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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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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Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Obligatory Grace? Part II
When I assert that no person presently bound in sin has the ability or desire to come to Christ of his own free will, I am asserting no more than what the bible teaches. John (the Apostle) records where Christ taught those who were following Him that no one has the ability to come to Him unless God Himself chooses to grant that ability (cf. John 6:44,65). As a result of this very teaching, many who had been His disciples, stopped following Him (we read this in John 6:66).

The problem with bondage is that you are unable to do anything about it. You are incapable of escaping your bonds. If I assert that you are in bondage to sin (singular), I am saying that it is impossible for you to repent. If you could repent, it would hardly be bondage. This is what Paul describes in Romans 6, the fact is that we are in bondage to sin and are thus incapable of escaping its rule, that is, that we are unable to escape sin because, at our core, this bondage shows itself as an utter unwillingness to submit ourselves entirely to Christ's rule.

Don't get me wrong, anyone sufficiently frightened of hell may well try and avoid it by becoming a Christian, and giving up individual sins as they are able to do so. Such as these view the gospel as a way of escaping hell, rather than a way of being reconciled to God. These are possessed of that superficial flavor of faith that lacks genuine repentance. These have refused Christ's rule over them, yet imagine themselves to be saved by Christ because they have believed the facts of the gospel. James, the brother of our Lord compared the faith of such as these with demons who likewise assent to the truths of the gospel - agreeing that all these things are true - but such agreement in no way pardons them either.

Christ was not kidding when He said that many people on that last day are going to call Him Lord, but He will command them to depart from Him because He never knew them. This isn't a warning for the atheists and people of other world religions, for they are not going to come to Christ on that last day claiming to have done great things in His name. He is talking about people who thought they were real Christians because no one told them (or they ignored those who did) that in order to come to Christ, you must come to Him completely. You can't come to him with your head, and leave your heart somewhere else. You will not find the Christ of scripture until you seek for Him with your whole heart. Seeking here doesn't mean looking for Him as though He were lost, it is being used to describe how you approach Him. Are you giving your whole being to Him, or are you holding back in reserve the right to rule yourself? Until you sell out, you aren't in.

That's the picture we get from Christ's own teaching. The parable of the man who finds the treasure buried in the field, and sells all that he has in order to acquire the land, or the man who finds a pearl of great value, and sells all that he possesses, holding nothing in reserve for himself, but selling it all in order to secure the Pearl - that is the picture of how one enters the kingdom of God. That is the picture of salvation, and those who are half hearted, though they attend church, pray, sing, and read their bibles - if they have never given themselves entirely to Christ, were never His.

That was the picture of Judas. He travelled with Christ, believed Him to be the Christ, loved Him, ate with Him, did miracles in His name. He surely prayed, and ministered, perhaps even zealously - but Judas wasn't "all in". He had never been all in. He did not have a moment in His life where he surrendered Himself entirely to God, and failing to do so, his religion was a sham.

Christ called Judas to follow Him, but Judas was not chosen by God to follow Christ. This shouldn't shock you since the scriptures tell us in unvarnished clarity that many, in fact, are called, but few, indeed, are chosen.

Scripture illustrates salvation as something God originates, and not man. God has certainly left all of mankind without excuse - the heavens and the earth themselves declare God's glory - and testify to all creation that there is a God. We are, every last one of us, without excuse - we all know, deep down, that God has given us life and breath, and that we are beholden to Him as His creation. I say, even the stoutest atheist knows this, and even the much touted aboriginal person who has never so much as heard of the bible, or Jesus or the God of the Jews knows this. Every last sinner suppresses this truth so that they justify their own pursuit of sin.

So if sinners cannot come to God, and every last one of us is a sinner, how then can anyone repent and exercise faith in Christ? If we truly are in bondage, how can we escape this bondage?

Some may agree that we are all in bondage to sin, but they mean something else when they say "bondage to sin" - they simply mean that we are incapable of suppressing individual sins indefinitely. They mean that we are so entirely inclined to committing sins that we will never be able to utterly give it up or walk away from it. They do not think of sin as rejecting God's rule, they think of sin as a mistake you make. They think you can accept the rule of Christ in one hand, and commit a sin in the other, and so they see nothing irrational about a sinner coming to Christ of his own accord. Sure the sinner commits sins, but that is no barrier to "faith".

These have erred in that they don't define sin in terms of "who we are" rather they define sin in terms of "what they do". Hence they are more concerned with trying to stop "sinning" than they are with the fact that they are corrupt from the core, and that all of their "sins" are flowing from a fount of sinfulness - themselves. They therefore fail to understand that their problem is that they cannot, and will not surrender themselves to Christ's rule. They don't understand that when the scriptures speak of being in bondage to sin, it is describing their inability to submit themselves to God's rule - and so the "faith" that these come to is a superficial faith, a faith that cannot clean the inside of the cup because it has ignored the fact that there is something incurably rotten within the cup - so they spend themselves trying desperately to polish the outside, in order to convince themselves that the constant, nagging feeling that something is judgment-day wrong about their walk with Christ is anything they should be concerned about.

But when we say we are all in bondage to sin, we mean just that, we are bound to rebellion; we are chained (in and by our hearts) to rejecting God's rule. We will not come to Christ; we cannot come to Christ. Yet many, as a desperate act of self preservation, are willing to "become" Christians in order to avoid damnation. They haven't surrendered to God's rule, they are just doing whatever is necessary to avoid hell, and being blinded by their own desire to secure a better afterlife, they fail to realize that they have come into the fold over the gate and not through surrender to Christ.

I ask again, if these things are so - if no one can come to Christ, how is it that some do?

The answer is that although no man can or will, by himself, come to Christ; yet God draws men to Christ so that God is the "cause" of their turning. God is not obligated to draw anyone to Christ, so we say that they are drawn to Christ as an act of mercy and grace on God's part.

When we speak of being "saved by grace through faith" we are speaking of the fact that no one comes to saving faith except those whom God has singled out and drawn to Christ while they were yet rebels and His enemy. These same repent, and exercise faith without compromising the integrity of their free will, and yet God tells us that it is He, and not they, who caused this faith to happen. He hand picks who will be quickened, and so who will come to saving faith. Thus faith is a gift of God, a grace of God, that salvation is not something we make happen, but something God makes happen

God determined beforehand who would be the recipients of this "saving" grace. That may irk some people, but it is entirely biblical. When the bible speaks of election, and predestination, it is speaking of God's having chosen beforehand whom He would pour this mercy out on. No one deserves this mercy, and no sinner left to himself would ever incline himself to pursue it. There is no one who is righteous, that is, no one who seeks God, not even one (cf. Romans 3:10-11). God is not only the Author of our faith (the one who instigates it), but He is the one who sees it through to the end (the Finisher of our faith) (cf. Hebrews 2:10, Hebrews 12:2).

That being said, everyone who comes to Christ, does so without coercion. We were blind in our sins, and could by no means "see" (if you will) the truth, both of our own estate, and of God's promises. God, on a day of His choosing, through the gospel of Christ, opened our spiritual eyes to see, and we responded in the only way possible - in faith.

If you want a picture, then picture how water flows downhill. If you dam the flow, the water stops flowing, if you breach the dam, it flows again. In the same way man was created to be in fellowship with God, our hearts were inclined to God, but the fall walled up that inclination. In the moment of salvation, God, in an act of grace, breaches the wall and so restores our natural inclination to depend upon, and draw near to God. We respond to this as naturally as we do anything else that we do. Not because we are coerced, but because we are inclined to the hand of our Master by a nature that was corrupted by sin - when we are set free from this "bondage", we respond to God in the way we were created to respond to Him.

Imperfect analogies aside, I hope you follow the notion that God isn't turning people into puppets in order to save them. God isn't controlling their will so that they come to Him kicking and screaming. No, God simply reconnects them to Himself, and they come to Him because that is the very thing they were created to do. Pascal speaks of the "God shaped hole" in every man - I think that is what He was trying to to express. It isn't that we all have a longing for God, it is that we were created to want God, and the very moment God reconnects us to Himself, our hearts are opened, as it were, and we incline ourselves to Him freely.

It is my experience, and if you are in Christ, it is your experience also, that one day, though you likely heard the gospel many times, you suddenly saw yourself for what you are, God's enemy, and alongside this you suddenly found yourself wanting to be reconciled to God. You didn't create these feelings, they came unbidden when God opened your heart to receive the gospel. You, like water, flowed naturally into the relationship God had restored. It was His work, not yours, that saved you.

Now, We can talk about God obliging Himself to show you this grace, but that is a temporal misnomer. God isn't bound by time, so He did not decide to "eventually" show you grace and thereby save you. Rather God chose to show grace to you and it was done, you just hadn't been born yet to receive it. You didn't know you were going to receive it, and until you did you were as much a child or wrath as anyone else. But in the fullness of time, God's grace came to you, and you were reconciled to Him by faith, and this not of yourself, as though you pursued God, but rather this was of God who had chosen you as the recipient.

Yet in order for you to receive this grace, God had to make sure you were born, and that the world continued until you were. More on this in the next post.
posted by Daniel @ 1:00 AM   5 comment(s)
Monday, August 22, 2011
Obligatory Grace? Part I
If grace is no longer grace the moment grace becomes obligatory, then it follows that it is logically impossible to show grace to someone in answer to some any kind of obligation. The moment obligation becomes the "reason" you are showing grace, then grace is no longer grace. That's why I think the label Covenant Theologians use to describe God's redemptive plan (the "Covenant of Grace") is confusing, if not a little misleading.

Covenant Theology, by framing the plan of redemption in terms of a covenant of grace, rightly underscores the fact that the scriptures do not paint redemption in terms of God hastily mopping up a botched creation. God had planned that redemption should follow the fall of man, and that this redemption should be entirely a work of grace - and this was planned by God before the world and Adam were ever created.

Romans 8:29-30 says, "For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified."

What the text is saying is that God didn't just know who would be conformed to the image of His Son before they were ever born, it says that God was the one who decided that they would be conformed to the image of His Son.

This is one of those doctrines that a lot of people disagree about.

On the one hand, some believe that if salvation is offered to one person, it must be made freely available to all, otherwise God would be unfair. Thus, because God is both gracious and merciful, He provides the possibility of salvation to everyone, thus satisfying the requirement of "fairness". At this point it is up to the individual to choose to be reconciled to God through Christ - those who do are saved by God, and those who do not are not saved by God and (presumably) have only themselves to blame.

On the other hand, some believe that if God shows grace to one sinner, that in no way obligates Him to show grace to any other sinner. Just as giving $10 to a single beggar does not obligate you to give $10 to every beggar on earth. Giving to one beggar is an act of grace, and such an act does not obligate you to show the same grace to anyone else, lest grace become and obligation. Thus salvation comes only to those whom God chooses to show grace to, and it is through this grace that a man is not only able, but in fact compelled to believe the gospel.

The two views understand grace differently: the former understands grace as God "graciously" supplying the possibility of salvation to all. The latter sees grace as something God chooses to show to some, and in doing so in no way obligates Himself to show to others.

Any honest believer who is earnestly studying to show themselves approved by God wants their theology to [1] exalt God above all else, [2] to agree with their own personal experience, and to [3] do no injury to the word of God. So why is it that on certain doctrines we find Christians falling into opposing camps?

Well, to answer that, let's consider together where the idea of fairness comes from.

Let's say that my wife called me on the way home from work to let me know that each of my five children had been sent to bed until I come home for having participated together in some wrong doing. Let's say that they have all participated, individually or in groups, in this same wrong doing before, and are fully aware that the standard punishment for this offence is that they will have to stay in bed the rest of the night, and have their allowance rescinded for that week.

Let us say that after I walk into house, I sit myself down in the living room and call the children to me, so that I can pass sentence on them. Let's say that I am a gracious person, and because I am gracious, I decide to exercise my grace on one of the children. So I choose one, and say, I will let you keep your allowance this week child, and I myself shall go to bed right now in your stead, but you may stay up as normal. I know you are as guilty as the rest of them, but I have decided to put my own mercy and grace on display by taking your punishment in your stead.

What do you think the other children are going to say?

That's right. They are going to say, "That's not fair!"

Why do they say that? They say that because they honestly believe that if I show grace and mercy to someone else who is guilty - that obligates me to show the same grace and mercy to them. They are like the workers in the vineyard who, having born the heat of the day expected to be paid more for their labor than the ones who hardly worked at all, and when they didn't get extra pay, they counted that as wickedness on the part of the owner of the vineyard. Just as these, when they saw the grace and mercy of the owner immediately imagined that they deserved more because of it, so also we believe, deep down, that grace is something that if shown to one, must be shown to all, lest the one who shows it is wicked.

Thus we invent the idea of "fairness". Fairness is not some pious thing, it is nothing more than an established behavior that caters to our own core wickedness - a sense of entitlement whenever someone else receives something. The notion is so bound into us, that some who read this, even having it spelled out for them, won't be able to agree that fairness is nothing more than another expression of human fallenness.

So when our theology begins with, is filtered through, or depends upon such concepts as "fairness", it follows that this theology is not going to paint the same picture as a theology that has seen the pitfall and avoided it.

True story: I remember someone in my wife's family coming into a substantial, but unexpected inheritance. Then another, and then another. I watched as these people were able to pay off their houses, and buy bigger ones, while I (like some SCHMOE!) had to pay off my mortgage the old fashioned way - little, by little. A very real part of me was secretly angry and resentful. I knew that I did nothing to "deserve" an inheritance - and yet a part of me was angry when someone else got one instead of me. I honestly felt like I was being ripped off - even though it was totally irrational to feel that way.

In fact it was little things like that which helped me to see my own heart for what it was, and to see past the worldly veil of such ideas as "fairness", and understand grace as it is described in scripture.

Grace, in order for grace to be grace, cannot be something that God owes everyone. In other words, God is not obligated by "fairness" to provide an atoning sacrifice for everyone or even anyone.

Consider thoughtfully how a preconceived notion of fairness imposed into the Character of God could influence our interpretation of passages that speak to the extent of the atonement. I know many a godly man who rejects the notion that God chooses to save some, and not others, in part, or even primarily because their notion of God is informed by this worldly/secular "moral" benchmark.

Listen: God doesn't owe one sinner grace just because He has shown grace to another sinner in the past. That's an important rung in the ladder of your understanding the scope and nature of the atonement.

Continued in Part II
posted by Daniel @ 10:34 AM   0 comment(s)
Thursday, August 18, 2011
“Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
That was the question Paul asked the believers at Ephesus (c.f. Acts 19:1-7).

Paul wasn't asking them a theological question, that is, Paul wasn't asking them whether a believer receives the Holy Spirit when they come to saving faith, he was asking them about their own personal experience.

Paul's inescapable expectation, in asking such a question, is that if they had received the Holy Spirit, they would know that they had.

I was an adult when I received the Holy Spirit, and when it happened, it was not an intellectual experience - it was quite visceral. I have described it many times in various ways, but ultimately I felt like I was screen door set beneath Niagara falls, only it wasn't water that was passing through me, but the holiness of God.

I didn't know what was happening because I was utterly ignorant of the scriptures. I hadn't grown up in church, and I hadn't heard that people "receive" the Holy Spirit when they are saved. In fact until that moment I had never understood the gospel, or pretty much anything from God's word. But in the moment I surrendered my life to Christ, accepting the reconciliation to God that is found only in Him, I unexpectedly, and even alarmingly, received the Holy Spirit. If the joy of perfect and utter reconciliation with God could be bottled, that was the fragrance of the moment. The overwhelming sense of God's presence within me was tangible. I didn't speak in tongues, I didn't do any miracles, all I did was marvel at the sudden change within me.

If Paul were to ask me if I had received the Holy Spirit, I wouldn't hesitate in saying, "Yes, most definitely, I received Him the very moment my repentance was both sincere and utterly encompassing. I wouldn't be answering in the affirmative on account of my theological persuasion - that is, I know from scripture that everyone who repents and believes receives the Holy Spirit. I mean, one can believe that this is true and apply it to themselves even if they were never really saved. There will be people who cry, "Lord, Lord!" on that last day, people who are convinced that they were legitimate believers, who find out, to the gnashing of their own teeth, that they were deceived.

I have heard a lot of people say that some come to the Lord and have an experience, and others come to the Lord and do not. What Paul asks these believers at Ephesus is whether or not they have received the Holy Spirit, and he anticipates that if they have, they would know that they had.

Now, you have to remember that these were Gentile disciples who had been baptized into the teachings of John the Baptist. John's message was to repent, for the kingdom of heaven was at hand. It follows that these men had repented, and were seeking God, but not according to the New Covenant in Christ's blood. They were Gentiles who having been baptized into John's baptism, were in fact being baptized into Judaism and not into Christianity. They were being prepared for the coming reign of Christ, but had not entered into the New Covenant in Christ's blood because they were, as yet, ignorant of the new covenant.

It follows then, that these men were "saved" already, but having been saved under the old covenant economy. They were not yet partakers of the new covenant which is why they had not yet received the promised Holy Spirit. When Paul explained who Jesus was, they believed, and were baptized into the name of the Christ (Jesus), and Paul laid his hands upon these dozen men, and prayed, and they received the Holy Spirit - that is when they came under the promises of the New Covenant.

So one might argue that when Paul asks whether or not these twelve men had received the Holy Spirit, he was really asking them if they had had an experience similar to Pentecost. If this was Paul's true question, then one might follow with the thought that this was a one-off kind of thing. I mean each time in scripture, whenever a new people group was brought into the new covenant, we see Pentecostal phenomenon. At Pentecost, the Jews received the Holy Spirit in a phenomenal way. In Samaria, the Samaritans had their own "day of Pentecost", again, the gentiles in the house of Cornelius had their own mini Pentecost, and here, lastly, we see gentiles believers who were still under the old covenant squeaking into the new covenant, and having their own dozen strong Pentecost. But such experiences were limited to the initiation of a group, and so we should conclude, some would argue, that the experience Paul is asking them about is whether they have had a Pentecost of their own yet - which would make the question less about a personal salvation experience, and more about a people-group experience.

I tell you, that I am persuaded, and I don't doubt that my own experience plays into this, that Paul was not asking them whether they had had a pentecostal experience, rather I think he was simply asking them if they had received the Holy Spirit when they believed - and this he asked as a diagnostic question to determine whether these disciples had yet come to Christ.

It seems to me that Paul's question depends upon him having an already settled opinion about receiving the Holy Spirit: that believers who have received the Holy Spirit are fully aware that it has happened. Not that they are convinced by their theology that this must happen, and so it must have happened to them even if they didn't experience anything - but rather that if it happened to you, you will know it happened because you were aware that it was happening.

So what do we do with those believers who have no salvation "experience" to speak of. What are we to make of those whose testimonies are one of an entrance into Christianity that was so entirely gradual they can't tell you when they became convinced of it, but only that are sure that today they presently are believers.

I tell you, I wonder about these. I know, I know. Bad me. I am supposed to take everyone's profession of faith as valid or I am a bad, bad, Christian. Oh sour-souled, judgmental me. But there it is. Yes, some of us are saved as children, and perhaps our memory of the moment is foggy, or even uncertain because it happened so long ago, I have no problem with that - rather it is for those people whose testimony cannot look back to a point when they surrendered their life to Christ, but instead looks back to a habit of gradual surrender, or of gradually increasing certainty, etc. How can something as decisive as turning away from self rule, and submitting oneself in utter surrender to the rule of God, how can one turn aside from rejecting God's rule, to accepting agains the role that reconciliation with God is supposed to restore, that is , how does one surrender themselves in utter obedience to God so gradually that they cannot say when they actually went from rebellion, to reconciliation?

I shudder to think that there are people who believe themselves to be saved simply because they have worked up an affection for God over the years.

Perhaps there is a way to enter the kingdom gradually - without every knowing when you actually did so. Perhaps the Holy Spirit makes His sudden presence felt and known only to some when they repent, but not to others, to those perhaps He slinks into their lives quieter than a mouse, so that these who receive Him thus have no experiential evidence to demonstrate that anything has changed.

I mean, perhaps the way to know that the Holy Spirit is within you is through a logical inference:
[a] all believers receive the Holy Spirit
[b] I believe
It follows that
[c] I have received the Holy Spirit.

I think that is how many evangelicals are trained to think.

But if that was what Paul was getting at, wouldn't Paul have addressed their faith directly, rather than through such an inference? Wouldn't Paul have asked instead, "Have you believed in Jesus?" or something like that? Yet his question expects that those who were answering it could point back to some experience they had personally had; above, beyond, and apart from any inference.

Have you ever noticed in the book of Acts that when it comes to the Holy Spirit, the language is experiential, and not inferential? Consider the seven ways that Luke (the author of Acts) describes the reception of the Holy Spirit: [1] He was given to people (as a gift), [2] He fell upon people, [3] He came upon people, [4] He was poured out on people, [5] people received Him, [6] people were baptized (immersed) into Him, and [7] people were being filled by Him. The language is not the language of inference, but of experience.

Can it be that the Holy Spirit is received without manifesting Himself in such a way that the one who receives Him is aware that something has changed?

I think the answer is no. I think that you may love Jesus, and you may work to obey His commands, and you may attend church, and have great and moving affections, taking joy in worship, and ministering the gospel, and becoming studied in the word, and active in prayer, and all without every having actually surrendered your life to God. If you can't point to the moment that you received the Holy Spirit in your life, how would you have answered Paul? What would Paul have answered you?

Consider these things - especially if they afflict your comfort, for perhaps in doing so the gospel may comfort your affliction.
posted by Daniel @ 7:42 AM   0 comment(s)
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
The prayer that settled my identity crisis.
I remember, in the infancy of my understanding, fretting over the absence of the miraculous in my early Christian walk.

I had heard other believers talking excitedly in church about what God had said to them that morning, or shown them in the week, and it was plain to me that God was not giving me the same, obvious messages to guide me through the minutia of my own days. Naturally I assumed the fault lay with me. Perhaps I wasn't really saved? Perhaps I wasn't being holy enough to allow God to manifest Himself to me in this way? Whatever the case, it seemed to me that I was, at the very least, a second class Christian, or more likely, that I just didn't understand "how" God was speaking to me.

Because I knew this much, that I had certainly repented of my sin and believed the promises that God made then and fulfilled un Christ, I was convinced that if God was real, I was really a Christian, for I could not believe any "harder" or "purer" than I already had. So all that remained to me was the thought that I must be doing something wrong, or perhaps I was so dense that I just wasn't paying attention to the "leading" of the Lord.

I began at that point to experiment with the notion that God spoke to Christians through their own imagination and intuition. If I was walking down the street, and looked at someone just getting onto a bus, and thought to myself that this person probably doesn't know the Lord, was that the Holy Spirit convicting me to go and witness to that person? If I failed to chase down the bus, and present the gospel to this person, was I willfully defying God?

In the same way, I remember trying to speak in tongues. Perhaps the reason I wasn't speaking in tongues was because I wasn't willing to speak in tongues. So I sat one day, and prayerfully began to speak gibberish, but in a very short while I felt genuine conviction - the kind that makes you stop and ask yourself what on earth you are doing.

I remember setting my heart before God in prayer and crying out in my confusion - knowing that really I was seeking after signs to prove I was a genuine believer - that is, I wanted God to provide me with more proof than His promises, and in doing so, I was saying that His promises weren't enough.

The moment I saw my lack of faith for what it was, I repented of seeking signs. In fact I prayed with all my heart that the Lord never, ever speak to me with an audible voice, or provide me with a burning bush to see - lest I learn to look to such signs as proof of God's good will, and abandon seeking God by and through faith. I prayed that I would learn to be satisfied with God's word, and I prayed that God might grant this by never allowing me to experience some supernatural thing.

That was the day that my faith began to grow in earnest. It was like a flushing out of a lot of folly, a flushing that left only a peace in the certainty that I am His, not because I have dreamed a dream, or heard a voice - but because God has said so, in scriptures that have remained unchanged and open to all, for millennia.

When I give counsel to newer Christians or perhaps older Christians who are still immature in their faith (because they have been coddled in some church that wasn't feeding them properly), I like to tell the story of how I stopped believing that God was speaking to me through my intuition and imagination. It is good for a young believer to hear that God hasn't left us with something as airy-fairy as our own imagination to guide us. We have the sure and certain word of God, words that when we trust, we are really trusting in the one who spoke them.

posted by Daniel @ 11:20 AM   2 comment(s)
Things I like to see
I like to see:

A frivolous lawsuit not only thrown out of court, but charges or fines levied against the one bringing the frivolous lawsuit to court.

Parents raising their own children, rather than daycares doing it for them.

A preacher, full of the Spirit, preaching the gospel without reservation, and full of passion.

Sinners repenting.

The sunrise over a dewy field.

Sun showers.

The smiling face of children having good, clean, fun.

Christians who know the difference between fellowship and socializing.

Fireworks - I am talking up close, loud, and larger than life.

An new and better understanding of a passage in scripture that I have read a hundred times before.

A song that shamelessly glorifies the Lord.

Another person in silent prayer.

A family eating together.

Pictures of my family when I am away from them.

posted by Daniel @ 8:44 AM   0 comment(s)
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