I think this thread has been characterized by a minimum of potshots, and for that I’m glad.
And by and large I agree with FoG (for once!) (Of course, it helps that Lauralee passed him the crib notes ;))
And fHg, it’s good to see you over here. Bunch of threads your opinion would be valuable additions to, mostly in this forum.
My responses to the questions:
1. Why do I have to do this publicly?
You don’t. However, the whole idea is one of entering into a life-transforming relationship. “Accepting Jesus” is more like getting married than anything else in everyday life, if you don’t mind mixing a few metaphors.
Given that, your everyday life is going to change. Because part of what you buy into is to be His witness. I hasten to add that that does not mean to go around doing your best J.W./Mormon knocking-on-doors impression --unless that happens to be what you feel called to do, and get confirmation of. That’s among the most useless forms of witnessing I know of – virtually everyone responds by rejecting you and the message you’re trying to bring. But maybe you feel called to speak out against the death penalty, or abortion, or the local gambling club, or whatever strikes you as something that is just plain wrong. Maybe you feel called to sit down with the unwashed and unloveable and show them the human caring that’s missing from their lives. Whatever it is, you need to be doing it in Jesus’s name. And in so doing, you’re of course in fact witnessing for Him.
If you decide to affiliate with a local church that expects some kind of formal, upfront commitment rite, you do it proudly, as someone He has called.
But no, you’re under no obligation vis-a-vis Him to do any particular kind of commitment. You may be so obligated, as regards your neighbors, as His loving friend privileged to let people know that you are. But that’s between you and Him, and secondarily you and them.
2. If only God knows that I love God, do I still get into heaven?
What Lauralee said. Technically yes, practically not really – because you will (presumably) feel it important to let people know. (I say this because in my experience most people who do decide to commit to Jesus do in fact get that sense of needing to make it public.) Besides, part of his instructions are:
**3. If someone Loves God, can that someone do bad things (pay for abortions, swear, fornicate…) and still get into heaven? **
Sure. Happens all the time. The general idea, however, is that you start feeling guilty about doing “bad things” – and that’s the prick of conscience, God working within you to help you fight what might be moving you do act against His will. Let me note that your moral choices are the ones you feel called to by Him, not necessarily what somebody whips open a Bible and quotes verses out of context to prove to you are “bad.”
This repentance is not to be confused for one moment with guilt and self-denial. That would be a disgusting way to work. To take “fornication” from your list as an example, God knows darn well that she is a gorgeous woman and you’d just love to jump her bones – He made her gorgeous and gave you a sex drive, after all – but the idea that you’re enjoying your new life in Him far more than getting your rocks off in a transient pickup with her is the key to this whole principle. And, of course, He smiles on the idea of you and she finding each other the human being you’d like to spend the rest of your lives with, and committing to each other for a lifetime, and then enjoying sex as He intended it to be – the physical celebration of the love you share.
Much like dogsbody said over on the Seven Deadly Sins thread, nothing is specifically wrong; the sins are perversions of God’s good gifts.