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God Vs Religion – Methodists

The United Methodist Church (UMC) is a mainline Protestant denomination and a major part of what is called Methodism. Methodism is defined as a group of historically related denominations of Protestant Christianity which derive their inspiration from the life and teachings of John Wesley. In the 19th century, the Methodist Episcopal Church, was held as a leader in evangelism, preaching revival throughout the United States and England. In 1968, it was founded by a union between, The Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church, in Dallas, Texas. The United Methodist Church traces its roots back to the revival movement of John and Charles Wesley in England, as well as the Great Awakening in the United States. The church’s theological orientation is known as Wesleyan, which is not a Bible preaching, but embraced liturgical and evangelical elements.

When And Who Founded The Church?

History of the Church:

According to UMC.com, there were two groups, the Wesleyan’s, which was led by John Wesley, and the Methodists, which was followed Methodism. All Wesleyan and Methodist denominations are connected to the lives and ministries of John Wesley (1703-1791) and his brother, Charles (1707-1788). John sought to challenge the religious assumptions of their day, both John and Charles were Church of England priests who volunteered as missionaries to the colony of Georgia, arriving in March, 1736, but failed in their ministries, returning back to England in 1738.

Then in 1738, John Wesley had a spiritual experience, in which he wrote, “I felt, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins.” The experience inspired Wesley to become one of the greatest preachers of all time.

Wesley drew the conclusion that those who accepted Christ as their Saviour would repent of their ways, and change them through disciplined Christian living. However, Wesley and the early Methodists were concerned about inviting people to experience God’s grace and then telling them to grow in their knowledge and love of God through disciplined Christian living. Their emphasis on Christian living was on putting faith and love into action, meaning if you say you are a Christian then act like one, be Christlike. Wesley termed Christian living as “Practical Divinity” and has continued to be the basis of United Methodism today.

Their belief is that the shape of their theological heritage would be seen both through Christian living and Wesley’s understanding of God’s saving grace is. Although Wesley believed in salvation by grace, he combined it along with other Christian beliefs to create a book where its emphasis was for living a disciplined Christian life, the Book of Discipline, which is what became the model of Methodism, and is still enforced today.

In 1956, the predecessor body of the United Methodist Church granted women full clergy rights, ordaining them as ministers. As of today, women make up twenty-five percent of clergy in The United Methodist Church.

What Does The Church Believe?

Quoted from the UMC website, “As United Methodists, we have an obligation to bear a faithful Christian witness to Jesus Christ, the living reality at the center of the Church’s life and witness. To fulfill this obligation, we reflect critically on our biblical and theological inheritance, striving to express faithfully the witness we make in our own time. According to our foundational statement of beliefs in The Book of Discipline, we share the following basic affirmations in common with all Christian communities: United Methodists insist that faith and good works belong together. What we believe must be confirmed by what we do. Personal salvation must be expressed in ministry and mission in the world. We believe that Christian doctrine and Christian ethics are inseparable, that faith should inspire service. The integration of personal piety and social holiness has been a hallmark of our tradition.”

We can and must be friends with Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and others. In dialogue with them we learn and they learn. In a time when religion is so much in the news and on our minds, we need to be vigilant against our own hostility and follow Jesus in the way of love.”

The 2016 Book of Resolutions states, “Productive interfaith dialogue requires focused, sustained conversation based on willingness to recognize and probe genuine differences while also seeking that which is held in common. We are called to openness so that we may learn how God is speaking through our dialogue partners. As stated in the World Council of Churches’ “Guidelines on Dialogue”: “One of the functions of dialogue is to allow participants to describe and witness to their faith on their own terms….Participants seek to hear each other in order to better understand each other’s faith, hopes, insights, and concerns.”

Fruitful and respectful dialogue is centered in a mutual spirit of humility, trust, openness to new understanding, and commitment to reconciliation and the healing of the painful wounds of our history.” We can and should pursue these paths, which in no way diminish our commitment and witness to Jesus as Savior and Lord.”

Rev. Dan Benedict and Rev. Taylor Burton-Edwards

Dan and Taylor served as director of worship resources with Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church from 1992-2018.

(“United Methodist Guiding Principles for Jewish-Christian Relations,” The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church – 2008.

What Does The Bible Say About This?

While good works are reflective of Christ, this sounds a lot like they are trying to work their way to heaven. We cannot do enough good to get to heaven, which is why none of our works can get us to heaven. Jesus made heaven and salvation possible by giving His life on the cross as the blood sacrifice required for both redemption and atonement. Through our faith in Him alone, and upon confessing that we are sinners, and need Him for our salvation we are able to go to heaven.

For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” – Romans 10:2-4.8-10,13.

Another thing, while we are not to shun people of different faiths, we must not be yoked with them, we must be separated from them. “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” – II Corinthians 6:14

About Sin: Sin in not the result of Adams fall, but naturally engendered through his offspring. Man is far gone from knowing righteousness, and is on his own nature inclined to do evil continually. Once born, a child is contaminated by sin and must be baptized to remove that sin.

What Does The Bible Say About This?

This is saying that Adam was not the one punished for his sin, we are. We are born with a sin nature, that was passed down to us through Adam and Eve, which is why Jesus came here in the flesh through immaculate conception and not the rest of us. We are not punished for Adams sin, we are punished for our own because we are more inclined to do evil, which means sinful things, not wicked evil as the devil would do. “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” – Romans 3:10-12,23.

Also, water baptism does not remove sin, Jesus does. And babies, or anyone of accountable age or those who are special needs that are like babies are not condemned. We are all born with a sin nature, and yes, we sin from birth, but until the child realizes that what they do is sin than they are not accountable. “And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.” – Acts 8:36-38.

About The Bible: The Bible is God’s Word and is the primary authority for faith and practice.

What Does The Bible Say About This?

The Bible is the inspired words of God, which already was and is in the flesh of Jesus Christ.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” – John 1:1-2,14.

It is authority of the Church, which is the body of Christ, and is to be the authority of all Christian churches, the entire book, not bits and pieces of it, but all of it. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” – II Timothy 3:16-17.

About Jesus: God became human in Jesus of Nazareth; and his life, death and resurrection demonstrates God’s redeeming love.

What Does The Bible Say About This?

While this is correct, Jesus is also the Son of God, who God sent that man may receive eternal life if they believe in and receive Him as their Saviour. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” – John 3:14-18.

About Salvation: This process of salvation involves a change called conversion. Conversion is a turning around, leaving one orientation for another. It may be sudden and dramatic, or gradual and cumulative.

Jesus Christ is the only way the Bible reveals as God’s gift and way of salvation. God can save anyone that He chooses to save. Jesus Christ is the final judge, we cannot decide whom God will save. We must simply trust the plain teaching of scripture.

Only God can initiate salvation. But only by our ongoing, living relationship with God through faith can God’s saving intention be fully realized in our lives. “once saved, always saved” is simply not part of our theological vocabulary or world-view. It is a kind of Americanized shorthand for the fifth of the core theological principles of Calvinist theology (perseverance of the saints) articulated by the Synod of Dort (1618-1619). Those principles are often summarized in English under the acronym TULIP.

What Does The Bible Say About This?

While Jesus is the only way to salvation, and He is the final judge, everything else here is incorrect. And for a group of people to believe in the plain teaching of Scripture, they sure have no clue what it says. First, salvation is by grace alone, not works. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9.

Second, you cannot not lose your salvation after you are saved. Eternal life means living life forever, it is that simple. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” – Romans 6:23.

Third, The Bible itself clearly says that once you are saved you always saved. Jesus died on the cross once, that means we only have to ask Him once, that is unless you asked in in vain, then in that case there is no salvation at all. “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” – Hebrews 9:27-28.

About The Trinity: God, who is one, is revealed in three distinct persons. The Holy Spirit is God’s present activity in our midst. When we sense God’s leading, God’s challenge, or God’s support or comfort, it’s the Holy Spirit at work.

What Does The Bible Say About This?

God is three persons in one, God, the Father, Jesus the Son (the Word), and the Holy Spirit (the Water), each one being their own distinct person, meaning used for a specific purpose, yet all God, and all one person. And we need all three in order to be saved, if we have all three we are complete body, spirit, and soul, and the only way we can be complete is through Jesus Christ. “This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son.” – I John 5:6-8.

About Heaven & Hell: While we may want a clear cut answer on heaven and hell, United Methodists do not provide one in our doctrinal standards. This is because the scriptures themselves offer no one clear teaching on what happens to the dead between their death and the resurrection and judgment at the Last Day.

Instead, we are called simply to trust God that we are in Christ’s care and keeping. It is that faith that calls us to trust that God holds answers that humanity cannot yet understand. We find in Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” While the Protestant tradition teaches us certain aspects of the afterlife, there is still much that remains held in the mystery of God that requires simple faith.

What Does The Bible Say About This?

Apart from the fact that this is not King James, and we must have faith in God and His Word, this is all together incorrect. There is a clear and cut answer in heaven and hell, as well as what happens during the resurrection, and Judgment Day, straight from the Bible. In fact, there are more verses telling us about hell than heaven.

Jesus is the judge, and has the keys to heaven, hell, and the resurrection for that matter. “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” – Revelation 1:18.

Heaven is reserved for those who are saved, whether today, which is only through Christ, or yesterday, which was achieved through their faith also, and all those babies, and lives lost who died before their accountable age. “And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.” – Matthew 18:3-5.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” – I Peter 1:3-5.

Hell is reserved for the devil, the unsaved, which are the unbelievers, and the reprobates. “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” – Revelation 21:8.

The second death, is Judgment Day for all those who are in hell, and that is when they will be resurrected, then to be cast into the lake of fire, where they will spend eternity, also known as eternal death or damnation. “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” – Revelation 20:13-15.

But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” – II Peter 3:7.

For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:” – II Peter 2:4-5,9.

About Baptism: The United Methodist Church recognizes two sacraments, baptism and communion. These two acts have a special place in the church because Jesus commanded them and participated in them. In the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, “we are initiated into Christ’s holy church,…incorporated into God’s mighty acts of salvation and given new birth through water and the Spirit,” the Introduction to the Baptismal Covenant says. “All this is God’s gift, offered to us without price.” In baptism, we reject the power of sin and begin our journey as disciples of Jesus Christ.

As the circumcision of male children is the initiatory act into God’s covenant with the Hebrew people (see Genesis 17:9-14), baptism is our initiation into the new covenant in Jesus Christ.

While all those baptized in a United Methodist church are members, when reporting membership statistics we count professing members, those who are baptized and have publicly professed the baptismal and membership vows for themselves. Because baptism is an act of God, initiating us into the universal church, “the sacrament is to be received by an individual only once,” By Water and the Spirit states.

What Does The Bible Say About This?

While baptism and communion are a part of the Christian church, this is all wrong in how and why we do this. Again, baptism is a public profession of faith that one does one time after they are saved through Christ. It is not necessary, and does not accompany salvation, it is an act of proclaiming our faith in receiving Christ as our Saviour. “And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.” – Acts 8:36-38.

Communion is also for the saved, it is to remember what Christ did for us, and we are to do just that, eat unleavened bread and drink wine (juice), not fomented wine which is tainted with alcohol, to remember what He did for us. The bread is not His flesh, and the wine is not His blood, it is to remember that Jesus did give His body and shed His blood to save us from our sins. If you do this and are not saved than you are creating another problem. “And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.” – I Corinthians 11:24-27.

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