My now deceased mother reminded me in 2005 of her years ago conversation
with her Aunt Lola Brown Cantey. "I was talking with Aunt Lola and mentioned that a friend
had told me that every pastor/priest of a certain church could trace the laying on of hands
all the way back to the Apostle, Peter. Aunt Lola thought a minute and said, 'Mildred, that's
a nice little thought; and it doesn't hurt anyone.'"
My bottom line...and there is more detail & discussion, below...as of mid-2016 is that the greatest present and future status for a human is to be FULLY SAVED.
Does any religion...any
church or denomination "have it all right"? For example, up through the Salem witch trials of the 1690s, there was no "scientific" knowledge. Natural phenomena such as lightning could only be conceived of as the work of Satan or the wrath of God. It was Capt. James Cook of the second half of the 1700s who demonstrated so well the infant science of oceanic navigation. The nature of the terror of lightning would not be proven to be electricity until about 1750 (Ben Franklin). Antibiotics to save us from deadly infections would not arrive until 1930-40. Causes of "terrors" have been found so that it is now more plausible to understand the love & grace of God rather than such a focus on natural events as being the wrath of God. Therefore, doctrine evolves. So, out of ALL doctrine, what doctrine is critical...what does truly matter? The
truth matters, and I believe that each individual is left to struggle for a lifetime toward TRUTH!
Your local church: We usually join a local church by way of family or friend connections. Or, we visit around until we feel comfortable in a certain church. And, later, we sometimes leave a church for another church for various reasons. It is my experience that Satan is very alive in both (1) the local secular community and (2) in each local church! Blasphemous!? In this fallen human world, the church cannot be a place free of conflict, dispute, and debate. As people search for a local church, they wrestle with many thoughts that are negative and disparaging and the opposite of mutual toleration and acceptance of all who want to seek The Way of Jesus. BUT, it should be a place working diligently and faithfully toward (1) right relationships and (2) reconciliation of problems through the loving effort of right relationships. So, most of us need to be in a church with balance that (1) turns out to be the least aggitating of negative feelings and (2) the most attractive toward relating with each other rightly. Therefore, humanity probably actually needs this vast denominational variety.
Jesus answered a Jewish lawyer (Luke
10:26): "And He said to him, 'What is written in the Law? How does it read to
First, there is only one true God, YHWH. It is historically said that the religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
all focus upon this God. In view of 9/11/2001..."9/11", Abraham's God has been seriously
misunderstood by some seriously destructive groups! Judaism and Christianity each focus on
their deliverance from slavery: [a] for Jews, the Exodus from 400 years enslavement in Egypt
& for [b] Christians, the crucifixion of Jesus on the Cross paying the price for the
delivery of mankind from the enslavement to sin. However, just in the realm of Christian
belief, we see some 41,000 denominations worldwide who stand variously divided by different
doctrinal or theological views. HERE is an overall chart of the evolution of Christianity and HERE is a chart of the evolution of Protestant Christianity. Yet, Jesus clarified that the KEY focus is on relationships: (1) man to God and (2) man to man. Interestingly, I do not know that Jesus ever instructed followers to go out and build churches.
Does Jesus only love
Christians? Foundational Truths:
There is a kinship of all who worship God. Like it
or not, Jesus (1) is messiah to ALL
mankind and does not just love those who
call on His name. It is unlikely that all of mankind can take this Truth in until the wide
variety of Christian faiths quit slamming each other over differences in doctrinal issues. Whereas all other
religions are structured to get close to God by pleasing God, Christianity alone (2) claims the
relationship to God because God Himself does the work (the relationship begins strictly by
the love and grace of God). And, among the sayings of key figures of religions, (3) Jesus never
said anything which allows or condones hatred & killing in the name of God. Be clear that,
despite squabbling about various issues, all Christian worship groups have COMPLETE UNITY in
the belief that earthly and eternal salvation is by...in...Jesus the Christ.
The "Universal Church" (The Universal Body of Believers) of Jesus is
invisible and composed of all those who have truly come to belief in Jesus as Lord &
Savior and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit...no one of us can look at someone else
and deeply & truly know whether that person is part of that universal church body or
not. The Kingdom of God includes this here and now, on this earth group...the Universal Church...plus other true believers in the God of Abraham, the one true God. The term, "Christian", is actually nebulous.
[meanings of "church"
However, as Jesus followers tried to follow in The
Way, they organized (for purposes of fellowship, worship, discipleship, evangelization, and
ministry) into visible, concrete local bodies or groups, such as the patriarchal churches. To
this present day, such local bodies of believers run the risk of being prideful religious
clubs. They should
be local groups of Jesus followers
who, in their charity and humility, accept any new Jesus investigator or follower or transferring
Jesus follower into their fellowship.
The historic sister church divisions of
Christianity (Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant) are fully united over the profession that:
(1) the historical Jesus of Nazareth is the divine son of God (the God of Abraham), (2) the promised Messiah/Savior, and (3)
that Jesus is
Lord (boss, master of a believer's
life). Jesus brought the "good news"...the Gospel. In addition, from the
very beginning, there subsequently were probably small independent Christian church bodies whose
difficult-to-trace-and-verify historical offspring may exist today (though the powers of the
Roman Empire tried to kill them all). We also know from Paul & Peter that, in no time at
all, false-teaching "Christian" churches arose. However, there are additional foundational
beliefs (doctrines) that continue to divide Christians to this present day.
However each of the 3 great divisions/branches of
Christianity might vary in details and practices, one should build on the above
three foundational truths,
the core essence of the Christianity of the born-again, true believer (if
you are a true believer, you
ARE a new creation, "born again"!!!). Further, any religious group that denies the combined
humanity and divinity of Jesus is, at the very least, seriously misguided and seriously
under-estimating of the power of Almighty God. At worst, such people could even be among the
false teachers Christians have been warned about ("If any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary
to that which you received, let him be accursed." [Paul...Galatians 1:9]). Lastly, membership
in any type of Christian church in society does not automatically confer membership into the
Universal Church...The Universal
Body of Believers (that membership only
comes after a person becomes indwelt by the Holy Spirit..."born again"). As the parable of
the wheat & tares (weeds) declares (Matthew 13:24-30 & 36-43), the
local church congregations will contain both true believers & non-believers (and no
person can be absolutely sure who is who)! The church calendar.
PROTESTANT REFORMATION of 1520
Between 100 or so and 1520 AD (maybe up to 1554
AD), the Roman Catholic Church of the Western Roman Empire had pulled away from the Orthodox
Christian churches (of the 5 historic patriarchal centers...Jerusalem, Antioch, Rome,
Alexandria, and Constantinople) and had taken the Bible (the holy writings...the
scripture...The Word) from the people, The Word being only available through priests. (I am
under the impression that some smaller, independent churches might have histories which are
obscure but said to be different). This first "Reformation of 1520 A.D." put The Word back
with the people. Some say that the second great reformation of the church will be when the
great effort of doing The Great Commission, witnessing and ministry of the gospel, is
transferred from the clergy to the much more numerous members of the church body...the people
(a process which seems, to me, to be happening now [at least 1980s-2005 & beyond],
especially by way of the internet). This transfer will begin to have enormous positive effect
when enough of Christendom comes to realize that the fundamental of the Gospel is enlivened
by a true realization that Jesus was pointing out that The Way is about cultivating positive,
non-hurtful, non-exclusionary relationships (right relationships..."righteous"
FURTHER ESSENCE OF REFORMED/PROTESTANT CHRISTIANITY:
- Salvation is
granted solely by grace through faith: (Ephesians 2:8-9) [An open offer to every human; no
secret knowledge needed]. Righteousness is conferred by God's love and grace through Jesus, who
meets God's standard for us...we come to belief in Jesus and His substitution for us by
faith which God gave us.
priesthood of the believer: Jesus is
the only intercessor we need...He is the always-available great High Priest (we do
not need preachers, priests, etc.; and each person, through Jesus,
can approach God [see I Timothy 2:5]). Our righteousness and salvation is justified as a gift
from God through our true faith in Jesus (Romans 3). (Some say that this and #3 are the essence
of the first Protestant
Reformation.) This does
not mean that Priests, Pastors,
Elders, Deacons, and Sunday School teachers are not important.
- The Word
(holy scripture...the Bible) is for the reading by all human-kind: but THE TRUTH of The Word can only be understood by the
born-again, new-creation Jesus believer through each such true Christian's internal, personal
teacher, the Holy Spirit, revealing the message of the Word. We do not need priests, preachers, for interpretation (John 14 thru 16).
In fact, The Word is actually deliberately closed (I Cor. 2:14) [check more] and the Christian Way
not truly understandable to any but those who are thusly indwelt by the Holy Spirit (even the 12
apostolic disciples were unable to understand until the Holy Spirit came unto them after [John
14:26] the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus). The Bible (The Word) is to be
available to all true believers, not just to the clergy in any secret or high language of the
clergy....Martin Luther's great point of "Sola Scriptura". This is to be the fundamental source
(none other to supersede) for all that humans can know about God...THE fundamental source
of revelation about God.
Fundamentals Republished and "Hashed Out" in 1909-1918:
The "fundamentalist movement", reacting against a
theologically increasingly liberal compromise from the actual testimony of the Bible, took
its name from the publication of a series of scholarly booklets in 1909 which set out the
interdenominational, essential, traditional Biblical doctrinal beliefs of Christians. By 1918,
the positions were clear between liberals and fundamentalists, fundamentalists
- The divine
inspiration and infallibility [the TRUTH] of the original autographs
[none exist] of Scripture (The Word...the Bible...in writing).
- The deity of
Jesus Christ [deity requires a
virgin birth, avoiding man's sin inheritance which is passed through the male, starting
- The virgin
birth and miracles of Jesus
Christ's substitutionary and atoning
death (dying in place of the sinner,
taking on and paying the penalty for the past, present, and future sins of all humans) for all
of mankind. SALVATION IS BY
resurrection from the
- The second
coming of Jesus Christ in the
And, being a
Through our belief in Jesus
Christ and living of Holy-Spirit-enabled lives abiding/remaining in Him, we must be saved on earth and for
eternity. Jesus was sent:
- to redeem us (buy all of
us back... all of us past, present, and future human sinners) from our
- to satisfy God's white-hot anger at man
for his sinful/disobedient nature (Jesus as a propitiation),
- to justify us (make us "just-as-if-I-never-sinned"; Jesus straightens out our relationship with
God by cloaking the believer in the righteousness of Jesus) before God,
- to be within us the righteousness (be "right" with God) that humans cannot
do on their own,
- and to be sufficient (on whom we can
totally depend for all needs) in all things.
- Then, in this Christian faith, we journey
a life of evolving sanctification (eternally saved and, while
living on earth, becoming more and more Christ-like...growing in our ability to live
rightly...righteously...in right relationships).
The human mind, heart, and psychology are
treacherous in how we can fool ourselves. As evidence of a saved life, born again, you are highly likely
to show...manifest increased goodness, better character, right relationship
living, and good works...a real change. Reflecting our new status and as acts of repenting of our sins, we are urged to
do (good) works (Acts 26:20). Humans can fool themselves by acting good, being involved, and
doing good works in subconscious hopes of seeming to truly be a believer. The real way, though, is to
wrestle self-will and self-centeredness and self-consciousness out of the way, and read and
seek advice and answers so as to step into Christian participation and service in order to
truly believe (and get into that active relationship with God). And
the good inevitably then flows forth. At the end of time, at judgment day, only God will have
known who truly believed and who faked it (consciously or unconsciously) or just didn't reach
the state of true belief (see Jesus' parable of the wheat and tares/weeds, Matthew 13:24-30,
Your belief (not faked or insufficient) or non-belief is the key to
your earthly Christian salvation. God's wrathful judgment (Old Testament) prior to Christ was awesome
and may come upon those not deemed "believers" at the end times. The true Jesus believers
meet Jesus at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Jesus will sort out which, if any, might otherwise
qualify as He judges every other human at the "Great White Throne Judgment"
(Rev. 20:11-15). Could you be fooling yourself? God's love is real and available and His
power promised to be bridled toward those who believe in His only son Jesus. The Gospel, the
"good news", is that Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah...the Savior...Acts 5:42). God
has made no such clear cut and comprehensive salvation guarantee to non-believers. Fear God (take Him seriously and know what
He could do except for His promises through Jesus). Consider
where you want to spend eternity; lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven). Since eternity
goes on forever, isn't reaching and/or obtaining salvation status the epitome of success (as
compared to a rich income for 20 years or the Presidency of the USA for 4 years) and the life
leading to salvation the truly successful life? Those whose names are written in the book of life (Rev. 20:12 and 15) will, for sure (guaranteed), obtain
the full eternal-salvation life in Heaven with the Trinitarian Jehovah God!
Don't lose sight of the prime importance of the
most basic point of faith and belief uniting all
Christians: Jesus (Jesus of Nazareth; God as our Savior, our
Shepherd) is Lord (boss, master) & Savior.
SALVATION IS BY CHRIST! The various
denominations might squabble about certain doctrinal points but not about the provision of
salvation by Jesus. All such believers are Christians and part of the Universal Church initiated at Pentecost, the living body of Christ, on
this belief alone. Every person who claims to be such a Christian stands on this same Rock.
That "body of Christ" consists of all who have the unending internal indwelling of the Holy
Spirit, a phenomenon which began with the Pentecost experience following the crucifixion of
Jesus. Keep strongly in mind the
following point: the Church...this Universal Church...as Jesus established it, is not an
institution. It is not bricks & mortar. But it is a people in whom He lives and through
whom He works.
But, from a human reality standpoint, how we
segregate ourselves out, otherwise, has largely to do with our family of birth origin as to
Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant; and, if Protestant, into which of
the denominations we
I'm not "for" or "against" any denomination. I
don't think that Jesus wanted a divided church (major Christian churches & denominations)
but surely knew that we humans would always "divide up" over issues...even (especially) as to
something as important as belief & faith.
An encyclopedic study by David B. Barrett, updated
2001 edition, counts 33,830 denominations in the world. Varying languages and customs of
different countries, interpretations of proper methods of worship, proper meanings of
scripture, proper organization of the local church body, and proper living of the Christian
life tend to be the differing styles and beliefs of the various Protestant church
denominations (by 2012, there may be 41,000). For the Protestant: firstly, you are a
Christian; secondly, you may be Protestant or Reformed; thirdly you are a certain
denomination (Baptist, Methodist, etc.); fourthly, you are some subdivision of a denomination
(Independent Baptist); and fifthly, you are a member of a particular local church body having
a particular street address (maybe even so in a non-denominational way). Technically, some of
our present-day denominations were born by the Protestant Reformation; others claim to trace
their history back independently of Roman Catholicism but are still generally included as
"Protestant" because their beliefs melded well into, and influenced,
Protestantism. Here is an on-line history (project of UNC @ Chapel Hill) of Baptists by N. H.
Pius, D. D., published in 1911.
differ because they involve imperfect, unequal humans (Mark 10:18; Romans 3:12
"...there is none good, no not one...")...(on-line encyclopedia listing of the
- Christ is thought
possibly to arrange members into different churches (bodies of believers) [about churches];
- different people are
touched differently by Christianity; and
- different groups
emphasize different doctrines to greater or lesser degrees based on different points in
Scripture and different life experiences and views.
The Mennonites stress living the simple Christian
life. Adventists stress the ten commandments. And Independent Baptists stress the
independence of each local church and the advisability of studying the King James translation of the Bible. A thought: of all people who love music,
very few love all music. Why must we be split and "fight" among ourselves or look down on
other congregations of born-again believers? After all, we are all "parts" of that
greater Body of Believers,
the worldwide Universal Christian Church. Who are they who sit in judgment on other believers'
convictions or levels of conviction on matters of opinion, correct doctrine, doctrinal
emphasis, or conviction? Can't groups follow Jesus in different ways without rancor
and anger between groups? Can't we recognize our differences in light of Jesus' question
(Luke 10:26: "And He said to him, 'What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?'")
and be different without "downing" or belittling each other?
Read your Bible closely and try to imagine all
true believers around the entire world being able to identically interpret & prioritize
the very large number of beliefs, rules, commands, and duties. The Old Testament, alone, is
said to contain 613 commands for God's people (the pomegranate has about 613 seeds, usually,
and was...therefore...considered a divine fruit). To even more emphasize the difficulty of agreeing
on priorities, how many families do you know in which the husband and wife are in perfect
agreement on priorities? Few.
Remember: no book or issue in human history has
been more carefully studied and strongly debated throughout the past 2000 years than The
Bible and religion...and done so by the most intelligent and informed humans of each of the
100 or so generations of mankind in that period of history! Writing somewhat in this vein
about the many different church bodies, George Will notes, "And that fact satisfies those
Christians who regard the continuing vitality of Christianity's divisions as evidence of
spiritual vigor: you cannot split rotten wood." ("Presence of Divine still inspires awe in
Americans", The State [newspaper], 23 Dec. 1999).
Sadly, in a continuing
reflection of man's fallen nature, Christians focus incredible emotional and physical energy
(as well as financial resources) on emphasizing, dwelling upon, and infighting
our differences rather than primarily emphasizing our central
brotherhood in the Body of Christ (how human we are!; how fallen is mankind!). This is some
of the residue of our natural nature (the natural, fallen, man) coming out in our lives. It
should constantly remind us of the distracting quality and destructiveness of incompletely changed/sanctified human
nature. How lost we are without our Savior; how misguided we can be even during our attempts
to walk with Him! What a tarnished "light" and contaminated "salt" this is to The World. We
need to get in touch with the differences that each believer possesses...brings into the local
church...(in personality, spiritual gifts, talents, love languages, learning styles, etc.)
[see YLCF website] that give such
breadth & depth to the church (a source of great potential...not a reason to
We Christians have been killers back in history
overall in modern & current times, how much damage do Christians do for the cause of
Christ when they condemn & criticize other branches or denominations of Christianity? As
my friend, Rev. Gary Frazier pointed out in May 2007, why must modern Christians of the USA
publicly backbite and almost curse each other over issues BEYOND the questions of: (1) does
your church worship God through Jesus?...(2) does your church seek to lift up the name of
Jesus as Savior of the World?...and (3) is The Word of God the ultimate tool for education
about the Faith?
THE ELECT (those who come to Jesus)
The word, elect, in the Bible may refer
to one of at least 5 individuals or groups. As to eternal salvation & being "elected"
for "going to Heaven": explanations must not violate or add to the fundamental that
your eternal after-life salvation is based on (1) the crucified Christ and (2) the grace of
God alone. I would soberly add to those who would be greatly concerned with exclusivity: God
is sovereign and can make exceptions and save anyone He chooses! But could this chosen group
be way larger than most suppose (see below)? As to eternity...might it include salvation of ALL humans?
redemption: In the Old Testament of
the Bible, God required that
man atone for sins by the sacrificial
shedding of the blood of bulls, goats, or birds. The Gospel..."the good news" of the New
Testament of the Bible...is that (unique to Christianity, alone...a thoroughly unique religion): God so loved man that He sent His only Son as the perfect, first-fruits,
substitutionary (substituting for each & every human being) blood sacrifice on the cross
to make things right ( to atone) between God and Mankind. God, in the person of the Son and
Messiah (Christ), Jesus, shed His blood (was slain/sacrificed) on the cross for all the sins of all mankind. In doing so, Jesus obtained a general pardon for all
of mankind (which most of Christendom believes must be individually & personally
claimed (realized) in order to be made personally effective). [By way of "the doctrine of
the Trinitarian God", God...in a way...came
Himself. He allowed Himself to be sacrificed!!!] This, therefore, has already accomplished
atonement, forgiveness, and remission for the sins for ALL past, present, & future
So, why isn't The Gospel that ALL humans go to
Heaven? God, in essence (this is not a real quotation), says, "I forgive you, but why should
I have you with Me for eternity?" That is, "paying the price" did not address
individual-human "justification" (or
did it?). There is no biblical indication (or is there?) that all persons...all
humans who have ever lived...are already justified & will go to Heaven (Mathew
7:13-14...narrow gate). After truly reading the Bible, do you find any evidence that anyone
can truly count on being able to be good enough (not just forgiven of sins) for their
"goodness" to justify salvation for eternity on one's own merit?
Jesus, Himself, warns that only a relative few (of
the future billions) will find & enter through (come to belief) that narrow gate
(Matthew 7:13). And He will have to tell many, in the end, who thought...or had been lead to
believe...that they had been saved: "I never knew you..." (Matthew
Justification by coming to
belief: After the fall of Adam,
mankind plunged into sin. Then God chose Israel to receive His revelation about Himself &
The Law and to reveal the inadequacy of The Law to save sinners. Humans with free will
choice are constantly caught in the "do it!" vs. "don't do it" tensions of spiritual warfare.
The forces of Satan beckon toward "badness", and the forces of God beckon toward "goodness".
Therefore, though forgiven of sins & having permission to enter Heaven, people...all of
whom are undeserving...need justification (how do you indicate & justify your desire to reside with God in Heaven?) in order to get eternal
life in Heaven with God. And people need a force or person to get them into a justified
state or position. They need a justifying
Savior (or has that already been done?)...one to help a person to
Why would anyone want to bank on any vague hope of
another "way" to the eternal heavenly life here-after when God has already guaranteed The Way that justifies? And, that Way
is open to anyone and is not a burdensome way (I John 5:1-5). God, in essence (this is
not a real quotation), says, "I've been willing to forget all you have done against me and
what shortcomings you possess [I've invoked divine amnesia] if you'll just believe that, for the sake of Jesus, I am filled with grace
& love for you enough to have made the sacrifice [of Jesus] that I made. This is The Way
to your personal justification of eternal residence with Me in Heaven." [It is surely The Way
to a saved life on earth!] This justification...by the grace of God...has been provided as a
free gift from God, AND so is the faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) to "come to belief" &
obtain that justified status as a free gift! Jesus is both the author and perfecter of an
elect person's faith (Hebrews
12:2) for staking out this belief & demonstrating desire.
James notes (James 2:20-24) that faith without
deeds ("works") is useless. This is because it is not real God-gifted faith, and only real God-gifted faith leads to real belief
& real justification and the incoming of the Holy Spirit who starts the sanctification
process & changes us into doers of good deeds). Justification: faith is put by Jesus into a person & after such,
one comes to belief & desires God. And the doing of deeds (on earth) is the outward
reflection of that "coming to belief".
From being an "elect" person to "coming to belief"
is a mysterious transformation at varying pace in different people. Coming to belief
transforms that general Gift from God into becoming individually effective to eternal
salvation in Heaven (or does it have its effect in an "earthly" way?). Coming to "belief"...in a way containing some mystery...must be one of the
following...or some sort of mix within an "elect" person...of:
- quit resisting
& "get it": consciously or
unconsciously (1) quitting one's
resistance to the call (implanting of faith) of
Jesus, and (2) realizing (faith
leading to belief being activated, actualized, implanted, instilled, or deposited
unconsciously or subconsciously into the elect one) the free love-&-grace-given gift
of salvation; leading to,
- believe: choose (John 7:17) and do (John 6:29)...consciously believing about Jesus and his atoning & Savior status;
- make it for
you (personal): consciously believing
as to yourself & claiming the
free love & grace-given gift of salvation; inviting Jesus (in the person of the Holy Spirit) into one's
- follow: consciously or unconsciously choosing to follow The Way of Jesus (God even tells His chosen in
other contexts that they must choose)...that they
must enter the narrow gate (Matthew 7:13). On trulycoming to belief, a conversion actually takes
place as the Holy Spirit comes in to seal, mark, & reside in the new convert...who then is
a chosen child of God & member of THE
CHURCH and The Kingdom of
Or, could this coming to
belief...the above various phrases suggesting from "none" to "some" exercise of free
will...actually happen by way of different patterns or sequences of the above God-qualified
ways for different people to come to belief, all having some scriptural support? Throughout human
experience, has there actually been a mysterious
variety on a spectrum of none to some free will
component? [closing of minds of
Election: But, prior to atonement and justification, there was
"election". From the very beginning prior to creation, God has determined/known who will end
up in Heaven with Him for eternity. Those to be eternally Heaven-residing humans are called
"the elect" (or, does this really refer to the earthly segment of existence?)...such an individual being "an
elect", an "elect one", or an "elect person". The process of becoming an "elect one" is
called "election". Somehow, God knew/knows/determined who would be with Him eternally in
Heaven...He knew those who would/will be "saved". Peter says...does he?...that election was
by God's foreknowledge (1 Peter
Eternal salvation: derives from our sovereign God, by grace alone, because
- a person's election for
salvation (earthly or Heavenly?);
- the redemption
provided by Jesus to gain the sin pardon...His finished work;
- the divine drawing
(John 6:44) of the "elect" to God (earthly or Heavenly?);
- the conversion
(coming to belief) of the "elect" to a state of "belief" [see above]; and
- then the incoming
indwelling (spiritual baptism) of that elect one by the Holy Spirit (the power source) into the
elect one's spirit & Jesus' implanting of the faith (Acts 3:16; Hebrews 12:2) into the one becoming
saved. (Is that faith implanted before or after one "realizes"/"chooses"? Is it "activated
faith" when implanted or does "realizing"/"choosing" activate the
- then the works of
the fruits of that indwelling Holy Spirit.
And, guess what! God chose
(elected) each saved person
(Mark 13:20) by foreknowledge
(1 Peter 1:1-2&9) before
creation actually occurred (Ephesians 1:4)! Did you know that the
Bible never records Jesus telling a sinner that, "You are going to
No man seeks God, God seeks
you: God has indicated that no human
actually seeks Him on his own (Romans 3:11); God chooses His own
[citations] as noted,
below. It is God who saves. It is God who enables (draws) a person to come to Him (John 6:65). So, if you sense that you have
any interest at all (either positive or negative) in spiritual matters, that sensation may
well be evidence that God is calling to you ("drawing" you), as noted below. God has chosen
(set apart...elected) by foreknowledge (1 Peter 1:1-2) already as to all who
will, by the exercise of their free will, say "yes"...quit resisting...and all who will say
"no" & continue to resist. His desire is that all be saved...but He knows that all won't do
what needs to be done (see above). He would love it if all elect ones would say "yes" early
in life...but knows that they won't. With God having that foreknowledge (1 Peter 1:1-2&9) and being willing
to "let it happen" either way, one can say (and the Bible says so, Ephesians 1:5) that the outcome has
been predestined (set aside as fact)...almost like "prophecy fulfilled".
But there is a real chance that there is some REAL interpretation mystery about when
Scripture refers to Heaven-residing "eternal" life and earth-residing "eternal" life...so
that ALL humans might be Heaven bound.
It, therefore, seems to me to be His will
that your choice...whichever
way...be a fulfillment of His will (God's sovereignty is still intact). "Chose you
this day whom you will serve..." (Joshua 24:15). He knows what you will
do, and He is willing for that choice to be a fulfillment of His will. We call the "yes
choosers" (believers) "THE
ELECT" (the "who-so-ever will" believe), and the "no" people are
"who-so-ever won't believe"
(check the above link, because there are different groups of "The Elect"). But, I
can't rule out that "election" is just simply by divine determination
or input (rather than divine foreknowledge)...especially in view of Romans 9 (Romans 9:14-16 & 18, especially).
Maybe God elected, in the final analysis, everyone. "Election" is a spiritual
SOME FORM OF FREE WILL is a
factor: The exercising of "free
will" by a person neither automatically constitutes "boasting" nor serves as a basis for
boasting (at least in the context of becoming a Jesus believer). In that I favor believing
that "election" is by divine
foreknowledge (1 Peter 1:1-2),
then free will is a pivotal factor in "coming to belief". The strongest evidence for "free
will" (free agency) is the very implication of it relative to the issue of temptation and
sin. Without a dominant and divinely allowed "free will", there could be no choice about sin
(to "do" the sin or not do it) or love or anything else! Without free will, love could not be
freely expressed and come across as true love! [strongly implying free will,
see: Genesis 2:16-17 and 4:7; Deuteronomy 11:27; Joshua 24:15; I Kings 18:21; Proverbs 1:29-30; Luke 16:19-31; and Romans 10:14] Jesus
died between two thieves, only one of whom asked to be with Him in eternity (and Jesus did not turn to
the other thief and say, "And if you don't also quickly ask, you will go to Hell!" Why didn't
Jesus tug at the other thief?)!
I speculate that God must want to see the
salvation process played out in each person; and I also speculate that part of the duty of
the Holy Spirit is to capitalize on an individual's life events
involving "the elect" in such a way as to urge them or twinge their spirits toward
receptivity of, or hearing of (having "ears to hear"), the Gospel of Jesus
Christ: Jesus calls The
Elect (John 10:16) (mostly through the actions
and words of those who lift Jesus up?). One way or another, sooner or later, an "elect"
person will "listen" (I John 4:6).
And someone, therefore, has to "tell"; then the elect person must hear &
(having been divinely given the faith to believe) believe. The people asked Jesus, "What must
we do to do the works God requires?" Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in
the one he has sent [Jesus]." (John 6:28-29) Similarly, the command (Hebrews 5:9) to obey
Jesus is thought by me to be addressing the same thing...believe. People "tell"..."telling"
equals evangelizing in all of the possible evangelistic ways.
Recap: No human will seek God (Romans 3:10...11...12) on his own! Anyone inquiring of a
god may be being stimulated or drawn by the Holy Spirit. Even being an Elect (a chosen one),
no one goes in the direction of God until "drawn" by God (John 6:44). Yet, having been chosen (and
through God's grace & sovereignty...in view of His foreknowledge), the saved person's
free will is going to chose "yes", as follows.
Why believers on earth:
When a person "comes to belief", why would Jesus leave that "elect" person here on earth?
Couldn't he/she praise, worship, and fellowship better in heaven with heaven-residing,
glorified bodies and voices? Yes, but we have an implicit, basic function still on earth: we
must "tell" others the good news.
Believers must tell: "Telling" is what begins to happen when a person gives his or her life to Christ. He Gospel-spreading or evangelizing (public or quietly
private) Christian is an ambassador for Christ (II Corinthians 5:17-21) whose job is to
tell the gospel story (the good news) to any who will listen. It's NOT that Christian's job (he/she has no power to do so) to
actually bring the non-believer into Christianity (into "belief"). That action/result rests
on whether the individual IS one of the elect ones who will say "yes". We may
agonize...we don't know/have fore-knowledge...as we participate, hoping that the person will
"decide" to become a "believer" AND will act on the convicting/convincing influence of the
Holy Spirit. It is Jesus'
job (see John 6:65 about God enabling & see John 6:37 about "...all that the Father gives me will come to
me,...", and see John 10:25-30 about the sheep the Father has given to Jesus) to bring
in The Elect through the work
of the Holy Spirit and the evangelizing activities of The Church Universal via The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). When we believers
speak of "winning a soul for Jesus", it only means that we merely participated with Jesus. We
do so by being willing, available, bold, persuasive, and prayerful as Jesus does His work
through us...using us to "tell", either directly or by example. In the vast majority of
cases, it is God's will that each person make a choice; and, it seems to me, His will is
fulfilled by whichever the choice..."yes" or "no". Again, though: does this relate to just
earthly salvation or not [here]?
Jesus' job: I know that Jesus can not fail at His job...the bringing in of those who God already
knows will say "yes" (that God has given to Jesus...John 6:37)...the ones that Jesus (always
in line with the will of God), therefore, chooses (Matthew 11:27). Jesus is the author of a
person's faith (Hebrews
12:2)...the Implanter of the willingness and faith into a God-enabled person (John 6:65) to (1) say "yes" and (2) to
faithfully be a Jesus follower...having begun a new work which He will carry to completion
(Philippians 1:6). So, in a very real sense, THE TRUTH is that eternal salvation is pre-ordained (God already
knows who will say "yes") and non-optional (the fore-knowledge-like choosing and enabling by
God, the shepherding of Jesus, and the work of the Holy Spirit will succeed) through the sovereign will of God and the
effectiveness of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. As such, election is divinely determined...the
number of those who will be saved is fixed. But, make no mistake about it: the
individual must make the choice as part of the mystery of the perfect interaction of the
attributes of God and the various functions of the persons of the Trinity with the individual
person and his/her level of free will expressed as a component of his/her personhood! And it
might apply to all humans...this is worth serious thought (but note, above, the guaranteed Way).
The Bible indicates a few exceptions to free-will
choice. The story of Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-19) does not reflect any
definite "yes" decision on Paul's part...he was just dramatically converted into a Jesus
follower and believer! The demon-possessed man seems to have been converted (Mark 5:1-20) against his very desire. So,
in exceptional situations, the Bible record clearly indicates that conversion can be done
without free will choice. And, I just don't know how God will have Jesus bring in His
original elect group, the people of the nation of Israel (nor do I know who those persons actually were/are...see Romans 9 [especially 9:6-9 &
9:14-16]). But Jesus died for ALL!
Conversion timing: I wonder if it is God's will that the timing of when "yes" is said might be the real "wild card"
variable related to free will and how hard-headed each individual is...or even (not even
being hard-headed) just being satisfied (through a relative lack of interest) at some stage
of being "drawn" toward belief...not yet a new creation...& yet thinking/considering
oneself a true believer?
The timing can make all the difference between a
long earthly life of fulfillment and service or only a very short period on earth of the joy of the new birth.
I've never known a new or revitalized believer who did not deeply regret not having said
"yes" sooner! It is the evangelizing Christian's blessing to be allowed to be part of that
effort and that moment when a non-believer becomes a believer...that moment of transformation
from just existing into truly living! As illustrated by the case of Zacchaeus the tax
collector, another human can never guess who some of the Elect actually are. Yet Jesus brings
them in and accepts the Elect just as they are: a "yes" is just as effective for a person
currently caught up in crime and perversion as it is for a person currently living the life
of a good person with very high values, standards, and morals (see Luke 19:1-10).
As to justification for eternity (if true), a
"yes" one minute before death is just as effective as a "yes" at age 12 in a man now 96 years
old. The latter will, however, have lived a life of assurance, contribution, and Christian
servant-hood...a "fulfilled and joyful" life filled with peace while on earth. The
former...hard-headed, stiff-necked, and self-centered...will have wasted the life on
Calvinism: For your information...and I have not seriously dug into
this..."Calvinism" (the system of theological thinking which grew out of Calvin's writings)
is said to take the position that God has actually ordained each human to heaven or hell (double predestination), there being no free will
choice, grace simply having been granted to certain persons through an unknown &
mysterious process of the inscrutable mind of God. I hear that this derives out of Calvin's
focus on the primacy and centrality of the sovereignty of God. But "Calvinism" is said to
have gone beyond what John Calvin actually thought and said. Were this a correct
interpretation, it would be a sort of pre-existent fatalism; what would be the reason for The
Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20? Why would God be
said to not be willing that any should be lost (Matthew 18:14 & II Peter 3:9)? Could there be
inscrutable, divine thinking which no man could grasp that would make such humanly illogical
contradictions become reasonable?
Summary: In effect, God chose (as
explained, above) the individuals of "The Elect" before creation. It is His desire that all persons
achieve eternal salvation, but it is a satisfaction of His "will" that the elect say "yes" (come to
belief) and all others...those who resist...say "no" (don't come to belief). Whether a person says
"yes" or "no" has to do with an inscrutable admixture of:
- a person's having been
chosen by God.
- the drawing &
evangelizing influences of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the "body of believers" of the
- and a person's
accepting or resisting through "free will".
believe that scripture having to do with "election" is not crystal-clear and precisely defining of
how election works. It will always contain mystery...the mind of God can not be fully scrutinized
(Isaiah 55:8)...because we can only
know about aspects and things and details to the point that God has chosen to reveal
them. Election is a mystery! While serious
and well-meaning thinkers will continue to speculate on, and lobby for, different routes to eternal
life with God, God's WORD [the Bible] is clear that:
- God has a love for
mankind which is (by human standards) lavish, wasteful, extreme, unjust, unreasonable, and
undeserved (Luke 15:11-32...remember
the prodigal son [discussion]).
- there most assuredly
is a guaranteed "Way" to eternal life with God.
Can you believe it?...do you "get it"?...can you
get a grip on the love that Jesus must have for me or you in order to die in my/your place?
[did you see Mel Gibson's movie, The
Passion of The Christ?] Will I/you value that love or treat it casually, indifferently,
lightly...no study, no worship, no prayer, no fellowship, no service/work, and no "telling"
about the good news and love of Jesus? All of the above indicates that we do not "work" to be
saved. It is wrong to think: "We have to get it right because our eternal salvation is at
stake!" What could be more "works based" than that? "Works" flow from the fruits of (the
indwelling" Holy Spirit. Those who are blessed to appreciate the VALUE of their election to
salvation will want to work...do "works"...BECAUSE they are
THE GREATEST EVENT IN HUMAN
HISTORY was the coming of Jesus
Christ into the world. "Eternal salvation" for a person is (1) their time on earth plus (2) all of the rest of eternity thereafter! The original son of God was Adam (Luke 3:38), having been fashioned
directly by God. Sin entered the human race through this "first" Adam. And there has never
since been a natural human who could be pure...perfectly sin-free for an entire
lifetime: the requirement to dwell for eternity in Heaven with the Holy and perfectly pure
Almighty God! Jesus...the "second Adam"...brought God to man, being God as a man. Jesus lived
as The Word, as God as the Son, yet (as Jesus often said) the Son of Man (born of a human).
But, He, too, is the sin-free obedient son of God. Like the prodigal son, every human has "left"
God and become lost. All of past, current, and future mankind are each and every single one
sinners. And Jesus was sent as the true Savior to die, being the only absolutely
blemish-free, perfect representative of the human race qualifying as an acceptable,
sacrificial trade-off to nullify past, present, and future sin (to redeem & pay the
atonement price for all humans). In all those who will believe in Jesus (by this true belief,
you must be saved...and be presented righteous before God), Jesus
provides the justification for eternal life in Heaven with God (if justification is truly
required...check here). Jesus
substituted for all of sinful mankind and won (gained) a general pardon...Jesus
paid the "sin debt" in full, for all of mankind, and for all time! The only "cost" for
this eternal salvation of your soul is the cost of your sin. Jesus has already paid that
debt. We are all sinners saved by the grace of God through Jesus. The only "catch" (if there is one...check here)? YOU have to prayerfully tell Jesus that you need Him and the gift of his debt payment. YOU have to take the
ACTION of accepting his guarantee of forgiveness and eternal
salvation! YOU must actually "pick up" that "get out of jail free"
ticket, yourself...you must say "yes". Doing this causes "justification". Don't worry
about The Crusades or the hypocrites...what does that have to do with YOU and Jesus? The very moment that you truly accept your
share of that general pardon & accept Jesus as your Lord and savior, you are instantly
indwelt by the Holy Spirit and immediately become a new creature...a new creation. Your
"position" as one of Jesus' own makes you holy and blameless in God's sight, making you
instantly back into a "right relationship", a saint qualified for Heaven (or did Jesus' death
already do this?)! Whatever the answer to the mystery of salvation, you don't need a
religion, you need a Savior...Jesus!!!
"The lost" are those who (1) face life on earth
without the indwelling Holy Spirit & who (2) many think will face the Great White Throne
Judgment without the divine advocate, Jesus the Messiah. If you are lost, there is no sin or
sinful life too bad for Jesus to fix. Jesus' followers are ALL sinners saved by grace! Will you have to give up cultures or interest groups or
jobs if you become a Jesus believer & follower? No! Must you join a church? No! Note
these types of believer groups HERE. Elsewhere, I have made note
that children (those too young to "know") seem to have a Jesus-protected status. And, Jesus
alludes (John 9:41) to a special status for those who are innocently "blind" to The Truth and
are, therefore not guilty of sin (would this cover those who have not had the
opportunity to hear the gospel?). And God is still sovereign (Romans 9:6-9 &
WHAT IF, RIGHT NOW, YOU JUST REALIZED THAT
YOU ARE NOT GUARANTEED SAVED...not a believer with "saving belief"...are one who has not
"come to belief"? Or, having previously thought that you were saved, you have become
unsure...now lacking a true state of assurance?
SINNER'S PRAYER; PLAN OF
Get down on your knees and begin a prayer
to God Almighty...along these lines:
God: "Father, I sense the need for a real change
in my life and ask, through your son, Jesus Christ, that my prayer be heard..."
- KNOW THAT
GOD LOVES YOU: "I've heard that you,
the greatest being in all of the universe, love me; And I want to believe
- Confess your
sin: "I know that I am not perfect and
worthy on my own; I've either made a mess of my life or find my life incomplete. I'm maybe filthy and awful...but
I've heard that you'll accept me just as I am! I must be a sinner; I've heard that sin
separates me from you, and I don't want that. I believe I am a sinner and confess my
- Admit God's
gift: "I can't be perfectly good all the time on my own; I've heard how you sent your son Jesus
to die and pay the sacrifice for sin and take away my sin; I want to acknowledge and believe
that God did this for me...gave me this free gift...I know that, all by myself, I could not
make things right between me and you: I need a savior."
- Now, ACCEPT God's
Love, Grace and Gift: "I accept the
gift of everlasting and eternal salvation, and I know that I don't deserve it or have any right
to it...I accept Jesus as MY savior."
- CALL on the
Lord, NOW: "Dear God, please have
mercy upon me because I know that I'm a sinner. Please forgive me of all of my sins. I know Jesus died
on the cross for me, and I know that it's His blood that washes my sins away. I know he was
buried and that you raised Him on the third day. Now, in the name of Jesus, will you please
come live in my heart as the Holy Spirit and save my soul. With your help, I will be as true to
Jesus as He will help me to be for the rest of my days. Thank you for saving me! I praise you
and thank you in Jesus' name, Amen."
- What you get: You get the most thorough and complete eternal Salvation (1) the indwelling of the Holy Spirit inside of you to whisper guiding commentary to help YOU discern the path (choices) on earth toward what is meant for "good" for YOU and away from "bad/evil" that will delay or damage you; and (2) this eternally personally indwelling Holy Spirit is to mediate and effect a perfect afterlife communion between you and the deepest love of the Almighty God of true (agape) love. AND, while on earth in this life, you get (3) the eternal benefit of Jesus' love (a personal Divine perfect friend and One who loves you with the deepest and most genuine & authentic & dependable love that is possible in the entire universe!).
For an excellent graphical and step-by-step portrayal of the decision
to accept the precious gift of Jesus, one used to be able to go to a seminary page (it had courtesy of
NOBTS)....and for a graphic of the problem that is thereby solved, check this out, too! Coming to belief in Jesus guarantees the full span (depth and breadth) of
eternal salvation & on into Heaven (it also may be that Jesus got everyone headed
there anyhow)...whether Holy Spirit indwelt or not, HERE.
To read the entire several pages you are now on from
the beginning, click here. To review, on this website, the Good
News (Gospel) of Jesus, check this out.
***If you just made a prayer
commitment to trust and
believe in Jesus,
please e-mail me and tell me about
***give me your comments about this
check out the Highest
(begun in 1996, posted July 1998; latest partial adjusting, 5 September 2016)