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Does God reject us for our beliefs or does He look at our hearts? March 29, 2005

Posted by roopster in Bible, Christianity, faith, God, Jesus, Religion, spirituality, Theology.
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Growing up in the fundamental Christian faith, we were taught that beliefs were extremely important in our salvation. In fact, we had a list of “essentials” that one MUST believe in order to be a “true” Christian and bound for heaven. For example, a Mormon or a Jehovah’s Witness were NOT “true” Christians because they do not subscribe to one or more of these “essentials”. The fact that their Jesus was not who orthodox christianity has determined him to be resulted in their churches being classed as a cult.

In the process, the state of one’s heart was immaterial. One could have a heart after God, devote their lives to helping others, and walk in compassion and kindness yet God would reject them because they did not believe what was considered a fundamental truth. God was more concerned about us dotting or i’s and crossing our t’s than the state of our hearts. He would easily reject people because of a flaw in their belief system.

Does this make sense? Is God concerned with whether or not I believed that Jesus was God vs. the Son of God? Would he really reject me for being wrong in what I believed?

I’ve met many Mormons who are wonderful examples of what I believe a “true” Christian is yet evangelical Christians, including the likes of Benny Hinn, Bob Tilton, and Joyce Meyer would condemn them to hell because of a few of their beliefs that are outside of their “essential” doctrines. Who determines what is an “essential” anyway? There is one constant in Christianity and that is we cannot agree on how to interpret the Bible.

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Comments»

1. Denes de Sainte-Claire (Baron Del) - July 16, 2005

Paul,

I too have met many Mormons (many live in my neighborhood) who have been extremely friendly, kind, assisting, and in some cases down right sacrificing in their interaction with others (irregardless of their religious persuasion). My son and I have attended a few functions at their church that were recreational in nature, and never did anyone try to evangelize us. The LDS members do “appear” to live their lives with a certain perceived, positive assurance that must give them some comfort.

Having stated this, I am still not convinced that the Christian God, IS God. Therefore, it would stand to reason (from my point-of-view) that deity issue of Mr. J. Christ is off the table (sort of the proverbial ‘cart before the horse’). I cannot find any solace from the ‘Book of Circular Reasoning,’ known as the Holy Bible. So quoting biblical passages does little to support any claims. But I do see that ‘faith’ is a powerful belief that cannot be dismissed. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, etc. all have a valid claim, by their faith. Don’t we all ponder our own faith, or, in my case, ‘What to have faith in?’

2. Roopster - July 17, 2005

BD,

I choose to believe in God. Is God accurately defined in the Bible? I sincerely doubt it. I’m not sure God would be so petty as to kill people for being curious, calling a prophet baldy, or for attempting to keep the ark from falling. Not exactly my idea of who God is. However, I believe there is some valid descriptions of God contained with the pages of the Bible and also many other holy books. Who’s right or who’s wrong? We all are. There’s no human being, religion, or philosopical thought who has all the right perceptions of God. I tend to try to glean what I can from a series of sources.

Paul

3. Dogtired321 - July 18, 2005

Yes…God does look to the heart. God is love. He not only loves us so much that he wants to live with us in eternity in heaven, he wants to live with us on earth. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:3-4)

I’m still looking for what scriptures that the “Sinners Prayer” is based off of. I’ve failed miserably thus far (probably because it doesn’t exist). If it’s required that I call on the name of God’s son, and I improperly call him Jesus as opposed to Yeshua (which is his real name), am I saved?

Look at this example…
For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus. (Romans 2:14-16)

We all have a conscience. Most of it is just from being born. However, some of it is cultural and many things are taught and reinforced through parenting, religions, and social mores. I stole a pack of gum from the grocery store when I was a little kid. I can remember the whole experience vividly because my grandma was so very hurt that I would do something like that at all, much less while she was babysitting me. I was very little, my parents weren’t Christians, I didn’t know the 10 commandments, my parents never once sat me down (that I can remember) and said, “Curt, when you go into a store, you are not allowed to take things because that is stealing and it is a sin”. I was easily 6 or 7 at the time….yet I remember “KNOWING” that it was wrong and fighting myself to leave it or take it. Sadly, I ended up taking it. Therefore it was a sin against my own conscience. What if I had been 2 years old and just saw something shiny, wanted it, and grabbed it. I don’t think that would have been a sin.

What if an Inuit Indian at the North Pole, who has never heard of Jesus seeks communion with a higher power, does his best to live a good life according to Inuit social mores, the teachings of their parents, etc. dies. Is a loving God going to send them to hell because they had never heard of Yeshua???? I think not.

What if a Korean does something that I would consider evil. See a stray dog, shoot it, and eat it. But this Korean was good to all his friends, family, etc. He always demonstrated the Golden Rule…love thy neighbor as thyself. Killing a dog in Korea is no different to them than us killing a chicken…that is part of our social conscience and does not come directly from God. I think that since he is not violating his conscience, he’s going to be judged for his heart.

This to me is why this scripture (among others exists)…
in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus. (Romans 2:14-16)

4. MMM - July 21, 2005

I invited God to look into my heart the other day. Not that He hadn’t seen all its nooks and crannies already. Just that He’s enought of a gentleman not to bring the stuff up until He’s invited. We’re still talking about a lot of it, too. ;)So, I guess the answer for me is: Yes, God looks at my heart. I asked Him to.

5. The Heretic - July 23, 2005

Nice post. Beliefs are such odd things and when you throw in language along side of it you have a situation where it is, by all human effort (which is the only effort I know of) impossible to know what is actually being believed or what it means to believe something.This is part of the reason that I am a universalist. I am pretty convinced that most people do what they think is best. The problem being that what they do is not what is actually best most of the time. Judegement on this view is more of a re-organizing of priorities than it is an “acounting for”. We probably have the ability to escape the “nurture” part of our “nature” but I think generally we are products of the social contructs that we grew up in and in that respect are only liable for our actions on a limited bases. Perhaps this is the reason we “don’t wrestle (can’t remember the wording” against flesh and blood but against principalities, powers, etc” all of which I consider to be distructive social contructs.

6. JOHN MARCUS - March 29, 2007

Hi there, this is John Maracus, living in Kyoto Japan. I’m a born again Christian and a church leader, my wife and I lead a house church here.
I think that there is truth and there are lies. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. The bible says, he is the word of God, and the word of God manifest among us in the flesh. It is the truth that sets us free. Some people look at creation and the beauty of creation, the different kinds of plants, trees, birds, flowers, insects etc and their hearts want to reach out to know the creator, these people that seek after God, will eventually come to Jesus, the Son of God. Others don’t listen to their inner hearts, that wants to help them come to their creator, instead they harden their hearts, such ones often never come to know God.

Did you know what one of the greatest sins is? UNBELIEF. Yes, the bible says that UNBELIEF is a sin. When people choose to harden their hearts and not believe in a creator God, this is sin.

The bible tells us that their is one mediator between man and God, the man Christ Jesus. Without the shedding of blood their is no forgiveness of sins. God created everything, and He made the way He chose for us to find forgiveness from sins. It’s through the blood of Jesus, that our sins are cleansed away.

The bible also says that we know how to discern the spirits if they are from God or from the demons of hell. Those that cofess that Jesusd came in the flesh as God in a human body, these are true and from God. It all comes down to how people see JESUS. Do you see him just as a good person, or as a good teacher and maybe a prophet or an apostle, or do you see Jesus as the Son of the living God.

The foundation truth of Chritianity is Jesus as the SON OF GOD, and that he ROSE FROM THE DEAD. This is truth and this is biblical doctrine.

Yes you are right, that the heart is important. WE BELIEVE WITH OUR HEARTS, and we CONFESS WITH OUR MOUTHS, THAT JESUS CHRIST IS LORD. Salvation comes to those who believe from their hearts.

Peter the apostle preached Christ as the Son of God, the savior and as risen from the dead. The people asked, what must we do to be saved? Peter replied, REPENT AND BE BAPTIZED.
Repentance is important, its a turning away from the lifestyle of sin, and turning to God, its a change of heart and a change of mind. Water baptism is a sign that you have died to your old nature of sin, going into the water, and you come up out of the water as a new creature in Christ, to make Jesus your Lord.

Many today come to Christ, but don’t go on to serve Him faithfully. Why? They never truly repented from their hearts of sin and they never really made Him the Lord of their lives.

7. divinescribble - March 29, 2007

I too believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God, sent as the New Covenant to take the place of the Old Covenant which the Israelites lived under. I don’t believe that you can accept parts of the Bible and throw others away. It’s an all or nothing proposition and it’s your choice to make. Morality doesn’t exist in Christianity alone, nor does Christianity assure goodness. Human nature has morality built into it…where did that come from? According to the Bible, we are created in the image of God…perhaps each one of us is born with morality because he put it there? Whether we choose to believe in God or not, it’s still there. The whole fabric of humanity depends on it. Hmmm…

God is a wrathful God as much as he is a loving God. He is not seeking to destroy, but man’s choices bring consequences and not all of them good ones. We are not puppets. God demands our loyalty and love if we are to be reconciled with Him, but he doesn’t shove himself on us, rather he relentlessly pursues us…we just don’t always notice or respond. It is up to us.

When comparing the Old Testament and New Testament, you will find many apparent discrepencies in the way God is portrayed or “behaves” so to speak. The Bible is not a flat book starting in Genesis and ending in Revelation, rather the OT is historical and factual explanation as to why Jesus Christ came, died and was resurrected. Without the OT, the NT doesn’t make any sense. We now live under the New Covenant which calls us to believe. And then it calls us to love.

You will not find the Sinner’s Prayer in the Bible. There is no magic little phrase to get into heaven, rather simply confess and believe. Then, as we seek after God, we will find him and draw close to him. That, in turn, will cause us to want to please Him…there’s no way it can’t. When we love someone, we want to be with them and do what makes them happy.

Repentance happens daily, forgiveness of others happens hourly and communion with God never ends.

None of your questions are easy, we’ve all had them, and still have them. Great discussion.

8. christopherday - March 29, 2007

I agree that God looks at the heart. I mean look at King David. God still considered him as a man after God’s own heart and he committed adultery and murder. Yet God looked at his heart and found favor in him. I do also believe that the content of what we believe is just as important. But when we hold beliefs that go directly against God’s Word God holds us accountable to those things…for straying from his Word. I’m not trying to bash any one certain religion but lets be honest. At some point and time we all stray from God’s Word in some aspect or another. So are we any better than a religious group who believes differently? We aren’t better.

God looks at the heart and with that comes the motives, intents, desires. He knows if we are chasing after him…and he knows when we are chasing after another God altogether.

9. Rob V. - March 29, 2007

I think you need to do a little more research, roopster.

While mormons and j.w.’s may be good people, their beliefs are in strong contradiction to foundational Christian tenets, set 2000 years ago. They have added new books to the Bible or changed the existing ones and have thus become so radically different that they are in essence new religions unto themselves. Did you know that mormons believe you can become a god with your own planet? Did you know j.w.s believe that only 144,000 people will be in heaven? I’m sorry, it’s more than just “essentials” (the TRUTH), it’s a LOT of stuff.

It is absolutely essential to believe that Jesus is God, or Christianity means nothing. Jesus is divine – it was the only way He could be sinless and take upon Himself the sin of all humanity. If God means what He says when He says, “there are no other gods before Me,” then Jesus and God must be one and the same.

10. Bot - March 30, 2007

Could members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) be more “Christian” than Evangelicals? Protestants and Catholics subscribe to the Nicene creed, which was initiated by the Emperor Constantine in the Fourth Century to rid Scriptures of the Apocrypha, which made reference to the oral traditions of Jewish and early Christian temple worship.

First Century Christian churches, in fact, continued the Jewish temple worship traditions:
1) Baptism of youth (not infants) by immersion by the father of the family
2) Lay clergy
3) Anointing with holy oil after baptism
4) Then clothing in white clothing

Just check with the Israeli Museum to verify. And read Exodus Ch 29 for Aaron and his sons” ordinances. Jewish Temple practices were continued by Christians prior to Constantine”s corruption (see St. Cyril of Jerusalem (315-386) Lecture XXI). Early Christians were persecuted for keeping their practices sacred, and not allowing non-Christians to witness them

A literal reading of the New Testament points to God and Jesus Christ being separate beings, united in purpose. To whom was Jesus praying in Gethsemane, and to whom was he speaking on the Mount of Transfiguration?

The Nicene Creed”s definition of the Trinity was influenced by scribes translating the Greek manuscripts into Latin. The scribes embellished on a passage explaining the Trinity, which is the Catholic and Protestant belief that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The oldest versions of the epistle of 1 John, read: “There are three that bear witness: the Spirit, the water and the blood and these three are one.”
Scribes later added “the Father, the Word and the Spirit,” and it remained in the epistle when it was translated into English for the King James Version, according to Dr. Bart Ehrman, Chairman of the Religion Department at UNC- Chapel Hill.

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) have concern for their ancestors” spiritual welfare, so they practice proxy baptism. (1 Corinthians 15:29 & Malachi 4:5-6).

Only members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) continue these practices of First Century Christians. But Mormons don”t term Catholics and Protestants “non-Christian”. The dictionary definition of a Christian is “of, pertaining to, believing in, or belonging to a religion based on the teachings of Jesus Christ”:. All of the above denominations are followers of Christ, and consider him the Messiah foretold in the Old Testament.

It”s important to understand the difference between Reformation and Restoration when we consider who might be the more authentic Christian. If members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) embrace early Christian theology, they are likely more “Christian” than their detractors.

* * *
Furthermore, a UCLA study found that observant members of the Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) in their 50s and 60s had one-twentieth the divorce rate, abuse rate, or substance abuse of a demographically similar group in Southern California.

And the National Study of Youth and Religion done by UNC-Chapel Hill in 2005 found that Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) youth (ages 13 to 17) were more likely to exhibit these Christian characteristics than Evangelicals (the next most observant group):
LDS Evangelical
Attend Religious Services weekly 71% 55%
Importance of Religious Faith in shaping daily life –
extremely important 52 28
Believes in life after death 76 62
Believes in psychics or fortune-tellers 0 5
Has taught religious education classes 42 28
Has fasted or denied something as spiritual discipline 68 22
Sabbath Observance 67 40
Shared religious faith with someone not of their faith 72 56
Family talks about God, scriptures, prayer daily 50 19
Supportiveness of church for parent in trying to raise teen
(very supportive) 65 26
Church congregation has done an excellent job in helping
Teens better understand their own sexuality and sexual morality 84 35

11. agnosticatheist - March 30, 2007

divinescribble,

You said:

I don’t believe that you can accept parts of the Bible and throw others away. It’s an all or nothing proposition and it’s your choice to make.

But Christians already do that. In how many of your churches are women silent? How many Christian women wear “modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing.” Do Christians marry a divorced woman? That would put them in a perpetual state of adultery according to Matthew 5:32.

How many of you support the massacre of women, children, babies, and animals in war? How many of you believe you should stone your rebellious kids or those who work on the sabbath?

I could list scripture all day that you DO NOT ACCEPT yet you will condemn fellow christians to hell for not ACCEPTING “interpretations.”

Interesting!

aA

12. Neil - April 1, 2007

Interesting post. Ironically, people like Benny Hinn and Joyce Meyer come to mind when I think of false teachers! (especially Hinn with his alleged healings and distortions of scripture).

I do agree that you don’t have to have perfect theology to be saved. I doubt the criminal on the cross had attended too many Old Testament Bible studies, and the New Testament hadn’t been written. He just knew that the real Jesus was his salvation.

I have had many great neighbors and friends who are Mormons, and I have spent a lot of time in friendly discussions with Mormons about their faith. Here’s the bottom line: The Jesus they talk about is not the same Jesus as the Bible. The Jesus of the Bible is the eternal God who created the universe; the Jesus of Mormonism is a man who became god and who is the spirit brother of Lucifer. Therefore, they have faith in wrong one.

“How many of you support the massacre of women, children, babies, and animals in war? How many of you believe you should stone your rebellious kids or those who work on the sabbath?”

This is the most common straw man argument I hear from atheists / agnostics, and it reveals a lack of understanding about the Bible (that isn’t a put-down; lots of Christians don’t know the Bible well either).

If people want to seriously consider the Bible then there are plenty of thorough, logical responses to those questions. If they are looking for reasons NOT to believe, then of course they can just use difficult passages to do that. But basing your spiritual health and eternal destiny on sound bites is a bad idea.

13. Roz - May 5, 2007

Hello,

The greatest travesty of religion is that it personafied God. From there, man made God in his own image. People project their views and opinions onto the image of God they hold in their imagination.

So the issue of what God thinks is moot when we understand what God is. God is neither man nor woman. God is Spirit (energy). If one really wants to know the mind of God, it’s probably best to study spiritual principles, quantum physics or simply observe nature.

I’m out…


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