WHAT IS THE TRUE FAITH?
Here, in a series of lessons. I will teach the true "good news" or gospel that saves. In The Parable of the Sower Jesus warns us that the forces of darkness still seek to lead us astray after believing, and so I will also give instructions after defining the Faith how to avoid going astray, especially from false teachers. I will make many enemies by doing this precisely and exactly, but the truth is Jesus said "narrow is the way".
LESSON 1 : The Gospel. .
The "Jesus Saves" gospel, that saves our souls if we believe, is found preached by Jesus in Luke 24:44-48, and Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. It is "Christ crucified, buried, and resurrected." He washes away our sins in his own blood, and justifies us in his resurrection, if we believe in him, which means in Greek "to trust in and rely upon" him for salvation. We must also repent, but repentance itself is more a quality indicator of belief, it does not save your soul, that is repenting does not mean by your own efforts you have now made yourself fit for salvation, as if God "owes you" eternal life. Being saved is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Notice I do not say your works help save you. Jesus said "Every tree is known by his fruit" not "saved by his fruit". So sure you will do good works, but they do not save. Jesus saves!
Notice also I do not say biblical sacraments save like baptism and communion, or bogus forms of them, like triple baptism, infant sprinkling, or turning communion into "a mass" with various rites and rituals. Neither do I say other man appointed pseudo sacraments save. Acts of priestcraft do not help to save you or transmit saving grace to you. Christ is our Saviour, not a Semi-Saviour.
LESSON 2 : Are you now "Saved" ?.
Having believed in Jesus are you now "saved"? People try to trick you by using the word "saved" in at least two different ways, and swap the two meanings around as they talk with you. Be careful of this.
1) Saved "in a state of salvation if I die today, or right now."
2) Saved "eventually on the day you die, perhaps decades in the future, or eventually on the day of Judgement".
If you repent and believe the "Jesus Saves" gospel, you are in a state of salvation today if you die. So in that sense or use of the word "saved" you are indeed saved.
The Eastern Orthodox Church likes to skip to and fro between these two meanings when talking about born again Christians, Evangelicals and Protestants, as the Orthodox incorrectly say salvation is a synergy or process, and is not found in belief in Christ alone, and deny you can know you are in a state of salvation today.
The centre of this is that born again Christians believe works are the fruit of salvation, and the Orthodox and Catholics have them as a root of salvation. If you say works are a root, not the fruit of salvation, you reduce Jesus to a partial Saviour, when the bible says he alone is Saviour. This subject is made more complex than that simple statement, as the bible says our works can be "burnt up". An example is giving alms to the poor, or fasting, wilfully letting this be obvious to others, and therefore "doing your works before men, to be seen of them" burning up the "works" you did by human pride.
LESSON 3 : Can I lose my salvation ?
LESSON * : names .
Everyone church, cult and sect and claim to be the true "believers". I do not think there is anything wrong with the word Christian, as all it signifies on a "follower of Christ". In order to identify themselves from others falsely claiming to be the true believers most churches, cults and sects identify themselves by names like Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Baptist, Evangelical etc. It is most biblical to keep it simple and say you are a believer in Jesus or a Christian. However if forced to distinguish with pronouns to distinguish the precise form of Christianity I believe is right, I choose to say "Evangelical Born Again Christian". That is because the bible says to preach or share the gospel is our number one objective (Evangelical) and this gospel when truly believed results in us being born again. You might choose a different way to distinguish your beliefs.
ABOUT MY BELIEFS:
As it is my belief that a person's relationship with God is shown partly by his or her beliefs and teachings, and that a person can be damned for false doctrine, as that is a "work of the flesh" (gal 5:20), I feel it is important to present what my teachings are as plainly as I can on my websites.
DOCTRINES versus PERSUASIONS versus NON-CENTRAL issues :
How I personally use these terms, so you know what I mean.
It is my belief that a doctrine is definite teachings on a subject, where a person feels 100% sure his teaching is from God, or a definite truth. We must all answer one day to God for such doctrines. These can be definite doctrines or teachings about fundamental subjects like the resurrection, the virgin birth, the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, to less fundamental ones like head coverings, men having long hair, eating black puddings, etc. When a doctrine that is fundamental to the Faith, such as the resurrection or the virgin birth, is denied,it is very significant and of great concern.
as far as I understand, the Anglican Bishop of Durham in England once denied the resurrection and the virgin birth publicly, and it did not seem like a coincidence that shortly after he did this ball-lightning descended from the sky and burnt down the place where he was consecrated!
1) One God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God. (Trinity)
2) Jesus was born of a virgin.
3) Jesus was resurrected bodily from the dead.
A persuasion is different. Persuasions can differ in how you express, or evaluate, a percentage % of being persuaded something is true, or alternatively express that with phrases like "almost completely sure" or "I think maybe" etc. I sometimes get the strong impression that Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy deny anyone the right to have a persuasion, or deny such persuasions exist within "the laity" in their churches.
1) I am strongly persuaded that babies and children who die will be resurrected into the Millennium Kingdom, some of whom will be saved others lost after they mature. In this way everyone's free will is tested out. I feel this is a better probable answer to the puzzling question of what happens to them on the day of judgement, than saying either a) all babies and children who die will be saved and enter eternal Paradise, or b) some babies and children will be damned and others saved. However this is not a doctrine (definite teaching) of mine. it is only a persuasion. The idea is the dead babies maybe resurrected as adults in the same state of mental innocence as Adam and Eve, or perhaps as children.
2) I am persuaded - Hades is the waiting place for departed souls, not the Lake of Fire. ("death and Hades were cast into the Lake of Fire" Rev 20:14). There seems to be some evidence that Hades is divided into two (Luke 16), those saved and those that will be pronounced lost on the day of judgement. I think also other dead souls "sleep" (1 Thess 4:13) until they are resurrected, whereas certain martyrs also seem to be conscious now in a place named "under the altar" (Rev 6:9). I am not sure about these things. They are persuasions.
NON-ESSENTIALS or NON-CENTRAL ISSUES:
Something expressed as non-essentials, or non-central, are things that I view as not necessary to profess, without it calling into question either your present state of salvation, or the quality of your relationship with God. I feel this is an important subject to discuss as, as far as I know, Orthodox priests may say a person should be denied baptism if they do not make a commitment on issues such as these. Conversely I feel if a person says subjects like the physical resurrection and virgin birth are not essential to understand or believe in a person's Christian walk, or relationship with God, I would consider that of great cause for concern too.
1) One such doctrine is "the Filioque" issue. I believe the subject of whether the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father, or the Father and the Son, is a non essential issue to understand, and if you wish to reserve a decision on it, it in no way reflects badly upon your relationship with God, walk and progress in the Faith, or present state of salvation.
2) It is the same with Monophysitism, Dyophysitism, Miaphysitism, Monothelitism, Dyothelitism, Dyoenergism, or the subjects of "ousia and energia". I believe it is not necessary to have a definite doctrine on this issue. Frankly many Evangelicals and Protestants do not even consider the subject until decades after accepting Christ and being baptised. As long as you believe Jesus was fully God, and fully man, yet without sin, and believe in the Trinity you are fine.
I hereby state I TOTALLY AGREE with Orthodoxy about Dyophysitism that is that the most credible simple explanation (of what the bible declares a mystery) is that Jesus is one person yet with two natures, one divine and one human. However what I mean to get you to see is "what if a person refuses to make a commitment on any doctrine and declares it "a mystery" ??? Apparently the Orthodox will not baptize him unless he renounces the Filioque and the Monophysite or Miaphysite doctrines, and confirms one person with two natures. Its a contradiction of the baptismal requirements found in Acts 8 and Mark 16. It is heretical Orthodox add ons to the quote "simplicity of the gospel".
Laughably the fact that this doctrines development wa gradual is yet another proof of the bogus stance of Orthodoxy that early Christians held the same hardline doctrinal stances about so called "baptismal requirements".
3) Ousia: the complex and pedantic subject about how to best express the essence of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.. The heresy is not suggested in their doctrine on it, but that a convert in order to be baptized might be constrained to form a doctrine on it in order to be baptized. In real baptism, such as that of the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8, do you really think the underlying theology of the word homoousios had to first be understood by him?
This is important as I believe that denying baptism to a person over such non essential teachings is an heresy in itself. Or, conversely, thinking a person is "right with God" if he or she thinks believing Jesus being raised physically from the dead is a "non-essential issue or non-central issue" (when it is part of the gospel by which we are saved" 1 Cor 15:1-4) is of great concern, and even worth breaking fellowship over.
It is my belief certain people in the Roman Catholic religion believe (for instance) that Hell is a place of physical torment. If you ask millions of Catholics if their church has a definite teaching on the subject, you would be unlikely to get a uniform answer. I believe if the Orthodox and Catholics were honest about it they would see the millions of people in their churches have many different definite doctrines, persuasions, and beliefs about what is and is not a non-essential or central issue. It is just that Evangelical Christians and Protestants are more honest and open about the subject.
One of the ministries in church is "teachers" (Eph 4;11).
Must a person have graduated from a University or college to be a teacher in the Faith? Some of these colleges are heretical from the outset, like Calvinist colleges, or simply secular universities offering religious degrees, the content of both syllabuses often being a mess of warped theology and secular generalisations. As the disciples were not qualified in such a way, but were often people like fishermen called to the ministry of "feeding the flock", it is obvious a person to be a teacher does not need these qualifications. A teacher will qualify himself by "making full proof of his ministry" (compare 2 Tim 4:5) that is people will see him to be a teacher by the quality of his teachings and ministry.
In Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy a person who teaches in their churches must have committed themselves to a long list of heresies, that amount to a ticket to Hell for a person professing such doctrines.
I know one person in England who is very proud of his degree in university, and considers it a proof he is a teacher in the Faith. Yet you will find super massive divisions in the beliefs of the tens of thousands of people in the UK who have passed degrees in university or college, or even with specifically religious degrees. In the end a list of scriptures backing up your teachings, and confirmation in people heart's by the still small voice of the Holy Spirit, are more important than any certificate from college. "You shall know them by their fruit".
It will be important to remember that there is a difference between Byzantine Eastern Orthodox Christians which this site deals with, and Eastern Catholics, who have certain divergent beliefs from Roman Catholics but accept the Pope's Authority in present day times. This is mentioned as the Eastern Orthodox Churches, such as those in Greece and Russia, believe they are rooted to what they call the Apostolic Catholic Church pre-schism of 1054, and this can cause confusion in the mind of some people in that a member of the EOC might say they are "Catholic" but mean it in a pre-schism sense, not in the modern sense of being under the Pope's authority.