Friday, February 8, 2008

Is the term "Unbeliever" wrong?


This is a reponse to another blog where the question was raised that "unbeliever" may be offensive and wrong, and why do we need labels.

The guys in “Unchristian” use the term “outsider”. He admits it is not that great. It is a bit funny how a generation can get so uptight about a word like “unbeliever”. When it was first used it was pretty apparent that it referred to people who did not trust in Jesus’ work on the cross for salvation. It has nothing to do about a mental state or some broad comment on a peoples’ intelligence. Would I call an “unbeliever” an unbeliever to his/her face? Well, that’s not the point, because I am not one who can judge rightly whether he/she has done that or not - that is between them and God. They can be my friend, obviously, whatever they believe. Do I pray for someone who has decided to follow Jesus that he/she will? Absolutely.

Salvation is the real word that needs to be discussed, I think. Does it mean heaven? Well, yes in the same way that having a car means you get to drive - there is a whole lot more to it than that. Heaven is only the final step of the journey to become more like Jesus in our words, thoughts, and actions. Salvation involves some positional stuff which allows us to go into the throne room sprinkled with the blood of the Lamb; but there is also a progressive sanctification of the Spirit working in our life - kudos to the holiness movement guys that believe that salvation is this process (and have for the last 250 years).Is everyone saved? No. Jesus died for everybody, but we are responsible for a response to grace. The predestination the Bible refers to is that we become conformed to His image. That is what being a Christian is all about.It is God who does that in us, as we respond to Him in faith. It is a gift - and He offers it to all. Unless you reach out and take, it, though, it is not in your hands.

Why is salvation needed? Well, it is the issue of sin. The two are inextricably connected. That is the thrust of Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus and why John 3:16 is such a well-known verse. Again, God deals with each of us as individuals. What my salvation looks like could be somewhat different than what yours looks like. The traditional church does reach the lost - but their way of proclaiming the Good News is a cultural thing. The facts are the same, but people need to hear it in their own words to really hear it well. That’s why people translate the Bible into unwritten languages.For those who are big on original language, why are you even worrying about the word uneliever. Go back to when it was first used and how it was used. It’s English. In the context it makes perfect sense. If it has become passe, fine, let’s find another that makes a distinction between what a person puts their faith in.

I personally believe that sanctification (salvation in a broad sense) is also tied closely to the surrender of our will to God’s. The picture I have in my mind is a throne, and it relates to my life, and whoever and whatever is sitting on it. This relates to the kingdom of God - which I think is simply all those people who are under His will. That’s what a kingdom is about. Jesus said we cannot serve 2 masters.

Our ministry is always to come alongside people and be used of god to help them grow closer to Him, regardless of what point on the journey they are at. Whether they are and unbeliever or a believer, and innie or an outtie. We are to love all people - that is how people will know we follow Jesus.Right now the church is crap - just like America. The fiasco of the sub prime stuff has affected the world. Do we give up on America? I don’t think so - there is still so much good. Do we reorganize how they do finances? I hope so. Do we give up on the church - It is what Jesus is coming back for, so I think not.

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