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Summary: Part 1 in a series of Bible Studies on Salvation. Part 1 looks at what it takes to be lost, ie. Man's condition without God.

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CENTRAL VBS LETS TALK ABOUT SALVATION part 1

Man’s Condition Without God

- Acts 16:25-34

Many of you are familiar with this account. Paul and Silas, two early believers and missionaries, had upset some folks. They had cast a demon out of a slave, who used to tell people’s fortunes. When the woman’s owners saw that she couldn’t tell people’s fortunes anymore, they got people upset, so Paul and Silas were arrested, beaten, and thrown into prison.

While in prison, the two missionaries prayed and sang. Around midnight, an earthquake struck the prison and the prisoners’ chains fell off. The jailer woke up, believed that the prisoners had all escaped and was about to kill himself. But, Paul, called out and told him that the prisoners were all still there. The jailor called for lights. He went in to where the missionaries were and fell down trembling at their feet. He then had them escorted out of the prison and as soon as they reached the fresh air he asked the most important question and person can ever ask.

“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” On Wednesday, April 25th, Joel Osteen, the popular megachurch pastor from Houston, appeared on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer" and said that he considers both presumed GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, a Mormon, and President Obama to be Christians.

Osteen, when asked about Romney's faith, said the former Massachusetts governor is indeed a Christian – which is a similar statement to the one he made in January.

"When I hear Mitt Romney say that he believes that Jesus is the Son of God – that he's the Christ, raised from the dead, that he's his Savior – that's good enough for me,"

said Osteen.

The Texas pastor did say that the Mormon faith was "not traditional Christianity," but that Mormonism still falls under the umbrella of Christian tenets. "Mormonism is a little different, but I still see them as brothers in Christ," said Osteen.

Many Christians do not consider Mormons to be Christians because they do not hold orthodox beliefs on core doctrines such as original sin, grace, the inerrancy of the Bible, and the understanding of the Trinity is different.

Osteen was also asked about President Obama's faith. Osteen said he has spent time with Obama and has no doubt that he is a Christian. "I believe with all my heart that he's a Christian, as he says he is," Osteen stated.

On Tuesday, June 17th, 2008, Cal Thomas wrote an editorial asking if the man who was later to become our president, was a Christian or not. In the article he quoted several statements made by our president, which run contrary to what most evangelical Christians believe.

Now, I admit. Some of the statements I read and some of the things that have taken place in the past several years have upset me. The increased tolerance of everything except Christianity and the beliefs we hold upset me. These things, however, do not upset me nearly as much as the letters to the editor that came in response the next day.

One letter by James Armstrong of Casselberry said:

“Thomas is a fundamentalist Christian who believes in a

literal interpretation of the Bible. He used to work for the

moral Majority. From his narrow, myopic vantage point, he

self-righteously presumes to judge the human family.

What about 11/2 billion Muslims? What about nearly 1

billion Hindus and a half-billion Buddhists? What about 15

million Jews? Are they all bound for hell? And what about

the billions of people who dwell in poverty, ignorance and

oppression and who have never been exposed to God

concepts and religious teachings? Are they all doomed to

Thomas’ hell?

More specifically, what about the Dali Lama or Mahatma

Gandhi or Aung San Suu Kyi, the courageous Buddhist

Nobel laureate who has been under house arrest in Myanmar

for 12 of the past 15 years? Their lives of meditation and

prayer make the spiritual exercises of most Christians pale

into insignificance.

If it’s a question of heaven or hell, as a former seminary

professor and a Christian minister for more than half a

century, I would much rather go to hell with Gandhi, the Dali

Lama and Aung San Suu Kyi than soar off into heavenly

‘bliss’ with Thomas and his ilk.” (Orlando Sentinel, Spiritual

exercise, June 18, 2008, A10)

The statements made in that letter, so flew in the face of what I believe, that I looked up the writer’s phone number and called him. I discovered that the seminary he taught at had a student body largely made up of Unitarian Universalists, who, for the most part, do not believe the Bible.

However, he did raise some interesting questions. What about the Hindu? What about the Buddhists? What about people who have never heard about Jesus?

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