Written by Larry Shawn Cagle
Below you will find 10 sections with various statements on how I personally believe. My faith is who I am or, more precisely, my faith shapes who I am and how I try to live each day on this earth. I am not involved in any religion or denomination rather, I am involved in living my faith and working each day to becoming all that God desires.
The structure of my faith is based on my reading and understanding of the Bible (ESV, AEB, YET, NIV). It is also based on what God has revealed to me while reading and studying His word after I finally finished reading the complete Bible, cover to cover. In addition, my faith is formed from listening and learning from other preachers, ministers, certain Christian individuals and my experiences in life as a lost soul, a sinner, a saved Christian and soon to be resident of Heaven. I consider my faith and myself to be a “True Christian”. (Walking the path and not just knowing the path.)
1. About the Bible
I believe the Bible is the true and accurate word of God. It was inspired by God and penned (written) by men who were chosen by God. The Bible, only in its original text and format, is the authoritative and infallible word of God. Most all translations are not all directly from the original texts and contain errors, including KJV, NSAB, AMP and others. I personally believe that the best available translation to date is the English Standard Version or ESV. I believe that God wants us all to accept the Bible literally, allegorically and metaphorically, depending on the verse or verses that are being referenced. Passages that are allegorical and metaphorical have a greater meaning. There are also many parables that serve as examples, usually on how to live our life or for a greater understanding of the subject referenced, for all Christians. I believe as the Bible states, that as long as your purpose in reading the Bible is searching for the truth, only then will you have the Bible revealed to you by God. When you have been saved, each time that you read the Bible, God will often reveal more and give you a deeper understanding of His word and its meanings. In addition, it is important to remember that just because an individual has read the Bible and may have even studied the Bible for many years, unless they are saved, seeking God or seeking the truth, they will not undersrand all they have read. This includes pastors, minister, deacons and any others claiming to be teachers of God’s word. Only God reveals His words as individuals of this world do not accept what is spiritual. (1 Corinthians 2:12-13 ESV “Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.” ) God reveals to each individual what they need, when they need it, when they read the Bible. That is why it is important to read the Bible over and over. God can and often does, reveal new information to you with each reading. I personally believe that God will reveal more only to those who have read all of God’s word. It is only when you have completely read the entire Bible (a valid translation) that you are open to more from God.
All the Books of the Bible must be taken as a whole and there are very limited instances were a single verse or multiple verses can correctly explain what God’s desires are for mankind. To many times throughout history, individuals have taken one or two verses and applied them incorrectly to their beliefs. A prime example is John Calvin and his beliefs that only the elect are saved. This was caused by his failure to look at the subject the verses were part of in that chapter. The correct meaning of these verses is God’s decision to include others, besides the Jews because of their resistance to accepting Jesus as the true Messiah.
I believe the Bible is literally God’s “Handbook for Life” for all mankind at all times. By reading and following God’s words, they can lead each individual who has been truly saved to an eternity with Him and His Son in Heaven.
2. About God
I believe that there is and has always been only One True Living God, the God of Christianity. God has always existed and will always exist. He is the creator of everything, including the universe, everything that exists in our universe and everything that may exist in and out of our universe. God is omniscient (all-knowing), omnipotent (all-powerful), omnipresent (all-present) and omnibenevolent (all-loving). God knows all there was, knows all there is and knows all there will be. God is all powerful and there is nothing that He cannot do, except lie. There is nothing that is to great or to small for God as it is all the same to God. God exists in our past, our present, and in our future simultaneously. The concept of time, which was created by God, does not apply to God. God is not bound by time or any other laws mankind has or will create. God exists and has always existed outside of “time” as we conceive time. He exists in what we conceive as our reality and simultaneously outside of our reality. God loves all and will always love all, even those individuals that reject Him. The Love of God is one reason He can forgive anyone and forget their sins. This really means everyone who confesses and asks for forgiveness of their sins at anytime in their life until their death.
There are certain people who do not understand that since God is all loving, does not mean He does not get angry, jealous, judgmental or has any other aspects of His true nature. God is many things and no one can use a blanket statement about God’s love for man* because He is all loving. God created all living creatures with man* being His greatest creation. God gave only man* a soul, together with freewill. God has aspects to who He is and what He can and will do that cannot be understood by man* because these aspects and concepts are far beyond our human capacity of understanding. This is where faith takes over and is an important part about God Himself and everything concerning God. God exists as a single being and at the same time as three (3) separate individuals. These three are God the Father, Jesus Christ His Son and the Holy Spirit. No man has ever seen the face of God and lived as the Bible states. God will judge all those individuals who have rejected Him and the sacrifices of His Son at the time of the Final Judgement.
Note: The usage of “man” in the information above and elsewhere is not gender specific but means both men and women inclusive (mankind).
3. About Jesus Christ
I believe that Jesus Christ is the only Son of God the Father. He is part of God but separate and still an individual. He is also known as Lord, Son of God, the Word, Savior, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. Just as God has always existed and will always exist, so too Jesus. Until His birth on this planet He was known as the Word. He is God and is divine. He took on human form through His birth through a virgin, Mary, who conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus, while on earth after His birth, existed as both human and as divine simultaneously. One of Jesus’s purposes here on earth was to live a sinless life and to show and teach each of us how we should strive to live our lives. However, the most important purpose of Jesus’ presence here on earth was to take on ALL the sins of ALL mankind. When Jesus expired, He descended into Hell and three days after His death by crucifixion, He was resurrected by His Father as a Spirit who first ascended into Heaven and then returned as a living breathing individual to fulfill scripture. During the 40 days Jesus stayed here on earth after His resurrection, He could only be seen by those who had been chosen by God to be witnesses. Jesus commanded them “to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
ACTS 10:42-43 ESV While with these individuals, He also had to eat, sleep and do the same as any other living person. After His 40 days on earth, He ascended into Heaven on clouds to be with His Father. Jesus will come again in the same manner as which he left this world to begin the end. He is One of a few individuals in Heaven who exist in a bodily form, He is living being, alive. In addition, after He ascended into Heaven, God made Jesus in charge of everything in the universe.
It is only by Jesus’ death and resurrection that mankind has the chance to be made righteous before God by accepting the free gift of Grace from God. Those individuals who are truly saved will be able to spend an eternity with Jesus Christ and God the Father in Heaven. Jesus will come to earth a second time. First, all who are truly saved, alive and dead, will be called by Jesus to Heaven before His second coming and the tribulation. Jesus will judge all those who have accepted Him and His sacrifice and are truly saved at the time of the Final Judgment and God will judge all the unsaved. Until your final last breath, it is never to late to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
4. About the Holy Spirit
I believe the Holy Spirit is the third part of God yet separate and an individual. The Holy Spirit is divine, as God and Jesus are divine. The Holy Spirit is also known as the Holy Ghost. Those who are truly saved receive the Holy Spirit from God which then dwells in that individual. God speaks to us through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit works in the individual to help guide them through the rest of life. The Holy Spirit does this by helping them understand and see temptation that can lead them to sin. The Holy Spirit encourages them to repent and ask for forgiveness if they sin and encourages them to follow God’s commandments and to continually to seek the Kingdom Of God as a priority in that person’s life.
Note: The Holy Spirit never controls the person but rather encourages an individual to practice what Jesus taught us while on earth and to follow what is in the Bible. Everybody retains their free will regardless of who they decide to follow, God or Satan. Remember, if you choose not to follow God your Father, then by default, you have chosen to follow Satan. The are no other choices, even if you deny the existence of the one true living God.
5. About Salvation
I believe that salvation is from the free gift of Grace that is from God our Father. There are no physical acts that have to be performed or that can be performed to receive this free gift from God. To receive the gift of Grace, you must accept that God exists and He is the only true living God who sent His only begotten Son to earth, Jesus, who was born to a virgin conceived by the Holy Spirit, led a sinless life and was then wrongfully accused and then crucified. With His death, He took on ALL the sins of ALL mankind and descended into Hell. Three days after His death, He was resurrected by God His Father and lived as a man for 40 days on earth. Jesus then ascended into Heaven and sits at the right hand of God and He will come a second time to earth to judge the living and the dead. You must confess you have sinned, repent for your sins and ask for forgiveness for all your sins from God. You have to recognize and accept that your forgiveness only comes from Jesus Christ shedding His blood through His death. Once you are saved, you can lose your salvation only by rejecting God and His Son and having your name removed from the Book of Life. However, by sinning alone you will not lose your salvation.
Romans 10:9-11, 13 ESV “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be” saved.”
To obtain Heaven after receiving the gift of grace, you must practice what Jesus taught and follow God’s laws. By having faith and accepting Jesus as your Savior but not doing good works and living in the Spirit, you will not enter the Kingdom of God.
James 2:24 ESV “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.”
John 3:5 ESV “Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
6. About Heaven
I believe Heaven is everything the Bible says it is and will be for the truly saved. I also believe it will not be quite like the claims of most priests, preachers, ministers, deacons and others that have expanded their definition of heaven and now have based Heaven on their personal ideology or other ungodly motives. I know that Heaven is an actual physical place and not a “state of mind” as some, who claim to be Christians, have professed. I believe Heaven will not be the same for everyone even though there will be shared similarities between each individual experience in Heaven. I personally believe that the greatest experience in Heaven will be God’s precious love. I believe that God’s love is so powerful that it will be everything any individual could ever want, need or desire. Only an immortal imperishable spiritual body can enter Heaven. A mortal and perishable body, flesh and of this world, cannot enter Heaven. It is only in Heaven when we have immortal imperishable spiritual bodies that we can truly experience the full power of God’s love.
Personal Note: I believe that once we have God’s love we will not have any other wants or desires. This is based solely on my personal experience of feeling a fraction of God’s pure love for less time that I desired.
7. About Satan
Satan, also known originally as “Lucifer“, “dawn of light” and “the light bearer”, is an actual physical entity whose sole purpose is to lead as many individuals as he and his demons can away from God. Originally an angel, Lucifer, who with his free will became jealous of God the Father, decided that he was just as good and as powerful if not more than God. Lucifer convinced one-third of all angels to follow his rebellion against God and the Word. For Lucifer’s betrayal, God casted Him and his followers out of Heaven to earth, where he became known as Satan. God has confined Satan and all his followers to this earthly realm. They can go nowhere else in this universe except earth and a short distance above, within the earth’s various atmospheres. Satan has dominion only over earth but God has power over Satan and everything else. Lucifer (Satan), through his free will and rebellion, created evil and brought it to earth, when he rejected God’s authority. There will be a Final Judgement for all and in the end, Satan and all his followers will be cast into the Lake of Fire for all eternity.
Personal Note Regarding Mormons: Satan is the true deceiver and he will deceive even those looking for God. I personally believe that Satan is the one who appeared to Joseph Smith, founder of the modern cult called “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and its offsprings. In Joseph Smith’s Biography, he states “I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me… When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other–This is my Beloved Son Hear Him!”
However, the Bible clearly states:
2 Corinthians 11:13-15 AEB
“Yet, they are false apostles… deceivers who are trying to turn themselves into the Apostles of the Anointed One. Why, this shouldn’t come as [a great] surprise to you, because even the Opposer keeps turning himself into a messenger of light; so it’s nothing special that those who serve him keep turning themselves into servants of righteousness.“
This is another example of why you must read the Bible and always trust in only God’s word and test everything.
8. About The End of The World
I believe as the Bible states, that only God knows the hour and the day. I also believe, as the Bible states, that the heavens and earth will pass away and a new heaven and earth will be formed for Jesus’s Kingdom on earth. When the heavens and earth are gone, all that will exist until the heavens and earth are new is God’s word. Unfortunately, it is believed by many Christians that our world will never end. This is due to an error in translation of several current and popular Biblical translations. The most commonly quoted scripture from these Bibles supporting this contention is 2 Peter 3:10 and Revelation 20:11. However, an accurate translation states the heavens and earth will pass away and be replaced. This is also supported by other Biblical scripture as translated from ancient biblical text in its original language. There are some individuals, ministers, preachers, deacons, priests and biblical scholars that state the fire mentioned in the Bible is “nuclear fire” as from a Thermonuclear detonation. However, there are two problems with that assumption. First, nuclear explosion leaves scorched earth and not a new earth and any nuclear explosion cannot go into the heavens. It is confined to this earth and lower sky!! Therefore, a nuclear explosion could not make both the earth and heavens pass away. Only God can do that and then replace them with a new earth and new heavens.
Below are some additional Biblical verses supporting this belief of the earth and heavens passing away and being replaced by a new earth and heavens.
2 Peter 3:10-13 ESV** “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to His promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.“
Revelation 20:11 AEB* ” Then I saw someone sitting on a huge white throne; and before him the earth and the sky just vanished and couldn’t be found.”
Revelation 20:11 ESV** “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence the earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them.“
Hebrews 1:10-12 ESV “And, “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment”
Hebrews 1:10-12 AEB “And, ‘In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundation of the earth, and [you] made the heavens with your hands. But they’ll pass away while you still remain; for like clothes, they will grow old.”
Matthew 24:35 ESV “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away”.
Matthew 24:35 AEB “Though the skies and the lands may all pass away, my words will not pass away!”
Revelation 21:1 ESV “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.”
Revelation 21:1 AEB “Then I saw a new sky and new lands, because the previous sky and lands had disappeared, as had the sea.”
2 Peter 3:7 ESV “But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.”
2 Peter 3:7 AEB “So it’s by this same word that what’s in store for the skies and the land is the fire that [will come to them] in the Judgment Day, when those godless men will be destroyed.”
*From the American English Bible Translation at: http://www.2001translation.com
**From the English Standard Version Bible Translation.
9. About the Current State of Christianity
The current state of Christianity is one of conflict and confusion as many individuals, groups and denominations are straying from the true word of God. They are picking and choosing what they want to beleive from the Bible to fit their lifestyle so they do not have to change their behaviour. They are applying the own interpretation to God’s word in the Bible based on their personal, social, political or secular ideology and beliefs. This problem is compounded by the plethora of incorrect translations being presented to everyone as being true, correct and current translations of the originally texts. In addition, you have popular ministers, preachers, deacons and priests encouraging a form of social justice based on monetary redistribution they claim to be Biblically based. In reality, they have taken Jesus words out of context and applied them to their own social ideologies of justice. As for Christian denominations, I believe that all that denominations do is to divide Christians and help separate them from God and His word. It is nearly impossible today to find a true Bible teaching church locally in small towns and extremely difficult to find one locally in a larger city!! When I say a “True Bible teaching church”, I mean a church whose minister, pastor, deacon does not add their own “beliefs, interpetations or concepts” to God’s word. I am sure that God knew precisely what He wanted the Bible to say and does not need additional help from others here!!
One of Christianity’s current major problem is the large number of individuals who profess to be Christians but do not follow God’s word, the Bible. Some of these individuals actually knowingly distort or pervert God’s word with the sole intent to lead others astray, away from God. These individuals, at the time of the Final Judgement, will face a harsher punishment because they used God’s word for their own reward and not the Glory of God.
I believe a good indication of the current state of Christianity can be seen when various ministers, preachers, priests are trying to blend Christianity and Islam into one faith called “Chrislam”. This is like trying to mix water and oil. It will not work and, at the very least, is an abomination and heresy.
I have decided to add this statement because of my concerns with the increase in false ministers and others claiming to be Christians. There are many signs or indicators that can be used to discover these false teachings by false teachers. I will mention one which I believe is a major problem and brief talk about the indicator. Remember, the best way to learn all these signs and indicators is by reading the Bible.
A sign or indication of false teaching is the Biblical order of importance. The Bible tells us to first seek the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness. This is one of many verses that tells us to put God and Jesus first in everything. The Bible also tells us that after God and Jesus comes your spouse, family, others and then at the bottom of this list is yourself. Remember, Jesus taught that those who are first will be last and those who are last will be first in the Kingdom of God. What can be learned from this is anyone who teaches another order is teaching falsely. Most often they will place their individual church, the “church family” or themselves right after God and Jesus and before your spouse and/or family. This is usually seen in churches that have strict tithing rules. Such as churches that require you to bring in your tax return each year to make sure you are tithing you minimum 10%. There are also churches who use their order to keep dissension within a family from affecting the church or “church family”. These ministers will actually go as far as shunning all those who disagree or as they claim, are not true believers. They have been known to force family members to choose between others in their family and the church. Another tactic they will use against dissenters is to try destroy a person’s reputation by any means. Just remember the Bible teaches the only correct order and the church is not a physical building but all true christians in the world.
It is equally important to remember that this falling apart of Christianity is part of the end as planned by God and should be looked upon as being good because this signals the second coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
10. About Various Bible Translations
While I very briefly touched on the subject previously, I will just add you cannot know what God’s word in the Bible truly are and their meaning unless you study the Bible and are saved, seeking God and/or seeking the truth. Fortunately, there are good translations available online at multiple sites. They have very good translations of ancient Greek, Latin and Hebrew. I believe you have to take the time and have the desire to know what was originally written. I believe the best translation and the one I use that is widely available is the English Standard Version. It is available online at hundreds of sites. In addition, I believe that as long as the basic tenets of Christian faith as taught by Jesus is retained in any translation, it can be used. Especially if no other translation is readily available.
I believe that one of the greatest atrocities today concerning the Bible are by those individuals who are encouraging translations that are gender neutral or feminine. In addition, translations being put forth that uses Arabic names for God, Jesus and other Biblical individuals is an attempt to misguide individuals seeking the one true living God and His Son, Jesus. It is important to remember that the one true living God of Christianity is not the same as the god of Islam, Allah, who is also known as the moon-god.
I have learned that there are two type of “Christians” in life. Those that know the path and those that walk the path. Those individuals that know the path are not true Christians. This can be seen by how they live their lives. Those who walk the path are true Christians and are known by their fruits (how they live their lives) and are truly saved. That is why it is eternally important to be a Christian who walks the path.