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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.
My complete profile...
The Buzz

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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Friday, March 30, 2007
Are You Having a Hectic Day Christian?
Are you feeling frazzled spiritually?When scripture tells us that we do not walk by sight but by faith, it means that the Christian part of everything we do is not what is seen with the eyes, but what is done through faith.

If today my littlest girl insists at some time that I serve her momentary whim, and if I should say "no" to such a request, and if she therefore begins to fuss so that I am in danger of compromising behavioral boundaries that I am are trying to set for her, and if I am leaning towards giving in to her and casting my boundaries aside for no other reason than because I am growing weary of maintaining those boundaries against her full frontal "fussing" assault - that is, if I find maintaining those boundaries "not worth it" because I loathe the hassle... or if I find myself driven in a situation by some emotional charge (in one direction or the other) - it is time for me to step aside from myself and remember that whatever I do in whatever situation I find myself (regardless of how difficult or easy the situation is) I can either walk one way (by faith) or the other (by sight), and the choice I make defines what kind of Christian I am - a (morally superior but ultimately) carnal Christian, or a spiritual Christian.

Oh, I may perform all the "right" actions in any given situation - that is, to the outside observer, whichever path I choose it will look the same: I will be going through the correct external motions, doing what ought to be done. My actions can be genuine and even rise up from a "righteous" disposition - but however morally superior any action on my part might end up being, proper (or even superior) "conduct" is not unique to Christianity. In fact, most world religions share on one level or another, the same moral high ground (conduct-wise). To the outside observer, the paid nurse who reads the book to the sick child is performing the same "good" deed as the mother who reads the book to her sick child - but internally - where it counts - the deeds are as different as night and day. The one is doing a "good deed" for which she is being compensated both financially, and also (perhaps) by keeping her "coincidentally" busy during the time that one of the nurses has to sponge bath that creepy old guy in bed six ~ that is, her good deed can be both self serving/advantageous, and also entirely compensated from beginning to end. The mother however, is acting purely and only out of concern for the child and her efforts are not going to be done in order to avoid something more unpleasant or in order to justify a paycheque.

You see, if you are a genuine Christian you have something that no other religion has, that is, if you have indeed come into union with Christ by grace through faith and in this way you have Christ Himself within you, and not only that - you yourself have been crucified with Christ - and that for a reason: so that sin will no longer have dominion over your mortal life in the here and now.

In Romans eight we read about how the law of the spirit of life has set us free from the law of the sin and death.

What is the law of sin and death?

That is the bondage to sin that Paul describes in Romans 7 - (you know, the whole -what I want to do I don't do, and what I don't want to do I do- thing. Paul describes it as a law that he finds in his flesh, but here in chapter 8 he says that the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus sets (those who are united with Christ in His death and resurrection) free from that bondage - not later on, but now, and not metaphorically, but literally.

If you find that the Romans 7 experience describes your walk, then (frankly) you are not walking by faith, for when you walk by faith you are made free, and when I say free, I don't mean free from sin's penalty since we were freed from that the moment we were put into Christ - I mean free from the bondage to sin described in Romans 7. If Romans 7 is your experience, even though by grace you have been set free from sin's dominion - yet if you are still living out your faith practically as one who is under the law (that is, if you are not applying the gospel to free you from your sin, but are instead simply resisting sin as "best you can" - then even though you have been set free, you are still in bondage on a practical level. Paul describes that as being carnal in his letter to the Corinthians, and he uses that term correctly - you are not walking in the spirit but in the flesh, not by faith, but by sight.

True, it is the Spirit who motivates us to flee sin, but if we are not fleeing sin through faith, but rather are trying to flee the desires of the flesh in the power of the flesh - we are not going to succeed because, frankly, our flesh is not really on God's side, but is in fact not subject to God's law and never will be, and is described in scripture as being enmity (hatred) against God - our flesh =hates= to be ruled by God.

It is easy to describe doing things "in the flesh" because that is the default way in which a man tries to live righteously (regardless of his religion). But how do we battle sin in the Spirit? How do we get out from under sin's bondage if we find ourselves thus bound? How do we get victory over sin in the Spirit?

First of all we need to ditch our "cause and effect" mindset; our salvation from sin has already happened if we are in Christ, and we cannot make it happen or make it "real" by "doing" anything. The battle isn't fought there - it is fought in the arena of faith. There is a world of difference between trusting that Christ has saved us from sin's dominion and trying to get suddenly spiritual when we are tempted. Anyone can keep a commandment superficially (The Pharisees were experts at this), but no one can really keep Christ's commandments unless (until) they genuinely love Christ more than they love their own sin.

But how can we love Christ more than we love sin? Not by gritting our teeth and trying to love more - that doesn't work. By faith. We need to settle it in our heart that God is for us, and not against us. We need to settle it in our heart that Christ is going to save us from sin not by making us stronger and better able to suppress our nature, but rather that God has done so already, and that because he loved us already, with a love that will not be augmented by our own efforts. Our death in/with Christ satisfied God's wrath toward us, and our having been raised in/with Christ demonstrates that we are eternally acceptable to God in His Beloved. We must let this truth penetrate our thinking - we must trust that God hasn't left us orphans but is working even this very moment to change us from glory to glory, and that it is only when we doubt this that we go about trying to make it happen by other means - the greatest hindrance to genuine holiness is self effort - for self effort springs from UNBELIEF. Who sanctifies? Christ sanctifies, not in response to me, but in spite of me. The only thing that hinders this is unbelief, remember, we are saved from sin by faith - not by works.

My wife likes me to keep it practical, so I will try and wrap up with a practical application of this truth:

If we are sanctified by the same kind of faith that saved us, a faith that came simply by believing that God will do what He said (save those who turn to Him), then we must trust God to save us from sin in the same way - by turning away from it in faith - but our faith is not in the vague goodness of God, but in truths that are as specific as the gospel - in this case the truth is that we are dead to sin and alive to God in Christ, and that it is trusting that when the Holy Spirit through Paul said that it is this union with Christ that is going to save you from sin's power - that God wasn't lying. Take that cheque to the bank and cash it.

We are not set free by our strength, but by the truth and when we are set free, we are set free indeed! Meditate on these truths now, don't wait till you are tempted - choose for yourself today to trust God to do what you have failed to do these long years...

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posted by Daniel @ 10:43 AM   4 comment(s)
Monday, March 26, 2007
Poverty of Riches
The harvest dust like embers hung
Aglow in the dying light,
Through fields I owned I walked alone,
But something wasn’t right.
Something wasn’t right.

A murmur on the distant road
Where a crowd has gathered round
The prophet out of Galilee
Is our Messiah found?
Our Messiah found.

As I draw near I start to fear,
This man who may be God,
And running to his dirty feet
I drop down on the sod,
Bent knees upon the sod.

His face is full of mercy,
As He kneels down to speak,
His voice is hoarse but kindly,
Please tell me what you seek
Tell me what you seek.

Good teacher how may I inherit
How may I by my good deeds merit,
What must I do, what must I give
That I might now eternal live

If I am good then who am I
For only God is good,
Moses gave you rules to follow
And follow them you should
follow them you should

I ‘ve kept these laws since I was young,
I’ve kept them one and all,
But as these words fell from my lips,
I began to feel small,
Began to feel small.

His face was full of loving grace,
As to me these words he spoke,
And as they fell upon my ears
I felt I had been smote,
Felt I had been smote.

“One thing you lack” He softly said,
One thing you still don’t see,
You cannot have eternal life
Unless you follow me
You must follow me.

Good teacher how may I inherit
How may I by my good deeds merit,
What must I do, what must I give
That I might now eternal live

Sell whatever you now have
And to the poor now give
Take up a cross - follow me
And then you’ll truly live
Then you’ll truly live.

But in my heart I felt a pang,
This price I couldn’t pay!
Could not I keep my wealth and come
to Christ some other way?
Come some other way.

I am the way, the truth, the life,
There is no other way,
No Gods before me may you have,
Or in your sins you’ll stay
In sins sway you’ll stay.

At this I rose up from my knees
And turned to walk away,
I’d rather keep my wealth and die
Than for forgiveness pray,
Than yield now and stay.

Good teacher how may I inherit
How may I by my good deeds merit,
What must I do, what must I give
That I might now eternal live

Oh sinner have you come to Christ
and fallen to your knees
only to hold your heart aloof
as soon as you're at ease?
soon as you're at ease.

Your eyes are fixed upon the earth,
and not on Christ above,
And so you find you cannot trust
in Jesus or His love
Jesus or His love.

Neglect you not your only hope
kneel now before your Lord,
Submit yourself - humble your heart!
And you will be restored
You will be restored.


posted by Daniel @ 11:04 PM   4 comment(s)
Thursday, March 22, 2007
The Red Dragon, floods and lies.
"The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood." - Revelation 12:15 [ESV]

"You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies." - John 8:44 [ESV]

The woman, in Revelation 12 is described as she who gave birth to Christ, though we may be tempted to think of her as Mary, the symbolism doesn't fit. The crown of twelve stars on her head indicates that the "woman" represents the nation of Israel who produced the Messiah. Recall that the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth in order that he might devour her child, but the child, who was come to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, was not devoured (as was the first Adam), but was caught up to God and to His throne. The dragon was then cast down to earth, he and those who followed him, and having become furious in failing to devour the child or harm the woman, he set about to destroy the woman and all her offspring as well (Christianity).

The verse above (Revelation 12:15) describes the dragon's battle plan - he opens his mouth and spews forth a river of water that becomes a flood. What does a flood do? It washes away everything, and what is not washed away is "watered down". How does it do it? By being bigger than everything in its path - sheer volume is its great strength. What does scripture teach us is the character of Satan? When he opens his mouth, lies come out.

We see this everywhere - outside the church and even within. How many false religions are there? How many unregenerate forms of Christianity are there? The dragon opened his mouth, and the lies came out like a flood, and men were deceived by the master of deceit and were swept away. When we are not ignorant of Satan's devices, we lose at least one excuse for being taken advantage of.

Christ said, "I am the Way the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through Me." - the Devil says there is no such thing as absolute truth, therefore there are many paths to God, and that coming to a theological conviction is all that is required.

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posted by Daniel @ 5:51 AM   9 comment(s)
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Spiritual Ineptitude In 3D.
Battle Zone!I apologize for my poor showing over the last couple of weeks. I have been busy with real world ministry and my family and my job.

I noticed that my previous post brought in a wealth of comments, so why break up a winning formula?

On Sunday I preached on the spiritually dead, the spiritually deceived (a subclass of the spiritually dead), and the spiritually dry. It was a regular sermon as opposed to the Sunday Schools stuff so it is a little more formal, and a couple from our church lead us in a song afterwards - which I thought went well with the sermon.

Here it is. I hope to get back to some regular posting soon.


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posted by Daniel @ 8:25 PM   3 comment(s)
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Galatians 2 something.
It is a very busy week, and I am training myself to post only when I really do have the time. But here is a quick audio snap of what I taught on this Sunday. There it is in all its unpolished ignobility. Comments welcome, and sorry I don't have much time this week for commenting myself.

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posted by Daniel @ 5:09 PM   9 comment(s)
Saturday, March 03, 2007
On Revelation 22:19
Tree of life?  I thought you meant the life of a tree!
and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. Revelation 22:19 [ESV]
Clearly this text =must= prove that you can lose your salvation ...right?

I mean, the wording here seems inescapable! How can God take away your share in the tree of life, and in the holy city unless you have a share to be taken away?

Is this verse the nail in the coffin of eternal security? I don't think so.

The language is pretty specific, but no more specific than what we read Christ saying in Luke 8:
Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away." - Luke 8:18 [ESV]
When we read the alternative accounts of this passage in Matthew 25:29 and Mark 4:25 we see that they do not add the telling "what he thinks that he has" in describing what is taken away. Matthew and Mark simply say that what he has will be taken away. Now, perhaps Matthew and Mark were just careless, or maybe they really didn't agree with Luke, or maybe Luke simply was guessing - but, because I believe God is in control, I am convinced that they meant the same thing Luke did, but didn't think the distinction was all that important to make.

So did these men actually possess a share?

I don't think so.

John makes it plain, the gnostics started out as "Christians" but began to add to God's word things that were not there, and to take away the truth that was there in order to do it. In doing so they went out from orthodoxy and into apostasy demonstrating that they were never genuine in the first place.

So in the one sense, these "branches" that once seemed to be grafted into the vine showed themselves to be bearing the wrong kind of fruit, and because they were they were cast out of the vine - not because they were once genuine and then became disingenuine - but because they were not genuine, and had never truly been genuine. They demonstrated the false nature of their faith by the fruit they produced.

If anyone adds lies to God's word, and removes truth from it - being a pastor, or a church member isn't going to save them on Judgment day - because on that day the counterfeit nature of their faith will be manifest to all. What they seemed to possess (eternal life) will be "taken away from them" - at least, that is how it will seem to them.

Also just an aside. Here is the real global warming story.

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posted by Daniel @ 2:56 PM   2 comment(s)
Unconditional Election in John 10 - part 4
If you want some context for this post, you should read the meta over at Rose's blog, or alternately, you can follow along through the series here:
Part I
Part II
Part III

In conversations of this sort, inevitably someone asks the hard questions. In this case, the question is why would Christ bother giving the Pharisees a chance to repent and be saved if He knew beforehand that they weren't going to be saved. Wouldn't it be sort of disingenuous of Christ to make them an offer when He knew they would not accept it.

I probably haven't answered it as good as I could have, but here is my reply:
The Pharisees were culpable for their own sin and God had declared their end from the very beginning - reserving the blackness of darkness forever for them, giving them ears that could not hear, and eyes that could not see.

To be sure, we read about where we get ears to hear and eyes to see beginning in Deuteronomy (29:4), where Moses is explaining to the Israelites that even though they all saw what happened in Egypt with their own eyes, yet in spite of that God did not give the Israelites a heart to perceive, eyes to see, or ears to hear to that very day.

That reminds us that God is the one who opens hearts and eyes, and not our own cleverness or personality - and that God doesn't do it in response to our faith, but rather our faith is in response to God's enabling. Surely there ought to have been at least a few hundred thousand amongst the roughly 2 million Jewish exiles after seeing the ten plagues, after being under the cloud day and night for forty years - that would have had enough information to have their eyes opened, if it were something that we do - so that God could "respond" - but we see that the reason their eyes and ears were not opened was because God hadn't opened them.

We see the same again in Isaiah 6:9-10 - God explains that He is going to make their heart dull, their eyes shut and their ears heavy in order to make it impossible for them to return to Him and be healed until God's appointed time. (c.f. Isaiah 32)

Jeremiah prophesies to a people whom God has made blind and deaf (Jeremiah 5:21) - recall that God told Jeremiah specifically that they would not listen to him, but he was required to call them to repentance.

Paul explains this very idea in Romans 11:7-9 - that the reason Israel failed to embrace Christ was because God had made them blind - and he quotes from similar texts to the ones I have quoted to make his point.

God made them culpable and they remained culpable even when God made them blind and deaf.

It is entirely consistent for Christ to give the Pharisees every opportunity to repent, and even as Jeremiah was instructed to preach to a people whom God had ordained before hand would not listen to his preaching - so too Christ, even though these men were not of His flock, Christ gave them every opportunity, in good faith, to repent.

Recall Christ washing the feet of Judas at a time when He already knew Judas was about to go and betray Him? That is the character of our God - a humble servant, willing to treat all men, even His own betrayer, with the same grace.

Had Christ treated those who were not of His flock differently than those who were of His flock, He would not have been God. God is not partial (c.f. Romans 2:11)

So my answer is that Christ gave them the opportunity to repent because He is God, and God is merciful. Christ knew these men were not of His flock - that is plain enough from the immediate dialog, and we could examine John 2:24-25 if we were still hazy on the idea. Christ knew these were not of His flock, but He gave them the opportunity to repent.

Now if it is a question of motive, why did He do it, I can say this much, my first inclination is to look for some motive common to man - but that has a man centered myopia to it. I like to speculate as much as the next guy, but honestly, sometimes we allow our speculations to drive our interpretation, and when we do that our speculations can cause us to re-interpret what is going on because we are unable to speculate an answer that satisfies our understanding of the character of God.

That is, I might be inclined to say - God is so loving and so merciful, that the only reason God could ever give the Pharisees an opportunity to repent was because he was wringing His hands in hope that just maybe "this time" they would believe. Such a notion is premised upon the idea that God really has no control over salvation - and that is premised upon the errant idea that God would be wicked for saving one man while allowing another to perish.

But that line of reasoning is grounded in our own sense of fairness - If I work all day and another works only one hour, and our boss pays us the same wage - I am offended because I feel that if the boss gives the other fellow the same as he give me - I should get more because I worked more. The true wicked nature of my heart is revealed in that I am offended by the kindness of my boss. I want the other fellow to get less, or alternately I want the boss to pay me more - because I don't understand justice. Maybe when I was a kid my mom used to give us all the same equally, and call that "fairness" - and maybe this is why I have this idea in my head that if the boss shows this guy who worked only an hour and gives him a merciful wage - one he did not earn, that the boss must therefore over compensate me in order to remain "fair" - and that unless this boss hands out mercy according to my understanding of "fairness" he is unjust.

But the reality is, the boss can give the days wage to whomever he wills, and it is not unjust to allow me to receive what I have earned.

Soteriologically speaking, we earn condemnation by our sin, and God is justified in paying every last one of us that wage - and God is not unjust if He, because of His great mercy, gives to some eternal life which they have not earned. It doesn't make him evil if He gives life to some and not all - it makes Him merciful. It is the mind set on a wrong kind of fairness - that cannot see this.

They were given the opportunity to repent, even though Christ knew they weren't going to. They certainly had the ability to repent - it isn't like God was forcing them to =not= repent; that image is grossly cartoonish - rather it is that repentance is a gift given by God (c.f. Acts 11:18, 2 Tim 2:25), and that God was not compelled to give them that gift. These were not innocent men - they were wretched sinners, treasonous rebels who had earned a place in hell a thousand times over through their consistent God slandering rebellion. God's only obligation to them was to give them their wage - hell. God is not wicked for "withholding" the gift of repentance - if repentance were something we had a right to, scripture wouldn't describe it as something God grants.

I may be starting to ramble - there is only so many ways to say the same thing. Let me know if my point is coherent enough to be understood.

I think that is going to be the final post in the series, but perhaps it will come up again. We shall see.

My hope is that God is glorified in this way - that someone reading this exchange will find something in it that draws them closer to the Lord. I have corrected some of my spelling mistakes, but other than that it is verbatim, though I am not always pleased to "publish" anything with rough edges, I prefer to leave it that way just to be true to that discussion.

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posted by Daniel @ 1:10 PM   4 comment(s)
Friday, March 02, 2007
You Know You Are Tired When...
When my alarm woke this morning I was dreaming the most vivid dream about being in my own bed and just staying there. It was perfect. I was even dreaming about rolling over and fluffing the pillow. I was having a delightfully vain and philosophical discussion with myself about whether I ought to shave my head this summer and first shave the front so as to look like a balding man - so that I could perhaps stop in the middle and have a comb over for a couple of days... But no matter how my dream thought meandered, they came back to just how much I was enjoying being in bed sleeping, and not having to wake up.

Then the alarm rang.

I know, I know. In some congregations your holiness can be directly measured by whether or not "the Lord gets you up in the morning" and in particular the earlier, you rise, the holier you are. Old people seem to be much holier, for it seems God wakes the older saints much earlier - I mean to pray and all that - though he does wake the old non-saints much earlier too, presumably to cuss and make evil plans...

Anyway, I do hope to do the comb over this summer some time...


posted by Daniel @ 4:06 AM   6 comment(s)
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