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1951
Choose Your Own Topic / Re: Why does God care about beliefs so much?
« on: October 01, 2012, 03:26:08 pm »
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(1) Why should people be doing good simply to enter heaven?
They shouldn't.  Christians should do good because they should love God and love others.
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(2) I don't like your (mistaken) version of a works-based system either. I would prefer more of an intent based system of salvation.
Whether we're talking about the actual action, or the intent behind the action, a works based Salvation is a system in which we could be nothing but paranoid that our bad doesn't outweigh our good.  Again, how much is saving a drowning child worth? Is it worth 2 lies? Nah, probably 10 lies and 1 instance of stealing.  Because saving a life is a real good good.  I feel bad for my 4 year old son though, he's off to a tough start.  Even though he's generally pretty "good" He does have a lot of trouble sharing with his younger brother.  He also seems to covet a lot, and he's even told one or two lies.  He's in trouble right now if Salvation is works based. 

Whether you liked my example of Islam or not, it's still based in reality.  The Qur'an teaches a works based faith. And those Muslims that blow themselves up are doing so because the Qur'an tells them that Allah will let them into Heaven because of that action. 

As someone who does have faith in the God of the Bible, I am incredibly thankful that my Salvation is not dependent upon works.

1952
Choose Your Own Topic / Re: Why does God care about beliefs so much?
« on: October 01, 2012, 03:05:51 pm »
Cole:
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The reason God cares about beliefs so much is beliefs affect emotions and emotions affect behavior.
That isn't true from a Christian perspective.  For a Christian, belief is foundational because we are born with an inherited sinful nature and need actual forgiveness of our sins.  Belief in who Christ is and in His atoning work on the cross is what leads to forgiveness. 

From a Christian perspective, forgiveness is a real thing that happens, an actual event. Salvation comes as a result of belief, and then a real and actual change takes place.  The moment in which a person comes to believe in Christ as their Lord and Savior, they are forgiven of their sins, and even the Holy Spirit Himself comes and dwells within the Christian.  They are guided by the Holy Spirit and can have an actual and real relationship with Christ.

1953
Choose Your Own Topic / Re: Why does God care about beliefs so much?
« on: October 01, 2012, 12:24:16 pm »
GRWelsh, maybe this will help in your semantical game.  I like the way the Hyundai Genesis looks more than the Infiniti G37 coupe. However, because I do not believe that the Hyundai will be as reliable, I will buy the G37 coupe.  Now, if every single person who was cross shopping those two cars came to the same conclusion as I did, then Hyundai would be in trouble. 

Let's say I really like, like really really like how comfortable Lazy Boy recliners are.  But, unfortunately I recently read an article that showed Lazy Boy is now using materials that are toxic.  If everyone on the planet read that article and believed it, then nobody would go and buy a Lazy Boy recliner, even if they really really liked them.  Thus, non-belief in the reliability of Lazy Boy is their greatest threat to them as it will put them out of business.

All of our actions are based upon our beliefs.  if I believe that God exists and that He has revealed Himself through the person of Jesus Christ and that the Bible is True, then I am going to act differently than someone who does not hold that belief.  Likewise, the Muslim who believes that the Qur'an is from God might think it's OK to blow themselves up to get to Paradise. 

So really, it's kind of silly, or rather, it's kind of stating the obvious that not believing something is a threat to that object, or idea.

Ironically, Scripture actually kind of agrees with you GRWelsh. The only unpardonable sin in Christianity is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.  Or put another way, the only sin that is unforgivable is the sin of unbelief ;)  Meaning,  Jesus' work on the cross is sufficient to forgive all the sins that all people have committed.  The only thing that Jesus cannot forgive, is the person who does not believe, or does not want to be forgiven.  So non-belief, as Scripture says, is the greatest threat to mankind, as non-belief is the only thing that Christ can't forgive.

1954
Choose Your Own Topic / Re: Why does God care about beliefs so much?
« on: October 01, 2012, 10:47:56 am »
Mae:
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It is that your works reveal your heart. Character outweighs beliefs
I believe I adequately demonstrated in my previous post that this is certainly not always the case. I gave a few examples that showed this, so I don't think it is necessary to post the 10,000 more that any of us could easily come up with. 
Mae:
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If there is an afterlife, then I can't see how God would weigh belief above character.
In a way, He doesn't.  If we accept that Christianity is true, then all of us are born with an inherited sinful nature. When a person choose to believe in Christ, a real and actual change occurs.  The person in some real spiritual sense goes from death to life and becomes an adopted heir of Christ.  Their sins are in a very real way forgiven.  The person is redeemed, and holy. They are given a new heart and the Holy Spirit comes and dwells inside of them.  This is what Christianity teaches.  As I've said previously, the Christian is seen by God as righteous, because they are covered by Christ.  Christ IS the righteousness of the Christian. 

Now, a Christian can still sin, and does every single day.  Sanctification (the process of becoming more like Christ) is a daily process that does not end until Christ returns and we are given a fully redeemed and perfect body. 

Romans 5:18
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So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted in justification of life to all men.


I don't feel the need to repeat myself, so please read my previous post and you'll see my explanation as to why a works based Salvation is completely inferior to a faith based Salvation. 

Overall, this is actually a silly conversation in my opinion to even have with an atheist.  What I'm doing is simply explaining what the Bible teaches regarding Salvation.  If you don't even believe that God exists, why would you even care to engage in a conversation about how God ought to allow people into Heaven? Seems to me we're jumping the gun a bit here. 

I also find it almost humorous how all the atheists here seem to know exactly how they would act if they were God and how it is apparently better than how God acts now (assuming God is real).  It's just funny to me because if God is actually real, and if the Bible is actually true, then it's funny to watch people yell at God and tell Him how they are smarter than He is and actually know how the world in which they are but a speck ought to operate. 

On the flipside, if there is no God as atheists believe, then what's the point of even having a theological conversation over the merits of Christian salvation, why even care?


1955
Choose Your Own Topic / Re: Why does God care about beliefs so much?
« on: October 01, 2012, 07:20:12 am »
Saibomb:
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I never said either person deserves to go to heaven. What I did ask was, however, if one was superior to the other? Clearly if you are to claim one has been forgiven and the other has not, you are claiming one is in a superior state, are you not?
Sure, the person who has been forgiven of their sins and no longer has a sinful nature is in a morally "superior" state than the person who is still dead in their sins. I don't have any problem saying that.

Personally, I think a works based Salvation system would be horrible.  How would one ever know when they had done enough good works to enter heaven? Would each good work count as one tally and each bad work count as one negative tally? Or would certain good works count for two points while certain bad works counted for 4 points? Would I only get 1 negative mark against me for telling a white lie, but 5 negative marks for stealing a candy bar?

A works based Salvation seems pretty horrible to me.  What if I had been a pretty bad person for the last few years, but then dove in front of a car to save a grandma from being run over and then died.  Do you think that act would have earned enough good points to overcome my current deficit?

Islam teaches a works based Salvation which is why you sometimes see Muslims blowing themselves up and taking some infidels with them in Allah's name.  They believe that particular act guartentees them a spot in Heaven. Yay for works based faiths, right?!

No, I'm glad it doesn't work that way, nor would I ever want it to.  I've done lots of bad things in my life. I've lied a lot, I've said a lot of mean things.  I would hope that I've done more good things than bad things, but it doesn't matter to me because in the end, I know my Salvation is based upon the person of Christ, and not what I have or haven't done.

Works are a tricky thing altogether.  As J.Ros pointed out earlier, if two people are pushing a button (committing the exact same action), but one believes the button kills people, while the other believes the button saves people, surely even though they are committing the same action their moral character is different.

Likewise, if I'm driving 100mph down the road because I think it's fun and I don't care about the school zone I'm driving through, certainly that's different than the person who's doing the identical action I am but it's because they're rushing to the hospital to save the person who's having a heart attack in the back seat.  Same action + different reason for the action = different moral character not based upon the action.

Or let's say you saw a mother lose her grip on her baby stroller and the stroller start to roll out into the road. You and somebody else both lunge out to save the baby even though you're risking your own life to do so.  You did it because you recognize that good works will get you into heaven.  So you actually don't care about the baby, you just see this as an opportunity to get a solid 10 point bonus because surely saving a baby is worth a few extra points! However, the other person, being a parent themself, understands the value of that child and would never want to see that child die, or that family go through the loss of a child.  Therefore, out of selflessness and love, he tries to save the child.  Is one better in that instance? Is one "more moral" than the other?

I think you're missing half the equation when you suggest that the only thing that matters are the actions that we can see.  The heart does playa role.

Again, I'm glad Salvation is not based upon works. I think it would be a much more inferior system than the one that God has instituted.

1956
Choose Your Own Topic / Re: Why does God care about beliefs so much?
« on: September 30, 2012, 08:26:44 pm »
Saibomb:
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Now my question is, under the assumption that Christian theism is true, what is inferior about Person B compared to Person A? Remember, morally they are equivalent,
I think this might be the key here. From the Christian perspective, the two people are not morally equivalent, though their actions may be similar. Christianity teaches that we are all born sinners.  We are all born with a sinful nature and in need of forgiveness.

Christianity is unique in this aspect as Salvation is entirely dependent upon the work of Christ on the cross, and not of our good actions. We cannot "earn" a spot in heaven.  We cannot remove our sinful nature by any work of our own. It does not matter how morally I behave, if I have a sinful nature, I cannot enter Heaven.  It is only those that have been forgiven of their sins that can enter Heaven.

in the Gosepl of John, Jesus says, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, nobody comes to the Father except through me. As I said earlier, A Christian is righteous not because of their works, but because they are covered by Christ.  My righteousness IS Christ.

Therefore, while the actions of a non-Christian may be "better" than the actions of a Christian, it is the Christian that has been forgiven of their sins because it is the Christian that has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  It is the Christian that has been brought from death to life, and has been given a new heart, and it is the Christian who has been adopted into the Kingdom of God.

So going back to the title of this discussion - that is why God care's so much about beliefs.  Because at the end of the day, we are incapable of removing our sinful nature by our works.  It is only through faith in Christ that our sins can be removed.

From a Christian perspective, none of us deserve forgiveness, and none of us deserve to go to heaven.  It is only by grace that we have the opportunity to be forgiven. 

GRWelsh:
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But in Christianity, "not believing" is a bad thing because it is a threat to the religion itself
I've seen you say this a few times, and as it's part of your signature, clearly you think it's quite the zinger.  Now, I don't mean to be condescending or rude, but frankly, it seems a rather pointless thing to say. 

Couldn't we say the same thing about everything? Isn't the greatest threat to a singer that everyone will stop believing that they are good and that they don't have CDs worth buying? If that happened, then their record label would probably drop them and they wouldn't make any more money.

If everyone believed that all Toyota vehicles had bombs planted in the gas tanks and would explode after owning them for 30 days, I don't think anyone would ever buy a new Toyota again.  That particular belief would probably ruin the company.

Our actions are a result of our belief system. Sure, you're right that not believing in God would prevent someone from becoming a Christian.  But the same would be true of all religions, not just Christianity. 

Isn't it kind of a "duh" statement to say that not believing something is the greatest "threat" to whatever the thing is? The greatest threat to car makers is that people won't like their cars. The greatest threat to musicians is that people won't like their music.  The greatest threat to the iPhone is that people will like the Galaxy more! The greatest threat to McDonalds is that people will realize getting fat is bad... etc etc etc...

1957
Choose Your Own Topic / Re: Why does God care about beliefs so much?
« on: September 30, 2012, 11:42:59 am »
Saibomb:
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My question is, at least for this particular 'belief', what difference does it make if one does believe or not, IF the belief does NOT change their moral character

It matters because Scripture teaches that Salvation is not based upon works, but by grace, through faith.  Scripture teaches that all people are born sinners in need of forgiveness. It matters because Scripture teaches that Salvation comes through and only through the atoning work of Jesus.  Therefore, in order to receive Salvation one must first believe that Jesus died and rose from the dead to forgive them of their sins. Belief comes first.

Scripture also teaches that when we are forgiven we are in some spiritual sense crucified with Christ and are given a new heart. Scripture teaches that we become holy and righteous - because Christ is our righteousness.
 
When I became a Christian there absolutely was a change in my character. Everyone around me, all the people who were my friends noticed a total change in my character.  This is the work of the Holy Spirit.  Sanctification is a daily process in which the more a Christian grows in their relationship with Christ, the more they become like Christ.

So from the viewpoint of a Christian, everything starts with belief in Christ.

1958
Choose Your Own Topic / Re: Satan sinned in Heaven?
« on: September 29, 2012, 04:47:39 pm »
Brent asks:
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have you ever read anything other than Christian apologetics?
Yes.

1959
Choose Your Own Topic / Re: Why does God care about beliefs so much?
« on: September 29, 2012, 02:35:44 pm »
GRWelsh:
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Because non-belief is the greatest threat.  How is that a threat to God?  It's not, but whether or not God exists or not, non-belief is a threat to Christianity.  And that is why God, according to Christianity, cares about beliefs so much...It never made sense to me that the most important point of salvation was that you believed in the Christian God.
I'm not sure why this should be surprising or confusing to anyone. Our actions stem from our beliefs. If I believe that Christ was real and that He died on the cross for my sins, then I am going to act differently than a person who believes that life is essentially meaningless.  I believe that speeding past a police officer will get me a ticket, so I act accordingly and don't speed past one. I believe that if I don't go to work I won't make any money, so I go to work. I believe that my car needs gas to operate, so I will stop at the gas station next time I drive my car, etc...

Isn't it kind of a "duh" statement to say that belief precedes action?

The reason that Christianity places such a large emphasis on believing in Christ is because Salvation is a free gift that is not dependent upon our works. We don't earn Salvation, it's by grace, through faith that we are forgiven.

1960
Choose Your Own Topic / Re: Satan sinned in Heaven?
« on: September 29, 2012, 12:48:09 pm »
GRWelsh, I think the problem with the quote you provided is that it doesn't make sense, nor do I know of any theologian that would say whatever Dan was trying to.

I think I adequately addressed this issue when I said that the only way a created entity could have any sort of meaningful relationship with another entity would be if the created entity was able to choose not to have a relationship. Love is not love if it is forced.

Could God have created a universe where He created beings with no free will? Sure, but while we may not understand why that world wouldn't be better, it would seem that this is the world that God wanted.


1961
Choose Your Own Topic / Re: Satan sinned in Heaven?
« on: September 29, 2012, 07:40:04 am »
Brent observes that:   
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Jesus came late in the history of man. Most people who have lived and died had never heard of Jesus or Yahweh.
following the narrative of Scripture we see that originally everyone on the planet originally knew who God was. Thus, at some point in early history man stopped worshipping God and stopped sharing the Truth. The reason there are people that don't know Yahweh and/or Christ is because we stopped sharing. Again, the responsibility is ours, not God's.

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Terrible? It's obscene. It's tragic, unconscionable. If there is something called evil, then the death of a starving child every 5 seconds is Evil.
Again, I agree that there is evil in the world. Terrible evil. And seemingly pointless evil and suffering as well. But I think it's worth noting that the only way we can even talk about good and evil with any sort of meaning is if there is something that is objectively evil. And as you're a member of this forum, I would assume you have seen WLC demonstrate how objective morality can only exist if there is an objective standard which cannot be given by man. Only God could provide an objective standard of morality. Indeed, it was this very truth that helped lead C.S.Lewis to Christ.

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By burning Muslim children for eternity?
Hell is definitely something difficult to deal with. Even within Christianity different people have suggested different ideas. Some take a purgatory approach by saying eventually people can get out of hell. Others say that hell is only temporary and eventually all non-believers are eventually annihilated. Unfortunately, this isn't what Christ taught in Scriptures.

In the end, I believe that all people have a chance to find Christ, even if they are born and raised  in a place where Christ isn't known. The punishment of sin is death, and we have all sinned. And as our sin is ultimately a sin against an eternal being, our sins carry an eternal punishment. People are not in hell because God sent them there, people are in hell because they rejected God.

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we are under a curse. Who cursed us?
The curse came about as a result of our choice to sin. But the good news is that through Jesus we can find forgiveness of our sins.

I find it intriguing at just how hard you are trying to blame a God you don't even believe exists for your own sin.

1962
Choose Your Own Topic / Re: Satan sinned in Heaven?
« on: September 28, 2012, 07:50:01 am »
Brent asks:
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So you would love someone just because he brought untold pain and suffering to billions of people


I John 4:14-19: We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us.

As I explained above, the only way to create an entity that can have an honest and real relationship with you is if you allow that entity to choose otherwise.  Love is not love if it is forced.  I never could have forced my wife to love me, that is a choice that she has made (and thankfully still continues to make!). 

We are responsible for our actions.  God does not force someone to murder another.  That is their choice. God did not force Adam and Eve to sin in the garden, that was their choice.  The reason there are billions of people who do not have a personal relationship with Christ is not because He has not revealed Himself.

Romans 1:20: For since the creation of the world His [God] invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

Is there pain and suffering in the world? Certainly.  Is it terrible? Certainly.  But the pain and suffering is only temporary, and Christ will return and set all things right.  Both humanity and the earth have been under the curse of sin. When Christ returns he will redeem both mankind and creation.

1963
Choose Your Own Topic / Re: Satan sinned in Heaven?
« on: September 27, 2012, 02:58:02 pm »
GRWelsh:
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It's a problem because you have a scenario with a perfect and omniscient being creating imperfect, flawed beings and then sufficiently removing himself from the situation (providing enough 'epistemic distance') to allow them to make bad decisions and then punishing them for that.

Actually what we have is a perfect and omniscient being creating two perfect human beings.  Adam and Eve were not created imperfect or flawed. So how could two perfect human beings sin?

Simply put, love cannot be love if it is forced.  What we see in Christianity is God's desire to have a personal relationship with His creation.  Jesus summed up the entire OT law and everything the prophets said with two commands: Love God, and love others. This is the heart of the Gospel.  For God so love the world that He gave His only son.  Christ's love for us is what kept Him on the cross instead of coming down. 

The only way that I can be free to have a truly loving and honest relationship with God is if I am free to choose otherwise.  This, IMO, is why God allows evil to exist.  For without the possibility of choosing evil, I cannot truly love Christ. 

In fact, I would go so far as to say that the most loving thing a perfect and omnicient being could do would be to create other beings to enjoy Himself.  What could be greater than to have a personal relationship, know, and worship the Creator of everything? So it's not that God is some narcisstic being that wants to be worshipped - He's perfectly benevolent and is so loving that He's willing to create other beings with the ability to enjoy Himself.  I can know of no greater joy than to have a personal relationship with God Himself.


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