Christians: have you lost your salvation today?

“For it is by grace you have been saved…”  All Christians know this as the opening for Ephesians 2:8-10, the most oft-cited verses regarding the link between good works, grace and salvation.

It’s helpful to begin by understanding what exactly “grace” is. Grace is usually defined as “God’s unearned love and favor towards man.” Grace comes from the Greek word charis, which means “gift.” From it we get the word “charisma,” which refers to an almost magical power to charm. So grace is the power from God to DO something.

While it is true that grace is a gift, we must remember that a gift must not only be received, but also kept and used. If it is refused, given back, abandoned, etc. it no longer serves its purpose. There are those who think that they can receive the gift of salvation and then behave as they wish, for they believe they are not saved by effort or “works.”

From Scripture, we learn that Christians don’t and can’t sin. (1 John 3:9-10, Romans 6:2.) It is clear, from observing most Christians that they do sin. So, if we believe the Bible, there can only be two explanations:

Christians do sin, but it “doesn’t count.” It is immediately forgiven and forgotten by God.

OR

When a Christian sins he or she is no longer a Christian-until he or she repents.

Now, if the first one is true, then we can be sure that several things are also true: that a Christian cannot do something to bring judgment upon himself, that he cannot be punished for sins, and most importantly, he cannot lose his salvation. If the second is true, then Christians spend a certain amount of time vacillating back and forth between a state of being saved and a state of not being saved, and it is vitally important to seek God and know that one is in the state of being saved-a state of grace.

Once again, we must turn to the Scriptures. We see God’s judgment falling against Christians who disrespected the body of Christ during Communion, (1 Corinthians 11:23-32) and against Christians who lied to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:1-11.) Surely these things could not happen to a person whose sins “don’t count.”

The Bible also talks about the loss of salvation in several places. (Hebrews 6:4-6, 10:26-27) These verses would make no sense if “once saved always saved” were true. So what we are left with is the second option-that our souls are constantly in flux. It is imperative, then, that we continually ask God to prod our consciences and bring us awareness of our sins so that we can repent at once. Paul himself said “I am the worst of sinners.’ (1st Timothy 1:16.) Not that he used to be the worst, but that he still sinned in a manner as grievous as any other.

Some people think they can sin as Christians and still go to Heaven, but the Bible makes it clear in that this is not the case (John 15:1-6) Also see 1 Corinthians 6:9, Ephesians 5:5, Gal 5:19 for lists of sins that will keep people out of Heaven. It does not say “except for Christians who do these things.” 1 John 5:16-17 reminds us that there is a difference between sins that end in death and regular sin. From this, the Catholic Church gets the doctrine of mortal (deadly) and venial sin. The Bible instructs that Christians should pray about non-deadly sins, and God will forgive them, but we are not to pray for another believer regarding mortal sin-the implication is that this sin cannot be erased except through repentance. If all of our sins were instantly forgiven, these verses would make no sense.

Bloodthirsty Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the author of “The Purpose-Driven Life,” a best-selling Christian book. He took a turn to the dark side when he appeared on with Fox’s Sean Hannity on December 3, 2008 and weighed in on politics. (Footnotes mine.)

HANNITY: Can you talk to rogue dictators? Ahmadinejad denies the Holocaust  (1), wants to wipe Israel off the map (2), is seeking nuclear weapons.(3)

WARREN: Yes.

HANNITY: I think we need to take him out.

WARREN: Yes.

HANNITY: Am I advocating something dark, evil or something righteous?

WARREN: Well, actually, the Bible says that evil cannot be negotiated with. (4) It has to just be stopped. And I believe…

HANNITY: By force?

WARREN: Well, if necessary. In fact, that is the legitimate role of government.The Bible says that God puts government on earth to punish evildoers. (5) Not good-doers. Evildoers.

HANNITY: I’m just gotten, thanks to my wife, who you know, you know, been reading the Old Testament. Because as a good Catholic growing up, I studied more the New Testament.

WARREN: Just ignored that part.

HANNITY: I ignored the Old Testament. But what about King David? What about the — all the battles, all the conflict, you know, going back – – you know, Abraham — Adam and Eve and their children, going forward? (6)

WARREN: The point is, there are some things worth dying for. There’s no doubt about that. And I would die for my family. I would die for my freedom. I would die for this country.

HANNITY: If somebody broke into your house, you would be justified to kill them?

WARREN: I would be justified to protect my family. Absolutely. (7)

HANNITY: And if it took killing them?

WARREN: Absolutely.

HANNITY: But it’s not murder at that point?

WARREN: No. Murder is not self-defense.

1-So we assassinate people for having crazy theories now?

2- Ahmadinejad actually never said this.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahmoud_Ahmadinejad_and_Israel#.22Wiped_off_the_map.22_controversy

But  a spokesperson for the Israeli PM in 2009 did say that we should “Think Amalek” in regards to a nuclear Iran. God told the Israelite to kill every single Amalekite, even the women and children.

3-Is actually not. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran_and_weapons_of_mass_destruction

4-Really? Where?

5-So, the Nazi and Communists governments were put there by God to punish evildoers?

6–Hey, are we still under Old Testament principles? Because I want 700 wives and 300 concubines, just like Solomon.

7-You know, just like Jesus did.

What happens when you die?

When I was a younger man, I used to carry a large, wheeled cross on my shoulder and pester people about God. Really. You’d be surprised how unpopular this made me with everyone. One of the things I used to open with was, “Excuse me. Can I ask you a question?” Once I had their attention, I’d ask them, “If you died tonight, where would you spend eternity?” It never failed to provoke an interesting discussion. There’s not much to do in our town, and there was even less in 1989, so I ended up with a lot of people listening to me.

I have to admit now that I don’t know the answer to my own question. Specifically, I’m not sure where people go when they die. I used to think that, like the thief on the cross next to Immanuel who repented, any believer would be granted access to Paradise the same day.

So, I don’t know what to do with passages like this:

John 5 :28 Marvel not at this: for the hour cometh, in which all that are in the tombs shall hear his voice,
29 and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment.

Two things stick out to me here;

1.) How do people in their tombs hear anything? Their ears are rotted away. Is it their souls that hear it? What have their souls been doing all this time? Just lying there? Sleeping?

2.) The good go to life, but the bad go to “judgment.” What is judgment? Death, or Hell? The opposite of Life is Death. But, if they are already dead, why resurrect them just to kill them?

Another thing that always bothered me-where did righteous people go before Jesus came? The Mormons teach that there is a holding area called “spirit prison.” None of the Christian churches I ever attended ever discussed this issue, but the Mormon doctrine is actually backed up by the Christian Bible- 1 Peter 3:19 and 4:6.

No one ever explained to me what “Abraham’s bosom” is, either. Immanuel tells a parable in Luke 16 about Lazarus and the rich man. Lazarus was poor and died and went to Abraham’s bosom, but the rich man went to Hell. (I don’t know if this is the same Lazarus that he resurrected in John 11, but that would kind of suck, wouldn’t it? You die, you go to Abraham’s bosom, and then Jesus brings you back to life and you have to live on Earth again.) Interestingly, the only thing required of Lazarus to enter said bosom was to be poor. And the rich man didn’t immediately burn up in Hell-he was being tortured there, and was self-aware enough to remember his life and hold a conversation.

That brings up the question of eternal torment. Romans 6:23 says “The wages of sin is death.”

The wages of sin is death. Not hell, but death. “Wages” implies some type of standardized exchange of services and payment. I work, I get paid. I sin, I(eventually) die. It seems to revolve around a fairly just and equal rate of exchange. But Christians will (reluctantly) tell you that the payment for sin is eternal punishment. After having just established that God views sin and death as some type of business arrangement that is predicated upon ideas of fairness and justice that makes sense to us, He then proceeds to exact the ultimate penalty of eternal torture for 75 years of sin.

Theologians have attempted to remedy this in all sorts of ways, but none of them make any sense. To begin with, they can’t even explain why it says the wages of sin is death, not hell. They will try to say that “death” means separation from God, but I have yet to encounter any proof of this. Why would the Bible not make it clear by saying, “Hell,” instead of coming up with an arcane meaning for a word with a completely different connotation? Adam and Eve were promised death for disobedience, not an eternal roasting. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Ezekiel 18:4. Soul death seems pretty final.

And yet….

Jude 1:7 “In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.” Not much point in a fire being eternal if it doesn’t have something to burn. Unless it serves as a warning to those living in Heaven not to rebel, as Lucifer once did.

Malachi 1:4 “Edom may say, ‘Though we have been crushed, we will rebuild the ruins. But this is what the LORD Almighty says: “They may build, but I will demolish. They will be called the Wicked Land, a people always under the wrath of the LORD.” In some versions, “always” is translated “eternally.”

Mark 9:47 “And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’ Everyone will be salted with fire.” I don’t know what my “worm” is, but I’m quite sure I don’t want it salted with fire. It sounds painful.

So we don’t go to Heaven right away, and whether or not there is a Hell is confusing. What’s behind door number three?

Bible Pretzel Logic

Here’s a conundrum from Scripture:

Titus 1:12-“One of their own prophets has said, ‘Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.’ This testimony is true.”

This raises several interesting points.

All people from Crete lied, every time ? This strikes me as a bit of a prejudiced statement. Not to mention that a society comprised entirely of liars would not be able to operate. The best part, though, is the classic logic conundrum that’s created by this verse. Paul is saying that all Cretans are liars. Furthermore, he says that even a Cretan will admit this. So, if all Cretans are always liars, then their prophet would be lying about that, as well, and would never say the words that Paul said. Which means Paul is lying???

 

“‘Oh dear, I hadn’t thought of that,” God replied, and promptly vanished in a puff of logic.”-Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

 

Maybe we should start looking to some other authority besides the Book to learn what God is about. What authority? Stay tuned.

God & Gays, Part 2

This will be the post wherein I lose all 5 of my fans/followers. But I’m not trolling. It’s a serious attempt to understand something.

In the last post, I talked about homosexuality as a sin, and of course there are many people who question how someone can believe such a thing when “everybody knows” being gay is natural, because “science has proved it.”

What science has proved is that the brains of gay people are chemically different than straight people. They have not found a “gay gene,” nor have they conclusively demonstrated that people are born gay or straight. You can look this up. Google “gay gene myth.”

Do I believe that being gay is natural? Yes, but not in the way that you think. I think it is a often a social and behavioral phenomenon rather than a genetic one. People’s brain chemistry can change if the circumstances force them.

Now I have a theory, but I do not have the science to back this up yet, because no one, to my knowledge, has done a study about it. Here’s the theory: homosexuality is 1.)  a behavior response to extremes of population density (either the presence too many or too few females of breeding age,) and 2.)  a failure to adapt to the constantly changing social criteria that mark shifts in the evolution of the human animal.

I believe in evolution. I thnk God used it to create the world over a period of four and a half billion years.  Evolution is life’s struggle to perpetuate itself in changing circumstances. Homosexuality does not make sense from an evolutionary standpoint. Why have 10% of your breeding stock-in many cases, healthy, smart and attractive individuals-unable or unwillling to breed? It’s suicidal. Nature doesn’t do that.

What nature does do is shut off the drive to reproduce when the circumstances aren’t right. When there isn’t enough food, for example, or when the population is too great. When people are gathered into cities, for example, it fools the animal mind into thinking, “I don’t need to make as many babies. There are already too many of us around.” This is why homosexuality skyrockets in the biggest cities. It’s not something that is a conscious choice; the body just decides, and the mind goes along with it.

The same thing can happen in the opposite circumstances, with too few opportunities to breed. Where groups of the same sex are confined for extended periods of time, homosexuality is often the inevitable result. Think of the 3P’s-prisoners, priests and pirates. The rates of homosexuality among these groups of men are dispropotionately high, and it is because they are isolated from females. Now perhaps gay men go into the priesthood in order to hide thier gayness, but that doesn’t account for the criminal element. Either you have to suggest that gay men are drawn to lives of violent crime more than straight men, or you’re left with the theory that if you isolate men from women, thier “biological switch” turns off, but the desire for companionship, release and dominance/submission will still be there.

Evolution also explains why there is constantly changing social criteria for reproduction. Women are always looking for ways to obtain the most desireable mates for themselves for the best offspring. As a result, they continuously change thier requirements for what they find attractive and what a man has to do to gain access. This is not something they do consciously; it just happens. When men find a way in, women change the requirements, because the women have to continue to insure that only the men with the traits they want continue to bed them. (See Matt Ridley’s Red Queen for a far better explination than I can give.) Of course, there will always be men who cannot adapt to the changes. They do not have the traits that enable them to give the women what they want. So thier switch turns off, and again, they seek comfort in members of the same sex.

To put it another way, “Men are gay because its eaiser to put on a pair of tight jeans and go hang around with the boys instead of trying to figure out women.” Who said that? Rush Limbaugh? Ann Coulter? No. It was Howard Stern. Intelligent and liberal, with a keen understanding of human nature. I don’t rememeber which of his books he said this in-Miss America, maybe? It’s been a few years. I just recall being kind of blown away at the time that someone would buck the party line, especially someone llike Howard Stern.

God and Gays (Part 1)

Probably the most polarizing political issue of our day is gay marriage. As a Christian, I am expected to be against it, at least according to the church. This is a political stance which turns people off from the faith probably more than any other, except for perhaps abortion.

I think it’s a wrong approach on the part of Christians. For one, it’s not consistent. Yes, homosexuality is considered an abomination in the Bible. So is lying. We let liars get married, so why not gays? They’re already sinning, according to us, so how is getting married going to make a difference? Why not let them? They will discover that marriage will let them get some financial benefits, but its not going to automatically make thier relationship any more or less meaningful than the marriage of two straight people. The wedding ring isn some magical talisman that straight people have been hoarding to themselves this entire time. It’s not gong to guarantee deeper love, more happiness or more feelings of acceptance, normalcy, or legitimacy. It might, but there’s no guarantee.

I think we should open it up and legalize it in all 50 states, and watch what happens. In a population of 300 million, there are supposedly 30 million gays. If we figure that 1/3 of these are of marrying age, and if the rates of marriage mirror those of the straight world (95%,) then we should see nearly 5 million gay marriages. I bet it won’t happen.

How  do I know? You see, I’m not just some redneck bigot from the Midwest who’s never spent time around gays and lesbians. I lived in West Hollywood for 7 years. West Hollywood’s population was, at that time, 30% gay. I had gay friends. I worked with gay people. I had a gay room mate. (Not once did I do anything gay, by the way. I was living with a bunch of actors trying to break into Hollywood, and West Hollywood was clean and safe.)

What I noticed is that the gays, at least in West Hollywood, did not want to get married. It was a party lifestyle. The average gay man in Los Angeles had a thousand partners in a lifetime. Now, do I think this is indicative of the entire gay population? Of course not. But it can’t be the only city like that. There’s San Fransisco and Miami and lots of other places. Both the Christian who thinks that America will be swamped with wedded gay couples and the gay activist who is quite sure that its only legislation that is keeping millions of couples from the altar might be quite surprised to see the results.

Legalize it, and see what happens. Even among those who do get married, there will be no guarantees. We debate about gay marriage, but never discuss gay divorce, gay spouse abuse or gay custody battles. Let’s have gays experience all of the ugliness of bad marriage choices and see if they are still keen for matrimony.

This is part of my new-found philosphy on faith and morality: don’t tell people what to do when it comes to consensual acts that don’t harm other people. Wait for people to figure out that it’s not for them, and then offer Christ as the solution rather than bludgeoning people who don’t do what I personally like. Christ preached relief to the weary and the burdened, and only when He had relieved thier suffering did He say “Go and sin no more.”

Did Adam and Eve Poop Before The Fall?

I’m thinking about the Garden of Eden.

Here’s what seems like a gross and silly discussion, but it carries some heavy theological implications.

Were Adam and Eve fully human?

In other words, did they poop? Before the Fall, I mean.

A garden means fruit, fruit means eating, and eating means taking a dump. This creates problems.

Did the poops stink? If so, how could this be part of Paradise? Did Adam and Eve poop in front of each other, since they had no shame?

Poop is decaying organic matter. There was no death or decay before The Fall. All bad things from weeds to labor pains to war came from The Fall.

If Adam and Eve’s poop did not stink, then it meant that Eden was comprised of some miraculous plants that produced no waste products.

It meant Adam and Eve did not have digestive systems, stomachs, or even butt holes-because they did not need them.

And that meant they weren’t human.

The need for pooping had to come after The Fall, which means Adam and Eve had no butt holes, therefore, they were not human when they sinned.

Unless God KNEW they would sin and designed them with butt holes ahead of time.

God puts Adam in the garden to “tend” it. A gardener prunes and cuts, in order to maintain healthy and attractive plants. Now, this is before The Fall, so there is no death and no imperfection. So a gardener would be unnecessary.

Adam and Eve are told not to eat of the fruit of knowledge of good and evil, or else they would die. How would they know what death was? There were no examples of death before they ate the fruit.

We’re told God banishes Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden lest they eat of the tree of life and live forever. Don’t people live forever anyway, whether in Heaven or Hell? Wouldn’t Adam and Eve live forever, regardless of whether they ate of the tree of life? Did an afterlife not exist in the Old Testament?