Aug 21, 2007

how then shall we be saved?

Disclaimer #1: If you have a theological box that you find safety in, now may be the time to acknowledge it and see if its sides are big enough for the discussion we're about to have.

Disclaimer #2: Please pardon the way these words do no justice to what I’m about to try to say, but yet how amazing it is to follow a God who can be completely known while simultaneously remains incompletely understood. Jesus Christ offered His divinely-human hand to a group of people who had no idea where the journey would take them once they grabbed it.

That sounds familiar to me.

One of the ways I’ve seen this over the years is in the mystery that it is to reach out to God through Jesus Christ… a little context.

Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:8)

Wow… a clear picture of the principle I want to explore for a few moments in this post… one that is about to get very foggy.

---------------------

Now…

the question I’d like to propose is: How do you get “saved?”


(I know this isn’t an original question nor are the thoughts that follow necessarily a complete, air-tight, slam-the-Bible-down-got-it-all-figured-out answer to the question, but nonetheless I am compelled to ask.)

How do you get “saved?”

Do you get saved through something you say in a certain way… like a “sinner’s prayer” where you ask God to forgive you?

Then Jesus turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven--for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little." Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." (Luke 7:44-48)

Interesting… especially since this woman who received forgiveness never asked for anything, nor did she say anything to Jesus... and then He just sort of told her... she was forgiven. Wow. My box just got bigger.

So… is it a matter of just believing, then?

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26)

Interesting… so salvation comes about just by believing?

Or do you need to say anything out loud?

That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)

Interesting… so salvation comes about by believing AND saying something out loud?

Is that it? Or is there more?

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 7:21)

Interesting... so heaven will be full of surprises for those who think they're "in" - when actually they're not. Wait... I think I'm "in," so what does that mean?

Do I somehow have to clean myself up?

"As Jesus was speaking, one of the Pharisees invited him home for a meal. So he went in and took his place at the table. His host was amazed to see that he sat down to eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony required by Jewish custom. Then the Lord said to him, “You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and wickedness! Fools! Didn’t God make the inside as well as the outside? So clean the inside by giving gifts to the poor, and you will be clean all over." (Luke 11:37-41)

Interesting... so all I have to do to become spiritually clean is just give to the poor? Wait... is that right?

This is frustrating and straining my box. How DOES one get to see the Kingdom of God?

In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." "How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!" Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. (John 3:3-6)

Interesting… so we must experience a spiritual rebirth to enter God's kingdom… life change? Cool... got it. Air tight now, baby.

So it's all about deciding to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? Thats how someone gets saved?

Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. 2 Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven." (Matthew 9:1)

Interesting… it was through the faith of a bunch of friends that someone was saved… while the man himself… did nothing but lay on a mat? [also see Mark 2, 1 Cor. 7:16]. Is salvation then linked to other people?

So can one person who is reintegrated back to the Triune God through Jesus Christ become a kind of conduit… maybe like a "royal priesthood" and a "holy nation"… through whom the work of Jesus in his/her life can be extended to others... whether they ask for it or not?
To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. (1 Corinthians 7:12-14)

Interesting… entire households of people can become holy through the life of one person who authentically lives it out?

Or… does that original believer need to say something out loud so that those other people will say something?

For, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" (Romans 10:13-15)

Interesting… so it does matter that we tell them about the Lord so that they can call on the name of the Lord. Back to words, eh? Cool. Got it down now. Phew. Glad that’s back in my box now. (Wait… darn… it’s not staying up like it used to)

While we’re on the topic of the Lord, how much of Him do we need to know (or have a theological answer for) before we can call on His name?

Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" "Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked. "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," he replied. "Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do." (Acts 9:1-6)

Interesting… so maybe salvation doesn’t come about by having all the answers but by asking the right questions.

On that topic, what about people who don’t have it all down pat and are kind of lost in an alternative belief system where they’re guessing their way through life and faith?
Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: "Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you. (Acts 17:22-23)

Interesting… so even people who are reaching out in untrue ways can find buried way beneath the surface of their false beliefs something very true and real… if someone helps them find the healthy beneath the unhealthy… the "water within the antifreeze" that is worth drinking if it can be completely separated, so to speak. (Wow... that sounds too dangerous... maybe I should go live back in my box again)

What about those who won’t ever have someone come out their way? What if the missionary’s airplane runs out of gas… or he gets speared… or she gets sick and has to go home for a health care and leave the natives behind?
For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. (Romans 1:20)

Interesting… so everyone has the opportunity to connect with God through His general revelation in all things.

Wait… everyone? So does it matter what you believe – a right way of thinking, so to speak - or is sincerity all that counts?

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. (1 John 4:1-3)

Interesting… so we do need to be on guard against things that smell like Jesus but really aren’t.

What does that look like? Does that show up even in the church?

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God-- having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. (2 Timothy 3:1-7)

Interesting… so we need to be careful when we feel we have God down pat and are good note takers and AMEN’ers during the sermons… but never live the AMEN out in our lives?

Then… are we supposed to dive deeper into the truths of God… and where will that lead us when done in accompaniment with integrating those truths into our lives?

Even as he spoke, many put their faith in him. To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:30-32)

Interesting… so exploring a healthy understanding of God should lead to obedience and not arrogance, evidenced in the freedom we enjoy and extend and not in more boxes that we put around ourselves and others.



So... did we answer the question?

If so, what is it?

If not, how do we?

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Here’s the curveball…

these are not contradictions in the Bible.

There is a consistent thread in all of this that I hope you caught.

While the Bible shows us that there are many different ways people come to God, every way always is through His Trinitarian grace… often in the way that makes the most sense to that person, even if the next person to come along does it a little bit differently.

Even if the next person to come along does it a little bit differently.

Even if the next person to come along does it a little bit differently.

Which can mess with your theology a bit, especially if you’re quite comfortable with your theological understanding of who is “in” and who is “out.”

And who ultimately gets to decide all of that?


In every case, Jesus is the one who declares who is in and who is out. Kind of like He glances at the homemade rule books we're using and says, "Yeah... um... I actually have an ammendment to that based on the Bible... which may or may not fit with the cliff notes you wrote in the margin."



In the Scriptures, people stumble into the kingdom in all sorts of ways.

Is salvation a destination? Or more?

Is it mathematics - a + b = C? Or more?

Is it a journey understanding that looks different for everyone and can't be articulated at all? Or more?

And for that, is the issue of assurance more important to the person or the Christian who is looking to validate their ministry? Have you ever sat through a sermon where the pastor insisted people come forward because "Jesus called people publicly?" Have you ever sat through a sermon where a pastor insisted people should pray a prayer quietly in their seats because it was a "personal thing between that individual and God?"


Yes and yes... and for that matter, guilty and guilty.

That's the rub... Christ-followers are called to talk about this. So how do you proclaim a message that is larger than our letters, more infinite than our finite minds, and more fluid when we want it to be more solid?

Maybe we just "point people to Jesus?"

Maybe we just "give people a sound theology?"

Or maybe we just eliminate the word/concept "just" from our theological vocabulary.

Here's what we know:

  • There is no other name than the name of Jesus Christ that we are given to find salvation under/through (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).
  • God desires everyone to be saved and is not willing that anyone perish (1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet.3:9).
  • God cares about justice and will judge people fairly - in ways beyond our understanding (1 Pet. 2:23).
  • God reveals Himself (general revelation) to people everywhere through creation and their moral conscience so that they can respond to Him as best as they know how (Rom. 1:20, 2:6-15; Ps. 19:1-4).
  • Those who have heard about Christ and deliberately reject Him (whether by rebellion or indifference) will experience their choice forever (unless they turn back to Jesus) through a realm of separation and indescribable emptiness through pain we call hell (2 Thes. 1:9; Matt. 25:46; Rev. 21:8).

Here's what we don't know:


  • Who is "in" and who is "out."

  • The "right way" to tell someone how to "get saved."

  • Who is "in" and who is "out."
  • If the "sinner's prayer" is biblical in how it's often presented as an "all you have to do is..." deal.
  • Who is "in" and who is "out."

Jesus warns that some of the people you assume are in may be “out," and some of the people you assume are out may be “in.”

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

"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?'

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."(Matthew 25:31-46)

Maybe we should stop trying to sit on the fence and do His job... maybe we should instead seek to invite people of all spiritual backgrounds to trust the direction and details of their lives to Jesus TODAY.

Maybe we should encourage people inside and outside the church community to dig deeper and reintegrate themselves further to the Triune God, living in conscious union with the Father through Christ as led by the Spirit.

Maybe this has to all begin in us first, growing and developing in our human experience in this world right now... being sure that heaven doesn't turn into a destination we all "fly away" to but rather a realm where things are the way they should be... a realm that can be revealed "on earth as it is in heaven."

Maybe salvation is not a formula or a mere affirmation of a "get out of hell free" card, but is instead a change of identity... a reestablishing of a new address... something that shouldn't create its own subculture but instead recreate the entire world.


Maybe Jesus loves me...

this I know for the Bible tells me so.

And Jesus said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:3)

40 comments:

Brian said...

Tony, you're on a roll...first that brilliant comment on Len's blog and now this.

I like the way you wander through the difficulty of this topic. One of the things that I've appreciated most about Brian McLaren is how he challenges us to think beyond the question of only "heaven" and "hell." Maybe, to add to your questions, we need to ask, "What does it mean to be saved? Saved from sin? Saved from hell? Saved from selfishness? Saved from a life of cursing? Saved for what? For ourselves or to be a blessing to others? So we can get into heaven or be that royal priesthood? (Both?)

Good stuff...keep it up.

David Malouf -- said...

Nice! A good set of questions at this stage of our Western experience (and I'm SURE you'll come up with more good questions in the future).

I agree with Brian above and would like to spring off that . . .

What if we stopped using the "saved" metaphor and pursue an understanding (exploration, rather) of the other metaphors? Maybe we're only looking at the leg and missing the head or the torso or ... ?

Further, maybe we've mixed insider and outsider passages, ideas, metaphors, etc. (cf. 1 Cor. 5:12 and context - a set of parallels - as an example of this distinction)?

Again I agree with Brian - good stuff...keep it up.

Tanner Ridge said...

Gosh you sure are getting more and more liberal over there in Ohio. Next your going to tell us your a democrat now .... LOL

Seriously though... good stuff.

bigwhitehat said...

Tony you know I'm all about rites. I know they should be practiced with understanding and authenticity.

Acts 2:37 .....Brothers, What shall we do?

You know where I'm going with that. I don't think baptism is obsolete. The problem is people don't get it. They get wet but still don't die to self. Others don't do it and have no rite on which to tie any change.

I probably won't come back to this thread. I don't want to hear the pseudo-liberal faith only gestapo rail against me.

I baptize. I wash feet. I pray on my face. And I don't care what anybody else has to say about it. I'm not legalistic by any means. I know "cheese sandwich" aint in the Bible. My faith is in God not practice. But these things mean something to me and to God.

Jennifer said...

Thanks for that Tony.

irreverend fox said...

are sincere and devote Muslims "in" or "out"...or are you not comfortable making that judgment?

Anonymous said...

i think the bible shows that grace trumps it all and jesus forgave people who never even asked for it so its a bogus question dude. nice post tony!!

--- luke

irreverend fox said...

"it's a bogus question dude?"

LOL!

irreverend fox said...

Tony...do you agree with Luke?

Tony Myles said...

Brian/David - thanks! Great questions/thoughts on what it means to be "saved" - especially since it's less about a destination mentality and more about the reintegration of a relationship.

Tanner - never blind party allegience to anyone... that would be idolatry, right? ;)

Jennifer - you're welcome.

bigwhitehat - love the thoughts on baptism. I also celebrate the journey you're on of figuring out the difference between what's biblical and what's preference.

mr fox - great question about the muslims. I'd encourage you to read the post again because I'm sure you're more interested in what the Scriptures have to say about that than me. I'd encourage you to read it again, starting with the grace and forgiveness of sins Jesus bestows on the woman who doesn't ask for it in Luke 7:44-48, and then work your way out from there.

luke - rock on "dude" ;)

irreverend fox said...

mr. myles...I've read the post several times...and I do understand your point.

Scott Hendricks said...

Tony, thanks for commenting on my blog. May I ask how you came across my post?

And, I am glad you are thinking these thoughts and sharing them. I have had similar discussions with people about how it's not OUR job to judge who's 'in' and who's 'out.' Also, I do believe that being living members in the church is a characteristic of those who will be saved, esp. in the New Testament. This is largely overlooked by 'evangelical' Christians who are quick to convert. I have even heard my pastor say, "I'm not asking you to join the church, just to pray a prayer" (the sinner's prayer, of course). In the NT baptism seems to be an initiatory sacrament into Jesus and his church that plays some role in salvation, and in Acts, it is particularly related to the receiving of the Holy Spirit. Dr. Ken Schenck (one of my professors) would say that in the NT, one of the main evidences that you're 'in' is that you've got the Holy Spirit. After all, it is the down payment or deposit of our future inheritance . . . could there be any criterion more clear? Well, maybe fruit.

Anyhow, peace to you, brother. :-)

Scott Hendricks said...

Cool.

Can't claim many of those thoughts as mine; rather they are just remembered voices being shared, or passed on . . . tradition, anyone?

momma, poppa & THE boy said...

Good stuff! Posts like this is one of the bazillion reasons I love reading your blog.

derek bethay said...

In Philippians Paul says, "...continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose."

What if we don't attain salvation in this life? Meaning salvation is the reward - the inheritance - of a life that is devoted to honoring God ("you will know a tree by it's fruit").

Ultimately God is the judge of mankind and he will determine who will inherit salvation and who will be condemned to the flames.

I think God will judge each person according to their knowledge of Him... that is, have they heard the message of the Gospel - salvation by faith through Christ for the forgiveness of sins - and what was their response to that message? Acceptance or rejection? And how did each person respond to God's grace in their lives?

I've got to leave the lid on the box open to the idea that those indigenous tribes deep in the jungles of the Amazon can respond to the grace of God and inherit salvation even if the Wycliffe Bible translators never make a Bible for them or the missionaries never penetrate their culture to tell them about Jesus.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I think just as teachers will be judged more strictly (James 3:1) - I think those who have lived in Christendom (i.e. Western Civilization) will be judged more strictly because we have been exposed both to the Gospel of Christ and the grace of God.

Something to think about.

Naomi said...

Tony, are you saved? How do you really know if you are?

Tony Myles said...

Scott - thanks for your thoughts... tradition is good to recognize, for both it's merits and its incompleteness.

momma/poppa/boy - Keep on coming!

Derek - very insightful... love that concept of awareness/ignorance and how grace seems to keep us guessing on our toes because God is way bigger. I do think, though, that whenever Jesus speaks of the Kingdom it's meant as both a present and future reality. Always interesting how that fleshes out.


Naomi - according to the Scriptures above, "yes," and "I don't know." Perhaps a better question is why and for who's security do you feel the need to ask? (Say hey to Gary for me)

irreverend fox said...

The answer can not be "yes" and "I don't know".

There is a logical called the law of non-contradiction...”A” can not be “non-A” at the same time and in the same relationship. So, you either know that you have been saved..."yes"...or you don't know for sure that you have been..."I don't know"...but you can't say "yes, I have been" and "I'm not sure" at the same time and in the same relationship.

Based upon our talks and everything I've read from you the "I don't know" seems to be the most accurate response...which is to be expected when one doesn't know for sure what the gospel message actually is and how one actually "gets" saved...I'll keep praying for you.

Thurman8er said...

Tony, for the record, I'm sure you're really saved, yet I don't know exactly why.

This God-stuff sorta defies logic, doesn't it?

(I'm praying for you too, though probably for different reasons.)

irreverend fox said...

God-stuff does not defy logic...lol...because if it did we wouldn't know there was such a thing as God-stuff...

Tony Myles said...

Gary - there were two questions, so I responded with two answers (and even separated them by quotes and a comma). Try to read beyond what you're already look for... it helps you keep a more open mind in conversation.

Speaking of which, the law on non-contradiction... where is that in the Bible again? Also, does this "law" apply to the Trinity and the Incarnation, too? (By the way, if you don't believe in those let me know and I'll pray for you, too.)

Also - still curious - for whose security are you/Naomi pursuing these questions? Please think about it.


Thurman8er - You're right... God stuff does defy logic... because if it didn't we wouldn't need faith... and God wouldn't be bigger than our minds and boxes.

Wait... He is, right? I keep forgetting.

irreverend fox said...

Tony,

again...I'll keep you in my prayers.

I will heed Matthew 7:6 and go away...take care...

Tony Myles said...

Cool, Gary. And if you don't want to answer those questions regarding the Law of non-contradiction and the Trinity/Incarnation, I understand.

Matthew 7:6 is a great passage. Especially in light of the context of the five verses before it, too.

derek bethay said...

The only things we know about God are that which He has chosen to reveal to us.

Can we "know" God? In the sense of having a relationship with Him? Absolutely! But can we "figure out" God? I don't think so.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," Declares the LORD.

"As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts." (Is. 55:8-9)

Paul makes mention of the "mystery" of God, Christ and the Gospel throughout his letters to the early church. The mystery of God has been revealed to us in order for us to be reconciled to God. But should we assume that God has revealed ALL of Himself to us & that with enough prayer, Bible study & theological training we can know all there is to know about God?

I think it is extremely arrogant on our part as finite humans to even begin to imagine that we can figure out an infinite, omniscient, omnipresent, eternal God.

amy said...

amen.

Casey said...

wow. look at the thought you provoked. it's too late at night for me to even begin to wrap my brain around all this. so i will just say...

only by Grace. and i am so thankful for that Grace.

Stephanie said...

I think its sad when believers use the phrase "I'll pray for you" in a derogatory way. Yes, I know you will both say, "No, really... I really will pray..." But seriously... Let's pray. Father, please reveal Your truth to us in Jesus' name. You say that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Him. Help us to stop judging, and start speaking The Truth, and leave the convicting up to You. The Word is true. The Word is alive. The Word is absolute. The Word is authoritative. Lord, I pray that You will make the seemingly gray areas crystal clear... That you will put in our hearts a DESIRE to see the Truth with clarity, because You said that You reveal the Truth to those who are actually seeking it out. Amen.

Tony, I appreciate your desire to ask questions. Sometimes, though, the answers don't appear readily available. I believe that the answers are most definitely available, through the Bible. The Word does not leave us hanging. The methods that God uses to bring those to Himself are many and varied, but the One through whom we must go is clear. Jesus is the only way to God... And the evidence that He is in us is the Spirit that testifies with our spirits that we are God's children, which is shown outwardly by the fruit that we produce.

Mr. Fox... Yikes. Instead of condescention (however its spelled), try love? Try actually praying? And remember, the same way that you judge, you will be judged. And the judgment seems pretty harsh at this point, doesn't it? We need to be careful, I think.

Can we please not use the Sword to attack and insult fellow believers? I'm not sure that's what it is for.

BLESSINGS to everyone.

Tony Myles said...

Thanks, Stephanie. I agree... and I appreciate your candid thoughts.

I am concerned, though, whenever we can't admit that while the Bible does offer us answers, it doesn't always offer us the answers we've concluded on our own. Meaning, have we really established Scripturally the "right way" to get saved (and what that means anyway)? I know it's an uncomfortable question and one that probably messes with the little box we've all created on that (including myself).

And maybe this is where we split, but I'm comfortable with that tension not being resolved if the only resolution we have is a half-answer that diminishes the mystery of God.

Yet on the flipside, I did have a section on the things we "do know," and yet I feel as though that has been overlooked in this discussion.

I also agree that we shouldn't use the Sword to attack others. However, when this does happen how does one respond? The only thing I can come up with is that the Sword itself is the only thing that can contextualize and correct innapropriate human wieldings of itself, which even then is hopefully used reservedly.

Perhaps I'm in the wrong spirit on this, and so I do welcome your correction if needed. Thanks for praying and posting... and I have been in prayer for this and the journey we are all on, self included.

Even if every question isn't as tidy as we'd like.

Stephanie said...

You are absolutely right when you say, "it doesn't always offer us the answers we've concluded on our own." In terms of being saved, you are right... we cannot judge HOW to get saved. But we know that we do need to be saved, and we know THROUGH WHOM we must be saved.

And thank you for pointing out the "we do know" section, which, as you have pointed out, has been overlooked.

And the Sword is most definitely the thing to use to refute the misuse of itself. That's what Jesus did when He was tempted, after all! It is hard not to get defensive, isn't it. I know... because I felt defensive on your behalf:)

Tony Myles said...

Thanks, Stephanie.

brian said...

Seems like you do a good job of asking questions the rest of us are afraid to. I keep coming back here for that reason.

Anonymous said...

Tony, et al.

None of you, save a few know who I am. In fact, it could be said, "You don't know me from Adam!" However; I will speak as a fellow with his oar in the deep rushing waters of theology and "Sword" battery. Further, I will also speak as an unapologetic Theologically conservative pastor and the recipient of never to be deserved grace of God.
Disclaimers read and re-read?
Good! Here is the answer:
When we get to Heaven - where the Trinity is, all at One time, we shall all ask of the Author Himself all of the things we don't truly understand (at this moment) held within the Solo Scriptura in this life, in this world, in this finite limited cognizance.
When we ASK of Him He will answer, and we will understand. I am confident that in that same teaching by the Master we will also hear an "Ahem, I also have some addenda and appends to add to your less than accurate renderings of my mysterious Word." And then, we shall sheepishly (All of US!) look through our long and luxurious hair (dreams of a bald Shrek-like dude) and we will at that and following moments realize our utter arrogance in thinking we understand it alllllll. Further it will be clearly rendered to us that our representation of truth dripping from the frothed fangs of our "Religious Rottweiller" understanding contention and contentious defense of OUR faith was not always so aptly put.

There are some parts we won't understand until Jesus our Lord explains to us in Person. In the interim, I read Tony's Statement of Faith and find no fault in it.

That said, here is what I find insinuated throughout this thread: Somebody needs a double dose of humble pie! Gary, I don't know you but God does... Tony, I barely know you, but God does. Neither of you know me as above disclaimer so disclaims, but.... say it with me.... But God Does...

In the end, we are but specks on an earth God Himself Spoke into existence and the Holy blood that dripped from His Holy and human Son onto the very soil God the Father was created for repentant sinners all, myself included so undeserving...

That blood-spattered path went One way from the Cross to that borrowed tomb... My redemption was bought with every Word Jesus our Lord spoke, with every miracle He performed, with every lash He bore, every insult He suffered, and with every Splendid nanosecond of Victory He won over from death and hell - say it with me... ON OUR BEHALF!

This is what reminds me of why He came into a poor family. Why He was born of a virgin. Why He was born in a dirty feed troth. Why He was rejected and hung upon a wooden cross composed of His Father's own created tree. Why He, despite all my despicable acts He hung upon that cross, for me... THAT my friend (or not) is why I know I am saved and why I KNOW it is my duty to lead as many as possible to the foot of the Cross until the day I breathe my last breath and upon His face I shall see, mercy, healing, peace at last. “Repent for the Kingdom is Near” Jesus said... Then, repent I shall... No humbler place one man could be... except of course, the Man hanging upon that Cross. Final advice? Tony, let it go, feigned humility expressed through, "I'll pray for you" is a covenant examined only by God - as it is prayed (or not prayed.)
Rev. Shawn Michael Greener
"Jesus Freak"

Tony Myles said...

Thanks, Shawn. For reading this and for your insights.

Yeah... I wouldn't presume to tell someone I'm praying for them unless I was. Good reminder.

Anonymous said...

No worries Mate! Nothing a little (or a lot) of Pistachio Ice Cream wouldn't soothe... While we are in the ice cream parlor perhaps we could buy the person behind us's ice cream as an act of Christian love? Therein, we could redeem a little bit of our gluttonous sin for the Kingdom? Fyi, that reminder you speak of is directed squarely at Gary and me, and everyone else reading this post, and not reading this post, and who don't even have a computer, or know what a blog is, or even... or even those who don't YET know what the word "prayer" even means... It is our job to tell them, all of them. "Love is better demonstrated than explained."
Rev. Shawn Michael Greener

Anonymous said...

http://www.gty.org/Resources/Articles/10147

Tony Myles said...

Thanks for your comment, anonymous. Good stuff there to read from one side of the cross of Jesus Christ. I like how there are 360 degrees around it... helps us balance each other out.

I wonder why you left an anonymous comment, though? Makes it hard to have a real conversation.

I think relationships and love for our neighbor (including the "Samaritans" of any culture) is something Jesus is into, and I hope you are, too.

Come back sometime with your contact info and then we can chat the way God intended us to.

Anonymous said...

Will you talk with me w/o contact info?

Tony Myles said...

Help me understand why?

Anonymous said...

Will it change your responses to the queries?

Tony Myles said...

Well, Jesus spoke about issues of sin (and we can also draw the application of conflict) as being best worked out face to face. So I think he's on to something there.

So hopefully the only change to answers would be more context, which creates more understanding, which creates more reconciliation.

The internet is a place where people throw bombs anonymously. Unfortunately, Christians can at times seem no different.

Maybe we can be the minority.

So again... I'd love to have a real conversation. You in?