GENERAL: God's place for other religions
  • Doug_MillsDoug_Mills June 2007

    Some people were interested in starting a separate thread based on a post I made in response to another post in another thread. My post as well as those that responded to it were off topic, so I am starting this thread in order to not blot out the important discussion in that thread... The issue is other religions and God's place for them in the Kingdom, or at least I believe that is the issue being addressed. To clarify in case I am wrong, I will quote the post that addressed the issue.QualityPlant said: "about other religions, how do u know they're 'defiled versions of the truth?' the Bible talks about heathens, pagan religions which involved child-sacrifice. Ghandi was a Hindu but also respected Jesus' teachings and was one of the holiest men of the last century. Say you have a number of children and each child is different from the others. You wouldn't relate to them all in exactly the same way. The different races of the world are like God's children. So God would need to relate to them all differently, people in Spain have a completely different way of understanding the world compared to the Thai. If you live in Tibet then buddhism is probably the best window for you to view the world and God through, us in the West have Christianity. That's what i think anyway."  

  • Jesus is the only way to Heaven.  Not just respecting his teachings nor knowing about Him.  The only way is to have a relationship with Him and place one's own trust and faith in Him alone.  So Christianty is the only way to God.A good book to read is SO WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE by Fritz Ridenour.

  • Doug_MillsDoug_Mills June 2007

    My personal response is the same as I stated before: All things Satan has invented are mereley distortions of the real truth. They are not new nor better, but simply distortions. These distortions are made in rebellion of God, trying to make it better than God could make it. The problem is that because God made Satan and Man, we are incapable of being more creative than Him, and therefore all sinful creations/inventions are only distortions of the truth. These distortions are never truly fulfilling and will always lead us to emptiness and brokenness, no matter how good they seem in the moment. God relates to all of us. This is shown with Christ's conduct to all, which included the devout Jews of Jerusalem, the Gentiles of the Roman Army and other Roman officials/citizens who were in Israel during the Roman occupation, and the Samaritans of Samaria. The Jews had never really accepted the Samaritans, though they were technically part of the same people/religion. The Jews never ever accepted the Romans, as they sw them as a threat because they were intended to own the "promised land" of Israel and they were not in control at the time. In fact, the Jews believed at that time that Jesus was going to be a literal Savior that would conquer the Earth and become their earthly king. But God had a different plan.God planned that Jesus would not come to conquer the symptoms of evil (a.k.a. the Romans and other heathens/pagans) but to conquer the very essence of evil, sin/death itself. God created a new plane for people to exist on. They could literally become part of a tribe/people/race that transended all other differences. People were now capable of becoming part of God's family. WE are co-heirs with Christ, meaning that God has, through the blood of Jesus, put us on equal inheritance footing with Jesus Himself. That means we are all now dead to the world and sin and death. We are now living in a different environment, dispite the physical sameness. We are of Zion. This means that God meets us not by our culture here, but by His newly made culture that He intended us to be part of before the Fall. It's not that your question does not have validity, it is that your question does not go far back enough in history to answer itself.I hope that clarifies where I'm coming from. I truly did not mean to offend Frosty, but only wish to edify him through exhortation.In Christ,Doug 

  • That's kind of a flawed way of reasoning it though. Although I or you may relate to each children differently, I trust you would expect the same out of each children. When you go to line up chores, you give them equal amounts of chores. You don't give one child a list of chores including doing the dishes, vacuuming, and cleaning the cat box, and tell one kid only to take out the garbage. If you're a good parent, at least, you usually rotate chores and equal the amounts. On top of this, you are you, and you don't change. God is God, He doesn't change either. He is who He is. I can believe my mom is a.. I don't know.. alien.. but lo she is not. You can believe your God is a woman with five heads, but lo I doubt He is restricted to such a physical description.Now though ultimately I am not the Judge, nor ever will be, though God does relate to us through out culture, He does not change His demands and expections on humankind. When other cultures came into the Israelite communite (i.e. "foreginers") they had the same expectations, and same privelages. Does the God who tells Islams or any other religion that it's perfectly okay to beat your wife, tell other religions that a woman is to be respected and treated with love and care? I doubt it. You're due to your own opinion, of course, but I don't think your reasoning is thourough enough.

  • PerelandraPerelandra June 2007

    Doug: I hear you cluckin big chicken. I'm conflicted on my views of salvation...reading "A New Kind of Christian" and its two sequels. I'd be curious to know if you have read any of those books, or perused C.S. Lewis' "Last Battle" (he allegorically addresses this).

  • TerryTerry June 2007

    Here's a reapost of my comment in the other thread.Hey guys saying all beliefs lead to God is dangerous.   Jesus said, "I am the way truth and life.  No man gets to the Father except through me."  Nobody gets to God except through the sacrifice Christ made.  And then by accepting that sacrifice. If I can get to God through Budda, then why did Christ have to die??  

  • I really like Nostra Aetate, the Vatican's statement on non-christian religions. It shows deep spiritual and intellectual maturity. Here is an excerpt: --- Likewise, other religions found everywhere try to counter the restlessness of the human heart, each in its own manner, by proposing "ways," comprising teachings, rules of life, and sacred rites. The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men. Indeed, she proclaims, and ever must proclaim Christ "the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6), in whom men may find the fullness of religious life, in whom God has reconciled all things to Himself.(4) The Church, therefore, exhorts her sons, that through dialogue and collaboration with the followers of other religions, carried out with prudence and love and in witness to the Christian faith and life, they recognize, preserve and promote the good things, spiritual and moral, as well as the socio-cultural values found among these men. --- You can read the entire document (you know you want to ;-)) on the Vatican's website: http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decl_19651028_nostra-aetate_en.html

  • backfliptebackflipte June 2007

    here's my comment from the other thread:Hey qualityplant,you bring up some interesting ideas in your most recent post to this thread.  Some that I have thought about myself... I think its important to keep an open mind and more importantly an open heart in a world that our intellects are incapable of fully understanding (we are even less capable of fully understanding God and his ways).  However there are a few things (well perhaps even just one thing) that God has called us to be narrow-minded and uncompromising about:  Jesus said "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)  I would love hear more thoughts on other religions/ philosophies and their place in God's world.  I firmly believe Jesus' words from John 14:6.  This topic does peak my curiosity, though, as I've wondered about people like Ghandi...

  • Just a thought about Ghandi... He lived more like a Christian than most Christians! Didn't he show us how to love enemies through his pacifist stance against oppression. I heard he visited church and said he would have become christian if he'd met people who lived out jesus' teachings. Maybe some of these people do know Jesus but they don't see him in us, to our shame. I heard Billy Graham shared the gospel with a guy who said i pray to this jesus every day; i just didn't know his name. After all, Abraham knew God without going to church. God revealed himself to him.  For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) This will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares. It's not just what you know. Understanding the gospel is important in knowing God, but none of us has a complete hold on all truth. God is going to overlook much of our ignorance when he brings us into heaven. He will judge people according to the light they have, isn't that right?  Man judges by outward appearance but God looks at the heart.The pharisees had the word and thought they were faithful to it, but it didn't save them. Admittedly the way of salvation through the atoning work of christ is made clear to us, and I do believe anyone who actually hears this and rejects it is rejecting god, no matter how good their life is. But God makes it pretty clear that to know him is to live a life of love.  God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.It's who you know. Jesus. And maybe those who live as he would wish are closer to him than those who do know him but don't live much like him. The gospel of God's grace in Christ is primarily a message about the love of God, and it is to cause us to live in love, a heart response. There are people who have an intuitive grasp of how important love is, and live truly loving and noble lives. How much is there of God in their lives? How will God judge them? I don't know.  "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'Who are we to assume that we're in and others are out just because we've been privileged to have access to the gospel? There may be a few surprises on that day! Please don't misunderstand me. I am as active as most in contending earnestly for the faith. My bible is precious to me and I believe it is the word of God, our means of knowing him, from which all other ways of knowing him (worship, his people, good deeds) take root. It's just we msutn't be complacent in the outward appearances of our faith and we msutn't presume to know exactly things God has not made clear about his ways, things which we don't need to know.The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law. Maybe I am wrong. Maybe the people who say they can tell from the bible exactly how God will judge others are right. I think God's a bit mysterious about this one. Although each of us can know that we are saved for ourselves, we can't be sure about others.Phew! Edited this one a few times!

  • Terry - once again I have to agree with you!  I was thinking about the exact same verse.  Either you believe the bible is the inerrant inspired word of God, or you've opened it up to believe what every you want.  Why read the bible if you are going to be the judge of it's accuracy?

  • Terry and nmp -- if that is your view, what do you do then with all those people that were born in lands where during their time no one has ever even heard of Jesus (say Polynesia in the 2nd century AD)? Do none of them get salvation? Do they all go to hell? That would be the logical implication of your understanding. I have a hard time reconciling this with your repeated instistence on God's unlimited grace and love for humanity. Would you punish someone for eternity because he/she has not recognised a person he/she has never even heard of?

  • Do you think the choice is between heaven and punishment?  I think God can do whatever he wants.  Maybe permanent death is what happens to someone who has never heard of Jesus but still lived a good life.  In the end, it is God's judgement and his decision.  We will never know what really happens as long as we live in our worldly bodies.  Do we have the right to make up what happens because "we feel it is justified or decent"?  Our opinions don't matter, only God's  opinion matters.  Who are we to presume we know what He will do?Either you believe the bible or you don't.  I believe what it says on this matter.  I haven't read in the bible that those who don't know Christ can still go to heaven.  If it were there, then I'd believe it.

  • That approach is a bit too simplistic, nmp. With all respect, interpretation is much more complex than what you portray (and this is perhaps even more so of the interpretation of sacred texts). Take the case of the Trinity, for example. Where in the Bible does it say, explicitly, that there is such a thing? Most Christians accept the Trinity, however, because they believe it is correct to interpret the text in that way. But back to the original topic. There are different approaches to religious plurality. One is exclusivism, where one denies the validity of any other religion except one's own (which seems to be your approach, as well as Karl Barth's). On the other extreme we have pluralism: all religions are accepted and seen as equal paths to God. One reality (God) is perceived differently by various people with particular personalities, living in particular times, places and cultures. (John Hick would take this approach, for example). Both appraches are problematic, though. Apart from the points I raised earlier, the first approach (exclusivism) denies the experiences of practitioners of other religions (are all Hindus, like Gandhi, just bewildered by devils or psychologically not very sane?) Pluralism may seem a better solution, but is, in my opinion, equally problematic. Are all religions really equal? Why then do you choose one over the other? Is it only because you happen to like it better than another? What then of your faith in and commitment to the teachings of your saints and prophets? There is a third approach, which makes much more sense to me: inclusivism. Inclusivists argue that the 'Truth' can only be truely be known in one particular religion. But unlike the exclusivists, they would argue that God can be known in other religions. In this they resemble the pluralists. Other religions contain elements of truth, and following these other religions helps the practitioners to advance spiritually and come closer to God. The statements of Nostra Aetate I posted earlier are more of this nature.If you seriously and sincerely think all other religions are false and a delusion, I strongly encourage you to actually study these other religions with an open mind. I've done a lot of study in world religions (specifically islam and hinduism) and comparative theology (both for a univeristy degree), and am always impressed with the depth of devotion and godliness I find in many non-christian authors. To claim they are just all deluded is not only arrogant, but also denies the reality of their religious experience, commitment and understanding.

  • I make it a habit of studying other religions, though I have not yet looked into Hinduism.  I chose to become a Christian even though there were other religions to "choose" from.  Now I'll tell you that I don't believe for a second that I chose God; it is the other way around.  But I digress.The bottom line is that I refuse to say, "Jesus is not the only path to God."  God does not tell me this at all.  And I have no right to presume he feels any differently.  You bring up great points ... but they are all from the human perspective.  I believe that we, as worldly beings, have no right saying things* that are not backed up by scripture.* - To be specific, saying things as they relate to God.  As for your example, man came up with the word "Trinity".  But when you look in the bible, there is enough evidence of the trinity to say it is true.  Way back in Genesis, God says, "Let us make man in our own image..."  Plural.  That is the first piece of evidence.  There is more, but my point is that I feel it is not responsible or correct to speak for God, which is what I think people are doing when they say that all religions will lead you to God.

  • TerryTerry June 2007

    Peter’s message, recorded in Acts 4:12, reports about Jesus, "Salvation (forgiveness for sin) is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to man by which we must be saved." This, without apology, is a claim to the exclusive nature of the Christian message.  It's not my claim that my belief is exclusive, it's proclaimed by scripture and by Christianity.All non-Christian alternatives supply very different pictures of God, of man, of the universe, and of the way of salvation. If one is willing to accept the logic that two competing alternatives cannot both at the same time be right, one is obliged to make a choice. Either the Christian revelation is correct, or some other alternative is a better choice. Paul, at the Areopagus in Athens, spoke about the need to choose between Christ and the contemporary competing options available in his day. Paul defended the claims of the Christian message as superior to all others by pointing to the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Acts 17:29-31). Quoting: Assemblies of God website.

  • nmp -- If you want to know more about other religions, don't just stick with books about those religions, but move on to the primary texts of the tradition. While secondary literature (books about xyz) are necessary to understand the context, you only get a real taste of the tradition by seeing through the eyes of a practitioner. If you want recommendations, please let me know.I don't want to get into a discusion of the interpretation of specific passages of the bible, not just because I don't have the time for it, but because I think it is besides the point here. But just to respond :-), to claim that that phrase is uncontestable biblical prove of the Trinity is a bit of a stretch. That the plural is used to indicate the Trinity is your interpretation of the passage. Others (like the Jehova's Witnesses) may see it merely as a 'royal plural', as when a King says "We, the King, have decided..."I am not contesting the Trinity here, nor do I think it is necessarily unbiblical. But there is more to hermeneutics than just reading a book. You bring a lot of other information into the text -- which is not necessarily a bad thing, but a very natural one.As for people speaking for God, wasn't St. Paul, or the gospel authors, or the prophets doing that as well? No offense, but to be honest I find your approach very scary, as it rids religion of reason and intellectual endeavour. Seems like you don't like theologians, though you are unaware that you rely on their thinking constantly in your interpretation of scripture and its application.

  • Christ claims to be the only way.  That means for a person who has heard of Christ, if that person chooses to have a relationship with Christ, then that person goes to Heaven, but if that person rejects a relationship with Christ for a different religion, then that person goes to Hell.  That is for people who have heard about Christ.  MANY in the world have heard about Christ in some form or fashion today.  There are Christians in many nations around the world.  But in the rare case, today, (and more common in the past) when someone has not heard of Christ, I believe God will judge that person by how the person lived life according to the laws.  I believe that God will be just enough to show love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness to someone who has never heard about Christ.Saying that, not all religions are equal.  Not all religions lead to God.  Christianty is the only TRUE way, because it is not just a religion, but a relationship with Christ - the only way to Heaven.  (Even if other religions have some truth to them, they have some false things to them.  Since they have false things and are not completely true, then, yes, other religions are deluded distortions.  That is not an arrogant statement as Christ claims He is the only way to Heaven.  Take it up with Christ if you have issues with that, because either you are a Christian and believe that or you are not a Christian and do not believe it as there is no middle ground.) St. Paul did not speak for God.  God spoke through St. Paul.  There is a difference between someone saying they speak for God and God speaking through someone.  In the case of someone speaking for God, there are statements that are not completely true and deluded distortions that may  validly be questioned by other people.  But in the case of God speaking through people, everything said is completely true. 

  • "God will punish the Gentiles when they sin, even though they never had God's written law.... For it is not merely knowing the law that brings God's approval. Those who obey the law will be declared right in God's sight. For when Gentiles, who do not have God's written law, instinctively follow what the law says, they show that in their hearts they know right from wrong. They demonstrate that God's law is written within the, for their own consciences either accuse them or tell them they are doing what is right." Romans 2:12-15There's another passage similar to this that I believe Jesus spoke, but I can't find it at the moment. I felt the need to quote it though. And I believe "the law" here is speaking more than the torah, but the basic law of love as well as the torah. Since Paul explains later that we are not saved by the law, but by faith.  

  • chargersfan:That is for people who have heard about Christ. MANY in the world have heard about Christ in some form or fashion today. What if they have not heard of Jesus himself, but of a distortion of Jesus and his teachings through either the mouth of his adverseries or his supposed followers? chargersfan:"St. Paul did not speak for God. God spoke through St. Paul. There is a difference between someone saying they speak for God and God speaking through someone." True, perhaps, but according to your analysis, who decides who speaks for God and through whom God speaks? Tricky, isn't it?

  • Doug_MillsDoug_Mills June 2007

    Okay, I'm gonna try to talk about all the issues that have been brought up, though my explanation may be muddled inside explanations of other parts of this issue. Sorry, Perelandra, but could you just tell me what you meant by "I hear you cluckin big chicken."? I just didn't understand the phrase. Yes, I actually got my idea of how to combat this question from a book by him: The Screwtape Letters. It's very interesting in it's analysis. I find that he was truly able to dissect truth from fiction without being biased. I really like all of his books.Ecclesiastes, I think I agree with you on the Nostra Aetate; or at least with the excert you provided. I think I made my reasoning clear, though I will restate it for clarity's sake, that all other religions seem to have this off-based version of Christianity. I think we often view Christianity as a religion, though when it is actually practised correctly, it is more like living reality. That is what I meant when saying that other religions have defiled truth. Other religions form when the real truth is partially accepted and some false truth is also accepted. I see it somewhat like this: God's holiness is so pure that Man cannot stand in it's presence without basically dying (a.k.a. steping inside the Holy of Holies in Solomon's Temple or touching the Ark of the Covenant). In the same way that sinful people are not completely bad, other religions have partial truths within themselves. But God cannot except partial holiness as okay because it would circumvent His own innate Holiness, as well as His perfect sense of Justice. The New Testament has a parable that I think applies. The leavened bread used for normal occasions in levitical and Mosaic law is considered "common" and therefore "unclean" or "not acceptable" to be used in holy circumstances/occasions (such as passover feast or sabbath day). So if someone is making unleavened bread, which is considered "clean" or special in holy occasions, they cannot mix unleavened bread with the leavened bread in order to make more bread. The only bread that can be used is undefiled bread. In other words, because a piece of leavened bread is added to the mix of unleavened bread, the whole thing of dough for making bread is now all considered leavened, and therefore the whole thing must be remade, as it is unholy and common and unclean. The same principle could be applied to truth. Although other religions may somewhat point to God in some way or another, due to the extra sections that are not completely truth, the whole thing is now not able to be accepted as truth. I sounds like outside the box agrees with me, though I don't want to speak for him.

  • Doug_MillsDoug_Mills June 2007

    In terms of the issue of those who have never heard the gospel, I think it is unwise to say what exactly happens to them, as I believe there are probably more laws of the spiritual rhelm than we are taking into account. The Jewish culture had an idea that is spoken of in the Psalms and a few other places (I believe Job does too, but I'm not sure). This place is referred to as Sheol, and is representative of a death without a heaven or hell destination yet defined. Jesus is hinted as to have gone their and saved those that would be saved (wanted to be) through His own personal testimony, similar to what He did on earth and what we do today in our witnessing. It is possible that they may go to a similar place, as we cannot say that the existance of Sheol is no more. We know that those that are saved go to Heaven (Paradise referred to by Jesus on the Cross, otherwise referred to by Paul as the Third Heaven). There is also the Jewish tradition of an age of accountability as well. This age may not apply to those that have not been given revelation of the gospel. Those in first world countries probably have it somewhere within the average first thirteen years, but for those that have never heard the gospel, it may never come and must be given after death, where people may hear the gospel and must either reject or accept it. Again, this is not my opinion, just options of what may be possible. There may be more laws we do not know of or are not taking into consideration. I know that those that have heard the gospel are then held responsible to choose, but I cannot say either way what truly happens to those that are not given the information. That story with Billy Graham is also another example of God's grace that must be taken into consideration. This is more complex than I think any one man can decipher without divine revelation through either dreams and visions or other manifestations of the Spirit. Oh, we must also always take into consideration that our obligation is to share the gospel, even when it may be a risk to us to do so. The prohets were held responsible if a Word was given incorrectly or was not given. At that point, the sin of the man or party that would have recieved the Word from God was then put on the prophet themselves. We must always remember that.I may write more later, but I have to go somewhere.

  • TerryTerry June 2007

    Hey guys, I was really convicted as I wrote/read this discussion.  I believe Jesus is the only way, so I need to share my faith more.  :[

  • Doug_Mills, I think I go one step further than you do. While we agree that there is truth in other religions, I'm not sure that this is necessarily an impediment for salvation. Karl Rahner has this concept of "anonymous Christians", which are basically people that lead a godly life, but have never heard of Christianity. He argues -- if I remember correctly -- that they too can attain salvation, but that a Christian would have a better chance than an "anonymous Christian". I've met some very saintly persons that were not Christians, and that were much more saintly and closer to God than many christians I know. Some of them I've met several times, and I always feel very strenghtened in my own faith after meeting and talking with them. As a Catholic Christian I do believe in the importance of Jesus as the Son of God, but when I meet such a person, I tend to emphasise the role of the Father (and perhaps the Holy Spirit), for I am convinced those non-christian saintly persons are quite close to God the Father, even though they may not have heard of Jesus or accepted him as his Son.

  • Doug_MillsDoug_Mills June 2007

    Forgive me, ecclesisates, but I don't see the spiritual laws that back up your idea here. If they are existent, no problem. But I have to see some form of acceptable application of spiritual laws made by God to point me to a place where other religions/faiths or people who do not know about God or follow Him (i think people can follow Him without knowing the specific details, but I cannot say that those that live good, saint-like lives are accepted in God's Kingdom) still have Jesus' blood on their lives.  THere is simply no application of Biblical principle that I can see where an unsaved person can somehow be saved. They may be able to be saved without truly understanding the concept, but the idea that people can just be saved without actually having a relationship with Christ is foolishness. I don't mean to sound condemning, I just don't know a better way to strongly encourage you to show me the Biblical, in context, prinicples that show this to be true. I hope that I am just misunderstanding what you meant.

  • The problem I have with this, and most of modern protestant evangelical christianity, is that Jesus always eclipses the other two aspects of the Trinity. Why not accept that some people may have a relationship with God the Father, and not the Son?

  • Doug_MillsDoug_Mills June 2007

    Because they are One person. God has three portions, but if you have a relationship with one, you cannot not have a relationship with the other two. The only way TO the Father is through Jesus, and the Holy Spirit came to us bacause Jesus left. I'm not saying Jesus is more important, as that doesn't make sense, but JEsus actually did explicitly attack the very ting you just said. He literally said "No one gets to the Father except through Me". Sorry, but it is not a matter of what denomination I am in. I am not really in any, as I love Catholics and I am mostly a Charismatic but I go to a Presbyterian church. It has to do with the Biblical basis for what you say. If it is there in the text and you understand it within context, I will believe you. I'm am not out to be right, just to do what God's will is.

  • It is not a matter whether you are Catholic or Protestant as the verses are in the Bible.  (There are some Catholics as well as some Protestants who do not have a relationship with Jesus and will go to Hell.  There are some Catholics as well as Protestants who have a relationship with Jesus who will go to Heaven.  It is not about knowing about God, but having a relationship with Him through the only way - His son - Jesus.)In Matthew 19:17, Romans 3:12, and Romans 3:23 says there is no good, no not one.  That means your saintly, god-like friends have sinned, are not perfect, and in fact not saintly nor god-like without a relationship with Jesus.  From that, it is not man's (our) standards that we judge and comparing people to other men, but God's standard of perfection, which none of us have (except Jesus) and are compared to Jesus (God) and need a relationship with Jesus for which to be atoned.  Some good people (by man's standards) do go to Hell.  Some bad people (by man's standard) do go to Heaven.  It is dependent upon whether a person has a relationship with Jesus.Even John 14:6 says that Christ is the ONLY way to God the Father.  Since the Holy Spirit came to us after Jesus left the earth, the ONLY way to have the Spirit is to be in a relationship with Jesus.  So if you and your friends do not accept a relationship with Jesus, then there is NO way for you or them to have a relationship with God and the Spirit.You and your friends may know about God, but that does not mean you nor your friends have a relationship with Him.This is a black and white topic.  There is no gray area.  God has not changed His view on the issue and never will change His saying on the topic.  To be a Christian and to have a relationship with God, then one has to have a relationship with Jesus.  There is no other way. It is humanism, not Christianty, that says there are other ways apart from Christ to get to God.Christianty says everything needed to get to God is done (through Jesus if people decide to accept a relationship with Him).All other religions make people do things and earn one's way to Heaven.  (How much good does one have to do?  People of other religions have to wonder if they have done enough good, while Christians do not have to wonder.  Christianty, being the only true religion, and being different with reassuring a Christian that he/she is going to Heaven and not worry if one has done enough good or not.  With that said, true Christians will not abuse grace; their love for Christ will show in their lives, and they will turn from a cycle of sin.)But people are sinners and can not do enough good things to go to Heaven without a relationship with God.

  • livebeyondlivebeyond June 2007

    religion can go to Hell.  Its about a RELATIONSHIP with Jesus nothing more nothing less.

  • IndianaIndiana June 2007

    Can someone explain to me how the "relationship with Jesus" that Christians talk about actually operates?How is it any different to the relationship I have with my favourite author, Cormac McCarthy... with the exception that Cormac McCarthy actually personally wrote the books attributed to him? 

  • icetee123icetee123 June 2007

    A big thing I see comming up in this discussion is about accepting Christ as your savior, and what happens to the people that don't. Well first let's look at why people go to hell. Is it because they don't acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God and their Savior?  Yes, but why do they have to acknoledge Him? Because they have broken God's Law, The Ten Commandments. The Bible says there is none that hasn't broken God's law. So God sent his Son, Jesus, to Earth to live, teach, and die. Then, to rise again with the key to death in his grip so we all could be saved. Then when we acknowledge him as our Savior and trust in him or repent, we are saved.  So for the person who hasn't heard of Jesus, do they still knows that murder, stealing, and the like are wrong. Hopefully Yes Why? Because God gave us a conscience. Con-with, Science-knowledge. When we do wrong things we do them WITH KNOWLEDGE that we have done something not pleasing to God. So if a person has knowledge that something they do is bad I think God will judge them fairly. With special cases, extreme circumstances, God will have to be the judge. Next point I wanted to make was about Ghandi. I have all due respect for the man, but I don't think you can say Jesus was just a great teacher and that's it. I'll let C. S. Lewis explain it.   I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic-on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg-or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. [C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book II-What Christians Believe (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co, Inc., 1952), 55-6.].That sums up what I wanted to get across, so with that I will end that point.Last rant, Christianity is not a religion. Yes, you heard me right, religion is man trying to reach up to God. With so many religions we see sacrifices and people trying to please the Gods or God. Christianity is God way of reaching down to man for a relationship through his son Jesus Christ. We are all sinners in need of Jesus. He is the only way. The other religions all claim to be the way, but they can't stand up when it comes down to the facts. In the words of Keith Green, "There is a redeemer, Jesus, God's own son. Perfect lamb of God, Messiah. Holy ONE." Thank You for hearing my opinions.Please make comments and complaints.

  • TerryTerry June 2007

    You've probably heard it said that Christianity is more about relationship than religion.  In most other religions God is set apart from his creation.  He is unapproachable.  With so many different beliefs, I'm not going to attempt to explain how they work, I'm not sure that I could.  When I worship my God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) he is not far away; way up in heaven.  He dwells within His people.  We are that temple.  So its a personal relationship, because He is within us.  He dwells within me, and I can sence His presence.  I talk to God like I'm talking to a friend.  Rev 3:20 says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me"  This hints at the idea that God wants to be with us.Edited below this line:Indiana, this was to address your question. 

  • IndianaIndiana June 2007

    Yes, yes, but Terry, that's all Christianese. I realise Christianity is 'set apart' because it claims a 'relationship' with a 'living God' - but what does that actually mean in real terms? That you 'speak' to God out loud or in your head? That you 'sense' his presence? That you 'hear' his voice in your mind? That you 'know' his heart because you have studied his words?See, I could 'speak' to Cormac McCarthy in my head, or even out loud - not that he'd be likely to reply, cause he's kind of a recluse. I'm not sure about 'sensing' his literal presence, though sometimes when I'm in the house by myself, I'm convinced there's someone there with me and I have to go and check all the doors and windows. Same kinda thing? If I thought about it, and asked Mr McCarthy questions in my head, I might 'hear' an answer - and in fact, I've studied his works so well, I can even write a paragraph in his 'style'.But none of those things are a 'relationship' in any way we genuinely understand the term. You can't have a relationship with someone who you can't interact with - and you can't interact with Jesus. He ain't here. He doesn't answer prayer in any predictable or meaningful way. Christians in general don't seem to be significantly altered from the rest of the population by this so-called 'living relationship'. So what does it actually mean? To all intents and purposes, you might as well be praying to or sensing the presence of Zeus and Apollo. After all, those Gods interact with humans, according to Greek mythology, right? So do the Gods of Maori mythology, from where I live. What makes 'Rangi, the Sky-Father' any different to the Judeo-Christian god in practical terms?  

  • icetee123icetee123 June 2007

    There is a ton of proof for Christianity. I can not explain it all here because it would take up so much space I'd need a new website. Please study it for yourself, and come with an unbaised mind. Then decide for yourself what is truth.

  • IndianaIndiana June 2007

    If that was to me, I am a former Christian. I was born-again when I was 13, and deconverted when I was 23. I ask these questions precisely because in over a decade of seeking God, none of them were answered for me, despite exhaustive and genuine research, prayer and consideration.

  • Doug_MillsDoug_Mills June 2007

    Okay, I guess I will tactle the rgeat question. By the way, Indiana, this IS a great question!! Great, because it is so different in it's answers, as people are different and thus God must answer according to His will for that person. I praise God that you have come here, so bear with me, as my explanations tend to be really really long. In fact, I think it's safe to say that I've probably annoyed some people here for my extra long explanations that carry into more than one comment space.Now, as icetee123 said, it is not possible to go over right here right now the proof and "antiproof" of the Christian religion, for that has taken up books for literally thousands of years. We can, if you wish, start a second thread on this site to tackle the question of God's existance, but that is not the topic here and for the sake of saving the topicx at hand, we will only talk about relationship between the Christian God and Man and accept the conclusion that God has been proved real. For your sake, we will call it a hypothetical reality that the Christian God exists and is the only real God and that Jesus dies for our sins and all that is in the Bible is true. My "personal relationship" with the "Living God" could be defined as one where the Holy Spirit is present. To help this explanation, I will define for you the makeup of every human being: There are three parts. The obvious biological body; the soul (mind, will and decisions, and emotions); and the spirit. This is not the Holy Spirit, but simply a human spirit. They are separate parts. This is important is understanding that we are His NOAS (which is greek for the Holy of Holies in the Solomon's Temple). This means that the body is like the outer court, where common people of the OT times were allowed to worship. Only priests could enter the Inner Court (soul) and worshiped their as well as ministered to God there. Yes, we are all now preists for God and therefore must actually minister to Him as well as be ministered to Him and minister to people for Him. This is all done through the Holy Spirit. He is central to relationship with the Father. Jesus paid the price, the Father grants the power, the Spirit communes with us as co-heirs in Christ, connecting us to God. One reason the Church in America is not showing any real difference as a whole in their lifestyles and are not full of faith and power is because they are connected to the wall outlet (Spirit), but they are not getting any juice (spiritual power, holiness, authority). This is because the Church has become the Bride of Christ. Through our being saved, we are married to Him. He is Ours and We are His. BUT, We as a whole act as if we are still only girlfriend-boyfriend, not a married couple!! Due to this inability of the Bride to come to the feet of Jesus and be truly intimate, we don't get the electricity needed to run the motor and pour out God's power and love and authority over the natural rhelm. You have been wounded by the Church  due to it's claims that it is intimate with the Father, yet you have found that they barely are able to call it a relationship. But God is shaping His Bride. Other countries, especially in the Third World areas as well as the areas where Christianity is being oppressed, the power and authority has been showing up on a daily basis. Small amounts of the First World countries are now also recieving this outpouring of the Holy Spirit, as shown in the ministries of Todd Bentley, Paula and John Sandford, Cindy Jacobs, Bob Jones, and a few others.Anyway, let me say it this way. My relationship with God is very tangable. Not just "oh, I can 'feel' His presence", but a serious weight appears on my body and soul and spirit when I pray and come before His Throne in my personal Holy of Holies. What I mean is, I can actually FEEL my hands tingling and my back feeling like it is being washed by water and my arms are hard to lift because the atmosphere it sooo heavy with His Presence. 

  • Doug_MillsDoug_Mills June 2007

    Also, when I pray, AND I listen, that "still small voice" Elijah heard on the mountain speaks to me through my spirit. God also speaks physically, though almost only with those He can trust and are already intimate with Him as they are supposed to be. God speaks through my life's circumstances as well, though that one is hard to explain without discernment and it is hard to show without actually knowing you personally. God speaks through others, such as through people moving in the manifestation (Christianese for supernatural happenings where God intervenes and either speaks or does miracles) of Prophecy where they tell someone things that they should not know accurately and then move on to tell them something God wishes them to know. Or He may choose to be silent and speak through that silence. Sometimes He only wants to spend time with us and not have us do anything together except to sit together in silence. He enjoys that tremendously. I know from experience. Anyway, I hope this whole thing makes sense. If you want, I can define any "Christianese" terms that don't make sense or you want clarifying for.

  • Doug_MillsDoug_Mills June 2007

    I suggest going to an event put on by someone on that list that I gave of people that are already intimate with God. If you can, go to a revival meeting put on by todd bentley. That's how I started to really get involved with the Spirit.

  • Hi Indiana.''but what does that actually mean in real terms? That you 'speak' to God out loud or in your head? That you 'sense' his presence? That you 'hear' his voice in your mind? That you 'know' his heart because you have studied his words?''I was sat on a train, a young drug dealer and thief, and a light from heaven shone around me. The manifest presence of God's glory. I started to read the bible, and found the same light in there, shining from the pages.As I have got to understand the bible, it makes more and more sense to live the way of love that God calls us to. In fact, I couldn't imagine living any other way.A lot of what I call my relationship with Jesus is to do with how I feel about Jesus, the one we are told about in the bible. And a lot of it is me using my own mind, trying to be wise and live how he would like.I don't feel him near all the times, but sometimes I have. And so I reckon he is real and I reap the benefit of his support and guidance and his correction.I'm not going to bother talking about evidence. It wasbeing met by God's light that convinced me.

  • Regarding the Christianity is not a religion but a relationship: It is, frankly, silly. Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims claim exactly the same. It is just an attempt to elevate one's own religion over all the others. It is just rhethoric, not serious theology.Indiana raises some good questions, though. 

  • IndianaIndiana June 2007

    Doug Mills and Outside the Box, thanks for your responses. As both of you noted, proof - or rather, evidence, as there is no absolute standard of proof for anything - is another question entirely. What I was looking for in the answers - and maybe this should be a different thread from the one started, is personal experience of the phenomenon referred to by Christianity as 'a living/personal relationship with Jesus'. I appreciate both your responses, but for me, they raise more questions than answers. Doug, even accepting that all in the Bible is true - as I did in faith once upon a time - outside of that, the experiences that you describe are what I was commonly led to believe are expressions of relationship with the Holy Spirit - 'tingly' sensations in the body, physical weightiness, appropriateness of external events to internal questions, the internal voice - these are all things that exist outside of Christianity, both in other religions and in non-religious life. Like, the chills you get when you hear a beautiful piece of music or read a piece of writing that speaks to you, or even when you come to a sudden realisation about something by yourself. Or the physical weightiness you feel when you ponder a heavy question, or feel terribly sad. The stillness and sense of peace or calm from the simplest forms of meditation. The nagging voice inside you that convinces you you're misleading yourself - which in my case nagged at me that it was wrong to believe homosexuality was evil, or that it made sense the world was created as the Bible tells it - how could that be, if at the time I was searching for God's guidance?Sometimes amazing coincidences happen to me that, were I looking for a spiritual answer, I would claim as spiritual intervention, but in the absence of spiritual belief, I understand are just increased awareness of a particular type of thing, or an increased sensitivity to connecting the dots.  Horoscopes are a common example - many people claim their horoscopes are so often accurate that there must be something in it, but the reality is that they have simply interpreted a fairly broad reading so to fit into their circumstances, or they mostly notice their horoscopes at the times they do happen to have some coincidence with their lives. Or the famous Baader-Meinhoff phenomenon - you know, one day you learn a word you've never heard in your whole life, and amazingly, in the next day or week, you hear the same word crop up again and again. Or your friend buys a type of car you've never seen before, and then all of a sudden you start noticing them everywhere. It's not a spiritual intervention, it's just increased attention to a certain detail of life. So, if all these experiences occur outside of a Christian context, what makes them specific evidence of a 'relationship' with Jesus? OTB, your response is a little different. What do you mean by 'the light of God'? A physical light? Did it travel, or was it an increase in environmental brightness? Not to be offensive, but as a drug dealer, were you on drugs at the time? Did other people see this light? Did a physical light shine from the pages of the Bible? How could you read the words? I'm genuinely not being facetious here, I just want to clarify.You say a lot of the 'relationship' is about using your own mind and figuring out how you should live as described in the Bible. How does that differ from me say, reading a Buddhist text and trying to figure out how to live my life in accordance with Buddhist principles? Does that mean I have a relationship with Buddha? Or if I try to figure out the ultimate way to live with integrity in an evolutionary context? Does that mean I have a living relationship with Darwin?  

  • IndianaIndiana June 2007

    An interesting question just occurred to me, which perhaps relates back to the central question of this thread. If salvation in a Christian sense means having a personal relationship with Jesus - ie. something that exists independently of simply having heard the Christian stories or reading the Bible - since having heard the stories and reading the Bible do not, by default make you a Christian - do you think it is possible for people who have never heard of or read the Bible to 'meet' Jesus in a purely spiritual sense, live a life in accordance with Biblical principles purely by listening to the 'small, still voice' and receive salvation, never having heard the literal name Jesus?

  • icetee123 -- CS Lewis has quite an inclusivist tendency, though. See for example his statement in Mere Christianity that "We do know that no person can be saved except through Christ; we do not know that only those who know Him can be saved by Him." Mere Christianity (New York: Touchstone, 1996), p. 65.

  • Indiana, that is exactly what is being discussed here. I think they can be saved, most of the others here will probably think they are not. It is a complex issue though, and has a lot of ramifications. Take the case of infants that die. Many (if not most) christians will argue that they attain salvation and attain heaven, however that is conceived, but how do they know Jesus and how could they have accepted him as their saviour?

  • Hey Indiana.''What do you mean by 'the light of God'? A physical light? Did it travel, or was it an increase in environmental brightness? Not to be offensive, but as a drug dealer, were you on drugs at the time? Did other people see this light? Did a physical light shine from the pages of the Bible? How could you read the words? I'm genuinely not being facetious here, I just want to clarify.''I don't think for a moment that you're being facetious. I take your questions seriously, and while I don't have all the answers, I will be happy to share wmy experiences and thoughs with you.I was just minding my own business, on a train, on my way back from a job interview. And there was this light. I cannot adequately using earthly words, the only way to know it is to experience it yourself. But I'm not taking the easy way out, I'll try to describe it.It was outside me and all around me. It was/felt alive and I felt peace, joy and love like never before. Somehow I saw/felt that it was REAL LIFE. Somehow more REAL and ALIVE than the physical world. Beautiful. I felt I was in the presence of something that would endure forever, the solid, the eternal. I feel that there are no words to describe how I sensed it. I apprehended it spiritually. In the bible, words used for describing this sense are used, such as 'taste, eat, see'' and others. We have to use physical words as they come the closest we can to expressing what we mean. But they cannot describe fully true spiritual experience, because experience of the holy and eternal transcends somehow the bounds of this life.It was at once the most compelling experience I have ever had, and the most repelling. I felt that I had come home, and I knew I could be there forever, content and full of happiness. But at the same time, I could not endure in that light as I am. I had to turn my face away, I don't know why. Even though my heart fell in love forever with the beauty, I shrank away. This verse tells of that feeling, I think.And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled his temple. 1 kings 8v11Indy said ''You say a lot of the 'relationship' is about using your own mind and figuring out how you should live as described in the Bible. How does that differ from me say, reading a Buddhist text and trying to figure out how to live my life in accordance with Buddhist principles? Does that mean I have a relationship with Buddha? Or if I try to figure out the ultimate way to live with integrity in an evolutionary context? Does that mean I have a living relationship with Darwin?''It all depends on the view you have. If you don't believe Jesus and God are real, then in your mind there is no difference. I do believe they are real, more real than anything you could name (they give reality and life to all other things). As I do believe they are real, because I know them, I will share my perspective with you. I'd like to discuss different perspectives and where they come from, and how they affect our ability to learn, but I won't do that now because of time(also others have done it better than I could. You ever read C.S.Lewis?). I'll just share my answer to your questions.I believe that Godis present in my life now. He is present in all things, but in some people he is not acknowledged, he is kept out of their minds as they don't understand about him. as it says in 1 corinthians 2, ''The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.'' He is kept out of their decisions, as they choose to reject his authority. (If they understood, they would understand that he knows how we work better than we do.) He is kept out of their affections as they see him as harsh, or non existent, or just a ridiculous idea.Run out of room! Will continue below.

  • But some people have experienced the reality of God. It can be called a relationship because they seek to live in response to his ongoing initiative in showing them his love. They allow his influence in their lives, directly and indirectly; Directly because as Jesus said, only by the presence and work of the holy spirit can our eyes be opened to perceive spiritual realities. Once God has begun to work in someone's life, he carries on what has been begun. Exactly how often, how much, I don't have time to consider.Indirectly because they are individuals with the capacity to think, to choose, to love. And they make their decisions, on what they would describe as their best days, in the light of who God is, imitating him as the best example of love and wisdom and justice and intelligence and any other desirable thing you could care to name. But as they are autonomous individuals, they can truly be said to make theoir own decisions. They may choose to live as they believe God would want them to, but it is them doing the choosing. I do not fully understand how the interaction works. But I know that while I am my own person with the right to choose what I wnat, God has opened my eyes to see that his ways are best and I want to live in them. I believe God is present in my decisions, when I feel him close, or when I know he is showing me something, or when I feel alone and unable to see the way ahead. I also believe that while he is present everywhere because he is infinite and omnipresent, he enters my life progressively, in the sense that he helps me to act like him progressively. Step by step as i learn how to think choose and feel according to his ways which i desire, because i am rationally convinced they are best.

  • Oh and by the way Indiana, I know many drugs and this was nothing like any of them at all. They mess you up; this cleaned me up. They misdirect you, this gave me purpose. They bring death; this gave life, real life.And when I saw the light shining from the bible, I could still read it. I guess what happened is the the living holy spirit of god helped the word of god to connect with my spiritual faculty to discern and assimilate truth

  • "do you think it is possible for people who have never heard of or read the Bible to 'meet' Jesus in a purely spiritual sense, live a life in accordance with Biblical principles purely by listening to the 'small, still voice' and receive salvation, never having heard the literal name Jesus? "I posted earlier that I think it is possible.  But only if they have never heard about Jesus.  (It is a different story for people who have heard about Jesus.)chargersfan:  "But in the rare case, today, (and more common in the past) when someone has not heard of Christ, I believe God will judge that person by how the person lived life according to the laws.  I believe that God will be just enough to show love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness to someone who has never heard about Christ." Ecclesiates,in the case of an infant, I believe it is the age of accountability not being reached (the infant has not reached an age to understand Christ died for them and for them to make a personal decision about accepting or refusing Christ). McCarthy has not left his spirit and can not leave his spiritas he has not been given that power, so you talking to him in your head and reading his books just means that you know about him, not know him in any relationship.Jesus is still with us today as He left His Holy Spirit.  It is not about any feelings we may feel as feeling change; feelings are okay as long as we do not rely on them.  It is about knowing that He is with us and lives in us.  Since His Spirit is with us, we are able to have a relationship with Him, because He does interact with mankind.I was like you Indiana.  I thought I was born again at age 16 and deconcerted at age 21.  Then, I met real people - true Christians.  I fought hard with them.  I knew I was wrong.  I was completely broken and accepted Christ at the age of 24.  Since then, He has helped tremendously in breaking free from sexual addictions.  Saying a prayer and seeking does not mean one is a Christian.  It is the mindset behind the prayer said and the seeking one does.  So I will admit that even though I thought I was born again at 16, I was not.  I was born again at the age of 24 and am getting baptized at the age of 25.75% of the Christian church (people who attend church and claim to be Christian) are not Christian in that they do not claim to have a relationship with Jesus.  They just go through the motions, so please do not judge Christianty by people, but really study it and keep seeking.And according to the Bible, it is impossible to become non-Christian after becoming a Christian.  (I will supply Bible verses later as I am helping my mom take things to the Salvation Army, now.)

  • TerryTerry June 2007

    Indiana said: Yes, yes, but Terry, that's all Christianese.Since you were once a believer, I thought you were well versed in Christianese.  ;)  JKHere's Dictionary.com's definition of a realationship.  I would say that my relationship with Jesus fits all of the definitions except the fourth one, which refers to a sexual relationship.  1. a connection, association, or involvement.  I am actively involved in doing what the bible says, and also what I feel Him say to me.  There are somethings I feel I am to do, not specifically spelled out in the bible, but just something God is asking me to do.  This is not an audible voice, just a feeling. Similar to the feeling that I know my wife may want me to do something.  I feel like I know her, and what she would want.2.  connection between persons by blood or marriage. The bible tells us we are bought with a price, and that price it Christ's blood.3.an emotional or other connection between people: the relationship between teachers and students.  My relationship with Christ is very emotional.  But with emotions, sometimes there there, sometimes there not. I think your real question is this, and tell me if I'm wrong: "How can you have a relationship with someone who does not respond back, in a way that is not an assumption on our part?"  ---  I've never heard an audible voice, but I can hear him in my thoughts.  I guess similar to an intuition.  Maybe some people would call that a conscience.  I can know what He wants by understanding His words (the Bible).  Have you ever just known something to be true.  You just know it.Can this be explained away by circumstance, by someones wrong feelings, by an intrinsic experience... Sure.But this relationship with Christ is by faith.  Not totally blind faith, but faith.Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

  • backfliptebackflipte June 2007

    wow! what a thread! Thank you everyone for your input! (I was one of the ones who wanted to start this thread). Thanks to outside the box for your thoughts about Ghandi and such, you put very eloquently many of the ideas I've thought about myself. As have many of the rest of you on other ideas! I guess now I'll try to share some of my own, hopefully without being repetitve of whats been said already. (i'll number my thoughts... not because I want to post an over-simplified "this is how it list"... but just to try and be as clear and brief as possible...)1. I agree that real christianity is not religion... religion is a set of rituals and practices that we associate with our beliefs... I feel that real christianity is a real relationship with a real, living God2. I believe that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life; none comes to the Father (in Heaven) but by Him... That said, I feel we must keep an open mind in how God presents himself and His gospel. Often it is through the pages of the bible or the words of his christain servants... but his very creation declares his glory as well, and he commands angels to carry his messages, not to mention he is GOD so there are bound to be ways that he presents Himself and His truth that we do not understand. Don't get me wrong, that truth will ALWAYS be EXACTLY THE SAME to everyone... I'm just saying that God need not rely soley on missionaries and printed books to reach the people of the world.3. With numer 2 out of the way, I agree with Terry! I am convicted as well as encouraged by this disscussion. Christians: God does use us! He wants to use us! Lets be more pro-active in sharing our faith! Always with gentleness and respect, ofcourse (1 Peter 3:15)4. There's been a lot of mention of paths and which way to follow (sorry for over-simplifying here...) And I don't mean to try correct anyone or anything like that... I just feel I need to point out that salvation is not about following a path or how one lives his or her life... Salvation is a FREE GIFT, offered to us by our Creator and available to us by the sacrifice Jesus Christ made on the cross. The way I try (try being key) to live my life is out of gratitude for what my savior did for me, because there's nothing I can do to make me worthy of that gift. I feel that relationship with Christ means accepting that gift of grace and trying to live accordingly in service, worship, and an intimate friendship with Him. I'm sorry, Indiana, if you're reading but I'm honestly at a loss for words in describing what its really like. I wish I could describe it, and I know this sounds totally cliche... but you really have to experience it for yourself. I think that experience is different for each person too. It starts with a prayer to ask Him into your heart; inviting Jesus to make his home in you, and expressing a desire to make your home in Him... hmm... that is very Christianese... but I don't know how else to put it... (anyone who wants to chime in, please do)4. Finally, I want to share what I think really sets christianity apart... and again, its the Cross. I personally don't know of any other faith in which the God of all creation, power, and wisdom steps down into the human condition and gives His very life to save the souls of his created children! He not only subjected himself to all the pains and temptations of human life, but Jesus suffered a humiliating death and the weight of every evil deed ever done or yet to be commited. He then rose from the dead, defeating death and sin! And even for all the trouble we've caused him as imperfect sinful creatures He loves us so much that He wants to share that victory with us!thanks for bearing with me, readers of this post... I always worry that I write things in a way that makes it sound like I've got it all figured out. Make no mitake; I sure don't! I base what I've written on my own study of the bible, fellowship with other christians, and my own relationship with Jesus, and I humbly submit it to you for your perusal... thanks again to all of you who contributed to this thread so far!

  • backfliptebackflipte June 2007

    haha!  sorry for 2 number 4's! what a dope I am :-)  !

  • TerryTerry June 2007

     backflipte said: haha!  sorry for 2 number 4's! what a dope I am :-)  !Sounds like a lot of pastors who have 4 or 5 closings to their sermons ;)

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