Saturday, February 25, 2012

10 reasons why I don't believe in Universalism.

I have been reading and thinking quite a bit lately about the idea of Univeralism (Universal Salvation), which is an argument that all people will be ultimately saved. The idea is rooted in the belief that a loving God cannot and will not send people to hell. There are numerous positions on this issue among people from the argument of logical and rational thinking (a loving God letting people go to hell being illogical), to the idea that the word "forever" (eternal) doesn't really mean forever and everyone will get an opportunity to go through a short period of "hell-like" experience and then they will eventually bow their knees and confess with their tongue that Jesus is Lord.

Honestly, I too want to believe in this idea because I have a lot of friends and family who have not accepted Christ and it concerns me, so I started exploring the idea with great enthusiasm but eventually came to a realization that without tossing out a whole bunch of Scriptures, it is impossible to establish a case for Universalism.

I am a believer in God's grace and His unconditional love and I am passionate about it and the good news of it. I am also encouraged to see people questioning and challenging the traditional beliefs of institutional church (which I am also doing). But, when it comes to this issue, the argument is seriously flawed.

My attempt here is not to address each and every arguments, but some of it.

1. No Scriptural support.

There are no Scriptural support of evangelism offer to the unregenerate after their death and that they will be released from hell after their 'pruning time'.

2. Freewill is critical.

If God is going to force people to accept him, it is a violation of freewill and if God was going to violate the freewill in the "future", He could have violated it in the Garden of Eden by stopping Adam and Eve from eating the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. God never violated the freewill and He never will.

3. Being a universalist is not necessarily a sign of "open mindedness" or "thinking outside the box".

People posses a fear of being seen as a religious bigot (subtle influence of secularism?). They want to appear as "open minded" because they think that's kind of cool and modern. They ask the question "Did God really mean it that way?". Well, that's the same kind of question Satan once asked Adam and Eve: "Did God really say...?".

4. If something is not mentioned in some places, that doesn't mean that it doesn't exist.

Universalists argue that since there aren't a lot of occurance of the word "hell" in the Bible we shouldn't believe that it exist, or it exist in an eternal sense. There are an overwhelming number of passages in the Bible that it is very clear about a separation of believers and unbelievers such as the parable of 10 virgins, where 5 of them being left out in the dark and the parable of separating sheep from the goats. Though the world hell is not directly used in any of these places, it clearly shows us that there is going to be a seperation of believers and unbelievers; and unbelievers are going to be left out. Another example is, Jesus telling "I never knew you, depart from me". There is no reference to hell here, but you can see that He rejects the people who never KNEW him (believed in Him and had faith in Him). Another example is the older brother in the story of the prodigal son that he chose not to join the party though his father invited him.

Another argument is, Apostle Paul being silent on the issue of hell. It is true that Aposlte Paul is not bringing that issue a lot in his epistles, but isn't it because he is writing to churches (believers)? Why would he keep on reminindng those who have already "passed from death to life" about hell (eternal death)?

5. Satan was an archangel and was created by God, but it is ludicrous to believe that Satan will be saved. 

One question I would ask a universalist: Do you believe that Satan and his demons will be reconciled to God? I would assume that their answer is "No", now consider this: Anyone who rejects Christ is anti-christ.

6. "Forever" DOES mean forever.

The argument that "forever" doesn't really mean forever has a huge flaw. If you are going to posit that hell is temporal because of the Greek word used to describe it, you must also be willing to posit that heaven is temporal. The same word that is used to describe the length of hell (aionios) is the same word that is used to describe the length of heaven (aionios).  [Matthew 25:46]

7. We are NOT created in the image of God, in the first place.

Universalists also believe that salvation is nothing but forgiveness of sins and Jesus forgave the sins of the WORLD, then it must mean that the entire world is (or will be) saved. While it is true that the entire world is forgiven and reconciled to God, forgiveness alone is NOT salvation. Forgiveness is only a prerequisite to salvation. Salvation is receiving LIFE from God (receiving Jesus). Jesus said , "I am the way, the truth and the LIFE". "I am the resurrection and the LIFE". "I have come so that you may have LIFE".

We are born into this world spiritually dead (inheriting adamic nature) and in need of Life.

[This is contrary to many people's belief that we are created in the image of God, which is not true. Only Adam was created in the image of God (fully alive to God) and all the people who are born thereafter (after Adam sinned) are born in the image of Adam (Genesis 5:3). Remember, God told Adam that if he eat that fruit, he will DIE, but we all know that he did not die physically as bible says he lived for 930 years, so the death he died that day was spiritual death].

Jesus came to give us that life which we didn't have (which we lost in Adam) when we were born into the world, but in order for us to recieve that life we have to be fully forgiven of all sins for God's life (spirit) cannot be dwelled in a sinner. So Jesus brought forgiveness to the entire world (through His death on the cross) making us ready to receive life (through His resurrection) [This is the experience Jesus explained to Nicodemus that unless you are born of water (natural birth) and spirit (born again OF God), you cannot inherit the kingdom]. However, receiving the life is a choice - you can either accept it (by faith) or reject it and hell is a place or a state of remaining spiritually dead, for those who reject life by their free will.

"For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him (forgivenss) through the death of his Son , how much more, having been reconciled (forgiveness being a prerequisite), shall we be saved through his life (salvation)!  - Romans 5:10

So, I believe in universal forgiveness, not in universal salvation. There is a huge difference.

8. Believing in a loving God and believing that hell do exist is NOT paradoxical, and God is NOT sending anyone to hell.

Universalists think believing in hell and believing in a loving God are somehow paradoxical so they attempt to build a case against hell. It is a noble desire and I understand where they are coming from but the fact is God is not sending anyone to hell, people choose hell (death) by their will. When they reject Life offered by Christ, they remain dead. Remaining eternally dead is nothing but hell.

9. God is Love, but He is also just.

God punishing sin on the body of Christ is something we shouldn't take lightly as it was an act of justice and because of His immeasurable love for us, He chose His own Son to receive the wages of sin (death). But He raised Jesus from dead and is offering us the same resurrection life so that we may be raised with Him from our state of spiritual death.

Those who reject this resurrection life, simply remain dead.

10. It's all Grace, but faith matters.

There are numerous passages in the Scripture where it shows that we receive Jesus (resurrection life) by faith and faith is never compelled upon on anyone.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Think with your heart.

"Use your head" is a provocation we all use to get people thinking rationally and logically. It is not a bad thing. in fact a good thing, to have our own rational take on issues related to life. And we are all very opinionated and I think it is healthy to have opinions, better than having nothing to say about anything.

We have been trained enough to think with our head. It is the intellectual reasoning what enables us make decisions in our daily lives. Decision such as what career path should I be taking, what vehicle should I be driving, should I buy a Mac or PC etc.

However, life is far from being rationale. We all know, things always don't sit well with our left brain, the stuff we encounter, the life puzzles we conveniently leave unresolved, those several unanswered questions lingering in our head. Our heads can't be peace with all that.

But, our hearts can! Our hearts can safely ignore the need for logical reasoning and actually enable us to move from where we are stuck in our head. Heart doesn't make a lot of sense to our heads. Heart operates in a totally different paradigm.

Those leaps in the inner chambers of our heart when we experience love, forgiveness, acceptance.  The joy we feel when a stranger smiles at us. The elevated happiness when we look at our children's cute behaviors. That desire we all have somewhere deep in us to show kindness, to protect the vulnerable, to speak up for the oppressed. That awe and wonder we all feel when we look around and observe the beauty and marvel of creation.

Those are all heart matters! There we lay aside our head, to experience life.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What is happening to Christianity?

I believe we are living in a very crucial, yet exciting time in the history of mankind. 

There are all kinds of revolutions going on in the world,  from the very conspicuous Arab Spring which thrives on great media coverage to subtle, silent, yet powerful spiritual revolution among the new generation. I am encouraged and excited to see the renewed spiritual awareness and a greater sense of the need for freedom sweeping across the globe. I am encouraged by the courage and brevity of the young generation to come forward and question things which doesn't appeal to their heart. And the more and more people becoming less and less hesitant to stand firm in  (or reclaim) their freedom and say "No" to religious, political and social oppression.

There is something very telling about the huge popularity of the "Why I hate religion, but love Jesus" YouTube video. There is something refreshing about that video. It's both radical, yet sitting right with our heart. Truth, though it is sometimes disturbing in the light of our traditions, always sit right with our heart. 

When we hear the truth, we KNOW that it is the truth.

Is this a phenomena out of the new generation to seek and find what is actually real? Could it be seen as a damaging challenge to the religious establishment and how religion had been oppressing, controlling and manipulating people for centuries?

It reminds me of the great courage shown by men like Martin Luther (in 1500s), who vehemently opposed to conform to Catholic oppression and ignited the flame of Protestant revolution. 

It's been more than 500 years.

In this 500 years, traditions, unspoken rules and clever manipulation have been sneaked into Christianity. Fundamentalism took its root and became like a Pharisaical cult. It abused hundreds and thousands of people, snatched their freedom from their hands, and controlled them without kindness. 

Is it time to question it? Is it time to shake even the very foundation of institutional church and organized religion? Is the social media, and other powerful technological tools changing the game? Is the global spiritual climate changing rapidly? Is the bigotry of Christian fundamentalism and institutional Christianity coming to an end?

Is it a sign that people are coming out of their closet and authentically agreeing that they have a greater spiritual need and a deeper desire in their heart to connect with their Creator, which the institutions have failed to meet?

It is worth noticing, unlike the historical revolutions, which usually started by one or two courageous men/women, the modern revolutions are started and carried on by regular, ordinary people. Ordinary radicals, just like you and me!

After all, is it just that we are awakening to the simple, yet profound fact that Jesus did not really come to start another religion but to give us a relationship and friendship and He is whole-heatedly interested in each one of us individually with all of our flaws, not necessarily the little phony religious activities we do?

Hide and seek

Hide and seek in the dark woods (Poem by Jessica Manjasseril (7 years old) Jan 2012)

The woods are dark
The branches creek
The rain is dropping on my feet
I don't know what to do
But I look and look and look for you...
When I am about to give up, and no longer filled with hope
I feel something on my leg
It's YOU! It's YOU!
I am so happy to see you
Let's go inside and play hide and seek.

Monday, February 13, 2012

71 popular Christian teachings which are to be challenged.

These are some of the popular teachings I have observed for that past 10 years of my Christian life among predominantly large Christian denominations/groups. By no means, this is an attempt to find fault but I strongly believe that right believing will lead us to right living and if our premise (of belief) is wrong, anything we build upon it could be just fragile, erroneous, and futile and as a result limiting us from experiencing the freedom Jesus gave His life for.

Regardless of what you have been taught/believed for years or decades, are you willing to take up the challenge to re-assess your beliefs as you go through this list with a "what if?" attitude?
  1. God saves us so that He can change us.
  2. When you sin, God is disappointed.
  3. Preaching too much grace is dangerous.
  4. We are merely a "sinner saved by grace".
  5. God expect every Christians to be "soul winners".
  6. Our heart is wicked and is deceitful above all things.
  7. New Covenant is the continuation of the Old Covenant.
  8. If we are not tithing (10% of our income), we are robbing God.
  9. We can earn rewards in heaven if we work hard for God.
  10. Through the death of Jesus, the ceremonial laws were fulfilled, but the moral laws (10 commandments) are expected to be obeyed by Christians.
  11. When we are saved, our past sins are forgiven, then on, all the sins we commit in our daily life need to be confessed and sought forgiveness for.
  12. The righteousness we have in Christ is only "positional" for now, it becomes a reality in its true sense only when we reach heaven.
  13. The fact that Christ lives in us is only a "positional" truth which need to be a reality in the future.
  14. We are saved by grace apart from the law, but once saved, Holy Spirit gives us the ability to obey the law.
  15. The primary benefit of believing in Jesus is avoiding hell and going to heaven.
  16. We need to take the whole bible as it is written to us and the whole bible (66 books) are applicable to us today.
  17. Sinners need to clean up their acts before they can be accepted and loved by God.
  18. The sign of being a good Christian can be measured by the various activities he/she is involved in - prayer, fasting, bible study, evangelism, good works
  19. The issue of hell is a great tool to use in convincing people to accept Jesus.
  20. The goal of Christian life is going to heaven one day.
  21. Christians should always be nice, meek and gentle because Jesus was nice, meek and gentle.
  22. The problems you have in life - sickness, poverty, depression etc are usually a sign of unconfessed sin your life.
  23. Sanctification is the process of achieving sinlessness by obeying the law.
  24. A Christian who is not busy with Christian activities is usually a backslidden christian.
  25. The biggest advantage of becoming a christian is avoiding hell.
  26. If you consider yourself holy and righteous (because of what Jesus did), there is a danger of falling into pride and arrogance.
  27. If you preach total forgiveness, people might end up sinning more.
  28. If you preach that you are totally free from the law, people will take it as a license to sin.
  29. 10 commandments is the rail on which your christian train should be running.
  30. It is the moral duty of a Christian to fight against all the sinful behaviors in the world (homosexuality, abortion, etc).
  31. True conservative Christians are republicans.
  32. Working for God is doing certain activities - bible teaching, preaching, evangelizing.
  33. The biggest problem with Christianity today is that they drifted away from fundamentalism/conservatism.
  34. If you haven't prayed the "sinner's prayer", you can't be sure that you are really saved.
  35. Salvation is an "initial" experience, which is to be followed by a second (or more) experience of infilling of the Holy Spirit.
  36. It is important for a Christian to be under the teaching (cover) of an ordained pastor and a local church.
  37. By participating in the activities of your local church, you are participating in the works of the Lord.
  38. If you pray earnestly, with the right amount of faith, God will grand your requests.
  39. By starving/weakening your body, through fasting, you can strengthen your spirit.
  40. All Christians have two natures - a sinful nature and a righteous nature. Both these natures are at war.
  41. Sunday is the Christian Sabbath.
  42. When you sin, you are out of fellowship with God.
  43. You need to repent of each of your sins and confess it and seek forgiveness from God on a daily basis.
  44. Not asking forgiveness to God again and again is a sign of arrogance.
  45. All Jesus's teachings in the 4 gospel books (Lords prayer, sermon on the mount etc) are to be followed by Christians today.
  46. Lord's supper should be administered by a pastor/priest in a church setting.
  47. We should teach our kids to have a fear of God.
  48. Bible should be used as a rule book for our daily life.
  49. It is important for Christians to stay out of the "world", because the world can contaminate their Christian righteousness.
  50. Faithful Christians are always prospering 
  51. All your sicknesses will be healed if you have enough faith and use the right formula to pray.
  52. If you aren't materially prospering, you are not believing and claiming God's blessings enough.
  53. If you get busy for God, you will sin less and be blessed more.
  54. Pastors/Priests/Leaders have special hot communication line with God, and special privileges to interpret the Bible unlike the flocks.
  55. If you are not water baptized, you are not a Christian.
  56. You can lose your salvation if you continually sin.
  57. Holy Spirit's job is to convince you the sins you commit.
  58. Salvation is nothing but a "guarantee" that we will go to heaven.
  59. The formula for salvation is - Accept, Believe and Confess.
  60. If you are emotional and crying in an environment of dim lights and slow music, it is a sign of the presence of Holy Spirit.
  61. Church is a building with a set of activities.
  62. God has a serious attitude, so everything "godly" must be serious.
  63. Serious Christians have accountability partners.
  64. It is important that we preach the right balance of law and grace.
  65. Becoming a Christian is giving your life to Jesus.
  66. In our Christian gathering, it is necessary that we invite the presence of Holy Spirit, so that He will be present.
  67. Mosaic laws (10 commandments) are written on a Christian's heart.
  68. Anyone  who questions the institutional church system and the practices of the organized, traditional Christianity is a heretic.
  69. Having the attitude of a "sinner saved by grace" is a sign of humility.
  70. By being a Christian you are bullet proofing yourself from various trials you may otherwise face in the world.
  71. God communicates to us only through the Bible.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Does grace lead us into licentious sinning?

This is the second portion of the conversation I am having with a friend:

Yes, we certainly don't see eye to eye on this issue and that is perfectly alright. We are still loved by God :)

I am well aware that my stand on several Christian subjects aren't very popular and I am perfectly fine with it. After all, I am not in it to win a popularity contest. That is one of the reason I shy away from arguing/debating with people because I know most people aren't ready for what I am saying. I have long ago given up the idea that just because a lot of people believe in something, that makes it true.

Also, I am not trying to be edgy just for the thrill of it, neither looking to be famous. I always want to be a regular guy who is passionate about the truth.

I want to address a few things you brought up in your last email. By no means feel obligated to respond.

most of the theologians call it the difference in school of thought between a Calvinistic view point and Arministic view point

Honestly, I don't even know who these people are. I have heard of Calvin but never spent any time learning his teachings. It's interesting to me that people like to identify themselves with some famous theologians. It's a human tendency I guess. They like to call themselves Calvinist, Lutheran etc. I am not any "ist". If at all, someone wants to call me an "ist", call me "Paulinist". Because if Calvin or Luther learned any theology, they learned it from Apostle Paul. Isn't it? And we still have Apostle Paul's teaching available to us, then why not learn directly from his epistles instead of looking to someone who has only a second hand information?

However, before I close let me discuss one important aspect that is on repentance and obtaining forgiveness. I subscribe to all the Bible verses that you quoted, but all of these refer to a person who is to be a new believer. However, none of these tell us, what happens if a person who is saved commits a sin.

Since you brought up the issue of repentance, I want to clarify my understanding of it. There is only one true repentance - that is repenting of your unbelief. When bible talks about repentance, what it says is repent of your unbelief and believe in Jesus. It's not talking about repenting every time you sin. However, there is a place for repentance in our daily life. When we sin, we repent because we wronged (hurt) someone and then we go and ask forgiveness to them.

That is why bible says, "forgive each other as I have forgave you". Because God has forgiven us, we can forgive others. And forgiving others is a result of realizing (repenting) that we wronged them.

When you sin, God is not surprised. He knows! He even knows the sins you are going to commit in the future (because he is omniscient), but he chose to forgive us.

Bible says, "while we were yet enemies, Christ died for us and forgave us". See it didn't say, "when you repented, God forgave you".
Forgiveness was a voluntary act of God. He did that while you were still His enemy. That is grace! If God only forgives you when you repent, that is not grace. That is conditional forgiveness.

If one continues to stay on that path, such lack of repentance will only lead us to pride, arrogance, absence of love, possibly miss the fruits of the spirit and even lead us to a road of total denial of Christ.

That makes me grin. Not because it's funny but because I have heard this argument a million times. In reality, the opposite is true. The fact that God has forgiven all my sins and there is nothing I can do to lessen His love for me doesn't make me pride or arrogant, rather it makes me humble and grateful.

Jesus confirmed it, via a perfect model for prayer:
Luke 11:4 Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.

Yes, Jesus taught his disciples to pray that prayer. But when did he do that? it was before the cross. Things are different on this side of the cross. Jesus was born and taught under Jewish law. Remember he went to the temple on Sabbath, for example. But that doesn't mean that he expect us to continue to practice Jewish religion.

Cross changed everything! On the other side of the cross forgiveness was conditional. On this side of the cross forgiveness is done deal (In other words, totally unconditional). Let me explain.

This is the verse right after the Lord's prayer referred in Matthew:

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. (Mathew 6:14)

Now, tell me if this is true on this side of the cross? that, we will be forgiven only if we forgive others? I want to you to think.

Don't forget "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness".

So, Jesus taught under the Jewish law and His ministry was to bring Jewish people (who were religious and thought their religion and self-made righteousness can save them) to the end of their ropes, so that they will understand their need for a savior. And then (only then), they will have the readiness to accept grace.

There are several examples in the Bible proving this point. Jesus told them to cut off their arms if their arm cause them to sin. Jesus told to pluck their eyes out if their eyes cause to sin. Jesus said, adultery is not just the physical act, but just having lust in the mind. Murder is not necessarily killing someone, but just having anger in our mind is considered as murder. Jesus told the young ruler to give everything to the poor.

Have you ever wondered why Jesus said all this? He was literally showing them, righteousness is not merely an external cleanliness. Remember, Pharisees were very clean (externally) people. They followed all the law. Yet Jesus reserved some harsh words against them: "white washed tombs", "brood of vipers". Because those people were arrogant thinking that they are following the rules and obeying God's commandment and focusing on mere external cleanliness, cleverly obscuring their dirty minds.

You had mentioned, if we think all our sins are forgiven and there is no need for repentance, it can make us arrogant and pride. Now do you see who is actually arrogant? The Pharisees who did the "right" things (went to the temple, prayed the prayer, tithed, fasted, never committed adultery, murder or anything, followed the 613+ Jewish laws) were arrogant whereas the Zacchaeus (tax collector) was not. The woman caught in adultery was not. The woman at the well was not. The thief on the cross was not.

So, who is more arrogant, the one who receives God's unconditional forgiveness and grace or the one who thinks they are doing all the right things and obeying all the commandments and doing the works of the Lord?

If one continues to stay on that path, such lack of repentance will only lead us to pride, arrogance, absence of love, possibly miss the fruits of the spirit and even lead us to a road of total denial of Christ.

I want to address one more thing here. I don't want to sound like there is no earthly consequences to sin. Of course there is. When you sin, you suffer the heartache of it and the one you sinned against also feel the pain. So, of course we need to realize that our act was not aligned with who we are in Christ (perfectly holy and righteous) and take the steps to bring reconciliation with whomever we wronged. But the point is, we are not condemned by God when we sin. God isn't shaking his head in disappointment when you sin. He always knew you would sin, but chose to love you and while you were still His enemy He chose to forgive you. He doesn't keep the records your wrongs. He has forgiven you unconditionally. He has not only forgiven you and he has also forgotten your sins. He took them away, never to see them again.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Gal 5:1)

Truth sets us free. It really does. Christ did not come so that we can be confined inside the four walls or an organized religion or institutional church. He came to abolish religion and set us free from the oppression and bondage of it.

I know, it's kind of scary. Freedom is scary.

But we are created to be free.

"A ship in port is safe, but that's not what ships are built for." - Grace Murray Hopper

We think if when we give people freedom, they will go crazy. So people love the "security" of the organized religion, the popular belief. It is just a false security.

Have you seen the movie Madagascar? It's a children's movie, but there is some amazing truth in that movie. It's about a group of animals getting out of a zoo. Those animals were "safe" and well fed in the zoo. They were entertaining to the people. But were they created to be inside the four walls of a zoo cage? They are created to be in the wild!

When they escaped, they didn't know what to do. They were terrified. Because it's been a long time since their freedom was compromised. They forgot how to live in their natural state. Then they had to re-learn how to live in freedom and while doing that they had to unlearn a lot of stuff they have been taught and believed for several years. The lion had to learn how to hunt. At times, they were tempted to even go back to the zoo.

The state of so many Christians is very similar to those animals in the zoo. They put on a great show. They entertain, and live in the coziness of the institutionalized church, not knowing what they are missing in the wild. They do all their Christian acts - prayer, bible study, Sunday school, tithe, charity, soul winning, you name it.

Brother, I was there once. Not anymore! I am detoxing myself from religion. It's a painful slow process but I will stand firm in my freedom. I don't want to go back to the dead religion, I want to live the adventurous life of freedom Christ has given me. When we live in freedom, He also teaches us how to handle it. We don't go crazy and indulge in sin.

It is not the law, rules, do's and don'ts what teaches us to live a rightous life. It is the grace what teaches us to live a righteous life.

Grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age" - Titus 2:12

So, unlike many people think, this freedom doesn't lead us to arrogance, pride or licentious sinning. The opposite is true.
It is the law what stirs sin in us, not grace. ("The power of the sin is the law" - 1 Corinthians 15:56)

I want to conclude with one more note. I want to share my story (you can call it testimony or whatever) I wrote back in May 2009 on my blog. If you would like to read, here is the link.

Again, don't feel pressured to write back or anything.

Have a great day!

Monday, February 6, 2012

What is Salvation?

As part of an email conversation with a friend, I wrote the following explaining my understanding of what Salvation is. I have come to this view after several years of living and trying out various religious, doctrinal, denominational views on this issue. I spoke the church lingo quite eloquently, but I have to admit, I never "got" the essence of what gospel really was. Today, I am glad to say that, I finally "get" it! In His grace, He revealed it to me! And unlike the other views I had, I am holding to this view for several years now because it sits right with my rational mind and also with my spirit. It's been consistent. In other words, now, I have a conviction, but in my religious days, I had only a belief.

Here is the email I wrote:

So, what is my understanding of Salvation?

Boy! where do I begin! :)

I cannot explain what salvation is and why we need it without going all the way to the garden of Eden. God created Adam and Eve fully alive (body, soul and spirit). They had perfect communion with God. But God told them if they eat from the tree of knowledge and evil, they will DIE. However, we all know that Adam/Eve did not really die when they ate from the tree, because Bible says Adam lived upto 930 years (had children, grand children etc)
so, then why did God say that they will die? Did God lie?

The answer is, they in fact died! But not their body or soul, but their spirit. They died spiritually! The spirit of the God, who made them alive to God, left them! In another words, life left them! Because death is the absence of life, isn't it?

We know the rest of the story. Adam and Eve had kids, but all those kids inherited the nature of Adam. What is the "nature" of Adam? Spiritually dead! The children of Adam, ever since the fall, including us, inherits Adam's nature. In other words, when we are born into this world, we have a live body and a live soul (mind), but NOT a live spirit. Why? because we inherit the nature of Adam, the nature of being spiritually dead. Have you ever wondered why we don't have to teach the kids how to sin? They know it. Even a 3 year old knows how to lie, for example!

Hope you are with me until now :)

Now, lets fast forward to the time of Jesus. Have you ever wondered why Jesus is called the "Second Adam"? Interesting, isn't it?

There is an amazing statement in  1 John 3:14.

Here it is: "We know that we have passed from death to life"

Wow! What was the problem in the garden of Eden? Death!
What is the solution God had? LIFE!

Amazing, isn't it?

The only solution for death is life! (We don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand that)

Now, consider this:

Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the LIFE"

"I have come so that you may have LIFE"

"I am the resurrection and LIFE"

Any human being, who is born from their human Dad and Mom are born spiritually DEAD. But, then later in life, when they receive Jesus, they receive LIFE!

Their spirit (which they lost in Adam) is now restored! They are redeemed! And that, my friend, is the SALVATION!

Salvation is coming ALIVE to God. Being born from the incorruptible seed (corruptible seed being our human father). We are born again. Birth happens when Life comes! Don't you agree? Just like when a new baby is born there is a new life (natural life), when we are born again, there is a new LIFE (the LIFE which Jesus came to give us).

It's interesting, people come up with all kind of theories about what salvation is. Many people think salvation is merely forgiveness of sins. Nothing could be further from the truth. Many people think, salvation is the ticket to heaven! Though that is part of salvation, that is not salvation is all about. Some people think cross is what saves us. Not true! it is the resurrection (life) what saves us! Cross (forgiveness) was a pre-requisite to salvation. In other words, without the cross, salvation (resurrection) is not possible, yet cross itself is not salvation.

In simple terms, Salvation is God coming to live in us! The life of God dwelling in us, just like how He dwelled in Adam and Eve before the fall. 

That's is why salvation is called redemption - redeemed what Adam and Eve lost.

Now, a perfectly holy and righteous God cannot and will not live in a sinful man, right? That's why cross was needed. Cross cleansed us, forgave us all our sins, made us righteous and holy, so that now the holy God can come and live in us. What an amazing plan!

Christian life is not about going to heaven one day.

It's not about how much sin we can manage or how we can attain sinlessness or how we can modify or improve our behavior. Rather, it is living in the reality that a perfectly loving God dwells in us right nowright here and we are perfectly LOVED by Him. Nothing could separate us from His love. When we realize that, life is amazingly transformed. That's the power of gospel. Until and unless we realize this, we are not living the life God intended us to live. We can put on a show (like the pharisees and several modern day christians). Anybody can do that (in fact, almost all religions in the world believe and practice good morals). But true Christian life is totally different. It is the Christ living in and through us. We rest, He lives!

Jesus said, my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Yet, when I look at many Christians today, they are trying hard to live a successful christian life. It look like they carry a difficult yoke and a heavy burden. Isn't that sad? They fail to understand that we are called to a "Sabbath Rest" (Hebrews 4:11). We are not called to "work for God", we are called to "rest", so that God can work through us!

P.S: I apologize for using several exclamation marks and Capital letters. As you can see, I am very very passionate about the good news of gospel. There is nothing in this world makes me more happier than seeing someone getting the truth of God's unconditional love and grace! It's amazing and I have no words to explain that joy.

Religion (including christian religion) is a mere human attempt to make things happen, by observing the law, by following the rules, by doing the "right" things, by speaking the christian lingo, by having the do's and don'ts, by acting like it's working. Dead religion is boring! But, Christ's life in us is exciting!  It sets us FREE! The life we live in Him (knowing that we are totally forgiven, loved and accepted right now, right here) is amazingly fulfilling, satisfying and exciting!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Belief Vs. Conviction

After a long time, since this morning I felt the passion for the truth and the conviction again. I felt angry about the various theories out there. People come up with clever, appealing theories so that they can simply hide the lack of passion and conviction they have.

I was thinking about the difference between belief and conviction.

People have numerous beliefs, some true and some untrue. But belief always is a matter of the approval of our rational mind. People believe in political, social, cultural and philosophical matters. And it matters to them. They work for it. They spend their money and energy in a very notable way. They look convicted. Yet, are they convicted?

Or do they just hold fast to their belief and put on several acts of validation? Is it because people always find 'hope' in believing in something or someone? Are we wired to 'believe'? Probably, yes!

People, from the post modern civilization to people from African tribes believes in things. People can hold fast to their beliefs from the early adolescence to later in life until death. They can be even passionate about their beliefs, they can get college degrees on the subjects of their beliefs, they can make a living based on what they believe and work on it to make it happen.

Have you ever wondered what drives or motivates this people? It's their belief. How or where belief happens? What is the psychology behind believing in something? May be they read a convincing book? listened to a charismatic, convincing speaker? Role models? tragedies? or may be its something makes them feel good? or may be it simply makes sense to their rational sense? Or, it could be all of it?

Here is the question though: All these people, who strongly and emphatically believes in things, have you ever wondered if they really have a CONVICTION? An unquestionable conviction in their hearts? Note that I did not say "in their mind"? Rather, in their HEART?

Well, does it matter? Isn't an intellectual belief enough? After all, they are getting things done. They appear fairly happy and lot of them have very successful life. So, do we need to split hairs here?

Have you noticed that all these people who believe in things, sometimes require encouragement, motivation and some pumping of energy into their heads? Politicians quit, clergies resign, social worker gives up, people quit one religion and joins another one. Why does all this happen all the time? Why is it that people lose heart on things? Things they believed for several years, all of a sudden they find no motivation to continue in their long held beliefs.

Isn't that sad? Could it be that they never had a conviction to begin with? Could it be that they merely had an intellectual belief but not a heart-deep conviction. Could it be that the things they believe are merely falsehoods or half-truths, and not THE truth? Could it be that their belief never gave them the true freedom every human hearts long for? The things they believed weren't powerful enough to set them free and feel fearless?