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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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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
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His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
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[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
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Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
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There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
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Thursday, October 05, 2006
Where I Am Right Now...
With God --Part I
You are Here... at your keyboard...If we are at all familiar with Frank Turk's moratorium on the standard, "This is where I am right now" type of posts, it is because in doing a rash of "this is where I am right now" sort of posts suddenly sprang up throughout the blog-o-sphere in answer to Frank's wise advice.

Frank, being the entrepreneur-provocateur that he is, did not let the momentary fame of that particular sentiment settle into the dust without providing at least one T-Shirt to commemorate it. (I personally would have preferred it better if the guy on the T-Shirt wasn't kneeling in front of an empty cross - but was actually on the cross being crucified himself "in Christ" - but I can appreciate how a picture of a man being crucified "in Christ" might not translate well into the visual media - so I am okay with it.)

I want to discuss a struggle today that would typically be addressed early on in a Christian's walk if that Christian were being rightly discipled, and no, I am not talking about pornography or the "m" word. I am talking about the answer to this question: "What does God think of me right now?"

Oh, you might think that is a silly question to answer, and I can certainly understand why, scripture makes this plain enough. But believe it or not, some people find it difficult to navigate their way to an answer to this question that resonates with their personal experience.

I know, I know, some of you have one foot on the soap box already - personal experience? Personal experience is no measure of the truth of a thing - and rest assured my zealous friend, you will find no argument against that in this post. Yet how do we speak with those believers who allow their feelings to dictate to them their understanding of what their relationship to God is like right now. Telling such a one that "this is the truth - believe it!" may well work for some, but others are not wired that way. They find that acknowledging the truth of a matter does absolutely nothing to alleviate intense feelings of separation and abandonment. Trapped in a cycle like this the weaker brother or sister eventually may stop reaching out for help, and simply dry up while putting on the "good face."

You see it all the time. New believers, coming to the church for a couple of years faithfully, then slowly their attendance begins to suffer - excuses are made and accepted, and perhaps eventually someone notices the death throes and ministers to them where they are at - but more often that we would wish they simply fade away and no one really notices;

I don't want to go on a tangent about how unhealthy that is for a church - but I am powerfully tempted to follow that particular rabbit trail.

So today I set out to explain as clearly and fully as I am able, exactly where you stand with God right now.

Of course, this could be summed up in a trite little verse or phrase, but for those who struggle with this, the problem has never been solved by summary - and so we submit ourselves to the process, and pursue the answer more thoroughly by looking at the big through the lens of a whole lot of little pictures. I plan to answer this question for both sorts of people, those who are not in Christ, and those who are.

Where "Those Who Are Not In Christ" Are Right Now... With Respect To God.
I want to be clear about whom I am referring to when I say "those who are not in Christ" - I am speaking about anyone who hasn't been put into the body of Christ by Christ Himself through the working of the Holy Spirit in response to a saving faith in Christ's work on their behalf on the cross.

The gospel is this:
God made Adam and Eve, but they gave into a temptation initiated by Satan and rebelled against God by disobeying God's direct command.

The bible describes God as so entirely pure that no impurity can survive in God's presence (I am paraphrasing of course, but really it means that any act of disorder, on behalf of the creation, cannot co-exist in harmony with a perfectly ordered Creator - that is, God cannot tolerate or overlook disorder (sin) because it is not in the nature of the Creator to do so.)

God is just, and being just God must "correct" any deviation from perfection in order to perpetuate a reality that reflects the nature of the Creator.

God has only one solution for sin - death. The bible describes two deaths, the first being physical, and the second being spiritual. When Adam sinned his punishment was the death penalty - not that God slew him physically, but that God drove him away from:
[1] The Garden where God was providing all of Adam's needs without Adam having to toil for them.
[2] God's own presence, and
[3] The Tree of Life that had been sustaining Adam with life.

We inherited from Adam the fruit of this condemnation - a world where we must toil and work for ourselves, a reality where we have no tangible sense of God's presence, and a body that is subject to aging, disease, suffering, and eventually death.

Being born into a reality wherein we have no tangible sense of God's presence (not that we have no evidence of God, but just that we have no sense of God), that is, being born into a moral vacuum - we naturally follow our father Adam in disobedience. We call this "original sin" - not a genetic thing that is passed on from father to son, but that spiritual vacuum we all are born into on account of Adam's sin. The result is as soon as we are able to, we begin to listen to our own counsel.

Scripture describes this counselor as "self" - or sometimes as "The flesh" or our "old man" - whether we understand it or not, there is something inside us that motivates us to look out for #1 at all costs. The bible describes this as "the sin" that came into the world through Adam - and I fancy that it is really just the knowledge of good and evil - we know deep down when a thing is "right" but having been separated from God we were also separated from the only source of objective morality there is - so we use this knowledge to make ourselves like God. Really, that was the original temptation - twisted by Satan - that if we followed Satan's advice we could be like God - as if one could be like God apart from God.

So we find ourselves today, slaves to sin. That is what scripture says. That every living person on earth is a sinner - disobedient to God, and condemned because of their sin.

Some might argue that they do nice things - and Christianity doesn't argue that. The bible says that all the good things we are are actually tainted and unclean - that whatever we might think of them, God regards them as flawed and therefore not "acceptable" - that is, not at all "good" as we would hope or imagine. What that means is even the best of the best of us - the ones who seem to do no evil, and only do "good" - these same people God does not consider "good" - Jesus himself remarked that -no one- is good except God.

Likewise some might argue that they never have really been bad in their life. But that is a mistake we sometimes make when we reason using our own experience as the measure. We might say that since we have never killed or raped anyone, that we haven't really done anything bad. But honestly, whatever our own impression of "bad" happens to be, will have absolutely no clout with God. If I shoot and kill an innocent man in cold blood, I cannot use as a defense that I didn't think it was bad - my opinion on the matter has no effect on the law - and when I go to court it isn't going to matter how sincerely I believed it. So it is with the Lord - we must use his rule with regards to what is bad.

Jesus said that the greatest commandment in all of scripture was to love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, and that the second commandment is to love other people too. That means that if ever there was a point in your life that you weren't loving God from the tip of your toe to the top of your head - or if you ever hated anyone, or even simply failed to love them - you will have disobeyed God's greatest commandments. Let alone if you ever told a lie, or slept with someone before you were married, or looked at dirty pictures to lust, or had lustful thoughts, or cheated a little on your taxes, jaywalked, ran a red light, told a white lie, etc. etc. It doesn't matter which link in the chain is broken, when one link is severed, the chain is broken. So it is with sin. You don't need to tell a million lies to be a liar - you only need to tell one lie. You don't need to sin in every possible way to be a sinner - you only need to sin once, in any way.

That is a polite, and hopefully convincing way to say - you, dear reader, are a sinner. If you haven't yet obeyed the gospel, with only this much information I can tell you plainly what the bible says in answer to the question, "Where are you right now with regards to God?"

The answer is you are a condemned sinner, and the moment you die God is going to judge you guilty. You may try and hold up your good deeds before him to sway the verdict, but He will show you that what you regard as "good" he regards as soiled. You may say on that day that you didn't have enough information - but he will remind you of the day you read this post. You may argue that you weren't really all that bad - but he will show you that it was only your sinful arrogance that allowed you to try and put your own fallen interpretation of what is moral above God's own. You may kick and scream, and even gnash your teeth together - but ultimately, as the angels drag you away from the judgment seat, you will know a fullness of regret that will never leave you throughout all eternity. You will have looked on the face of God, and you will finally see that God ought to have been your sole desire - you will certainly understand the magnitude of His glory, and how worthy He is to receive it - your heart will then long for God, not because you are about to be punished, but because you will see for the first time the greatest love there is - the perfection of communion, every desire of your heart held before you in incomprehensible fullness - and I don't doubt that the most horrible part of your eternal torment will be the full knowledge that this same God whom you willfully and knowingly rejected all your life, will accept as final your rejection of Him, and cast you away. So profound will be your sense of loss as you are tossed into a lake of burning sulfur, you will be thankful for the eternal distraction.

You need not wonder about whether or not this is your fate. There are no loop holes, there is no other option - if you have rejected Christ and continue to embrace sin instead of God, you will eventually get the wages of your effort - there is no alternative, and never will be. The story of your life can be closed, except for the details about how you died physically.

So in answer to the question where are you at right now? You have only a certain number of heartbeats and breaths left in your life - and you are exactly that far away from the most wretched eternal suffering imaginable.

Not that this should make you seek Jesus - but I am not going to lie - it is good to fear God if you are a sinner.

The good news is that it doesn't have to end like that.

It isn't God's desire to see even one of us suffer like that. We were made to live in God's presence, and only in God's presence will we find genuine joy. God, knowing that we were all condemned before Him found a way to justify us even though we are sinners.

You see, God has to do something about the sin - and that something is death. There is no slippery way to get around this. Every sinner has a body that dies (having been separated from the tree of life) - and every sinner has a soul that will be destroyed. The problem for God was not how to save our bodies, but rather how to save our souls from His own wrath. The solution God provided we call "the gospel" - and it is so deceptively simple that some people miss it because it is so simple.

God exists in three persons who are one - we call God a Trinity, that is that God the Father is God, God the Son is God, and God the Holy Spirit is God - all three are entirely God - not that God is split into thirds, and each takes up a third, but rather all three are fully God, though separate persons. It is a spiritual reality for which there is no worldly model - we cannot imagine three persons being at once separate and united - but that is the picture we find in scripture.

God the Father sent His Son Jesus into creation - to be born as a human, to live as a human, and to die as a human. Jesus was God before He was ever born - but Jesus emptied himself of all his deific privilege - that is, Jesus lived entirely as a man, having open to him only the benefits that humanity afford - with one exception - Jesus was conceived by a virgin, and did not inherit the condemnation of Adam and so he lived with a tangible sense of God's presence, and being united with God in a way that no other human has known since Adam and Eve - Christ did not sin. At a time appointed by God, Christ was anointed by the Holy Spirit in the Jordan river - and began an earthly ministry in the power and strength of the Holy Spirit - His ministry had this purpose to identify Him as the Christ - God's anointed - come to earth to offer Himself as a sinless sacrifice on behalf of mankind.

You see, Christ, although innocent, was crucified on a cross - and there God did something unprecedented - he allowed Jesus to unite his own soul with everyone who ever called upon, or would call upon the name of God for salvation from sin - God granted that Christ could unite with these on the cross - and that God could punish each and every one of them in Christ on the cross. Every last one who was in Christ was destroyed along with Christ on the cross.

The good news is that Christ's sacrificial death allowed God to fully punish all those who were in Christ when God crucified Him on the cross. That union with Christ didn't end on the cross - but all who were in Christ are still in Christ - they were in Christ in death - and when God raised Christ from the dead - they were in Christ - and when God set Christ once again in heave at the right hand of His own throne - they are there to - in Christ.

That means that even if you find yourself a breath away from an eternity without God - yet you can even this moment accept what God has done in and through Christ for you - yes, for you - and "call on the name of God" to save you from your sin.

It isn't complex - you just have to accept that there is absolutely nothing you can do to persuade God that you are good, or that you aren't bad - you have to trust that Christ was good, and that Christ wasn't bad - and that if Christ took you into Himself on the cross - then his righteousness is imputed to you because you are in Christ. It is something that you do by faith - God has given you the truth, so that he can save you by it - but you must believe your way into it - that is you must turn away from every other way - and fully embrace the one and only way to be saved from God's wrath. Only utterly surrendering yourself to God's merciful and single provision can save you from God's wrath - You can pray to God that he will make real in you what He promised - God is no liar, and no respecter of people - if you ask God to save you, he will save you if you ask in faith. There is no special prayer you must pray - you just have to work it out with God - no one can intercede for you but Christ Himself.

If you do that, and you truly believe - God will save you, and the way you will know it is the Holy Spirit will enter into you and witness to your spirit that you have new life. You should probably seek out a bible believing church as well - and talk to some bonifide believers. Likewise you should read the bible - and believe it - it is all true, no matter what you think.

Next post - Where I am right now with God Part II - those who are in Christ.
posted by Daniel @ 3:00 PM  
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