Sunday, August 31, 2008

Private discussions

Any of you who have been reading the ongoing dialogue over at Lou's blog (you can read the thread of comments both here and here) may have noticed it has hit a point where it is beginning to break down. If you missed why that is, perhaps that doesn't matter now. Don't worry. Lou and I are in discussion and I am sure that these things will be sorted through according to the righteous commandments in the Word which, even if I were not privileged to follow, I must.

It may take several days before it's sorted through.

Please pray that righteousness will be exalted.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

My favorite TV moment

This, after she'd spent the whole episode-long listening to her trainer in a subtle romance, who told her to be patient, she'd see this really bad guy get put away in the end. But he's not incarcerated....

Life isn't just black and white. She wasn't ready, she was caught off guard. But at least there's enough justice in the world that she looked good while learning it. ;)

My most favorite one scene in all of La Femme Nikita, 1x06.06

Friday, August 29, 2008

compromise before truth?

i see grace

I have heard a few fair assumptions about the bare-bones belief I have on what it takes to be saved. Too, I have heard a fair assumption of the kind of ministries I take, mostly with promiscuous, poor, young women, both professed believers and non-believers. One more time, I have heard people make a comparison between my childhood environment and my current beliefs.

They sound like this:

"Well I can understand that you are probably reading your experiences of salvation into it, letting them dictate what you believe about the Word."

"It's good that you can understand that scenario better than me and so you're just trying to take their side since no one else will."

"Oh, well when you were growing up every detail of life was controlled and now you love freedom."

I can understand why these things are said, because it certainly looks like it.

But what really happened? You remember my testimony, right?

What was it that made me start reading the Word of God? It was someone telling me that without baptism I could not have truly been saved. So I started reading the bible on baptism. (By the way, I had had enough with being told answers so I did not consult anything except the bible itself.) There are only a handful of verses. Then I noticed that Paul was explaining what did save, which was faith. Good. But I needed to prove to myself that somehow, baptism was not the act which invoked salvation in tandem with faith. I noticed that Paul wanted to say that faith is separate from law. I didn't understand what that whole thing really was about. But I could prove that baptism was a command, so therefore, it must not be part of what saves.

But how could I prove it to someone else, in a way that would be indisputable? I had to make such a clear separation that salvation could not include any requirement for a commandment -- I mean, if I indeed was on the right path. So I began to study law versus faith. I found a whole treasure of passages where Paul makes it very clear that law was something to be discarded. Wow! Now that I know how finite law would be to include in salvation, and how sufficient faith is, I knew that whatever other issue might come along, it must all pass the test of Paul's teaching that salvation was by faith, apart from all law.

That faith could be defined in such a way that it meant works, could not be true.
That law could be defined in such a way to not include every kind of law, ever given, could not be true. In fact, I prove so here.

Everything must pass the test of the principles of grace reigning over any kind of law.

Some people, when they read my conclusion that "the law is inappropriate for Christians," hear chaos.

But that's not what I hear.

When I see the vacancy left by law, I see grace having all the room, the Spirit of God having the freedom to work, and the power and glory all being given to God as He has already set forth to receive in the New Covenant.

And indeed, it is the reason why Paul writes things like:

"But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person..." or for anyone who walks by faith with God. 1 tim 1:8

Oh, so essential to victory!

"But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter." rom 7:6

Even our sanctification should be guarded from intrusion of law!

"Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?—just as Abraham 'believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.'" gal 3:5-6

And now, wherever I go in scripture, I see grace, covering over everything when a man gives his trust. I see Abraham justified because God simply made a promise. This is the "promise" by which we are included as described in Romans chapter 4!! God made that promise and Abraham believed it in chapter 15. That was before God said: "I make a covenant with you" in chapter 15, and before God inaugurates it in chapter 16, when the LORD walks in between the carcass broken in two. All these details of the covenant took place after "it was credited to Abraham as righteousness."

Why do I hang with the unlovlies? Why do I speak secondarily of the facts of what Jesus has done?

Because I know that faith has preeminence over all. Where there is faith, there is the power of God. The bible told me so.

Two years after I had made this discovery of Paul's teaching of law versus faith, I looked back over my testimony, my story of being converted, and noticed the grace being woven throughout. I just woke up and saw the beauty in it, one day. And now I talk about it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

No universalists here

Lately the term "universalist" has been thrown around a lot toward fellow Christians who hold in relation a more liberal view of the content of the saving gospel message. To think one would balk at a more free construct of the gospel, is a fair conversation. However, it is yet to be connected any borrowing of universalism by the basic liberal free grace theology.

A well-known universalist would be Marcus Borg.

He is a member of the Jesus Seminar. The Jesus Seminar, according to Wikipedia, determined whether or not what in the bible is relevant today:

One of the most active groups in biblical criticism, the seminar uses votes with colored beads to decide their collective view of the historicity of Jesus, specifically what he may or may not have said and done as a historical figure.

The Fellows used a "bead system" to vote on the authenticity of about 500 statements and events. The color of the bead represented how sure the Fellow was that a saying or act was or was not authentic.
Red beads – indicated the voter believed Jesus did say the passage quoted, or something very much like the passage. (3 Points)
Pink beads – indicated the voter believed Jesus probably said something like the passage. (2 Points)
Grey beads – indicated the voter believed Jesus did not say the passage, but it contains Jesus' ideas. (1 Point)
Black beads – indicated the voter believed Jesus did not say the passage—it comes from later admirers or a different tradition. (0 Points)

He was also the formentor of the God at 2000 conference and the Jesus at 2000 symposium.

He is but one among many in our day, having grown up a Lutheran and then realizing a new way to think about God sometime after joining the episcopal church. There are others who have taken different paths, but all having ended up in "relatively" the same place. A short sample of Borg's universalist beliefs:

On pluralism

On creeds

I have had a brief conversation with Borg.

If you follow the "God at 2000" link above you will notice it took place in Oregon, at OSU (my alma mater) when I was a student. On paper he was the professor for one class I took called "The Philosophy of Religion," though he did not teach the class personally. One day he came into class unannounced, so that he could answer students' questions.

Well, I was 20 years old at the time and I knew a total of maybe ten scriptures out of the entire bible. But I needed to quote it, so I exited the classroom and ran full-blast back to my place on campus, then back.

I asked him with heaviness, "You have written so many books on what you think it means to be religious, and on who God is. I want to ask you, aren't you scared?"

"Huh? What do you mean?" he asked.

"What I mean is, there are so many people who are reading them. They may begin to think about God the way you have written. But what happens if maybe you missed something important? And I have reason to think that is the case. Because it says here... in hebrews 11:6 that without faith it is impossible to please God. And then it says... in 1 cor. 1:18

'For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.'

and it says

'It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom. So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense. But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.'"

He said, "I don't know what you're intending to ask after all of this."

I replied, "Shouldn't these things make it clear how God accepts us? But, you don't interpret these passages this way, right?"

And he answered, "No," [pause] "I do not."

That was it.

I was literally dancing in my seat. I was also immature and arrogant. Either then with no biblical background, or now, I would still give that same answer to any universalist point of view: neither salvation or relationship with God is possible except through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

There is only one God, and only one Way. The neglect of such framework equates there to be no such thing as an absolute knowledge of the Abrahamic God.

What is said? "Universalist."
What is meant? "More liberal... compared to me."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

a cool night

So I went to the CEF "wordless book" tent at the state fair.

The highlight of the evening was when three teenage girls came right up to me and were very excited to listen to the story, "we should do this," they told each other. So they sat down and one understood sin, another did not. Another one asked "does this mean God chooses everything that happens?" I paused, and said no gently. When the story was done I told them that each one of them needed to choose for themself whether or not they believed in what Jesus did on the cross, for them and their sin. I could not make this choice for them and if they were not convinced, they could go on their way and think about it a little longer before making up their mind. They all said yes for themselves. One asked, "what happens if I do more wrong stuff? I couldn't talk to God because I just kept getting worse and worse."

That kicked in a little bit of zealotry so I flipped back to the red page and I said, "whenever you think about how you've done wrong things, you just go straight back to the cross and begin again." Then I pulled out the bible and showed them 1 john 1:9--"If we confess our sins he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."

As we walked back out of the tent I gave them a wordless book and said, "if you have brothers or sisters, a mom or dad you can go home and tell them now, too, just what you know about what Jesus has done for you." One girl said bothered, "I don't live with my mom." So I asked for her mother's name and she told me and I asked if I could pray for her mother. She said yes. So I prayed for them and she was touched.

Then another CEF volunteer walked over and said to the girl, "I know you." This CEF volunteer is the foster-parent of this girl's brother, from this broken family, for the same reason this girl can't live with her mom. How sad, but I could tell she was downright stunned. And so were the rest of us.

There was only one bad moment in the whole thing. I didn't bring a jacket so as instructed I borrowed the CEF windbreaker left available. I had it on for several minutes when all of a sudden I felt a vibration against my arm. I dropped the coat to the ground, and the other three volunteers looked at me. There was something in my coat. So the one guy starts turning the sleeve inside out, and out breaks a moth!

Yes, that's right, I said a moth!!


Kkkkk! I can barely load the image without getting eebie geebies.

Monday, August 25, 2008

church picnic

There were many highlights on Sunday last during our all-church picnic at the Polk County Fairgrounds.

It was such a great time. The weather was perfect. The children were happy with all kinds of foods, cotton candy and icees. I got to spend a little time hanging out with mommies of babies that normally I don't get to anymore. It just feels so safe, having my children run to so many adults, known to them as their sunday school teachers.

I spent some time listening to my mentor, Helen. I decided to visit a little with Dr. Radmacher. I said that I wanted to introduce him to my three children while they were around. I asked him about his health, and he says he is slowly gaining some endurance back, which was very good to hear. I could see his mind working and he asked me if I had made any determination over what it is I believe I am meant to do. I told him that I was still a little unsure what use a woman can be when it comes to speaking about the Word of God. He said that there was a woman student who now is a teacher of seminary classes, to other women students.

He said that he had investigated my blog (as I had sort of asked him to review it in July to make sure I was not causing harm of any kind), and he said that I am on to some good ideas. The first class I should take is hermeneutics, he said. Without having a framework of how to study the bible, I might come up with a great idea one time and then the next, come up with a piece of junk. How am I supposed to know for sure whether what I've got is any good? After that I should take elementary greek, secondary greek and then hebrew.

How smart. For sure what I think about might be good, or bad, but there should be a method for others to interact with me and help correct and challenge me.

He talked for some time about the term "repentance." That it means a change of mind in the greek, not all the things it has come to mean in reformed doctrine about forsaking sin. He pointed out that some say that the reason why it is not mentioned once in the whole gospel of John, a book written for the purpose of evangelism, is because perhaps John did not have the term available. But that theory is overruled by the book of Revelation where John uses it in chapters two and three, in the context of speaking to the churches. Repentance, to the churches, and no repentance, to the lost. Hmm. Fascinating.

Then he asked me "Do you know how many times the word 'sovereign' is translated into the Old Testament, in the NIV?" Two-hundred and something-another times. How many times in the New Testament in the NIV? I think he said six times. Then he asked, "How many times is the word 'sovereign' translated into the NKJV?"

Zero, in the New Testament. And only once in the Old, where David is praying for Solomon.

"Where in the hebrew are they translating the word 'sovereign' from?" he asked. I was afraid of the answer. He said "it is translated out of the word 'LORD.' Do you know what LORD means? It is the name of God, YHWH. And what is the name 'YHWH'? It's meaning is found in exodus when Moses speaks to God about his name and God answers, 'Tell them that 'I AM' has sent me to you.' So, where is this term 'sovereign' coming from? And you see with that one word they can insert their entire construct about God and free will. As if God is some bully in the skies who controls everything."

Wow, exactly, one of the reasons why I was captivated to keep taking classes at the seminary. I needed to hear this. I replied, "It's so interesting that we are conscious of the damage of the errors found in for instance the New World Translation but you give an example of the same magnitude of error, and what's more I wonder if it is intentional, right underneath our noses that no one talks about."

He said "My personal belief for why the gospel of John was written without the word 'repentance' has to do with the fact that God in His foreknowledge could see how, down the line, there would be a time where a word would have gone so much farther than it should have in what it was supposed to mean. I wonder if it was not in His wisdom to intentionally leave that word entirely out of the evangelistic gospel."

I replied, "You know I was just thinking about that same thing this week, I was thinking about how God must have known what He was doing when he foresaw the use of the passage in mark 16:16, which says 'whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe is already condemned,' and He saw all the error that resulted out of that one assertion about baptism. Just imagine if Paul had listed baptism as one of the 'first things' of the gospel in 1 cor. 15? How much more reasoning for error would there be about that one command?"

Dr. Radmacher then discussed briefly as I enthusiastically nodded along that adding sanctificational additions to the formula doesn't change the reality that it is by faith alone. I mentioned how I had been doing a word study on "gospel," using as he said a method of looking at every instance and how it is used in context to build my understanding. I found it surprising to see that the gospel has two meanings, one a message of good news, and two the entire narrative of the life and sayings of Jesus. And it makes me wonder if people are aware that when they quote the gospel for the lost out of 1 cor 15 are they really meaning to assert the whole story of Jesus Christ as the first things to be shared?

I believe there was a twinkle in his eye when I said this, but, perhaps I imagined it for I certainly was looking for one. Maybe the twinkle, if real, was only for my devotion to word-studies. Perhaps I will never know.

It was very neat and I pray for blessings to his wife who sat patiently listening to things she has already heard perhaps many times. The benefit was all one-way, from them to myself.

On the AWANA model

Disclaimer: The following link is the intellectual property of the ACI. The clip art image provided in the following link is for use only by churches registered and licensed to conduct ministry programs designed by Awana Clubs International (Registered Churches). Awana® and the Awana logo are registered trademarks and service marks of Awana Clubs International.

AWANA's Gospel Wheel

As the commander of the AWANA program at my church explained to me this last week, the gospel wheel is a tool used in AWANA to help adults lead children toward salvation.

There are two axes across the circle. The vertical axis passes through the "God" and "Man" polarities, and the horizontal passes through the "Cross" and "Trust" polarities.

If I understand it correctly and can paraphrase this right, a child might approach the wheel at any of those four points. The goal is to move them toward the center of the circle. I asked if this meant that, in the case that one of these four quadrants were not sufficient to bring a child to salvation, then the other three should be applied to help them arrive at 1 Cor. 15? And the answer was yes.

I think this is quite fascinating, and very helpful to a discussion on what it takes to be saved. As someone most recently shared with me, a pastor's son was using scripture to lead people to Christ, for years before that son was actually saved himself. Another words, this young man had all the scriptures... yet it wasn't enough, until the moment of faith began in his heart.

So in my thinking this model is an excellent way to begin, especially in foreign countries or with the simple-minded and unexposed (I'm thinking about children now), a successful exposure to the choice for salvation. However it may not be enough in every single case -- more scriptures for some people might be necessary than just these.

Since I've seen this I haven't been able to get it out of my head. I think it is brilliant!

Did I explain this accurately? I hope so.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

More evangelism success

I spend nearly all my time around children and in my home. The only exceptions I made are an occasional errand I run when my husband is here or when we go to church.

This morning was one of those exceptions. I was running out for a few things and when I returned the whole family including the dog, were gone. So I started some dishes in peace. Then the doorbell rang. I told the neighbor kids there were no girls here for them to play with. They stared at me like it didn't matter. I said "Do you want to come in anyway?"

These three kids are from a remarriage, a boy aged 7, and two girls both aged 6. Their parents are young and I think, and there are some things they seem to be having difficulty with in their relationships.

I already am preparing for going to the state fair where CEF is having a booth for the Wordless Book., on Tuesday and Saturday next. I asked the kids if they would be my guinea pigs, and they agreed.

I led them through all five "pages". They were engaged in the story. We talked about what sin was, some examples of it. We talked about where Jesus is (inside us). They seemed happy. I asked them if I could pray with them to God, and they said yes.

Two of them have recently told me that their grandma likes to pray with them, so I asked, "Did your grandma ever tell you the story about Jesus?" No, they said. Praise God that they have heard it now!

The other girl, both now and before during the five day kids club in June said, "I go to church!!" So I asked her, are you ready to go to heaven? "Yes, because I am good." This, after the story, and after her mockingly folding her hands for prayer.

She's a smart little cookie. I don't think she's there, yet.

I know that no good thing happens that the LORD has not given in His precious kindness. The glory is God's!

Friday, August 22, 2008

A great paragraph on "the gospel"

As I was reading through the concordance on "gospel," I found this great paragraph on the gospel in the book of Romans:

Romans 15:14-21

Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another. Nevertheless, brethren, I have written more boldly to you on some points, as reminding you, because of the grace given to me by God, that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel 2098 of God, that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Therefore I have reason to glory in Christ Jesus in the things which pertain to God. For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me, in word and deed, to make the Gentiles obedient—in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel 2098 of Christ. And so I have made it my aim to preach the gospel 2097, not where Christ was named, lest I should build on another man’s foundation, but as it is written:

“To whom He was not announced, they shall see;
And those who have not heard shall understand.”

There's something not quite right in this idea of mine I think, about 2097 being the message that saves and 2098 being the message that sanctifies.... But for now it's the best I can do until I do more research. It seems to be a high predictor of context of any passage.

This paragraph, along with passages in a former post, are one of the select few where they are used together.

You may draw your own observations, but here are mine:

1 -- Paul is confident that they are "filled" with knowledge (vs 14)

2 -- Paul still wants to disscuss particular points with them

3 -- He calls this effort, ministering the "gospel 2098 of God" (vs 15)

4 -- Paul switches to the word "gospel," 2097, as he discusses the original exposure of the Word to the lost (vs 20)

5 -- He verifies again that 2097 is about the beginning of the message by quoting the OT which says "To whom He was not announced...."

What do you think?

Is the case being built to reconsider 1 cor 15 as the "gospel" 2098 message for the... lost?

Word Studies on "Gospel"

People say "the gospel is 1 cor. 15: that Jesus died for our sins according to the scriptures, that He was buried and was resurrected."

Is this the message that sanctifies or justifies? (Or perhaps can it be both?)

The number used in this passage is: 2098 -- which is the greek word "gospel" meaning the entire narrative of scriptures.

I want to show you the results I've found on how the two words "gospel" are used by Paul. It is instrumental to see how the words are used by the author. For reference:

2097 -- εὐαγγελίζω to bring good news, to announce good tidings (verb)

2098 -- εὐαγγέλιον (includes the above and also this aspect to its usage) the narrative of the sayings, deeds, and death of Jesus Christ came to be called the gospel or glad tidings (noun)

In this passage below, Paul crafts the use of both 2097 and 2098 earlier on in 1 corinthians....

1 cor 9:18:

What then is my reward? That in my preaching 2097 I may present the gospel 2098 free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel 2098.

To support this distinction in the two versions of the word "gospel," consider the topic of chapter 9 where this verse was pulled. The Word declares that salvation is by faith alone; the gift of eternal life is granted in an instant upon faith. Do we think of that as the end of the road? No. He also commanded us to teach all His commandments, to make disciples of all men. Paul was also employed in this work of discipleship, not just evangelizing the lost. Here, Paul discussed protocol for his income and likened it to the work of OT temple workers who were never done:


In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel 2098 should get their living by the gospel 2098.

You don't suppose he could have much an income from just evangelism, an instantaneous kind of event? Especially if the listeners reject it we're supposed to shake the dust and move on. But -- discipleship goes on for some great deal of time, if not forever.

For these reasons, among others already shared and those in future posts, I see 2098 used with the entire Word of God that apostles preach to the churches, and 2097 as the powerful working of salvation to the ears of the lost.

Gospel (2098) means sanctification too

"Gospel" also represents the Word of God that sanctifies, not just that part of the message that saves people from hell. I don't bother to make a complex reasoning for it, because it's right here in the definition!

From the Blue Letter Bible's (an online bible study resource) lexicon for strong's concordance #2098:

5) as the messianic rank of Jesus was proved by his words, his deeds, and his death, the narrative of the sayings, deeds, and death of Jesus Christ came to be called the gospel or glad tidings.

May I show you all of what "gospel" means in the greek? There are two variations of this word...

2097 --
1) to bring good news, to announce glad tidings
a) used in the OT of any kind of good news
- of the joyful tidings of God's kindness, in particular, of the Messianic blessings
b) in the NT used especially of the glad tidings of the coming kingdom of God, and of the salvation to be obtained in it through Christ, and of what relates to this salvation
c) glad tidings are brought to one, one has glad tidings proclaimed to him
d) to proclaim glad tidings
- instruct (men) concerning the things that pertain to Christian salvation

2098 --
1) a reward for good tidings

2) good tidings
a) the glad tidings of the kingdom of God soon to be set up, and subsequently also of Jesus the Messiah, the founder of this kingdom. After the death of Christ, the term comprises also the preaching of (concerning) Jesus Christ as having suffered death on the cross to procure eternal salvation for the men in the kingdom of God, but as restored to life and exalted to the right hand of God in heaven, thence to return in majesty to consummate the kingdom of God
b) the glad tidings of salvation through Christ
c) the proclamation of the grace of God manifest and pledged in Christ
d) the gospel
e) as the messianic rank of Jesus was proved by his words, his deeds, and his death, the narrative of the sayings, deeds, and death of Jesus Christ came to be called the gospel or glad tidings

What's more,
2097 -- a verb
2098 -- a noun

That's it, that's all I wanted to bring your attention to.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The law of relativity

How can we distinguish between legalism and the work of God's Spirit, within the church?

By applying the law of relativity. :) In physics the theory of relativity generally stipulates that the cold and immutable calculations of fact given to us in Newtonian mathematics and physics, aren't a complete understanding of mass, space, and time. An example:

Now, read Matthew 12:1-8

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, "Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath."

He answered, "Haven't you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. Or haven't you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent? I tell you that one greater than the temple is here. If you had known what these words mean, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."

We can see here that it was sanctioned by God when David made the law broken (outwardly), because of the righteousness within his heart.

The law is sanctioned to be left unfulfilled, here:

Romans 2:25-29:

Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. If those who are not circumcised keep the law's requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker.

A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man's praise is not from men, but from God.

It's a matter of perspective, when it comes to measuring with the law.

Isn't God amazing?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Three angels

Yesterday I had two people use the word "universalist" on me. I couldn't understand it. But, I listened. Both of them led their reasonings out of Acts 10 (Cornelius). How amazing is that!

They call me leaning toward universalism because of my perspective that comes from John 9 as I wrote in the previous post, and my understanding of Romans 1.

Abraham and the Three Angels, by Gustave Dore

Perhaps one need not know about Jesus in order to be granted eternal life? That is the question I pose.

Their mutual answer about Cornelius immediately made my eyebrows raise because I recalled that when I talked with Dr. Radmacher about my testimony of salvation, he gave his answer to it, also by sending me to Acts 10 for the story of Cornelius.

Do you think God wants me to learn something from Acts 10?? I do!

I read it back then, and I didn't get it. I still read it the same old way as always -- Cornelius worshiped God and God accepted it, before his hearing the good news of Christ. Only now when others have read it to me have I heard things that are new.

David Wyatt (an associate of Lou Martuneac's) said:

The point I believe is universal: if someone wants to know God, even though they have no idea who Christ is, God will move heaven & earth, so to speak, to get the Gospel to them, so they can hear it, believe & be saved. But I also believe the Bible teaches just as plainly that there is no salvation outside of Christ. (Ac.4:12; Jn.14:6)

Lou added his similar persuasion:

He must hear and believe the Gospel to be born again (Rom. 10:13-ff.).

Two timezones away, in the same couple hours that these two comments were being written for my consideration, I was on the phone with Antonio da Rosa who I had never spoken with verbally before. I was listening to this passage for the first time (then later came and saw the comments). He said he was concerned at the universalist twinge in my previous post and in others. He read Acts 10 and pointed out verse 43:

"To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”

That though Cornelius found God through what has been made known of Him plainly in creation (as Romans 1 explains), Cornelius was still in need, and more importantly seeking God's salvation. Cornelius's remission of sins could not have taken place because otherwise Peter's message would have been irrelevant and unnecessary.

I didn't know what Dr. Radmacher wanted me to learn out of this passage. He must have seen the universalist bent in me too.

Blessings to the three who addressed me. I am so grateful to have heard and thought more upon this.

I tell you, it was so horrible, the last couple years of my faith. I was bitter because I felt like no one could hear the messages of scriptures such as John 9, like I could. I would bother with linking to the threads at where no one responded to the Word as I presented it; unfortunately now you have to be a registered member of a group to access them. The experience among them wasn't the only source of disillusion.

And if I had not received timely help from a couple of key people, and had not found Free Grace, I think it possible that I would have painfully stayed in a direction toward something like universalism.

Indeed you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words... ezek 33:32

"Swallow a Camel"

Over at Lou's blog he recently asked me to make clear my position on whether or not it is possible for a man to be saved apart from the knowledge of what Jesus did on the cross. He asked:

Do you agree with the heretical view of Crossless extremists that the lost can be saved no matter what misconception he/she holds about Jesus?

There are lots of angles in this conversation that I don't yet know how to answer. But I just want to inquire, where is the application of John 9 in our world in this age?

Where are these people? Where are the "blind" men?

At My LDS Stuff we are talking in a couple of threads upon the differences in beliefs between me and a Lutheran and the LDS. The Lutheran ("Echo") said to the group:

I think what it all boils down to in the end is that we each need to learn who exactly is this Jesus Christ and what exactly has he done. I think all correct doctrine will naturally follow if only we can get those two things correct. And vice versa, all false doctrine is caused by our not getting something right in those 2 things.

Faith(trust) in Jesus is only Rock Solid when we understand these two things right. When we understand them wrong, even a little bit, faith is in jepardy because we are not trusting (putting faith in) the Jesus of scriptures. Instead we have put all or part of our faith (trust) in something that isn't true about Jesus. And in doing that, it has the potential to be lethal to faith. In fact it isn't faith at all. John 3:18 "Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son."

Perhaps the applied "blind men" in our world are here? Perhaps some of them are LDS. Here is what I wrote:

I agree with the overall point of what you are saying. My thought though, is this:

It does not need to be exact. That's legalism, that's being like a Pharisee.

I agree that the only way the LDS will be dissatisfied with their traditions and heritage and push toward finding eternal life is if they hear the message about what Jesus did and who He was, and then believe in it and receive the Holy Spirit which is the hub for hearing scripture and growing in a way that is pleasing in God's sight.

The problem with this is that they have already heard about Jesus and what He did. That being in their own services. And yet still some of them have not received the Holy Spirit. Getting exact upon the scriptures could have helped them toward receiving the Spirit. Unfortunately, because we ended up bible bashing them with those extra, biblical emphases, we've actually hardened them against knowing Him as we desire, not softened them. So what is there left to do in this kind of situation, which I bet is where most evangelicals have reached with nearly any LDS person?

We've just got to point them to faith. You know, trust, assurance, conviction, and reliance on God. That is what is said to save, anyway. Jesus did not command an exact doctrine of Himself as prerequisite. Look at John 9.

Do you see the beauty in Jesus' method? True experience of God causes the correct (more or less) doctrine. At least it sure can work that way; experiencing the presence of God causes fidelity to truth.

The way Jesus quietly sets his hand upon the head of that man after they have their intercourse... that's the way I see so many LDS people. "But wisdom is proved right by what becomes of it."

Have you heard, Echo, the testimony of some of the LDS people here, of their prayers and assurance of God's love?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Knowledge and Faith

Knowledge is something we live in over-abundance of in this world, amen?

What does it mean for knowledge if it is true that a man is saved by faith?

'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty. (zech 4:6)

Information (scripture, or what is plain and evident about God and man) is essential to create faith.

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

But knowledge of God can be used for evil. One need look no further than how the fossil record has been used to disprove the existence of God. Or how the beauty and brilliance of mother nature is used as an excuse to worship anyone except Him. In the same way, Paul admits:

We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. But the man who loves God is known by God.

and again:

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, ... but have not love, I am nothing.

Knowledge that worships God is Spiritually gained:

We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.

If it is true that a man is saved by faith, then information, logically, therefore, works its power in submission to the goal of faith: an all-sufficient conduit.

Knowledge is not a perfect or enacting channel for eternal life.

rom 10:14
1 cor 8:1-3
1 cor 13:2
1 cor 2:12

Monday, August 11, 2008

Your Brother

Praising God for a "Renewed Dialogue"...

If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God, who he has not seen? 1 john 4:20

But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. 1 john 2:11

Friday, August 08, 2008

"The evangelical weakness"

Okay so this is not going to be a very popular blog series. I'll unabashedly admit that I'm slow in the head like all the other evangelicals who are in love with the Word of God. But, nearly as much as I am in love with truth, I am passionate... about this.

As I have been saying in the last month around this blog and over at Lou Martuneac's blog, it takes someone from outside your circle to show you your blind spots. It's nifty to be able to trust someone else to do that sort of thing for you. I'm thinking of asking "MaioCampo" to help throw some food for thought this way. He may have more than one reason to not want to receive attention for this, but if he does then at least it won't be me trying to remember and articulate the very things I am in the process of digesting for myself. Some people might think it's ludicrous to ask a Latter Day Saint to provide any instruction for us in issues of religion, but, isn't that the very heart of "the weakness"?

I have at least a couple ideas that need to get put down on paper. Usually I do things as inspiration gives me the ability to articulate, so, so far no set schedule. In the meantime, here are a list of blog entries I have already published regarding "the evangelical weakness":

Is this important? -- a response based on Jeff Lindsay's LDS blog entry on evangelical evangelism.

Swindoll's Sermon -- a response to a sermon on sharing faith, given by a preacher associated with free grace, before I was even aware.

Fundamentalist evangelical: some thoughts -- a blog entry on reasoning through the two different philosophies of evangelism.

The harvest is plenty? -- a blog entry on thinking outside of the box about a silent, truthless pre-work in preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.

"But, they're not like us!" -- a blog entry of my very own Pastor Greg's (free grace) sermon on ridding ourselves of our prejudices when it comes to sharing the Word with the world.

I was a little afraid to think about expounding on this topic, but, it's evident I already have been doing so.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Renewed dialogue

It is amazing how much smaller a world it seems to be as the internet becomes more and more interactive. I need to confess something important.

The last couple months have generated in me a good deal of zealotry against old-school evangelism/calvinism's worldview. Whatever that is, and wherever that comes from, that has infiltrated not only the Lordship Salvation camp but nearly the whole of evangelical Christianity -- anywhere where the Augustinian, and therefore Lutheran and Calvinist concepts, have been incorporated into the theological grid.

To me it feels great to be free of that. But this post is not about me, except to say that in all the heat and bitterness I have exhibited, I am sure I made one very important person feel about two inches tall. Her online name is "Echo." I love her and appreciate her so much. She's Evangelical Lutheran, and when it comes to evangelism, she's old-school. Or at least that's how she's been with the LDS up to this point, though beginning in 2006. She doesn't deserve to be made to feel less important, or left out. I believe in her. I believe that God is working in her and through her. I believe she has a heart of gold toward the LDS.

In the categorizations I have made, I have a feeling I might have alienated her.

In a post titled My Testimony this is what I wrote of her:

Online, I have been evangelizing the LDS at a religious forum. I've been there loving on them for five and a half years. In year three, an Evangelical-Lutheran came in to evangelize them too. She loved the Word of God but made mistakes in how she treated them, and how she presented the truth. She called herself someone who believed that grace is free -- but she didn't act or preach in a manner obedient to that belief. For instance, she believed in baptism for salvation. I had to make a choice: was she right that the gospel was more than just faith, or was salvation that simple? I felt peer pressure, thankful to have another evangelical to witness to this great bunch at the LDS forum. Through a year of wrestling with my thoughts over watching her methodology and message, and what I knew I already believed should be the message and methodology from scripture, I took a stand in front of the LDS, against her message, defending the simple truth: faith in Jesus is what saves. She accused me of being softened by the LDS toward heresy. That's okay. We're still in contact. I emailed her a fifteen page document of scripture I wrote showing her how simple faith really is. For a time it excited her, then she decided it was not true once more.

If she is anything like my calvinist husband, I can imagine her saying in response, "That isn't fair, because I believe that the truth is simple, too; faith in Jesus is what saves." But I want to make room to hear exactly what she thinks.

I re-read what I've written and I think it is fair and true. I still think the same. But when it comes to relationships it matters a whole lot less what I intend to say and a whole lot more, how I am received.

It is time for me to express regret for the pain I might be causing -- even if it was not at any time intended, it does not change the real feelings she may be experiencing. I want to know how I have been received into her hearing. Just today she has returned after being absent for several months, to My LDS Stuff. We have not yet spoken since I've "become free grace." Hopefully she will respond and share a bit in the thread labeled A Thought at that forum, though she is invited to discuss it here instead if she wishes.

God bless you sister!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

A bad idea

If we think it's a bad idea to even indirectly allude that sinning is tolerable, it is just as bad an idea to directly tell people that they need to be doing Christian things.

Anything not borne of faith is sin. Whether it's the turn to the left or to the right away from that, matters little.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Countdown to Disneyland

Here is a visual account of the hours and minutes in anticipation of getting into Disneyland....

Palm trees! (Okay, only Grace thought it was exciting to see the kinds of leaves they laid before the donkey's path as Jesus entered Jerusalem....)

Talking to the kids from the middle row of the minivan, letting Grace have the camera

Let me out of this five-point harness I've been in for twelve hours!

Gnawing on shoe to disspell stress

Keepin' it cool... and cautionarily orange

Are we there yet?

Maddy is an old pro for the camera but Lijah says if you don't start walking, Papa, I will

How much longer till we're there??

I think I hear some kid-motion in the distance...

What's wrong with you guys? Disneyland is ten feet away!

Looky who I found

While we were in Anaheim, CA, and visiting my sister in law, Becky, and the whole family, I got to spend just a wee bit of time with a very special little baby girl: Maddy! (Isn't it wonderful how she's just hangin' out?)

She is a vision with her summer dresses, hair accessories and beautiful, perfect curls. I don't know how long it has been exactly since I saw her last, but I had never seen her look so cute as she is now. I thought her hair was only picture perfect, but I was wrong! The heat and mess of the day only made her hair more stunning, lucky baby!

Maddy fits right in with her three cousins, and loves on them all the time. While she does love to watch and learn from them, she puts up the hand when they get too close to crimping her style.

She was so very mature, and used all kinds of words to ask for things. She was also very well cared for by her doting mother and father. Speaking of that mom, wow! I never imagined an eight-week pregnant, often-nauseated mom forging the trail and rallying the troops while weaving a stroller through the crowds. Becky was inspirational!

I'm pretty sure it's Maddy that makes this family total cuteness....

blog archive

Phrase Search / Concordance
Words/Phrase To Search For
(e.g. Jesus faith love, or God of my salvation, or believ* ever*)