Non-Denominational/salvation

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QUESTION: I liked your last answer, so here's another good one that I think requires the Holy Spirit to answer, as I don't believe you'll find the TRUE answer in the Bible! One couple goes to the river and performs their own "wedding" by dedicating it to God completely, and really,really meaning it. No one else was present, and they do nothing else.  Another couple does it the "traditional" way, having a minister, reciting all the words about giving it to God, etc.(they really don't mean any of it, they're just mouthing the words),and they get the proper papers, etc. signed and posted at the courthouse. Which couple do you think is properly "married" as GOD sees it? As I believe you agree, Jesus says no sex, cohabitating, etc. outside of "marriage".

ANSWER: Adam and Eve were married by God (Adam recognized her as part of himself in Genesis), so I see no problem with seeing the couple by the river married in God's eyes. Now for the next part: The couple married in the church. Their hearts are known by God about the amount of meaning they place upon their marriage. They did go to the courthouse to legally register their marriage. I think there should be a way for a couple to register the marriage by the river at the courthouse as well. When my wife and I got married, we married each other in a Quaker wedding. There was a minister there to read a Scripture and to sign the certificate and wedding license. But he did not marry us. I think it is a good thing to follow the customs and laws of our respective countries about marriage, as long as they do not violate the express commands of God.
Thanks, Gary Cummings M.Div.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Now, as to salvation, what is salvation in your opinion? The bible says many will do things in God's name, but will be told 'Depart from me. I never knew you!"

Answer
Salvation is based on our response (true heartfelt and genuine) to Jesus and His Gospel:
"If you declare with your mouth 'Jesus is Lord' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." #Romans 10:9#Connected with this is this statement of Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit:"Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." #Romans 10:13#.

This is imperative to understand first, that salvation is based upon right belief, confidence, and dedication to Jesus as Lord. Calling upon the name of the Lord is more than a verbal assent to His Lordship, it is a life of trusting and obeying, and believing and following Jesus Christ as Lord of one's life. All who do this will be saved. This does not mean 100% perfection, but a life of really trying to live the life of the Sermon on the Mount. Even if we stumble and sin at times, we can repent #change our heart and mind# and get up and follow Christ again. This is what happened to Peter, when Jesus restored Peter to Faith, after he denied Jesus.

Now for the text at hand, keeping the previous instruction in mind #since Scripture interprets Scripture#:

Matthew 7:21-23: "Not everyone who says to me 'Lord,Lord', will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day,'Lord,Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out many demons and in your name perform many miracles. Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evil doers."

We are warned by Jesus that merely verbal assent to Jesus and the Gospel will save us or qualify us for entrance to the Kingdom of God on the day of judgement. It is the one who accepts #in a heartfelt and genuine way# Jesus and the Gospel and lives the life of the kingdom of God, as described in the Sermon on the Mount, previously taught by Jesus in this section of Scripture. The Sermon on the Mount starts in Matthew 5 and ends with the warnings of 7:11-27.

The Sermon on the Mounts calls those who call Jesus 'Lord' to live the life of prayer, service,  and love which shuns killing, adultery, unwarranted divorce, oaths, and retaliation. We are taught to love our enemies and give what we can to all people. We are called to taught to live a life of prayer and inconspicuous fasting. Jesus calls us to count the Kingdom as our greatest treasure and not to rack up untold wealth on Earth. Jesus tells us not to live a life of worry and judgement. Finally, Jesus teaches us to ask and seek and knock for what God wants to graciously supply us for our daily needs.

Then come the warnings about ignoring the lifestyle of the Kingdom of God and not following Jesus as Lord in all that we do:

There are two gates: a wide gate to hell and a narrow gate to eternal life.
There are true and false prophets. We know them not by what they say, but what they do and the actual fruit of their preaching. #Prophecy is not predicting the future in all cases, but preaching the Word of God and the will of God.#
There are true and false disciples: Those who just say 'Lord,Lord" and just skip the life of actually following Jesus and the Sermon on the Mount, and there are those who have a heartfelt and genuine belief in Jesus and the Gospel and actually follow Jesus #even if they fail at times, they get back up and try again#.
There are , lastly, wise and foolish builders. Those who build their life on sand #not following Jesus# and when judgement comes they eternally die. Then there are those who build their life on the Rock, who is Jesus and enter into eternal life when He returns.

Now to get the the passage:

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord,Lord" , these are those who just say and not do. They may have had an emotional experience or a manufactured religious experience #both of which are not real in this case#. #To be continued.#

#Continued# Thank you for your patience.

But , in the view of Jesus, saying 'Lord, Lord' is worthless without actually following the way of Jesus as taught in the Sermon on the Mount. Dietrich Bonhoeffer had it right: "Only those who obey, believe. Also, those who believe, obey."

Many people will say 'Lord,Lord" Did we not:
1. preach in your name?
2. did we not cast out demons in your name?
3. did we not in your name perform many miracles?

Jesus  says to them, and to all who call Jesus Lord and refuse to follow Him, :
1. I never knew you.
2. Get away from me, you evildoers.

Basically their preaching was in vain, and glorified themselves rather than God. It was not true Biblical preaching, so it was worthless, and even evil.

They may have given the appearance of casting out demons, but it was really only in appearance, and not in reality. Their demonstration, per Jesus, was an evil act.

They may have given the appearance of a miracle, as many charlatans have from Oral Roberts to Benny Hinn, but what they do glorifies their presumed power and not God. Therefore, according to Jesus it is evil.

I saved number "1" for last: "I never knew you" Jesus was saying to them that He did not know Him as his disciples, because they were not saved. They were not followers. They may have had an emotional experience, a manufactured religious experience, or just felt walking down the aisle and getting baptized was a nice thing to do. But, the people Jesus is referring to are those who merely say "Lord" and do their own thing and do not obey Him out of a heart of love.
Jesus has no choice but to say to them "Get away from me." To hear that from Jesus leaves only one place to go and that is to hell.  

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Gary Cummings

Expertise

I am committed to non-denominational Christian faith. Church history and theology from a non-denominational stance are areas from which I can answer questions. Also, questions about areas of Biblical studies are part of my expert areas.

Experience

I have been a bi-vocational minister since 1969. After six years in the Churches of Christ, I left to be a non-denominational minister and Bible teacher. Since then I have been a preacher and Bible teacher (in a non-denominational way)with Friends (Quakers), House Churches, Mennonite Church, and a Community Church.

Organizations
War Resisters League Vietnam Veterans Against the War

Education/Credentials
B.A., Bible, 1969, Abilene Christian College. M.S., Interdisciplinary Studies, 1980, ACU-Dallas. M.Div., Theology and Religion, 1983, Earlham School of Religion. Doctoral Work on Doctor of Ministry, not completed.

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