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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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    Hi Losthope, I have to organise my son's birthday things for tomorrow so I'll put off responding to your latest entry in detail because it deserves a bit of thought on my part.

    Instead I'm giving you some food for thought - call it an assignment. ;) You say you have not experienced anything spiritual at all. Look at your situation from a half-glass full perspective. You will never fall for false spiritual experiences like many feeling-focused christians have. This documentary is from a thinking CHARISMATIC pastor who is very concerned about this very dangerous type of spiritual deception that charismatic christians are especially prone to.

    SHOCKING DOCUMENTARY 1- False spirits invade the church - KUNDALINI WARNING - Andrew Strom -Part 1 - YouTube

    P.S. I also found a blog with a couple of entries similar to C.S.Lewis' book "The Screwtape Letters".
    The Shrewshape E-Mails, To: Wormsponge Re: A Caution
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2011
  2. saralynn

    saralynn Newbie

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    Well, the trick is to not to THINK about both alternatives...it's more like a suspension of thinking. Hard to explain...sort of Buddhisty, as in "the sound of one hand clapping"

    I just happen to think that if God exists, if spiritual realms exist, if an ultimate meaning exists, it is beyond our comprehension. All we can do is hope and trust that love, beauty, and wisdom are inherent aspects of God and the purpose of life is to strive to attain them, through whatever form of "worship" resonates with us. These values are universal...a Christian saint isn't very different from a Jewish saint or a Buddhist saint.

    I'm not sure if "resonating" is an emotion. If so, then yours will simply have to be an intellectual quest.

    Sorry, gang, for introducing other religions onto a Christian Forum. I don't wish to be disrespectful.
     
  3. Hospes

    Hospes Well-Known Member

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    Losthope,

    You are certainly a conundrum for many; I agree with your doctrine as far as I have read and yet God has seemingly not made Himself known to you. For many Christians believing the right stuff is all it takes. You have defended well the teaching that God is the principal actor in being born again; not mental assent followed by a prayer.

    Have you read much of C. S. Lewis? Maybe "The Great Divorce"?
     
  4. saralynn

    saralynn Newbie

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    I was going to recommend "Surprised by Joy"....
     
  5. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    To joey down under,

    I hope your son’s birthday goes well.

    I watched the Kundalini warning video and read the Shrewshape email – which also mentions Kundalini.

    You are quite right when you say that I ought to be safe from false spiritual experiences. I have never sought anything similar to a Kundalini experience, or the Toronto blessing, because I know it is just not me.

    However, recognising that lack of spiritual awareness would prevent me being affected by false spiritual experiences is a bit like telling a deaf person that they are blessed because they do not have to listen to any boring sermons. Or to a fog horn. Yes, the bad and unpleasant things are missed, but so are the pleasant and helpful things. I would prefer to have the choice of whether or not to try out a Kundalini experience.
     
  6. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    To saralynn,

    You wrote this:
    Well, the trick is to not to THINK about both alternatives...it's more like a suspension of thinking. Hard to explain...sort of Buddhisty, as in "the sound of one hand clapping"

    I am afraid that I do not understand.

    I just happen to think that if God exists, if spiritual realms exist, if an ultimate meaning exists, it is beyond our comprehension. All we can do is hope and trust that love, beauty, and wisdom are inherent aspects of God and the purpose of life is to strive to attain them, through whatever form of "worship" resonates with us.

    I suppose you could say that my chosen form of “worship” would be to try to serve God in whatever way God wanted me to serve. And at the moment I am spending some time trying to attain that.
     
  7. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    Welcome to the thread Hospes. Thank you for your words.

    I had not thought of myself as being a conundrum. Though I am well aware that my situation has baffled many Christians over the years. It baffles me too.

    I have read some of the CS Lewis books, mostly many years ago. I do not think I have read “The Great Divorce”. Nor “Surprised by Joy”, though I have heard about it.
     
  8. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

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    You need to have it reinforced further what you have been protected from. Worldview Radio: Worldview Weekend Radio with Brannon Howse - August 19th, 2011 You can only access it for free for 2 weeks from when it was put online.

    With your condition if you had a smidgen of feeling you would be especially vunerable. You may have been seduced into mysticism if you had been able to sense any type of spiritual feeling at all. You might have gone after what felt strongest and most real, most novel and most like what other christians have described to you. (I know charismatics probably don't realise it but there is a type of rank system - those who feel the most and see the most are envied and often assumed to be the most spiritual. Those in the congregation who don't hear or feel God feel left out and question their faith.) The counterfeit is very dangerous and takes your eyes off God - the Giver - and onto the feelings - the gifts.

    I experienced that deception. I went to a charismatic church that provided counselling (this was only a few years ago, well after I had had my surgery in 1999). When I went to see the counsellor he didn't give me christian advice via the Bible, he gave me a type of 'spiritual encounter' where I had to visualise Jesus with me in those painful moments. I hadn't felt anything like that for so long. It reawakened the longing for my experiences pre-surgery. I stopped reading the Bible and in the process read more and more ancient mystics' writings to try and get that feeling back. God in His mercy prevented me from feeling any self-induced spiritual experiences though. In frustration I started looking into all the practices described in a pro-mysticism book and found via mainstream christian websites how anti-Biblical they really are. I have prayed for the affects of that 'counselling' to be undone. I haven't "felt" anything spiritual since that counselling session either.

    He was very happy with his present. Now he won't have to try to borrow his brother's Ipod all the time. Dinner and dessert half-prepared, now cake to go. And I will go back to that other entry tomorrow!
     
  9. Hospes

    Hospes Well-Known Member

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    I would recommend Lewis to you. He was not a sentimental person and his experience in becoming a Christ-follower - described in "Surprised by Joy" - was largely a coming to the growing conclusion that Christianity was valid and explained his experience. "The Great Divorce" is largely a treatise on sin told as a story. It's a good read and a thoughtful study of various sins and their results. (I thought of TGD because you seemed to want to understand sin. It seems that many times God brings with the recognition of sin the conviction that we have deeply offended him and need his forgiveness.)

    In my experience, God seems incredibly creative in the process of reconciling a person to himself. It reminds me of a chess game in which he moves the pieces of a life in such a way that his opponent is left unaware of what he is up to. Eventually his opponent recognizes, in a creeping or sudden awareness, that he is marked and there is no escape. The wonderful thing; in being check-mated by God we find, instead of loss, infinite gain. My prayer is that even your interest in discussing on this forum is God lining up the pieces of your life and heart for his winning you to himself.

    Hope to discuss more with you.

    May he grant you his grace.
     
  10. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    To joey down under,

    You wrote this:
    You need to have it reinforced further what you have been protected from. Worldview Radio: Worldview Weekend Radio with Brannon Howse - August 19th, 2011

    I listened to it. To be honest I do not know if they have a valid point in their condemnation of some modern spiritual practices, or if they are going over the top in condemning anything that appears to come from the east. Throwing out the baby with the bathwater. For example, are they going to condemn prayer next, on the grounds that people of other religions pray?

    With your condition if you had a smidgen of feeling you would be especially vunerable. You may have been seduced into mysticism if you had been able to sense any type of spiritual feeling at all. You might have gone after what felt strongest and most real, most novel and most like what other christians have described to you. (I know charismatics probably don't realise it but there is a type of rank system - those who feel the most and see the most are envied and often assumed to be the most spiritual. Those in the congregation who don't hear or feel God feel left out and question their faith.) The counterfeit is very dangerous and takes your eyes off God - the Giver - and onto the feelings - the gifts.

    If there is a rank system of the kind that you describe, then I would definitely be at the bottom of the rankings, because I suspect that I would be completely untouched by some of the things that they were describing, and that I have seen on other internet clips.

    As an example, let me tell you an example of how I was not touched. During my time as a Christian I met some Christians who told me about being filled with the Holy Spirit. Did I join them? Well, yes and no. I did begin to pray in what I called my prayer language, so maybe I received, or maybe I mimicked, one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. But the whole experience was spiritually neutral. It made no difference to me, and I still kept my doubts just as before. Those Christians were very surprised not to see any change in me.

    I believe that I still have the ability to pray in my prayer language, even though I have not called myself a Christian for more than 35 years. I do not pray in my prayer language now, because it would not be appropriate. But I think I still have the ability. Interestingly, one Christian insisted that this proved that I was a real Christian, unlike the churchgoers who do not speak in tongues. I disagree with his logic.

    Would I be vulnerable if I had a touch of spiritual feeling? I hope not. I am not a thrill seeker. I am searching for God, not for the latest style of spiritual excitement.

    I agree that there is a danger of looking too much at the gifts of the Holy Spirit and neglecting both God and the fruits of the Spirit.

    Your experience with a Christian counsellor was very different from mine. You were given spiritual exercises. Mine sighed, and said he had no idea what to say to me. At least he was honest. I guess yours was sincere, but not necessarily led by the Holy Spirit.
     
  11. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    To Hospes,

    You wrote this:
    I would recommend Lewis to you. He was not a sentimental person and his experience in becoming a Christ-follower - described in "Surprised by Joy" - was largely a coming to the growing conclusion that Christianity was valid and explained his experience. "The Great Divorce" is largely a treatise on sin told as a story. It's a good read and a thoughtful study of various sins and their results. (I thought of TGD because you seemed to want to understand sin. It seems that many times God brings with the recognition of sin the conviction that we have deeply offended him and need his forgiveness.)

    I will look out for a copy of “The Great Divorce” if it could help me to understand sin in the way that God understands sin.

    I had heard that to some extent CS Lewis became a Christian because of its intellectual acceptability. Interesting that you say that Christianity explained his experience, because part of my problem is that Christianity – or at least the message of Christianity that it involves a relationship with God – does not seem to explain my experience.

    In my experience, God seems incredibly creative in the process of reconciling a person to himself.

    I would love to agree with you. It is certainly the way that I would expect God to act. But it has not happened. And there are many Christians who keep insisting that God calls everyone in the same way and that the same processes apply to everyone.

    May he grant you his grace.

    Now that is a prayer that I can say amen to.
     
  12. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

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    Yes that is right, but I cannot think of any passage that suggests what you are fearing i.e. someone genuinely is seeking after God Himself but God still rejects them for whatever reason. Going back to Saul 1 Samuel 15 . He was not seeking after God. He was being self-pitying because Samuel revealed God had rejected Saul as king.

    Again I can’t think of any passage that suggests someone genuinely looking to follow Jesus, willing to do all for him, but Jesus rejecting them. Matthew 16:24-28 Does that passage make it sound like a person who has decided to put God first, change their mind and their entire focus of their life from themselves onto God would be rejected by Jesus?
    Look at passages like the young ruler asking Jesus what he has to do to go to heaven Matthew 19:16-30 , people claiming they want to follow Jesus Luke9:57-62 , Ananias and Sapphira trying to look like they are giving all to the church Acts 5:1-10 . Was it God rejecting them as persons– or was it God rejecting them because they were only interested in looking after themselves, their own interests, their own needs? They were their own god. They were disobeying the very first important commandment. Mark 12:28-34 We are not allowed to put ourselves first e.g. financial needs. Matthew 6:19-24

    I still don’t see where you’ve got the idea that there may be a waiting period –like a period of “under contract” stage in a house sale. Like the owner could change their mind about selling their house to the buyer. Like the owner waiting to see if the potential buyer’s home loan has been approved first. Like God saying “let’s see if the believer is really genuine in their faith before I give him assurance that he is really saved.”

    I agree with you. It sounds like you are capable of change, therefore God could change you. What needs to change right now is for you to become able to see that God may be doing things in your life or approaching you in ways different to other Christians you have known because you are different.
     
  13. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

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    I suspect you are letting fear of not qualifying as a Christian cloud your judgement there. Is it faith in Jesus that makes you a Christian- yes or no? Yes that is the starting point because people should start demonstrating good words AS A RESULT of faith from a changed mind, heart and will. However that is the all-important one prerequisite. John 10:1

    That was my familiarity with other religions’ viewpoint that “experiential truths are the real truths so don’t care about the facts” stepping in there. Christian doctrinal truth is built on facts. Disprove Jesus’ resurrection and Christianity would be destroyed.

    OK that clears that up a little bit. Unlike me you had already separated yourself from Christianity well before you developed that mindset.

    In your situation you shouldn’t be worrying about lack of experiences like other Christians sometimes do. Remember some Christian’s spiritual experiences may be mere emotional experiences or actual spiritual deception. Look at the fruits of their experiences.
    In your case you need to look at the fruits of your knowledge about God. How did your worldview change during the time when you say you believed you were a Christian? Did you make different choices? What were the results of increased knowledge about God and different choices? Again try not to worry that spiritual knowledge in your case may always be objective and never subjective like other Christians.

    This will take a bit of dissection unfortunately.
    1. How is your memory for how you viewed life from a Christian viewpoint compared to your current (you claim) agnostic viewpoint?
    2. Can you identify the times when you started to move from doubt to severe doubt to complete unbelief?
    3. Did any thoughts have the kind of tone that Satan used when testing Jesus? Matthew 4:1-11
    Could Satan possibly have asked you these things repeatedly until you thought these thoughts were your own: “IF you are a Christian then why aren’t your prayers being answered?” Out of context - Matthew 17:20.
    Answer - compare Matthew 6:10, James 4:3 . As you know already God does not always answer our prayers. The Word-of-Faith movement is notorious for this distortion of God’s promise.
    “ IF you are a Christian then why aren’t you feeling God’s presence? IF you are a REAL Christian why aren’t others seeing any spiritual growth? IF you are a Christian then why aren’t you hearing God like others? “ Answer – 1peter 1:3-11.
    Look at Book of Job and many commentaries out there. http://www.preceptaustin.org/job_commentaries.htm You don’t have the excuse that you can’t find any information on the Book of Job now!!!
     
  14. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

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    We would all love some response from God when we are spiritually struggling – I certainly sympathise, no EMPATHISE with you there. For whatever reason God at this point in time has chosen for both of us not to experience things as other Christians seem to all the time. Many other Christians do not understand our predicament. It is b****y hard when everyone seems to have spiritual gifts and prayers handed to them on a platter and in comparison we don’t even get the crumbs. Like me you would really have to walk by faith in God not by sight. Other Christians say it as a mere platitude to you, I do not.

    You have been able to work. You have had a successful marriage. You have lived in a country that still provides relatively free medical care. The next sentence concerns me – were these unsupportive people close to you?

    Yes what a difficult lesson to learn. What a difficult lesson you are learning right now. Can you take a step back and think of how many other people out there would be able to manage what you are going through? You may not feel you are strong. As a Christian you would have God’s strength. 2 timothy 1:7 I would not be able to type as I do to you now while remembering the Bible verses as I go (keywords/topic is what makes me remember) without His help. I would not know as much about what is available online for Christians without online librarian training and trying to understand Christianity properly now nearly all spiritual type feelings have gone permanently.
    Remember what the apostle Paul had to go through. 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 “Yes BUT he did hear from God” I can see you type. Paul was expected to evangelise to a huge amount of people especially the Gentiles. He wrote many books in the New Testament so of course he had to know Jesus directly in person like the other original disciples. Have you or I had to do anything like that?

    I used to consider myself Charismatic as well. The fervour and sincerity of the people was such a contrast to the traditional Catholic Church. The biggest problem I have with them now is more doctrinal rather than the place of emotions in worship. It is the subtle shift from Bible plus experiences to Experiences plus the bible to Experiences with a couple of Bible verses to back up the eligibility of Experiences to be classified as Christian. (I only noticed that after I had gone back to church well after the surgery). That is a completely different topic however. I don’t think any denomination is without its faults because all denominations have people in them.

    Well there you go! If you are capable of change in those areas then why not spiritual areas as well?
     
  15. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

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    Well that really needs to stop. God is who Christians worship and so you need to keep your eyes on God. 12:1-2 If a person runs a race they have to keep their eyes on the track ahead of them and keep their eyes off their competitors.
    That is sad to read you haven’t had enough support for you and your child. Have you been able to forgive your family for their misunderstandings and perhaps unrealistic expectations of you?
    Romans 9 seems to be one of the favourite predestination passages. Look at Esau Genesis 25 – was he a good person that God rejected unfairly? Or was he someone who put himself first e.g. symptom of that gave up his firstborn rights (major privilege in his culture) to get a good feed.
    Christians certainly had to know what God had done to be willing to die for their faith. That was done through faith as a result of knowing what God did i.e. through the Bible and responding in faith. Genuine Christian faith from the beginning was not from mere personal experiences and signs but through faith in Jesus. The Dark Ages- the time period of extreme superstition and mysticism amongst professing Christians - would not have occurred if Christianity had been taught properly.
    My husband is the morning person. Opposite body clocks must be a common thing amongst husbands and wives then.

    P.S. I've just seen your comment about that radio show. Yes they are very cautious and therefore (by default) anti-charismatic because Charismatics are so quick to accept any spiritual experience as being from God. Finding that balance is quite a difficult thing!
    Apostle John calls for the testing of spirits, 1 John 4:1-6 therefore there must be genuine spiritual experiences from God when it is HIS will.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2011
  16. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    To joey down under,

    You have been busy! Four postings in 19 minutes. My guess is that it took more than 19 minutes to type them, unless you can manage over 200 words a minute. There is a lot to respond to. It may take me more than one posting; we’ll see.

    You wrote this:
    Yes that is right, but I cannot think of any passage that suggests what you are fearing i.e. someone genuinely is seeking after God Himself but God still rejects them for whatever reason. Going back to Saul 1 Samuel 15 . He was not seeking after God. He was being self-pitying because Samuel revealed God had rejected Saul as king.

    Again I can’t think of any passage that suggests someone genuinely looking to follow Jesus, willing to do all for him, but Jesus rejecting them. Was it God rejecting them as persons– or was it God rejecting them because they were only interested in looking after themselves, their own interests, their own needs? They were their own god. They were disobeying the very first important commandment. We are not allowed to put ourselves first.


    There is enough anti-religion ammunition in 1 Samuel 15 to keep half a dozen threads going here. But I will ignore that for the moment. I also cannot think of any verse that explicitly says that someone will genuinely seek after God but be rejected. However, there are examples of people who came to God and were rejected for one reason or another, beginning with Cain in Genesis 4. Besides, it is also consistent with the Bible to suggest that a person has to wait until God’s time is right, or for them to be rejected because their name is not in the book of life. I know that many Christians would not accept either of these arguments, but there are also many Christians who would agree with them.

    I still don’t see where you’ve got the idea that there may be a waiting period –like a period of “under contract” stage in a house sale. Like the owner could change their mind about selling their house to the buyer. Like the owner waiting to see if the potential buyer’s home loan has been approved first. Like God saying “let’s see if the believer is really genuine in their faith before I give him assurance that he is really saved.”

    Yet you wrote a few days ago that one of the possible answers to prayer is “wait”. I have to ask, why should the prayer for salvation be different from every other prayer in this respect?

    It sounds like you are capable of change, therefore God could change you. What needs to change right now is for you to become able to see that God may be doing things in your life or approaching you in ways different to other Christians you have known because you are different.

    I have long been open to the possibility that God could act in my life in a different way because I am unique, just as everyone is unique. I look out for it, but do not detect any sign that God is acting.

    I suspect you are letting fear of not qualifying as a Christian cloud your judgement there. Is it faith in Jesus that makes you a Christian- yes or no? Yes that is the starting point because people should start demonstrating good words AS A RESULT of faith from a changed mind, heart and will. However that is the all-important one prerequisite.

    Faith in Jesus is important, but I would not say that faith in Jesus is what makes a person a Christian. It is the grace of God that saves a person, not anything that the person does, or believes, or has faith in. However, if you are saying that it is faith from a mind, heart and will changed by God, then I would agree with you, except to say that what God has done is the starting point, not the person’s faith.

    That was my familiarity with other religions’ viewpoint that “experiential truths are the real truths so don’t care about the facts” stepping in there. Christian doctrinal truth is built on facts. Disprove Jesus’ resurrection and Christianity would be destroyed.

    It depends what you class as facts. I like to take into account all of the facts. Experience is fact (but open to interpretation). To me everything stated in the Bible is not fact, although I recognise that many Christians think of the Bible as fact – and again it is open to interpretation.

    Certainly Paul agreed that without the resurrection his faith would be in vain – for reasons that would be irrelevant to me. I agree that the resurrection is very important. Yet there are people who call themselves Christian who do not necessarily believe in the resurrection.

    In your situation you shouldn’t be worrying about lack of experiences like other Christians sometimes do. Remember some Christian’s spiritual experiences may be mere emotional experiences or actual spiritual deception. Look at the fruits of their experiences. In your case you need to look at the fruits of your knowledge about God. How did your worldview change during the time when you say you believed you were a Christian? Did you make different choices? What were the results of increased knowledge about God and different choices? Again try not to worry that spiritual knowledge in your case may always be objective and never subjective like other Christians.

    It is the possibility that many so-called Christian spiritual experiences may be mere emotional experiences that is a potential explanation for why I never had any similar experiences. But whatever the real cause of their experiences, there were fruits of their experiences; they did help people to confirm and increase their faith.

    Did my worldview change during the time that I was a believer? That is a difficult question to answer, because for years before then I had been searching for God and learning about Christianity and the Bible, and so I was already familiar with the type of worldview of Christians. I already had experience of having such a worldview as a possibility, so that when I did become a believer it was a simple change to accept something that I was already familiar with as a possibility.

    Did I make different choices? I cannot remember any example of that, recognising that it was a very long time ago.

    What were the results of increased knowledge about God? I am glad you said “knowledge about God” rather than “knowing God”. Again I do not know, because I already had knowledge about God before I became a believer. Undoubtedly that made my transition to being a believer easier in some ways, because I did not have as much to learn as many new Christians. At the same time it also meant that not much changed after I became a believer.

    This will take a bit of dissection unfortunately.
    1. How is your memory for how you viewed life from a Christian viewpoint compared to your current (you claim) agnostic viewpoint?


    There are some searching questions here and so I am taking them one at a time. For question 1, there are many differences. When I was a believer I thought in terms of what God wanted, and tried to live my life accordingly – although of course I sometimes failed in this. I believed that God had a plan for my life, and was waiting for God to guide me, not showing me the whole picture beforehand, but maybe just the odd nudge as required. I told people about my faith because I wanted them to know God. I saw myself as a servant of God.

    What about now? I would not say that I have one single consistent worldview. I still recognise the possibility of the Christian viewpoint. Although I am personally without God, I accept that some people may be in touch with God – not many, but some. At the same time I live my life in a world without God. That is part of the reason why I call myself agnostic rather than atheist.

    One thing that has not changed is my attitude to life after death. I was not interested as a believer, and I remain uninterested now.

    2. Can you identify the times when you started to move from doubt to severe doubt to complete unbelief?

    Your question suggests that there were specific events that caused a change in my faith and my doubts. Or maybe that my doubts gradually increased until the doubts overwhelmed my faith. In practice it was a much more chaotic process, with times of faith interspersed with times of varying amounts of doubt.

    For almost my first year as a Christian there were few doubts. I knew that I had not received any feedback from God, but it did not worry me unduly because I knew that God’s blessings did not always begin immediately a person was saved. Then there were months when the doubts were there because I had received no feedback, but there was also trust in a God I believed was faithful. For the last three months or so I alternated between more or less giving up, and then trusting that God would respond. Finally after much prayer I decided that something was clearly wrong, and that I needed to begin again and come to God again, doing it right this time (although I did not know then, or now, what I had done wrong). I stopped calling myself a Christian. Even then it was not complete unbelief; it was a recognition that something had gone wrong and that with God’s help it could be put right – hopefully very soon. I am still waiting for it to happen.

    3. Did any thoughts have the kind of tone that Satan used when testing Jesus? Matthew 4:1-11
    Could Satan possibly have asked you these things repeatedly until you thought these thoughts were your own: “IF you are a Christian then why aren’t your prayers being answered?”


    It is possible that I have been influenced in this way by Satan, but I consider it to be very unlikely. Because if Satan did affect me and God did not affect me, during the time that I was a believer and was trusting God, what does that say about God’s power in comparison with Satan’s power? I know about Job, but I can assure you my situation has always been very different from that of Job. Remember that Satan chose Job because Job was so favoured by God. I do not have that privilege.

    Even before I became a believer I recognised that God had to act in salvation, and that it was feedback from God that strengthened people’s faith. I also knew before I became a believer that some people receive an immediate response and some have to wait for a while. In other words, I recognised the possibility of the problem before it happened. But I did not dwell on this potential problem, because I trusted God to act and expected God to act.

    As you know already God does not always answer our prayers.
    “ IF you are a Christian then why aren’t you feeling God’s presence? IF you are a REAL Christian why aren’t others seeing any spiritual growth? IF you are a Christian then why aren’t you hearing God like others? “ Answer – 1peter 1:3-11.


    1 Peter 1:3-11 is not helpful to me. It suggests that Christians should accept whatever God does or does not do for them because there will be a reward in heaven. Not relevant for me, because I am not interested in life after death. For me there has to be a response from God in this life. If it does not happen, then to me my faith is worth nothing.

    (This is part 1 of 2. The computer said that it was too long to include all in one posting.)
     
  17. losthope

    losthope Regular Member

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    (Part 2 of 2)

    We would all love some response from God when we are spiritually struggling – I certainly sympathise, no EMPATHISE with you there. For whatever reason God at this point in time has chosen for both of us not to experience things as other Christians seem to all the time. Many other Christians do not understand our predicament. It is b****y hard when everyone seems to have spiritual gifts and prayers handed to them on a platter and in comparison we don’t even get the crumbs. Like me you would really have to walk by faith in God not by sight. Other Christians say it as a mere platitude to you, I do not.

    You have described the situation better than I could.

    You have been able to work. You have had a successful marriage. You have lived in a country that still provides relatively free medical care. The next sentence concerns me – were these unsupportive people close to you?

    Were the unsupportive people close to me? Some of them, yes. Very close. The marriage has not always been successful. Also for ten years I was unable to work, after my boss told me to “Go home and come back when you are better.”

    What a difficult lesson you are learning right now. Can you take a step back and think of how many other people out there would be able to manage what you are going through? You may not feel you are strong. As a Christian you would have God’s strength. Remember what the apostle Paul had to go through. 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 Paul was expected to evangelise to a huge amount of people especially the Gentiles. He wrote many books in the New Testament so of course he had to know Jesus directly in person like the other original disciples. Have you or I had to do anything like that?

    I know that there are other people who have been through what I have been through, in that for a time they genuinely believed that they were saved but eventually abandoned their faith because of apparent lack of feedback from God. I was definitely not strong when it first happened, but I have learned to live with the situation. I have no choice.

    As for Paul, he had special revelation from God and had a special task to do for God. The two go together. If Paul had never received anything from God he would not have wanted to be an evangelist to the gentiles.

    I used to consider myself Charismatic as well. The fervour and sincerity of the people was such a contrast to the traditional Catholic Church. The biggest problem I have with them now is more doctrinal rather than the place of emotions in worship. It is the subtle shift from Bible plus experiences to Experiences plus the bible to Experiences with a couple of Bible verses to back up the eligibility of Experiences to be classified as Christian. (I only noticed that after I had gone back to church well after the surgery). That is a completely different topic however. I don’t think any denomination is without its faults because all denominations have people in them.

    The conventional trinity of God consists of father, son and spirit. However some Christians appear to worship other things – the Bible, their church, the pastor, spiritual experiences, and so on – breaking the first commandment.

    I agree with you about all denominations. We need many denominations because people have different needs and different temperaments. Every denomination has helpful and unhelpful people, sometimes in positions of authority.

    Well there you go! If you are capable of change in those areas then why not spiritual areas as well?

    I agree. I just need a bit of a nudge from God.

    Well that really needs to stop. God is who Christians worship and so you need to keep your eyes on God. 12:1-2 If a person runs a race they have to keep their eyes on the track ahead of them and keep their eyes off their competitors

    In most races what you want to do is come first, and in most races the athletes etc definitely keep an eye on their competitors. Unless they are effectively racing against the clock.

    It sounds good to ask me to keep my eyes on God. But how can I do this? If only I knew which direction to look.

    That is sad to read you haven’t had enough support for you and your child. Have you been able to forgive your family for their misunderstandings and perhaps unrealistic expectations of you?

    Not always, no. As an aside, I recognise that forgiveness is very important. But it has always seemed strange to me that Christians ask people to forgive someone who has not repented, when God insists on repentance.

    Romans 9 seems to be one of the favourite predestination passages. Look at Esau Genesis 25 – was he a good person that God rejected unfairly? Or was he someone who put himself first e.g. symptom of that gave up his firstborn rights (major privilege in his culture) to get a good feed.

    Yes Romans 9 implies predestination. It suggests that God has favourites, accepting some and rejecting others. God rejected Esau for putting himself first, but did not reject Jacob for deceiving Isaac in Genesis 27. They both broke one of the commandments.

    Christians certainly had to know what God had done to be willing to die for their faith. That was done through faith as a result of knowing what God did i.e. through the Bible and responding in faith. Genuine Christian faith from the beginning was not from mere personal experiences and signs but through faith in Jesus.

    There are examples in Acts of people believing because of signs and personal experiences.

    P.S. I've just seen your comment about that radio show. Yes they are very cautious and therefore (by default) anti-charismatic because Charismatics are so quick to accept any spiritual experience as being from God. Finding that balance is quite a difficult thing!
    Apostle John calls for the testing of spirits, 1 John 4:1-6 therefore there must be genuine spiritual experiences from God when it is HIS will.


    I would not agree that all charismatic Christians are quick to accept any spiritual experience as coming from God. I have met some who do speak of testing spirits and recognise the possibility of false spiritual experiences.
     
  18. saralynn

    saralynn Newbie

    40
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    Non-Denom
    Married
    Hey, Lost Hope, chatting with you has inspired me to read "Surprised by Joy" again. The last time I read it was when I was in my early thirties, so it feels like I've never read it before. I've only started it, but am finding it quite interesting. I'll let you know how it goes and if I think you'd appreciate it.
     
  19. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

    +135
    Baptist
    Married
    I decided to do some before I went to my Bible study when my thoughts got flowing and used cut-and-paste from the MS word document. I'll try to make it shorter this time via cheating *cough* sending you to christian apologetic links that deal with the issues you raise.
    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.
    2. God clearly tried to reason with Cain. Genesis 4:6-7 Cain refused to repent of his bitterness and jealousy towards his brother. Cain had NOT been seeking God's good will.
    3. God knew what was going to come from Cain and his descendants the Cainites. Who Are The “Sons of God” Referred to in Genesis 6:2?

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

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

    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. (Perhaps a bit nit-picky there but I did have to work with hallucinating dementia patients at times.)
    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.

    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".

    Those questions were more to get you thinking than anything else. I thought that the length of time between faith and non-belief could make it challenging for you. I'll have to come back to the rest of your entry later. :)
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2011
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