Spiritual Laws

A number of years ago Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, wrote a booklet called The Four Spiritual Laws. The introduction says:
"Just as there are physical laws that govern the physical universe, so are there spiritual laws that govern your relationship with God."
From a fundamentalist perspective I have always enjoyed this idea of 'Spiritual Laws' ... seems neat and orderly ... but I have been thinking about this lately and have been wondering about this whole idea of legalistic rules masquerading as spiritual laws ... hmmm. I have been thinking about what Jesus said to Nicodemus about being born again:
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil." (John 3:16-19)

I highlighted a few words to emphasize the universality of this passage. What I love about this passage is it's simplicity. The message is simply:

  • God reached out to everyone by loving and giving ... His gift of love is Jesus.
  • God offers the gift of eternl life to whoever believes in the Jesus ... you know I really want to leave off "believes" because it draws a line ... not everyone believes. Notice that the scripture doesn't say how to believe but it does say believe.
  • God's plan for all people is salvation and not judgment ... He simply asks that we would love the Light more than the darkness.

I think that if Jesus didn't say these things I might not believe it ... it is too simple ... just believe. In light of this I really wonder about all of the Spiritual Laws that I have embraced over the years. Here is another quote from Jesus where He conveys that same simple message:

"This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent." (John 6:29)
I don't think that it gets much simpler than that. Maybe ... just maybe ... I have made life a bit too complex by embracing rules around spiritual stuff. Maybe life is truly all about believing in Jesus ... believing that He loves me ... believing that He loves you ... believing that He will be there no matter what. I think that truly believng this at a gut level transforms us.

Having said all that I have to admit that there are other sides of this. Some believe that what I have espoused is form of easy believerism ... these embrace a few rules around what it means to 'believe'. At the other end of the spectrum there are those who say that believing is not required ... they say that Christ's redemption is universal ... some are saved in this life and others after they die. Wherever you are in this debate you have to admit that it is good to just believe in Jesus ... even if it breaks a few of your spiritual laws or maybe creates a new one for you :)


  1. Great topic for discussion, K.B.

    I think you are right that just believing sounds too simple. I am the type who likes boundaries, and to-do lists in order to "make sure I'm doing the right thing." But believing in Jesus for salvation is just so foundationally solid, biblically, that a guy like me constantly have to wrestle with it.
    The passage that helped me the most (so far) in grasping this biblical principle was Romans 3:21-22,
    "But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe."

    Plain and simple, this passage and the verses that follow it, make it clear that only through belief is my unrighteousness replaced by Christ's righteousness. And only by keeping my belief in Him will it stay that way. (I know, controversial statement.)

    Even for those of us who believe the basic doctrines of the Church of Christ, we can't deny that it is our belief that is the essential element of salvation. As Jesus said in Mark 16:16, "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned."

    Whoever does not believe will be condemned...whether or not that person is baptized. It's all about our belief.

  2. I remember those little pamplets. I think it was around '72 when I was handing them out while witnessing.

    Believing is the heart of salvation. All the works of a believer's hands flow from this perspective.

    The best thermometer I can think of to test the truth of my own heart (or others when I am in doubt) is I Corinthians 13.

    If a person is living that passage, it is easy to talk of salvation.

    Thanks for the post.

  3. So, I assume you "believe" in Jesus? What exactly do you believe? Is what you believe correct? Does what you believe fulfill the "requirement"? Are you sure? How do you know? Do you believe because you fear the conseqences? Do you believe that you will suffer if you don't? If you weren't "forced" to believe, would you still believe?

    Personally, I think something happened on the Cross that changed everything, including John's "instructions" to believe (or else). I think, as Paul observes, that Christ freed us from the requirement to believe. The message of the Cross is that God's mercy extends to us all, despite our inability to "believe". If Jesus IS the Messiah, then the work of the Cross WAS/IS the redemption of the world. Just as Adam failed God completely, thus becoming our inheritance for a time... Jesus pleased God completely, and became our inheritance. We had no choice in participating in the fall of Adam, and we have no choice in participating in the redemption of Christ. Isn't that GOOD NEWS?

    Our coming to an understanding of freedom from death through the Cross, frees us to believe without fear, doubt, or guilt. We can only truly know what, or if, we believe if we are free to disbelieve without consequence. Anyone who is free in Christ, is free indeed. And who did Christ set free (redeem to the Father)? Every one of us!

    Sadly, not many of us BELIEVE that. It's not wonder the Jews don't believe Jesus is the Messiah, most Christians don't BELIEVE it either!

    The work of the Cross is God's gift to us all, equally. It doesn't matter if you believe it or not... it only matters that you KNOW it. The Father's love extends to us all universally. This is the truth. The fact that we believe it or not does not change the fact that it is the truth. God made it the truth. Our "believing" it only frees our minds from all our fears... including our fear of God. We can only truly enter into relationship with God if we trust Him completely. And it's easy to trust Him if we have no fear of Him.

    Redemption is a "given"... salvation from our fears is a gift not many enter into. It is God's desire that we enter into that incredible freedom, but it doesn't change the way He feels about us if we don't. He knows that in the end, when His glory is revealed, we will enter in. Our fear of Him will end. We will be free to enter His presence in peace. It's too bad so few can experience that peace during this earth-time journey... but so few "believe".

    Love to all!

  4. Bruced,

    I honestly have never heard that perspective before. I can't say I can even beging to agree with it.

    So Jesus must have been kidding about all the passages regarding Judgment?

    Are all the passages that speak about a salvation for those who believe simply used as incentives for us to live a good life, but it doesn't matter in the end.

    I am sure that all the folks who spend their lives cursing believers, and who have devotedd their lives to convince the world that there is no such thing as God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the reality of good and evil will be much relieved on the Day when they got to enter into God's rest after all they did to destroy faith on earth.

    Nope. You won't sell that theology to too many people who have taken even a casual look at the Bible.

  5. I like "Spiritual Poetry" better than spirtual laws.

    Thanks for tracking us on our trip. Might be in KC and if so will try to at least honk my horn in your direction!

  6. That's OK, DK. You don't have to believe that Jesus is the Messiah. It makes no difference in the way the Father feels about you. He hopes you'll someday realize that there is no need to fear Him, and that that knowledge will set you free to enter into a fullness of life most people can't even imagine. But, even if not, the Father loves you fully and completely anyway.

    If you believe that the Son is the Messiah foretold by the prophets of old, that truth will set you free. But if you don't, you will only live like the rest of humanity, burdened by fear and doubt, and never able to truly be who God intended you to be... a free and powerfully loving creation of the Master.

    The choice is not life or death. Death was defeated on the cross. The choice is bondage or freedom. The self imposed bondage we live in because of our fear of God, and our doubts about our relationship with Him... is debilatating. But, the liberty of Life that came to us all through the sacrifice of Christ, will set us free to enjoy life with God, and enjoy it abundantly.

    Whether you believe it or not, makes no difference to me. But, it will make a huge difference to you.

  7. "Just believing" in something that you can't see, hear, touch, or smell doesn't sound too simple to me.

    "Notice that the scripture doesn't say how to believe but it does say believe. God's plan for all people is salvation and not judgment ... He simply asks that we would love the Light more than the darkness"

    Romans 1:19-20:
    "...all that is known about God is evident to people-as God made it evident tothe, This knowledge is derivedfromt he creation. The invisible things of God-hiseternal power and divinity-are clearly seen in the world, in creation. Thus the mind sees the visible, the creation of the world, and understands the invisible, the thingsof God. So these people don't have an excuse."

    Breaking man-made spiritual laws-
    welcome to the posse!

  8. Interesting dialog we have going here. Who would have thought that it all got started by a little word like 'believe'?

    Bruce's views are different than mine but I respect his voice ... it is a heartfelt voice ... one born through experience and soul searching. That said I do take issue with Bruce on this ...

    "Personally, I think something happened on the Cross that changed everything, including John's "instructions" to believe (or else).

    ... because it calls into question the veracity of John's gospel (and Jesus' statements) based on Bruce's theology. I think that it isn't good to fit the scripture into your theology ... better to fit your theology into the scripture ... I guess it depends on your views about scripture.

    Personally I accept what Jesus said in John 3 as true, accurate and applicable for today ... maybe I do because it fits into my theology :)

  9. I am still not sure what your reasoning is, Bruced.
    I find throughout the scriptures references to those that are saved, and those who are not; those that stand condemned, and those that stand forgiven; those who have accepted Jesus as Lord and are therefore forgiven of their sins, and those who live for themselves and therefore cannot claim forgiveness for themselves.

    If I understand you correctly, you do not believe that someone can believe the passages about salvation and condemnation and still live without fear. I have no doubt that God loves all of us equally. That is not in question here. Contrary to what you may think, even though I believe that some people are going to be saved and some are not, I do not walk around with the fear of a proverbial "lightning bolt" hanging over my head. That mindset has not controlled me since I was a baby Christian 19 years ago. I do not do the things I do for God because He is going to punish me if I don't. I love my Father with all my heart, and I love my Saviour with all that is in me and give Him my life.

    Just curious: What is your definition of "eternally condemned"?

  10. What's your definition of "Savior of the World"?

    ... don't you love it when someone answers a question with a question? The point is, you can make any theology you want out of the Bible. That's why there are over 30,000 different flavors of Christianity. Like a friend of mine says, "the Bible is like a banjo, you can make it play any tune you want to hear." Or, "to an honest person, the Bible is like a huge jigsaw puzzle in which most of the pieces don't fit together."

    The thing many people won't allow themselves to admit to, is that Jesus ministry was one of law, and the condemnation it brought. He did everything He could to get people to believe, but in the end, none did. By time He went to the cross, God had determined everyone to be in disbelief (so that He could have mercy on them all). Jesus became the "belief" for our disbelief. In fact, He became everything fulfilled for everything we lacked. In Him, God was saying, "quit condemning yourselves... I am not condemning you, why do you condemn yourselves?"

    I'm sorry you don't believe Jesus is the Messiah (Savior of the World). I know it's a hard thing to believe. It goes against everything the church has taught us. If we believe that He is the Messiah, the walls will come down, and we will be set free to experience life with God in the fullest. I know that's a scary thing. It's not easy to trust God that much. We like "a God" who fits nicely into the religion we've constructed Him to reside within. We can understand Him better, if we think we can predict what he'll do because we can look it up in our "book".

    But, that's OK. God's love for you is not diminished. In fact, His love is greater than any of us can even dare to imagine. God is love.

  11. Bruced,
    My definition of the savior of the world is more than likely the same as yours: Jesus is the saviour of the world...period.

    You understand it to mean that his saviourship is a "salvation blanket" covering every human being no matter if they have made Jesus Lord of their lives or not.

    I understand it to mean that Jesus offers salvation to all human beings, but that they need to believe and accept it.


    A bus driver offers everyone a ride to Fenway Park. But you only get there if you get on the bus.


    BTW: No, I don't like it when someone avoids a question by asking another, especially when I really am trying to understand the other person's thinking. I really am interested.

  12. Oh, I did answer your question about hell... "He did everything He could to get people to believe, but in the end, none did."

    He tried miracles, told stories about people who couldn't measure up to God through religion... He even threatened people with eternal torment. The Son of God scared people with hell, and still none believed.

    And still, none do. Many think they do, but in the end, they will be just like the people who rejected Him on the earth. None believe. But, to our wonder and amazement, God does not require our belief. His love extends far beyond the limitations we place on Him. His love comes without condition or expecation. But, that is too difficult for us to believe, so we don't.

    Fortunately, the Cross showed us that forgiveness was ours... even us unbelievers. That is the greatest miracle of all time. Yet, we don't see it... just as the miracles Jesus showed us during His time on earth don't impress us. He knew they wouldn't. He can't be disillusions of us, because He has no illusions of us in the first place. He knows our hearts better than we ever can, and He's alright with us anyway. Can anybody say, "that's real good news!"?

  13. "He tried miracles, told stories about people who couldn't measure up to God through religion... He even threatened people with eternal torment. The Son of God scared people with hell, and still none believed."

    I read that statement and can only come up with one thing: Jesus tried to fool and manipulate people into believing and it didn't work.

    First of all, Jesus never tried to fool or manipulate anyone. He told the truth about everything. If He didn't, then He would have been in the habit of lying. (Messiahs don't lie, by the way.)
    And second, Jesus never said that He would have this great and grand following at the time of His death, but instead was simply prepping the "guys" for future ministry.

    I am just curious, though. Why would the Apostles and all of the other martyrs have died so willingly to seek and save the lost if no one is really going to be lost?

    You said, "But, that is too difficult for us to believe, so we don't."

    It is not a matter of being difficult to believe. It just doesn't make any biblical sense.

  14. Well, DK... I guess you got me there! It looks like you've got it all figured out! Well, good for you!

    There is nothing I can say right now that will convince you of anything. And that's OK. It's not my job to bring the freedom of Christ into your life. He is perfectly capable of doing that Himself. He will reveal to you what you need to know when the time is right... in His perfect time.

    Like the old saying goes, "when the student is ready, the teacher will appear." Hang on to the truth as you know it, and maybe it will see you through. I wish you the best. But, when your truth lets you down, and your world comes crashing down around you, let's talk again.

    Until then, go with God, my friend!

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  16. You're so right! It's nearly impossible to speak the truth of Christ without stepping on a nerve or two! Maybe that's why they nailed Him to a tree. He stepped on a whole bunch of nerves, and pissed off a whole bunch of religious people.

    I have no problem with the path any of you are on. I trust that it is the path you are supposed to be on at this point in time. And I understand your dislike of the things I say. Until I came to understand the truth of the Cross, I was furious at the people who said things like "Christ redeemed the world to the Father".

    Honestly, all I hope to do is plant some seeds of hope to those who seek it. So many of us have concluded that a foundation built on what WE believe, is shakey at best. But, a faith based on what Christ believed, is solid ground. And He believed that He was the Messiah as foretold by the prophets of old. And I believe it too.

  17. "Here is another quote from Jesus where He conveys that same simple message:'This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.' (John 6:29)I don't think that it gets much simpler than that. Maybe ... just maybe ... I have made life a bit too complex by embracing rules around spiritual stuff. Maybe life is truly all about believing in Jesus ... believing that He loves me ... believing that He loves you ... believing that He will be there no matter what. I think that truly believng this at a gut level transforms us."

    Growing out of a traditional fundamentalist perspective is not easy--humans crave ceremony and rules in order to feel as if they have earned God's love. Just believing without the crutches of "The Four Spiritual Laws", the Altar Call, the Sinner's Prayer and the other talismans of spirituality--faithwalking without a net--that's freedom.

  18. To believe or not believe, that is the question.
    So if I choose not to believe I am going to heaven? If I choose to believe I am going to heaven? Interesting dialogue, I rather enjoy the conundrum we all sit in.
    As far as belief, thats the key to the whole thing it seems and I really think it is also. Belief is really hard to define since no one can prove someone believes something until they 'act' upon it. It's not something we have power over anyways so we cannot judge another.
    I really do enjoy Bruce's belief that God is love. God is love, that's why. However Bruce, because people challenge your theology doesn't make them your enemies either, they know the same God you know. I personally like your ideas and I consider you a brother (we may disagree on theology but that still doesn't give me the right to judge you). I do call into question 'inclusivism' but that theology isn't God, same for my theology, same for Danny Kaye's.
    We are what we know. We are all at various spectrums of faith, which makes God bigger than all of us. We have learned from God what we needed and no one can claim they have full theology of God. We merely believe, haha.
    That being said, destroying faith on earth isn't the the worst problem. I can name hundreds of things worse that humans do that don't sit right with us, almost least on my list is some atheists cutting down of my faith. Big deal.
    I think we all know we are brothers because of our faith in Jesus. Some people haven't been burnt by the church, I have, Bruce has, and many others have. However, even in being burnt our faith in Christ remained but our views changed. We became less judgmental and more accepting. I see value in that and maybe the church could use more of it.

  19. Bruce,
    Based on the sarcasm I read into your last comment toward me, I am left to assume that I have offended you in some way. Please know that this is not my goal. My goal, plain and simple, is that whenever I am faced with a theory or theology that is so far from what I believe to be true, I try to get as much detail as I can from the presenter of that theory or theology. I do this not necessarily to disprove anyone, but only to understand the concept and then make a judgement from there.
    So far, I have not heard any reasons why you believe what you do based on the questions I pose. I did not think the questions were at all threatening or offensive. But it would appear that you have taken them that way and I appologize.

    Your answer to the "eternally condemned" question was a bit over my head because I had no idea how to link your answer to the question.

    I just cannot, so far, make heads or tails out of why you believe what you believe and am trying to pose questions which I am sure you have faced before, and which will make clear to me your reasoning.
    I understand, too, that you do not have to answer anything you don't want to. I am not putting you on trial, nor can I. Neither am I judging you, but trying to make a judgment about your theories.

    Really, there is nothing more to it than that. Please forgive if something I said came across "off."

    Is there a denomination or group which teaches the things you are putting forth? Perhaps I could go and do the research on my own and not bother you. That is fine with me.

  20. Wow, leave my laptop for an evening and I miss all the fireworks ... a few days late for July 4th. Not sure where or how to begin to sort out the dialog ... feel like I am reading the transcript from one of those yelling people shows ... which I happen to like more than I care to admit :)

    That said I guess I'd like to say that I do not have a handle on "the truth" ... I only know what God, life and others have taught me. Regarding others ... you all are in that mix ... you have been teaching me this morning ... but maybe not what you intended to teach me.

    You all have been teaching me about passion ... about passions exposed ... about speaking 'the truth in love' and speaking not so much 'in love' ... you can draw the distinctions for yourself.

    Bruce, I am with DK and Patchouli on their reactions to your comments. You seem to blow anyone off with a different opinion as not being as far along as you are. I find that to be somewhat religious and patronizing.

    Bruce, I accept that you think that everyone is redeemed and will go to heaven when they die. What I don't understand is the basis on which you make this assertation:

    "Personally, I think something happened on the Cross that changed everything, including John's "instructions" to believe (or else).

    I do think that your view calls into question the veracity of both John's gospel and Jesus' words. It would be helpful to know how you came to think that the events on the cross negated Jesus' words in the gospels.

  21. I think you guys are reading something in my comments that isn't there. As we all do, I realize this written forum lacks so much when it comes to conveying one's heart. We read someone's words through our filters, and through our attitudes, and sometimes hear things that really aren't there. That's OK, we all do it. We adjust people's words based on past experiences within similar conversations.

    My only purpose in sharing this Good News of Jesus Christ is to help folks find freedom from religion. We so desperately put our faith in our theologies, and religious practices, and unknowingly end up trusting those things more than we trust God, if we do at all.

    I only hope to help people understand that all the effort we put into our attempts to build relationship with God, are just that... attempts from US. The problem is, the things we do will someday fail us. It's wonderful that you've made it this far without failing yourself. But, please understand that I am saying this with all the kindness a human can have... you're faith will fail you. It is as simple as that. My mission is to give you something to fall back on when that happens. When we are all "used up" of our own attempts, and when we realize that our faith is just a house of cards, maybe we can remember this conversation, and grasp onto that one unfailing idea... it's not about our faith IN Jesus, it's about our understanding of the faith OF Jesus. It's not about us at all, but about Him and the message He brought to all of mankind. And that is, "God is not angy with you." That is the "faith of Christ"... just trust that God is not angry with you.

    This is a hard concept to follow for those of us who have been indoctrinated by the church into thinking that our purpose in life is to somehow figure out some way to please God. Our spirits have been conditioned to fear Him, and live our lives under the shroud of a performance-based belief system that causes us to trust ourselves, and our "faith" and our "beliefs" and our "doctrines" more than we trust God.

    I am not upset, nor offended, nor do I consider anyone here "my enemies". I love you all, and I have great hope for your freedom in Christ. My love for you does not depend on your love for me. My beliefs do not require that you believe the same way I do. We are brothers and sisters, united by the Cross of Christ, forever. We all participated in the Cross, brought into the body of Christ, united with Him, experienced death with Him, and rose to be united with the Father with Him. I have no doubt of that. We are all redeemed to the Father, through Christ, whether we believe correctly or not, or whether we believe ANYTHING or not! That is the message of the incredible love of the Father.

    DK, if you want to learn more about the total redemption of mankind through the Faith of Christ, there is a wealth of information available on the web. Some people call us "Christian Univeralists", but this is only a descriptive term, not a denomination. We are friends of Christ, and have come to understand the power of the cross to redeem the world. We are not organized in any way, and are constantly discovering each other through this miracle of communication. The numbers of people who understand are great, and growing every day.

    I apologize for upsetting some of you. I don't mean to, but I cannot restrain the knowledge of redemption inside of me. It has to come out. It is the most awesome Good News the world has ever heard, and it bubbles out of me with every breath. The message of God is incredible and amazing, and it changes people's lives wherever it is heard. There is no "bad news" in the "good news".


  22. Danny Kaye,
    A good place to check out is www.tentmaker.org
    It is a christian site, it's just that they/BruceD/myself have a much bigger view of the grace of God than tradition and church has taught us. I have learned a whole lot about the grace of God, and am becoming a more secure and grace filled christian these days. Shalom and stuff.
    Nancy in San Antonio Tx

  23. The first words I saw at tentmaker.org were "Jesus Christ, Saviour of all men, especially those who believe." I Timothy 4:10.

    The whole point of KB's original post was to share a part of his journey from legalism to freedom (correct me if I'm wrong, KB).
    What about yours?

    Did you believe in another form of legalism at one time?

    "Hang on to the truth as you know it, and maybe it will see you through. I wish you the best. But, when your truth lets you down, and your world comes crashing down around you, let's talk again."

  24. Bob, you expressed doubt in what Bruce is trying to say because you think that it may cause doubt on the gospel of John as scripture. What if it isn’t scripture? What if Father never meant it to be scripture. What if the scripture ended with Malichi. What if Jesus already fulfilled the scriptures completely, ever jot and tittle of it. What if the new testament is but the testimony of those who viewed the fulfillment of it (Jesus Christ) but it was never intended by God to be “scripture”. What is the scriptures, all of them were revealed to the two on the road to Emaius? What if the Bereans had all of the scriptures? What if the bible as we know it, is but a creation of man, put together by badly divided and disagreeing clergymen over a couple hundred years long after the “church” started loosing it’s vision of the “Word”. It seems to me that the first believers got along quite well with out the “cononized” book we call scripture and our need to hold it as valid scripture, rather than looking at Jesus, the fullfillment of all scripture as the “Word” of God.

    Now please don’t get me wrong. I love the gospel of John and value the bible and yet I can do so and be free to not judge people or beliefs within the context of a wildly debated book….debated by those who teid to decide what should and shouldn’t be “scripture”.

    Just asking some questions here because Jesus Himself seemed to recognize the scripture as being the law, the psalms and the prophets…..all old testament. What if the new covenant can not be contained in a book but is written upon our hearts and our religious tradition is our biggest hinderance to realizing it.

    Please understand that but a couple of years ago I would have been right with you on this. My how my beliefs have changed since I stopped fearing to listen to my heart over a book and to trust the God who indwells me over doctrine, even if it is Christian doctrine.

    By the way, having read your next post I think you may also beginning to ask many of the questions we have asked.

  25. Hi Steve, Thanks for the response and for the discussion. You accurately delineate the issues when you say: What if? ... I think that this is the issue. I think that (I may be wrong) you are the first commenter to come clean on this underlying foundation of thought about the scriptures ... that the scriptures ended with Malachi. I agree with you that this puts everything in an entirely different light.

    That said, I would still like to understand whether you (or anyone) takes the next step and says that the words of Jesus (especially those in John 3) are not accurate (and in error) for today. I understand that John 3:16 does not fit into a theology that says "everything changed at the cross". I just don't know what the basis for the theology is ... probably not scripture because there is nothing past Malachi to base it on ... that just leaves personal revelation.

    My purpose in this post was to point to simple and childlike faith in Jesus ... does it get any simpler than John 3:16? Guess so?

  26. Bob, I so appreciate your attitude. Thanks. When making this comment I‘ll admit that I was thinking “oh boy, I’m opening up what many may regard as a can of worms here.” In fact, as I earlier said, I would have thought that myself not long ago. The fact is there must be something very fundamentality wrong with the foundation of most of modern Christian theology when we are obviously, even to the casual outsider, so frequently loveless (un-Christ-like) and so very hard on one another…all the time claiming the same exact document as our source of authority.

    I don’t necessarily think that John was wrong in what he is writing in John 3:16, especially the part about God so loving the world and the who-so-ever portion. Could it be that the problem is that everlasting life is indeed a product of our belief but has nothing to do with the fact that we are redeemed and in God’s eyes have right standing with Him, based solely on the work of the cross? One of the most frequent arguments opposing the beliefs of my friends and I centers around the failure to differentiate between redemption (the buying of us back, a done deal) and salvation (the renewing of the human mind that previously didn’t know it was redeemed.

    I do not go against the scriptures that speak of the necessity to believe only in how that belief plays out in the heart of God regarding our destiny. I sincerely believe that He sees us all as His redeemed children and only wants that world, that He so loves, to see it thus having deceived mind renewed in the knowledge of Him, as He really is, full of not only truth but grace. I belief that the true good news is so wonderful truth that it can not but result in us being free.

    I also think that we place way too much stock in time (Christ was crucified before the foundation of the world) and I imagine that God can resurrect a dead body in which a unbeliever dwelt and breath new life and the revelation of this truth into it if He so chooses. Did He preach to those who were dead from the flood and set them free?

    Let me know if that makes any sense.

    Anyway I enjoy taking part in your discussion particularly because you aren’t casting stones at my statements.

  27. Thanks again Steve ... your input is very helpful in bringing understanding to your point of view. I guess the next question I have is where does redemption end in your thinking? It appears to be all inclusive. Does it include demons ... if not why not ... how could a loving God not include any creature in redemption ... especially since Christ was crucified before the foundation of the world.

    I guess a second observation that (I think) that I am undersanding fom you is that salvation is an awakening to the fact of redemption ... and this awakening can come before or after death ... hence everyone will believe either by faith (before they die) or by sight (after they die). It seems that the net effect of this thinking is that there is no eternal virtue in faith ... or am I misunderstanding something?

    On a more pleasant note I hope that you are doing well today. -- Blessings, Bob

  28. I have no idea about demons. If God wants to restore them I guess He can but they way I understand redemption it was for fallen man, the offspring of the first Adam in whom all died because of his sin. In Christ the redemption of all men takes place and all are made alive. I get enough flack for my beliefs without getting into the redemption of Satan. ;-)

    God is going to ultimately put away death all together and cast it into the lake of fire.

    If hell, as traditionally taught is for those to be cast away from His presence it is curious that David states....Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
    (Psa 139:7-8 NASB)

    Death doesn't seem to matter here. we can not escape Him and when we see Him as He is who would wish too?

    I wouldn't say there is no virtue in faith. Faith is a gift from God and He gives good and perfect gifts.

    I'm doing very well today, thank you for asking.

  29. Steve,
    I don't believe everything that King David wrote should to be taken literally. He was an emotional guy with a flare for the dramatic and hyperbole. (I love that about him!)

    The passage you quoted is, in my opinion, hyperbole. I don't believe David actually knew what was in sheol.

    Just my thinking...

  30. Yea Danny, I guess we all pick and choose what we wish to embrace as truth and what we want to dismiss as hyperbole or whatever.

    I guess what I get from it is that God never deserts us....any of us...even when we are apparently the farthest from Him. Have you ever noticed in Ezekiel 16 a promise of God to restore Sodom, right along with "her sisters" Jerusalem and Samaria? Just think, a city completely destroyed with all of her inhabitants, without a trace, yet receiving a promise of restoration.

    Maybe that is hyperbole also but I doubt it.

    My point is that traditional Christianity has done a very poor job at demonstrating the emmense reach of a loving God.

    Oh, by the way Danny. Don't be too hard on Bruce. I know him personally and get together with him on a regular basis. You would be hard pressed to find a more gentle sincere and gracious man. I hope you will come visit us once in a while.

  31. Welcome back to the dialog DK.

    Steve, I'm not sure where you are coming from on this ...

    "God is going to ultimately put away death all together and cast it into the lake of fire."

    ... I don't find that anywhere in scripture ... unless you look in the NT :)

    About Jesus only dying for man ... why do you believe that? Again you need the NT to substantiate that. It seems more in line with a "Christ redeemed all" perspective that He would have redeemed demons as well as man.

    Regarding faith being a virtue ... my question was concerning it being an 'eternal' virtue. Seems that if we all get to the same place anyway then faith is relegated to something that can just help you get by until you die ... in the end the faithful are no different than the faithless ... unless you think that there might be a difference in rewards :)

    I guess, bottom line, I am struggling to understand your foundations for some of these assertations if you don't consider NT writings as authoritative ... especially the words of Jesus in the gospels. Some of your concepts about the cross and redemption seem to be an eclectic mix of NT writings and the idea that a "God of Love" could not let someone to go to Hell ... am I missing something?

  32. Good discussion topic about the demons.

    "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder. James 2:19

    That passage does seem to indicate that the demons will not be included in salvation through Jesus, so I'm not sure which thinking is right on that one. Anyone?

    Regarding hyperbole and truth, you are right, Steve. We all choose based on our own bias, education, and ways of thinking. I know you have to be careful when doing that, and I have, in the past, changed my mind on the literal-ness of some passages. But I don't think I am too far off on the Character of David, and so am therefore more inclined to read his writings a little differently than, say, the author of Hebrews.

    And as far as Bruce goes, I have no ill feelings toward him. I am sure he is a fine man. I just didn't find to be fruitful the way in which he tried to make his points. I felt it was too condescending and sarcastic. His style of was evident even here. I can find dozens of other blogs by universalists who will be humble enough to hear the questions and answer them with humilty. If you wish to let him know that I have no hard feelings against him, that is fine. But I'll not be back to his corner of the WWW.

  33. Bob, did I say that I didn’t value the NT. I just take issue with the whole infallibility thing and what you called “bibliolotry”.

    Let me elaborate on some other ideas. The writers of the NT did not see it all anymore than we do. Why else would Paul make the statement about seeing as in a mirror darkly? The “scriptures” do say that the “light of dawn will shine brighter and brighter. I don’t think that the disciples were very good at believing. Jesus once graded them as having “no faith” and another time as having “little faith”. I don’t think they got it, the good news of great joy to all people. Look at Peter arguing with the instructions to go to the gentiles. I don’t think they were doing well at taking the good news to the world. Maybe that is why Jesus so miraculously converted Paul and why didn’t He just send Paul to learn from the others? Much of the NT is written by a man who almost seems as an after thought apostle. There is a reason why Paul seemed to clash somewhat with those sent by James and Peter. They seemed to be still stuck somewhat on the law. James and his followers once demanded that Paul go thru the laws method of cleansing and sacrifice apparently to appease some who may have been nothing more than Judaisers.

    Much discussion revolves around the knowing with our brains. The things that I now believe flow more from a heart that was tremendously changed by the revelation of God’s great love for me…in the midst of some of the darkest moments of my life some thirty odd years ago. Like you, I played the game along with the charismatic crowd for most of that time until I could not take what all of that had become…just more of the same old sh*t.

    Also I don’t think that the Kingdom of God is at all about going “to the same place”. I think that it is more about His life within us, in our hearts, His dwelling place, His temple and mercy seat. It is about His righteousness abiding in us and imputed to us. It is about His peace being given to us and certainly not like the world or it’s religion (including traditional Christianity) give peace. It is about a joy that is hard to speak about.

    In regards to us being the abiding place of His mercy seat (we are His temple), I don’t view most of Christianity as being too merciful in regards to unbelievers. They are much like the attitude of Jew verses gentile, us vs them. I hate that. If not for the grace of God I am lost and so are you. If not for the gift of faith, I have none. If not for His drawing of me, I won’t come to Him. Somehow I am just not drawn by an angry judging God who might cast me into hell for not believing correctly or doing it right, but yet the drawing power of a loving merciful God has tremendous pull on me. How could One in His exact image and likeness, who was given all judgment, yet states that He judges no man, forgive His persecutors and killers and not extend the same mercy to all?

    As for the words of Jesus in the gospels, I certainly do not discount them. I look at His dealing with Israel as His dealing with the only nation on earth that had been given the law, a mere shadow of the real plan of God, the redemption of the cross by the Savior of the World. He continually seemed to set the stakes higher and higher for them maybe to simply demonstrate that with all of their determination to do all that God said to do (their reply when given the law), they would not “get there from here”. No He is the way period for us all. He took us all into His own body according to Ephesians, made us all equal and “one new man”, paid the price for us all. He tore down the dividing wall between Jew (believer) and gentile (non-believer) and reconciled us all to himself, not holding our sins against us. He did away with the law, nailing it to the tree. He was the incarnate law but even more He is incarnate love, mercy and grace. He locked first them Israel) and then us all up in our disobedient unbelief in order that He could demonstrate His great mercy to us all.

    Most of the church places the future as dependant upon the “judgment of God”. I think the world was judged at the cross, died in Him and rose with Him who was but the first fruits from the dead. In due time all of this will be testified to in the hearts of all. His words just before going to the cross were simply “now is the judgment of the world and if I be lifted up I will draw it all to me (the word men were not in the original text. The context seems to be judgment).”

    I know that it is difficult to understand where I am coming from. My brain often can’t grasp what my heart tells me. It took be a while to get there and if you don’t like where I am just wait a couple of days. I will probably go thru much more change as learn to follow only His direction as given thru my heart. My “foundation is simply Christ in me as I believe it is also your foundation. My revelation just differs from yours at this time. But thanks for giving me an opportunity to share my heart Bob and Danny.

    By the way Danny, I hope you will reconsider your pledge to not visit Bruce again (and don't be so darn stubborn). :-) He often says things so much better than I.

    Grace and peace to you both.

  34. Hey guys. This is some interesting stuff that I reccommend. Click on the MP3 "You must be born again".


  35. Great explanation of your thoughts, Steve. They are not hard to follow at all.

    There is still much about the whole universalist concept that I am not grasping. It just seems to me that there are too many passages that must be discounted in order to make it work. For instance, you alluded to the John 12 passage in which Jesus says He will judge no one. But the very next verse says that there is a judge for the one who rejects Him and does not accept His word. And that that very word which Jesus spoke will condemn those who reject on the last day. Are we to accept verse 47, but throw away verse 48? I don't understand this.

    There are many passages which speak on faith, belief, obedience, repentance...etc. They cannot all be thrown out the window as unimportant. Surely the Lord was not kidding when He said, "Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son."

    Are we really to throw out all the passages which promise an eternal condemnation away from God? If so, why is it ok to cling to the passages which promise an eternal heaven?

    I believe that is the epitome of picking and choosing what we want to believe.

  36. And I believe that this is the epitome of why there is something fundamentally very wrong with trying to make it all fit into some doctrinally agreeable jig saw puzzle where every "scripture", as defined by traditional belief has to be in it's place. And drives people crazy with confusion. Talk about Babylon. Christ saves and religion babels-on.

    By the way, Israel was judged for their rejection of the Christ, along with a promise of their restoration. Personally, I think that the last day was the day of the Lord, the day of the cross, when the judgment of God fell on all the earth, in the body of the one Man, our Lord Jesus, the second Adam, the beginnig of the new heaven and earth and the alpha and omega.

    All of the age of the old heaven and earth, ruled by law, looks forward to that day of the cross, the day of the Lord, and all of the new heaven and earth ruled by mercy and grace, looks back at this central point in His-story.

    And I don't think that the disciples even fully grasped that. So we continue to debate their writings, what we have erroneously regarded as "scripture" and the world continues to denied the good news because we can't get passed our need to make it all fit our perception.

    Oh well, there I go again, talking of things not firmly rooted in orthodoxy.

  37. I guess I am about worn out on this one. Here is what I have gathered as I have tried to be (somewhat) open and understanding.

    I think that the anchor of much of the thought presented is found in one of two different sets of ideas ... or some variation on them ... about foundational topics:

    The Scripture:

    1) The scripture ended with Malachi. While there is merit in reading NT writings these writings of must be interpreted through the lens of the idea that everyone will eventually be saved through the cross of Christ.

    2) The scripture includes both the OT and the NT. Our revelation, experiences and ideas are tested by the scriptures but not used to interpret the scriptures.


    1) God has redeemed everyone but not everyone is saved before they die ... because "He is love" He will eventually save everyone.

    2) God has offered redemption and salvation in Jesus to everyone but not everyone accepts this free Gift. God loves everyone but not everyone is saved. When you die you do not get a second chance to accept the gift.


    1) God has judged everyone (excepts demons) on the cross. Consequently He will not allow anyone to experience eternal torment after they die.

    2) People are born under judgment and can escape judgment by believing in Jesus' work on the cross.

    Faith and the Faithful:

    1) Faith is a temporal virtue that helps us to develop a relationship with God here on earth. Faithless and anti-faith people will be enlightened when they die.

    2) Faith is an eternal virtue ... it is necessary to know the unseen God today so that we will experience Him forever ... when He is seen.

    I realize that this is not an exhaustive list ... but it is all my brain can handle for now. I don't think that I'll go forward in this tennis match of ideas providing input but I will continue to watch the match if you all care to keep the volley going :)

    Blessings, KB

  38. I think I'm done too, KB. It was an education. But I don't think I'll be sold on it. Perhaps in the future, when "my faith fails me" as they say, I will look at it again. But since faith cannot fail and only I can, it will be a while. ;-)

    Thanks for taking part, Steve. You have presented your side very well.

  39. Sorry Bob, I didn't intend to wear you out but I know my idle ramblings can do that. I hate debates and find them extremely tiring myself but yet I seldom grow weary of sharing the hope that I find in my heart these days, when given the chance.

    Anyway, thanks for the hospitality guys. Later.


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