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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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Wednesday, February 02, 2011
Faith?
Why did so many of the prominent Jews of Christ's day reject Him as their Messiah?

Think this through for a second: Was it because those Jews rejected the idea that God was going to send a Messiah? I don't think so - these Jews were described by Paul in the book or Romans as zealous. I don't think they were ignorant, and I don't think they were denying the fact that God was going to send a Messiah - what they were denying was that Jesus was this Messiah.

I believe I am describing what an empty faith looks like.

James, the brother of our Lord and author of the epistle that bears his name, spoke of two kinds of faith, one that cannot apprehend good works, and the other which cannot help but to apprehend good works. As I understand it, when James teaches that good works flow from a legitimate faith, and that the same do not flow from an illegitimate faith, he is not suggesting that the way to correct an illegitimate faith is to append a regiment of good works to your illegitimate faith. What he is saying is that unless living water is flowing out of your innermost being, the faith that you have isn't the kind that saves.

That is the kind of faith the Jews who rejected Christ had. They believed that there was a God, and that He was indeed the God of the scriptures. They even believed that God was going to send His Messiah - but when that Messiah came and they rejected Him, they demonstrated to all of creation the illegitimacy of their faith. It wasn't that they didn't believe the facts to be true. They believed in God so long as He remained a distant and unknowable entity. They believed in God so long as He remained impersonal and unapproachable. They believed in God so long as their belief never had to be more than an intellectual assent to certain facts. But their "faith" showed itself for what it really was (insufficient) the moment they had the opportunity to believe God was actually doing something in their midst.

When I share the gospel, I don't ask people to pray a prayer. I just let them know the truth: that God is not neutral towards them. That God has in fact damned them to suffer the full weight of His wrath the very moment they die, and this on account of their rebellion against Him. That God, as their Creator, is right to demand their obedience, and right to condemn them on account of their ongoing and continual disobedience. I explain from passages in scripture that God Himself blinds and confuses those who are being damned on account of their day by day rebellion, in order that they may continue in it without fear of the inescapable day that the consequences of their rebellion catch up with them. I let them know, in as much as I am able, that God is not neutral towards them but hates them - that the only reason they are alive right now is because God has granted them, in His profound grace, an opportunity to be reconciled to Him through Christ, and I do all in my power to encourage them to be reconciled to God.

If they are willing to be reconciled, I explain the way of salvation: That man cannot by himself, or through his own effort reconcile himself to God, that no one on earth can even desireϑ to be reconciled to God, such is the state of our depravity, that unless God grants them the grace to repent and believe, they will by no means be able to do so. Some may argue that this is putting an unnecessary burden on the person, but I would argue that it is in fact removing the unnecessary burden of trying to generate their own salvation through finding and applying the "correct" self effort that ends in their salvation. Instead I give them the simplicity of the gospel call; explaining that no one avoids God's wrath, that all must pass through it, whether "Christian" or non-Christian. That everyone who passes through God's wrath suffers the full effect of God's curse, just as it was in Noah's day - where all men on earth were made to share the same condemnation - the flooding of the whole earth a picture of the judgment that is to come - that all will face the flood of God's wrath, but that God has made a way to pass through this wrath unscathed just as Noah and his family passed through God's wrath safely in the ark, so also, God has made Jesus the Ark of our salvation - that everyone who is reconciled to God through repentance (surrendering the rule of their life to God) and trusting that God will save them in Christ if they call upon Him to do so. That every repentant soul who seeks to be reconciled again to God by calling upon the name of Christ will be baptized into the Spirit of Christψ by Christ Himself - what scripture calls the new birth, so that the wrath that God pours out on the believer is poured out on Christ whom the believer is "in" through that union with Christ that happens in the moment we are born from above, the very thing that our water baptism pictures - the moment we step out of the flood of damnation and into the ark of Christ we become partakers of Christ's eternal life. It isn't that our lives become eternal, it is that we become partakers of His eternal life - the same life that God raised from the dead, and in doing so, eternally secured all who have entered into Christ through this course of repentance and trust.

When I have presented this to someone who professes a willingness to be reconciled to God, I call on them to cry out to God for this salvation. I don't lead them in a prayer, and I don't try to provoke them into the kingdom with stories about people who have heard the gospel, and ignored it, then died suddenly on their way home because they didn't "make a decision" that night. I just let them know that they aren't saved until they are in Christ, and that the moment they are in Christ they will have full assurance that they are His.

If someone comes to me and says I have prayed and asked God to save me, but I am not sure that He did, I will tell them what I truly think: that they have not truly believed. That they are like the Pharisees who have assented to the truth of what is true without actually placing their trust in any of it. That they are not simply doubting because they are immature, but that it is more likely that they never really believed in the first place. I will sit with such a one and gladly spend as long as it takes to go over the promises of God with them until the truth becomes more to them than a formula for salvation - until they surrender to God for real, and in doing so come into life - not because they hope it worked, but because they have actually believed.

I think many in the church would consider me a real jerk because I don't fall all over myself telling people they are saved when they have doubts. I don't want to give these people a reason to continue believing they are the real deal if they aren't. Listen: if you don't know for sure that you are saved, you aren't saved. The Jews who believed there would be a Messiah but rejected Christ didn't have real faith - even as they assented to the truths of scripture.

The grand problem in our churches today is not that Christians are immature - though they are - it is that we are so politically correct and biblically ignorant, that we welcome people into the church who themselves couldn't tell you for sure that they are Christ's, and no one is willing to challenge them for fear of upsetting them or coming off as a jerk.

What kind of Christian are you, reader? Would you have recognized Christ, or would you have held onto your orthodox theology hoping to find salvation in the fact that you believe the words of Moses to be true, even as you deny in your heart the things they taught?

May God shake up the chaff, that it might turn and be saved.
The LORD will send upon you curses, confusion, and rebuke, in all you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and until you perish quickly, on account of the evil of your deeds, because you have forsaken Me.- Deuteronomy 28:20 [NASB]
The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes; You hate all who do iniquity. - Psalm 5:5 [NASB]
ϑas it is written,"THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD; ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE. - Romans 3:10-12 [NASB]
ψOr do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection. - Romans 6:3-5 [NASB]

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posted by Daniel @ 9:27 AM  
2 Comments:
  • At 5:14 AM, February 03, 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It is abundant evident that Jesus is rich in patience as well as compassion, and that He bears with the infirmities of all His people. Let us take care that we drink into our Lord's spirit, and copy His example. Let us never set down men in a low place, because their faith is feeble and their love is cold. Our Lord has many weak children in His family, many dull pupils in His school, many raw soldiers in His army, many lame sheep in His flock. Yet He bears with them all, and casts none away. Happy is that Christian who has learned to deal likewise with his brethren. There are many in the Church, who are dull and slow, But, Our Lord will not cast them off "a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench"

    Our faith may start out small like a mustard seed, but it may one day reach to heaven under the care and guidance of the Lord and his servants, such as you.

    God Bless you Daniel ....

    Your faithful Blog reader .... Chris

     
  • At 6:05 AM, February 03, 2011, Blogger Daniel said…

    I agree Chris. It is an error to look at the diminished fruit of an immature believer and judge that believer as illegitimate or counterfeit simple because they have not yet learned to walk in the fullness of Christ. In fact I think maturity is (sadly) a very rare commodity in the church today.

    What Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10:15 suggests to me, given the matter-of-fact tone, that every faith begins small but is expected to grow (not boasting beyond our measure, that is, in other men's labors, but with the hope that as your faith grows, we will be, within our sphere, enlarged even more by you,).

    There is spiritual immaturity in the church, and we should not be as those who take it upon themselves to decide who is chaff and who is wheat based on our own perception or theology. Christ made it clear that even angels, who are superior to us in knowledge, and who are not corrupted by sin, lack the insight to determine who is legitimate, how much less any of us?

    What I write is not intended to derail the faith of the weak though genuine believer, but rather to so shake the false assurance of the false believer, that they might avoid damnation by setting aside their impotent and superficial profession, and make a legitimate one.

    We have a patient Lord who is rich in compassion, and not willing that any of His lambs fall short of the salvation He purchased for them. Some of these may already attend church, but have yet to turn to Christ in earnest - not because they are weak in their faith, but because their faith is misplaced, they have not trusted a person, but have only acknowledged the truthfulness of the truth - something even demons readily do. Like the Jews who believed a Messiah was coming, but didn't believe Jesus was the Christ - they could not believe that Jesus was the Christ, not because their faith was weak, but because their faith was illegitimate.

    I have to be careful when I write about illegitimate faith because there is always the chance that some will not see the line between weak faith and illegitimate faith, and conclude that I am saying that unless you are mature spiritually, you are not a real saint.

    Thanks for this thoughtful comment. I wish I had written this post in a way that covered what you raise up more thoroughly.

     
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