Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Christian Salvation By Grace, The Sinners Prayer, Hypocrisy, Unconditional Love, And A Thanksgiving Prayer

As Christians we are to have faith and truly believe that Jesus was God in the flesh, conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died on the cross for the sins of the whole world, was resurrected by the Father to give us eternal life, and ascended to the right hand of the Father where He is our advocate and makes intercession for us.

Susan Branch Blog | Morning Glories
How about some music.

You are born again by receiving the indwelling of the Holy Spirit upon faith in the gospel truths. My dad was raised German Catholic, as most Germans are and my mom was raised Church of England, as most Anglicans are. The question of salvation by grace, or grace and works is disputed between Protestant and Catholic churches. Although saved through grace, a Christians heart should strive to be like Christ and help those who need a blessing in their lives.

Ephesians 2:8-9 says
"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast."
Many Christians receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit when churches present a salvation invitation or altar call to recite the sinners prayer, however, baptismal regeneration is not scripture in the Bible. 
Some biblical scholars have even labeled the sinner's prayer a "cataract of nonsense" and an "apostasy", although proponents of the Sinner's Prayer point to scriptures like Luke 18:10-14 to say it is in the bible.
Luke 18:10-14 says
10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
 Susan Branch Blog | Morning Glories

Although I went to a Catholic convent during primary school, and a Catholic Liberal Arts college, my mom took us to the UM church which is a lot more progressive, but not as progressive as the Christian culture in America today.
How about some more music.
Since it's beginning in the 20th century, the sinner's prayer has been prayed by individuals within many Protestant churches. These individuals feel convicted of the presence of sin in their lives and desire to form or renew a personal relationship with God through his Son Jesus Christ. It is intended to be an act of initial conversion to Christianity, and the only way to receive salvation.
On a leading Pastoral magazine's page, Dr. Jay Bohd, PHD explains the implications on the Christian faith with Personal Relationships with Christ.

A “personal relationship with Jesus” leads to relativism. After all, implicit in the notion of a “personal relationship” with the Lord is the conclusion that one can define that relationship as one pleases.

Furthermore, the danger with encouraging a personalistic view of one’s relationship with the Lord also encourages a personalistic view of the doctrines of the faith; in other words, it may lead toward “cafeteria Christianity,” wherein individuals maintain that they are entitled to believe or disbelieve certain tenets.

So, do we need a “personal relationship with Jesus”? Yes, of course we do. However, a “personal relationship with Jesus” does not seem to indicate fidelity to the Church. Conversely, though, fidelity to the Church does certainly indicate a “personal relationship” with Jesus—in the context of the Church Jesus himself instituted, and in conformity with his will.
Susan Branch Blog | Morning Glories
One of the biggest reasons individuals leave the church today is the hypocrisy, of those who claim to be Christians, yet use relativism to judge whether or not "they are good with God." When individuals look to Christians, they need to see us Walk the Walk, be a role model, an example, a purpose.

We're all imperfect, but acting as a hypocrite who talks the talk, yet acts more immoral than they do, leads individuals to wonder if we've truly repented our sins, and choose to live our lives for ourselves, and not for Christ.

In this age of reality TV and social media, many Christians profess themselves publically, so that everyone knows that they have a “personal relationship with Jesus.” Oftentimes these Christian seekers pray for themselves out of a personal agenda, and proclaim “a word” that they “felt” was given to them by the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 6:5-6 says
And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
 Susan Branch Blog | Morning Glories
Non-believers may not believe in God, care for church, or some Christians behavior and would rather just accept death, and rest forevermore under the Earth. Perhaps if we all saw each other equally, and not as "special" or "chosen", for God is a universal symbol of unconditional love.
Ephesians 2:4-5 says
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”
1 John 4:9-10 says
"This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."
We all want to live our lives with purpose, and to know why we're here, and where we'll eventually go. We join a church family to hear the parables and the word of God from the pages of the Holy Bible for example, an encouragement, for fellowship, and support as we navigate this path called life.
Susan Branch Blog | Morning Glories
Let's pray
by Vienna Cobb Anderson
God of all blessings,
source of all life,
giver of all grace:
We thank you for the gift of life:
for the breath
that sustains life,
for the food of this earth
that nurtures life,
for the love of family and friends
without which there would be no life.

We thank you for the mystery of creation:
for the beauty
that the eye can see,
for the joy
that the ear may hear,
for the unknown
that we cannot behold filling the universe with wonder,
for the expanse of space
that draws us beyond the definitions of ourselves.

We thank you for setting us in communities:
for families
who nurture our becoming,
for friends
who love us by choice,
for companions at work,
who share our burdens and daily tasks,
for strangers
who welcome us into their midst,
for people from other lands
who call us to grow in understanding,
for children
who lighten our moments with delight,
for the unborn,
who offer us hope for the future.

We thank you for this day:
for life
and one more day to love,
for opportunity
and one more day to work for justice and peace,
for neighbors
and one more person to love
and by whom be loved,
for your grace
and one more experience of your presence,
for your promise:
to be with us,
to be our God,
and to give salvation.

For these, and all blessings,
we give you thanks, eternal, loving God,
through Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.

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