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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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Saturday, July 18, 2009
God is not lost...you are.
I was just chatting up my old pastor. He stopped in for a visit and during the course of that visit we spoke briefly about a mutual friend who is struggling to know God. This person has followed teacher after teacher, trying to find the Lord by having God explained in the best way possible - as though God could be known more intimately if someone else could just paint Him more clearly for us.

We all have this struggle at times. We often pursue teaching and teacher because we convince ourselves that if we just understood a thing better, we would respond to God better. We tell ourselves that our rebellion is a product of our ignorance, that if we could just overcome our ignorance we would find the *real* means to obey. We look for God in teachings, and in teacher - we look for God as though God were elusive. My old pastor put it right when he said, "We seek for God as though God was the one that was lost, but it isn't God who is lost, it is we who are lost. When we try to find God it shows, it cuts God out of the loop, we put pressure on ourselves to learn how to make God real, when what we need to do is stop trying to find God, and simply repent.

That is what is happening when you are trying to find God - you are trying to find God in teaching and information rather than in faith and repentance. It's just that simple. Most of us want to have the fellowship and relationship up front - because we hope that if we have this nice, experiential relationship - it will cause us to repent. We want repentance to overcome us, ... to overwhelm us. We think if we can just get the right clue or hint, or message, or read the right book, or hear the right sermon, or hang with the right people, or join the right church - these things will cause us to know God, to find God; we want something to knock the fight out of us so that there is nothing left in us but repentance.

But that hasn't happened. It hasn't happened for me, it hasn't happened for you, and guess what? It hasn't happened for the authors of the books you want to read, it hasn't happened in the church you admire more than you own - wherever the grass is greener, brother, sister ... it hasn't happened there either.

It doesn't work that way. Repentance happens when grace finds you, and grace finds you when you step into Canaan in the strength of God's promise, with your sword drawn. In other words don't wait for the divine zap. The divine zap doesn't come to those who excuse their spiritual dormancy, i.e. excuse their lack of repentance (to keep it simple) by telling themselves that because God's grace initiates repentance, they should wait around until God grants them repentance, and in the mean time try and figure out why He never seems to be doing that no matter how hard they pray or cry out for it. God will provide sustenance to those who are willing to lift their hand from the bowl of his provision and put the food in their mouth - but the man who is so lazy that he expects God not only to provide, but to feed him too - this man doesn't get it.

So if you are wondering where God is, I will tell you - He is on the other side of repentance, where He has always been.

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posted by Daniel @ 9:41 PM  
12 Comments:
  • At 6:25 AM, July 19, 2009, Blogger Barbara said…

    Although some of us HAVE had the fight knocked out of us, and been brought to give up of ourselves and fall entirely at the feet of He whom we had hated, even prepared for destruction; (I'm one of them) and I have found that repentance is most certainly a grace. Even the Scriptures refer to a couple of instances where one cannot be brought to repentance and where Esau could not be granted repentance, though he searched for it; and even a particular notation regarding God's kindness bringing us to repentance. Surely you don't mean to suggest that repentance is purely an act of the will?

    When it comes to the character of the ongoing repentance of the saint and the inner battles that come along with that, I like the way Spurgeon put it in "All of Grace":

    I hear another man cry, "Oh, sir my want of strength lies mainly in this, that I cannot repent sufficiently!" A curious idea men have of what repentance is! Many fancy that so many tears are to be shed, and so many groans are to be heaved, and so much despair is to be endured. Whence comes this unreasonable notion? Unbelief and despair are sins, and therefore I do not see how they can be constituent elements of acceptable repentance; yet there are many who regard them as necessary parts of true Christian experience. They are in great error. Still, I know what they mean, for in the days of my darkness I used to feel in the same way. I desired to repent, but I thought that I could not do it, and yet all the while I was repenting. Odd as it may sound, I felt that I could not feel. I used to get into a corner and weep, because I could not weep; and I fell into bitter sorrow because I could not sorrow for sin. What a jumble it all is when in our unbelieving state we begin to judge our own condition! It is like a blind man looking at his own eyes. My heart was melted within me for fear, because I thought that my heart was as hard as an adamant stone. My heart was broken to think that it would not break. Now I can see that I was exhibiting the very thing which I thought I did not possess; but then I knew not where I was.
    ...Remember that the man who truly repents is never satisfied with his own repentance. We can no more repent perfectly than we can live perfectly. However pure our tears, there will always be some dirt in them: there will be something to be repented of even in our best repentance. But listen! To repent is to change your mind about sin, and Christ, and all the great things of God. There is sorrow implied in this; but the main point is the turning of the heart from sin to Christ. If there be this turning, you have the essence of true repentance, even though no alarm and no despair should ever have cast their shadow upon your mind.
    ...Blot out every other reflection from your soul, and sit down by the hour together, and meditate deeply on this one resplendent display of unmerited, unexpected, unexampled love, "Christ died for the ungodly." Read over carefully the narrative of the Lord's death, as you find it in the four evangelists. If anything can melt your stubborn heart, it will be a sight of the sufferings of Jesus, and the consideration that he suffered all this for His enemies.

     
  • At 7:16 AM, July 19, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    Surely you don't mean to suggest that repentance is purely an act of the will?

    Correct.

    I by no means suggest that repentance is purely an act of the will,

    When a person repents it happens because God Spirit has convicted them of sin, and rather than grieve the Holy Spirit, they repent. It is a work of the Holy Spirit through them, and not apart from them. The Israelites did not stand at the border of Canaan waiting for the Canaanites to suddenly drop dead so that the Israelites could enter. They had to go in swinging. The victory was not given because of their swords and strength however, it was given by God's grace. So it is with repentance.

    A note on Esau...

    The scene mentioned in Hebrews 12:17 is described in Genesis 27:38 ("Esau said to his father, 'Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, O my father.' So Esau lifted his voice and wept.") When the author of Hebrews writes that Esau sought for repentance with tears he was not seeking for his own heart/mind to change, but rather seeking to undo the consequences of a decision he had already made by changing his father's mind. The lesson is not that he couldn't change his own mind, but that he couldn't change his father's mind, though he tried to do so even with tears.

    In the context of Hebrews 12, the meaning is: see to it that you do not fall short of the grace of God, because if you come to the end of this life without having received grace, you will not be able to convince God afterwards to stay His judgment against you even if you seek for it with tears. For that is exactly what Esau did - he sold his birthright (the blessing of the firstborn) to Jacob. Jacob received the blessing that Isaac meant to give to his firstborn - Esau. Once the blessing was given, it was given, Isaac could not undo it even though Esau wept for him to do so.

    cont.

     
  • At 7:16 AM, July 19, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    I don't believe that anyone on earth ever has, or ever will (genuinely) seek to repent and be unable to do so, because if they truly are seeking to repent, it is because God is causing them to do so. I do believe that many will seek to have the consequences of their sins abolished, and they will seek that with tears - but that isn't repentance, that is just regret - the kind that makes you gnash your teeth on the day of judgment.

    I know a lot of people take Hebrews 12:17 and use it to teach that Esau was trying to repent but couldn't. It is true that unless God granted repentance to Esau, that Esau by no means could repent, but that isn't the meaning of the passage. the passage means that Esau couldn't change his father's mind after the blessing was given - even though he sought to change his father's heart with tears and weeping. Esau truly was seeking repentance - not his own, but his father's, and not a repentance unto the Lord, but a change of mind ("metanoia") in His father's decision.

    Thanks for the comment though, I was worried when I wrote the article that I might not have been clear in describing that repentance if a gift of God's grace so that those who do repent, do so because God has graced them. In wanting to articulate how our participation is dependent upon God's grace, but still a necessary component, I was concerned that I might have painted our participation (correctly) as a necessary component, but that I might have confused some by presenting our participation in a way that made it appear uncoupled from God's grace.

    So I state emphatically, that no one can repent apart from the grace of God, and add that no one apart from the grace of God will pursue genuine repentance. God's grace however, isn't a zapping - it comes to us through means. From our perspective we must pursue repentance, we must encourage one another onto repentance, heeding conviction with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, rather than waiting for something mystical to carry us along.

    My point was to clarify our role - we must repent. Even if repentance doesn't originate in us - still, the call is to repent. Only those whom God graces will heed the call, but we must still call all men to repent.

    If that makes any sense.

     
  • At 10:34 AM, July 20, 2009, Blogger Jim said…

    Daniel, I appreciate the balanced tone here.

     
  • At 1:38 PM, July 20, 2009, Blogger donsands said…

    Doesn't esau also represent Hebrews 6: " For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance"

    It seems to be a theme throughout the authors epsitle. No?

    Nice post. I love the way your pastor said what he did.

    There certainly can be a seeking going on: Acts 17. But that would be a natural thing for the natural man, the spirtual man, I would think, would be seeking spiritual food and drink; the Word and the Spirit he would be hungering, and thirsty for, don't you think?

    Some deep and great words Barbara. Thanks sister.

     
  • At 2:31 PM, July 20, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    Don, I like the NET translation of Hebrews 12:17, because it makes the referrent in the pronoun clear to the reader, "For you know that later when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no opportunity for repentance, although he sought the blessing with tears."

    Glancing back to the scene in Genesis that is being alluded to in Hebrews 12:17, it is clear that Esau was seeking the blessing of His father with tears, seeking an oportunity for a change of mind (metanoia) in his father.

    When I read Hebrews 6, I see nothing of Esau in it. There the author explains why he cannot teach them the deeper things of Christ - because they remain infants, they remain carnal. They need someone to teach them all over again the first things. He then begins to list off primary Christian ideas like who Jesus is (verse one), and the gospel itself (repentance and faith - still in verse one), then he describes the sort of "conversion from Judaism to Christianity" specific teaching we would expect to fill up the first lessons (what about ceremonial washings? What about the resurrection from the dead?) - these were big, big questions to Jewish converts - and they would naturally have been the first teachings - no you don't have to observe legalistic, man-made ceremonies - no, the Saducees are wrong, there really is a resurrection, yes, there will be a judgment for the living and the dead - it *is* coming, etc. (verse two).

    This, says the author (referring to going over these "beginner" things) we will do, if God permits, meaning, I think, if God permits you to grow beyond infancy (verse three)

    Then the author addresses the heart of their infancy - why even after all this time they are infants, not by announcing - "this is why you fail" as Yoda™ might have, but rather by taking what they believed to it's logical conclusion and in doing so demonstrating by the absurdity of the conclusion, that what they were hung up on was bunk.

    He then speaks of those who are saved - who receive grace, and receive instruction, who taste of the heavenly gift and pronounces and says it would be impossible for Jesus to die for these saints again, since he has already died for all their sins when they first repented.

    Apparently spiritual immaturity hasn't changed much - because baby Christians remain baby Christians today for the same reason - they are so busy trying to "stay" saved, they never grow up spiritually.

    That, I think, was the underlaying concern being addressed. They believed that they could be saved, have all their sins forgiven, taste of the heavenly gifts, etc. then because they were imperfect in their obedience, they believed themselves to have fallen away from the "true" faith, and believed that they needed to repent and believe again - in order to be re-saved.

    The argument that since Christ can't be crucified for all your sins twice, you are either saved the first time or you were never saved - there is no in and out, for if there were Jesus would have to be crucified for all your sins as many times as you returned to Him in faith. The absurdity of that notion was meant to refute the argument.

    This isn't saying "you can't repent" if you do such and such. It is saying that Christ was crucified for you when you repented in faith - thus you cannot repent, unrepent, then repent again because in order to do that Christ would have to be crucified every time you re-repent, and it is impossible for Christ to be crucified for all your sins more than once.

    I think that men, without God's intervention, would only seek to escape God's wrath - they would never seek to be reconciled to God. Everyone wants to save their own life, but only by God's grace do we desire Him (we love Him because He first loved us).

    If that makes things clearer...

     
  • At 7:23 PM, July 20, 2009, Blogger donsands said…

    Some deep things to consider Daniel. I have to chew on it for a bit.

    I have never heard that Esau sought the blessing, and couldn't find repentance from his father. But I think it makes sense.

    Thanks Daniel, you speak the truth in love and grace as always.

     
  • At 11:05 PM, July 20, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    Don, the account in Genesis 27:30-40 has Esau seeking the blessing that was given to Jacob - seeking the birthright - his own birthright - that Isaac had already given to Jacob because Jacob had dressed up as Esau. Esau pleaded with Isaac to bless him with the blessing that Isaac had just given to Jacob, but Isaac refused - and to change his mind (i.e Isaac refused to repent of blessing Jacob with the blessing meant for the first born - instead Isaac gave Esau a different blessing.

    Esau sought the blessing with weeping, the text in Genesis is plain on that regard - and he begged Isaac to bless him anyway, but Isaac refused to do so - that is, Esau sought to "change Isaac's mind" (metanoia - i.e. repentance), but Isaac had given away the birthright to Jacob already. Esau was seeking the blessing, and found no room for repentance in Isaac.

    The author of Hebrews was writing to convince Jewish converts. Consider how effective he would have been at it, if he were describing something here (In Hebrews 12) that these Jews were not already familiar with. That is, if we read this passage as though it were entirely new revelation, or at least, a hitherto unknown revelation - it would not serve any argument, and it would be a point of immediate contention to his intended audience. If on the other hand the writer of Hebrews is referring back to the Torah - he is arguing the point he is making from the scriptures.

    Consider that the writer has just finished saying for the reader not to come up short of God's grace - that is, that the reader is not to regard what is being held out to him (God's grace) as something so worthless it can be set aside or taken for granted - just as Esau did with the birthright that was similarly his. The writer of Hebrews is saying that what happened to Esau can and will happen to everyone who sets aside (comes up short in) grace - for just as Esau wanted to undo his error afterwards and could not - so too will those who set aside grace when they door is closed and they find themselves on the other side - for just as tears and weeping could not change Isaac's mind, neither will our gnashing of teeth and moaning on that day sway God.

    These truly are sobering, but important thoughts.

     
  • At 11:05 PM, July 20, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    Don, the account in Genesis 27:30-40 has Esau seeking the blessing that was given to Jacob - seeking the birthright - his own birthright - that Isaac had already given to Jacob because Jacob had dressed up as Esau. Esau pleaded with Isaac to bless him with the blessing that Isaac had just given to Jacob, but Isaac refused - and to change his mind (i.e Isaac refused to repent of blessing Jacob with the blessing meant for the first born - instead Isaac gave Esau a different blessing.

    Esau sought the blessing with weeping, the text in Genesis is plain on that regard - and he begged Isaac to bless him anyway, but Isaac refused to do so - that is, Esau sought to "change Isaac's mind" (metanoia - i.e. repentance), but Isaac had given away the birthright to Jacob already. Esau was seeking the blessing, and found no room for repentance in Isaac.

    The author of Hebrews was writing to convince Jewish converts. Consider how effective he would have been at it, if he were describing something here (In Hebrews 12) that these Jews were not already familiar with. That is, if we read this passage as though it were entirely new revelation, or at least, a hitherto unknown revelation - it would not serve any argument, and it would be a point of immediate contention to his intended audience. If on the other hand the writer of Hebrews is referring back to the Torah - he is arguing the point he is making from the scriptures.

    Consider that the writer has just finished saying for the reader not to come up short of God's grace - that is, that the reader is not to regard what is being held out to him (God's grace) as something so worthless it can be set aside or taken for granted - just as Esau did with the birthright that was similarly his. The writer of Hebrews is saying that what happened to Esau can and will happen to everyone who sets aside (comes up short in) grace - for just as Esau wanted to undo his error afterwards and could not - so too will those who set aside grace when they door is closed and they find themselves on the other side - for just as tears and weeping could not change Isaac's mind, neither will our gnashing of teeth and moaning on that day sway God.

    These truly are sobering, but important thoughts.

     
  • At 12:16 PM, July 22, 2009, Blogger Bob said…

    Daniel,
    Once more I'm indebted to you for offering a sound and useful word at an appropriate moment; we'll agree that it is God using His faithful servant to minister to His people. I have the responsibility this evening to visit with a struggling brother. The fact that God is found on the other side of repentance should come as both a reminder and strong consolation to him. Thanks much!

     
  • At 3:54 AM, July 25, 2009, Anonymous JIBBS said…

    Hey my Canuck brother!

    JIBBS here.

    Just wanted to say hi. I visited my own blog for the first time in 2 years. No time for it anymore with the three kiddies. Anyway, I'll try to swing by here every time I get the chance.

    God bless!

     
  • At 9:35 AM, July 25, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    JIBBS!!!!

    Long time no see dude! Grace and peace.

     
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