Thursday, March 1, 2012

Salvation Anyone?

Nothing that I have written about in prior posts causes such a stir in all religious circles, as the discussion of human salvation. It is fascinating to watch the scholars of the last two thousand years "duke it out" on this all important subject. Many think it is solely faith based, some believe it is faith and works, still others believe it its faith, works and baptism. These are the major differences along the lines of the various offshoots of Protestantism. There are 320 million Protestants in the world today. Catholicism believes that the "gospel of Jesus Christ," includes faith, but further adds the Seven (7) Sacraments as a critical piece of the "initiation into Christ's Church." These Sacraments form the foundation for living as a Catholic. Catechism provides the manual for day to day living, and finally, ordained Priests of God are empowered to forgive sins after confession. There are 1 billion Catholics in the world today.

Islam, interesting enough, believes in one true God, Allah the Merciful. Their term Allah means God, and their messenger on earth was Muhammed. The Qur'an is their Holy Book, and it contains Muslim Law that has been passed down through generations. They have Five (5) Pillars of Islamic Law that form the foundation for everything else. They pray a minimum of three (3) times daily for, among other things, forgiveness of sin. There are 1.5 billion Muslims in the world today. They are the fastest growing large religion in the world. Faith in Allah, and a life lived in submission to him are the keys to entrance into Paradise.

At first blush it would seem to most of us that Islam is completely different that Catholicism and Protestantism, but the truth is that there are some striking similarities. Keep in mind that modern day Iraq is at the epicenter of where not only mankind began, but Christianity as well. Muslim's recognize Hebrew prophets all the way back to Adam, Abraham, Joseph and Noah. They recognize Jesus as a prophet and believe that Muhammed was the "last" prophet. Aside from the extremists in all three of these religions, they have remarkable similarities, all of which will make them shutter and scream that I am a "heretic." All three believe in God, the Creator of Life. All three have a Holy Book. All three believe 5 or 10 Commandments, all three believe in prayer, all three recognize the existence and life of Jesus Christ. Islamic Law and Mosaic Law have similarities. All three need forgiveness of sin to spend eternity in Heaven/Paradise.

If you are one of the 2.8 billion people described above, you have some things in common, and some things that are not. At the core, the similarities are tangible. When mankind and interpretation got involved, each was morphed into something not necessarily intended by God, the Creator. Where did true godliness and divine wisdom get de-railed down through the centuries? Why do we divide ourselves and sacrifice our holiness on the alter of rigid dogma and closed minds? Only God, the Creator knows for certain, but I am sure Satan/Evil is at the bottom of all the needless persecution and execution.
I have chosen to discuss Salvation, not because it is my favorite subject, but because God, the Creator, wants us to understand this important principle without the weight of Priests, Popes, Pastors, Reverends, Imams or Mullahs. The study of Salvation is called Soteriology, just a 10 cent word for comparing and contrasting all of the many belief systems centered on this topic, some of which are discussed above. Hard to believe that something God intended to be simple, we have caused to not only be complex, but we have both literally and figuratively, killed each other over it. From the Greek, we learn that "soteria" and "soterion," which mean saviour and salvation respectively, are the reasons we call this study, Soteriology. The Latin verb "salvare," or to save further defines the etymology of this word Salvation.

Simply put, Salvation in the OT depended on faithful obedience to the law and being upright in everyday life. Easy to say, but extremely difficult to accomplish for anyone in the world, including the Jewish nation at that time. In the NT, the Apostle Paul wrote that faith in the atoning death of Jesus Christ was sufficient for anyone to inherit eternal life. In the Book of Acts we find more divine simplicity concerning Salvation, "Believe in/on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." Most translations use "believe in," but my personal opinion is that "believe on" is what the author had in mind. Why, you ask? The Bible clearly states that even Satan and his minions all believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, meaning that they know, beyond any doubt, that God in all three (3) personages is alive and well. When Jesus reveals himself to the entire world someday, we will all believe, "in Him," whether you are a satanist, atheist, or gnostic. So therein lies the rub...Belief that He exists does NOT matter! "Believe on," is the correct translation of this all important passage, and here are some reasons for you to consider:

  1. "Believe in" means to believe that something or someone exists. You can believe in abstinence from drinking alcohol, or you can believe in the beneficial effects of sea bathing. You can believe in the fact that Jesus came to earth, lived 33 years and died for the sins of many.
  2. "Believe on" implies that you accept the Lord Jesus Christ implicitly as the object of your faith, trust and obedience.
This is NOT like Bill Clinton's attorney's arguing over the definition of "is." That was just legal mumbo jumbo and manipulation of the law. This is THE formula for finding the "narrow path," to eternal life in Heaven above. Now that you have an appreciation of the  difference here, you need to decide if you "believe in" or believe on."

When you accept our Saviour into your heart and profess it out loud verbally and by the actions of your daily life, your name has been permanently inscribed, with indelible ink, into "The Lambs Book of Life." Ignore mankind's legalistic machinations to persuade you to believe anything else. We have just under 7 billion people on this planet who need to know that they do not need the Catholic Church, the Protestant Church with all of it's shameful differences of opinion,  
the local Temple, the local Mosque, the local Synagogue or any other man-made religious creation. If you let any of them come between your personal, privileged relationship with the Holy Trinity, you have missed the point. The only thing that matters to God, at the judgement seat, is the condition of your heart and your immortal soul. The day you took your first breath, is the day your received it from God. What you have done with this gift over your lifetime will be judged by His standards, not ours. There is only one thing in this universe that will cleanse the stains on your soul, and that is the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Make Him your battle cry, make Him your leader, make Him your friend and make Him the proud owner of your soul.
John Fawcett wrote an amazing hymn years ago, entitled, "Blessed be the TIE that Binds." It is not the type of knot that counts, it is, and always has been" about the TIE only.

Faithful to the "Tie that Binds",

The Digital Disciple

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:08 AM

    The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. - Mark Twain

    It appears as though you have found out "why" you were born. Insightful read, thank you!


Hearing from you is certainly not a requirement. Consideration of what is researched and written is all I ask of anyone who stumbles upon my writings. I believe that my God will take it from there. With His help I try to separate fact from fiction, sense from nonsense, and ultimately clarity from chaos.


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