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No conviction of sin

Discussion in 'Exploring Christianity' started by losthope, Jul 10, 2011.

  1. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

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    OK- quite frankly that is a real sin you are commiting there. That is blatant unbelief. If you were/are a christian you are calling God a liar. 2 timothy 2:11-13 /If you do not believe in the afterlife meaning Heaven for believers and Hell for non-believers then you are not a christian.
    What Does the Bible Say About Death, Eternal Life and Heaven?

    Shouldn't an all-knowing God know whether there is an afterlife or not? Whether or not you ever feel that to be true because you have never felt any emotions does not change the fact that Jesus promised Heaven to those who believe in Him. John 3:16 If you have not ever EVER sincerely believed then you have never been born again (and changed as a result of that). John 3:1-8
    Paul received a special assignment from God not warm fuzzy feelings or encouragement. Acts 9:1-22
    Very true. All those things are distractions from the one who Christians should be worshipping alone- God Himself. Again a true agnostic/atheist is unlikely to understand that....
    I don't remember any athletes looking at each other while racing.... perhaps that is why more Ausssie athletes than British win races then? ;)
    Open the Bible, look down, wear glasses if necessary and read it like the rest of us..... ^_^
    That is a completely different topic. However there are good christian websites that explain how christians can forgive but at the same time refuse to be reconciled with people who refuse to admit their guilt and/or change.
    God also knew their hearts and the future decisions they would make just as He knows your heart as well. :)
    Most are after evangelism i.e. preaching the Gospel and the crowds responding to that message. e.g. Acts 2:14-41. Signs and wonders were necessary AT THAT TIME to show those people God's power BEFORE the Bible was in its final format (as we have it today).
    It is good that those Charismatics do that. It will be great when the Church comes together at the end of time and all believers in Jesus no matter whatever denomination, belief, personality, temperament are all in agreement with each other. I hope we meet in Heaven losthope, I really do. :hug:
     
  2. saralynn

    saralynn Newbie

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    Our friend Losthope didn’t say that he didn’t believe in Heaven. He said that it didn’t interest him. His focus apparently has always been on the here-and-now. I understand that because I feel the same way.


    I know you were joking, but LH seems very informed in regard to the Bible. Besides, if he is no longer a Christian, he probably doubts the “infallibility” of Scripture.

    I appreciate how hard you are trying to help LH. If God exists, then I suspect he resides in the hearts of people like you who respond to others in need with care, concern, and assistance.

    PS Isn't it just so cool that we are corresponding from three different continents?
     
  3. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    I hope you find it useful. Please let me know how it goes.

    Thank you also for your comments in posting #182. I saw what you wrote but not until after I had written my response. You seem to have anticipated some of what I was writing.
     
  4. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    To joey down under,

    Sorry but I have not yet had time to look at the blog pages that you gave links to. When I have read them I will comment.

    Thank you for your responses to my comments. I am sorry if sometimes what I write appears to be hostile to Christianity. That is not my intention. But I have to be true to what has happened to me over the years. I am aware that your experience has some similarity to mine, but we are at different stages of our spiritual journeys.

    You wrote this:
    1. I read on some commentary about Genesis that animal sacrifices were used throughout the Old Testament to please God. It was suggested that God had commanded animal sacrifices and Cain decided to do things his own way and give God what he had plenty to give therefore no personal cost (or sacrifice) to him.

    Maybe God did prefer animal sacrifices. But there is no mention of this in the Bible before Cain’s offering was rejected. Cain must have been a bit disappointed when he gave his first fruits to God and they were rejected. After all, the Bible does say that Cain was an arable farmer; he would not have any animals to sacrifice.

    Ephesians 2:4-5 Does that sound like a God who is stingy in His love to all those who seek Him?

    Interesting that you use Ephesians chapter 2 to suggest that God accepts everyone who seeks God, when Ephesians chapter 1 is one of the Bible chapters that implies that some were chosen from the beginning and others were predestined not to come to God.

    Context, context, context. Romans 10:9-13 Does it sound like any cooling off period etc. when it comes to salvation?

    Paul writes that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. I prefer the opposite viewpoint told by Jesus in the parable of the sower, that only some would be saved and bring forth good fruit, while others would call on the Lord but not make it to salvation.

    I did write previously that when people have different views about something, each will quote from the Bible to back up their argument. We have done that three times already in this posting. Perhaps you can understand now why quoting a Bible verse to me is not necessarily going to convince me of anything, because I know that the opposite point of view will also be in the Bible somewhere. It gives vast scope for Christians to have very different beliefs, all of them consistent (up to a point) with the Bible.

    Then like me you will have to trust God that every word in the Bible is true - including the ones about how faith is what saves us and stop looking for signs, impressions or feelings that other christians appear to get unlike us.

    For various reasons, including the reason in the paragraph above, I am not in a position of being able to trust that every word in the Bible is true. Even if I did trust the Bible in that way, I would still be very uncertain about many doctrines because of the sometimes opposite ideas expressed in the Bible. However, my main reason for not accepting every word of the Bible is that I want to have faith in God. Not faith in a book. For many years now I have been unable to trust God; it would be ridiculous to ask me to have trust in a book when I cannot trust God yet. That would be, for me, taking things in the wrong order. For me, trust in God would have to come first, and only then would I be able to consider having trust in every word of the Bible. I am aware that many people do come to God by first trusting the Bible and then trusting God. I am not going to be able to do that.

    Do you prefer this definition? Definition of a real Christian No mention of feeling the Spirit in your heart to prove you're a christian either.

    Here is what the link says about being a real Christian:
    This definition is better than most, because it does at least say that Christ makes a person a Christian and that the indwelling of the Spirit is needed. But first you have to get past the first paragraph which implies that becoming a Christian is something that the person does.

    I agree that there is no mention of feeling the Spirit in your heart. But it dos say that the Spirit dwells in the person – and to me that implies that the Spirit would make some changes in the person, the newness of life.

    If you met a psychiatric patient who was hallucinating and talking to people who are not there - their experience is real, but that experience is NOT based on facts. Same goes for religions with no historical facts to support their beliefs.

    It depends on what facts you consider. The hallucinating patient does not hear something that is real, but it is a fact that they hear something. Their experience is based on the fact that they believed that they heard something.

    I can also remember many years ago at a Christian conference, the speaker telling us about how he heard a message from a switched off radio and knew that it was guidance from God. Was he also hallucinating, or was it really a message from God?

    A christian who does not believe in the physical resurrection is not a real christian and an oxymoron. That is equivalent to a Jewish Muslim.

    In principle I agree with you. Yet such Christians do exist.

    Yes experiences can help faith because most people have feelings unlike yourself. Very logical people or people without those type of experiences have to take another "route".

    You seem to be implying that spiritual experiences only occur because of the person’s feelings and emotions. If you are right, then I suspect that the majority of people who think they know God are deluding themselves. However, I believe that there should be some types of spiritual experience (such as having a prayer answered) that do not depend on feelings and emotions – and this would be a perfectly acceptable route for “very logical people”. Or of course God, being resourceful, ought to be able to devise other ways to have a relationship with such people.

    OK- quite frankly that is a real sin you are commiting there. That is blatant unbelief. If you were/are a christian you are calling God a liar. 2 timothy 2:11-13 /If you do not believe in the afterlife meaning Heaven for believers and Hell for non-believers then you are not a christian.

    Several points here. First, there are lots of Christians who are not happy with the concept of heaven for believers and hell for everyone else. Second, I think there are alternatives that are also consistent with the Bible – including nothing after death for many people. Third, what you are accusing me of is disagreeing with the Bible, not with God – and I have already said that I am not yet able to accept every word of the Bible as true. Fourth, why are you expecting me, an unbeliever, to believe every aspect of Christian doctrine? You say that a person who does not believe in these things is not a Christian. Well, I admit it, I am not a Christian.

    Perhaps more importantly, I did not say that I did not believe in life after death. I said that it was not important to me personally, and that the prospect of eternal life in heaven is not particularly attractive to me. As with many Christian ideas, I remain a “don’t know” on the subject of life after death.

    Shouldn't an all-knowing God know whether there is an afterlife or not? Whether or not you ever feel that to be true because you have never felt any emotions does not change the fact that Jesus promised Heaven to those who believe in Him. John 3:16 If you have not ever EVER sincerely believed then you have never been born again (and changed as a result of that).

    Of course God would know. I do not think it is lack of emotions that make me have no interest in life after death. My suspicion is that it is lack of awareness of anything spiritual, including no awareness of myself having a spirit (the part that is said to live on after death).

    I have no awareness of being changed due to being born again, which is precisely why I began this thread. However, I did sincerely believe, as people who knew me at the time could verify. Sincere belief is not enough; it takes the grace of God for a person to be born again.

    Paul received a special assignment from God not warm fuzzy feelings or encouragement.

    Quite right. Who wants warm fuzzy feelings? Not me.

    I don't remember any athletes looking at each other while racing.... perhaps that is why more Ausssie athletes than British win races then

    I remember at the Beijing Olympics there was a comment from an Australian that the British were mainly winning medals while sitting down – rowing and cycling for example. I guess the winning rowers, who sit backwards, were definitely watching the opposition. In some races the cyclists also watched each other carefully, judging the best time to make a move. So do many runners. (Although none of this is really very relevant.)

    Open the Bible, look down, wear glasses if necessary and read it like the rest of us.....

    You suggest this as a way to keep my eyes on God. I agree that I might learn something about God by reading the Bible. But I would not equate that with keeping my eyes on God. Or have I missed something?

    God also knew their hearts and the future decisions they would make just as He knows your heart as well.

    If you believe that a person cannot lose their salvation then presumably the gospel message says that when a person is saved, their sins are forgiven. All of their sins are forgiven – past, present and future. So it would not matter that God knew what sins they might commit in the future. However, if you believe that a person can lose their salvation, then maybe it is only the sins of the past that are forgiven when a person is saved, and they may lose their salvation due to sinning in the future.

    Most (examples of people being saved in Acts) are after evangelism i.e. preaching the Gospel and the crowds responding to that message. e.g. Acts 2:14-41. Signs and wonders were necessary AT THAT TIME to show those people God's power BEFORE the Bible was in its final format (as we have it today).

    I am not really happy with your statement here, because it implies that signs and wonders are no longer needed because people have the Bible instead. If God is no longer acting in a supernatural way, then I would expect Christianity to be in trouble and heading for oblivion.

    Maybe in the last few paragraphs I have made too many assumptions, by discussing what I see as some of the implications of what you have written. I apologise if my assumptions have been inaccurate.

    I hope we meet in Heaven losthope, I really do.

    That is a lovely thought. Thank you.
     
  5. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

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    It is good both of you want more than a "free ticket to heaven" type of Christianity. That is the way it should be. :thumbsup:

    I took the position that Losthope says Heaven doesn't interest him, and as a result he is acting as if there is really no Heaven. Actions based on personal decisions (not outside coercion) usually are a fruit of doubt/unbelief.

    I was being serious and trying to be nice at the same time. If a christian doubts what is said in the Bible and looks for personal experience instead to connect with God people like me and Losthope will never ever have a faith.
    Isn't it great?!!!! :)
     
  6. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

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    I don't think that at ALL!!! I would never spend as much time as I have with you if I thought you had a shread of the scoffer in you. I don't want you to be stuck at the stage you are right now as long as I had been.
    Again how likely is it that people who predestined to be rejected by God to be genuinely seeking God Himself? Remember how Jesus was the rock over whom the Jews would trip over because of their unbelief in Him? romans 9:33 That verse applies to you as well IF you believe in Jesus. If you Losthope believe in Jesus then you Losthope will not be put to shame. Do you believe God is telling the truth there? There are no conditions, fine print, clauses or exceptions - WHOEVER believes in Jesus saved.
    That parable was Jesus being frank that not every seed would germinate and/or reach full spiritual maturity. How verses about promised salvation for all people who believe from Jesus Himself?
    John 3:16-18
    1. God loved the world - are you part of the world?
    2. whoever believes in Him (Jesus) - do you believe in Jesus?
    3. will not perish but have eternal life - do you believe that promise is for you? Note: no mention of feelings (whether sorrow or joy) to be saved

    Next passage: John 10:9-10
    1. Do you believe Jesus is the door i.e. the one way to God?
    2. Have you actually gone through that door, or are you standing outside humming and ha-ing (and watching everyone else go through instead) because you'll never feel yourself going through that door?
    3. Do you believe that Jesus will give you that life eternally and abundantly despite the fact you may never feel God's presence or see prayers answered like others sometimes do?

    Next passage: Matthew 28:18-20
    1. Are you part of all nations (making it possible for you to become a believer)?
    2. Have you become a disciple or are you a spectator trying to decide if you'll ever be eligible to become a disciple because you can't you can't imagine yourself ever acting or feeling as other disciples do?
    3. Have you been baptised and obeyed God's commands? Is there any mention of feelings, signs of guidance needed to prove that someone is a believer there?
    I think you are making excuses to ignore the Bible there. "Other people interpret the Bible differently, so how can we know that the very clear promises there for all those who believe can be trusted?"
    Christians will always have minor disagreements like women's place in the modern church. Not one mainstream christian I have ever met contradicts any verse in the Nicene Creed. You know the creed that is the summary of all spiritual truths revealed in the Bible.

    If you have doubt in the Bible then at the very best you will always have severe doubt in your christian walk. John 1
    No - you are refusing to do that. You are refusing to believe that faith in what is revealed in the Bible is enough to produce faith in God. You want signs and wonders, feelings and experiences to produce a faith in God like others seem to have had instead. Yes I am being blunt but you've got to be confronted here. If you are insisting that you cannot be a christian until God reveals Himself like He did to prophets of Old (before Bible was put in its final form) then you will never be a christian. John 20:24-29
    Yes, most importantly the Holy Spirit would create faith in Jesus/God. Romans 8:16-17/ Fruits of the Spirit would develop in the person's life. Galatians 5:22-24 Remember these fruits are not confined to mere feelings but out of a changed mind/heart/will determined to follow God's commandments. 1 john 3:23-24/
    I have no idea whether it may have been a genuine personal message or not. More importantly was this person pointing everyone to Jesus Himself?

    I didn't mean to do that. Feeling people seem to feel God, thinking people seem to receive insight from God especially from His word. Christians like me would fit into the second category.

    P.S. how to tell if people are distorting scripture Scripture Twisting Methods of the Cults- apologeticsindex.org
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2011
  7. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

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    1. Whether a christian is happy or not happy with certain Bible texts makes no difference. If the Bible is truth, all of it is truth.
    2. It does not matter what you think - if you are a true christian you have to agree with Jesus. Jesus said there was a Heaven and a Hell. If a christian blatantly contradicts Jesus on these very basic teachings then it is a very safe bet they also choose to ignore many other doctrines that don't agree with their own personal opinions.
    3. Too bad if you think every word is true or not - a Christian has to have faith that what is revealed in the Bible is true because that is how Christians learn about Jesus. Jesus never contradicted ANYTHING that was said in the Old Testament. Same with the apostles' writings in the New Testament.
    4. It's good that you finally made your position this very minute that clear and unambiguous. :) Boy it took a while!
    As with the many other Christian ideas that Jesus said and therefore Christians believe but you have difficulty believing these things.
    Many other christians also struggle with doubt, lack of feeling God's presence, lack of feeling "spiritual", lack of personal guidance - and yes you did have that to the extreme and most likely always will.
    What is your actual understanding of "born again"? What Is A Born-Again Christian? No mention of feelings there either.

    Had to defend the British pride didn't you .....:p
    You have to trust that God reveals Himself through the Bible. You really do Losthope. Like me you are very unlikely to receive any feelings or outward signs to guide us in our christian walk. You might never even see anything jump out at you from the page as I sometimes do - but I have also been walking closely with God for a few years now. My spiritual radar has become more sensitive in a way and that has only happened by the renewing of my mind. I have read and listened to so many sermons because I AM lacking in feelings, and I AM prone to severe doubt and anxiety.

    The all important thing to be done if you are ever to become a strong christian who trusts in God - your mind has to be completely renewed as well Losthope. You have to learn to see things as God does. How will that happen? By reading the Bible and reading good mainstream christian theology books (steer away from personal testimony of miracles books for a while OK?!!!), listening to good sermons, and with good fellowship with strong christians whom you will have to trust that God is ministering to you via them. Pray that God will send these people your way and then trust that your Father in Heaven will send them to you one way or another. You like me genuinely have to walk in faith.

    You said that very well. I now agree with the first position but before when I looked to experiences as a sign that I was still favoured by God I was always fearful that God would lose favour in me one day. Roman Catholic upbringing complicated that further.
    Why should Christianity need miracles like in the days of old when we have God's truth revealed through scripture and good preaching? God still answers some prayers but we do not need signs and wonders to maintain our faith. I think that behind a lot of your spiritual struggle i.e. the belief Christians will always receive signs and wonders and obviously answered prayers i.e. miracles if they are genuine Christians.

    And I do mean that about meeting you in Heaven - I'll give you a big hug and a big sister wag of the finger "I told you so".... ^_^

    P.S. wouldn't you know it - an episode of very good discernment radio show (I listened to while living in a remote mining town without christian fellowship) is arguing for the importance of objective Christianity beliefs versus subjective feelings. Fighting for the Faith radio - what cessationism is not. He even quoted some of the Nicene Creed for you! If you can handle his American bluntness and sarcasm he presents some very good discernment analysis of way-out today's christian "teachings" (understandably biased towards American preachers because it is a USA show) as well as a consistent focus on the Gospel message itself- that is what you need the most right now.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2011
  8. saralynn

    saralynn Newbie

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    What's interesting is that Lewis has an unconventional understanding of the word "joy". It's not happiness, it's more of a longing. He claims that throughout time, people have experienced an unexplainable exigency from within themselves that initiates a persistent search through life. This desire leads people searching, reaching for different circumstances in life. Lewis believes this ineffable longing or desire is really a desire for God. If this universal desire exists within human beings, and if this desire is truly a desire for God, then following this desire is one way people can know or find God.

    Is that something you can relate to, Losthope? I certainly can. Is "longing" an emotion? You seem to be experiencing it. Your presence on this Forum seems evidence of that. Or is it simply an intellectual exercise?

    The book is beautifully written. Here is a quote about joy....

    "Apparently, then, our lifelong nostalgia, our longing to be reunited with something in the universe from which we now feel cut off, to be on the inside of some door which we have always seen from the outside is . . . the truest index of our real situation."

    Lewis claims to be an emotionally cool person, which he may have been, but he certainly had a fertile and creative imagination. For this reason, I find it difficult to relate to him because I seem to be more pragmatic and this-worldly. But then again, it was quite different in my childhood, so...who knows? Maybe it just died from malnutrition or something.

    Anyway. I will keep you informed.
     
  9. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    To joey down under, (part 1 of 2)

    You wrote this in response to saralynn:
    I took the position that Losthope says Heaven doesn't interest him, and as a result he is acting as if there is really no Heaven. Actions based on personal decisions (not outside coercion) usually are a fruit of doubt/unbelief.

    Yes I do act as if there was no heaven. Come to think of it I usually act as if there was no god also. And those actions do come out of my unbelief.

    If a christian doubts what is said in the Bible and looks for personal experience instead to connect with God people like me and Losthope will never ever have a faith.

    Interesting that there is a new thread today about the value of personal experiences as a justification of faith. So far each responder has said that personal experiences do help people to strengthen their faith, although they also stress the importance of trust and the work of the Holy Spirit in strengthening a person’s faith.

    For me, the lack of personal experience of God caused me to question my salvation and eventually to recognise that I had probably (though I am still not quite certain) not been saved.

    I would have thought that a person needs both trust in the Bible and personal experience of God, if their faith is really going to grow and they are going to mature as a Christian. It is not either-or, it is both. You say that if a person has only personal experience and does not trust the Bible, it is not enough to make them a Christian. My experience tells me that if I trust the Bible but have no personal experience of God, that is also not enough for me to maintain my faith. Maybe some other people can do it; if so I admire their faith. But I was not able to maintain my faith with this important component of Christianity missing.

    Now to what you wrote in response to my two part posting:
    I would never spend as much time as I have with you if I thought you had a shread of the scoffer in you. I don't want you to be stuck at the stage you are right now as long as I had been.

    Thank you. Unfortunately there are some Christians who think that I am playing games and refusing to accept what is said to me or written for me. I am glad that you do not think that. I can assure that I am not playing games; my unsuccessful search for God is the long-running theme of most of my life.

    Again how likely is it that people who predestined to be rejected by God to be genuinely seeking God Himself? Remember how Jesus was the rock over whom the Jews would trip over because of their unbelief in Him? romans 9:33 That verse applies to you as well IF you believe in Jesus. If you Losthope believe in Jesus then you Losthope will not be put to shame. Do you believe God is telling the truth there? There are no conditions, fine print, clauses or exceptions - WHOEVER believes in Jesus saved.

    I am quite aware that there are many verses in the Bible that promise that whoever believes in Jesus will be saved. Many years ago I was a believer and an active church member. It is possible that I was saved because I accepted Jesus. It is also possible that I was not saved for some reason, for example because I never had a conviction of sin and therefore never experienced a need for a saviour, or because my name is not in the book of life. There are plenty of Bible verses to back up these possibilities. This is why I say that you cannot take one verse, or even many verses, to convince me that I am saved, because there are also many Bible verses that suggest that I am not saved. Faced with this lack of clarity from the Bible, I have to fall back on my own experience, and unfortunately my experience was that there was no evidence of God being involved in my life.

    You then gave three sets of questions based on verses from John and Matthew. My brief answers to these questions are:

    1. God loved the world - are you part of the world?
    Of course.

    2. whoever believes in Him (Jesus) - do you believe in Jesus?
    I used to.

    3. will not perish but have eternal life - do you believe that promise is for you? Note: no mention of feelings (whether sorrow or joy) to be saved
    Again, I used to believe it, although even then eternal life was not something I bothered about.

    1. Do you believe Jesus is the door i.e. the one way to God?
    Not now, but I used to believe that.

    2. Have you actually gone through that door, or are you standing outside humming and ha-ing (and watching everyone else go through instead) because you'll never feel yourself going through that door?
    I thought that I went through that door. Whether or not I did enter, only God knows.

    3. Do you believe that Jesus will give you that life eternally and abundantly despite the fact you may never feel God's presence or see prayers answered like others sometimes do?
    I used to believe that, even though eternal life was something I was not particularly interested in, even during my time as a believer. Now my answer is don’t know.

    1. Are you part of all nations (making it possible for you to become a believer)?
    Of course.

    2. Have you become a disciple or are you a spectator trying to decide if you'll ever be eligible to become a disciple because you can't you can't imagine yourself ever acting or feeling as other disciples do
    Same answer as to 2 above.

    3. Have you been baptised and obeyed God's commands? Is there any mention of feelings, signs of guidance needed to prove that someone is a believer there?
    I certainly tried to obey God’s commands. Baptised, no. I was never asked to be baptised, so I never had an opportunity to agree to be baptised or to refuse baptism; remember that it was many years ago and in this country baptism was less common then. But I knew many strong Christians who had not been baptised.

    I think you are making excuses to ignore the Bible there. "Other people interpret the Bible differently, so how can we know that the very clear promises there for all those who believe can be trusted?"

    If I had found that every verse in the Bible could be trusted, I am sure that my life would have been very different. However, I found that some Bible promises appeared not to be true for me. So I searched to find an explanation for my experience that was consistent with the Bible. So far I have found five possible explanations that are at least more or less consistent with the Bible – including the possibility that I was not saved because I never had a conviction of sin and a need for a saviour, and the possibility that my name is not in the book of life. I appreciate that the verses that you used do not encompass these possibilities, but there are other parts of the gospels that do.

    Christians will always have minor disagreements like women's place in the modern church. Not one mainstream christian I have ever met contradicts any verse in the Nicene Creed. You know the creed that is the summary of all spiritual truths revealed in the Bible.

    I just checked and as far as I can tell my possible explanations are all also consistent with the Nicene Creed.

    If you have doubt in the Bible then at the very best you will always have severe doubt in your christian walk.

    I have doubt in the Bible now. During the time that I was a believer, I did trust the Bible, but that did not prevent me having to abandon my faith because there was no evidence of God responding to me. If I become a believer again, I may well again trust the Bible fully.

    No - you are refusing to do that. You are refusing to believe that faith in what is revealed in the Bible is enough to produce faith in God. You want signs and wonders, feelings and experiences to produce a faith in God like others seem to have had instead. Yes I am being blunt but you've got to be confronted here. If you are insisting that you cannot be a christian until God reveals Himself like He did to prophets of Old (before Bible was put in its final form) then you will never be a christian.

    Yes, some other people have said something similar to me about my situation now. Things were of course very different when I was a believer. I spent two years as a believer in the 1970s and held onto my faith for as long as possible, but eventually I had to abandon my faith because I no longer had the strength to go on trusting that God might one day respond. In 2007 I tried again and this time I knew just how essential it was for God to respond. But there was no response from God that I was aware of. I am sorry, but for me some kind of response from God is essential. If I was coming fresh to Christianity, it would be different. But I am not coming fresh to Christianity. I am coming with experience of failure as a believer, failure because I had no awareness of God responding to me in any way. The God that I can conceive of would recognise this and know just how important it is for God to act. It need not be something spectacular like the Old Testament prophets experienced; it could just be a gentle nudge in the right direction that enables me to step out in faith once more. It could be that conviction of sin that I have always lacked. Only God would know what was needed.

    Yes, you could say I am asking for more than most people ask for. Or am I? If I am just asking for a conviction of sin, then I am asking for precisely what other people experience.

    Yes, most importantly the Holy Spirit would create faith in Jesus/God. Romans 8:16-17/ Fruits of the Spirit would develop in the person's life. Galatians 5:22-24 Remember these fruits are not confined to mere feelings but out of a changed mind/heart/will determined to follow God's commandments. 1 john 3:23-24/

    I agree that the Holy Spirit could create faith, develop the fruits of the Spirit and help to change the mind, heart and will of a person. It is just that I have no awareness of any of this happening during the time that I was a believer, or since.

    losthope: I can also remember many years ago at a Christian conference, the speaker telling us about how he heard a message from a switched off radio and knew that it was guidance from God. Was he also hallucinating, or was it really a message from God?
    Joey...: I have no idea whether it may have been a genuine personal message or not. More importantly was this person pointing everyone to Jesus Himself?


    Yes.

    Feeling people seem to feel God, thinking people seem to receive insight from God especially from His word. Christians like me would fit into the second category.

    That type of insight from God would have made a huge difference to me. But it never happened.

    1. Whether a christian is happy or not happy with certain Bible texts makes no difference. If the Bible is truth, all of it is truth.

    I appreciate that you believe the truth of all of the Bible. I do not.

    2. It does not matter what you think - if you are a true christian you have to agree with Jesus. Jesus said there was a Heaven and a Hell. If a christian blatantly contradicts Jesus on these very basic teachings then it is a very safe bet they also choose to ignore many other doctrines that don't agree with their own personal opinions.

    I did not say that there was no heaven and hell. My point is that I am not interested in heaven and hell.

    4. It's good that you finally made your position this very minute that clear and unambiguous. (saying that I was not a Christian) Boy it took a while!

    I apologise if I ever gave you the impression that I thought I was a Christian. I thought I had made it clear that I am agnostic. Although I appreciate that at times you have been suggesting that I was a Christian – a lapsed Christian – by suggesting for example that the Holy Spirit may be working on me but so slowly that I had not noticed.
     
  10. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    To joey down under (part 2 of 2)

    You wrote this:
    Many other christians also struggle with doubt, lack of feeling God's presence, lack of feeling "spiritual", lack of personal guidance - and yes you did have that to the extreme and most likely always will.

    You are probably right. Maybe I will never experience any of these things. But my hope is not quite lost.

    What is your actual understanding of "born again"? What Is A Born-Again Christian?

    I looked at the link and this is what it says:
    “A born-again Christian, therefore, is a person who has made his beginning, receiving Christ as his new life in his spirit.”
    It is possible that this happened for me. But as I have no awareness of my spirit, I would have no awareness of Christ living there. As far as the rest of me is concerned, it would not have happened, and it would make no difference to me.

    Had to defend the British pride didn't you .....

    Not me. Things like national pride would require emotions, and for me to care who happens to win a race. It makes no difference to me who wins; I am the very opposite of a passionate supporter.

    You have to trust that God reveals Himself through the Bible. You really do Losthope. Like me you are very unlikely to receive any feelings or outward signs to guide us in our christian walk. You might never even see anything jump out at you from the page as I sometimes do - but I have also been walking closely with God for a few years now. My spiritual radar has become more sensitive in a way and that has only happened by the renewing of my mind. I have read and listened to so many sermons because I AM lacking in feelings, and I AM prone to severe doubt and anxiety.

    The all important thing to be done if you are ever to become a strong christian who trusts in God - your mind has to be completely renewed as well Losthope. You have to learn to see things as God does. How will that happen? By reading the Bible and reading good mainstream christian theology books (steer away from personal testimony of miracles books for a while OK?!!!), listening to good sermons, and with good fellowship with strong christians whom you will have to trust that God is ministering to you via them. Pray that God will send these people your way and then trust that your Father in Heaven will send them to you one way or another. You like me genuinely have to walk in faith
    .

    Trust in the Bible is something that might come to me after I become a Christian and am able to trust God. I am not going to do it the other way around. It just seems wrong to me; putting the cart before the horse.

    I do agree that being a Christian would involve the renewing of my mind. But I would expect that renewal to be mainly due to the work of the Holy Spirit within me, rather than due to external influences. It would be easy to submerge myself in a Christian culture, reading the Bible and Christian books, being an active church member, hearing sermons in church and on the internet and having fellowship with strong Christians. Because of having experience as a believer and an active church member, I could quite possibly convince everyone that I was a strong Christian. But I would not fool myself, and I would not fool God.

    Why should Christianity need miracles like in the days of old when we have God's truth revealed through scripture and good preaching? God still answers some prayers but we do not need signs and wonders to maintain our faith. I think that behind a lot of your spiritual struggle i.e. the belief Christians will always receive signs and wonders and obviously answered prayers i.e. miracles if they are genuine Christians.

    I recognise that there are many Christians for whom trust in the Bible is sufficient, and who do not ask for or expect signs and wonders, answered prayers, etc. I admire their faith, because I know that my own faith was ultimately not strong enough for me to be able to do the same. There are also some Christians for whom having a response from God is an essential component of strengthening their faith and confirming that they are saved. I happen to be such a person; I did not know that a response from God was essential to me before I prayed for salvation, but it gradually became clear that I was such a person. If some people suggest that is a sign of weakness of faith or some other failing, then so be it. It does not change the fact that I need some kind of feedback from God, because to me a relationship is a two-way thing and if God does not respond, there is no relationship.

    And I do mean that about meeting you in Heaven - I'll give you a big hug and a big sister wag of the finger "I told you so"....

    And I would probably blush and say, “Well, I didn’t know before, but now I do.”

    I will listen to the radio broadcast that you mention.
     
  11. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    Can I relate to a longing, a desire that keeps someone searching through their life? Definitely. In my case it is a search for God. Other people may search for other things. Though I would not necessarily say that all people have such a longing, that there is a universal desire in people.

    I had not thought of longing as an emotion. Perhaps passionate longing would involve emotions, but I would not say that I have a passionate longing.

    It is certainly not an intellectual exercise for me.

    I also have a bit of an imagination.
     
  12. saralynn

    saralynn Newbie

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    Lewis claims that the longing is universal, but that people may not even be aware that they are searching for God, but focus on "substitutions" instead or, in Christian terms, "false idols." Sometimes it can be a reflection of noble aspirations as expressed in knowledge, art, and literature; at other instances, it can be banal, like in accumulation of wealth. It can also be destructive as in addiction.

    It's odd, but I grew up in a secular household, but this longing has been quite strong in me ever since I remember.
     
  13. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

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    My favourite C.S.Lewis' book "The Pilgrim's Regress" has the main character looking for God because of an unexplainable longing as well.
     
  14. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

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    This is just a quick comment Losthope - several things you have typed make me think you have been influenced by pietism like I was for quite a while. It drove me to deep despair when I tried to be good but failed miserably. That despair was a major reason behind my first real backslide (approx. 1991-Nov 1995).

    No amount of good works (including lots of prayer and Bible reading) are guaranteed to make you closer or feel closer to God.
     
  15. saralynn

    saralynn Newbie

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    Not to speak for LH, but he doesn't strike me as a pietist. He's not looking for any extraordinary experience of God or interpretation of God, just some kind of...if necessary...minimal response. He would be quite pleased if, like you, he tried to be good, failed miserably, and then fell into despair. His point is that his lack of faith may be a result of that "lack of conviction of sin" (that you felt so deeply about) and hence, the OP. He now is in a quandary because his absence of emotion due to his medical condition seems to suggest that faith in God seems to be based on emotional need, rather than the reality of God. Initially, that possibility led him to question EVERYTHING he assumed as a Christian ,which gradually eroded into disbelief. He however misses the life he once had, which was rich and beautiful in so many ways, but he can't convince himself of what he no longer believes.

    Oh yes....I would love to read "Pilgrim's Regress". I may read that next. C.S. Lewis is so perceptive and intelligent. I am enjoying Surprised by Joy.
     
  16. razeontherock

    razeontherock Well-Known Member

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    (Haggai 2:7) And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts."

    I'm not sure, but from what you wrote it seems you might think a large portion of people don't have this desire? I do understand conflict between this Biblical precept and observation, but I find that most of the time it is simply people being unaware of their own "heart." English repression made it's way throughout the US, and it's quite possible to sever that connection between brain and heart, which is not limited to just emotion. Neither does the spirit or soul of man correspond directly to our sub-conscious.

    Another occurrence is that people wind up with no conscience, and therefore literally no longer have this "desire of all Nations." (If anyone is actually born with no conscience, psychopathic or sociopathic I will not opine)
     
  17. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    Five postings today for me to respond to. But really only two main themes in those five postings from saralynn, joey down under and razeontherock. One theme is the idea that people have a longing or desire in their life. The second theme is that of pietism.

    When I wrote that there may not be a universal desire in people to search for God, it was only a speculation based on observation. C S Lewis may be right, as saralynn suggests, that people seek something to satisfy them, such as knowledge or wealth.

    I can also understand the separation of brain and heart that razeontherock suggests. Though I could suggest various reasons why this happens, such as the person concentrating on the struggle to survive and not having any remaining energy or desire to search for something.

    However, in my opinion this theme is a bit of a departure from the original posting and thoughts about conviction of sin.

    Now for the second theme. Joey down under wrote this:
    This is just a quick comment Losthope - several things you have typed make me think you have been influenced by pietism like I was for quite a while. It drove me to deep despair when I tried to be good but failed miserably. That despair was a major reason behind my first real backslide (approx. 1991-Nov 1995).

    No amount of good works (including lots of prayer and Bible reading) are guaranteed to make you closer or feel closer to God.


    I have never come across the word pietism before. Have I been influenced by pietism? Not at all. If what I have written has given that impression, it was certainly not intended. I agree completely that no amount of prayer and Bible reading and other good works could earn me salvation, or necessarily bring me closer to God. Only the action of God – grace – could bring me closer to God.

    Saralynn, you came to my defence again. And you did it very well, saying this:
    Not to speak for LH, but he doesn't strike me as a pietist. He's not looking for any extraordinary experience of God or interpretation of God, just some kind of...if necessary...minimal response. He would be quite pleased if, like you, he tried to be good, failed miserably, and then fell into despair. His point is that his lack of faith may be a result of that "lack of conviction of sin" (that you felt so deeply about) and hence, the OP. He now is in a quandary because his absence of emotion due to his medical condition seems to suggest that faith in God seems to be based on emotional need, rather than the reality of God. Initially, that possibility led him to question EVERYTHING he assumed as a Christian ,which gradually eroded into disbelief. He however misses the life he once had, which was rich and beautiful in so many ways, but he can't convince himself of what he no longer believes.

    That paragraph that you wrote is mostly correct. The only sentence that I would disagree with is this one:
    Initially, that possibility led him to question EVERYTHING he assumed as a Christian, which gradually eroded into disbelief.

    No, it was lack of feedback from God that led me to question my salvation. It was more than twenty years later before I began to suspect that it was my lack of emotion that was the problem.
     
  18. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    I listened to the radio programme today – quite a long radio programme altogether.

    Yes there was definitely some sarcasm present. In fact the whole thing, including their advertisements for their resources, sounded to me more like a parody of a Christian broadcast than a real broadcast.

    The presenter seemed to be far too quick to condemn any form of modern subjective Christianity, arguing that to include subjectivity leads to ignoring the objective Christian beliefs and the Bible. He also implied that miracles, healing, answered prayer and many other manifestations of God ceased after Bible times. Why does it have to be either subjective experience or objective doctrine and the Bible? What is wrong with having both?

    In some recent postings we wrote about people having a longing for God, which causes them to keep searching. Yes, I do have such a longing. But if the only type of Christianity on offer was the type represented by that radio programme, I would not be interested, and I would be looking elsewhere for God.
     
  19. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

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    Yes you have typed as you are trying to avoid that frank statement about yourself. In black-and-white terms you are currently living like an unbeliever but want to believe but can't at the same time. It is a terribly uncomfortable state to live in.
    They must have been reading this discussion then.
    Excessive focus on lack of experience by yourself sounds like it is THE cause of a major jump from doubt to unbelief.
    1. God may have had people minister to you or caused events to happen in your life that you did not see His hand in it, further complicated by lack of feelings in your life over anything.
    2. Experiences of God may lead some people to salvation. I have also heard accounts of Muslims having Jesus appear to them in their dreams and that led to them believing in Him. The vast majority of people become believers through the Gospel.
    3. A non-Bible christian is as much of an oxymoron as an non-Koran Muslim or non-Torah Jew.
    I disagree with you there. Your experience is that what was done for you by Jesus on the cross (as narrated by the Gospels and explained by the early letters to the churches) was not enough for you. You wanted God to give you more that because you did not have sufficient faith in Him to keep walking in your christian faith "by faith alone, not by sight" . Because He did not do as you demanded (come on admit it!) you slid into severe doubt, then unbelief then to outsiders agnostism/soft atheism, living as atheists do but secretly suffering severe doubt in your "faith of doubt".
    Well unlike most Christians I have the unusual situation that I have experienced a lot of what you are actually describing.

    Going back to the original topic - conviction of sin via feelings is unlikely to ever come to you because you do not experience any feelings. Time for you to do the Bible search this time - please show me any Bible passage in context that feelings are necessary to prove repentance- metanoia not penitence - and therefore true salvation. No metaphorical language or parables permitted.
    I disagree with you here also. There are so many Bible studies, Bible commentaries, Bible lectures from academically trained professionals online now. If you need assistance understanding Biblical passages then look for helpful reference material and christian libraries online. God will not believe your excuse that you've got no-one to help you understand the Bible so you won't read it. If you have decided you only going to believe in God through getting a sign or a certain experience it is unlikely that you will ever become or believe you are a Christian.
    It's been those type of statements that have made me think you are in that horrible grey zone "of I want to believe but can't" that I was for years and therefore you are NOT a real agnostic. :)
    So you know what sin is, how you have sinned, why Jesus had to die for your sin. What have you done with that knowledge?

    Exactly what do you believe everybody else experiences as part of repentance that you don't? Do you think they also experience something in addition to feelings (that you most likely will never have)?

    The thing is agnostics generally are so close-minded to considering Christianity and unaware that they are actually hostile towards it. You have sounded anything but that. Repeatedly you sound like you are are an "almost" Christian.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2011
  20. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

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    That short segment is a parody - remember the Monty Python soundtrack it used to introduce it?
    He definitely holds to the cessationist viewpoint. Strong Charismatics hold the completely opposite worldview. You sound like you hold more to the latter option and that is why you disliked some of what he said. I have listened to quite a few broadcasts and they were very confronting at how much I had been influenced by Charismatic distortions of the Bible.

    It is one thing to believe that God still can and does heal people today. It is quite another to claim that preachers and healers can do the same things as the apostles in the 1st century AD did.
    That "I would not be interested in that type of God" last sentence is very revealing. You will believe in God/ any other type of Higher Being when He gives you something. You will not believe in God for Himself alone as revealed in the Scriptures therefore you may believe in another god if you feel anything in a spiritual encounter.

    P.S. Does this count as a sign - me with slight memory impairment for names remembering this series name on a sin you are guilty of - spiritual idolatry via seeking to please one god - yourself.

    Quote Losthope 10 August:" Asking a Buddhist to teach me a little about meditation is very different from accepting the teachings of another religion. " Talk about nitpicking, splitting hairs etc. - the intention was there. Spiritual Adultery Series
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2011
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