H  O  M  E          
Theological, Doctrinal, and Spiritual Musing - and whatever other else is on my mind when I notice that I haven't posted in a while.
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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, April 13, 2006
Counting the Cost…
When we talk about “sleeper cells” we are talking (usually) about a small group of people who immigrate into a country, and live as citizens in the midst of the population they are infiltrating – but maintain allegiance to a foreign religious or political authority. The cell lies “dormant” (insinuating itself into the culture around it) until opportunity or “necessity” requires it to demonstrate it true allegiances.

These people may become U.S. citizens in time – but when they swear their allegiance, it is entirely lip service – they swear their allegiance in order to join the population and enjoy the privileges that are granted by the “title” – and while they are as much a U.S. citizen as any other citizen – yet they are not citizens in their hearts - having only an false profession of allegiance. They do not bow to the laws of the land except where necessary in order to maintain the illusion of citizenship – that is, their obedience is entirely for the purpose of looking the part of a U.S. citizen.

I don’t doubt that there are some reading this who would argue that no matter their true allegiance – as soon as the final papers are signed and the false oath uttered – those in such sleeper cells who become U.S. citizens on paper – are as American as any other American. In a sense they would be right – IF being “American” is defined by legal documents and IF the oath that is sworn is token and worthless to the whole process.

Some however would say that unless the oath is sincere, that is, unless one swears allegiance to the U.S. their citizenship is token, regrettable, and even false. I myself am of this opinion.

This is paralleled in the church. Some would say that you can become a Christian by mouthing all the right words, assenting to all the right truths, and agreeing with all the facts of Christianity – even if your oath of allegiance is lacking; that is, they believe you can enter the Kingdom of God without “bowing the knees of your heart” to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Christians who do not serve Christ are called “false christians” - and they are typically deceived, having heard a false (incomplete) gospel.

In Acts 11, Peter explains to the Church at Jerusalem how God used him to bring the Gentiles into the fellowship of the church. We see in verse 18 how the Church answered Peter’s defense, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life” Not that God has granted “faith” to the Gentiles unto life – but that God granted them repentance.

That isn’t to suggest that God grants repentance without granting faith (Ephesians 2:8-9 demonstrate clearly that faith itself is a gift … “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”) rather it is to connect the dots – showing that faith and repentance are part of a package deal. In 2 Timothy 2:25 Paul explains to Timothy the purpose of this God endowed repentance, “with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,

Thus, both repentance and faith are gifts from God, granted to the elect – sometimes these are collectively referred to as “the effective call” – that is while all creation demands that there is a God (c.f. Romans 1:20), and therefore implicitly demands our seeking Him – such that everyone who fails to do so is without excuse in the world – yet there is a specific “call” placed on the elect – and this call comes in the form of a gift – the gift being the sudden ability to exercise genuine repentance and faith – these two bundled inseparably and received simultaneously – each being a facet of the other.

Such that when a man genuinely exercises saving faith in Christ – it is always coupled with a genuine, God given, repentance – the “first fruit” if you will, of the man’s sanctification. Not that repentance produces sanctification – but rather, sanctification produces repentance. God does the sanctifying, which cleanses our hearts so that we are able to truly repent – but even this is granted to us.

Repentance, practically speaking, is a willingness to (uncompromisingly) obey God.

I should note, there is a difference between having a desire to obey, and actually obeying. The desire to obey is granted unilaterally to all the elect, and while the ability to obey is granted unilaterally as well, it is granted in the same way as God granted the Promised Land to Israel. He delivered them out of Egypt, and brought them to the border of Canaan – and promised them that they could go in and take it. But those who came out of Egypt (with the exception of Joshua and Caleb) refused to believe that God could give them Canaan. That is, they refused to obey God in going in and taking the land. The reason they refused was because they didn’t believe that God would truly grant them the victory.

This describes a “carnal” Christian – one who has crossed the “red sea” (saved from Egypt) but hasn’t crossed the Jordan and into “rest” yet. By and large this describes the vast majority of legitimate Christendom today – they failed to count the cost of discipleship, and continue to look back to Egypt every time their hand touches the plow.

The closing verses of Luke chapter nine struck a sound chord in my heart this morning (verses fifty-seven through to the end of chapter nine.) I wonder how few of us understand the “cost” of discipleship – we say “salvation is free” and we are right – we didn’t earn it, nor did we generate it ourselves – but Christ freely saved us from our sins. Yet just as the Israelites were assured of victory in Canaan – all they had to do was have faith in God – trusting that God was able to give them the land that He promised to them – a faith that would have been demonstrated by (as opposed to generated by) obedience. The one who is willing to press into the Promised Land on the strength of God’s promise – this is the one who has a full/mature faith in God. The one who waits on the border for God to wipe out all the adversaries up front – this one calls has an immature faith - doubting God.

How few of us there are indeed who are “fit for the Kingdom!” – our mouths say, “Lord I will follow you anywhere…. But let me first do such and such…” – our willingness being conceptual and not practical.

That is not to suggest that we can actually generate genuine willingness we cannot – that is, there is nothing within us that can ever make us willing to obey God.

How foolish we become when we try and generate in our selves a “willing” heart! I have seen sincere believers do just that. They meditate on the awesome gift of salvation – until they can “actualize” an obligatory sense of gratitude in themselves – and having worked themselves into the “gracious” frenzy, they manage to suppress their desire to disobey long enough to obey. But it doesn’t last of course. Others think of the horrible suffering of Christ on their behalf – and try to “actualize” a motivating and empathic sense of pity, or even affection – and in the strength of this carnal effort they manage to make themselves obey in spite of themselves. Some confuse Romans Six reckoning with "positive thinking" and "auto-suggestion" – trying to convince themselves (through the sheer effort of their own will) that they are dead to sin – and in the strength of their effort, they manage to suppress the beast within – at least outwardly. Whatever these do to generate external motives in themselves – all such efforts are experientially impotent, being as they are, shallow, temporal, and ultimately insufficient to motivate them to obey God consistently - concentrating on the symptoms (sins), they never deal with the problem (self).

Not that these do not want to enter the promised land – they do! They just don’t believe that God will take them there. To make up for their unbelief - they set about trying to take it in their own strength – and that is why they fail. Oh, they manage to put quite a shine on their outward lives – but inside they are still full of dead men’s bones. If they are willing to be honest with themselves they will admit that the part of them that doesn’t want to obey God wins out when it really counts. They have as much victory as one can get without God – and that much was demonstrated by the Pharisees – the suppression of self. Daily they prune their orange tree, removing every bud, and carefully hanging apples in their stead – but the tree is known by the fruit it produces, and not by the fruit that is hung upon it externally.

Everywhere we look we see orange trees with apples tied in the boughs, and we assume this is how it is supposed to work. That while there are plenty of apples, there is no such thing as an apple tree.

They forget that the ark preceded Israel over the Jordan – and that the ark stood in the midst of the Jordan until all the children of the Israelites went over. Was it not supposed to have happened this way for their parents? Yet only Joshua and Caleb entered the Promised Land from amongst those who were brought out of Egypt.

Carnal Christians believe that God has saved them (that is, they have “passed through the red sea” as it were – being delivered from death (Egypt)” but they now stand on the border of Canaan (at the Jordan river no less!) and refuse to cross it and enter into the Promised Land because they don’t believe that God is able to give them victory in Canaan.

It is significant to me that the Jordan is where the followers of both John the Baptist and Jesus Christ were originally baptized. It may be nothing – but our baptism ought to signify the spiritual crossing of the Jordan – that is, it ought to signify that sort of internal faith which says – I believe God for the victory in Canaan! I have crossed the Jordan of my flesh, and I go now into Canaan – into the promises of God. I have received the Lord’s Spirit by which I am able to run against a troop – I will overcome, because God has overcome my enemies.

Okay – I am not saying that baptism must be understood thus – but I am saying that it is more than just an arbitrary, obedient dunking.

Now I would add at this point that there are two ways to be obedient as a genuine Christian – carnally and spiritually. That might sound strange, but it shouldn’t when I explain what I mean.

The homecare nurse may come into a home and spends hours diligently caring for a young patient – but when the mother comes home she leaves. The mother takes over and gives the same care – but there is something different about the motivation. The nurse is fulfilling an obligation that is part of her “job” but the mother is acting in “love.”

There is a carnal sort of obedience – and obedience that is born of a sense of obligation. It really doesn’t matter how that sense of obligation is created, what matters is that instead of obeying out of love our obedience becomes an obligatory reaction to some other motivator, “guilt” being the most common. Any obedience that is generated by the flesh is carnal and not Spiritual.

Consider the Buddhist who, through sheer will power, and persistent mental focus, has conditioned his responses so that he no longer responds in anger to any provocation. You might slap his wife, or beat his child, and he will not respond in anger. Is the man really holy? No. His orange tree is still producing oranges – but he has trained himself to identify the buds (that would have grown into oranges) and to remove them before they come to fruition. The tree is still a orange tree, even if the oranges that are produced are nipped in the bud. No change has really taken place.

It is the same with every religion, and it is the best the world has to offer – suppressionism. The Christian version of this is called “Carnal Christianity” – and I have spoken about it before. The carnal variety of Christianity trains you to become a master at nipping sin in the bud, but does nothing about the real problem – the fact that you are an orange tree, when you are supposed to be an apple tree.

One might declare, “But I want to obey the right way - how can I generate the right kind of obedience, that is, how do I change from an orange tree into an apple tree?” – and the answer is you can’t. You can’t, you can’t, you can’t. But God can. No leopard can change it’s stripes, but God can change your heart through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

You say, “But I -am- a real Christian! – I -do- believe in God – I put no hope in my own righteousness to save me, but all my trust is in Christ and his righteousness to save me!”

I don’t doubt that Christ has saved you… from something – but what does the Lord say? “According to your faith let it be to you” – what exactly did Jesus save you from? Drugs? Pornography? Lying? Doubt and Unbelief? The fear of man? If you are saved, what are you saved from?

Ahhh, from “hell” you say, from Egypt, from the sting death. According to your faith let it be to you. Standing at the Jordan and looking into the promised land, you believe that God is able to save you from something, but not into something else – and that is why you try to approximate Christ in your life. That is why you trim all the bad fruit, but never get rid of it. You have believed God – right up until you came to the Jordan – yeah, even before the Jordan there was grumbling – but that is as far as you’re willing to go. You refuse to believe God for more – and there you will stay, because no one crosses the Jordan without the Lord.

There is a third variety of Christian. He or she may have begun as a nominal (in name only) Christian, may have progressed at some point to a genuine (albeit carnal) Christian – believing Christ for justification – but at some point he or she begins to read the scriptures and sees that Christ was sent on account of sin, and not simply on account of sin’s penalty.

This is the one who crosses the Jordan with nothing more than the promises of God, who presses into the Kingdom, and is given victory after victory until the whole of Canaan is subdued. This is the side of the Jordan where genuine sanctification happens – where genuine victory lies. It isn’t purchased by sheer effort, but by a heart willing to believe God for the victory. No one who takes even an square foot of this land may boast – for while it was won in battle, the battle belonged to the Lord.

But what price do we pay to enter into this rest – what ought our labor to be? How do we enter into rest? How do we press into Canaan? How do we cross the Jordan? What must we do in order to enter into this rest?

It is simple. Just as you believed God for justification - you believe God for victory in Canaan. It was promised to you and just as the lepers weren't healed until they began to walk - so too you must “walk” in that belief. Obey God, not because He is going to do bad things to you if you don’t obey, nor because he might treat you well if you do obey – but obey because you believe that as you put your foot in Canaan (that is, as you obey), God will give you the land that your foot takes by faith. That is, trust and obey – there really is no other way.

It’ll cost you this in this way – you have to stop trusting in everything else – which is another way of saying, you have to be humble. Think it through until you see the connection.
posted by Daniel @ 3:15 PM  
  • At 5:17 PM, April 13, 2006, Blogger Even So... said…

    Okay, Daniel, either God in His providence and grace has led you to be discussing the exact same things I am on my blog, or you have been sneeking around over there without leaving a comment or two (lol)!

    Seriously, this is exactly what we are talking about, and it seems that you have taken what people have commented on, point by point; it's scary. The paragraph that starts, "How foolish we become" looks like you took all the things others have said and commented on specifically. I guess this means I will link to this article in my comments section.

    Thank you, once again.

    Keep it coming, this is good stuff, as you say. May God continue to bless us that we may glorify Him.

    Even So...

  • At 10:24 PM, April 13, 2006, Blogger Jeremy Weaver said…

    Great post, Danimal!

  • At 10:29 PM, April 13, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Even so - I haven't checked it out, but now I am quite baited...

    Jeremy - it is good to see you out and about again!

  • At 10:41 PM, April 13, 2006, Blogger Even So... said…

    Well, I am sending some more people over here, so I really (verily, verily, I guess) hope that we can continue this.

    Question: how is just trusting, believing, etc., that God will give us victory in Canaan any different than the wrong way you describe when discussing trying to believe and Romans 6?

    BTW, when I went fishing out in the Gulf of Mexico last week, it didn't matter what I used as bait..didn't catch a thing, except for what our host called "grassy perch"...ha ha!

    Even So...

  • At 9:20 AM, April 14, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I am reminded of Jesus' serious admonition to those listening to "count the cost" for those who truly seek to be one of His disciples.
    Luke 14:25-34. His comparisons to the man building a tower, 'hating' one's own family for His sake, a king in preparation for a battle.
    The cost of following Him is high. To the death of our own selves.

  • At 6:01 PM, April 14, 2006, Blogger Jim said…

    Daniel, I decided to print this one out due to the length and give it a good once over.

    I say a big amen to your exposition of crossing the Jordan into Canaan. God has given you some great revelation here which sadly too many christians have never seen. I would encourage you to keep investigating this path as the treasures awaiting you here are fantastic!

    Were our brothers and sisters in Christ to clearly see this picture, it would bring them much peace, and purpose in their daily walk with the Lord.

    I echo Even So in encouraging you to keep these meaty posts coming.

    Every blessing in Christ,

  • At 10:31 AM, April 17, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks Daniel for another great post to keep me thinking.
    Seems to me we have to 'leave behind the Gods of Egypt, learn how God wants to be worshipped - often through a wilderness time, trust God more than fear the giants in the land, follow God as He goes before us and opens the waters of the Jordan. (nice comparison to baptism - likely should work that way)
    Our Canaan is the place within us - not external circumstances and the victory we win is over sin so that we can enter into His peace and joy.
    I'm such a word picture kind of person so will carry your example in my heart - and knowing God, He will teach me wonderful things out of this.
    Thanks again.

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