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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.
- Marc Heinrich

His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole

[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.
- C-Train

This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos

Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead

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.
- Carla Rolfe
 
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Thursday, April 24, 2008
Unassured Faith...
Daughter: Daddy, I don't think I am saved.

Father: Saved from what?

Daughter: From going to hell when I die.

Father: Are you a sinner?

Daughter: Yes, everyone is a sinner.

Father: Is that why you are a sinner - because everyone is?

Daughter: Everyone is a sinner Dad.

Father: Yes, but what if no one else was a sinner. Would you be a sinner?

Daughter: (reluctantly) yes.

Father: Why?

Daughter: Because I sin. I have told lies and I did things I knew I shouldn't have.

Father: Then are you a sinner because everyone is a sinner, or because you wanted to sin?

Daughter: Because I wanted to sin.

Father: Do you know what the penalty for sin is?

Daughter: (sadly) Yes daddy. It is that you don't get to go to heaven when you die, but you go to hell.

Father: If you just stop sinning will God forget about all your other sins?

Daughter: I don't know...

Father: If a person kills someone on Monday, do the police let him go just because he doesn't kill anyone on Tuesday?

Daughter: Daddy! They wouldn't do that because he is a killer, and he needs to be punished for killing people.

Father: That's right - so do you think God will forget about your sins just because you stop sinning for a while, or because you sin less?

Daughter: I am not sure...

Father: Well, if a person was killing five people every day, but then started to kill only two people a day - do you think the police would let him go because he doesn't kill as many people as he used to?

Daughter: No! He is still a killer, even if he doesn't kill as many people anymore.

Father: So even if you can stop yourself from sinning as much as you are able, does that stop you from being a sinner?

Daughter: I guess not. But Daddy, everyone is a sinner!

Father: Yes, everyone is a sinner. There was only one person who ever lived without sinning, and that was Jesus Christ.

Daughter: I know that faith in Jesus means I don't have to go to hell when I die.

Father: If I said I had faith in our van, would that make the brakes work when we needed to stop? Could I just drive fast and then make the van stop by believing it would stop?

Daughter: Nuh-uh. You would have to push the brakes.

Father: Ah. You see, I have faith that when I push the brakes the van will stop. That isn't "faith in the van" - it is faith that the van will do what it is designed to do if I do what I am supposed to do to make the van stop.

Daughter: What?

Father: The people who made the van put brakes on it so that it could stop. They designed it that way.

Daughter: Yes...

Father: I know that they designed it that way, so I have "faith" - that is, I trust that when I do what I am supposed to do (push the brake pedal), the car will do what it is supposed to do (stop).

Daughter: Oh. I see that.

Father: So my faith isn't just "in the van" - my faith, or my trust is that the van will respond in the way it is supposed to. But how do I know that the van will stop when I push the brake?

Daughter: Because all cars have brakes.

Father: No, that's not what I mean. How do we know where the brakes are? How do we know that they are what stop the car?

Daughter: Because all cars are the same - the brakes are on the floor there Daddy.

Father: (Sigh), what if a person had never seen a car before, how would they know that the brakes were on the floor, or that they stopped the car?

Daughter: They would watch other people do it.

Father: What if there was no one else to watch - what if they just had a van and a book that told them about the van?

Daughter: then they would read the book and the book would tell them how to use the van, and the brakes.

Father: That is right. But the first time they used the brakes, they would really have to -trust- that the people who wrote the book were honest and not lying right?

Daughter: I guess so.

Father: Good. Because when it comes to dealing with our sin, God has told us in His word (the bible), that although there is a penalty for sin, He has made a way for us to be saved from the penalty.

Daughter: I know, by trusting in Jesus!

Father: Ah, but what does it mean to trust Jesus.

Daughter: I don't know... that I just trust Him.

Father: To do what?

Daughter: To save me from going to hell.

Father: Will he do it?

Daughter: I don't know. I have prayed and asked Him many times, but I never feel like it worked.

Father: Do you know why that is?

Daughter: No, but I feel like he doesn't listen to my prayers, or he can't hear me.

Father: Before the world was ever created God designed you just like someone designed the van before it was made. He carefully and lovingly decided who your parents would be, what things you would like, what color your hair and eyes would be, what things would make you laugh and what would make you cry. You were very precious to him even before you were ever born. At this very second God is thinking about you because God is holding all the universe together by the exertion of His will - if God stopped thinking about you, you would stop existing - there wouldn't be a "you" anymore.

So believe me when I tell you that every breath you take is given to you by God, that he hears your thoughts and he listens to the things you say, and you could not pray a prayer no matter how quiet you tried to be - that God would not hear clearly.

God hears everything you think and say - he knows you better than anyone else, even better than Mommy and Daddy, and you are more precious to Him than you are even to Me and your Mom.

Does God hear when you pray?

Daughter: Yes, He hears, but I don't think he answers me.

Father: Why not. Why does he answer others and not you?

Daughter: Because I keep on sinning --even if I don't want to--

Father: Do you think that if you stopped sinning God would listen to you?

Daughter: Yes, or at least maybe?

Father: Come and look at God's word with me. See here where it says that Jesus came into the world to save sinners?, or here where Jesus explains to people that he didn't come to save perfect people, but to save sinners.

Who do you have to be for Jesus to save you?

Daughter: a sinner.

Father: and are you a sinner?

Daughter: yes, but when I pray I don't think Jesus will save me.

Father: Do you want him to?

Daughter: yes, I want him to save me, but I don't think he will.

Father: Why not?

Daughter: Because I have asked him before and I don't think anything happened.

Father: What is supposed to happen?

Daughter: I think I am supposed to stop sinning forever, but I don't.

Father: Ah, it doesn't work like that. Do you want me to tell you how it works?

Daughter: yes.

Father: It works like this. You learn that you are a sinner, and that God is going to punish you for your sin. After you find this out you start wanting God to forgive you (and God is willing to do so if you trust that He will) so you ask God to keep his word, that is, you ask God to do in you what he promised to do - to save you from sin and all its consequences.

And He does exactly that - the very moment that you trust that God will do it, not because you are such a good person, but because God keeps his promises. The moment you trust God because of God, and not because of you - in that moment God places you into Jesus, and the part of you that must be punished is united to Christ. Jesus takes that part of you to the cross, and God pours out his wrath on it there. That part of you dies when Jesus dies, and you both are put into the grave. Now God's wrath for all the sin you have ever committed (or will commit) has been dealt with by God. He didn't forget about it, He punished it, and He punished it with as great a punishment as was possible. That punishment killed that part of you that was united with Christ, and it killed Christ too. But unlike you, who deserved that death, and deserved to be put in the grave, Jesus was innocent and did not deserve that death, nor did He deserve the grave - and God could not be righteous and just if He allowed Jesus to stay dead in the grave. So God raised Jesus from the dead - and because you were united with Him in His death, and in His burial - that part of you was also raised anew in Jesus when God raised Jesus from the dead.

It is just like when God put Noah in the ark. God poured out His wrath upon the world, but those eight souls who were in the ark were saved from God's wrath - having passed through judgment by being placed in the ark. Jesus is our ark - we are placed in Him, but instead of passing through an earthly judgment like the flood - we pass through a spiritual judgment - "death" Jesus conquered death when he took us through it.

Anyone who is in Christ has passed through this death and into life, never to die again - because death has been defeated.

Daughter: But what about if they sin??

Father: Jesus took all the sin we will ever sin to the cross, and not just some of it. If we sin, that sin is also in Jesus. There is no sin that we can sin, if we are in Jesus, that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, didn't take to the cross with Him - that God didn't punish in Him, and that we haven't been redeemed from, as is proven by the fact that God raised up Jesus from the dead.

Daughter: How does God raising Jesus up from the dead prove that even the sins that we haven't sinned yet are going to be redeemed?

Father: Well, it works like this: we are still united with Jesus. If we sin now, and that sin is not taken to the cross in Christ, then it must be placed on Him afterwards - and if afterwards, then God couldn't raise Jesus from the dead because the penalty for these new sins would require us (and therefore Jesus - because we are united with Him) to stay dead.

When God raised Jesus it showed us that all of our sins, past, present, and future were in Jesus on the cross, and that they were punished there.

That is why the apostle Paul writes that there is no more condemnation to those who are in Jesus.

Daughter: So I can still sin if I am a Christian?

Father: Let me put it this way, you are my daughter, and you must obey me or I will punish you. When you obey me, is it always because you are afraid of being punished, or do you sometimes obey me just because you love me?

Daughter: Because you're my Dad and I love you.

Father: There are two reasons why anyone obeys. The first is because we think that something bad will happen to us if we don't. That is called fear. We are afraid, so we listen. The second is because we trust that what is being expected of us is for our benefit and not to put us out. That is, the second is we believe we are loved and that the one who loves us would not hurt us, but is trying to lead us into the things that are best for us.

Daughter: What?

Father: Either you listen to me because you are afraid you will be punished, or you listen to me because you know I love you, and knowing this you trust me, and want to please me.

Daughter: Okay. But if it is God and I don't listen...

Father: God doesn't forsake you - He doesn't abandon you just because you sin. See here in the bible where it says that God doesn't forget our "frame" - He remembers that He made us out of the dust. We are His children, just as surely as you are mine, and just as I don't disown you because you disobey me, God doesn't cast us out just because we failed to obey perfectly. God knows we aren't perfect, and He saved us anyway! Jesus came to save us from sin because we are unable to save ourselves from it.

Daughter: But when I can't stop sinning, I feel like I must have prayed wrong because if I prayed right wouldn't I stop sinning?

Father: There were some people in Jesus' day who were concerned about the same sort of thing. They wanted to make sure they were saved - they wanted to make sure that they said the right prayer, and that they did the right things. So they asked Jesus, what must we do to do the works of God?

Do you know what Jesus told them?

Daughter: Go forth and sin no more?

Father: No, that was Jesus' instruction to a person who stood condemned under the law and was forgive - he told her that if she wanted to avoid being condemned to death she should stop doing the things that condemn her to death. Jesus said the same thing to the man who was born blind - he told him to stop sinning if he wanted to avoid worse things than blindness.

It is like what the apostle Peter tells us in His first epistle - that if you want to see good days, and love life - stop sinning.

It isn't that if you sin you are no longer God's child, it is that if you sin you will be corrected for it in this life - and that correction will not be pleasant and can even be as severe as dying.

So it was good for Jesus to tell them not to sin anymore - and it is sound advice for all of us. But that is not what Jesus told those people who had heard Him talk about all who would come to Him, and wanted to make sure they were amongst those who were coming to him. He said, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent."

You see, when we talk about being saved from sin - we don't get saved from sin by not sinning - nor do we stay saved from sin by not sinning. The work that we are given to do is to believe in Jesus, and if we do, we will want to obey Him.

Daughter: I want to obey Him, but I don't always obey him.

Father: Me too, but as I read more and more of the bible, I see with more and more clarity that God is someone whom I love more and more each day, and that desire to obey him grows and grows - and pretty soon it swallows up the desire not to obey. It happens over time, and it happens as we spend time with him.

If you want to stop sinning in order to make God like you, you are going to be disappointed. If you trust that God likes you not because of anything you have done, but because of what he has done, and if you trust that God really loves you, and in the strength of -that- trust, you seek God, you will find him, and as you do the world will be less of a thing that you are willing to invest in.

Daughter: I don't think I get it.

Father: We will talk more on this.

Labels:

posted by Daniel @ 9:01 AM  
11 Comments:
  • At 2:03 PM, April 24, 2008, Blogger Daniel said…

    Brevity. Wherefore art thou?

     
  • At 2:22 PM, April 24, 2008, Blogger ThirstyDavid said…

    If I was looking for brevity, I would have gone elsewhere.

     
  • At 9:46 PM, April 24, 2008, Blogger Kristina said…

    "if God stopped thinking about you, you would stop existing - there wouldn't be a "you" anymore."

    I just read Jonathan Edwards say basically that same thing about the universe.


    Great post.

     
  • At 4:30 AM, April 25, 2008, Blogger Chris said…

    Outstanding ....


    Chris

     
  • At 3:23 PM, April 27, 2008, Blogger jen elslager said…

    Beautiful. Gotta love those teachable moments.

     
  • At 7:42 PM, April 28, 2008, Anonymous Mason said…

    "I used to believe that evolution was reasonable"

    It is, you make it sound as if evolution is only compatible with some pessimistic nihilistic spirituality

     
  • At 8:21 PM, April 28, 2008, Blogger Daniel said…

    Mason said, "you make it sound as if evolution is only compatible with some pessimistic nihilistic spirituality"

    Perhaps I come across that way, it is purely accidental on my part however.

    All I mean is that there was a time in my life when I accepted evolution because it seemed rational and reasonable to do so. I had been trained since birth that evolution was one of those "theories" that so true only a fool would question it.

    Yet I found myself one day with questions that evolution could not answer, and in fact questions that forced me to examine just how much weight I was giving to empty speculation.

    Questions like: Where did all this matter come from? Like most atheists, my answer was that it either always was here, or it just spontaneously generated without cause at some point. If it was always here, in some form or other (either as matter or as energy in one form or another), then upon what basis could I dismiss a creator? Since, if I am made up of matter, and I am sentient - instilled with certain abilities etc. -- that is, if I myself am evidence that eventually even this same energy that makes up the universe can achieve sentience and react to its environment - then haven't I proven that if I exist - pretty much anything can exist? It seemed therefore rather shortsighted (at best) to demand therefore that mankind was without a creator, since the very fact that I was here proved, at the very least, that sentient energy was not only possible, but real. Who was I, from my infinitessimally minute perspective, to put limits on what can and can not be done? This was not to argue that there was a God - but rather to say that if matter always existed in some form - then I most certainly could not rule out the idea that mankind was created.

    But that left other questions. If I was willing to accept that matter always existed (in some alternately expanding and collapsing multiverse) then how could I dismiss the idea of a God who always existed? I found myself at an intellectual crossroad.

    You see, if I am willing to entertain the notion that matter always existed, but I am not willing to entertain the notion that God always existed - well, I am not much of a scientist am I? For a scientist doesn't dismiss any possibility based on some preconceived assumption. So while this didn't cause me to conclude there must be a God - it did cause me to examine what a hypocrite I was.

    Yet if I decided that everything spontaneously generated without cause, I am left with a greater question - how is it that something can come from nothing - that is, how do I accept on the one hand what is clearly impossible, if I am ever going to use the word "impossible" to dismiss God?

    Evolution requires me to dismiss as impossible things which the universe demands are possible. Creation itself reveals just how myopic evolutionary theory is. Oh it is certainly a complicated thing - so complicated in fact that few bother to examine whether it is worth examining.

    But I don't deny that I probably sound just as you describe me. One of the great joys in my life is that I stopped caring whether or not the next God thought I was a genius or a fool, I am content to pursue what seems reasonable to me.

    Thanks for the comment.

     
  • At 9:40 AM, April 29, 2008, Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said…

    Did someone say Jonathan Edwards? Back to the post, Daniel, you are a great model of the types of thought-provoking conversations we should have with our children. It grieves me to think of parents that never do this.

     
  • At 1:08 PM, April 29, 2008, Blogger 4given said…

    Brevity would not have been acceptable here... it would have left to much unsaid.:-)

    She was obviously listening and we are obviously reading, so thank you for typing. Sometimes I find myself taking notes when I am in these type of conversations with my children so I will not forget what has been said.

     
  • At 10:05 AM, May 06, 2008, Blogger R. D. Bailey said…

    i have a version of this same conversation with either of my two oldest daughters whenever we have some alone time. it really urges me to cry out to God for mercy on them as i hear the frustration in their voices. just praying and waiting on the Holy Spirit to call them.

    pray for Myanmar right now

     
  • At 10:32 AM, May 06, 2008, Blogger Daniel said…

    R.D. - I prayed for Myanmar as soon as I read it.

     
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