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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.
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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.
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Friday, March 25, 2011
What kind of Christians are we trying to be?
Can I be open and shamelessly honest with you, dear Internet reader?

I started my faith ignorant of the bible, but I was granted a hunger for truth, and began to read the scriptures over and over again in a strength that felt all my own, but was certainly God's grace at work in me. With each reading of the bible I became more certain of some things, and less certain of others. I began to challenge beliefs I had picked up in my early life - things I heard on television, or that others had said with enough authority that I took their word as truth, but things which ultimately scripture refuted. As many errors as my eyes were opened to see, these I set aside without remorse, in my passionate pursuit of the truth.

In a short while I became one of those rare Christians who actually had read the whole bible, and then, later, and rarer still, one who had read the whole bible more than once, then more than twice, then more than a dozen times, and so on. I refused to agree with scripture the way that some agree with a software license - you know, where you don't bother reading any of it, scroll to the bottom, and check off the "I agree" box in order to install or run your program? I had enough grace working in me that I was delivered out of being that kind of Christian.

Then again I was delivered from being the sort of Christian who reads the bible once and forever after regards it as a reference manual, to be consulted, but never read through, except rarely, for recreational purposes, or to follow along in sermons on Sunday. They might crack it open in moments of "need" and then only to the psalms and the gospels to give them a temporary spiritual "shot in the arm". No, I ventured into that (dishearteningly) rare realm of actually reading the bible over and over and over again. Not because I thought myself a better Christian for doing so, or because I wanted to have something to brag about - rather because I was hungry for it, ashamed of my ignorance, and the more I read it, the more convinced I was that God's word was my lifeline to God Himself - correcting me, leading me, assuring me. How could I follow Christ and ignore His word?

As I mentioned earlier, In studying the scriptures, many false notions I had picked up in my ignorance came to light, and were set aside. There were things that I had always thought were in the bible, that were (in fact) quite absent - and again there were things in scripture I had never imagined to find, but there they were plain as day. I found that there were many things that I had been told about Christianity, or had seen on television, or had believed for whatever reason - that scripture plainly denied, so that I wondered how on earth anyone could have propogated such errors. Than again there were things in scripture so profound and beautiful that I could not understand why these things weren't being shouted daily from rooftops everywhere - things that I had never heard anyone mention before in my life.

Even in the fellowship of other believers I found that many of the things "we" did as a congregation were not biblical, but were being done because that was the local tradition. I was perplexed to find more than a few of the traditions that were followed by this congregation or that congregation were not merely absent from scripture, but were even contrary to what Christ instructed. So it was that I came to see how few Christians there were that actually knew, from scripture, how to be Christians, or how to "do" church. It isn't like I ever made a conscious decision to compare what I saw in the church with what I read in scripture, rather at some point I became aware that there were only a precious few people I knew who (themselves) knew enough of the scriptures to reason from them on matters of Christian conduct.

It has been my experience, my burning desire since the day I came to Christ, to live a life that is pleasing to God. This desire was the fuel that burned in me, driving me to read and learn from the scriptures - not so that I could sit around and learnedly discuss what I had just read amongst some group of Christian elitist, nor was it to hear my own voice speaking the things of God with some academic authority (to the praise of men no less!), rather it was in order that I might find that seemingly elusive way to live in the one and only way God that God intends His children to live. That is why I read the scriptures, why I prayed, why I obeyed - in order that through these things I might know the peace that supasses understanding.

Some things were more difficult than others. How I grappled with the idea of walking in the Spirit for instance! What on earth (or in heaven above) could "walking in the Spirit" possibly mean? How does one go about walking in the Spirit? Here there is a fellow who says that it means to live sinlessly by finally and utterly surrendering the flesh to the will of God. Here another says that it means that the Holy Spirit is talking to you all the time, but that you just aren't listening, because you haven't developed spiritual ears to hear yet - another says that you have to obey every passing intuition that crosses your mind, for that is how God speaks, through gut feelings and intuition, and failure to follow every flitty though means you risk offending God. Still another hears voices, and another has dreams, all are trying to walk in the Spirit, but they are all doing different things. And so there was a lot of misinformation out there to wade through.

Like everyone else, and certainly like some of you reading this today - I was tossed to and fro, as it were, by the doctrines of men. I tried to achieve sinless perfection, I listened for voices and spiritual urges, I tried suppressionism, and legal adherence, and in trying out as many as seemed momentarily plausible I found that utter failure was the primary thread that ran through all these.

You know, I hope you can appreciate what I am saying. I knew the word of God, and I wanted to keep it perfectly, but I didn't know how to do that consistently.

It came to me one day, as I was meditating on the nature of my desire ("to be pleasing to God") that it was actually a fools errand that I was on.

The fact is, that I am already pleasing to God, not because of my obedience, but because I am in Christ. Do not the scriptures teach that God bestows grace on us in Christ according to the kind intention of God's will (cf.Ephesians 1:5-6)? God Himself predestined us to adoption as sons through Christ this in opposition to the idea of brokering some kind of adoption through ourselves or our own righteousness. When God redeemed us, He was redeeming what scripture describes as His own possession. Until I understood that redemption was the buying back of God's own property - that is, until I understood that God wanted me because I was His already, I didn't really understand redemption properly.

I began to ask myself, what kind of Christian I really wanted to be? Should I set aside whatever knowledge scripture imparted in order to try and be pleasing to God apart from the way outlined in the scriptures? How can a person please God? The answer is they cannot. That is why it is so important to wrap your mind around the fact that Christ has already pleased God.

God sent Christ to redeem those whom God had predestined to adoption as sons. I am the recipient of that same grace - a grace that cannot be appropriated by me or anyone else, but was (and had to be) bestowed upon me, in the mind of God, before there ever was an earth for man to walk upon. It is a grace that God delivered to me directly through Christ. In the wake of this, I ask myself, am I going to be the kind of Christian that is so focused on trying to please God in what I do, that I forget that the basis of my relationship with God is Christ (and not myself or what I do)?

That is a rubber-meets-the-road kind of meditation.

I think there comes a time in every faith where we have to ask some hard questions: am I being the Christian God has called me to be? Am I really abiding in Christ, or am I actually abiding in self? Am I really living the crucified life, or am I just conforming my life to a set of lifeless Christianized habits? Is what I do as a Christian drawing me nearer to Christ each day, or am I just becoming more church-y? Does attending all the meetings, reading the bible, and praying dutifully really draw me nearer to Christ, or am I doing all those things and still finding myself exactly as far away from Christ in my affections as ever I was? What am I resting in? Am I resting at all, and if I am, am I resting in my own (eventually) failing efforts? Is my rest really in Christ or is it in something else - something that is unwittingly displacing my rest in Christ?

Here is what I want to get at today. The reason our faith is supposed to be all about Jesus is because true faith really -is- all about Jesus.

My faith must be for Jesus, in Jesus, and coming to me through Jesus. I cannot draw near to God without drawing near to Christ. Unless my faith is decidedly aimed at knowing Christ, my faith is actually running amok.

Listen: Christianity is not about conforming myself properly to the one and only correct tradition; Christianity is about knowing Jesus. If our obedience is not driven by the desire to draw near to Christ - then our obedience serves no one but ourselves - it remains worldly, carnal, and inevitably fruitless. On judgment day, God isn't going to care one lick about how many rules the believer managed to keep. God is not going to be impressed, even if I have somehow managed to muster profound obedience because such obedience cannot bring reward, it only reveals the areas in my life where there was actually loss - for any obedience to God that is done for any other reason than to draw near to Christ (in order that we may know Him) - is corrupt, flawed, and worthless obedience. It missed the point, and there is no reward for corruption.

I don't know how many ways I should say this - but Christianity is all about drawing near to God in Christ. If that isn't behind whatever you are doing, then whatever it is you are doing is (in fact) a waste of your time - and how much greater a tragedy that is (or will be), if in doing what you do you think that you're doing just fine.

Paul didn't say that that the longing of his heart was to find some way to obey God. Paul mourned over his sin, even as every soul made righteous does - but Paul's longing was to know Christ. It was this desire to know Christ that drove Paul to obey? The certainty that disobedience took you off the path of knowing our Lord, provoked obedience in Paul. It was not fear that kept Paul, but love. He knew that that one cannot ascend the holy hill (that is, draw near to God) with impure hands, and so he pursued holiness (obedience) - in order to draw near to God - in order to know Christ more intimately.

If you have forgotten these things, or never understood them - look into the word of God again and see if this is not so. My heart's desire for myself, my wife, my children, my church, and for you dear reader, is that you would know the Lord, and in knowing Him, know the peace that surpasses understanding. In Him are all the promises yea and amen. In Him is our life hid. In Him, in Him, in Him.

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posted by Daniel @ 7:54 AM  
2 Comments:
  • At 2:12 AM, April 06, 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You sir have just described my life story in this post. Thankfully i was able to reach a point in my life where i was made to recognise my own selfish faith for what it was, and start the search for a true and honest relationship with Jesus.

     
  • At 10:34 AM, April 06, 2011, Blogger Daniel said…

    I think, Anon, that God intends to lift every one of His children out of whatever flavor of mire they find themselves in, in order that they might come to more fully worship Him in spirit and in truth.

    One of the most assuring things about our faith is that it is in fact a common faith.

    Grace and peace to you.

     
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