Hello I recently became a Christian and started to read the bible. I have read a lot about giving up my own selfishness and following Jesus. I wonder how far are you suppose to go to follow Jesus? How would Jesus want me to live my life?
Also I was wondering what happened to all the people before Jesus' time? How were the devout people like Abraham and Moses saved? Thanks for your help, God Bless
in agreement with the earlier posts about how others are saved, pre-Christ incarnate, read Hebrews 11....
as far as answering your other questions go, I would encourage you to read the Bible...yes... but read it remembering that there have been lots of godly learned Christians who have gone before us, and that we must remember that God Himself said that one of the roles of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11) was to give teachers to the church.... that is, we must not think that no one before us read the Scriptures without having the Holy Spirit. That can be a very arrogant attitude.
Charles Spurgeon once said "In order to be able to expound the Scriptures, and as an aid to your pulpit studies, you will need to be familiar with the commentators: a glorious army, let me tell you, whose acquaintance will be your delight and profit. Of course, you are not such wiseacres as to think or say that you can expound Scripture without assistance from the works of divines and learned men who have laboured before you in the field of exposition. If you are of that opinion, pray remain so, for you are not worth the trouble of conversion, and like a little coterie who think with you, would resent the attempt as an insult to your infallibility. It seems odd, that certain men who talk so much of what the Holy Spirit reveals to themselves, should think so little of what he has revealed to others. My chat this afternoon is not for these great originals, but for you who are content to learn of holy men, taught of God, and mighty in the Scriptures. It has been the fashion of late years to speak against the use of commentaries. If there were any fear that the expositions of Matthew Henry, Gill, Scott, and others, would be exalted into Christian Targums, we would join the chorus of objectors, but the existence or approach of such a danger we do not suspect. The temptations of our times lie rather in empty pretensions to novelty of sentiment, than in a slavish following of accepted guides. A respectable acquaintance with the opinions of the giants of the past, might have saved many an erratic thinker from wild interpretations and outrageous inferences. Usually, we have found the despisers of commentaries to be men who have no sort of acquaintance with them; in their case, it is the opposite of familiarity which has bred contempt." (Commentating on Commentaries)
So what I am saying is that it seems to me that there is often little too much subjective mysticism going on in regard to biblical interpretation. After all, what do you do when you have 2 persons, both claiming to be filled with the Holy Spirit, one telling you that a certain verse or passage means X when another tells you that it means Y? Contradictory meanings are impossible, the Bible itself does not contradict itself, netierh should the meaning of the Bible. So I guess i am just encouraging you that it is not wrong to go to the church for help in understanding the Scriptures, and if you want to learn to walk as Jesus did, to believe what He believed, there is simply no substitue to going to the Scriptures as your objective guide.
Of course this means a lot of hard work, you can't just read the Scriptures and either think to yourself "I believe this means x,y or z because I have some vague feeling that I take to be the Holy Spirit telling me that it means x, y or z." Or as many say in today's small groups... "this verse means, to me, etc etc" The important is what does it objectively mean, then based on that, form your subjective adherence ot the Scriptures. The Bible is objectively true, but subjectively applied. And in order to apply the Bible properly, you must first proiperly understand it. This means doing word studies (although these alone can get you into trouble as well), it means go to the commentaries, it means doing what you can to come away from the text as informed as possible as to what the meaning of the text is. And, as I said, this can be hard work. And while some things in the Bible are fairly simple, the bible itself states that there are some things that are hard to understand.
2 Peter 3:15-18 (ESV) 15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen."
So, as the Scripture itself encourages us, 2 Timothy 2:15 (ESV) Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth."