Opeth, first of all I accept your apology although it is not necessary. I didn't feel insulted, but rather was just pointing to the fact that whatever intelligence you stated that you thought I had, you were insulting that by not being forthright, that's all. You have at last now stated your beliefs, to an extent. You still have not told us what the TRUTH is that was revealed to you and will be revealed in the future to those who will be taught by Christ in the Kingdom, or is that something that you are not permitted to reveal until you are convinced that someone has the "calling"?
Brad, my faith is in line with what Ron has stated - simple. It is Christ and His sacrifice, period. It becomes appropriated in one's life when they simply take God at His word that Christ's sacrifice is sufficient for salvation. When we do, the Law is taken out of the way and the believer is married to Christ. In other words, as we were once joined to the Law, we are now joined to Christ for righteousness.
We do not "try" to live a law abiding life. Works, man's efforts, attempts at keeping laws, etc., nullify God's grace. They are mutually exclusive. All that we do, in practice, is to "present ourselves as a living sacrifice, which is our spiritual worship, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts" (referring to deeds done in the flesh, good or bad) and allow Christ to live His righteousness through us.
Inasmuch as Opeth adds conditions for the obtaining of salvation, to his understanding, our respective foundations are as opposite as they could possibly be. The correct foundation has to be laid first before arriving at a proper understanding of anything that follows. A faulty foundation can only lead to a faulty "building", so to speak. To my understanding, the Bible teaches that Christ alone is our sure foundation. To some it may be the Law, to some it may be Christ plus something else, ie, the Law, good deeds, commitment, baptism, repentence from sins, etc. To me, these are all different gospels, one from the other. There are some verses that join baptism with faith and/or repentence with faith, and the context and the understanding of word meanings are important in these instances. Baptism does not always refer to water baptism. Being baptized into Christ, for example, means our being identified with Him in His death and resurrection, when we believe. Water baptism is just a public testimony of what has already occured. I believe water baptism is a step of obedience to the Lord but not a condition for salvation. Likewise the word repentence has come to mean in our culture a sorrow or remorse for sin and/or a turning from sin. The word literally means "to change one's mind". As it relates to salvation it is a changing of one's mind about themselves, that they are sinners, and also about the person of Christ, who He is, what He has come to do, and what He freely offers to man. In that sense, then, yes, repentence could be seen as a "condition" for salvation. But it is incorrectly seen as a condition for salvation if one sees it as being remorseful, contrite, an attempt to "clean oneself up", moral reform, etc. Not that these are all bad, in and of themselves, but they are not to be seen as a co-condition with faith, or as a prerequiste prior to salvation. Some people have "repented" in this manner before salvation, but it is still faith alone in Christ alone that provides their salvation. If salvation were not by faith alone than the entire gospel of John, which is the only book in the Bible that explicity states that it was written to explain the way of salvation, is only half a gospel and does not fulfill its stated purpose. Also, in all of Paul's Epistles he states that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone. When good works are mentioned, they are mentioned as an expected result in the believers life, not an evidence of salvation and not as a prerequiste in obtaining salvation.
Also, as I stated before, I accept no supposed revelation from God that is not in accord with His revealed will in the Scriptures. God states His will and desire plainly, as you can see from these verses below. And it is available to all. There is no mention of "special" revelation to an elect few. If there were, I would have no problem with Opeth's understanding that there is. He cannot arrive at his convictions without taking verses out of their context and rendering a meaning to them that they clearly do not have when read in the context of the paragraph or chapter involved. That explains my insistence for in-context study.
I realize that many people have a really hard time getting their minds around the fact that God is so gracious and so loving that He would give so much to us, freely, as a gift. I had a hard time of it myself. I guess sometimes people have to come to the end of themselves in their striving for righteousness before they realize the only way they could ever possibly get it is for free. Maybe that's the way it works. I know that that's the route I had to travel. Perhaps it wasn't as hard and didn't take me as long as it does for some because I am a very scrupulous person who didn't excuse myself by watering down the Law. I came to know that the Law demands perfection and I knew that I didn't and could never fulfill its conditions. I also knew that my making attempts to try to do better didn't make up for my past failures, and my attempts always ended in new failures. I clearly saw my lack and His provision.
(Pertaining to salvation and living by faith)
And this is the promise that He has promised us Ė eternal life.
John 5: 12-13
He who has the Son has life. He who has not the Son has not life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.
John 3: 16
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Ephesians 2: 8-9
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
And whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.
Galations 2: 20-21
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me and the life I live I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and delivered Himself up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.
Romans 4: 14-16
For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified. For the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, neither is there violation. For this reason it is by faith that it might be in accordance with grace.
Romans 4:20 - 22
Yet with respect to the promise of God, he (Abraham) did not waver in unbelief, but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God. And being fully persuaded that what He had promised, He was able also to perform. Therefore also, it was reckoned to him as righteousness.
(Pertaining to the keeping of Holy Days, and Sabbaths)
One man regards one day above another, another regards every day alike; Let each man be fully convinced in his own mind.
Galations 4: 9-10
But now that you have come to know God, or rather, be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things to which you desire to be enslaved again? You observe days and months and seasons and years.
(Pertaining to attempting to mix law with grace)
Galations 5: 3-4
And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision (for righteousness) that he is obligated to keep the whole law (for righteousness). You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.
As an aside, although an important one, in my estimation, a very popular evangelistic technique is to ask people to "Invite Jesus into their hearts". I believe that this is dangerous, for two reasons: First, this concept is found nowhere in the Bible in regards to salvation. Second, people can sincerely ask Jesus into their hearts and still not be trusting in Him alone for their salvation. For instance, I heard of one man who believed that Jesus was just a prophet along with all the others and he had invited all of them into his heart, including Jesus, because he wanted all the "goodness" that he could get. He did not beleive that Jesus was the Messiah and the Savior of the world and was not trusting in His sacrifice alone to meet his need. God's message is to simply believe, to trust, to take Him at His word regarding the all-sufficient sacrifice of His Son. That's the message of the Gospel, to my understanding.
And I just have to share something that I just found out in my studies of this verse:
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
God has prepared ahead of time the good works that He wills for the believer to walk in as he is led of Him in this life, which is enough to bless my socks off, but this is the icing on the cake: the word workmanship in the Greek is poema, the word that gives us our word poem! So I could say, without too much poetic license, I think, that all believers are a poem created by God! How cool is that?! God is a poet too!! And simple and elegant to boot!
[This message has been edited by Denise (03-10-2002 11:37 PM).]