Hi to my Forum Friends,
In the long running discussion begun by our atheist Friend, Deep, titled "Good Without God" I have a dialogue with Chick in which I wrote, "God gave man 'free will' and told him, 'You can choose to follow Me and live eternally in blissful happiness. Or, you can choose to deny Me and follow Satan's bad example -- and live eternally in misery.'
Now, for any intelligent person -- given those choices, it would be a no-brainer. Because God loves all of us -- He has given every single person an easy way to grab the Golden Ring and live happily ever after. However, God will not make anyone reach for the Golden Ring. Each person has to individually choose to reach for that Golden Ring -- or to ignore it.
So, Chick, since my response to Deep bothers you -- does that mean that YOU have chosen to be among the tares who will choose to ignore God's Golden Ring, eternal life? Or, are you smart enough to turn from the world and turn to follow Christ -- and be a Christ Follower, a Christian -- and have eternal live in Christ?
Yes, Chick, you can give me a wise crack answer, a "make my atheist buddies think I am cool" answer -- or you can stop trying to impress those who cannot help you -- and turn to the only One who can help you -- GOD! The choice is YOURS; for He has given you the "free will" to make your own decision.
However, you only have until that last breath in this mortal body to decide. Chick, do you KNOW when YOUR last breath will occur? Think about it. For, after that last breath -- there is no second chance.
And, our new (or resurrected) atheist Friend, Frog, jumps into the dialogue with, "Bill, I realize you won't get that this could be remotely possible, but there are several logical fallacies to your reasoning. If it is truly 'free will' then shouldn't people really get a choice -- instead of having others beat them on the head with the need to do this life the "right" way?"
Frog, my Friend, the fact that God gave all people the gift of "free will" is not negated just because different folks, in different belief groups, work to sway people toward their particular belief system. So, it all boils down to which belief system can offer eternal life with God -- and which belief systems cannot. Personally, I have no doubt that the only belief system which offers this salvation is Christianity.
Now, why do I believe that Christianity is the only way to an eternity with God? Mainly because this is what the Bible, God's Full Written Revelation to man, tells us. Why do I believe the Bible? Well, first, because it is the only sacred book which gives us fulfilled prophecies -- over 1800 prophecies given and all except those of the End Times fulfilled, as verified in both secular and religious writings. To me, this 100% accuracy of prophecies validates the authenticity of the Bible as God's Written Word.
And, in the Bible we are told that Jesus Christ is the only WAY to eternal life with God (John 14:6) -- in the Bible we are told that all Scripture, i.e., the Bible, was inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16-17) -- and, although the Bible was written by 40 men, living in diverse geographical locations, over a period of 1600 years -- it still has the unity of one main theme -- the salvation of mankind (John 3:16).
Yes, the Bible tells us that, by the grace of God, through faith in Jesus Christ -- ALL who believe will receive His "free gift" of eternal life (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Therefore, the Bible is the foundation of our Christian faith. Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" -- is the foundation stone of the Bible. If Genesis 1:1 is not true -- then, none of the Bible is true -- and that is why atheists fight tooth and nail to deny the book of Genesis.
Then, John 1:1, "In the beginning was the Word (Jesus Christ), and the Word (Jesus Christ) was with God, and the Word (Jesus Christ) was God" -- is the foundation stone of our Christian faith. And, this is the attack zone for all the cult religions -- denying the deity of Jesus Christ.
So, do you see, Frog, how the atheists, secularists, and the cult religions work together in their attempts to destroy Christianity? But, unfortunate for you, fortunate for we Christians -- Jesus Christ has already won the war. We are now just in the mop-up skirmishes, working to rescue the wounded souls, and waiting for Him to return to Rapture His church out of this world and leave it all to you atheists for seven years. After that seven years -- my Friend, either you have turned to follow Him -- or you are in an eternity of hurt.
Then, Frog, you tell me, "Another fallacy is just blaring...many in the world don't believe there is a heaven or hell, Satan, God, or at least your version of him. Many have indeed read parts or all of the Bible and drawn totally different conclusions from it, and some follow it as a guide and not literal to the last word. I say again...if there are so many approaches to happiness in some afterlife or even this one, don't all but one group have to be lying, mistaken, misinformed, or couldn't there be more than one way to live?"
To answer your most important question posed here, ". . .don't all but one group have to be lying, mistaken, misinformed. . .?"
YES. That is the simplified answer. Jesus Christ tells us, in John 14:6, "I am the WAY, and the Truth, and the Life; NO ONE comes to the Father, but through Me." So, since He is the only WAY; all those other groups DO have to be lying, mistaken, or misinformed.
And, that, my Friend, is why Jesus Christ tells all Christian believers to Go, Make Disciples, Baptize Them, TEACH THEM (Matthew 28:19-20) -- and why He tells us to be His witnesses in all the world (Acts 1:8, Mark 1 6:15) -- because He IS the only Way and He sincerely wants all people to be saved (2 Peter 3:9).
You tell me, "Another fallacy is just blaring...many in the world don't believe there is a heaven or hell, Satan, God, or at least your version of him."
That is true. And they all fall within those groups you described above, ". . .all but one group have to be lying, mistaken, misinformed. . ."
Then, Frog, you tell me, "Many have indeed read parts or all of the Bible and drawn totally different conclusions from it, and some follow it as a guide and not literal to the last word."
Unfortunately, what you say is true -- even within the Christian community. Far too many Christians have been misled into watering down the Written Word of God for various reasons. However, the most common reason for this compromise is their attempt to fit God into science -- instead of admitting that when "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" -- part of that creation was all the sciences and all the laws governing those sciences. People keep declaring, "Look at what science has now discovered!" That is wonderful -- science has finally discovered, learned, what God always knew. God is not a part of science; science is a subset of God's Creation.
And, yes, we have our Liberal Theology Friends who deny that the Bible is the "inspired, inerrant, literal Written Word of God."
But, the Bible is the Holy Spirit inspired (men wrote what God put in their hearts and minds), Holy Spirit inerrant (God does not make mistakes), literal (God says what He means, and He means what He says) Written Word of God.
The Bible has one theme -- the salvation of man. Although Jesus Christ does admonish us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:39) -- the entire Bible is written toward one goal -- the salvation of all who will, by the grace of God, through faith in Jesus Christ -- believe and be saved eternally.
Yet, our Liberal Theology Friends and our Social Theology Friends want to replace that main theme of "salvation" -- and make the new main theme of the Bible to be "love." That is not necessary -- for when people have salvation, our faith in Jesus Christ and our love of Jesus Christ -- should lead us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Works is not the means of salvation; works is the result of a person's salvation.
So, yes, Frog, many people, even believing Christians will attempt to sacrifice the Written Word of God, the Bible, on the altar of Compromise -- in a mistaken belief this can draw more atheist and other non-believers to God. Only the Truth can and will draw people to God. And, Jesus Christ has given the Great Commission to all believers (Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 1:8, Mark 16:15) that we should ALL take this Truth to the whole world.
Next, Frog, you ask, "And if yours IS the only way...then why? Why is your interpretation better, and without quoting from the Bible (it's what you base your belief on I get, but we are talking here about why your own version of reality is any better than anyone else's, and you can't use the book that is differently interpreted by billions to say you are the only right person who magically knows how it is supposed to be interpreted) why do you think you are the only one in the world who is completely right?"
Frog, if you were a Mercedes mechanic -- would you refer to the Mercedes Manufacturer's Maintenance Manual when working on a Mercedes? Or, would you assume that the Manufacturer's Maintenance Manual is in error and you should ignore it? If Mercedes cannot write a Manufacturer's Maintenance Manual which accurately describes how to repair a Mercedes -- then, who can -- the local garage mechanic?
Yes, we use the Bible to share the Word of God, the Gospel of Jesus Christ -- for it has been proven valid in many ways -- the most convincing being proven, fulfilled prophecies.
So, when you ask, "And if yours IS the only way...then why? -- there is only one answer. God, in the Bible, tells us that Jesus Christ is the ONLY WAY. And, that is good enough for me.
Then, Frog, you throw off all pretense of civility and revert to your atheist training -- if you cannot deny Christianity, then insult the Christians. You tell me, "Why does everyone else have to be doomed unless they follow you, essentially, since you have your own version of what God meant for man to do?"
The serpent in the Garden of Eden used the same tactic on Eve (Genesis 3:1-7), and I am paraphrasing, "Did God really say that?" And, followers of Satan have been using that same tactic since then to lure the unsuspecting, vulnerable of the world into his lair.
No one is saved by following Bill Gray. However, those who follow the Living Word of God, Jesus Christ, which Bill follows -- are saved. And, those who study and follow the Written Word of God, the Bible, will find the wisdom, knowledge, and guidance to be Christ Followers. No, not through or by Bill Gray -- ONLY through Jesus Christ.
And, you continue, "If you don't quote the very book that many don't believe, since it can't be proven for a fact that any particular person wrote it or in what context the information was meant, then upon what does it come down to that yours is the only way to believe?"
And, if the Mercedes mechanic does not follow what is written in the Mercedes Manufacturer's Maintenance Manual -- there is a very good chance he could make a mistake. The same is true of those who want to throw out God's User's Manual, the Bible, and do things man's way, or society's way. The fact that there are many who do not believe the Bible does not testify that it is in error --
only that there are many who put their worldly desires and pleasures above the Word of God -- and, like Sinatra, they try to sing, "I did it my way."
Still, Frog, you continue, "Many read it and pick what they like to live...you seem to do the same, so I am curious. It sounds like faith to me, and you are as welcome to yours as the rest of us should be to ours."
Unfortunately, that is true, many do cherry pick Scripture in their efforts to make Scripture fit their predetermined theology -- instead of wrapping their theology in the full revelation of God's Word. Yes, this does happen within the Christian community.
But, first, let's look outside the Christian community. The atheists and secularists will totally deny the Bible because they deny its Source, God. And, these poor souls have to deny the Bible -- for, within its pages is proof that their religion of atheism, their Religion of Nothing -- is just that, Nothing. If a person chooses to believe in Nothing, he/she is worshiping in the religion of atheism. So, basically, in their world it is either the Bible -- or it is Darwin, Dawkins, Hitchens, et al. And, our atheist Friends have chosen the wrong team and the wrong User's Manual.
And, within the Christian community, there are those who will cherry pick Scripture in an attempt to justify their specific theology. If a person or a church is to have a true Christian Theology -- it must come from using the entire Bible, every single verse and word. When one chooses to ignore, remove, or change any part of Scripture to support their theology -- then, they have a false or mistaken theology.
Yes, there are as many theologies in the Christian world as their are bed bugs on a skid row bed. But, a proper application of the entire Bible can correct those errant theologies -- just as a good pest spray can get rid of the bed bugs.
There is only one way to view the Bible. It is is the Holy Spirit inspired (men wrote what God put in their hearts and minds), Holy Spirit inerrant (God does not make mistakes), literal (God says what He means, and He means what He says) Written Word of God.
Now, does this mean that we take every word of the Bible to be literal? No. There a portions of the Bible which are symbolic, and other Scripture passages which use different figures of speech, i.e., metaphors, allegories, hyperbole, etc. So, how do we know the difference?
Glad you asked. When reading the Bible, always begin by reading it literally. If the shoe fits, or the interpretation, that is your meaning. If not, then look at a symbolic, metaphorical, or allegorical meaning.
When the Bible speaks using symbolism -- you will find other passages of Scripture which will give you the meaning of that symbolism. An example: In Revelation 1:16 we read, "In His right hand He held seven stars,. . ."
And, in Revelation 1:20 Jesus explains the symbolism, "As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches."
Another example: In Matthew 13:1-9, Jesus teaches the gathered multitude using a parable, i.e., the symbolism of the Sower. Then, in Matthew 13:18-23, He explains the symbolism of this parable to His disciples.
And, you say, "So if your answer is faith and that we should all have the same ideas of what we should have faith about -- do you know the definition of faith? From Dictionary.Com: (1) confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another's ability, (2) belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact, and (3) belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion: the firm faith of the Pilgrims."
From a Biblical point of view, you left out half the answer. If you will look at Ephesians 2:8 you will find it tells us, "For by grace you have been saved through faith . . "
So, the answer would be -- first, by the grace of God. What does this mean? It means that God loves us so much that He, through His grace, through His benevolence, offers to us His mercy, which we do not deserve nor warrant in any way -- except through His love. So, by the grace of God, we have the unmerited mercy of God. This means that the executioner was ready to drop the guillotine -- and God stopped the execution to give the lost another chance. But, that chance, that mercy, that grace, expires when we breathe our last breath in this mortal body if a person continues to deny Him.
Then, the second half -- after we have the unmerited mercy of God -- we know that Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay for all of our sins -- IF we, by faith believe He is the preexisting Son of God, that He came to pay the debt we cannot pay, that He died on the cross of Calvary to offer His "free gift" of eternal life to everyone of us, that He rose from the dead, i.e., resurrected, and that He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father -- continually interceding for all Christian believers.
So, Frog, put that grace and that faith together -- and, you have the ONLY WAY to eternal life with God.
Next, you declare, "Sorry, but I don't see anywhere in that definition where one religious group (even more so one person) would be reasonable in demanding that everyone else have faith in his/her viewpoint and expect to be taken seriously since I see nothing but opinion and beliefs in the definition of the word."
That is because you are studying the dictionary -- and not the Written Word of God, the Bible. True, most of what we find in the dictionaries is accurate -- as far as it goes. But, would you use a Model T Ford Maintenance Manual in your attempt to repair a high performance Mercedes engine? Would you look for spiritual discernment and knowledge -- in a dictionary? Not really.
And, you continue to declare, "I accept that you believe many on the planet are going to hell because they don't agree with each word you say (you will say God says it all, but you are the one telling us about this), but I don't understand why any one person (group) should be the only one qualified to interpret reality, whether someone will go to a place many don't even believe in, or to judge the quality of another's life or hopes for 'salvation' considering that that are so many viewpoints around that are just as reasonable or perhaps more so."
Frog, if you are walking in the dark and walk over a cliff -- whether you believe there is a cliff or not -- my Friend, you are in deep trouble. The same applies to your belief or denial of hell. It is there and one day, you will know that truth. I just pray it is not after you have walked off the cliff.
You, like most atheists and other non-believers keep declaring that is Bill Gray's word that is being taught. No, my Friend, whether you deny Him or not, it is God's Written Word, the Bible which is being declared. Believe it or deny it -- that cliff will still be there.
Frog, you tell me, "So once again, be happy and have your faith if that is your path. But there are so many other reasons we could state that your premise of having the only right way in this life (is not true) -- that it makes no sense to claim exclusivity in that area."
Yes, you can state that. But, is it true? Which book contains the spiritual truths that offer eternal life -- the Bible -- or the books of Charles Darwin, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, et al?
The two things that the books of Darwin, Dawkins, Hitchens, et al, accomplish are: (1) they make Dawkins, Hitchens, et al, rich, as they ride in their Rolls Royces to the bank, laughing all the way, and (2) these books mislead many vulnerable folks, who may have been seeking the right path, down the slippery slope into hell. Sorry, there is no "politically correct" way to say that.
And, you continue, "The very idea of one person/group having the ultimate solution seems a bit arrogant to me personally, and as Elephant pointed out, you really do get more flies with honey than shouting about being the only right person with the only right path."
Yes, it is true, honey does attract more flies. And, if I were trying to save the flies -- that is what I would use. However, since my goal is to share the Word of God, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with the non-believing world -- I have to lay aside the honey and use a generous portion of the Word, both Living and Written, to assure the possibility of success in bringing just one more lost seeker to Christ.
If some of my atheist or other non-believing Friends get indigestion because of my dose of Scripture -- I apologize. But, I will not stop sharing the Word of God just to make our atheist and non-believing Friends more comfortable in their societal norms and in their world religions.
And, finally, Frog, you tell me, "My experience is that no matter how marvelous a message is -- more people will be likely to listen and believe something said respectfully than with name-calling or insults. I have seen people leave churches many times because they felt browbeaten into a system of beliefs."
And, I have seen many, many people flock to the "Seeker Friendly" churches where the pastor and leaders are afraid to mention hell, sin, and eternal life in a Biblical fashion -- because they do not want to make folks uncomfortable. Frog, either folks are made uncomfortable in this life because of our sins -- or they will be very uncomfortable in the next life -- because of their sins.
Yes, the "Seeker Friendly" churches may fill many large auditoriums with folks who want to play church and spend Sunday mornings with friends -- without having to feel uncomfortable about what they did last week or what they will do next week. No, my Friend, a church which does not teach the Bible, all the Bible, including sin and hell -- is not a church, but, instead is a Social Club.
Frog, you say you are new to the Religion Forum. That may, or may not, be true. Over the years I have seen far too many forum members who have been banned, or who feel that their current posting name has too much mud on it, or for whatever other reasons or agendas -- have left and come back with a new posting name and hopefully a new persona. But, usually, their words and writing styles betray them.
However, if you say you have evolved into Frog, I will not argue with you. As I wrote in another discussion, when I came to the Religion Forum five years ago, our resident atheist, Deep, was partnering with the atheist, Fish. Now, he appears to be partnering with you. So, in a way, this proves his theory of evolution. His partner has evolved from a FISH to a FROG.
But, whether you are truly a new member, or you are an old member wearing a new dress -- you imply that I use name-calling and insults in my dialogues with other forum members. I ask you to give me even one example of where I have called anyone a name or insulted anyone.
Keep in mind that calling an avowed atheist -- an atheist, is not name calling. I am just recognizing the dress.
And, telling everyone, including the non-believers, that there are only two eternal destinations -- heaven and hell -- and that every person MUST make a personal choice where he/she will spend eternity; this is not insulting anyone, only sharing the truth. If the truth is insulting to you -- maybe you should look within yourself.
To all my other Forum Friends, I apologize for this post being so long. However, our new (?) Friend, Frog, wrote quite a bit -- and, I do not want to slight any of her comments or questions. I would not want her to feel that I am insulting her by ignoring any of her comments or questions. This is the result when we have two long-winded folks writing on the Religion Forum; especially two with such diverse religious beliefs.
God bless, have a wonderful, blessed day,