Sunday, March 28, 2010

There really are only two religions. Really.

One:  A religion based on faith.

Two:  Every other religion is based on law.

First let's look at law.  Why do I say this?  Think about it.  What do you have to do to get to heaven, or reach the highest plane of consciousness, or reach Nirvana, or have twenty-some virgins, or keep your family together in heaven?  Do the right things, to earn your place in heaven.  Or become something, or be something.

It's rules and more rules, meditation, good works, bearing children, killing infidels, serving others, feeding the poor.  It's do, do, do.  If you have to do something it qualifies as a work which qualifies as law.

Next, let's look at faith.  The Bible (through Christ) is the only place where faith is a requirement.

Paul had a lot to say about it.  In the book of Romans alone, we find:
For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."  Romans 1:17

God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—Romans 3:25

For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.  Rom 3:28

However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.   Rom 4:5

And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them.  Rom 4:11

It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith.  For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.  Romans 4:13-15

It seems counter intuitive that we don't have to work to receive heaven, our experience of  life on earth is generally full of the harder you work, the greater your reward.

Praise God!  If it were up to my good works, I'd be on my way to Hell.  (All of the verses quoted are from the NIV.)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Can You Substitute Change for Sin?

Okay, this will probably be a bit of a rant.  Last night (and this morning) I was at a workshop, entitled Full Confidence.  It was about having confidence in what the Bible says is true.  Since "fide" was highlighted in the title, I thought that faith would be discussed more, but in the sessions I sat in on, it was not.

The opening speaker talked about change.  He began with a story about the movie Finding Nemo.  He ended with Dory's "just keep swimming" chant/song.  Honestly, I'm not sure what that has to do with keeping confidence in God's word.  He read Hebrews (citation needed):  He then launched into an entire lecture on change, starting with the creation in Genesis and talking about how God created a world of change.  He also talked about Adam and Eve eating of the forbidden tree in the garden, stating it was an arbitrary rule.  That act put us on a "changed" trajectory.  I think his pinnacle statement was that God had to change his form (to man) to come to earth.  He also said, delighted, something like:  The change, that causes the change, that brings the change (I'm sure I'm getting this wrong.)  The point is he said "change, change, change, change" a lot.  It this story making sense?  If it is not, it wasn't to me either and this is the best I can do to explain it.  I was getting more and more frustrated because it seemed like this lecturer was more impressed with what he was telling us, than to look at God's word. 

As the lecture was winding down he quoted this "verse" twice, which hit my boiling point.  "Christ became change, who knew no change."  Now, this probably sounds familiar, it is the verse:  God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God(II Cor. 5:21)  Being my usual wall-flower self, I piped up to the speaker and said something like:  "The Bible says sin."  To which the speaker said, yes, it does and quoted the verse correctly.  I challenged him and said, "why don't you tell us what the Bible says, then."  He somehow wove my comment into the lecture and kept chugging along.

A short while later it was time for our break.  At that point a man sitting in front of me turned to me and said I needed to "make this right" and apologize for saying what I did.  The fact that I wanted the Bible quoted correctly didn't make any difference to him.

I will say this.  Now, certainly you can have a discussion where you talk about an unchanging God changing and coming to earth for mankind.  I'm in with that discussion.  What I'm not in is making God's word say what it does not say.  If replacing "change" for "sin" in II Cor 5:21 works, shouldn't exchanging the two words in other contexts work just as well?  Let's see--

By no means! We died to change; how can we live in it any longer?  Rom 6:2
The wages of change is death.  Rom 6:23
Christ died for our change according to the scripture.  I Cor 15:3
For Christ died for changes once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit,  I Pet. 3:18

Hmm, those don't seem to work as well.  Maybe I'm a simpleton and don't understand the nuances of a lecture from a PhD.  Maybe I'm too much of a fundamentalist.  I am still confused as to why highlighting "change" and changing a verse gives us confidence in the steadfastness of the scriptures.  You know, maybe it was not the right way for me to handle the situation.  But if the worst one can say about me is a staunchly defend God's word, that's okay with me.  And, personally, I need Christ to forgive me of my daily sins, not my daily changes.