Man, things are as confusing in the Church as they are in the world. As people attack the Word and decide to ignore some areas and lift up others, it become unbalanced. If you poke holes in your ship you are going to sink. If you say that God's Word is not God's Word or that there are sections we can just ignore then we have to ask ourselves, by what do I base my faith?
The first level of understanding is quite simple. Here it is:
The Father loves the Son and has given him everything. Everyone who has faith in the Son has eternal life. But no one who rejects him will ever share in that life, and God will be angry with them forever. (John 3:35-36)
So there you have it, if you believe in Jesus you have eternal life. If you don't believe, you continue on the road to your destruction. You don't get eternal life with Jesus. We know this as justification, the thing Jesus did for us that we can't do for ourselves. I think most people accept this fundamental understanding.
Where we have lots of confusion is in the actual relationship, the growing up part, the maturing. what we call sanctification. This is when we are being transformed by the Spirit into the character of Jesus, the character of a child of Yahweh. It is when we start looking like daddy. Without getting into the advanced stuff, there are a few things Jesus told us that should at least point us in the right direction. First:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. This is the first and most important commandment. The second most important commandment is like this one. And it is, “Love others as much as you love yourself.” All the Law of Moses and the Books of the Prophets are based on these two commandments. (Matthew 22:37-40)
This is simple in principle but the real challenge is to avoid the world's definition of love, to grasp what Jesus meant by love. Hopefully as we grow in intimacy with Jesus we are also growing in our revelation of love. What Jesus is saying here is if we follow these two commands we are fulfilling everything Father desires of us. There are tons of scriptures that act as measuring rods so we can see how we are progressing.
The second basic teaching from Jesus that points us in the right direction for spiritual growth is:
If you love me, you will do as I command. (John 14:15)
A little later on Jesus repeats himself but expands on it:
If you love me, you will do what I have said, and my Father will love you. I will also love you and show you what I am like. (John 14:21)
And this is where the most confusion comes it. We have been called to obedience, not self thought. We have been called to obedience, not self-will. He didn't tell us to do whatever we think is best. Jesus held up the authority of Scripture and said he didn't come to abolish it but to fulfill it. Our responsibility is to learn what Jesus taught and do those things.
When we try to interpret Jesus' words for ourselves or when we search the Scriptures to justify our own thinking and desires, we will always run into trouble. The trouble will always be our flesh, the part of us still anchored in this world. It will always gravitate to selfishness and that is a lot of what we are seeing in the Church today. There is out and out rebellion against the authority of the Scriptures, which means rebellion against Jesus..
Jesus told us he was giving us the Holy Spirit as our teacher, comforter, corrector, the one who brings conviction. In order to walk in obedience we need to learn to hear his voice and be determined to walk with him and not ourselves. We have to not trust our flesh and only trust what the Spirit is teaching because he is training us and transforming us for eternal glory. He does this through the Scripture so we need to know the Scripture. But as long as we want what we want we will never learn to walk in obedience to all of Jesus' instructions.
So, on paper, and in theory, it is simple because Jesus has done all the work and all we need to do is cooperate with the Spirit and grow up. It is our flesh that complicates it and requires us to put in a lot more effort than what we have been doing. However, if you are meditating on the Word day and night, learning to pray in relationship every day, and are developing a rich worship privately and corporately, everything else will fall in place. You will see a great abundance produced through you for the benefit of others because Father is glorified when much fruit is produced through you. It is his desire for you.
Throw off the confusion and walk in obedience with the Spirit, in the truth of the Word, and amazing things are going to happen.