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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Four Easy Steps to Getting Eternal Life for Yourself 

Why do THE FOUR SPIRITUAL LAWS irritate me?

Let's start by going over what THE FOUR SPIRITUAL LAWS actually are.

1. God LOVES you and offers a wonderful PLAN for your life.

2. Man is SINFUL and SEPARATED from God. Therefore, he cannot know and experience God's love and plan for his life.

3. Jesus Christ is God's ONLY provision for man's sin. Through Him you can know and experience God's love and plan for your life.

4. We must individually RECEIVE Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know and experience God's love and plan for our lives.

Incidentally, I'm being a bad boy again. Remember how I quoted from Humanist Manifesto II without getting explicit permission from the American Humanist Association? Well, THE FOUR SPIRITUAL LAWS web page states the following: "In order to maintain the quality and protect the contents from changes, neither this Home Page nor parts thereof (including mirror sites) may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher, NewLife Publications, P.O. Box 593684, Orlando, FL 32859." I'd better get REAL familiar with the Fair Use doctrine.

Each of THE FOUR SPIRITUAL LAWS is supported by Biblical quotes and is very wonderful. But I guess that two things bug me about THE FOUR SPIRITUAL LAWS - the presentation, and the conclusion.

Certainly there have been numerous attempts to sum the Bible up - creeds, cathecisms, and the like. And one blogger has stated that the opening that Paul uses in his Epistles (paraphrased: grace and peace from Father and Son) sums up "everything that belongs to Christianity." These summations are intended to serve as a statement of faith, or a short way to express one's faith without reading the entire contents of several dozen books.

But when you use the term "law" instead of "creed" or "statement of faith" or whatever, it implies to me that these four absolutes carry divine authority. As far as I know, the only summation that has divine authority is in Matthew 22:

Matthew 22:35-40 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

35One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:

36"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'[a] 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'[b] 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."


Matthew 22:37 Deut. 6:5
Matthew 22:39 Lev. 19:18

But if THE FOUR SPIRITUAL LAWS doesn't explicitly have divine sanction, it has Bill Bright's sanction:

Realize that the Four Spiritual Laws represent the basic truths of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These four laws contain the Word of God, which He has promised will never return void.

But do they contain the basic truths? Let's re-examine Law Number Four and the supporting text:

We must individually RECEIVE Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know and experience God's love and plan for our lives.

We Must Receive Christ
"As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name" (John 1:12)

We Receive Christ Through Faith
"By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast" (Ephesians 2:8,9).

When We Receive Christ, We Experience a New Birth
(Read John 3:1-8.)

We Receive Christ by Personal Invitation
[Christ speaking] "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him" (Revelation 3:20).

Receiving Christ involves turning to God from self (repentance) and trusting Christ to come into our lives to forgive our sins and to make us what He wants us to be. Just to agree intellectually that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He died on the cross for our sins is not enough. Nor is it enough to have an emotional experience. We receive Jesus Christ by faith, as an act of the will.

Yup, we choose Christ. Just like the t-shirts say.

Or do we? Look at other verses, such as John 1:35-50 and Acts 9:1-6. For good measure, also look at I Samuel 3:1-10, I Sameul 16:1-12, and Jeremiah 1:4-10.

Before we can choose God, He must first choose us. Here's how one web page illustrates the distinction:

You cannot think, say, or do anything to save yourself. It is the work of God alone. The Bible says God has saved us,and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus . . .(2 Timothy 1:9). God saves by His grace alone. Salvation is not something you deserve. It is a gift that is freely given through Jesus Christ. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). No man can ever boast that he contributed something to his own salvation—not even you! Salvation does not depend on the man who wills,or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy (Romans 9:16).

Just to clarify the point here: THE FOUR SPIRITUAL LAWS have not saved anyone. Bill Bright has not saved anyone. Billy Graham has not saved anyone. The Bible has not saved anyone. Only God saves. Any additional conclusions are not necessarily valid.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

Amen. I grew up memorizing the FOUR SPIRITUAL LAWS and I agree - they never saved anybody. Incidentally, exactly how does one copyright the Gospel? It's supposed to be free and available to everyone. Hmmm.
Re copyright, I think they want to protect it from twisting and corruption, or perhaps from parody.

And translations of the Bible can be, and are, copyrighted. I frequently quote from the NIV, but there are limitations on how much I can quote (I can't reproduce the entire Gospel According to Matthew, for example).

You'll recall that the Humanist Manifesto II also has limitations on its reproduction.
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