Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Studying..

I certainly have chosen the hard path... I have recently been deeply bogged down in obsessive studies of different religions, viewpoints, philosophies, non-religious viewpoints, viewpoints within my own religion, and other things, and I am amazed at the variety of viewpoints there are amongst the peoples of this earth. I can in no way claim to have studied all religions thoroughly, or even covered all religions, but I did a few, and I am to continue studying those in remain.

The main thing is, everybody believes they are right and everyone else is wrong. It all boils down to the fact that one person is right and everyone else is wrong. But who? Despite all the philosophies and religions I have studied, though they all sound very, very convincing, Christianity continues to emerge as the religious view that best, if not perfectly, jives with how the world really is- with the strong evidence of the resurrection being one of the key necessities of Christianity- and there is.
I will continue to study. However- I will worship Jesus Christ as Lord- because despite all other evidence, I have evidence of the holy spirit working miracles in my heart. Oh, how I wish all Christians would take the amazing gift they've been given seriously. What would happen if everybody realized just how much they've been enabled to do because of Jesus? What would happen if everyone realized just how glorious and amazing Jesus really is?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Doctrine of Grace

I have come to believe in a very controversial doctrine. It has been the hardest to accept, and it is that of which I have fought the most, yet I am a slave to the truth, and so I have accepted it. It is the Doctrine of Grace- or, the Doctrine of Pre-Destination. Because of unending conflict in my mind with any other view, I have come to accept this- as it seems Paul has also. And if Paul has, then I am trusting him, because he's the one who had a revelation from God. Also, Jesus supported this position in some of His claims. I will give scriptural references to them later.

The Basic Tenets of Predestination (or, I hesitate to say, Calvinism)are these:
1. That all humans are in a state of total depravity, that none can come to God by himself, and that it must be a work of God's grace towards him, to "open his heart" (Acts 16:14) to the message of salvation. "No one is righteous!" (Romans 3) I have noticed this to be true in my own life, because I was exposed to the message of the Gospel for 18 years of my life yet was unable to respond to it until one day when I was reading the Bible last summer, and my heart began to truly see beauty in the words of the Bible. And so, this point is that it is God's work of salvation. God opens man's heart, God reconciles man with Himself in order that man can begin responding to the message of the Gospel. Otherwise, man could hear the message of the gospel a million times and not respond unless God opened his heart to understand it. Man is natural, and God's glory is spiritual- natural man cannot discern spiritual things unless he is born of the spirit by God. Jesus said that flesh gives birth to flesh, and spirit gives birth to spirit, but flesh does not give birth to spirit- it is incapable in its deprived state. (John 3:5-8) (1 Corinthians 2:14)

2.Now, I came to accept this (^) a couple weeks before I finally gave in to the Doctrine of Grace, it was in this time period that I began to have mental conflict with the idea. If God opens man's heart, then that means that God chooses who is saved, since it is his work. It means that man is saved on God's timing, at God's command, at the precise time God wills him to be saved. And, at the same time, this must also mean that God does not choose to save some people. This was not acceptable to me, and I rejected it totally, but I soon came to realize that it was the truth. This idea suggests that there is a number of people who God has chosen to save, they are called the elect. (Matthew 24: 22,24,31, Romans 11:7, -so on) These are written in the Book of Life of God. (Revelation 21:27)

3. Now, many will presume to say that Jesus only died for those in the elect, but I do not believe this. It says over and over again in the Bible that Jesus died for the whole world. (1 John 2:2) Now, I believe that because Jesus' sacrifice is divine, it is beyond our own contemplation. It is enough to pay for anything, because it is of God. In this way, how much Jesus paid for on the cross is immeasurable because it is almost infinite- because God had to die to pay for it. Considering the might of God, you would start to realize how this goes beyond human understanding. If Jesus only had to die for one person, his sacrifice would be sufficient. If He had to die for 99999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999 people, his sacrifice would be sufficient, for He is God. In this way, he paid for the world's sins, for common grace, and through Him all things are made. This is my own view on the topic. Some may disagree for sure, but I've come to this.

4. The last point in my summarization of this doctrine is the perseverance of the saints. For those who have been called, all of them will be saved. Those who are written in the book of life are effectively called, and effectively saved, because they rely on God's power, not their own. "It is not thy grasp on Christ on saves you, but Christ himself"


Some other supports for this view are these verses-

Jesus saying that none can come to the father unless he draws them. (John 6:44)

Paul, in Romans 9 suggests that "It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy." (Romans 9:16). He says that God has allowed sinner's hearts to be hardened, and he opens the hearts of some, and not others- according to His will. He then anticipates the natural human reaction to this idea. "How could God not save some??" with the response in a quote from scripture "I will have mercy upon whom I will have mercy."

There are other references in scripture to this doctrine.

This idea has, without a doubt, been the hardest to accept, because of the natural human side of me saying "How could God not save some people??? How can He be good??" This struggling damaged my faith for weeks until I was finally able to accept it. This human side of us is aroused because of Satan's lies that try to diminish our sin. Satan tries to make us believe that we do not deserve hell, but we certainly and totally do. We are totally bad and in total rebellion against God!

So all humans have gone in radical rebellion against God. Even if Jesus died for us, we are so lost in our sin, that we would never accept the light of God unless he allowed us to taste it's beauty through an act of His own intervention.

None of us even want God until He opens our hearts. I spent 18 years not caring about the gospel at all until God showed me how beautiful Jesus truly is!

In light of this, we can give even more glory to god, our own ability to give ourselves any credit has been cut off, (a favor to us from God himself, as we were created to live in awe of His glory!)

This doctrine may be unacceptable or very hard to grasp, it may even cause you to question the goodness of God. Remember this quote by Spurgeon "Whenever we cannot trace the hand of God, we must trust His heart" Remember the Cross. Jesus did not have to do it! But He did it anyway out of love!

If you find yourself to be wondering if you are part of the elect, consider that only those who are part of the elect become truly worried about this. Those who are not in the elect don't give care about God and haven't given Him a single thought all their lives. (Now, I re-read this last sentence, and decided to change it, but I realize that this is true. You can be a preacher and not give a care about the "things of God", you can be a preacher and not be saved. You can be a self-righteous Christian and never have given the things of God "Which no man has imagined or thought of" a thought. Doctrine and theology are not the things of God, they are only statements of views formed about God from the scripture. The things of God are the fruits of the spirit- which all branch out of love. How many "Christians" are in church these days who do no know love?) The fruit of the spirit is radical sacrifice. How easy is it to be a Christian these days and escape radical sacrifice for Christ? Very. In fact, the spiritual blindness in American churches has become so staggering that those who make radical sacrifices for Christ are sometimes persecuted by those in the Church.) Neither have those who are in the elect yet have not yet been saved. But perhaps in reading this article, you begin to question your own salvation, and you are resolved to dedicate yourself to Christ and actually start praying and reading the bible instead of claiming to be a christian, and God opens your heart and He becomes pleasing to you- in that case, you are part of the elect, as God has made Jesus beautiful to you. If you find yourself unable to see any beauty in the sacrifice of Christ, pray that God would change your heart, and he will!!!

Further edit- I forgot to add this!
This view does not rationalize any type of idea like "Well, I'll relax because God will take care of saving people across the world" That is ridiculous!!! In fact, God works through His people. "The only body that Christ has on this earth are the hands and feet of his children" Because I know that God works through me, I have even more confidence to go to another country and preach the gospel, knowing that it is not my own eloquence that will open their depraved hearts to the gospel, but God's spirit at work. This encourages me to follow the calling of the spirit and to take God's command "Preach the Gospel to all nations" seriously, trusting that his spirit is with me- working to open the hearts of those to whom I preach the gospel.

Also, some say that those of the Calvinist school of thought are arrogant because "God chose them". Am I to be arrogant or proud because God chose me? Was it because of my righteousness? Surely not! In this case, I am unceasingly thankful that God gave me his grace even in my all out rebellion against him! I am thankful for grace!

In the end- this view or Arminianism does not matter. This is God's mystery and business,and I was not made to understand all things here on earth! This is simply what I have come to believe.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Prayer Works!!

Just as I begin to pray- I am filled with wonder at how the spirit of Christ works.

I was beginning to desire things that I knew would give me nothing. I was starting to fall into weakness and slavery to the world, slavery to myself. Even as I reached out for the fruits of such desires, I knew they could give me nothing. Romans 6:21

But now, as I have spent time in prayer with the Holy One, I am renewed. My strength has returned and my heart is alive again.

God, I praise you because you give me the heart of a Lion! Without you, I am the weakest thing to walk to earth, but on your shoulders I can see the truth and taste the grace that carries me to victory.

Prayer works!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Prone to wonder..

I'm in a sad state right now. Prayer time didn't come easy while studying for finals and now I've ignored it for so long that I'm beginning to avoid it- be scared of it.

I believe that prayer is the most important thing in our relationship with Christ. In fact- it is the relationship. I find that the more I pray, the more focused I am, the more energy I have, the more joyful I am, the more I feel a sense of purpose.

I went from praying around an hour and a half or so a day all last semester to praying about 10 minutes a day during the weeks of exams, and I've never experienced such a massive collapse in my willpower, energy, drive, and love. I don't pray and I don't see why i should see the infinite importance in someone's heart instead of their outer appearance.

Jesus was right when He said, "Pray so you won't fall into temptation." This is incredibly true.
My mind is totally focused on the things of Christ all day when I am in much prayer, my hope unwavering, my strength from God himself, my life totally purpose driven, my heart living in freedom.

Since my slack in prayer I have fallen into all kinds of sins in my heart and flesh, I have grown soft, I have lost my saltiness and my light has gone dim. I long more than anything on this earth to drink from that overflowing wellspring of life that is Christ the savior. Oh how I love it!!

I'm off to go pray- nothings stopping me from meeting with the one I love. My heart wants freedom!!

Friday, December 11, 2009

John 5:30

I find that this is the wellsprings of life- where a human truly finds them self- caught up in the life changing, heart healing will of the God of the Universe.

This is how you truly live. Jesus gives us a simple answer. We truly live by doing what the God of life seeks for us to do- His will.


John 5:30


30a

"I| can| do| nothing| on| my| own.

30b

As| I| hear,| I| judge,

30c

and| my| judgment| is| just,

30d

because| I| seek| not| my| own| will

30e

but| the| will| of| him| who| sent| me.


If I seek my own will (If i just do whatever the passions of my body lead me to), I can accomplish nothing! Only when I live to do the will of my father in heaven can I truly live.

The only way I can judge justly (Do the right thing, make the right decisions, enjoy purity and true joy) is by seeking the will of God.

Paul once said that worldly wisdom was coming to nothing. I believe my own will as a fallen human being is synonymous with worldly wisdom. The only way to shatter my worldly wisdom, which accomplishes nothing, is to seek the will of God. For this is my bread of life- to be filled with the joy that comes from pursuing the passions of my creator, in whose image I am made.

If I do what my body wants to do.. - ex. facebook, lust, glorifying myself, being lazy, I accomplish nothing. All that I may "accomplish" doing these things is coming to nothing. The only way I can do something that counts for eternity is by seeking God's will.

A rephrased version of John 5:30.

Because I can do nothing of value on my own, being human, I seek the will and passion of the God of love. In this way, I make my life count. In this way, I can accomplish something other than nothing.

I can't do anything right by myself, but my life and my heart find significance and meaning in full submitting myself to the will of the God of the Universe. In this, I do what is right. In this, I truly live.

Some life examples? Earlier in my life, I had a huge desire to get really good at trumpet and be glorified by other people. This became my passion. My heart was broken because I found no significance in the praise of other people, even though it was my passion. One day the summer after God showed me the glory of pursuing somehting other than my body's passions, and I was captivated.

Truly living is getting caught up in God's will, According to Jesus.

So how do I judge what kind of life I should live if I truly desire to have LIFE in abundance? By what I hear from God!!

God's will is your sanctification, your freedom from sin, your rejoicing in His glory. Go for it!

Dealing with Doubt

I know that doubt is something that every Christ follower will deal with at some point in their stay on earth. It can destroy us, disorient us, make us miserable, and scare us to death.
What's really funny is that, with doubt, we feel such an unbelief in God, yet we still stand and pray to Him in confidence that SOMEONE is listening- because even though our minds are in conflict and experiencing doubt, our hearts still know our origin.
(If this is not your case, then be not afraid, for all kinds of doubt are possible, even those that make you lack confidence in prayer)

I recently went through about 2 weeks of ebbing and flowing doubt- but there were times when it became very intense- so intense that I actually planned on going and changing my major in college, because my future consists of ministry and more ministry.

A Christ follower to whom Christ has allowed the things of the world to grow dim in the light of His glory will be desperate when they experience doubt- because doubt tries to take away their only prize- Christ Himself.

Because of this, I write.

When you're desperate to know that the doubt your experiencing isn't rooted in the truth, know this.

This world is ruled temporarily by Satan, and he is the father of all lies. You would be very surprised at just how effective he is at crafting lies in our minds and hearts.
You go through suffering and you feel God should have come and rescued you, but He didn't. Satan begins to put inklings of doubt in your heart in light of the situation, when God simply allowed you to experience such suffering in order that you can experience the joys of righteousness that result from suffering.

You don't feel God's spirit in you, and so Satan begins to make you believe that, because you don't feel God's spirit, He is not there, does not exist. When you believe this, Satan's got you right where he wants you. And perhaps God was simply allowing His presence not to be felt in order that you would cry out to Him more and leave your love affair with the world.

In fact, God allows Satan to bring us tests and temptations, that we can know him better. The doubt I experienced a couple weeks ago was totally ordained by God, totally subject to his rule. Because of that doubt, I am so much more in awe of God's glory, so much more thankful, and more able to sympathize with those who deal with doubt.
Just as God allows us to be sick, to suffer, he also allows us to experience doubt in order that we see the truth of the gospel and how glorious it truly is as we long for it with such thirsty hearts. I remember thinking, as I experienced this doubt, "If this gospel is true, it is the greatest thing that could have ever happened in the history of the earth!" Doubt allows us to look at the gospel with longing.

Here's a couple verses from Mark.

So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.

21Jesus asked the boy's father, "How long has he been like this?"

"From childhood," he answered. 22"It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us."

23" 'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes."

24Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"

25When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the evil[a] spirit. "You deaf and mute spirit," he said, "I command you, come out of him and never enter him again."

26The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, "He's dead." 27But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.

28After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, "Why couldn't we drive it out?"

29He replied, "This kind can come out only by prayer.[b]"



Notice that the man says he believes, but he also admits that he has doubts. Also notice that he asks Jesus for help with unbelief. He doesn't try to muster up his own trust, he simply asks Jesus to help his unbelief. "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"

We must pray when we experience doubt, we must ask God for help, that he would help us overcome our unbelief. It is not something we can fix by ourselves.



Here's another example from John.

24Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!"
But he said to them, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it."

26A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" 27Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."

28Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"

29Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

30Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.


Doubt is a common thing.

Here's a process that I read somewhere about dealing with doubt.

1. Focus on the Historical Fact of the Cross. Focus on the truth of God's existence.
2. Pray
3. Read Scriptures
4. Speak to a fellow Christ follower
5. Don't trust your feelings.


I hope this helps. First of all we must learn not to trust our own feelings, as they are subject to the lies of Satan. We can, however trust in God- who is complete truth and perfect in love. Romans 8:28- God allows things to happen to those who love Him all in the process of bringing them more joy and happiness in His Glory.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The more truth I encounter, the more grief I have. But at the same time I am free. Now, I know, despite what my heart must face, more truth I will seek, for yours and my freedom in God's glory.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

i don't think we realize what a great salvation we've recieved.
nor do i think we realize that we can take hold of that salvation right now. it is a glorious and beautiful thing to be free from sin.