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I've had this discussion with a number of my Christian friends, and have never managed to get a definitive answer. There may not be just one, but I'd like some scriptural backings for each opinion, please. (This is my first question on here, and apologies if it's a bit too broad a topic without a definitive answer. I really hope there is one.)

Some friends say that you need to be attending church regularly, praying, repenting, and being seen to "make an effort" to practice the Christian teachings every day, in every decision, etc.

Whereas others say that all you need to do is accept Christ as your saviour, and believe that the way to heaven is through him, whether or not you choose to then live your life in a "Christian manner" after that.

Are the former being too strict on themselves? Are the latter looking for an "easy way out" in allowing them to lead a life of sin?

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closed as too broad by Caleb Jun 30 at 14:56

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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Hi and welcome to Christianity.SE! I see you're familiar with the SE network, but you may want to check out our What makes a good focused question meta post as it's fairly likely that unless you edit it your question will be closed as being off topic. –  bruised reed Jun 30 at 12:09
    
It would be better to ask two questions and ask for the biblical basis of the two ideas: one for the idea that those Christian activities are required, and one that they're not. –  curiousdannii Jun 30 at 12:10
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There are so many misunderstandings present in this question that it would be difficult to answer them all. First of all, Christianity is not a burden at all, so who would ever want to do the bare minimum? That does not make any sense at all. Such a person likely simply wants to avoid judgment, which is not what Christianity is about. Loving God and living in relationship with Him is what it's about. Who would ever want to get married and ask how little time he can possibly spend with his wife? –  Narnian Jun 30 at 12:38
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hey, now i am allowed to comment again!! there is a lot of misunderstanding in the premise of the question, but, if mpdc is representing his Christian friends accurately, the source of the misunderstanding may very well precede the question and originate with his/her Christian friends. since the question is "on-hold", i would just say that different people have different theologies about it. i come from the school of thought that the "works-salvation" folk are looking at cause-and-effect backwards. the cause is grace and the authentic effect is joyful obedience. –  robert bristow-johnson Jun 30 at 18:21
    
No definitive answer can be given because Paul himself tries to have it both ways. Compare Romans 2 (works) with Romans 3-4 (faith). Compare Romans with the Pastorals (1 and 2 Timothy, Titus). Paul can't make up his mind, and this has caused massive division ever since. –  david brainerd Jul 1 at 3:38

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The real question is, where do your friends get their answers? Anyone can have their own ideas of how to get to heaven, but how do they know their ideas coincide with God? We must go to what God has said in his Word.

Without throwing too many verses at you, I can tell you that your first group of friends give a "heaven attendance requirement" that is completely contradictory to what's stated in the bible.

Romans 3:20 ESV For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

Basically, no matter how good you are on the outside, you can never be good enough in God's eyes since his standard is No Sin Allowed. No amount of bible reading or church attendance will remove a person's sin, just like saving a person's life doesn't absolve you from a previous crime of murder. One must be totally righteous (i.e., sinless) to be justified before God.

So since we can't get rid of our sin by any good thing we do, how do we make ourselves righteous? Answer: JESUS.

Romans 3:21-22,28 ESV But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe ... For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

Your latter group of friends got it right: one need only believe that Jesus is the way and that makes you righteous before God. That is the "minimum amount of action required" to get into heaven.

So the next question that you have is "Well if all I need to do is accept Jesus, does that mean I can sin all I want and Jesus just covers them?" Well, technically, yes--ALL yours sins are covered forever. But there's more to it.

Paul addressed this very question in Romans 5 and 6. Since God's grace (through Jesus) covers all of our sins, can we just sin all we want?

Romans 6:1-2,11 ESV What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? ... So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

The answer is: All your sins are covered and are therefore no longer counted against you in God's eyes, but since God has basically saved your eternal life, why would you WANT to sin? Why would you want to submit yourself to the very thing that severed your relationship with God? When you believe in Jesus, God places his Holy Spirit inside of you and leads you into a new way of life--a way of good character. It's not this new way of life that saves you, Jesus already did that. But this Holy Spirit that lives in you convicts you, teaches you, comforts you, and helps you. Basically, you won't WANT to do evil after you become a Christian.

Ephesians 1:13-14 ESV In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

Though we all fail. We all still sin sometimes, even Paul did. But Paul knew that his desire to sin came from his cursed body and that Jesus still covers all his sins:

Romans 7:15,24,25 ESV For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. ... Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

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Mod Notice: <massive comment thread removed> Comments are not the place to debate theology. All of you involved, please stop! There were some things critical of this answer that were partially addressed. After that it devolved into a debate about interpretation of stuff. That is not what the comment system is for. Take that to chat if you like. Provide an alternate answer if you think this one is wrong. Thanks for understanding. –  Caleb Jul 7 at 19:56

The basic issue is this:

If you don't share the nature of God, going to heaven will be impossible. But just imagine that it was, and you went to heaven without sharing God's nature, then it would actually be torture: God revealed to you in all His power, Glory and Holiness would be an unbearable terror - seeing eternal realities with clarity would necessitate the greatest of apprehension as you would know that your existence is anti-thetical to the most powerful being in existence whose merest breath could shred you to sub-atomic particles - you would not experience joy in any measure, only the most fearful apprehension possible.

You might say: "But, but... isn't God loving and merciful??" Yes he is, but He is also Holy - so Holy that anything of sin cannot withstand his presence.

So the minimum action required is that you become a partaker of the divine nature. Perhaps if your friends are kind enough to share the gospel with you again, you will realize how it important it is that you listen carefully.

If you don't want to wait that long, perhaps you could avail yourself of resources like this: http://peacewithgod.jesus.net/

Are the former being too strict on themselves? Are the latter looking for an "easy way out" in allowing them to lead a life of sin?

Without knowing specifics, it would not pay to be dogmatic, but in regard to the former - probably not, and the latter - almost certainly.

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* All references from the New English Translation (NET Bible)

According to the Scriptures, to be saved, we must:

He said, "The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the gospel!" (Mark 1:15)

In other words, we are justified by faith (Romans 3:21-4:25):

We are justified, declared righteous, at the moment of our salvation. Justification does not make us righteous, but rather pronounces us righteous. Our righteousness comes from placing our faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. His sacrifice covers our sin, allowing God to see us as perfect and unblemished. Because as believers we are in Christ, God sees Christ's own righteousness when He looks at us. This meets God's demands for perfection; thus, He declares us righteous—He justifies us. What is justification? What does it mean to be justified?


However, every true believer should bear fruit (whether little or much):

But these are the ones sown on good soil: They hear the word and receive it and bear fruit, one thirty times as much, one sixty, and one a hundred." (Mark 4:20)

The works only show that you have really believed:

So also faith, if it does not have works, is dead being by itself. (James 2:17)

but I declared to those in Damascus first, and then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds consistent with repentance. (Acts 26:20)


Regarding your last questions:

Legalists believe in and demand a strict literal adherence to rules and regulations. Doctrinally, it is a position essentially opposed to grace. [...] For example, there are those who feel that to be spiritual one must simply avoid tobacco, alcoholic beverages, dancing, movies, etc. The truth is that avoiding these things is no guarantee of spirituality. What does the Bible say about legalism? How can a Christian avoid falling into the trap of legalism?

The Scriptures says:

20 If you have died with Christ to the elemental spirits of the world, why do you submit to them as though you lived in the world? 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!” 22 These are all destined to perish with use, founded as they are on human commands and teachings. 23 Even though they have the appearance of wisdom with their self-imposed worship and humility achieved by an unsparing treatment of the body—a wisdom with no true value—they in reality result in fleshly indulgence. (Colossians 2:20-23)

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What is the minimum amount of action required to get in to heaven? Follow the Ten Commandments.

This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it. (2 Jo 1:6 NKJV)

Some friends say that you need to be attending church regularly, praying, repenting, and being seen to "make an effort" to practice the Christian teachings every day, in every decision, etc.

Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. (Matthew 6:1 NKJV)

But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. (Matthew 23:5 NKJV)

Whereas others say that all you need to do is accept Christ as your saviour, and believe that the way to heaven is through him, whether or not you choose to then live your life in a "Christian manner" after that. This is a true saying but is not understood. So here it is:

God is breath(John 4:24), and we are his temple. The son of the breath is the word. The breath blew across the waters, and the breath expanded the universe. The breath by itself judges nothing, for authority has been given to the word. Yet their are two types of breath. The breath of truth and the breath of error (1 John 4:6). And the deciding factor is whether ort not a person can hear what the word is saying.

Now each person has their own sea of information. And from that sea comes knowledge and wisdom also many other things. Now if one is truly loving you then they will be immersed into your sea, or baptized into your water, or last, or born again, or have sold all their thoughts and are listening to the beggar. But once you start listening to their sea, no other thing in creation is allowed to be as important as the word that is being sown, for otherwise your mind becomes on the thorny ground, or the stony ground, or the wayside. Only the mind on the good ground can hear what is being said. And can hear the fullness of the waters. "But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”" (Luke 9:62 NKJV)

Once you start to harvest the truth from the one that is next to you, nothing I mean nothing can be more important the word "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple." (Luke 14:26 NKJV). So I say to you Only if you learn to listen will you be saved "so that ‘Seeing they may see and not perceive, And hearing they may hear and not understand; Lest they should turn, And their sins be forgiven them.’”" (Mark 4:12 NKJV)

For many are guilty of failing in the first commandment. Learn the lesson from the rich man. He came to Jesus and asked what do I need to do for ever lasting life? The response from Jesus "You know the commandments". But what do the people fail at understanding? The first three! Continuously the people loved the things of the world and worshiped the things instead of the word. You must drink from no other sea besides me! Why? Because I am Jealous and will take it out on your whole family! Yet to those that love me I will show mercy to thousands.

Many desire to be the teacher and be the fountain of knowledge, yet his followers have been called to listen and this is why. "And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together." (John 4:36 NKJV). I want this to be clear to you. The one who listens receives the wages of life! "but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”" (John 4:14).

Prayers will not be answered if you do not understand faith. It is not a faith that since Jesus died you are saved! He did die. True. You can now be saved because he died. True. Because he taught us how to die. Trust that God will fulfill the Opposite Equal Reaction. The Centurion he had faith and his story has nothing to do with the death of Jesus. No he believed the word. For the Word made all things, why do you think that if the word made all things and you also have the words in you, that now the word can not make things?

If you want to see the word move a cup on the kitchen table, when the need comes say "that cup needs put in the sink" and it will move. Another person will come and pick up the cup and will put it into the sink for you, all by the power of the word. It works, God works many miracles through me.

Are the former being too strict on themselves?

These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh. (Colossians 2:23 NKJV)

Are the latter looking for an "easy way out" in allowing them to lead a life of sin? Yes.

Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. (1 John 3:9 NKJV)

Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin (1 Peter 4:1 NKJV)

Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. (Matthew 26:41 NKJV)

When you are asking the questions your life is hidden.

For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3 NKJV)

See why their is no more sin? "His seed remains in him" He hears the words.

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Your abundant use of extra-biblical word pictures make your answer a bit hard to follow. –  LCIII Jun 30 at 14:58
    
@LCIII What do you suggest? –  Only he is good. Jun 30 at 15:03
    
Would it be easier to say, of my kingdom of my room and things you do not get to unless you hear what I have to say? If you don't care about what I have to say, then you mean nothing to me? I'll find someone who does care. Now I do forgive because of Jesus, yet there are those that do not and will require of you the sacrifice, be it offering of money, or smoke, or incense, or food. Some still indeed need to break something to release the anger. For them we have been directed to break the bread instead. –  Only he is good. Jun 30 at 15:44

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