood from a time (dispensational) context, is our guide. God will never require His child to do anything contrary to His Word.

    You said
    “I could be truly committed to living a life by Christ, and yet still perform actions that the vast majorify of other Christians would find horrifying. How is one to judge? Examine Eric Rudolph. Some believe him to be fully guided by God’s path, others find him guided by Satan.”

    Believers are told to obey the civil laws and magistrates — unless such orders and laws violate God’s Law, then we are to obey God rather than man.

    When the law failed to protect unborn children, Rudolph took the law into his own hands and murdered those responsible. Believers are told not to do murder. So Rudolph violated Civil law and God’s law. I could not judge whether Rudolph has trusted Christ as his Savior or not. Only the Lord and Rudolph know for sure.

    The vile sect of IslamoFascism does not believe in the God of the Bible. They have created their own monstrosity to replace the God of the Bible. Our government is at war (or supposed to be) with Islamo Fascist terrorists. Our soldiers fight and lawfully kill this enemy, but they are not allowed to indiscriminately walk around and kill any Muslim they see. This would violate God’s law and civil law.

    If you or your home and family are directly and physically attacked by IslamoFascists and are threatened with death, you have a right to defend your home, whatever it takes. However, you have no God given or civil right to walk around indiscriminately killing every Muslim you see.

    You said
    “What are the rest of us to do, when confronted with any such crime? This is important to me, because I feel I must reflect upon the radical Islamists, who too are certain in their belief in the nature of God, and yet whom I believe must be killed due to their evil actions.”

    Certainty of belief is no substitute for true faith in the Son of God, Jesus Christ. We can believe in and worship trees, as do the Druids… but trees do not save anyone regardless of how “certain” they may be or how hard they believe. The god of Islam does not save, regardless of how “certain” the IslamoFascists may be.

    Mike, “following Christ’s path” does not give eternal life either.. One must believe in Jesus as the only Savior and giver of eternal life. There is Truth and individuals are responsible to understand and believe it.

    Anyone who is a believer in Christ should understand what scripture says. “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” Romans 14:12

    We are individually responsible for our own actions before God first and then our government.

    And we who have trusted Christ as our Savior have this scripture to which we should conform. This is my paraphrase:

    “Only let your behavior be such as it enhances the gospel of Christ …. that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the Gospel of Jesus Christ;” Philippians 1:27

    In Christ,

    ExP(Jack)

  27. Not to go too far down a rabbit hole, but I contend that Christianity *is* a religion. It is also and importantly a relationship with Jesus the Christ. In other words, “both/and” rather than “either/or”

  28. Anybody know where the name Jeshua comes from?

  29. Y,

    To simplify, It is Hebrew. Jeshua, Joshua, Jesus, etc, are all contractions of Jehovah Yeshua, Jehovah, the Name of God in the Old Testament and Yeshua (multiple spellings) meaning Savior. Thus, God Saves. The name of God in the flesh, Jesus.

    Specifically, Jeshua — He will save; Jeshua, also the name of ten Israelites, also of a place in Palestine :- Jeshua. Also the name of several Old Testament characters.

    ExP(Jack)

  30. Jesus, though his teachings were revolutionary, specifically said that not one bit of the law was done away with by His revelation; the ten commandments are still in effect, not only for Jews, the carriers of Gods truth, not only for Christians, but for all of humanity.

  31. David was called a man after God’s own heart….read his story and ask yourself if even in the Old Testament, it was “works” alone that determined one’s standing with God…..I don’t think so.

    This question has been huge for a long long time….Paul and James might be seen as representing the two tails of the normal curve on the “works – grace” scale. I think if we read them closely, in conjunction with the rest of Scripture (remember David…and Abraham, for that matter), we can see that they are not in opposition, because grace and works are (to human observers) always in tension.

    The reason is that we cannot look upon the heart, while God can. From the outside, David’s blatant adultery, and murder to cover it up, would seem to damn him forever….God looked on the heart, and when he sent Nathan the prophet to call the King to account (wouldn’t you love to have THAT job?), David admitted guilt and was both contrite and repentant.

    God wants each of us to follow His leading….whether as a Jew, a Muslim, a Hindu, a Christian, or whatever. “Judge not lest ye be judged” means we are not to make assumptions about anyone’s eternal destiny – we can’t know. I used to tell my students that I couldn’t imagine an abortionist had not grieved away the Holy Spirit, because what could be worse than killing unborn children all day for money. Bernard Nathanson taught me one thing worse – judging another person’s status with the Lord. This nation’s #1 abortion doctor, and a big part of precipitating the Roe v. Wade decision, repented of his sins and accepted Jesus Christ. Praise the Lord!

    Talk to God…read His word….make fellowship with like-minded believers….hold each other accountable….and follow God’s leading in your life as best you can understand it through these means. If we do this, when our Lord returns, He’ll know us, and we’ll be eager to go home with Him to heaven. If not, His coming will fill us with dread, and we’ll be calling for the rocks and mountains to fall on us, in order to avoid His gaze, or having to look in His face.

    God bless us, every one.

  32. Michael D, instead of reading and rereading the Gospels to rediscover your faith (and find answers to the very good questions you’ve posed), why don’t you just ask Him? You need to knock before He will open the door.

  33. Thanks for the info, Jack.

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