Sunday, October 5, 2008

First of all I want to throw out a completely random and useless piece of information.
NOT ONE PERSON has noticed my current and rather dramatic hair color change except for Bradley at church tonight, who I see about once a week!
I went from semi-red to RED this past week and nobody's said a word. People I see DAILY didn't even notice.
And then the first thing Bradley says to me is "You changed your hair!"
That always happens. The only people who notice are those that see me least.

Okay now for the important stuff.


***


God is mysterious. That is 100% factual. That is truth beyond truth. That is the ultimate reality. God is greater, bigger, wiser, truer, and better than we could ever know. He is everything we are not. He is everything we could never conjure up with human utterances. He is everything we could never know in it's fullness.

And I love it that way.


As a Christian, it is my job to lay down my pride. For those of you that know me (or more-so those that live with me) know that pride is something I struggle with greatly. I want to know what I know, and let nothing prove me wrong. I don't want to be proven wrong. I don't want to admit I have been claiming something false. I want to be right, and stick to it.

That is the absolute wrong thing to do and it is not of Christ whatsoever.



The Lord's Bond servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance, leading to the knowledge of the truth.
2 Timothy 2:24-25



I have done a terrible job at being;

A) not quarrelsome
B) gentle
and most importantly, C) patient when wronged


And I repent of that immediately. I'd give much up to not be writing this right now. Mainly because my pride wants to knock down every fiber of what I'm typing. But I am of Christ. I am a new Creation. I am a fool for Christ's sake. It is my job, as a believer, regardless of if I like it or not, to admit when I have been wrong and lay down my pride and then press on for the reality, the truth. That is what I am doing in this blog tonight. I haven't even written a rough draft for this. I don't even know exactly what I'm going to write. I have a basic idea, and nothing more. I'm about to just literally search and type as the spirit leads in this very moment. God, help.


I want to start off by first stating that I, in no way, am going back on most of what I believe when it comes to salvation, predestination, human free will, ect. I am still pretty firm on basically every bit I've been claiming. What I realize I have been doing, however, is opposing certain Scripture. That is the worse possible thing I could do. I'm repenting of that. I would never want to knock down a Bible verse based on what I want to believe. I would never want to discard even a syllable of God's very Word because I think it does not line up with my own theology. My faith is in Christ Jesus alone. My life is His. It isn't my theological standpoints. It isn't my doctrine. It is my faith in Jesus Christ as my Savior. And His Word teaches me everything I need to know and live by. Therefore, I should never twist or re-interpret any scripture to fit my own agenda. I have done this, and I have been so very wrong in doing so. What I want to do tonight is this; verse by verse, go through tons of Scripture that speak on the topics of free will and predestination and the like, and express what I believe based on all of them combined, rather than coming from one side with one bunch of many bias Scriptures, so to speak. I want all of God's Word, not just some of it. It is life to my bones. Therefore, not one part should be seen as less important as any other. They are all God-breathed, and my Father never messes up. I do.

...I mess up.



My Heavenly Father, I love you. Please, don't let me mess up your Word. Don't let me speak false words. Don't ever let me stray from the important things you say. Let me let you be God, and me be chasing after your mysteries. Let me let you say what you want to say, be exactly who you are, and never question one single bit of it. Let me accept Scripture for what it says, not for what I want it to mean. Let me know only you. Let me ignore Calvinism. Let me ignore Arminianism. Let me ignore man-made theology. Let me only see your word. I want you, and nothing more. I want your words, not anybody else's. Father, guide. Savior, help. Spirit, lead. Amen.



Okay. Before I dive into this, I want to go ahead and go over something. I, in absolutely no way, intend to twist scripture or interpret it in any other way than how it is stated. I will openly admit that I am completely lost for a belief before I go putting in my own opinions into Scripture, rather than allowing the Scripture to mold my opinions. So please know that I'm coming to this with a heart that wants nothing more than for the Scripture to shape my beliefs. If it does not, I will admit that I'm lost in it and move on. I will not once try to mold a verse to my liking. I will say, however, that in a lot of scripture, we HAVE to interpret it and let the spirit guide us, because a lot of time it is left very open and unclear, and we have do some major studying to try and figure out what it means. I say this in light of the scriptures referring to eternal security. As a Christian, I Scripturally believe that I am eternally secure in Christ, and that I can never ever lose my salvation. I can find this in Scripture. However, I also read a verse such as this;


For if we choose to go on sinning we learned the full truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins
Hebrews 10:26


That next to frightens me because it almost looks as though we can lose our salvation. We have to interpret this verse in light of other verses that tell us that we are eternally secure in Christ Jesus. It's not plain and clear, and since Scripture does not contradict itself, we must figure out what it means based on the rest of the Bible.

So I am not against interpretation (with being led by the spirit). However, in this post, I will not do such. I will simply pull out of Scripture what I believe, as almost messy and unclear as it might be.

Remember, I serve a beautifully mysterious King. And I will not ever understand Him completely, and how He works.




Here we go;




I Believe man is totally depraved.



Genesis 6:5
And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Job 15:16
How much less one who is detestable and corrupt, Man, who drinks iniquity like water!


***The Scripture plainly and clearly teaches me that I am disgusting, wretched, and hateful towards God in my sin. My Bible teaches me that before Christ, I was awful in God's site, that He could not even stand to look at me.


The Scripture also teaches me that I do not seek God on my own, nor can I of my own ability;


Psalm 14:2-3
The LORD has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men to see if there are any who understand,Who seek after God. They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt;There is no one who does good, not even one.


1 Corinthians 2:14
But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.





I Believe that we cannot come to God unless He Himself draws us to Him. It is not of my own will, but of His that I am saved.


John 6:44, 65
No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day...And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.


John 1:12-13
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.


John 5:21
For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes.


***To be completely honest, this one scares me a little bit. "To whom He wishes." Like I said before, I will not twist or re-word Scripture to fit my agenda. I submit that this fits in with my beliefs in such a way that yes, Jesus Christ gives life to whom He wishes, but this verse does not cut out a possibility of Jesus wishing others to come to Him yet those are not willing to do so. It does not say that Jesus does not wish all to be saved. It simply says that He gives life to whom He wishes, not that He gives life only to ones that He predetermines to do so.



Romans 8:7-8
Because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.


***I wholeheartedly believe, because it is in the Bible, that I, in my flesh, cannot please God and am not even able to do so. I do not believe this overrides my ability (in Christ) to accept a free gift offered by God. I'm throwing it out that I do believe that God offers a free gift of salvation (Romans 6:23), and in such provides for man whom He offers a choice in which he can receive or reject. It isn't that we can please God on our own, but that God gives us the choice through His offering of a free gift.




I Believe that God predestines men to salvation.


I cannot ignore or throw out verses that plainly and clearly state this;


Acts 13:48
When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.



1 Peter 1:2
[Elect] According to the foreknowledge of God the Father by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.



Romans 8:30
Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.



***
I believe it because the Bible says it, and for no other reason. I could never believe it outside of the Word plainly stating it to be so. I cannot deny it or say that God predestines no man, because that would be blasphemous, completely unbiblical and I would be preaching a false doctrine. I was predestined. But what does that mean exactly? How does that cooperate with verses that state I must receive Christ? I have no idea. I still hold strong to believing it was a "foreknowledge" of God. But I think it runs deeper and more mysterious than that. We cannot place our God inside of a humanly realistic box. We can't place God in our logic. We cannot understand how God is one God and three persons. Just as we cannot understand how God can give man a choice and at the same time predestinate Him to salvation. I know that I was headed for hell. I know that I was on my way. And I know that had I of continued to reject God, I would have died in sin without Him and spent an eternity cast out of His presence. I know this. I know there was a choice that I made along the way where I realized that this world had nothing to offer and Christ had everything to give. And in that moment in time, I made that decision with the help of the drawing of my Father. He predestined me to do such, but in the exact same way He gave me the choice without obligation to His salvation.

I don't understand it. But somehow, the two go hand in hand, because they are both backed up Scripturally.



I Believe that no man is predestined for hell, that God creates no man with the intention and desire of casting him into hell for all of eternity. I believe we're all born destined for hell, however.


But what do we do with these verses?

John 12:39-40
For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again,
"He has blinded their eyes and He hardened their heart, so that they would not see with their eyes and perceive with their heart, and be converted and I heal them."

Romans 9:18
So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.

2 Thessalonians 2:11
For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false...

Romans 9:22
What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?


***I know exactly what we do with them. We read them in light of the following section of Scripture;


Romans 1:18-24
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. (emphasis added)

***I want to emphasize that we see God giving men up because of their disobedience (hence the word 'therefore'). We read the verses above knowing that God can harden hearts and blind eyes, but I believe it is only after they are given a choice and they reject it. God doesn't have to give us any opportunity to accept Him, but He does (Titus 2:11). And He would be right in only giving us one opportunity in our lifetime. Thankfully, God was so incredibly patient with me (2 Peter 3:9) and gave me opportunity after opportunity to repent until I finally did. But what I am taking from these verses is that God gives man the opportunity, some He gives only once, and when they harden their hearts and reject His offer, He gives them up and therefore continues to blind and harden them so that His power may be revealed. They don't go unwarned, but because of their original hardness, God keeps them that way. And He's perfect and just to do so. Also, we know that Pharaoh had already hardened his heart to God and followed his own path before God used him for evil that He would make His power shown to the Israelites through the plagues and Exodus.



I Believe that God does not take pleasure in any man perishing, and so deeply desires to see all men saved.



2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

Ezekiel 18:23
"Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked," declares the Lord GOD, "rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?"

Acts 17:30
In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.



***I believe it strictly because the Bible teaches it. But how does that play in with "whatever God pleasing, He will do."?


Psalm 135:6
Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps.

Proverbs 16:33
The lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the LORD.


***I have absolutely no idea.
This is one of those things that I am completely lost on. Does God have two wills? In some crazy, outside of my mind way that I will never even come close to comprehending - possibly. But I would probably never say it, because nowhere in the Bible does it say that God has two wills. And two opposite wills would imply a contradiction in God's character, which is impossible. Therefore, I honestly can't say what I believe in this. I know my Father is not the author of sin, and there is sin in this world. I know that it does not please, but instead detests the Father that we reject Him. He does not play that out, we do. Yet somehow whatever the Lord pleases He does, and every decision is from God. I don't know how this plays out. I probably never will.



I Believe that nobody is under obligation to salvation. God does not want robots, and therefore leaves the decision up to man to either choose or reject His offer of salvation.


John 5:40, 43
"And you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life...I have come in My Father's name, and you do not receive Me"

Matthew 11:28
"Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

Joshua 24:15
If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve...

Mark 16:16
He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.

Mark 1:15
"The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel."


***
We know that it would be outside of God's righteous character to condemn a man for something God created him to do. We know God makes no man sin, and it is of the choice of man that he rejects God (though we are born under obligation to sin, slaves to it). We see a lot of choice and action words. We're seeing "repent" and "believe" which are words that insinuate that we have to actually do something to be saved (not works, but something of ourselves). We don't just happen to get saved. We get saved when we believe and repent. Therefore, there is something done on our part that brings us to salvation. I believe it is completely of God that we are brought to repentance, and we cannot do it on our own. But I believe the decision is left to us, and in that decision is given an ability to either choose it or reject it.


I Believe we are called not to tell men they are predestined or given free will, but to warn men of wrath to come and to present to them the gospel that we may make disciples of all men. I believe we can hinder the furtherance of the gospel, and that it is placed in our hands and of our responsibility to reach out to the lost, otherwise they will not be saved.



Ezekiel 3:18
"When I say to the wicked, 'You will surely die,' and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.

Matthew 28:19
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit..."

Romans 10:14
How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?


***
I believe that if salvation is set and determined, and nothing we do can change that, then our evangelism is pointless because if it stopped, men would still be saved. Yet scripture speaks directly against that because Romans says that men cannot call on Jesus if nobody preaches to them. There's a strange, mysterious connection between it all that I haven't quite figured out. We can either be a hinderance to or a furtherance of the Gospel of Christ, and therefore there is some sort of reality and factuality to our salvation not entirely being set in stone and decided by God alone and not of ourselves (though, like I said before, predestination is obviously a fact because it is placed in God's Word. There is a connecting truth I am not understanding.)



I Believe Christ died for the world.


John 3:16
For God so loved the world that He gave up His only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

1 John 2:2
And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.

1 Timothy 2:5-6
For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.




***So then how do we go about explaining verses that insinuate Christ's sacrifice for the church?


John 10:15
Even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.

Ephesians 5:25
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.


***
Simple. We know that Christ died for the Church. That is a factual and biblical statement. Jesus Christ died for me. Does that then imply that He died for nobody else? Certainly not! The Bible says both that Jesus Christ died for the Church and that Jesus Christ died for the world. We must believe both truths because they are both clearly and plainly taught in the Scriptures. You cannot rule one out to fit the other.







Wow. That took me nearly three hours of study, typing, and editing. I came nowhere close to encompassing all my beliefs and all of the truths of Scripture. I am able now, however, to encoorperate both belief systems by the word of God.

I will never be a Calvinist.
I will never be Arminiam.
I will always be a follower of Jesus Christ, and believe what the Bible says, not what five points tell me.
My doctrine and theology will come from God's Holy Word, not man's.
I will always let the Spirit lead through His Scripture.

I repent of my past pride. I repent of claiming doctrines as false that were so incredibly evident in the Bible. I am claiming to know nothing in comparison to what I could know. I am admitting to being so unwise and unworthy. I do not have all of the answers. But I can read the evident truths in Scripture. They may not all go directly hand in hand in my mind. But they are there, they are truth, and my faith in Christ is deep enough to know that He did not mess up, and that my inability to see the connections of seemingly opposite truths comes from my own head, not the uh-oh's of God. He is perfect, and I am not. I am but a student, and Spirit is my teacher.


I feel a refreshing sense coming over me. I feel like I'm finally letting go of hinderances, breaking down walls, pushing down pride that was keeping me from taking in all of the truth. I was sticking to bias Scriptures. I should never be afraid or rejecting of any part of God's Word. It is HIS WORD! I am sick of myself that I would even attempt to refute it. That is vile. His Word is truth and it is life. There are no errors. Therefore everything it says is accurate and true, and regardless of my misunderstandings, it continues to stand forever.


Oh, Father, it causes me to fall all the more in love with you that you, being so intricate and mysterious would love and desire someone so simple-minded and small as me. Father I don't understand you, but you are so beautiful. Your mysteriousness shows me how weak I am, and thus brings a gratefulness in my heart that you would want me. You use me. You teach me. You are so intimately involved in my life. You are the love of my life. The power in me. You are the air I breathe, everything I would die for. You are my best friend and my love. There is nothing better than you or your word. I am so in love with you, Christ. Nothing could stand before that. Thank you for being such a beautiful mystery to me.

3 comments:

Joseph said...

That was quite I'm amazing. I'm not going to actually contribute (unless you ask what I think...and I think I have solid biblical responses to many of your 'logical knots' :]) but I do have a question.

What page of the paper are you on? And I do have a few more things to add to it. Also, please ignore the terrible typos, I wrote it really fast. Like six to eight hours all together, maybe more. Not sure.

Joelseph said...

I enjoyed this a lot.

I'm praying for you and hope you'll do the same for me as we both wrestle through difficult parts of the Word.

Kristi said...

Joe,


Honestly, I'm not very far at all. I'm probably only into page 15 or so. I would know an exact number, but I had some difficulties. I received your text in Microsoft Office Word, a free-trial version I had downloaded a little while back. I had forgotten it was a free trial, and I started working inside of it and responding to yours in an office word document. Unfortunately, during my writing, my free trial ran out and I was unable to do ANYTHING. I couldn't even copy/paste all of the text into another document. All I could do was look at it, and that was all. I almost went CRAZY because I had spent a good 5 or 6 hours already working on it. SOOO, long story short, I emailed it to a friend who had office word and they transferred it to a word document for me. So I have no idea what page number I am on. And to be honest, I have not worked on it in over a week.


At first, I was finding it incredibly easy and breezing right through it. I wasn't getting stuck. And I felt much less than challenged, as I was seeing it very easy to refute a lot of what you were saying. However, I think God did a MAJOR working in my heart as one day I went to work on it, and I had nothing. I was blank. I didn't know where to start or what to do. I honestly believe I had gotten so prideful in working on it that God shut it out. I should never EVER want to do these types of things out of pride or a desire to refute you or make YOU feel small in the faith. I must be gentle.


And obviously God's been working on my heart as far as how I handle Scriptures and such. So now I'll have to go back to the beginning and re-write a few things before I continue. I want to finish it though. I am very sorry it's taken so long.


And yeah, there are a few typos. I will tell you, and I wrote this in the paper (rather un-gently and kind-spirited...which I will change) that in the very beginning of the paper you explained that a free will teaching would be a hinderance to the furtherance gospel....yet some 15 or so pages down you said that there could never be a hinderance to the gospel. I'm sure you made some type of mistake or worded something wrong in all of that...but I wanted to let you know so that you could look it over and correct it. Because you really contradicted yourself there. And I know it was not intentional.

:)


And Joel...I'm praying for you daily. I haven't stopped. I hope God's embracing you in His love today....because that is what I prayed for last night, along with growth in Him.