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Old 03-06-2004, 07:12 PM   #1
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Christianity for Dummies

Hi,

I would like some assistance in understanding the concept of grace, please.

All explanations encouraged and welcome.

Edited to add: This is a spin off thread from the Heaven thread. I found I wasnt following the highly reasoned arguments as I didnt understand some of the basic concepts. I was hoping it would be alright to start a thread where people, eg me, could ask stupid questions and receive serious answers. Thank you.
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Old 03-06-2004, 07:13 PM   #2
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Re: Christianity for Dummies

Quote:
Originally posted by beli
Hi,

I would like some assistance in understanding the concept of grace, please.

All explanations encouraged and welcome.
Good references are "Grace" and "When Love Comes To Town" by U2.
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Old 03-06-2004, 07:18 PM   #3
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Mercy is not getting what you do deserve.

Grace is getting what you don't deserve.

Grace is unmerited favor, by God, through Jesus Christ, to make us holy in Godís sight.
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Old 03-06-2004, 08:05 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader
Grace is getting what you don't deserve.

Grace is unmerited favor, by God, through Jesus Christ, to make us holy in Godís sight.
LivLov said something in the heaven thread about cleansing sins (or something to that effect, I cant locate the post at the moment). If grace is unmerited favour then committing a sin and Jesus/God cleansing the person of the sin - is that grace? How do you know if the sin has been cleansed. (I could have this REALLY wrong as I havent got the original post open, my apologies if Im way off the mark).

Found LivLovs post:

Quote:
Think of it this way: we all sin, right? Even if you (not YOU personally, but anyone) don't care for religion, I think EVERYONE can admit that they've done something bad. Nobody is pure. But God/Jesus can take away the bad and make you pure and whole. This is the gift of Grace. The GIFT of salvation. As with any gift, you have to accept it for it to work. And you can't exactly accept a gift from Jesus if you don't believe in Him, right? So yes, anyone who accepts the Grace of Jesus gets into Heaven. But "believing in Jesus" does NOT mean Christian, Elect, etc, ALL it means is that you accept His Grace for your salvation, you accept His gift.
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Old 03-06-2004, 10:04 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by beli
LivLov said something in the heaven thread about cleansing sins (or something to that effect, I cant locate the post at the moment). If grace is unmerited favour then committing a sin and Jesus/God cleansing the person of the sin - is that grace? How do you know if the sin has been cleansed. (I could have this REALLY wrong as I havent got the original post open, my apologies if Im way off the mark).
Without using a lot of theological terms or "Christianese", you have it right.

We know the sin is cleansed because Jesus promises us so. This is the best part about grace - the absolute assurance that you have been forgiven and eternal life.
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Old 03-07-2004, 02:20 AM   #6
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So is a person automatically forgiven for anything? Including murder?

Im guessing but I think my morals are most closely aligned to Marthas. (no offense Martha) I dont believe in karma exactly but I do believe if you make a mistake or do something bad then you need to rectify the situation eg apologise to the people involved, whatever it takes to try and make peace with the people who have been hard done by. Just accepting that God will forgive you and heading on your own merry way seems not fair to me. Same with people who go to church and confess their sins. I believe what they really need to be doing is confessing to the people they have hurt, not some bloke in the cupboard. (no offense). If I did something bad and apologised and the person didnt accept my apology then I would have to learn to live with my mistake. The fact that some Christians believe that God absolves them of all their mistakes and they neednt worry about people on earth has always scared me. I basically dont trust Christians for this reason.

Sorry if Im blabbering. Nothing personal NBC. And I appreciate you hearing me out on this one.
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Old 03-07-2004, 10:01 AM   #7
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I don't think it's so much that you're *automatically* forgiven--that is, as soon as you do it, you're forgiven. But if you take a look at yourself and what you've done, realize that some of it wasn't very good, and ask God's help in not doing it anymore, you will be forgiveness. Forgiveness requires repentance, I think--which is more than saying you're sorry. It's making a commitment to avoid such actions in the future, which is a lot harder than it sounds. But in light of the great gift we've been given--i.e. God's mercy--we have to at least try.
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Old 03-07-2004, 10:07 AM   #8
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By the way, I really like the idea for this thread. And I wouldn't call it "Christianity for Dummies"--Christianity is an amazingly complex and diverse tradition that even lifelong Christians have lots of questions about. The cool thing about asking it here, rather than (say) on a Catholic or Methodist or (insert denomination here) message board, is that you're going to get answers and interpretations from all over the Christian map. Oftentimes there is more than one right answer or no right answer at all, and that will probably come out in this thread.

So, please, ask away.
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Old 03-07-2004, 11:15 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by paxetaurora
I don't think it's so much that you're *automatically* forgiven--that is, as soon as you do it, you're forgiven. But if you take a look at yourself and what you've done, realize that some of it wasn't very good, and ask God's help in not doing it anymore, you will be forgiveness. Forgiveness requires repentance, I think--which is more than saying you're sorry. It's making a commitment to avoid such actions in the future, which is a lot harder than it sounds. But in light of the great gift we've been given--i.e. God's mercy--we have to at least try.


I think what you're getting at, beli, is the difference between belief and saving faith. There are plenty of people who believe that Jesus is the Son of God (even Satan can quote the Bible, and there's a verse that says 'Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well -- the devils also believe and tremble'...I think this is in James in the 'faith and works' context). Though Protestants believe in faith alone as the means to Salvation, saving faith is inextribably linked with good works, or the concern for others, because faith isn't just a purely cognitive or emotional processes, but a life commitment to modeling oneself after the example set by Jesus.

I don't know whether I'm making any sense or not, and I'm not even a Christian, so you might not want to listen to me.
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Old 03-07-2004, 01:57 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by meegannie

Though Protestants believe in faith alone as the means to Salvation, saving faith is inextribably linked with good works, or the concern for others, because faith isn't just a purely cognitive or emotional processes, but a life commitment to modeling oneself after the example set by Jesus.
Thank you! People have been criticizing Protestantism and giving it a negative connotation by assuming that Protestants think they can do whatever they want b/c they'll automatically get into Heaven. This is not true. Just because we believe that Salvation is through Jesus' Grace alone doesn't mean we don't strees works/good deeds. All we're saying is that, in the end, only the Grace of Jesus matters for Salvation. Good works are part of being a strong Christian and living a Christian lifestyle, but if you do one more good work that your neightbor, you're not more deserving of Heaven b/c we are ALL sinners and humans do not have the right to judge eachothers' sins and say who's works get them closer to Heaven. Humans do not have the power to get themselves to Heaven no matter how many good works they do, b/c we will NEVER be perfect without God. EVERYONE needs God's Grace and God is the ONLY judge in the end.

/rantsermon
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Old 03-07-2004, 04:21 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by meegannie
I think what you're getting at, beli, is the difference between belief and saving faith.
This is correct. Remember, even Satan "believes" in Jesus.

I know we are inclined to rank sins - this was a central part of my Jesuit high school junior year religion class, so it happens both inside and outside the church. It can be hard to accept or understant that God's grace is so powerful, it can cover any sin.
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Old 03-07-2004, 05:06 PM   #12
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Head spin, head spin! I have to go to work in a minute so I will read the posts again tonight. Thank you everyone.

Pax, you are welcome to change the name of the thread. I just wanted something lowbrow and non intimidating.

Meggie, Im not Christian either but its never stopped me posting in Christian threads. (except for when they were in GIS)

PS I think Jesuits are vaguely on the Catholic side of the fence. Where do Quakers fit into the scheme of things, please?
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Old 03-07-2004, 09:09 PM   #13
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The Society of Jesus (its members are called Jesuits) is an order of Roman Catholic priests (and brothers, too, I think). I think Jesuits are *required* to get PhDs or the terminal equivalents in their respective fields. Jesuits are largely teachers and professors, and Jesuit high schools and colleges are usually very good.

Quakers are Protestants (any Christians that are not Roman Catholic or some branch of Orthodox, like Greek Orthodox or Russian Orthodox, are usually called Protestants). Quaker "churches" are usually called "meeting houses" and their congregations are called "meetings," and are also known as the Society of Friends; for example, the group of Quakers near me is called the North Branch Friends Meeting.

Quakers are total pacifists. Quakers are among the very few religious groups whose members are automatically recognized by the government as conscientious objectors, meaning they can never be made to fight in a war. If a Quaker was drafted, he or she could serve as, say, a medic, but they can't be compelled to take combat positions. (I think Jehovah's Witnesses also fall under this category but for different reasons). Quakers have no formal clergy and their meetings are nonhierarchical. They are usually very committed to social justice issues, nonviolent conflict resolution, stuff like that.
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Old 03-08-2004, 01:24 PM   #14
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This is a GREAT idea for a thread! You know what would be REALLY handy, is to have a continuation of that explanation of Jesuits and Quakers and also explain the differences between:

What the differences are betw. Catholics and Orthodox
Anglicans
United Church
7th Day Adventists
Jehovas Witnesses
Mormons
Pentacostal
Presbyterian
etc. etc etc..

These are just some at the top of my head but I haven't a clue what the different beliefs are.
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Old 03-08-2004, 01:27 PM   #15
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I've got some materials at home that explain the differences between some of the groups listed. I'll get that and send you the info.
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