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An essay about religious beliefs by Larry Langston
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According to Jesus Christ, and according to the indisputable facts of the case, some evil spirit has dominion in this imperfect world. But there will come a time when the human mind shall be visited exclusively by the influences of the benignant Power. Men shall die, and their bodies shall rot under the ground; all the organs through which their knowledge and their feelings have flowed, or in which they have originated, shall assume other forms, and become ministrant to purposes the most foreign from their former tendencies.

There is a time when we shall neither be heard or be seen by the multitude of beings like ourselves by whom we have been so long surrounded. They shall go to graves; where then? It appears that we moulder to a heap of senseless dust; to a few worms, that arise and perish, like ourselves. Jesus Christ asserts that these appearances are fallacious, and that a gloomy and cold imagination alone suggests the conception that thought can cease to be.

Another and a more extensive state of being, rather than the complete extinction of being will follow from that mysterious change which we call Death. There shall be no misery, no pain, no fear. The empire of evil spirits extends not beyond the boundaries of the grave. The unobscured irradiations from the fountain-fire of all goodness shall reveal all that is mysterious and unintelligible, until the mutual communications of knowledge and of happiness throughout all thinking natures, constitute a harmony of good that ever varies and never ends.

This is Heaven, when pain and evil cease, and when the Benignant Principle, untrammelled and uncontrolled, visits in the fulness of its power the universal frame of things. Human life, with all its unreal ills and transitory hopes, is as a dream, which departs before the dawn, leaving no trace of its evanescent lines.

All that it contains of pure or of divine visits the passive mind in some serenest mood. Most holy are the feelings through which our fellow beings are rendered dear and [venerable] to the heart. The remembrance of their sweetness, and the completion of the hopes which they [excite], constitute, when we awaken from the sleep of life, the fulfilment of the prophecies of its most majestic and beautiful visions. We die, says Jesus Christ; and, when we awaken from the languor of disease, the glories and the happiness of Paradise are around us.

All evil and pain have ceased for ever. Our happiness also corresponds with, and is adapted to, the nature of what is most excellent in our being. We see God, and we see that he is good. How delightful a picture, even if it be not true! How magnificent is the conception which this bold theory suggests to the contemplation, even if it be no more than the imagination of some sublimest and most holy poet, who, impressed with the loveliness and majesty of his own nature, is impatient and discontented with the narrow limits which this imperfect life and the dark grave have assigned for ever as his melancholy portion.

It is not to be believed that Hell, or punishment, was the conception of this daring mind. It is not to be believed that the most prominent group of this picture, which is framed so heart-moving and lovely—the accomplishment of all human hope, the extinction of all morbid fear and anguish—would consist of millions of sensitive beings enduring, in every variety of torture which Omniscient vengeance could invent, immortal agony.

Jesus Christ opposed with earnest eloquence the panic fears and hateful superstitions which have enslaved mankind for ages. Nations had risen against nations, employing the subtlest devices of mechanism and mind to waste, and excruciate, and overthrow.

The great community of mankind had been subdivided into ten thousand communities, each organized for the ruin of the other. Wheel within wheel, the vast machine was instinct with the restless spirit of desolation. Pain had been inflicted; therefore, pain should be inflicted in return. Retaliation of injuries is the only remedy which can be applied to violence, because it teaches the injurer the true nature of his own conduct, and operates as a warning against its repetition.

Nor must the same measure of calamity be returned as was received. If a man borrows a certain sum from me, he is bound to repay that sum. Shall no more be required of the enemy who destroys my reputation, or ravages my fields? It is just that he should suffer ten times the loss which he has inflicted, that the legitimate consequences of his deed may never be obliterated from his remembrance, and that others may clearly discern and feel the danger of invading the peace of human society.

Such reasonings, and the impetuous feelings arising from them, have armed nation against nation, family against family, man against man. An Athenian soldier, in the Ionian army which had assembled for the purpose of vindicating the liberty of the Asiatic Greeks, accidentally set fire to Sardis.

The city, being composed of combustible materials, was burned to the ground. The Persians believed that this circumstance of aggression made it their duty to retaliate on Athens. They assembled successive expeditions on the most extensive scale. Every nation of the East was united to ruin the Grecian States.

Athens was burned to the ground, the whole territory laid waste, and every living thing which it contained [destroyed]. After suffering and inflicting incalculable mischiefs, they desisted from their purpose only when they became impotent to effect it. The desire of revenge for the aggression of Persia outlived, among the Greeks, that love of liberty which bad been their most glorious distinction among the nations of mankind; and Alexander became the instrument of its completion.

The mischiefs attendant on this consummation of fruitless ruin are too manifold and too tremendous to be related. If all the thought which had been expended on the construction of engines of agony and death—the modes of aggression and defence, the raising of armies, and the acquirement of those arts of tyranny and falsehood without which mixed multitudes could neither be led nor governed—had been employed to promote the true welfare and extend the real empire of man, how different would have been the present situation of human society!

What nation has the example of the desolation of Attica by Mardonius and Xerxes, or the extinction of the Persian empire by Alexander of Macedon, restrained from outrage?

Was not the pretext of this latter system of spoliation derived immediately from the former? Had revenge in this instance any other effect than to increase, instead of diminishing, the mass of malice and evil already existing in the world?

The emptiness and folly of retaliation are apparent from every example which can be brought forward. Not only Jesus Christ, but the most eminent professors of every sect of philosophy, have reasoned against this futile superstition.

Legislation is, in one point of view, to be considered as an attempt to provide against the excesses of this deplorable mistake. It professes to assign the penalty of all private injuries, and denies to individuals the right of vindicating their proper cause.

This end is certainly not attained without some accommodation to the propensities which it desires to destroy. Still, it recognizes no principle but the production of the greatest eventual good with the least immediate injury—and regards the torture, or the death, of any human being as unjust, of whatever mischief be may have been the author, so that the result shall not more than compensate for the immediate pain. Mankind, transmitting from generation to generation the legacy of accumulated vengeances, and pursuing with the feelings of duty the misery of their fellow-beings, have not failed to attribute to the Universal Cause a character analogous with their own.

The image of this invisible, mysterious Being is more or less excellent and perfect—resembles more or less its original—in proportion to the perfection of the mind on which it is impressed. Thus, that nation which has arrived at the highest step in the scale of moral progression will believe most purely in that God, the knowledge of whose real attributes is considered as the firmest basis of the true religion.

The reason of the belief of each individual, also, will be so far regulated by his conceptions of what is good. Thus, the conceptions which any nation or individual entertains of the God of its popular worship may be inferred from their own actions and opinions, which are the subjects of their approbation among their fellow-men.

Jesus Christ instructed his disciples to be perfect, as their Father in Heaven is perfect, declaring at the same time his belief that human perfection requires the refraining from revenge and retribution in any of its various shapes.

The perfection of the human and the divine character is thus asserted to be the same. Man, by resembling God, fulfils most accurately the tendencies of his nature; and God comprehends within himself all that constitutes human perfection.

Thus, God is a model through which the excellence of man is to be estimated, whilst the abstract perfection of the human character is the type of the actual perfection of the divine. It is not to be believed that a person of such comprehensive views as Jesus Christ could have fallen into so manifest a contradiction as to assert that men would be tortured after death by that Being whose character is held up as a model to human kind, because he is incapable of malevolence and revenge.

All the arguments which have been brought forward to justify retribution fail, when retribution is destined neither to operate as an example to other agents, nor to the offender himself. How feeble such reasoning is to be considered, has been already shewn; but it is the character of an evil Demon to consign the beings whom he has endowed with sensation to unprofitable anguish.

The peculiar circumstances attendant on the conception of God casting sinners to burn in Hell for ever, combine to render that conception the most perfect specimen of the greatest imaginable crime. Jesus Christ represented God as the principle of all good, the source of all happiness, the wise and benevolent Creator and Preserver of all living things.

But the interpreters of his doctrines have confounded the good and the evil principle. They observed the emanations of their universal natures to be inextricably entangled in the world, and, trembling before the power of the cause of all things, addressed to it such flattery as is acceptable to the ministers of human tyranny, attributing love and wisdom to those energies which they felt to be exerted indifferently for the purposes of benefit and calamity.

Jesus Christ expressly asserts that distinction between the good and evil principle which it has been the practice of all theologians to confound. How far his doctrines, or their interpretation, may be true, it would scarcely have been worth while to inquire, if the one did not afford an example and an incentive to the attainment of true virtue, whilst the other holds out a sanction and apology for every species of mean and cruel vice. It cannot be precisely ascertained in what degree Jesus Christ accommodated his doctrines to the opinions of his auditors; or in what degree he really said all that he is related to have said.

He has left no written record of himself, and we are compelled to judge from the imperfect and obscure information which his biographers persons certainly of very undisciplined and undiscriminating minds have transmitted to posterity. These writers our only guides impute sentiments to Jesus Christ which flatly contradict each other. They represent him as narrow, superstitious, and exquisitely vindictive and malicious.

They insert, in the midst of a strain of impassioned eloquence or sagest exhortation, a sentiment only remarkable for its naked and drivelling folly. But it is not difficult to distinguish the inventions by which these historians have filled up the interstices of tradition, or corrupted the simplicity of truth, from the real character of their rude amazement.

They have left sufficiently clear indications of the genuine character of Jesus Christ to rescue it for ever from the imputations cast upon it by their ignorance and fanaticism. We discover that he is the enemy of oppression and of falsehood; that he is the advocate of equal justice; that he is neither disposed to sanction bloodshed nor deceit, under whatsoever pretences their practice may be vindicated.

We discover that he was a man of meek and majestic demeanour, calm in danger; of natural and simple thought and habits; beloved to adoration by his adherents; unmoved, solemn, and severe.

It is utterly incredible that this man said, that if you hate your enemy you would find it to your account to return him good for evil, since, by such a temporary oblivion of vengeance, you would heap coals of fire on his head. Where such contradictions occur, a favourable construction is warranted by the general innocence of manners and comprehensiveness of views which he is represented to possess.

The rule of criticism to be adopted in judging of the life, actions, and words of a man who has acted any conspicuous part in the revolutions of the world, should not be narrow. We ought to form a general image of his character and of his doctrines, and refer to this whole the distinct portions of action and speech by which they are diversified.

It is not here asserted that no contradictions are to be admitted to have taken place in the system of Jesus Christ, between doctrines promulgated in different states of feeling or information, or even such as are implied in the enunciation of a scheme of thought, various and obscure through its immensity and depth. It is not asserted that no degree of human indignation ever hurried him beyond the limits which his calmer mood had placed to disapprobation against vice and folly.

Those deviations from the history of his life are alone to be vindicated which represent his own essential character in contradiction with itself. These constitute the essential and distinctive character of every human being; to which every action and every word have intimate relation; and by which, in depicting a character, the genuineness and meaning of these words and actions are to be determined.

Every fanatic or enemy of virtue is not at liberty to misrepresent the greatest geniuses and most heroic defenders of all that is valuable in this mortal world. History, to gain any credit, must contain some truth, and that truth shall thus be made a sufficient indication of prejudice and deceit.

With respect to the miracles which these biographers have related, I have already declined to enter into any discussion on their nature or their existence. The supposition of their falsehood or their truth would modify in no degree the hues of the picture which is attempted to be delineated. To judge truly of the moral and philosophical character of Socrates, it is not necessary to determine the question of the familiar Spirit which [it] is supposed that he believed to attend on him.

Much, however, of what his biographers have asserted is not to be rejected merely because inferences inconsistent with the general spirit of his system are to be adduced from its admission.

Jesus Christ did what every other reformer who has produced any considerable effect upon the world has done. He accommodated his doctrines to the prepossessions of those whom he addressed. He used a language for this view sufficiently familiar to our comprehensions. He said,—However new or strange my doctrines may appear to you, they are in fact only the restoration and re-establishment of those original institutions and ancient customs of your own law and religion. The constitutions of your faith and policy, although perfect in their origin, have become corrupt and altered, and have fallen into decay.

I profess to restore them to their pristine authority and splendour. I am come not to destroy, but to fulfil. Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in nowise pass away from the Law, till all be fulfilled. The art of persuasion differs from that of reasoning; and it is of no small moment, to the success even of a true cause, that the judges who are to determine on its merits should be free from those national and religious predilections which render the multitude both deaf and blind.

Let not this practice be considered as an unworthy artifice. It were best for the cause of reason that mankind should acknowledge no authority but its own; but it is useful, to a certain extent, that they should not consider those institutions which they have been habituated to reverence as opposing an obstacle to its admission.

All reformers have been compelled to practise this misrepresentation of their own true feelings and opinions.

It is deeply to be lamented that a word should ever issue from human lips which contains the minutest alloy of dissimulation, or simulation, or hypocrisy, or exaggeration, or anything but the precise and rigid image which is present to the mind, and which ought to dictate the expression.

But the practice of utter sincerity towards other men would avail to no good end, if they were incapable of practising it towards their own minds. In fact, truth cannot be communicated until it is perceived. The interests, therefore, of truth require that an orator should, as far as possible, produce in his hearers that state of mind on which alone his exhortations could fairly be contemplated and examined. Having produced this favourable disposition of mind, Jesus Christ proceeds to qualify, and finally to abrogate, the system of the Jewish law.

It is the devourer, the enemy of our souls whom Jesus said is here to steal, kill, and destroy us John In the Old Covenant tithing was required. Therefore there is no punishment associated with not tithing. He can then open up additional heavenly blessings into our lives and our finances. And he can act on our behalf to prohibit the devourer from wasting away our finances. You absolutely do not have to tithe. God will still love you just as much whether you tithe or not.

But now that you know the benefits God promises if you do tithe, why would you not want to enjoy those extra blessings? Not long after I became a believer the company I worked for shut down their location in my city and I lost my job.

While I was unemployed I ran across that passage in Malachi and decided it might be a good idea to start tithing. But I did get that God was saying it was a good thing. There was something in that passage that did jump out at me though. I figured that God knew what my expenses were. I promise you will be glad you did. The 7 benefits of paying tithes as a Christian. There are a number of other principles that businessmen need to know and employ. Tithing is one such principle.

God has promised that in paying our Tithes, by doing that one thing for Him, He will do seven for us in return — He asks us to prove Him. Who is the Devourer? The Devourer is the devil and what this statement means is that God will prevent loss by theft, fraud, sabotage, industrial action, and setbacks in Strategic Planning.

He will ensure that everything is insured by Him. You will not make a loss; you will achieve your monthly budget and earn profits. You will have a good family life! He will protect you from accidents. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. A love for God and a love for others. Faith releases Spirit-life into the soul.

As you do, the power of new life will be released in you. Most of this post is taken from Greear, J. Finally, remember this following verse! It will ruin your relationship with God! The kingdom of God is all about multiplication.

Freely you receive, freely give. One seed dies and produces many seeds. Losing your life to really live. Today I just want to take a moment to encourage you in the light of eternity.

We get years max to live by faith and leave a legacy. How we live today will be our story someday in eternity. One million years from now what we do now will be all we have as a testimony. God wants us to not only produce fruit that remains, but to produce much of it. I want to be so full of fruit that my branches hang to the ground, and people can come and pick my fruit anytime they need to.

If someone needs encouragement, come and pick from my tree. If someone needs love, I have that available too. All we have to do is abide. There is nobody like you and nobody can offer exact what you do.

Christ in us, the hope of glory! By the time I reached adolescence I realized I had no real reason to believe in God and began identifying as an atheist-I believed in no gods.

I pondered the subject greatly and decided that it made much more sense that all religions were wrong rather than one being right, that there was no hard evidence for God, and that everything in the Bible sounded like absolute nonsense-especially in light of my education in the sciences. Nothing else was worth seeking so I never stopped thinking about that very subject.

All the conclusions I had came to, everything I saw pointed to religion being utter nonsense, the religious being the foolish and the uneducated, and that all of life and existence was some random accident that just happened to occur and would be over as soon as it started.

I never questioned that stance until the day I had a good friend talk to me. I was mocking this man to the face for the beliefs he held dearest and he was brushing aside my rudeness as if it were leaves in his path. His message was clear-it was that he knew that there was a God and that He was Jesus Christ. I had spent years finding every single reason to not believe in God but had never taken the time to consider that there might actually be reasons to think that He exists, and I began to see them.

The fact that the theme of human existence is the struggle between good and evil point directly towards Him. Without God defining good and evil all of our struggles, all of our dreams, all of our desires, all of our love-all of it was just a bunch of complex chemical reactions. I was living it. Not only this but I realized that this universe was made so that life-the only thing that could give existence meaning and purpose-could and would occur. Whatever caused this universe to happen made it so that it could and would have purpose.

These thoughts continued for a month until I realized one day that it was true. It was all true, there was a God and His love for us was so evident. Everything became so clear in that moment.

That night was the most incredible night of my life as I fell on my knees in repentance of my sins, willing to follow Jesus as my Lord. I received the Holy Spirit and was born a new man-a new man who put all of his sin behind him in that moment.

I went to all those in my life-all those I had instilled my brand of atheism into-and professed to them that I was wrong and that they needed to repent as well. I had found myself in the midst of a group that was getting more heavily involved in crime to fuel our drug usage. I was laughed to scorn and quickly found myself living my days alone.

This world is just the beginning-the beginning that only those who are willing to repent of their sin and obey God will find eternal paradise to be their end. My Creator loved me enough to give me a second chance, loved me enough to seek me and show me His love, loved me enough to walk the earth in the flesh and die at the hands of His own creation so that He could pour out His blood as payment for what I had done.

He rose from the dead to the witness of hundreds and has given His Spirit to countless thousands so that we could know that this was the truth. When I became a new Christian baptized in June , after Christ revealed himself to me in Oct , I was at that point horribly addicted to porn.

I used it to cope with my loneliness and depression, and shortly after I was baptized, I realized it began separating me from God. Eventually, porn in the combination of thinking God was going to send my family and others to hell, separated me from God for a time.

My own sin separated me from God. Then on Jan 1 st , Christ appeared to me in a dream, and since then I have been back into the fold of Christianity. However, I still struggled for a few months. Finally, God gave me an ultimatum, to choose Him, or Porn.

I still struggled for a bit, then I decided to get an accountability app and partner, Ever Accountable, put it on all my devices, and now I feel like I am finally freed from that sin! The accountability aspect gave me enough mental reasons to resist the urge, knowing that my sin would be instantly exposed to the light made me stop committing it. It has now been about months since I last saw anything bad. I pray you find this an encouragement to value God over pornography, get an accountability partner and expose this sin to the light!

Back in I was in the middle of a very nasty divorce from my first wife. Things had gone horribly sideways and spilled over into my job. Sparing all the nasty details, suffice to say I had a breakdown of epic proportions. Early one day I grabbed a few things and just began to drive. I had little money and was in a very dark place mentally. Although I had been raised Christian and grew up in church, I was very far away from God and was living a non-Christian life. As I drove I was in a cloud, I could only see darkness, pain and despair in my future.

I could imagine no happiness, no joy, and no future. Suffice to say, I considered my life over at the age of twenty two. I drove north from Texas and found myself in Oklahoma City. There I turned eastward towards my childhood home of Tennessee. As I drove my despair clouded my perception and I became more and depressed. I really felt like I was driving myself straight into the gates of hell. Somewhere in eastern Oklahoma I pulled in for fuel and a restroom break.

Afterwards, as I continued my journey, I noticed a man standing at the side of the interstate on ramp looking for a ride. He was dressed rather peculiarly for the middle of summer, wearing a long old west style slicker and an ivy cap, sometimes known flat cap or duckbill cap. The reason I noticed him was because, in my mind, he bore a striking resemblance to the Gyro Captain from the Road Warrior film.

I continued my journey and thought nothing more of it. Soon I was forced to stop again as I suddenly needed to use the restroom very badly, which was unusual, as I could, and still do often drive for hundreds of miles without stopping. I completed my bathroom break and turned my car back toward Interstate As I turned onto the on ramp my eyes were drawn to another hitchhiker looking for a ride.

Only it was not another hitchhiker, it was the very same person I had seen a short time earlier at my previous stop. I am quite sure I did a double take on seeing him. For reasons that I did not understand at the time, but have become clearer later in my life, I pulled over and offered him a ride.

He got in the car and thanked me for the lift. In a short time he began to make what I first assumed was small-talk.

It was far from small-talk, it was as though he could read my soul. It soon became clear that he appeared to know more about me and my troubles than he should. He turned the subject to God and his many blessings. It was, for lack of a better word, miraculous the way he seemed to be able to speak to my soul and lift the burdens I felt were crushing my very spirit. He rode with me the rest of the afternoon. By the time we were approaching Little Rock Arkansas I felt like a new person.

He promised me that everything would work out. He said I was just beginning on a new journey and he assured me that God had good things in store for me in the future.

It was very late in the afternoon as we entered Little Rock, the sun was just setting and I decided to get a motel for the night. I stopped at a corner to let him out of the car so he could continue on his way. Before exiting the car he asked me if I could spare a little money for food. I would however be happy to buy him some food. He graciously accepted my offer and I tuned into a nearby convenience store parking lot and went in the store.

All these years later I can still remember exactly what I bought for him that evening. I purchased a pack of bologna, a half-gallon of milk and a loaf of bread. I also picked up some condiments as well as a candy bar for desert. After paying for the items, I exited the store and found him waiting by my car. I handed him the bag of food and thanked him for making me feel better. He, in turn, thanked me for the ride and food. Because it had only been a moment since he walked toward the rear of my car, I was concerned that possibly he had tripped and fallen behind me.

I did not want to back over him, so I placed the car in park and got out to make sure he was clear. He was nowhere to be seen. I walked around the car, and then I walked around the only other car in the parking lot, nothing. I went in the store and asked the cashier if the gentlemen in the long coat had come in. He said no one had come in since I had walked out. Confused, I walked back outside and walked out to the street-corner and looked all four ways.

There was no one to be seen. I walked around and looked behind the building, nothing. I even got down on my knees and looked under my car as well as the other car in the parking lot, nothing. The man had disappeared as though he was a ghost. There is no way, even if he had run, could he have gotten out of sight as fast as he did. The man and the bag of food I had given to him had vanished without a trace, gone as though they never existed.

Finally, I gave up, went a short ways down the road and rented a motel for the night. I went in, took a shower, said a short prayer, and then, for the first time in weeks, I slept like a baby, all night, peaceful and dreamless. The next morning I awoke feeling refreshed and invigorated. The mental clouds were gone, the burden was lifted, and I felt like a completely new man.

I continued my journey eastward with a new zest for life. Eventually I traveled on to Michigan, and then to Florida, where I met a woman slightly older than myself. After my divorce was final, we were married and now more than thirty years later, are still together.

The man was right, everything did work out, my wife and I have had a good life. There have been difficulties, and at times the road has been rocky, but the good far outweighs the bad. I am convinced that the man that rode with me all those years ago was an angel. Seeing what I was going through, and where I was heading, I fully believe that I would have been in prison or even dead had he not been standing on the side of the road that day.

It humbles me and makes me wonder what God saw in me that he would send me an angel. Since that day, I have often thought of Hebrews I know many will not believe me, my story or my conclusion. That is your prerogative; however I shall always thank God for the angel that was sent my way that day back in There are a few things to note here. The most important thing is that Jesus is talking about false -believers who are trusting in their works to get to heaven.

When I got there I was caught by surprise. Evolution states time and chance take molecules and turn them into man through random mutations in DNA and natural selection. Seen from 20, feet it states hydrogen left to itself long enough will turn into a human or that microbes turn into microbiologists.

This is the gaping hole of many holes n the theory. Miller-Urey and all spark experiments only produced non-living matter. Teaching evolution as a fact without demonstrable evidence is academically dishonest. Presuming something to have occurred without proof makes evolution a faith. The only other claim of non-living matter becoming living matter is in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Both are a faith. Only One has been seen alive.

Sediment covers the majority of the earth as if by a global flood. Darwin himself stated for his theory to prove true millions of transition fossils would need to be found.

As of today there are zero. The theory is not proved true by experiment or by fossil record. It is an eliminating process, not a creative process. Random mutations are not helpful. You do not need mutations, you need completely new additions of DNA. Furthermore, DNA is coded chemicals and functions like computer software.

Matter itself is complex and particle physics is a growing field. Every blade of grass has an antenna and solar cell more efficient than anything man has designed. Rising from the dead gives one serious clout. Jesus is God and His resurrection confirms the entire Word of God including creation and disproves all other fairy tales of men.

To be honest, the theory bothered me a lot. Not so much the theory as how it was taught. I was quite upset with the teacher which was due to a mixture of my ignorance and his arrogance and it took me a while to learn what I needed in order to let go. As a young student, I had no idea how absurd the academic setting was and it caught me off guard.

I do still sometimes get angry when I hear an atheist ranting but have learned to pray for them instead and keep my peace. Specifically, repentance means to change, or have your mind changed, about who God is and what He has said about Himself, about Jesus Christ, and about ourselves. Often times, when repentance is mentioned in a gospel presentation, people confuse the fruits of repentance with repentance itself. They are calling men to do something they are not able to do.

They are requiring faith plus works to be saved. The question is, how can a man forsake all his sin when the scripture says that:. He who sins is a slave of sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Is a man required to forsake all his sins to receive salvation in Jesus Christ? Must a man stop sinning in order to be saved? The answer is no. Nowhere in the Bible are men required to stop sinning in order to be saved. However, if you erroneously define repentance as a complete forsaking of sin, then you are telling men that they must do something in addition to having faith in Jesus Christ for their salvation.

This is a common gospel that many are preaching today; and I myself have preached it in error before. Yet it is not the gospel of Jesus Christ but instead is a gospel that leaves men in hopelessness and in bondage. How are you going to tell a man to stop sinning who is in bondage to his sin nature? As I began to notice just how many tracts that are sold are incorrect, I began to study repentance so I could understand it biblically.

This inevitably led to the study of people that hold to two different views on this subject. One is called Lordship Salvation. Probably the biggest spokesman for this camp today is John MacArthur. There are many others as well who hold to this view who usually fall into the Calvinist camp. On the other end of the spectrum, you have those who are in what is called the Free Grace camp. With this post, I want to start, and mainly focus on Lordship salvation.

This book, as far as I can tell, is the book that has most propelled Lordship Salvation to its status as an accepted doctrine in our day. So what is Lordship Salvation? But instead of me trying to explain it alone, let me quote John MacArthur and others on this subject and then comment on their quotes. He wants disciples willing to forsake everything. This calls for full-scale self-denial — even willingness to die for His sake if necessary. Thus in a sense we pay the ultimate price for salvation when our sinful self is nailed to the cross…It is an exchange of all that we are for all that Christ is.

Nothing less can qualify as saving faith. Saving faith is a commitment to leave sin and follow Jesus at all cost. Jesus takes no one unwilling to come on those terms. Anyone who wants to come after Jesus into the Kingdom of God—anyone who wants to be a Christian— has to face three commands: In his second quote, John MacArthur says for a person to be saved, they must resolve to have implicit obedience and fully surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Again, he is not saying that this should and would be the attitude of those who have been saved, but it is the attitude one must have in order to be saved in the first place. They are prerequisites to salvation; without which, if a man does not commit to, he cannot be saved and will die in his sins. After all, a lot of these things are mentioned in the New Testament, both in the gospels and in the Epistles. Lordship Salvation, in essence, requires a sinner to do what he is unable to do.

He must do and commit to do all these things in order to receive the salvation Jesus offers, even before he has the Spirit of God dwelling in him. The salvation Jesus offers is no longer a free gift to be received; it is a gift to be meritoriously achieved earned by merit.

There are many here who think they are saved, but are not; they have never really done business with God…. I want to single you out in the midst of the crowd. Have you taken up a cross in order to follow after Christ? Have you submitted to the Lordship of Christ? Have you really come to the end of yourself? Because Jesus does not begin until you end. So according to Steve Lawson, the free gift of God will cost you.

It will cost you total commitment. But is that the gospel that you see preached in the scriptures? Did Paul walk around telling men that he has a free gift for them that they will have to purchase with their actions, or by coming to the end of themselves and picking up their cross?

No, this is not the gospel of the Bible. The gospel in the Bible is a message about the person and work of Jesus Christ to atone for our sins. It is a message that, if anyone believes, they will be saved by God on account of their faith. It places unbiblical emphasis on what you must do and focuses less on what Christ has done, when in fact the gospel is about what Christ has done, which is something we receive by faith and are saved.

I want to quote a few men who oppose Lordship Salvation to help show the error of this theology. Here are some quotes that help expose the error of Lordship Salvation:.

In the minds of those determined to adhere to salvation by works, this distinction supposedly allows the works of the law to be somehow added to the equation of salvation without annulling the doctrine of grace.

Jesus is not putting down a condition of salvation but stating the position of those who are saved. Lordship advocates, however, consider Luke 9: If this is a salvation invitation, the sinner is being asked to be willing to die for Jesus in order to be saved.

Such an expectation is not found elsewhere in the Bible and makes both salvation and assurance impossible. A commitment to certain behavior expected of a Christian turns the gospel of grace on its head. Does the Lord call on the lost for a wholehearted commitment to obedient Christian living before He grants the gift of eternal life? As Lou accurately says, Lordship salvation frontloads faith with a commitment to do good works.

It becomes a barter system in which the non-believer commits to forsake all their sins, commits to carry their cross and die daily, and commits to fully surrender and to have complete obedience in order to be saved. The gospel of Jesus Christ is no longer the free gift that God offers but is a costly gift that the unconverted sinner is unable to purchase. What sinner can commit to do things that are possible only by having the Spirit of God dwell in them? When people preach a Lordship Salvation gospel, they are not preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ; they are preaching a different gospel that frustrates the grace of God.

They understand that salvation is a free gift of God and does not require the unconverted to commit to promise or do certain works in order to be saved. The lost are saved by believing the message of Jesus Christ and putting their faith in him for salvation John 1: Yet some in the free grace camp have also gone into an extreme that makes their gospel false as well. They rightly say that a believer can be saved with faith, but they erroneously say that once a person is a believer they can be so their entire life even if they show absolutely zero fruit.

So in essence, they say a person can believe the facts about Jesus Christ and then live however they want to. The so called believer can continue living a habitual life of fornication, lying, stealing, etc.

Lordship Salvation frontloads the gospel with works while Free Grace strips the gospel of its power. They are both wrong, and neither represents the gospel of God and Jesus Christ. You can find many different answers to explain exactly what the gospel is, but Paul defines it best, in its most basic and simplest form, in 1 Cor. Simply put, the gospel is the message that was prophesied in the scriptures and came to pass, about the death of Christ for our sins, about his burial, and his resurrection from the dead.

It is a message about what God has done to redeem and save all who will repent and believe in Jesus Christ. It is not a message about how we must change our lives or commit to any works to be saved.

It is a message about what God has done for us in the death and resurrection of Christ from the dead for our salvation. Beginning in Genesis chapter 3, God began prophesying of a savior that would come and save us from our sins.

The sinless Son of God became our substitute and satisfied the wrath of God for our sins. He became a curse for us when he bore our sins in his body on the cross. Three days later, God raised Jesus Christ from the dead, giving proof to all that the sacrifice Jesus had made was acceptable to God. Jesus was declared to be the son of God with power by his resurrection from the dead Romans 1: His mission was victorious and he defeated death and hell.

Our salvation, and the power to live a new life free from the bondage of sin, was made available to us through the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf. God has done everything needed to provide salvation for anyone who will believe trust in Jesus Christ for their salvation. There is nothing man can do to be saved apart from repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ.

There is nothing man can add to the work of Jesus Christ to make him acceptable to God. No commitment, no promising, no forsaking of anything adds to the work of Christ and makes anyone acceptable to God.

Being saved really is as simple as Jesus said it would be. In John chapter three, Jesus speaks to a man named Nicodemus. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. And Moses prayed for the people. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.

These poisonous snakes were biting the Israelites, and many of them were dying. The people realized their sin against God and asked Moses to pray to God so that he would take the snakes away. It was then that God told Moses to make a brass snake and put it on a pole. If anyone one was bitten by a poisonous snake, they could look at the snake on the pole and they would live. They would be healed from the deadly poison that was in their body.

In essence, they would be saved. There was no work to be performed; no commitment needed to be made. They simply acknowledged that they had sinned and believed in the provision that God had provided. Their salvation was received by faith and required no bartering on the part of the Israelites. Their salvation was a free gift from God received by faith. Man has sinned against God and is under a curse. God has provided salvation by making Jesus a curse for us. The same is true today.

Salvation is a free gift from God. It is not received by a commitment to do future good works. It is not purchased by the sinner.

It is the free gift of God. This is what Jesus was telling Nicodemus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: It is quite clear that salvation is a free gift from God that is not purchased by any promise to do something for God. There is nothing we can do or promise that makes us acceptable to God.

Repentance is most definitely part of the gospel. In fact, when Paul was speaking to the elders in Ephesus, he said:. He preached the message about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead for our salvation, as the scriptures had foretold.

When you see Paul preaching in the Jewish synagogues, he is reasoning with the Jews from the scriptures so they will change their minds about the truth of the Messiah. Paul, by his reasoning and by the Spirit of God, is trying to change the minds of his listeners, which would bring them to true repentance towards God. Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.

And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.

Paul reasoned with the Jews and Gentile converts to Judaism in the synagogue about the truth of Jesus Christ and the need for the forgiveness of their sins. Again, Paul, by the word of God and the Spirit of God, was seeking to change their minds concerning the truth of Jesus Christ. He was seeking to bring them to repentance.

True repentance and faith are always linked together. It is to think differently and correctly regarding the truth about God, Jesus Christ, man, and our sin. Here are two verses that specifically use the title of Lord when referring to Jesus in regards to believing unto salvation. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Must one fully come to the understanding, as John MacArthur says, that Lordship denotes implicit obedience and a full surrender to Jesus Christ?

That nothing less than this qualifies as saving faith? Must a non-believer make an upfront commitment to completely obey every aspect of Christian living? OR, when Lord is used, is it a title of Christ that denotes his supreme authority? Biblically, the word Lord denotes authority. It is a title used of Christ, but it is a title that is also used of men Gen In its relation to Christ it denotes his supreme authority.

God has made Christ ruler over all. He is both the Christ anointed one and Lord the supreme ruler as this verse says:. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

Here it means clearly that God had exalted him to be the king so long expected; and that he had given him dominion in the heavens, or, as we should say, made him ruler of all things. By calling Jesus Lord in these verses, it is not saying that one must understand every implication of what it means to call Jesus Lord.

Language like that is not used in the scriptures. A person must believe in the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, who died for our sins, was buried, and raised from the dead John It is their faith in Christ and his work that saves them.

Depending on the work of God in a person at their conversion, and their knowledge of biblical truth, people will have different depths of understanding about what it means to follow Jesus as Lord.

Some have more of an understanding and some people have less of an understanding. But people are not saved based on the depth of their understanding about what it means to follow Jesus as Lord.

They are saved by believing the gospel. Believers learn what it means to follow Jesus as Lord as they read the scriptures and grow in the knowledge and grace of God. I am struggling every day to know what the Lord is requiring of me in specific choices among good options. I am learning every day the extent of his lordly control of the world and his mysterious ways of fulfilling his promises as Lord of my life and my church.

Submitting to the lordship of Christ is a lifelong activity. It must be renewed every day in many acts of trust and obedience. Due in part to some unhelpful rhetoric by proponents of lordship salvation, some have objected that it places sanctification before salvation.

Piper rightly says that believers grow in their understanding of what it means to submit to the Lordship of Christ as they grow in their relationship with Christ. Christ having the title of Lord does imply that we are to obey him. The obedience an unbeliever must have is to obey God in regards to repenting and believing the gospel of Jesus Christ. They must turn to Christ who is the Lord. Let me give you an example. When I was saved, I simply believed that Jesus died for my sins and I asked him to save me.

I did not know what it meant to fully surrender my entire life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. He saved me and put his Spirit inside me. There were some things that God helped me to immediately see that were sins.

By his grace I was delivered from them and was able to put them away. However, even as a new believer, for a period of time, I lived in fornication with my girlfriend. However, as I grew in grace and read the scripture, my girlfriend now my wife and I both realized that what we were doing was wrong.

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