Questions for Christians.

Recently, I was lucky enough to encounter three Baptists in a grocery store parking lot. They were witnessing to me, and asked me the following question: “If you were to die today, would you go to heaven?” Apparently this is the standard opening to the sort of conversation in which the three would teach me how to REALLY get into heaven. Since I like Christians, I talked with them for a few minutes, and sure enough, they kindly showed me the way.

Apparently, “Doing Good Deeds” (DGD) isn’t the way. The correct way to enter the Kingdom of Heaven is to “Accept Jesus Into Your Heart As Your Savior.” (AJP). They seemed adamant about doing so Publicly. I can’t quietly speak with God and work things out between the two of us – I have to go to Baptist church, get Baptized, and announce to my fellow Kingdom-bound Baptizees that I’m now one of them. Then, and only then, would DGD come natually to me – Since I now (post-Baptism) officially Love God, I WANT to follow the rules set forth in the Bible. And that is why Christians DGD – out of love for God.

To simplify things a little, and to ask a question, I offer my interpretation. If I want to go to Heaven when I die, I have to publicly proclaim my love for Jesus. I can’t just DGD and “earn” my way – I have to AJP.

My questions are…Why do I have to do this publicly? If only God knows that I love God, do I still get into heaven? If someone Loves God, can that someone do bad things (pay for abortions, swear, fornicate…) and still get into heaven?

These are NOT intended to be mocking questions. They are serious concerns.

Actually, the OPPOSITE is true. What verse is it in the Bible that states if one wants to pray and give to charity, one must do it in private and quietly, and to pray in public to show everyone what a good Christian (or Jew back then) they are, they are just like the Pharisees and such?

I’d have LOVED to have thrown that back in their faces!

I’d probably blurt out how I was Catholic and that I had to go slaughter some babies for our Communion or whatever. (I heard someone say they believed that…stupid Chick tracts.)

I’m a Christian. Well, a Catholic. Consider what Christ Himself 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. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.”

Matthew 6:5-8

[1] There is a difference between bothering people in parking lots, and living life that sets an example. I do a lot of volunteer work, and am open about being a Christian.

I’m not pushy about it, and I sort of stay low on the religous radar. Every so often someone will ask me why I do all the stuff I do. As long as the conversation stays natural, I very comfortable talking about Christ and my faith.

[2] Of course.

[3] That is the whole point:)

I know that some religions have there own set of rules. Your best bet is to just follow what the new covenant says. You should probably talk to your Pastor too.
You do not have to pray in public, you have your own personal relationship with God. I think what they mean by that is if someone asks you a question about God or your religion, be open about it, don’t be ashamed. We are all born with sin, you cannot expect to be sin free. What God expects from us is to try to stay away from sinful things. We are forgiven of our sins of the past once we ask God for forgiveness. After we know the truth, We do the best we can with Gods help. If we mess up, you just ask God with a sincere heart for forgiveness, he is forgiving, and he knows your heart. As for abortions, I think the Bible makes it pretty clear that a fetus or zygote is still a baby/human: Jer 1:4 The word of the LORD came to me, saying,
Jer 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
I am Pentacostal, and my pastor says abortion is murder, that it is wrong. My boyfriends grandfather is a baptist minister, and he says abortion is wrong. So, if you have given your heart to the Lord and your paying for abortions, or making a contribution, I would get out of it. What God will do is totally unknown to me. As for fornication, We should not be having sex before marriage, but if we have, we ask for forgiveness and try to do better. If you love the person you with, get married and you can have all the sex you want. Do the best you can with swearing, ask for forgiveness when you make your mistakes. As for how God is going to handle all these things, * I don’t know. *
The bottom line is to do the best you can. No body can tell you if your going to heaven or hell. You’ll know somehow, just by the relationship you have with God.

Let me take a crack at your questions.
The reason you have to do it publicly is that shows the sincerity of our commitment to change if we do it publicly. Jesus said that if we are ashamed of him and deny him in front of men he would deny him in front of his father. Praying and doing good deed are generally things to do privately but the initial step of becoming a christian is generally done publicly.
If only God knows you love him you could still get into heaven but if you love him you will obey him and one thing he tells people to do is to tell other people.
If someone loves God they will obey him. However we all fall short of perfect obedience. If we repent when we do so God will forgive us. However,if we continue to do things God hates willfully and without remorse, how can we say that we love God?

Well said.

“If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved” (Romans 10:9-10) This is where the public confession comes in. It’s not about public prayer or doing good works in front of others, just about being willing to acknowledge that Jesus is your Lord in front of others.

According to the Bible, it’s not possible really for you to love God and for only you to know it. Your love of God is supposed to shine through your whole life. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) Do you have to stand in a parking lot witnessing? No, of course not. But the way you live your life should point to the fact that you love God.

However, the verses just before those two say “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21) These verses aren’t talking about the occasional slip-up that everyone experiences, but about the regular refusal to acknowledge God’s leadership in your life. Someone who does that is not following God, and as such will not get into heaven. Can you do something bad and still get into heaven? Certainly, so long as you truly repent your actions.

Did that cover all the questions?

You have to do it in front of them if you want to join their particular church. You have to do it publicly so that everyone will know how righteous you are, and tell everyone else at church that the Holy Spirit is with you. You have to do it out loud because you won’t get your reward on Earth unless someone knows you are a righteous Christian.

You want to speak out loud, because speaking simple thoughts in words as a matter of willful choice is limit of your mind. You have to speak loud enough that the Lord hears you. You have to be somewhere where He can see you, and you have to use words that both of you can understand. Of course if it is just you, and Him, then no one else will know that you are a righteous man, filled with the Holy Spirit. You will have to wait for your reward until He calls you to Heaven, to greet you.

Everything they said was accurate except for the bit about having to be public, which you correctly discerned. You can crawl into a corner and give your heart to God with absolutely no one within earshot.

As for your second question, I like what lauralee said. It’s true. Technically what you are saying is true: you could come to Christ and go to heaven with only you and God knowing about it … but in practical reality it doesn’t work that way and isn’t meant to work that way. You are so changed by God that it’s just naturally obvious to those around you.

As for your third issue … it’s not that Christians “can do bad things” and get into heaven. Here’s what happens: God comes into your life and changes you. This is where the super-spiritual phrase “born again” comes from: He literally gives you a new nature and set of desires. You want to do the right thing and don’t want to sin.

That’s why, when Christians sin, they say they “FELL into sin”, not that they “GOT to sin”. Sin is something a Christian wants to avoid, but they will fall into it at times. The Bible says you are decieved if you say you have no sin.

So it is a mistake to think like this:
“Wow I’m a Christian! I can sin as much as I want and still be forgiven!”

That is not authentic Christianity. That is a counterfeit.

True Christianity says:
“I’m a Christian, and my heart is to follow Christ and to obey Him. I want to stay as close to Him as possible so that I might not sin against Him”.

Of course the most solid believer will still sin, but it’s like stumbles along the path rather than your life pattern.

Hope that helps!

*Originally posted by FriendofGod *

He’s right – if the bulk of the fundies on the SDMB are any indication, you become an asshole.

That is in fact well said but, and I’m sure you saw this coming, charlatans do ALL worshipping publicly. How many times have you gone to church, said the sayings, sung the songs, prayed, kneeled, etc. and then immedaitely upon leaving the church you see some parent verbally abuse their kids, light up a smoke, say “thank God that’s over”, or act in a callous manner? I used to be a Roman Catholic, but I am no longer a practicing member of any religion for precisely those reasons stated above. But I digress. The point I’m getting at is just because you do it publicly does not imply sincerity. To the contrary, many times it is really an attempt to convince others that you are sincere about your religious beliefs when you in fact are not. That, in a nutshell, is everything that is wrong with organized religions. It is far better to live the life all the time, quietly, than to be a pretender in the parking lot of a grocery store or at a church on Sunday.

I can appreciate your serious concerns, as I am sure others do as well. I remember going through that myself. The real surprise (and answers) will come when you realize that your seeking and inquiring were really God drawing you near all the time, and not so much that you were travel some spiritual labyrinth. You might even find at some later time that the questions no longer need to be asked since you will know the answers as a truth.

[1] You asked Why? I guess we could answer with some rational and historical arguements about ‘organized’ religions and their system of beliefs (dogma or doctrine). Baptist in particular are well known for their systematic approach to witnessing or explaining points of theology… but each christian sect has its particular traits. Why could be answered, it is a cookie cutter approach: Do this and then this and then this and there you go. We should remember that historically, discerning the saved from the unsaved was serious business. And the expectation to see ‘fruit’ was the eventual true sign.

I think that by the time you discern the answer it will cease to be a question and you will either of decided to do it [publicly] or not. You will simply know (and of course God will too!).

I agree with most of the previous comments that appeal to scripture as to ‘why’, so I don’t have to repeat. And you noticed a few pointed out comments as to why not (ie: you should do it in private). You will eventually see that you can agree with both sides and not necessarily be contradicting cuz each person will decide how public they choose to be with it. In the end, you will be sure.

[2] You asked If only God knows… do I still? I agree with others who say YES, but by that time you will find it hard to contain yourself anyway, making it a moot point! C.S. Lewis believed that he could simply keep his christianity a private matter (not to avoid the public but he truly saw it as ones private right) and soon discovered that it just doesn’t really work that way. Not out of need, but just as a family member is naturally and unconditionally loving his family and getting that in return cuz he is a part of the family unit. It is natural.

[3] You asked If someone loves God … do bad things? I like the saying (by ?): God did not come to make bad people good but to make dead people live (similar to Matt 9:12). Also the story of the lady who said: The difference between your faith and mine is that you ask Christ to die again and again for your sins (ie: seeking repentence & forgiveness) while I believe that he died once for all my sins.

I am not trying to downplay repentence but trying to make sense of the act of 2000 years ago at the cross: Christ is not the only one to die at the cross but all christians (and their sins) died there too. If you can picture yourself at the cross, you are the one Christ was speaking to when he said: today you will be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43). He rose; we rose. A new chance; a new life.

Badness, doing bad things, sin, may be our inability to connect with God at times (like in relationships), but the bigger picture is that the relationship has been restored; we are reconciled to Him. That’s the good new. As Christ said he did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it (Matt 5:17; but compare Eph 2).

Yeah, all us fundies should stop calling everyone who has zippo understanding of a belief in Christ an ***hole. Great insight. thumbs up

I agree whole heartedly. That is also why a Church is so utterly important to the walk of a Christian. There are those that are all show, Lord knows we are all guilty of that, but the ones that are truly faithful are the ones we need to surround ourselves with. There is strength in numbers. As well as wisdom to be learned and love to share.

AlbertRose, from the posts here your questions have been answered very well. Remember to look to the Bible for the ultimate guidance. That is the tool by which everything else is measured.

LL :smiley:

fHg, you gotta get used to the fundie mentality around here. Navigator seems to have gotten past it, but he’s about the only one. Maybe not the only one, but you get the idea. :smiley: Nice to see ya here, though.

blink fHg! How the heck are ya?

And Phil, that was uncalled for, IMO. I’ll admit to getting frustrated as HELL around some fundies here, but I’d never call them assholes.

You know, this religion stuff isn’t rocket science. Let’s translate these questions:

into questions concerning, say, your SO (girlfriend, to be a bit less pedantic):

Why do you have to say you love your girlfriend publicly? Why do we have public marriages, as opposed to very private ones? Why do young people go around holding hands and making out in the park?

If only your girlfriend knows that you love her, do you really have a relationship (get into girlfriend heaven)? What do you think?

If you hit your girlfriend, call her names, take her money, piss on her bed, drink her beer, and break her favorite glasses, do you really love her? What do you think? Is abuse love?

LL :wink: Nav is complacent any way.

Hey Falcon. Thought I might pay your place a visit. :wink:

Hey! We like you too!

Heh… yeah, that’s just cause I don’t post much! :smiley: (Now how do I go about telling my church that Satan likes me!!!)