As a human, you were created by three non-human Beings, who we refer to as Yahweh, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. These are not three personalities of a single Entity. Yahweh, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are three separate and distinct Divine Beings. They are actively involved in your life today, and when you die, They will control whether your experience of the next life is nice or awful. Since these three Gods control the quality of your existence, it’s in your best interest to stay on Their good side. So how do you do this? Christians would say that you need to obtain eternal salvation. But what exactly is eternal salvation? It’s a very simple concept which Christians have turned into a royal mess. The purpose of this post is to clear up some of the confusion.
Q1: WHAT IS SALVATION?
Simply put, salvation is a matter of your three Creators deciding to extend a certain measure of grace to you. It’s been Their plan from the beginning to only keep you in this world for a short period of time before transferring you on to a totally different kind of dimension. There are two options for where They will put you: one is very miserable, the other is much nicer. Christians call the miserable option Hell and the nice option Heaven. Since no human wants to be miserable, we all want to be “saved” from the possibility of ending up in Hell. So when Christians talk about “being saved,” they mean that they feel personally confident that they will end up on the nicer side of eternity.
Now since the real Gods are the Ones who control where you end up when you die, you won’t know where They’re planning to put you unless They tell you ahead of time. Christians who claim to have received salvation are claiming to have some personal guarantee from their Creators that they will be transferred to Heaven, not Hell, when they die. For most Christians, that guarantee is based on general assumptions they have about how their Gods operate. For example, many Christians believe that all they have to do is pray a certain prayer and they’re “in.” Most Christians aren’t basing their confidence on any specific word from God—they’re just basing their confidence on things other humans have told them. The problem with this system is that Christians often lie to each other about how to obtain salvation. They invent rules and rituals which really have no meaning, and then when people do those things, they are encouraged to have a false sense of security that they’re guaranteed a place in Heaven, when in reality, they’re on their way to Hell.
Since the Gods who made you are the Ones who control where you’ll end up, it’s very important that you ask Them directly if there is anything more you need to do to qualify for a transfer to Heaven. If instead you trust other humans to interpret God’s plans for your future, you’re very likely to end up putting your faith in lies.
Q2: SO IF THE TWO CHOICES ARE HEAVEN OR HELL, DO THE REAL GODS HAVE A PREFERENCE FOR WHERE THEY WILL PUT HUMANS?
Most Christians will tell you that your Creators want all humans to end up in Heaven. Some will even say that certain Gods (usually Jesus or Yahweh) desperately want all humans to be saved—so much so that They are deeply grieved by the thought of anyone ending up in Hell. This simply isn’t true.
To view eternity correctly, you need to start by understanding that the real Gods don’t answer to anyone. They don’t create things because someone is ordering Them to—instead, They only create things that They actually want to exist. As a human who spends much of your life dealing with things that get forced upon you which you don’t prefer, it’s very hard for you to imagine what it’s like to be a God who always gets what He wants. But this is how it is for Yahweh, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. They made both Heaven and Hell because They find both places fabulous. They see value in both options. They get a lot of satisfaction out of sending humans to both destinations. What this means is that it really isn’t some bitter sorrow to your Creators if you end up in Hell. And since They don’t have a big problem with sending you there, blowing off Their salvation requirements is a really foolish idea on your part. You see, Heaven is not some free for all that any human can enter at will. You may have come across the popular theory that we’ll all stop by Heaven after death, and those of us who are clever manipulators will be able to talk our way past some angelic guard who is parked in front of those pearly gates. Such a theory is delusional. In real life, when you die, you will immediately find yourself in either Heaven or Hell. There won’t be any chance for you to negotiate or present your case as to why God should let you into Heaven. No one is going to ask for your opinion about where you should be transferred to after death—you’ll just suddenly find yourself in a radically different place that you’ll have to learn how to deal with.
Q3: SO WHAT EXACTLY ARE GOD’S SALVATION REQUIREMENTS?
Here’s where we come to the really simple part. Granting you a transfer to Heaven is how the real Gods respond when you reverentially submit to Them as the Supreme Authorities that They are.
Let’s break that down. First, what is reverential submission? Well, reverence is a fear-based respect that is based on someone or something’s power to harm you. When you see a downed power line sparking and squirming in the street, the fear you feel is reverence. You revere the sparking cable because you understand that it can electrocute you. In the same way, when you’re lying in your tent at night and you hear the sound of a bear growling just outside those thin nylon walls, that fear that makes your pulse start racing is reverence. You revere the bear because you understand that it can take your face off with one swipe of its massive paw.
Reverence is a very familiar concept for humans. In life, you will automatically start revering anything or anyone which you view as having great power to harm you. Once you revere something or someone, you will treat that thing or person with an extra measure of respect. If you’re unarmed, then you won’t poke the snarling bear with a stick because you are afraid of it attacking you.
Now the moment you feel that you have gained power or control over the thing or being that you revered, you’ll stop revering it. If you’re heavily armed, then you might scoff at a snarling bear, because you’re confident that you can kill it before it can reach you. How you perceive your own abilities has a lot to do with how much reverence you give to others.
Now when it comes to the Creators of all things, you won’t develop any reverence for Them until They educate you about who They are and what They are capable of. Also, the more They educate you about your own limitations, the more quickly your reverence will grow. Humans who do not revere God often have a very exaggerated idea about their own abilities. Among Christians, you’ll find many folks who talk, pray and act like they can control the flow of God’s power, choose His priorities for Him, and make Him do what they want. Such people are sorely lacking in reverence for God, and they have a very deluded idea about the difference between Him and them.
The real Gods define a true God as a Being who is all-powerful, all-knowing, present everywhere, and in absolute control over all that is created. All created beings are totally dependent on their Creators to sustain their existence, provide for their needs, and protect them from harm. Consider the difference in abilities between a baby and an adult, multiply that difference by infinity, and you have an idea of the vast difference in power between you and your Creators. Compared to Them, you’re like a fleck of dust. You can’t do anything to harm Them, yet there’s no end to what They can do to harm you. The more accurately you understand the vast difference between you and your Makers, the more you will revere Them. Reverence isn’t a difficult mindset to develop—it’s the natural response to understanding certain facts.
Now once you develop serious reverence for the real Gods, then you are going to be highly motivated to submit to Them. The kind of submission that we’re talking about here has nothing to do with physically bowing or groveling in the dirt or viewing yourself like scum. Submission to God is when your soul says to God, “Since You are the Creator and Sustainer of all that exists, I recognize that You are the Supreme Authority over me and everyone else. Your opinion trumps all others, and I want to be pleasing in Your sight, so have Your way in my life.”
Despite what many Christians believe, the real Gods do not offer to be your Friends, Assistants, or Buddies. They only offer to relate to you with an understanding that They are the Masters, and you are the slave. In your relationship with Them, there is an enormous difference in rank which will never go away.
Now in general, we humans don’t like the whole master-slave concept. It gives us a bad taste in our mouths, because in this world, human slave owners often abuse the power that they have over others. Well, the real Gods are not humans—They are an entirely different kind of Being. While humans can’t handle too much power without becoming jerks, the real Gods don’t have this limitation. Towards souls who sincerely want to please Them, the real Gods are extremely gracious, patient, kind, gentle, loving, and encouraging. So there’s no need to fear having God as your Master, because He’s the best Master you’ll ever know. Also, God specifically created humans to function as His servants, and that means that the more we serve God, the more we actually enjoy serving Him.
Let’s recap. God grants salvation to those humans who respond to Him with soul attitudes that He finds pleasing. God wants you to embrace the purpose for which He has created you, and that means embracing your place as His slave. Given the vast difference between you and God—plus the fact that you can’t even move without Him—His salvation requirements are really quite simple. He’s essentially just requiring that you accept what is obvious: that you are a powerless created speck who was created for the purpose of pleasing your Creators. There’s really no way for you to refuse to embrace your place as God’s slave without taking some pretty obnoxious stands. After all, what are you going to say? “I don’t want to serve You because I’m not in the mood”? What does your mood have to do with anything? A soldier might not be in the mood to mop floors, but if that’s what his commanding officer tells him to do, he’s going to get in trouble if he refuses to obey. In the same way, when we humans give God a bunch of attitude and say, “I don’t care how powerful You are, I’m not going to respect You or obey You,” God retaliates.
The reason Hell is such a just punishment for those who refuse to submit to God is that you can’t refuse to submit to God without rejecting certain basic realities about who He is. Suppose some tiny little ant were to declare that he isn’t afraid of you because you’re just a big oaf whose opinions don’t mean anything? What would you do? You’d probably flatten the ant with the tip of your finger in order to silence the sound of his snarky little voice. Well, different kinds of beings have different preferences for how they like to deal with disrespectful underlings. When it comes to dealing with snarky humans, the real Gods prefer to chuck those humans into Hell and force them to endure a horrific existence for eternity. A lot of people today take issue with this. They resent the idea of the real Gods making people suffer for eternity. Of course such complaining is quite absurd, because we’re not God’s masters. We’re just the slaves, and slaves don’t get to tell their masters how to think.
The real Gods are who They are—They’re not who we want Them to be. When it comes to false gods, we humans can constantly revise and edit the character of those gods because we’ve just invented them like a writer invents characters for his book. But the real Gods can’t be revised by us. All we can do is learn about who They are and adjust to Them.
So then, because the real Gods are such kind and gracious Masters, They generously reward all humans who sufficiently submit to Them. Sufficiently submitting to God means you really do embrace your identity as His slave—it’s not a mindset you just try on for a day or for a few hours while your adrenaline is pumping at some Christian rock concert.
Suppose you hired someone to work for you and after she showed up one day, she never came back. Instead, she found a new job because she decided working for you just wasn’t her thing. This is how many Christians treat the real Gods—they try the whole slave thing, but then they decide it really doesn’t suit them so they move on. Such “Christians” are on their way to Hell. You see, God knows the difference between real submission and a mood swing. He knows when we’re serious about pleasing Him and when we’re just trying out a new fad or playing games. Only souls who sufficiently submit to the real Gods will end up in Heaven.
Q4: SO HOW MANY GODS DO I HAVE TO SUBMIT TO IN ORDER TO BE SAVED?
You need to submit to any real Gods that you become aware of. There are three real Gods, but They introduce Themselves to people in different orders. If you only know about Yahweh, then if you are submitting to Him as the Supreme Authority, you’re doing as good as you can do with the information He’s given you. If you later get introduced to the Holy Spirit, then you’ll need to submit to Him as well.
The real Gods take full responsibility for educating you about who They are and what They want from you. So you never need to worry that you’re going to end up in Hell for a lack of education. The real Gods do not need humans to help Them educate you on spiritual matters. They often choose to speak through humans, but not always. This means that you don’t have to go to church or join some religion to find the real Gods. All you need to do is ask the real Gods to reveal Themselves to you and help you get into a good place with Them. Because the real Gods are very pleased with souls who are sincerely seeking Them, you never have to fear that you’ll get overlooked or ignored. If you want to gain some meaningful connection with the Beings who created you, They will make it happen (see Understanding Salvation: How We Find the Real Gods & The Irrelevance of Titles).
Q5: SUPPOSE I MEET GOD’S REQUIREMENTS FOR SALVATION. DOES THAT MEAN ALL MY SINS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN?
Salvation has nothing to do with forgiveness. It is acquired solely through sufficient submission. This is a very important difference to understand.
Q6: SO ARE YOU SAYING THAT MY SINS HAVEN’T BEEN FORGIVEN?
It depends on how you define forgiveness. Once your Creators grant you salvation, you will be “saved” or “spared” from having to spend eternity in Hell. Many people have the mistaken idea that Hell is the only way God will punish sins in eternity, so if they can secure access to Heaven, then they think that means God no longer cares about their sins. This simply isn’t true.
To understand how things really work, we need to agree on some definitions. There are many ways that you can define sin. For the purpose of this answer, forget about your external actions and your relationships with other people. Think of sin solely in terms of you giving your Creators a bunch of attitude. This is called defying God or spiritually rebelling. You can be rebelling against God on the inside while you act as sweet as pie on the outside. In the world today, many Christians are inwardly defying God even as they go around doing good works and acting all sweet to others.
Now you can’t rebel against God until you know who He is and He actually asks you to do something. Remember that we’re defining sin very narrowly right now—we’re only talking about times when your soul refuses to submit to God even though it knows better. Now suppose that after God has given you 1,000 chances to obey or defy Him, you’ve chosen to defy Him 40% of the time. And suppose another soul who had the same number of chances as you defied God only 10% of the time. Is God going to be equally pleased with the two of you? No, He’s going to be much more pleased with the soul who defied Him less. Suppose both of you end up in Heaven—will your experience of Heaven be the same? No, the soul who treated God better on Earth will receive better rewards in Heaven.
Today when people talk about God forgiving their sins, they often think of Him acting like those sins never happened—like they are totally irrelevant. This is a totally inaccurate view of how God works. God does not treat sin like a non-issue. As our percentage example demonstrated, the way you treat God in this life will have a major impact on your experience of eternity. Heaven is not a place where we all go skipping through the tulips while God pretends that our defiance of Him doesn’t matter. While God is an extremely gracious and generous Being, He does not treat our soul choices like trivial things. He doesn’t lump those who really care about Him in with those who don’t care that much and act like there’s no difference between the two groups.
As long as you’re defining forgiveness of sins as God shrugging and saying, “It doesn’t matter how much you’ve spat in My face,” then the answer to the question “Are my sins forgiven?” is “No, they’re not.” But if you define forgiveness as God saying, “Though you’ve been a real brat in the past, I’m giving you the chance to succeed with Me today,” then, yes, God will forgive your sins provided that you’re serious about your submission to Him. But if you’re currently treating God with disdain, then you will experience consequences for your rebellion. If you continue to rebel, then you will continue to stack up negative consequences for your future.
Soul choices are a critical issue when it comes to pleasing God. But to understand soul choices correctly, you need to define them the way God does. A soul choice is a real choice on your part—it’s not something that you’re forced into. Marla is a Muslim who worships Allah. Marla has never been introduced to the real Gods, and because They know that They haven’t yet educated Marla about who They are, the real Gods do not consider Marla to be defying Them while she worships a false god. But Jason is an atheist who is very informed about who the real Gods are. Jason used to claim to be a Christian until the real Gods did something that really made him mad. Now Jason is trying to stick it to the real Gods by publicly denying Their existence and mocking Them every chance he gets. Because Jason is informed and willfully choosing to rebel against the real Gods, his choices are being held against him.
When you don’t have a correct understanding of how God judges you and you have a long history of doing really bad things in this world, it’s very easy to get bogged down in despair and think that you can never get into a good place with God. But because God doesn’t rank sins the way humans do, even the “worst” sinner can end up in a fabulous place with God if he gets serious about submitting to his Creators (see Understanding Divine Judgment: How God Ranks Sin). If you have personal doubts about where you stand with the real Gods today, ask Them to show you if there’s anything more you need to do to get into a good place with Them. Remember that towards souls who sincerely care about pleasing Them, the real Gods are very kind, gracious, patient, and gentle Masters. If you know that you really want to please God, yet you’re viewing Him as a harsh, impossible to please Taskmaster, then you need to realize that your view of God is being warped by false beliefs that you have about Him. The sooner you identify and correct those false beliefs, the sooner your perception of God will improve.
Q7: BUT DIDN’T JESUS DIE ON THE CROSS TO TAKE AWAY THE SINS OF THE WORLD? IF SO, THEN HOW CAN GOD STILL HOLD PEOPLE’S SINS AGAINST THEM?
Christian teaching about Jesus tends to be riddled with errors because Christians rarely interpret Jesus’ words within their cultural context. For example, when Jesus described His death on the cross as an atonement sacrifice for sins, He was speaking to followers of Judaism—a religion in which presenting sacrifices to Yahweh was commanded as an essential practice. All Jesus really meant by saying, “I’ve atoned for the sins of the world,” is “You can all stop with the sacrifices now—we’re done with that program.”
Christianity was meant to entirely replace Judaism. It was only in Judaism that Yahweh required His followers to bring Him constant sacrifices, and those sacrifices served many different purposes—not just the atonement of sins. Sacrifices were also how people expressed their thanks and devotion to God—something that Christians rarely acknowledge today (see Know Your Bible Lesson 6: The Sacrificial System).
Today Christians tend to view Yahweh’s sacrificial system as a negative thing that was focused on alleviating guilt and shame. But this just wasn’t the case. Sacrifices were also the highlight of many joyful occasions. Sacrifices were as common in the biblical world as cell phones are in the world today. Are Americans the only people on the planet to use cell phones? No, we can find cell phones in use in many other countries as well. In the same way, in the biblical world, sacrificing to gods was a popular activity in every nation. When Yahweh commanded His people to bring Him sacrifices, He was telling them to do what felt totally natural to them. In Bible times, it was unheard of to not sacrifice to the gods you worshiped. So while sacrifices seem like a strange, messy, negative ordeal to some of us today, in Bible times, this was the natural thing to do.
Now by the time of Christ, the real Gods were ready to make some significant changes to the way that Their followers would interact with Them. Realize that the real Gods know the future: They saw cell phones and drones coming thousands of years in advance. When it came to introducing a religion that the whole world would be invited to participate in—Christianity—the real Gods greatly simplified things. They threw out the whole concept of making sacrifices for sins, and that meant there was no longer any need for Levite priests, a Temple in Jerusalem or an elaborate system of tithing.
True Judaism was best suited to a limited geographical area: land that was near the political nation of Israel. This was because many of the religious rituals of Judaism required followers to physically travel to Yahweh’s Temple in Jerusalem—something that becomes very hard to do once you move many miles away and your fastest mode of transportation is a moody donkey. It was never Yahweh’s desire for cumbersome rituals to be the central focus of people’s relationships with Him. So after Judaism had run its course, He threw out the rituals and introduced a new religion that was not tied to any geographical region or physical building. Christianity is a far simpler religion which encourages humans to focus on their soul attitudes towards Yahweh, Jesus and the Holy Spirit while they dispense with formal rituals. Of course in practice, Christians have greatly complicated Christianity by coming up with a long list of useless rituals like regular church attendance, daily devotions, the formal confession of sins, and tithing. By the time we’re spending every sermon finding ways to make people feel guilty for not keeping up with all of our human demands, we’re grossly misrepresenting what God requires from us.
So then, did Jesus really take away the sins of the world? Well, look around: the sins are obviously still here. Humans sin every day, and we’ve already discussed how certain sins will have eternal consequences. So Jesus really didn’t make sin a non-issue, which is what people often mean when they talk about Jesus atoning for the sins of the world.
In real life, atonement never made anyone right with God—not even back in Old Testament times—because pleasing God has always been a matter of soul attitude. If your soul is responding well to God by embracing that whole Master-slave dynamic, then He really won’t care about whether you sacrifice or not. In real life, the original sacrificial system was either shutdown or corrupted for most of its existence—and this meant that offering sacrifices to Yahweh was not physically possible. If the Temple doors have been barred shut or the priest is a jerk who refuses to process your lamb, then as a commoner who wants to please Yahweh, you’re stuck. If it’s true that God allows other humans to block you from being received by Him, then you’ve got a real crisis on your hands. But happily, this is not true. No matter how many humans are praying against you, excommunicating you, shunning you, or declaring you to be condemned by God, God makes His own assessment of you and He couldn’t care less what other humans have to say about you. The point is that you don’t need Jesus to take away your sins or anyone else’s. You just need your Gods to be pleased with you, and that’s a simple matter of soul submission.
Q8: WHAT ABOUT THE HOLY SPIRIT? I’VE HEARD THAT HE NEVER DWELT INSIDE BELIEVERS UNTIL AFTER CHRIST CAME, DIED AND ROSE AGAIN. IS IT TRUE THAT CHRISTIANS ARE THE FIRST PEOPLE TO EXPERIENCE A TRUE INDWELLING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT?
No, it’s not true. This is just Christian ego talking.
You won’t find good teaching about the Holy Spirit in the Christian Bible. This is because the guys who wrote the Bible were all followers of Judaism who used the term Holy Spirit as another title for Yahweh. Guys like the apostles Paul and Peter did not recognize the Holy Spirit as the magnificent, distinct Individual that He is. Instead, they thought it was the Spirit of Yahweh who was coming on them at Pentecost and causing new believers to speak in tongues or dance around.
To understand the Holy Spirit’s history with human beings, you have to start with the fact that the real Gods are like three Best Friends who do everything together. They co-created this universe and all that is in it together—that’s what actually happened, but it isn’t what the Christian Bible says. If you read the Creation account in Genesis, you’ll find that only Yahweh is credited for creating Earth and human beings. Today it’s commonly believed that multiple Gods or a Triune God is referred to in the Creation account, but this theory is very easy to disprove. The reason only Yahweh is getting credited for doing all of the creating in Genesis is that the book was written by Jewish Moses—a man who believed that Yahweh was the only true God. When you’ve never even heard of Jesus, and when you don’t recognize the Holy Spirit as a separate God from Yahweh, you don’t give these Beings credit for doing things.
Read through the Old Testament and you’ll find that Jesus and the actual Holy Spirit are never given credit for being active in human affairs. Instead all of the credit is given to Yahweh or the Spirit of Yahweh (which is commonly written as “the Spirit of the LORD” in English Bibles). What humans personally believe about spiritual issues has a big impact on how they describe God’s activities.
Now because the Holy Spirit is a real God and not just a figment of human imagination, He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and present everywhere at all times. From the Holy Spirit’s perspective, your physical body is just a mass of molecules which have been brilliantly arranged to function as the complex machine which you see when you look in a mirror. Since the Holy Spirit is not bound to time and space like you are, He doesn’t have problems fitting places. It’s a simple thing for Him to exist inside, outside, and all around every molecule of your being. Once you understand what it means for God to be present everywhere at once, you can understand why it makes no sense to talk about the Holy Spirit coming to dwell within certain people. The Holy Spirit doesn’t come, because He’s already there. There is nowhere that the Holy Spirit isn’t already present, because He’s God Almighty.
Today Christians are making way too much fuss over the issue of the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of them. By the time we start viewing God as a Being with limited spatial capabilities, we’ve totally lost sight of what matters. Who is it that our Gods give eternal salvation to? Souls who sufficiently submit to Them as the Supreme Authorities. Submitting to God has nothing to do with God’s physical proximity to your body.
Here’s a useful metaphor that can help you dodge a lot of bad teaching about salvation. Dmitri is a kind man who is cradling a male infant in his arms. The little baby has no name—he was abandoned on Dmitri’s doorstep during the night four months earlier. Since then, Dmitri has applied to the courts to legally adopt the child as his own. As Dmitri stands in his house, rocking the abandoned infant in his arms, his wife Alyssa comes in with the mail. One of the envelopes contains a legal certificate that makes Dmitri’s adoption of the baby official. Before Alyssa came into the house, Dmitri was cradling an abandoned baby in his arms. Seconds later, he’s holding his son. How is the baby being affected by this significant change in his legal status? He isn’t even aware of what’s going on. He just knows that some nice man is holding him and he feels safe. But the baby doesn’t realize that his future has been radically altered for the better. He doesn’t appreciate the fact that he has gone from being orphaned to being the son of a couple who dearly love him. The change that has occurred has been entirely on the side of Dmitri and Alyssa. They took the initiative, they filed the papers, they paid the legal fees. They understand the significance of the change that has occurred, but the baby does not.
When your Creators decide to grant you eternal salvation, They are the only Ones who appreciate the significance of Their decision. They understand how your future path has just been altered—you don’t. Just as Dmitri and Alyssa were the ones who made the adoption possible by acting on their desires to adopt the baby, your Gods are the Ones who initiate in Their relationship with you. They come to you, They reach out, and They give you the resources you need to meet Their salvation requirements. Once you submit to Them and They decide to accept you, you don’t experience some radical change in who you are. You’re still you—you don’t morph into someone else. The Holy Spirit doesn’t go leaping inside of you, Yahweh doesn’t suddenly turn to face you and Jesus doesn’t go give you a bath in His blood. When you hear Christians uses phrases like “Washed in the blood” or “New creation in Christ” or “Indwelt by the Spirit” or “Second Baptism,” realize that they’re just tossing around metaphorical phrases which have nothing to do with reality. Salvation has nothing to do with being washed, indwelt, or internally changed. Just as Dmitri’s baby was not anatomically changed the moment Dmitri began to view him as his official son, you do not experience some drastic alteration the moment your Gods decide to accept you into Their Heaven. The big change is on Their side, not yours.
So then, if you want to be technical, the Holy Spirit has always dwelt inside, outside, and all around every human who has ever been created. So Christians really don’t have “extra access” to God, nor is the Holy Spirit physically closer to them than He is to the unsaved.
To understand the Holy Spirit hoopla that’s going on in the New Testament, you need to realize that the men who wrote those documents were followers of Judaism who interpreted life through a very narrow theological lens.
In Old Testament times, it was very common for folks to mix up some scented oil and go drizzling it on objects that they wanted to declare as “sacred.” When He was introducing Judaism, Yahweh included His own version of the very common practice of anointing things and people as a means of expressing spiritual significance. Jewish kings and prophets were often publicly anointed with Yahweh’s special oil blend as a means of indicating that those people were being called by God to function as leaders in Israelite society. Well, of course they were—Yahweh was quite clear that He was the One appointing the leaders of every nation, not just Israel. But for serious Yahweh followers, it was considered a great privilege to get “anointed” by God. The anointing was viewed as a symbol of God’s favor, when in reality it was just a sign that God was calling someone to serve Him in a certain way. Being promoted and actually doing well at the job are two different things. The promotion is an opportunity—but if you squander it, you’ll be worse off than if you’d never been chosen for the job (see Being Called by God: The Responsibility & The Risk).
Now getting drizzled with oil required a human’s help–people weren’t supposed to anoint themselves. And of course people abused the ritual and drizzled their sleazy friends and lied their faces off about being chosen by God—you’ll find the same kind of shenanigans going on among Christians today (see Anointed: What it Does & Doesn’t Mean). So what do you do when the oil thing is being abused? Well, one way that Yahweh would wow people was by supernaturally zapping folks and causing them to do involuntary actions, such as suddenly speak a torrent of wise words or speak in foreign human languages. The torrent of wise words was referred to as “prophesying.” Speaking in foreign human languages was called “speaking in tongues.” All of these things were interpreted as signs that Yahweh’s Spirit was entering someone, and that was of course taken as a sign that Yahweh was pleased with whoever it was.
So what was actually happening in these moments if it wasn’t really a case of the Holy Spirit jumping into people? It was just one of the real Gods causing a human to act strange as a means of drawing attention to God. If your English speaking friend suddenly blurts out something in Swahili, then at first you might fall for the apostle’s Paul ridiculous theory that she’s speaking the language of angels. But if a Swahili speaker is around and translates what she just said, then you’re going to realize it was a miracle and start wondering what God is up to. When miracles are being interpreted correctly, we always end up admiring God, not the props (see The Laying On of Hands).
Now once you understand the Holy Spirit is an omnipresent God who has always been involved in human affairs, you start to understand what a theological disaster the book of Acts is. It’s the book of Acts that Christians are using to support many of their false beliefs about the Holy Spirit’s role in salvation today. In Acts you’ll find scores of folks converting to Christianity after listening to one moving sermon from a guy like Peter or Paul. At least this is how Luke reports it. Luke wrote the book of Acts. Luke was a Jewish man who was way too impressed with guys like Peter and Paul. Luke demonstrates very poor discernment skills in his theological assessment of events that he witnesses. When Luke sees Paul succeed at working a large crowd of folks up into an emotional lather and getting them all to declare loyalty to Christ, Luke absurdly assumes that all of those people are true converts. He discounts the reality that most of the “converts” reported in Acts were just folks who were sucking up to miracle men in hopes that they might benefit from their power. The early apostles were seen raising people from the dead, casting out demons, and instantly healing all manner of illnesses. If you’re paralyzed and you hear that some guy in town is healing paralytics like you, are you really going to go see him because you care about getting into a good place with God? No. In such a moment, you just want to get your health back, you don’t give a hoot about God.
The book of Acts is filled with some very deceptive and arrogant claims on the part of the early apostles. Several times we find them teaching that people can’t fully acquire salvation without some big shot apostle physically touching them. You’ll find a lot of hands being laid on people in Acts, and it’s strongly suggested that it was the physical touch that caused the Holy Spirit to indwell people. In other words, the Holy Spirit is like an envelope that the mailman shoves through the slot in your front door—if there’s no human available to shove the Holy Spirit around, then you’ll be left out in the cold. And yet we’ve already discussed the fact that the Holy Spirit is an omnipresent Being, so there is no place that He doesn’t already dwell. And since the real Gods do not take orders from humans, the early apostles were way out of line to go strutting around acting like God’s handlers (see Know Your Bible Lesson 76: The God Dispensers).
Q9: SO WHAT ABOUT BAPTISM? DOES IT REALLY MATTER?
Since acquiring salvation is entirely a matter of how your soul is responding to your Creators, and since your soul attitudes have nothing to do with whether your physical body is wet or dry, you really don’t need someone to dunk you into a pool, a lake, or a bath tub before your Gods will accept you into Their Heaven. Baptism is utterly irrelevant to salvation.
False Formulas for Salvation – John 3:16
False Formulas for Salvation – Romans 10:9
False Formulas for Salvation – 1 John 1:9
Terrible Salvation Songs: BECAUSE HE LIVES (AMEN) by Matt Maher
Understanding Salvation: Who God Accepts