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No conviction of sin

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

  1. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    To joey down under,

    We wrote this:
    Not a note of panic. More a note of recognition that a third failure at becoming a Christian would tell me that it is never going to happen.

    You may be right, but it is all taking a very long time. Of course, God’s timing would be what matters.

    That sounds like a lot of work and a lot of dedication, to consider the Bible in such a detailed way. I might do that as a Christian, but I am not going to do it as an unbeliever. Especially as I want to know God in my own life rather than knowing more about God from reading the Bible. To some Christians, knowing God through the Bible is knowing God. To me, the Bible could only help me to know more about God, rather than knowing God.

    You seem to be implying that people think about me in the same way that I might sometimes describe things myself. No, the people around me are quite capable of making up their own minds about me. They do not calmly accept what I tell them.

    I agree. The events may not change, but the interpretation of the events may change. For now, because I can recognise several possible reasons for my particular experiences of trying to be a believer, I could interpret the events in different ways. The trouble is, I do not know which interpretation is correct.

    I can assure you that faith in Christ can be unsuccessful. I ought to know.

    So I am told. But I have no spiritual awareness and very limited spiritual understanding, so I could not say from experience anything about the spiritual realm. Indeed, I could not say from experience that such a thing as a spiritual realm exists.

    I agree that identifying what is holding me back could help. But how could I find out what is holding me back? It would have to be something permanent in my life, to have held me back over so many years.

    It was not that I was not aware of how close I had to keep to God. I knew very well that I needed to keep close to God. But I knew that I was very far from God. Not that I had once been close and had moved away, but that I had never been close to God at all. That was what I wanted to do, to get closer to God.

    I was very aware that my worry about lack of experience of God was eroding my faith. But it was not that I took my eyes off God and put them on lack of experience instead. The problem was that I was never able to keep my eyes on God, because I never seemed to find God.

    Some Christians are quite happy with knowing God through the Bible. That is fine – for them. It is not right for me; I would need to know God. And that implies God responding to me. For me, no response from God means no relationship with God and that means no salvation. It is as simple as that.

    Not just becoming a believer, but having such a disappointing experience as a believer and finally giving up my belief. It is the whole thing that was significant in my life.

    I am not the only contributor to Christian Forums who has been though failure as a convert to Christianity. As far as I am aware, none of the others has been able to find God either. So I am not alone.

    You say that you were where I’m at about five to seven years ago. Yes, I can understand what you mean by that. But now you are very different. What caused the change? Would it work for me?

    I read this, but the woman in the story is very different from me. The point of the story is that she had assurance but did not know it. I do not have assurance, and did not have assurance as a believer once I realised that God had not responded to me. This began about a year after becoming a believer. For the first year I simply trusted that God would eventually respond, and so the lack of response was not a problem.
     
  2. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    To joey down under.

    You wrote this:
    Love from God and loving God are not in my experience. I know that Christians speak of this, and it is mentioned in the Bible, but I would not say that it has ever happened for me.

    During the time that I was a believer I did not realise that I lacked emotions. I just thought that other people were sometimes overemotional. It was not until about twenty years later that the cause of my lack of emotions was diagnosed. So I expected to have feelings about my faith. However, people told me that feelings and emotions are not important in faith, so I didn’t worry about it. (Of course, now I suspect that emotions and feelings are absolutely vital to a believer, which leaves me out in the cold.)

    Did I change my mind towards God? It sounds a simple question but I am sorry I am not sure what you are getting at when you ask the question. Is it possible for you to be more specific?

    Did I change my behaviour? Yes, in certain ways. I prayed, read the Bible, went to church, met with other Christians, and so on. Did my behaviour change in more fundamental ways? Maybe in some superficial respects, but not very much.

    Did I change my decision-making processes? Again I am not quite sure what you mean by the question, but I think the answer is no. It never occurred to me that my decision-making processes might be different. Unless perhaps you were asking if I took into account what I thought God might want, when making decisions. Then yes, taking into account what I thought God might want may have affected my decisions occasionally.

    Before and during the time that I was a believer, there were some Christians who told me of how God had worked in their lives. Without such encouragement, it might have taken me much longer – even forever – to decide to put my trust in God. If their words were being used as a tool of Satan, it was a very risky strategy of Satan to let the words encourage me to make a commitment to God.

    I disagree. The Bible includes many promises that God makes to the believer about what will happen in this life as well as the promise of eternal life with God. I expected what is promised in the Bible to happen, and it did not happen. It would only be if I stopped expecting God to act, that I would be ignoring what is promised in the Bible.

    The Bible makes lots of promises to the believer. You happen to be interested in some of those promises and not so much in other promises. I do the same.

    Yes, I recognise that when I have finally resolved and understood my situation one way or the other, I could then have a major impact on believers. Depending on how I finally resolve my situation, the impact could be to encourage believers to really find and know God. Alternatively instead the impact could be to argue that faith is based on self-deception.

    I most definitely was trusting that God was changing me on the inside. But when there was no evidence of such change, I began to doubt my salvation.

    If God really does change people, then your argument about people with emotions changing and me not changing is irrelevant. Even though I did not know that I lacked emotions, surely God would have known, and so instead of relying on my non-existent emotions God would have found an alternative way to change me. But as far as I am aware, God did not change me at all. The conclusion is that God was not working in me, probably because I was not saved.

    I have to repeat that the feelings aspect of emotions is what gives people passion and enthusiasm. Just thinking emotions can never have the same effect. A passage designed to appeal to the emotions required a feeling response. A thinking only response is just not enough.

    Of course a person without emotions is not going to take beliefs seriously enough. Only a person whose emotions can give them passion about something is going to take anything seriously enough to change their life.

    I can only repeat that it is all almost theoretical to me. I knew that I lacked a conviction of sin, though at the time I did not know why I lacked a conviction of sin. But if emotions are essential in having a conviction of sin, then obviously it can never happen for me, and I am excluded from salvation.

    Have I believed in the gospel? Well, I understood it, and recognised that the conviction of sin was important for some people. I did seek to please God, but as for accepting the gospel, that was something that I was and am only able to do in my own limited way. The concept of being a sinner and requiring a saviour does absolutely nothing for me. Sorry.

    Who said I could love people? Love requires full emotions, not just thinking emotions. Love is a concept that I can understand and recognise but I have not experienced it for myself. And no, my wife is not very happy about that.

    As an aside, there is also the problem of people whose love for God is destructive. Such people exist in all religions.

    Interesting that you write about just the right people coming my way to give support. As far as I can see, the opposite is happening. I was speaking regularly with a local pastor but he has recognised that his prayers for me are not being answered and we are no longer meeting. I was promised help from someone who I spoke to at a Christian conference, but he passed me on to someone else who never replied to me. The man at another local church who tried to help me is now in a bitter divorce. I have said that prayers for me are never answered.

    I think you overestimate the innocence of children. I do not know what Jesus meant when he spoke about the need to become as a child. I have heard various attempts to explain it, but I am not convinced by any of them. That saying of Jesus remains a mystery to me.

    During my time as a believer I had all of what you suggest. None of it helped. For now, I have visited quite a few local churches and there is nowhere that seems to be right for me. It could be that what I need now would be completely different from what I would need if I ever became a believer again.

    Now I am really confused. First you say that I ought not to expect God to act in my life, and now you tell me that God is in control, and that God is there to help me. Have I completely lost the plot?
     
  3. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

    +135
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    Just one pasage I am responding to this time (for now):
    I know it will take work. "Rome wasn't built in a day".

    That is a very revealing statement. You want to know about God minus the Bible. I am sure you remember some verses regarding the spiritual armour of a christian and how spiritual wars are won: ephesians 6:10-20, 2 corinthians 10:3-6/
    If you refuse to examine Bible passages and other checklists I provide then I will not continue typing. I have a lot going on in my life in the background after all.
     
  4. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    To joey down under,

    This is what both of us wrote recently:
    I do not remember saying that I refused to look at Bible passages. You give many links to Bible verses and I read them. Sometimes I can understand the significance of the Bible verses to what you have written, and sometimes I cannot understand the relevance.

    But you were asking me to do much more than that. To examine the Bible from different writers’ points of view. That implies getting at least two good but contrasting commentaries, and probably several different translations of the Bible, including the one that really expands on the verses (can’t remember which translation that is). I know that Christian ministers and others who want to preach have such resources, but I thought that it was inappropriate for me as a non-Christian.

    Seriously, if you think that the Bible is too difficult, or too spiritual, for me to understand its real significance, then I have to ask why you think it is the appropriate way for me to get to know God. If the Bible cannot reach me because of the state of my mind, surely God would have alternative ways of reaching me.

    My understanding is that one of the works of the Holy Spirit is to help people to understand the significance of scripture. To help me to understand, what I would need is the help of the Holy Spirit, not the opinions of the writers of Bible commentaries. I need to be led into all truth.

    You suggest that I want to know about God minus the Bible. Not at all. I want to know God. Not just to know about God, but to know God. I agree that a person can learn about God from the Bible. But that is not the same as knowing God in a personal relationship. I am searching to know about God and to know God. Not either/or, but both.

    During the time that I was a believer I was the person who began, and sometimes led, a Bible study group at the church I attended, because until then there was no Bible study group at the church. Previously I attended a Bible study group at another local church. Please do not get the impression that I am anti-Bible.

    In the two epistles that you mention, Paul writes about spiritual warfare. Perhaps because I have no spiritual awareness and therefore no concept of spiritual warfare, I have always regarded those passages as metaphorical. Though I appreciate why other people might interpret them more literally. Maybe this is an example of where I would really need to work of the Holy Spirit to help me to understand the things of the spirit, rather than the wisdom of a commentary writer.

    You mentioned “other checklists” that I might refuse to examine. I have read and listened to at least most of the links you have suggested. I know that there is still the “heart inventory – Do you serve god or God?” for me to deal with in detail, but you did tell me to answer each question carefully and discuss the results with much thought and prayer. I had intended to begin this now, but instead I decided that I needed to respond to your latest posting first.

    I appreciate you writing to me in this way. I also appreciate the contributions of others to this thread. Whether or not it will help me to find God I do not know, but it is certainly making me think. I also have a lot going on in my life, and sometimes I am writing here when I ought to be getting on with other tasks.
     
  5. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    The article in the link is a series of statements about whether a person is serving the god of this world (Satan) or the one true God of the Bible.

    In the Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England, there are these words:
    “from all the deceits of the world, the flesh, and the devil, spare us, good Lord”

    The words, “the world, the flesh and the devil” are not in the Bible, but the idea behind the words is Bible-based. For example, the three temptations of Jesus in the wilderness correspond to these three ideas – although not in the same order.

    I mention this because the article is about serving the purposes of the devil. Serving the flesh, and serving the world, are also relevant – and some of the statements in the article are really more about the world or the flesh, rather than the devil.

    Right, now to the statements. You asked for discussion of the results, so I apologise if I write a long posting that needs to be in two parts. In some cases I will apply the statement to myself. In other cases I do not see the statement as relevant to me. In each case the statement is in italics and my response is in ordinary type.

    If you serve the god of this world (Satan), the world will love you. If you serve God, the world will hate you

    This is strong language, love and hate. The reality may be somewhat less severe, though I recognise that the writer is using strong words for emphasis.

    Surely this statement is about serving the world, rather than the devil. If you serve the world, the world will love you. My experience is that those who serve the devil are almost universally disliked, while those who serve the world are sometimes loved, just as those who serve God are sometimes loved.

    Do I serve the world? Yes. It makes me loved by some people and not by others. If I served God then I would probably still serve the world, but with a different motivation.

    If you serve Satan, you try to serve two masters. You may profess to know God, but He takes a back seat in your priorities. Your money, your will, your control, your desires – they are your master. If you serve God, you serve Him alone

    This statement sounds as if it is written for people who profess to know God. That is not me. However, yes to an extent my money, my will, my control and my desires are important to me.

    If you serve Satan, the idea of submitting to the lordship of Christ is repulsive to you. You desire to hold on to your sin, while receiving the benefits of salvation. You think you can receive Christ as Savior, but not as Lord. You are proud, and God resists you. If you serve God, you humble yourself before the Lord, donning the yoke of Christ, and with meekness, you commit to serving Him all the days of your life

    According to this statement I do not serve Satan, because the idea of submitting to the lordship of Christ is quite acceptable to me. To me when I was a believer it was more important that Christ should be lord than that Christ was saviour.

    I have no desire whatsoever to serve Satan.

    If you serve Satan, you love the world and the things of this world. If you love the world, the love of God is not in you. If you serve God, you hate the things of the world because you love God and His love abides in you

    To me, it seems strange that John should suggest hating the things of the world that he believed God had created. Is this just over the top language used to tell people to serve God?

    If you serve Satan, you are friends of the world. This makes you an enemy of God. If you serve God, you are not conformed to this world

    I would have thought it was serving Satan, rather than being a friend of the world, that makes someone an enemy of God.

    If you serve Satan, your closest friends are of the world and they corrupt you. If you serve God, you are not yoked to unbelievers, rather, your closest friends are born again believers

    When I was a believer my closest friends were born again believers. However, as I mentioned recently, the believers in this country seem to be deserting me at present.

    If you serve Satan, you take pleasure in unrighteousness. You love fornication and idolatry. If you serve God, you flee sexual immorality and idolatry and you hunger and thirst for righteousness

    Here it is a combination of the flesh (sexual immorality) and the devil (idolatry). I am not sure why the writer links two such very different types of sin in this way. My response is that I have no interest in idolatry.

    If you serve Satan, you do not obey the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. If you serve God, you obey the Gospel

    Maybe I do not understand what it means to obey the gospel. Is it just about salvation? Or does it include following all of the teachings of Jesus? If the latter, then I do not anyone who obeys the gospel perfectly.

    If you serve Satan, your mind is set on earthly things. If you serve God, your mind is set on heavenly things

    Correction. If you serve the world, or the flesh, or the devil, your mind is set on earthly things. I think you know already that I have no interest in life after death, and no awareness of spiritual concepts such as heaven. But that does not imply that I am serving the devil.

    If you serve Satan, you are a slave to sin. If you serve God, you are slave to righteousness

    More strong language. I hope that I am not a slave at all. Sometimes what I do may be righteous and sometimes it is sin.

    If you serve Satan, you are most concerned with the affairs and cares of this world, you seek to fulfill your fleshly desires, you love money, fornication, and drunkenness. If you serve God, you have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires

    This is about serving the world, and serving the flesh. My thought is that I am not overly concerned with the affairs and cares of the world, and I completely lack passions of any kind, of the flesh or otherwise.

    If you serve Satan, you walk in the flesh and are controlled by the works of the flesh. If you serve God, you walk in the Spirit and are controlled by the things of the Spirit

    You wrote recently that in the spiritual realm it does not have to be either/or. Surely a person can be influenced or controlled both by the flesh and by the Spirit. Perhaps one aspect of Christian maturity is a process of being more controlled by the Spirit and less controlled by the flesh.

    For me, I have no awareness of any influence of the Holy Spirit. That is not how I would like it to be, but it is my situation.

    If you serve Satan, you stand condemned as you have from the beginning. If you serve God, there is no condemnation in you

    That either/or again, as in so many of these statements. What about those of us who do not serve Satan and do not serve God?

    If you serve Satan, you are controlled by him and he has dominion over you. If you serve God, you have been freed

    Serve Satan? No thank you. Besides, I lack spiritual awareness. That seems to block any influence from Satan just as it appears to block any influence from God. If and when I discover my spiritual potential, that will be the time to worry about Satan trying to influence me.

    If you serve Satan, you are blinded by him. If you serve God, He has shined His light through you

    I have no awareness of light shining through me. Maybe other people can see it, but I do not. Nor do I have any awareness of being blinded. If Satan has blinded me, then surely God would have the power to release me from that blindness, but it did not happen, even during the time that I was a believer and trusted God.

    If you serve Satan, you justify and/or deny your sin. You give yourself excuses to live any way you want to, and expect God to just forgive you. You call God a liar, and the truth is not in you. If you serve God, you confess your sins and He cleanses you from all unrighteousness

    Yes and no to this one. Yes sometimes I do justify or deny my sin, though sometimes I admit my sin. But I would not simply expect God to forgive me, not until I was able to come to God in true repentance. I would never call God a liar – although sometimes the Christians who hear me or who read what I write may think that is what I am doing.

    When I was a believer, and thought that I was serving God, I did confess my sins. Maybe not with a true conviction of sin through the action of the Holy Spirit, but as far as I was able to repent. Was I cleansed from all unrighteousness? Only God would know the answer to that question.

    If you serve Satan, you profess to know God but you still walk in darkness. You claim to have fellowship with God, but your lifestyle confirms otherwise. You do not practice the truth, and you are not saved, although you think you are. If you walk in the light, however, you are a child of God and have fellowship with the brethren, having been cleansed by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ

    Unfortunately I was never able to profess that I know God, or that I had fellowship with God. There was a time when I trusted that these things would happen, but I was disappointed. So maybe (or maybe not) I was still walking in darkness. Maybe I was not saved, although I thought I was. I did have fellowship with the brethren – for a time. But that fellowship became strained when I began to have my doubts about my relationship with God.

    If you serve Satan, you do not keep the commandments of God or the teachings of Jesus. If you serve God, you love Him, which means you obey His commandments and teachings

    What about the person who keeps some of the commandments and teachings? That means all of us.

    If you serve Satan, you hate the brethren. You have no fellowship with the brethren, for you’d rather hang out with your worldly friends. You have no actionable desire to fellowship. If you serve God, you love the brethren and seek fellowship with them

    No I do not hate the brethren. Though I do still hang out with my worldly friends – some of whom are believers. I would never be able to say that I love the brethren, but I do seek to learn from them, and maybe one day there will be fellowship again.

    (End of part 1)
     
  6. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    To joey down under,

    This is part 2 of my response to Heart Inventory – do you serve god or God? « airō

    If you serve Satan, you rely on your self-righteousness to get you to heaven. You believe good works, church attendance, tithes, and being “good enough” will ensure your eternity in heaven. If you serve God, you realize there is nothing in you that is good, no amount of good deeds can save you, and it is by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone that you are saved

    I have never believed that “being good” would get me to heaven. Certainly not self-righteousness. Grace is needed to get a ticket into heaven. To put it another way, it is who you know that matters, not what you know or what you do. However, for me the goal would not be getting into heaven, but getting to know God and getting to know God’s will for me.

    If you serve Satan, you call Jesus Lord but you do not do what He says. If you serve God, you confess Christ as Lord and you do the will of His Father

    When I was a believer I thought that I was doing as it says in the second sentence. I would have no desire to be calling Jesus lord but not allowing Jesus to be lord.

    If you serve Satan, you practice sin as a lifestyle. If you serve God, you practice righteousness as a lifestyle

    If you define righteousness as doing what God wants you to do, then I would agree with the second sentence. Practising sin as a lifestyle? Not my lifestyle, thank you.

    If you serve Satan, you cannot please God and you walk in the flesh. If you serve God, you walk as Jesus walked

    Even after reading the three Bible passages given, I still do not understand what the writer means by “walk as Jesus walked”. I can think of some possibilities, some of them depending on different understandings of the nature of God.

    If you serve Satan, you wallow in your sin and you love your sin. If you serve God, you purify yourself as He is pure, and you become holy as He is holy

    That is one way of putting the gospel message. I would not describe myself as wallowing in sin. Nor as loving my sin.

    If you serve Satan, the commands of God are burdensome to you. His expectations are just too high for you. If you serve God, you love His commandments and they are not burdensome

    I would have thought that the expectations of God are too high for anyone. As Jesus said, “Which of you is without sin?” I recognise that a person who serves God might love God’s commandments, but they might still be burdensome, because the person is still unable to fulfil them properly. However, with the help of God’s strength they might be able to do it. But that implies God serving them, as well as them serving God. That two-way relationship again, without which (for me, at least) attempting to serve God would be more than I have the strength to do. It is because of things like this that would expect God to respond to me as a believer.

    If you serve Satan, you follow his voice as a false shepherd. If you serve God, you do not follow strange voices, but you hear and know the voice of your Shepherd, and you follow Him

    I hear no spiritual voices. Not from Satan, not from God. I would like to hear and know the voice of the good shepherd, but so far it has not happened. Then I would be able to follow.

    If you serve Satan, you are still dead in your trespasses. If you serve God, you have been made a new creation in Christ

    I have no awareness of having a spirit or of things spiritual. Perhaps that is what is meant by being dead in my trespasses. As for being a new creation in Christ, there was a time when I believed that it had happened, but now I am not so sure.

    If you serve Satan, you may have received the Gospel with joy and continued for a time, but when trials and tribulations came, or when you desired the cares of the world, you fell away and were choked out by the pleasures of life. If you serve God, you received the Gospel with a noble and good heart, and go on to produce fruit

    I did receive the gospel with as much joy as my unemotional state would allow. Did it go wrong because I desired the cares of the world or because my faith was choked out by the pleasures of life? Not at all. There were no pleasures involved in losing my faith. It went wrong because I desired fellowship with God and did not get it. I thought that I had received the gospel with a noble and good heart, but unfortunately I did not go on to produce much fruit.

    If you serve Satan, your idea of repentance is being sorry because you got caught. Your sorrow is of your flesh, and the guilt you feel is that of feeling guilty of the consequences. If you serve God, the repentance you know is wrought from godly sorrow, for you are sorry for offending God. This causes you to hate the sin that offended Him, and by His grace, you turn from it, which leads to salvation

    According to this paragraph, maybe my repentance is partly of the flesh. Even so, when I was a believer there was also sorrow for offending God. I thought that I had turned from sin, but obviously not, possibly because of a lack of the grace that is needed.

    If you serve Satan, you refuse to forgive those who offend you. If you serve God, you forgive everyone, no matter what they have done to you

    Ooh, this is a big one. The writer says that the person who serves God will forgive everyone, no matter what they have done. Yet the gospel message is that God only forgives those who truly repent and ask for forgiveness. Asking a person to forgive someone who has not repented and asked for forgiveness, is asking the person to do something that God will not do.

    As I have written before, I am often willing to forgive once I have an acceptable explanation for the offending behaviour. So I am prepared to go further than God would go. But I have doubts about going as far as forgiving everyone, not unless they do something to relieve the situation.

    If that means I am serving Satan (which I am not) then I am serving Satan with the backing of the gospel message.

    If you serve Satan, you hate your enemies. If you serve God, you love your enemies and bless those who persecute you

    Similar response as to the previous statement. However, I can understand the value of blessing those who persecute me, though they might not appreciate me blessing them. Just as wrong-doers against a church or against a Christian are often annoyed when told that you will pray for them.

    If you serve Satan, you create a god in your own image, one that is not holy, just, or righteous, and one you believe is only love and will forgive you no matter what kind of lifestyle you live. This gives you license to sin and you trample on the grace of God. There is no actionable desire in you to love and serve the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength. If you serve God, you know the holiness, righteousness, and justice of God, and because He loved you first, you can love Him. You yearn to serve and love the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength

    I have not created a god, in my image or in any other way. I can conceive of a god, but do not necessarily believe in that god, and I am quite willing to have my conception of god changed.

    I certainly do not conceive of a god who is only love. After all, love is something that I do not experience. Not god conceived in my image would be able to love.

    Unfortunately I do not know God. I have read and heard about the holiness, righteousness and justice of God, but have never experienced them myself. If God first loved me, I have no awareness of it, and am unable to love God. As for serving and loving God with all of me, I might yearn to do that, but it is not happening. Partly because I do not know God, and partly because without emotions I could not do anything with all of my heart, mind, soul or strength.

    I am not serving a false god, as is implied in the statement. I would like to serve the true God, but I do not know how to do that.

    If you serve Satan, you will perish in the Lake of Fire for all eternity. If you serve God, you have eternal life

    The Bible calls the lake of fire the place of the second death. A place for those who serve Satan. The Bible also promises eternal life for those who serve God. That is, those who God acknowledges as serving God, rather than those who only think they are serving God (Matthew 25).

    What about those who serve neither Satan nor God? Is it either/or again? Or is that just the way that language is used in some Bible verses? Is it unbiblical to suggest that there may be many people, perhaps even the vast majority of people, who were never involved in the spiritual battle and will have neither the lake of fire nor eternal life? Just oblivion.

    As I have said before, I have no awareness of having a spirit or of any spiritual realm. I suspect that when I die, that will be it. There will be no second death and no eternal life.

    Of course I may be wrong. Perhaps it is either the lake of fire or eternal life with God. I know which I would prefer. But I still have no idea if I have already achieved it, or if not, how I could find the grace to reach it.
     
  7. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

    +135
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    Sorry - guilty of emotions influencing typing at that point.
    I disagree that it is inappropriate for you. You would benefit from hearing/reading how feeling and non-feeling writers/speakers still agree on fundamental truths. Some people have a better understanding of doctrines or backgrounds behind certain passages than others. Remember I am trying to find resources that are relevant to you personally at the same time as I am typing.
    I think the Bible is difficult to understand in many places whether someone is a believer or not. That is why it is so essential to be transformed by the renewing of your mind. romans 12:1-3
    Renewing of a christian's mind will come AFTER genuine conversion and continued study and fellowship. In my case I had/still have to read and study a great deal to keep my emotions under control. Feelings are my Achilles'_heel.
    For you if you become a Christian/return to Christianity I think you will have to do the same to keep your thoughts focused on God's mind/God's will.
    I think your mind is by far your strongest point as you have mentioned several times that you have led Bible studies and taught people very successfully. I think your difficulty in understanding feelings and metaphors is behind a lot of your comprehension struggles of deeper passages. Kind of like the situation when Jesus healed the blind man who saw trees before he saw things as they really are mark 8:22-25/.
    I want the Holy Spirit to open your spiritual eyes as well. I bet all christian readers so far want the same outcome for you.
    I was being very blunt there. God can use the Bible, God can use special understanding/insight, God can use people, God can use special circumstances. It all depends on God's will for that person at that time. The vast majority of spiritual knowledge will come through study of the Bible and the Holy Spirit enlightening the christian's mind through study of the Bible. Any genuine christian extra-Biblical experience will agree with the Bible's teachings.

    It would be so much easier if God responded to us in obvious ways that 1. we always knew for sure that God was with us 2. outsiders could not dismiss as wishful thinking or an emotional crutch (hubby's an atheist, I know that attitude too well). If that happened we would never need faith. We are told faith is what pleases God. Look at how all the people in the Old Testament are praised hebrews 11 because they had faith in God.
    Knowledge of God does increase via the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes to those who are born-again. john 3:1-8/ Yes you do need to know if you were/need to be born-again. You do have to examine yourself extremely carefully to find out if you really are one of God's children or not.
    I agree with you that you need to experience the work of the Holy Spirit. That will only occur after genuine belief in Christ and genuine repentance/change of mind.
    Although I may misinterpret what you are saying and at times reach different conclusions from being a very "feeling" personality (other side of the spectrum!) I relate to what you are saying about your concerns very well. I went through an extremely difficult struggle with my faith and I don't want a (potential) brother-in-Christ struggling as much as I did. :hug:
     
  8. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

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    Yes very strongly Bible based. 1 john 2:15-16/

    And who (under God's control) is the Prince of the World? job 1:1- job 2:10/, ephesians 6:12/, 2 corinthians 4:3-4/

    Try to take off your default clinical/scientific-style thinking hat. This is an instance when black-and-white thinking style is actually constructive. (Pretty rare I know!) The writer giving either God or Satan as the option that the person ultimately chooses is ensuring that no person will try to find "legal loopholes" or exception clauses to justify their sinfulness in their own particular case.
    Crimes or immoral behaviour of any type - sure the most of the "world" (i.e. non-saved Christians) would dislike the person who does very bad things. God gave mankind an innerbuilt conscience that still functions to some extent in most people. romans 2:12-16/

    The "world" dislikes Christians who confront them with their own sinfulness i.e. failure to please God. Who are among the most disliked in modern society? Those who claim that Jesus is the only way to God because Jesus said that Himself. john 14:6-7/ e.g. The "world" gets a sense of how they would appear to a moral Higher Being if they honestly compare themselves to an actual believing (not name only, easy-believer, cultural) christian and the "world" hates that. 1 corinthians 1:18-31/, john 3:18-21/
    That is definitely an area you have to examine further. You are sinning by putting man and indirectly yourself (via man's praise) before God.
    Jesus didn't leave any grey areas. mark 9:38-41/ If an outsider looks at how you live your life and your priorities who do you think they would say you serve - God or Satan?
    That's a very promising statement. What made you willing to make Christ Lord as well as Saviour?
    Unfortunately if you are not serving God you are serving Satan by default. Are you serving God or not?
    That's an example of where you have to keep the term world in context. Not referring to world as in planet Earth, world as in culture of this world.
    james 4:4 e.g. in Australia to "love the world" would be to chase what the Australian culture chases i.e. big house, couple of cars, investment property, shares, big bank balance. Saw a lot of the "live hard, play hard" attitude in that mining town I lived in for a couple of years and as a christian I found that rampant materialism very confronting.

    Again indirectly if you are living as the world does, loving what the world does, you are therefore serving Satan because you are not living for God.
    Perhaps God really wants you to examine yourself and think for yourself all by yourself this time? My closest self-examination was always by myself but only through the Bible was my worldview changed. Psychology and self-help books and well-meaning advice only told me what was wrong with me and what I should do to improve my situation. My heart needed changing and only God could do that. Yes you do still have a heart, just minus emotions so God can do the same for you. As for me, I'll be stuck in this city for the rest of the year so I'll try to help you get your worldview straight (but make allowances for my default feeling position).

    Look at exodus 32. Immorality and idolatry is often inter-linked. Immorality not always obvious as sexual immorality either. Idolatry could be worship of success, or sport, or pop idol, or even self. Idolatry disobeys the very first commandment exodus 20:3 Putting self first means worshipping self as a god.

    Will have to come back later. Boy is home sick today.

    ---------
    Just found this link relevant to your spiritual blindness - by a British pastor as well. A Two-Stage Conversion to Christ - SermonAudio.com A Two-Stage Conversion to Christ.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2011
  9. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    I listened and it was a very interesting sermon. I can understand why you recommended it to me. Speaking about how spiritual blindness can be complete, or partial, or can be healed fully.

    I would say that in terms of spiritual understanding, I am probably still at the complete blindness stage. I am told that other people are aware of things spiritual, but I have no awareness myself. Even when people explain things to me, I am often still unable to recognise what they recognise. My guess is that only God would be able to cure me of that situation.

    In terms of my understanding of the gospel, maybe I am at the halfway stage. Yes I am aware of being sinful and of God’s standards of holiness. But it is all rather vague and does not have major significance for me. I do not have that deeper understanding that he described towards the end of the sermon. I am aware of it, but it does not really matter to me. What could change that situation? Not an emotional response, not for me anyway. Could I generate enough enthusiasm within myself to think about salvation in the way that he described in the sermon? I doubt it, given that I have never been particularly enthusiastic or passionate about anything, ever. Once again, I guess that only God would be able to cure me of that situation.

    It seems that every time I consider a possible reason for my failure to develop a real acceptance of the gospel, or a real personal relationship with God, the only positive solution to the problem is something that only God would be able to do. There appears to be nothing that I myself could do. When I first realised this a few years ago I was surprised. I had hoped that there was more that I could do, rather than just waiting for God to act. I have asked myself if I am just being lazy, or avoiding making a commitment, but no. It really does seem to me that the ball is firmly in God’s court, and I have to wait until God acts. Listening to the sermon was another example of coming to the same conclusion; I have to wait for God to act. If and when God does act, then it will be up to me to respond.

    I hope the young one is well soon. And thank you for your other message.
     
  10. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

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    I think that was poorly worded. People can obey commands, people can believe the Gospel. People will only be able to obey God's commands after believing the Gospel. A christian receives the Holy Spirit Himself when they first believe who then enables to obey God's commands successfully. We can't do that in our own strength. romans 8:12-17/
    If a person is not obeying God (which should be happening if they genuinely believe the gospel) then by default they are serving Satan.
    Yes strong language is needed to get through to many people. Are you able to go one day without any type of sin or failing at all?

    Don't worry about whether you feel these things or not. Look at your behaviour and style of thinking - does these reflect a worldly or a christian mindset?
    It is part of Christian spiritual growth. galatians 5:16-26/ That can only happen through God changing us.
    You should be focusing more on finding whether or not you are saved first.

    If you are not serving God you are serving Satan whether you realise that or not. You have said several times that being unaware of Satan blocks any influence on you. That is the weirdest logic ever. Do you think the average christian with normal emotions etc. ever sees Satan or feels Satan's influence at all?

    Does disbelief in the theory of gravity stop a person from falling? The New Testament is especially clear about Satan's role in keeping people under bondage to sin and unbelief. If you have ever sinned in your life then Satan has influence over your life.

    All people who do not believe are blinded by Satan. Yes God can release you from that spiritual blindness.

    1. If you believe that God is an all-knowing God then why do you continue to believe He would not know if you were genuinely repentant or not?
    2. If you believe God is just and merciful then why don't you think He would be fair and reasonable in your own special case?
    3. Yes you are calling God a liar although you are trying to be tactful to ease your own conscience. Why do you think God's promises of forgiveness to all who come to Him are lies when it comes to you?

    Yes only God knows if you honestly and genuinely regretted sinning, wanted to stop sinning, tried to stop sinning and so on despite lack of emotions.

    This is a challenging one for you because you have lost fellowship with other christians.
    1. Was it because you favoured non-believers' company and type of lifestyle more?
    2. Was it because you didn't like being confronted with your sinfulness and/or genuine christians' good life in comparison?
    3. Did you ever "feel/think" like you were part of the Body of Christ, not just a member of a congregation?
    4. Did this only start to happen after your belief mightn't be genuine after all?
    That's right -all of us keep some of the commandments sometimes. Is that good enough for a Holy God? e.g. james 2:10-11/, james 4:17, romans 14:23, galatians 3:10-14/

    General pattern of friendship there. Do you "think/feel" more comfortable with non-christians or christians overall (assuming equal level of friendship)?
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2011
  11. joey_downunder

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    You've got a few long passages amongst my answers to read but the all-important rule of Bible interpretation is "context, context, context".

    1. That realisation that only faith in Christ will save you is a very important part of the Christian faith. ephesians 2:8-10/
    2. Yes it is good that you want to know God in this life instead of just hoping for Heaven. You have taken that to the extreme though. Your unbelief in the next life is a major stumbling block towards any form of Christian faith because that unbelief equivalent to calling God a liar. Jesus promises eternal life to those who believe in Him. john 3:16/ You have to decide whether or not you're going to actually believe Jesus is telling the truth. Your salvation depends on that.
    That is another very promising statement.
    Make sure you're not judging your life as moral because your life looks moral. What motive is behind your good choices? Is your moral life a result of seeking to please God or general good morals that other non-Christians can also have?
    I think the writer is using "Christianese" there. Statements like that are actually more helpful in convicting backsliders and christian by name only people.
    When I read statements like that I assume the writer is meaning for the person to think about how Jesus lived His life, how did Jesus make His choices, what behaviours did Jesus demonstrate. Jesus lived a perfect holy life without any sin or failings in the eyes of God. The reader should have that sinless Jesus in mind and then turn their eyes onto themselves. Am I living that kind of life? Am I always making moral choices? Am I always living for God first and not just for my own pleasure and personal satisfaction?

    OK - if you are not wallowing in sin is that because you are not easily tempted because you are without emotions, or is that because your heart had been changed by God when you first believed (even though you didn't realise that because feelings are absent)?

    That's right - no-one can possibly be without sin. We are descendants of Adam, it is part of human nature. romans 3:9-20/ The realisation of our failure to please God no matter how hard we try should be enough to drive us to despair (or in your case honest frankness and admittance that you'll never measure up to God's perfect standards). Look at the apostle Paul's testimony of his struggle against sin. romans 7:7-25/
    The Law versus Grace part of christian doctrine is far more important than many Christians realise. Until we have this clear in our minds our faith is weak and uncertain. You have to have an understanding of why sin is so hated by God and why you should be so grateful for God's promises of forgiveness to all who believe in Him (therefore not restricted to those who receive answers to prayer, feelings, emotions etc). If you Losthope believe in God you receive forgiveness for all your sins, all your weaknesses, all your imperfections, all your failings whether or not you personally ever feel any difference after you believe in Him.
    1. I doubt that many people hear from Satan. As far as I can remember the modern testimonies I have heard or read of people who actually do are always people who have been involved in occult activites or other non-christian religions.
    2. Hearing from God is a very subjective thing. Remember that. Some people may hear from God all the time - how much is due to their feeling temperament, how much is their mind remembering good Christian teachings and rewording it in their own thinking style language, how much is God actually speaking to them inaudibly - that can be very hard to assess. Look at the fruits of that hearing from God. Is that person growing towards or away from God? Is that person growing in spiritual knowledge that is in perfect agreement with the Bible? Is that person growing in spiritual maturity and Christian love towards their spiritual family (remember 1 John?)

    If you were/are a christian look at signs of growth and deeper understanding at your own level. Lack of understanding of feelings will always be an issue for you. Did you grow in knowledge about God? Did you help others grow spiritually? Did your attitudes and thinking change and go into alignment with Christian morals over time? Did what the Bible said seem to make more sense the longer you believed in Christianity?
    Stop worrying about whether you feel aware of a spirit or not. Many people don't feel any different overall. All you say is making me wonder how much "thinking personality" style christians must think they are second-rate christians because they don't experience things as others seem to all the time. I would love to see someone examine modern christian writers' bestsellers and see how many people write for "thinking" not "feeling". people. Perhaps there should even be translations?!!!

    And for not being sure about being a new creation - of course you have doubts. You have been away from Christian fellowship for so long it would be incredible if you were still sure about that.
    1. yes I find it quite easy to believe you received the Gospel correctly.
    2. are you Losthope willing to accept that you can receive fellowship with God through the Bible and via christian fellowship and that will be enough for you if that is all God wishes for you to have in this life?
    3. What type of fruit were you expecting? You may have produced completely different types of fruit to everyone else that you didn't recognise as fruit.
     
  12. joey_downunder

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    I think for many people some of the flesh is involved especially when a christian is still a babe-in-Christ (new or immature in their faith believer). i.e. not wanting to get punished versus sad that they have displeased God. Grace is given to the totally undeserving who however still believe in God. You and I will never deserve grace. Through faith I have accepted God's grace and as a result I getting more focused on pleasing God not avoiding punishment- will you now do the same? Don't look at the past, the past can't be undone. Are you willing to do that now even though you know you may never feel or see things any differently in this lifetime?


    I think God does understand circumstances when we can forgive but should not forget. e.g. not let child abusers get away it because they just say sorry and expect the apology to be accepted. However we need to look at the general position of God first. matthew 18:21-35/ How much unforgiveness towards our wrongdoers is because we are genuinely seeking justice for wrongdoing or only because we are personally grieved or offended? God knows our hearts. Ephesians 4:26/

    I have read similar Christian articles backed up by Bible passages in context that agree with what you're saying as well. I know to some extent my abuser is sorry for what they did. I am still forgiving in stages but I never will trust them. Too much was said and done for me to forget it all. I want to protect my children from that person's subtle influence and mind games as well by protecting my own mental health.
    Again God knows whether we are hating someone because of our own sinful nature or whether we are hating that person's sin. We can still wish that person good e.g. asking God to bring a criminal to justice is not hatred of that person. That is probably what is best for them and loving your neigbour (potential victims) as well. Loving someone who hates you and doing good for those who hurt you is totally contrary to the world's values. That is what God wants though. proverbs 25:21-22/

    -----
    Will have to come back later again. My boy is nearly over his tummy ache though.
     
  13. joey_downunder

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    Whatever you put before God is your own personal god. An atheist makes SELF their own god. Who do they live to please? Themselves of course. If you have lived as an atheist you have lived to put yourself first. That can include moral things like caring for one's family not just obvious sins because that atheist is looking after their own best interests.
    Don't worry about that lack of experience of feeling love. Love is a doing word. 1 corinthians 13:4-8/ Look at what Jesus did for mankind objectively. Did that demonstrate actual love?

    Not one person on this planet alive right now knows God the way you want to know Him personally. It is by faith alone that we get a glimpse of God's goodness. How does that faith start? Through hearing the word of God and believing the Gospel. romans 10:14-17/ What you genuinely desire will only happen in the next life if you believe in Christ. 1 corinthians 13:9-12/
    There is no way you can please God in your own strength anyway. You are a sinner. That you have in common with every person on Earth.
    You can only serve the true God by believing in Jesus and what He did for you and responding to Jesus' sacrifice for your sins accordingly.

    That again demonstrates how much Biblical knowledge you have. You could potentially be a wonderful servant of God.
    Yes. If you don't believe in God, by default you serve Satan. Hebrews 11:6/

    Yes it is. This is an area can be hard to reconcile with the image of a loving God and is used by many atheists and even christians to reject God and/or remake God in their own image.

    According to the Bible God is a perfect and holy God as well as a loving God. God cannot and will not tolerate sinfulness in His presence. Through Jesus being made a sacrifice for our sins Hebrews 10 God has decreed that all who believe in Christ - no matter how sinful they may have been or will be - are made acceptable and even holy in God's sight. romans 5-6/ TO those who believe in Jesus God gives His Holy Spirit which enables us to keep His commandments that we could never possibly ever do in our own strength. romans 8:1-11/
    This has actually been the one issue that has made me question if you ever were a genuine Christian. Everything you have said sounds like you agree with the nicene creed until the very last sentence.
    ...And we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

    Other than not experiencing feelings of repentance - that may be unlikely to happen since you have never experienced emotions - you have consistently dismissed the idea of Heaven or eternal life that Jesus Himself promised just because you don't feel like you have a spirit. How do you explain away obvious passages like john 14:1-4/, 1 Corinthians 15/, Revelation 21/ as well as the many mentions of Heaven by Jesus Himself?

    You need to look up faith and salvation in your bible and see for yourself that faith in Christ is what will save you.
     
  14. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

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    I decided to do all the other typing first since you spent the time reflecting as well. Typing to you has been very educational to me. Thinking back there never was a time when I wasn't interested in God and religion. When I was born again as a teenager my already good general knowledge of Christianity (via Catholic upbringing) the words on those pages came alive to me. It all made sense to me. All the experiences + spiritual knowledge made it so easy to believe in God. I genuinely couldn't understand how anyone could NOT believe. That is why post-surgery when all feelings and gradually all interest was spiritually heartbreaking for me. The words you have typed has made me remember my terrible struggle and how through God's mercy alone I have come back from complete despair. This is why I have spent so much time and effort typing to an actual non-believer, more than I have ever spent trying to help a fellow christian. I understood some of your genuine personal struggles although I still don't know whether you're an "almost believer" or an extremely intelligent "I don't want to believe and my brain condition and lack of spiritual experiences is my get out-of-jail-free card" disbeliever.

    I only changed because God chose to change me. The way He has done it is completely different to the way I would have chosen though. I wanted it easy because of everything I had already gone through, He seems to made me go even further. I am even being sent back to a mining town just like the one I loathed a few years ago at the end of the year but this time permanently!!!

    If God decides to save you, you will change as well and it will be for His glory. It may be totally imperceptible to you or it may be mind-blowingly transforming - that is up to God alone.

    On your side - what needs to happen is for you to believe the Gospel completely and fully this time and resolve to follow God no matter what and whether you ever see or experience anything at all. "But what if God has decided against me, why should I bother?" I can imagine you asking. Although God appears to choose who will believe in Him, He still holds us responsible for our decision to follow God or not.

    You are fully sane despite lack of emotions. You are way more blessed in the intellectual department than most people. You have way more education, life experiences and opportunities to serve God than most people. Just like every other christian you alone will be held responsible whether you permanently make God your Lord and Saviour or not. Choose Whom You Will Serve
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2011
  15. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    To joey down under,

    In five recent postings you have responded to my comments on the statements in Heart Inventory – do you serve god or God? It is probably not sensible of me to reply to every one of the items, or I would need five postings as well. Instead I will respond to those that seem to be the most significant, or where you have asked a question.

    Before dealing with any of the statements I will repeat what I wrote before responding to Heart Inventory – do you serve god or God? And that is to say that people are led astray not only by the devil but also by the flesh and by the world. Remember that the Bible says that the power of the devil is limited. Unlike God, my assumption is that the devil does not have the power to respond to and to influence everyone throughout all time at once. So if people are led astray by the flesh, or by the world, the devil has less work to do. What I am saying is that it is not necessarily either God or the devil, because there are other possibilities.

    It means that when you, or the writer of Heart Inventory – do you serve god or God? suggest that by not serving God I am serving the devil, I do not agree. Instead I may be serving the flesh, or the world. I can understand why you may call that sin, but I cannot accept that it means serving the devil.

    You wrote this:
    When I suggest that it is not necessarily either God or Satan, I do recognise that something could still be either good or sin. It is just that sin can occur for other reasons than the influence of the devil. I don’t see any loopholes, though, to justify sin.

    It may well be that fundamentalists are much disliked. But it is not only Christian fundamentalists.

    I understand what you are saying, but I have to remember that as a believer my desire was to serve God. If only I had known how God wanted me to serve.

    Sometimes to my surprise, some people assume that I am serving God in what I do. I don’t see it that way, though.

    I found it much easier to think of Christ as Lord than Christ as saviour. It was more Lord with a bit of saviour, rather than being both equally.

    I have spent many years trying to think it out for myself. I have thought of possibilities, but have no way of knowing which is right. Even though I have a “front runner” possibility in my mind. Of course God could change me. I just wonder when, and how. Because if God did not change me (and that is how it seemed to be) when I was a believer, it is difficult for me to understand how God could change me now that I am no longer a believer. Having said that, I am sure that God should be inventive enough to resolve that situation.

    I agree with the theory. I am waiting for it to happen in practice. Because I know that my own strength is insufficient and I would need the Holy Spirit to help me.

    You never know. I might be in a coma one day...

    As far as I can see, all of the evidence suggests that I am not saved. But I am prepared to be proved wrong.

    That would be great.

    1. I don’t remember suggesting that God would not know if I was genuinely repentant or not.
    2. Similarly I don’t remember suggesting that God would act differently in this respect.
    3. When you write about God’s promises of forgiveness to all who come to God you are thinking only of some Bible verses. There are other verses that imply that some are permanently rejected, and that some will have to wait for the promise to be fulfilled. There are also the “with all your heart” verses, that I cannot fulfil. There are plenty of Biblical reasons for me not being forgiven. Even so, maybe I am forgiven; I have no personal evidence either way about that.

    1. Definitely not. Even after giving up my faith, I preferred the company of Christians – when they would let me.
    2. No again. I do not remember that ever happening.
    3. As a believer I certainly thought that I was part of the body of Christ.
    4. I only really lost fellowship with (some) Christians when I gave up my faith. Before then, during the time when I was struggling to maintain my faith, I still had fellowship with other Christians, as far as I was able to.

    These days I think I get on with believers and unbelievers equally well, other things being equal. But not with the over-critical ones of either persuasion.

    I think you have taken my situation further to the extreme than I would have done. I am not saying that I do not believe in eternal life. I am saying that I personally am not interested in eternal life.

    I am also a little concerned that you are suggesting that my salvation depends on me accepting one particular aspect of the Christian faith, or maybe every single aspect of the Christian faith. Lots of people become Christians with very little knowledge about Christianity, let alone a fully developed set of beliefs. I have said that if I were to become a Christian and to have a personal relationship with God, then I might well want that relationship to go on for eternity, and I would start to be very interested in life after death. But that would come after knowing God, not beforehand.

    When I was a believer I thought that my morality was to please God. Nowadays it is general good morals – but by no means perfect.

    Or is it because I am not a wallower? I can be tempted to sin; you do not need emotions for that. I have no awareness of God changing my heart when I first believed, and I do not think that a lack of feelings would prevent me knowing what God was doing in me. Surely I would have noticed the effect on my thoughts, if it had happened.

    I have an understanding of why God hates sin, but my understanding is not sufficiently important or powerful to be desperate for a saviour. However, God may well have forgiven me, or maybe not; I just do not know. What I do know is that there were no changes in me and no perceivable response from God.

    I will stop here and deal with more of this another day.
     
  16. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    To joey down under,

    This is the second half of following up Heart Inventory – do you serve god or God? You wrote this:
    Signs of growth and deeper understanding? None that I am aware of. Did I grow in knowledge of God? Unfortunately not. Did I help others grow spiritually? Possibly. Did my attitudes and thinking change and go into alignment with Christian morals over time? No. Did the Bible seem to make more sense the longer I believed? No.

    It is probably true that people who think much more than they feel may think they are second class Christians because there are things that feeling Christians are able to experience that thinking Christians do not experience. And someone like me, on the extreme of not having feelings, thinks they are not Christian at all. However, even though there are some ways of experiencing God that could only happen for feeling people, there ought to be ways of experiencing God that are open to everyone. Thinking believers ought to experience God – if it is real. I did not experience God. Is that because I was not saved? Or is it because the idea of someone like me being able to know God is just delusion?

    I liked your idea of examining Christian bestsellers to see if they appeal to feeling people rather than thinking people. Probably they are mostly aimed at feeling people. Just as much of the Bible seems to be aimed at feeling people – or is that just a function of the way that feeling people translated the Bible?

    I am not sure what being away from Christian fellowship has to do with having doubts about being a new creation. I say that I have doubts because I have no evidence of being changed. That has nothing to do with fellowship.

    If I was certain that those things would be all God that wishes for me to have in this life, then yes I would accept it. Because I knew that it was God’s will for me. But I would probably not be happy about it, because then I would definitely think that I was a second class believer. It would be a faith and an acceptance in which God had not met my deepest needs.

    Some people are happy to accept that their fellowship with God comes only through the Bible and maybe also via Christian fellowship. That is fine – for them. But I have greater expectations. I would expect to have a personal relationship with God, and to have God working in me to help me to work for God.

    If every Christian was happy with only the Bible and Christian fellowship, then I would quite possibly never have been attracted to Christianity at all.

    My spiritual needs and expectations are not the same as yours. Not wrong. Just different.

    Well yes I suppose that is possible. But unlikely.

    The problem is that you can explain away with ideas such as this, every individual type of response from God that I said I did not receive, to suggest that for every possible response, either I could not access it because it involves the emotions, or that God did act but I was unaware of it. I agree that any one of the possible ways that God might act, could be explained away in this way. But to suggest that they all were available to me and I just failed either to access them or failed to recognise any of them, that is so unlikely that I cannot accept it.

    If I am not going to feel or see things any differently in this lifetime, then Christianity would have no attraction for me. I would not be interested. That is partly because of my lack of interest (which is not the same as not believing in it) of life after death and partly because as such a Christian I would not be able to find out how God would want me to serve.

    I am not sure that I ever learned to live to please God, even when I was a believer. Of course I tried to live to please God, but never was quite able to.

    Because of love, a person can act in ways that demonstrate their love. Another person may act in exactly the same way for a completely different reason. It means that I do have experience of acting as if I felt love, but no experience of love itself.

    I have written before about my observation that some Christians rely on knowing God through the Bible and expect to know God personally in the next life, and some Christians claim a personal relationship with God right now.

    I would love to know if there is anyone who was surprised when they read your statement that not one person on this planet alive right now knows God the way I want to know God personally. From some of the responses that I received from Christians when I began a thread about the topic of knowing God about a year ago, I suspect that you will find some Christians who disagree strongly with your statement.

    I agree that faith would be needed in order to know God, and that it would involve believing the gospel.

    Agreed. A person can try to please God in their own strength, but they would do it much better with God’s help.

    In my original posting for this thread, I asked about the need for a conviction of sin, and therefore responding to Jesus’ sacrifice for my sins. So far, that conviction of sin has not happened. I still do not think that I have a strong need for a saviour. It means that I am still a long way from being able to serve God.

    I have to keep on saying that it is not belief in Christ that brings salvation. Salvation could only occur through grace. That is, salvation involves God responding to the person’s belief in Christ. Unless and until God responds, that person is not saved. There are several places in the gospels where Jesus speaks of people who think they are saved, but are not (and not just the Pharisees and Sadducees).

    Then to those who God chooses to respond to, the Holy Spirit could give strength to enable people to keep the commandments etc.

    Sorry but life after death is of no interest to me. As I have said before, maybe if one day I should come to know God in this life, then I might want that relationship to continue after death and I might then be interested in life after death. But at the moment, no.

    I may never experience feelings of repentance, but I assume that I could think repentance, but not until the Holy Spirit convicts me of sin – in whatever way the Holy Spirit convicts someone of sin when they lack emotions.

    I do not dismiss the idea of heaven and eternal life. I just have no interest in these things.
     
  17. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

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    Very true - too many people try to blame the one being Satan for their own failings and sinfulness. I am glad you have not fallen for that major distortion of the truth. However if you look at verses regarding spiritual warfare and Jesus casting out evil spirits in the Gospels you will discover there are many evil spiritual beings. matthew 8:28-34/ Remember 1/3 angels cast out of heaven when they decided to join in Satan's rebellion against God. revelation 12:7-9/ Many good websites on spiritual warfare that are Biblically based out there.
    A person serving the flesh/world is not walking in the spirit. romans 8:7/ Who is pleased by that happening - God or Satan? You don't have to give your active consent to Satan. Your fallen nature is by default displeasing God because you are in rebellion to God whether you realise that or not. 1 samuel 15:23/ Of course you aren't accepting that - I don't think you want to be displeasing God but if you are not on God's team you are on Satan's. (You really should read Screwtape Letters again because C.S.Lewis did a great job).
    I struggle with that as well. I wish I was able to actively do more.

    Perhaps you should have taken the attitude of "I will seek to please you God today" and take it day by day? You never know how a single kind word or deed may be doing for God.
    That is interesting - is that from unbelief or lack of conviction due to lack of feelings? If you do not have genuine faith in Christ you are condemned by God.
    I am sure God could and has changed you whether you're a believer or non-believer.
    I never thought an agnostic would be sympathetic to Calvinism.
    You're going back to equating heart = feelings, therefore no feelings = no heart for God. God would understand in your case how your heart really is towards Him. Who does He say loves Him? Deuteronomy 7:9/, john 14:15-21/, 1 john 5:2-3/

    What personal evidence for being forgiven do you mean? I don't think I have got any sign whether I am or not. I have to trust God's promises in the Bible instead. e.g. 1 John 1.9/

    Your whole attitude throughout your postings is that because you haven't experience any feelings or answers you don't believe in eternal life and so you're looking for other ways to know God in this life.

    Actions speak louder than words. You are ignoring a huge number of promises that God makes to His children because it doesn't suit your current worldview. If you don't believe one of God's major promises why do you think God would have a relationship with you?
    Questioning whether there is really an eternal life and dismissing that teaching because you haven't experienced anything you could classify as spiritual is a major problem. That is not merely a theology issue. That is a actual HEART issue. In your innermost being you are not believing what that Jesus Himself talks about a great deal. You do not trust Him. You do not believe He really tells the truth. That is not a minor "whether women should wear hats in church or not" issue.
    And as knowledge increases more is expected of that Christian. God will make allowances for someone who sincerely doesn't know about a teaching or Bible passage compared to someone who CHOOSES to disbelieve that teaching because doesn't suit them personally for whatever reason.

    If you have decided you will not believe there is an eternal life until you're a christian then you won't become a christian. You are not believing what Jesus Himself promises for all those who believe in Him. What Does the Bible Say About Death, Eternal Life and Heaven?
    Do you seriously believe that Jesus would have gone through all He did philippians 2:5-11/ just so you "could have your best life now"?

    I'll have to come back to your other entry another day as I've got sick from my other boy. Worst thing about being a parent - they have to share their sicknesses with you.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2011
  18. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    They say that there are two things that children are happy to share - infectious diseases and their mother's age.

    Get well soon
     
  19. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    I really appreciate you sharing in the way that you have.

    I think that, like you, I have been interested in faith since I was a child. You made a commitment to God as a teenager. I wonder what age. From speaking to many Christians, I have noticed that the most common ages for a young person to become a Christian are eight and fourteen. Maybe I missed out on becoming a Christian when I was young, despite years of going to Christian-related activities, because I was not introduced to the gospel in terms of sin and forgiveness until I was 19. The gospel message was explained to me by a Christian girlfriend.

    Maybe if I had become a Christian as a young teenager, my experience would have been even more similar to yours. I think that when I was young I probably did have at least some emotions, although by my late teens the emotions had more or less disappeared. For a few years I might possibly have been a Christian with emotions and emotionally-related spiritual experiences, but later I would have lost these.

    I also know a lot about the complete despair that I experienced in the months before, during and after my exit from calling myself a believer. I know just what you mean, both the complete despair and the spiritual heartbreak. That was when I lost my hope.

    It is to a great extent because of the memory of that despair, that I know I am unable simply to trust and hope. Nor could I do what you suggest, believe and resolve to follow God. Not without God’s strength to support me. I dare not risk failure with the prospect of suffering that despair again. Last time I survived it without losing my mind, and without losing my marriage, but it was a close thing. Next time it could be worse.

    In the past one common cause of being permanently transferred to a mental institution was mental breakdown attributed to religion. I have no wish to suffer the same fate.

    I would certainly not describe myself as an extremely intelligent "I don't want to believe and my brain condition and lack of spiritual experiences is my get out-of-jail-free card" disbeliever. I love the description, by the way. However, I can understand why some Christians think that I may be playing a game of that kind. I may be an “almost believer” in the sense that we wrote about recently. But not an actual believer. I was a believer many years ago, but not now.

    If one day I am able to trust God again, then I would be delighted for God to change me. Small change, or mind-blowing transformation; that would be up to God to decide.

    I understand that God could choose who to call, who to save and who to ignore. I also understand that it is the person’s decision whether or not to follow God. So where among these possibilities do I fit in? The way it seems to me is that I chose to follow God but God did not respond to me. Of course I may be wrong; I know that there are other possibilities, but that is the one that seems the most likely to me at present. I am trying to understand why God did not respond. Because there is no doubt in my mind that I chose to follow God, all those years ago.

    I chose who to serve. I am still willing to serve, even though God has given me no obvious encouragement over the years. But in my own strength (and that was the only strength available to me) I was not able to hold onto my faith indefinitely. Eventually, after clinging onto faith by my fingertips, I had to let go. If I had more strength, I might have hung on for longer, but it would have been a very unhappy state to live in permanently. I would have been a disastrous advertisement for Christianity.
     
  20. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    To joey down under,

    You wrote this:
    You write that I would not accept that being still in my fallen nature would displease God. Not at all. I am quite happy to accept, in principle, that God is much more pleased when a person serves God than when the person is serving themselves.

    However, I do not accept that if you are not on God’s team you are on Satan’s team. Many people, especially those who have a very strong attachment to a particular cause, have a tendency to assume that anyone who is not on their side is on the opposing side, whatever the circumstances. I am not at all surprised that some of the people in this category were writers of sections of the Bible, because it would only be people strongly following God who would write the scriptures. Therefore it is inevitable that statements about being on one side or the other would appear in the Bible.

    Maybe you need emotions to feel strongly enough about something to assume that everyone who is not for you is against you. I am not sure about that. I only know that I am not the type of person who thinks in such for or against terms. The result is that any statement about having to be on one side or the other, whether it comes from a modern politician or a writer of the Bible, is something that I regard as not being said or written for someone like me. And before you say that means I am being unscriptural, I will be referring you to some words of Jesus to support my thoughts.

    In any war there are people and nations that are neutral. The warring nations may not like it, and they may even invade a neutral county and effectively force that country to choose which side to support. Similarly in any argument there are people who are not on one side or the other. Sometimes it is essential that there are people who are neutral; a neutral person is often called in to help to resolve a dispute, whether it is industrial unrest, tension between two communities or a full scale war. Jesus recognised this in Matthew 5:9.

    You also mentioned the Screwtape Letters. In that book I remember the idea of sins being in opposite pairs of an extreme, so that the devil relies on a person’s hatred of the sin at one extreme to drive them into the sin at the opposite extreme. For example, some people’s fears or hatred of gluttony and being overweight will go to the opposite extreme and become anorexic. And vice versa. Similarly some people’s fear or hatred of Satan and sin will drive them to fundamentalism in which you have to be on one side or the other. And some people’s fear of fundamentalists will turn them off religion for life.

    In a sense, that is what I did during the time that I was a believer. Never knowing how some word or deed might be serving Go. But at the same time never knowing if a word or deed might be the opposite of what God wanted.

    I do not think that it was either lack of belief or lack of conviction. It was more that, because I never had a conviction of sin, I never thought strongly in terms of needing a saviour. I did want Christ as lord. There was no lack of belief. There was a lack of feelings, but at the time I did not really recognise that I lacked feelings.

    To some extent I concentrated on serving God rather than worrying about the mechanics of how God would accept me. After all, serving God is a long term commitment; salvation is a one time event.

    Did I have genuine faith in Christ? Well, I thought I did. Maybe my faith was slightly different from yours, but that is inevitable; we are different people.

    Thinking in terms of the Christian viewpoint, you could argue that God does everything for both believers and unbelievers. Sending rain for the just and the unjust, for example. Supposing it to be true, if God changes everyone, believer or not, how would I know if God regarded me as a true believer, or not?

    In practice I have no awareness of God changing me. But I accept the possibility.

    I assume by this you are referring to one aspect of Calvinism, the idea of predestination so that some are destined to be saved and some are not. I have no idea if that idea is correct. However, if it is correct, it would be a perfectly feasible explanation for failure in my attempt to become a Christian. Many Christians do have that belief, and I have to accept it as a possibility, that the reason for my lack of progress spiritually is because my name is not written in the book of life.

    No, that was not what I meant when I wrote that I cannot fulfil the “with all your heart” verses. My emphasis was more on the word “all” than the word “heart”. Yes, I can put my heart into something, although of course without feelings and emotions my heart is a lot weaker than for most people. However, I have never in my life, including during my time as a believer, been able to put all of anything into doing or believing something. I assume this is a side effect of not having emotions, and therefore not having strong feelings about anything. The result is that when for example the Bible says that I will find God if I seek with all my heart, I have to recognise that I do not have the ability to seek with all my heart.

    I hoped that God might understand about my lack of “all my heart”. Unfortunately my experience so far of being a believer could suggest that God has made no allowances.

    Behind the confession of sins referred to in 1 John 1:9 there is the necessity for being convicted of sin. Being sufficiently concerned about sin that you need salvation. I lack such a conviction of sin, and so I am not at all sure that the promise in 1 John 1:9 refers to me. I could say something similar about other verses (as with seeking God with all my heart above). Yes, there are promises in the Bible, but I am not at all sure that they necessarily apply to me.

    I have said that I have not experienced any feelings or answers. I have also written that I am not interested in eternal life. But I have not made a connection between the two in the way that you imply. I have never been interested in eternal life. Not in the years before I became a believer, not during the times when I was a believer, not since I was a believer. In the years before I became a believer I obviously had no idea that I would get no feelings and no answers once I became a believer, yet I still had no interest in life after death.

    It is only much more recently that I have speculated (and that is what it is, speculation) that the reason for my lack of interest in life after death is because I lack awareness of having a spirit. This implies I have no part of me that I am aware of, that could potentially achieve eternal life.

    You have written several times that I do not believe in eternal life. I am quite happy with the concept of eternal life. Like many other ideas in the Bible I am undecided about whether or not it is true. But because I lack interest in eternal life, it is not something that I have any inclination to study in detail.

    I am definitely not looking for ways to know God in this life as some kind of compensation for not knowing God after death. I was expecting to know God in this life because this is what Christians told me to expect, and because the Bible tells me to expect it. For example, if Christians are not to know God in their life, what is the point of passages such as Ephesians 3:14-20?

    I believe that one of the major promises in the Bible is that Christians will be able to know God in this life and to have a relationship. I just happen to be more interested in that, than in life after death. You seem to be concentrating more on life after death than knowing God in this life. We are none of us fanatical about every single aspect of the faith. In that sense I was, as a believer, no different from most other Christians, yet my experience was very different from theirs.

    In principle I agree with you here. Does it also imply that a believer who makes no effort to learn more about Bible teachings is also potentially in trouble with God? My guess would be yes.

    Yes I do seriously believe that Jesus would still have been needed as a sacrifice for sin so that believers could know and serve God in this life.
     
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