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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Sunday, August 20, 2006
The -Power- of God.
Romans 1:16a says:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes...
.I was going to put an image of a supercell storm as the eye candy for this post, but the best images are copyrighted, and I couldn't find a free image that captured the awesome sense of wonder and power that some of the images in the link capture.

D.A. Carson, in his book Exegetical Fallacies uses this verse to demonstrate a particular exegetical fallacy under the "word study family" known as a "semantic anachronism." I was going to describe this in my own words, but really, Carson does a great and succinct job when he describes this particular fallacy:
This fallacy occurs when a late use of a word is read back into earlier literature.
He goes on to explain how this plays itself out in biblical exegesis. We understand that some of our English words are etymologically derived from Greek words - one such word is dunamiV (dynamis). The word means "power" - but since we get the English word "dynamite" from this same Greek word - many a preacher has read this latter use of the cognate back into the original context and therefore taught that the gospel's power was something akin to "explosive" - a meaning utterly foreign to what Paul was saying.

Likewise, we often neglect the context of the verse, that is, how Paul is summarizing all of the Christian life in a nutshell - "the just shall live by faith" (c.f. vs. 17).

I don't want to spend too much time making a point this morning - I have to prepare for this morning's service - but I did want to get this thought out:
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him -Colossians 2:6
I think much of Christianity is running amok these days because we not only neglect the simplicity of the gospel message, but we isolate it from everything else - as though the sole purpose of the gospel was to justify the unbeliever - such that the moment a person receives Christ the gospel is no longer for them, except to use as a tool to bring others into a state of justification.

John MacArthur was asked if there was anything wrong with using personal illustrations and stories from one's own life in teaching biblical truths. John's answer was that there was nothing wrong with it, but that he had determined himself not to do so in favor of using the bible to illustrate the bible. I admire that, and wish I could do that in this particular case, but I am going to have to step outside the box for a bit and use some personal history to make the point I want to make today.

I remember the day I gave my life to Christ. I had the crazy idea that I might be able to win back the girlfriend who had just dumped, by acting on her parting suggestion. She suggested that I become a missionary so that I might not only be out of her life, but also be out of the country so as to be as far away from her as possible. I was the poster child for "needy" at the time. In my zeal to impress her, I opened the phone book, and found the first church in my area that said anything about missions in their ad, and called. The pastor who answered invited me to come down for an interview, and I did. When I arrived he asked to hear my testimony, but I had no idea what that was, so he plainly asked me when and how I was born again. I still didn't have a clue what he was talking about, and clumsily asked if he was asking about when I was baptized. I informed him that I didn't become a Christian later in life, but that I was born one (I was a catholic after all), and that I was baptized shortly after my birth. He then asked me how I planned to get to heaven or something like that. I told him, with a growing sense of indignation, that I was basically a good person, and that while I had no assurance that I would be "good enough" - yet I hoped to do well enough in this life to earn heaven. I felt in my heart that to presume further than this was an insult to God. My final answer therefore was that I wasn't really sure that I was going to go to heaven - but my desire was to go there, and that I would do as much in my life as possible to tip the balance in that direction.

The pastor, God bless him, informed me that I needed be confused about where I was going, but that scripture was plain on the matter - and pulling out a bible, in short order the pastor showed me that everyone was a sinner, including me, and that all sinners were condemned to hell, and that no amount of good work is good enough. There was no doubt whatsoever, that should I drop dead in that moment I should find myself in hell pronto. Sin had a price - and that price was the forfeiture of one's eternal life. If God allowed me to escape His punishment it would make Him a liar. NO - I knew I was helbound.

I recall that for the first time in my life I was absolutely certain of something spiritual - I was certain that God's word wasn't wishy-washy on this. I really was hellbound. Until I saw that - I had always held out some faint hope that I as I was dying I would recant or something - you know - "make my peace with God" - and be ushered into heaven clean as new fallen snow. But suddenly that vague hope was silenced, and I knew - I K-N-E-W I was really, really going to hell.

That put me in a different frame of mind I must say. I was somewhat mortified, and quite distressed for my soul. I stammered for a bit under the weight of that truth, then, as I picked up the shattered remains of who I had been up until that moment, and attempted to put them together again in the light of this new revelation - I suddenly began to wonder about how anyone could be saved? If everyone is a sinner, and no one is good enough to get into heaven - how is anyone saved??

My question was as much an accusation as it was a desperate plea. The pastor (no doubt knowing with a background in Catholicism that I didn't need to be convinced that Jesus was the Son of God, or that He had really died on a cross or was raised from the dead three days later) simply explained that God knew that we could never save ourselves, and because He loved us (in spite of our sin), God provided a way to satisfy his own righteousness over our sin, and to save us from His wrath all in one fell swoop: Jesus Christ.

He explained that Christ bore our sins on the cross, and that God punished our sins already in Christ. That this was the heart of the "gospel" - that by our faith we accept these things to be true, putting our trust in what Christ did on the cross for us, and not (as in times past) in our own ability (or power) to please God through whatever placating deeds we might imagine could win God's favor or earn our way into heaven.

When the light of that truth struck me, I suddenly understood that heaven wasn't purchased, it was a gift. I suddenly realized that to follow Christ wasn't something I did in order to earn heaven, but rather something I did because Christ purchased me with his own blood. But having this knowledge wasn't the same as "trusting" this knowledge. I was on a precipice, and I knew it. I now held in my understanding the one and only saving truth - the gospel; and I believed that this was the one and only way by which a man might be saved - but the question in my mind was whether or not I was actually willing to be a Christian.

I felt that Christianity would be quite boring, and I couldn't see myself enjoying it. I didn't want to follow Christ because in my heart I felt that doing so would be like dying to everything that I "loved." To follow Christ was not simply an acknowledgement that the gospel was valid - it was to surrender my life utterly and irrevocably into Christ's dominion. I knew that Christ was -the- King, the question was whether or not I was willing to bow my knee to Him.

This all took place in my heart in the space of a few minutes. I was already in hell, and Christ was reaching down into hell to save me, all I had to do was accept Him for who He was - my God, my King, and my Savior. But my heart didn't want to surrender.

I am often humbled by the faith of my youngest daughter (now three). When you come into my house the living room is off the landing where the door is, and up about five steps. My little one, when I come home, sometimes runs and leapt off the top of those stairs trusting entirely that I will catch her. This is something of the "leap of faith" I made that day in the pastor's office. The struggle ended when I put everything else aside, and committed myself into the hands of my Maker - as a child leaps in faith into her father's arms - so I too put my faith in God and determined to trust in Christ alone for my salvation - I became a Christian.

The moment I did I experienced an absolutely unanticipated cleansing. It was as though I were a screen door, and the holiness of God was Niagara falls - and it was all passing through me and continuing to do so moment by moment. I am not much for experiences - but this lasted for hours. I had never heard of any such thing - and I would have been afraid except that peace and joy unspeakable washed over me such that I didn't have any reason to fear. For the first time in my life, I was not only ready to die - I was looking forward to it. I was not only reconciled to God, but I was also having fellowship with God - and I knew it. I am not describing a metal persuasion in flowery imagery here either - I am saying that I was experiencing something beyond the typical experience, something that I cannot explain. I wanted to be clear on that - but the point is neither here nor there.

My point isn't to talk about what happened when I was saved - it is to bring into focus the relationship between the gospel and faith with respect to our Christian walk.

You see, as I said previously, most of us tend to regulate the gospel to justification. It becomes a mere "tool" used to bring about justification, first in our selves, and then in others. But Paul tells us that in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed from one level of faith to the next, that in this way the just shall live, not by works, but by faith.

The link between the gospel and righteous living is faith.

"Oh," you say, "big deal! Haven't I heard that a billion times - so what?"

No, no. Get this, let it sink into your ears (as it were). In the same way that you received Christ Jesus - you must walk as a Christian in the very same way. I don't know about you, but I suspect that if you were saved in the same way that I was, then you received the Spirit only when you utterly gave yourself over to Christ. Until then you just had knowledge of what must be done - but the moment you gave yourself to God, and abandoned yourself to Christ in faith - then the Spirit came, and then you had fellowship with God. Not that the surrender is what I am getting at - I am getting at the idea that I was utterly convinced that God was able to do what He said.

That is how we are to walk.

Every prayer that we pray that lacks that same certainty that we had when we were saved - such prayers are empty - even beggarly.

The power of God is the gospel - and the gospel is a message of faith in God to do what He said He would do.

If you find your walk with the Lord lacking, oh brother, sister - remember that the Lord - He is God. He is a promise keeper, He kept his promise to you while you were a sinner far from Him. How much more so will He keep His promises now? Do you doubt Christian? Do you doubt??

Oh Christian, you serve God and no other. He is able to do abundantly above all that you ask or think, but you can't start in faith, and finish in the flesh. It has to all be in faith.

Be more than encouraged - be stricken by your own faithlessness, stricken to call on God, as God. Whatever feebleness has entered in - trust that strong tower, He is able, more than able.
posted by Daniel @ 6:58 AM  
8 Comments:
  • At 5:09 PM, August 20, 2006, Blogger Frank Martens said…

    Daniel said... Every prayer that we pray that lacks that same certainty that we had when we were saved - such prayers are empty - even beggarly.

    The power of God is the gospel - and the gospel is a message of faith in God to do what He said He would do.


    Dude, you have no idea how much that is speaking to me right now.


    Currently there's a situation at work, I was asked to take a job where I do a lot of traveling. However, I knew that I have a calling to go to seminary (or similar school) and eventually end up in full time. Anyway, so I applied (and was accepted) for seminary prior to hearing about the job situation. Then the job situation came up. So I prayed and prayed and prayed, and realized I should not take the job and wait on God to work. So after I walked to my managers office and told him I wasn't going to switch to the new job. I walk down to my office and run one last search to see if what other jobs I could find. And a job for Minneapolis, MN shows up (an IBM contract with American Express to do some IT stuff). So I'm like... alright I'll apply.

    So trying to wrap this up, I interviewed with the manager and have been praying like nothing before about the situation hoping it'll work out. But here's the problem, I've been praying as if God wasn't going to keep His Word in providing. It wasn't until my drive home from my dads house today that I realized this, so I said a short prayer, in the car, confessing.

    Then I get here and read this, and it's like... uhhh yea ok I get the picture.

    Anyway :) Thanks man, thought I'd share a bit, sorry it's long.

     
  • At 8:36 PM, August 20, 2006, Blogger Even So... said…

    All right now, stop it, stop it, stop it....

    I preached that last week, from Romans 1:17, as we are going verse by verse through the book. Of course we went through 1:18 this week, so I guess that means you are going to go there next week, huh.

    Great job friend, scary in a sense but edifying to see you go there with this text. We need the gospel every day, period.

    BTW, thanks a lot for reminding me that I need to get to that Carson book pronto, no more procrastination with that deal...

     
  • At 7:18 AM, August 21, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Frank - sounds like my life!

    JD - maybe just send me your notes next time, it'll be easier for me ;-)

     
  • At 7:49 AM, August 21, 2006, Blogger Ryan said…

    Wow, this is amazing! Lately in a Bible study for young(er) people I'm going to, we've been going through Galatians, and this post sounds like it directly relates to 2:20

    "...and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself up for me."

    and 3:3

    Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

    May it never be!
    We walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7), and whatever is not from faith is [a] sin (Rom. 14:21).

    The Christian life is an amazing walk of faith in God, seeing with spiritual eyes, "put[ting] no confidence in the flesh." (Phil. 3:3) And I'm finally beginning to grasp that concept. Praise and glory to God!

     
  • At 7:52 AM, August 21, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    I am just happy it was comprehensible. ;-)

     
  • At 6:11 PM, August 21, 2006, Blogger Antonio said…

    It is interesting to take a verse and then interpret it in light of your own experience, providing many pages of writing doing so.

     
  • At 10:20 PM, August 21, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    It is interesting to take a verse and then interpret it in light of your own experience, providing many pages of writing doing so.

    No more interesting that taking a verse and spending many pages describing something no one ever experiences I suppose...

     
  • At 7:24 AM, August 22, 2006, Blogger bluecollar said…

    Daniel, I loved this post. Thank you.

     
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