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Christianity Church Family Life Godfidence Suburban Missionary

Suburban Missionary: Friend of a Friend

Saturday I helped one of my best and longest term friends move out of Ohio, he has moved on to take a position as Youth Pastor. At his house I met a girl named Stephanie who works with my friends wife. Was that clear as mud? Anyway Stephanie moved down here alone and left her kids with her parents until she can get settled. Since she was waiting for a pay check she said she had just put her last money in her gas tank. Well it turns out that Stephanie lives less than two miles from our house. Did I mention she had only been here a month, known my friend for a month and was already helping with a move?

I shared this story with Heather and we took some of our ‘missions’ money and bought her a gift card to a local grocery store so she could get some food and gas if she needed it. When we brought it before our house church for prayer, people started throwing money at me. Which was not what I had expected but was wonderful because we were able to give her a greater gift. Well Monday we couldn’t get to her house because Heather wasn’t feeling well. So tonight we made a point to go by her house after I got off of work only to find she wasn’t home. We wrote a simple note reminding her who I was and telling her that we lived near by and want her to call us if she needed anything.

Well, we ran a few errands and then went back to see if she was home, we felt a little nervous just leaving a gift card at her house. She had just pulled up and we were actually able to talk to her. She was very thankful and almost ready to cry because of our gesture. We told her to call us and got her phone number to call her. I hope to invite her to house church or at least to our house so we can love her as Christ loves her and tell her the good news of Jesus. I hope I remember how to do that.

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Godfidence Theology

Reforming Slowly

Since I discovered the Ministry of Mark Driscoll some time ago I have found an entire new world opened to me, the world of the reformed church. I have found myself listening to Spurgeon, Piper, Chandler, The White Horse Inn and a few others. They have shown me a new side of Christianity, actually more accurately an older side since the reformation took place hundreds of years ago.

These men hold to a view I formally opposed, of course in actuality I opposed a caricature of it. That view is Calvinism which I defined as simply the belief that once a person is saved they can not loose that salvation, as opposed to Arminianism which I defined as the belief that one could loose their salvation although unlike some I was never as extreme to believe that any sin for which one did not repent could be cause for eternal damnation.

Recently I have learned more about the history and details about these two systems of belief within Christianity, but I am still caught between both seeing the Bible making points for both sides.

I have spent some time reviewing different tenants of each in an attempt to resolve my internal conflict and of course discover the truth. I have decided to share those in my blog. Now that I am through my introduction I will get started.

Doctrine of Election

This doctrine disturbs many evangelical Christians today if they are even aware of its existence. The major text for this doctrine comes from Ephesians 1:

3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will– 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9 And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment–to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. (Emphasis mine)

If he chose us before the creation of the world, then he chose us not based on anything we are, or have done but simply in accordance with his pleasure and will. The explanation I have heard for this is that God looked down through the ages and saw who would respond to his grace and then elected those people, but this, to me, becomes a gospel of works, as one is saved based on their proper response. Additionally it is slightly out of order; you must respond before God will choose you to be one who responds?

Romans chapter 9 has a great deal to say along these lines as well:

10Not only that, but Rebekah’s children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. 11 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad–in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: 12 not by works but by him who calls–she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For he says to Moses,

“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,

and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

16 It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

Is Paul preaching against those who would preach salvation by works and not faith? I would say it is possible if not for the reference to Pharaoh in verse 17. It looks more like God has a chosen people from the beginning; He has had a plan for the salvation of man since before the creation of the world and because he is perfect we believe is plan is perfect.

One major problem I have with this doctrine are that if God elects certain people to grant his mercy then by default he is condemning the remainder of the world to eternal hell and this doesn’t seem just. Eternal punishment for finite sins seems to be an unjust punishment. But Paul answers this very question as

Romans chapter 9 continues:

19 One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?'” 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?

22 What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath–prepared for destruction? 23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory– 24 even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?

If this is true it doesn’t mean I like it but I know that God’s ways are higher than mine and I trust that he is good. When I truly began to understand, and I say began because I do not pretend to have a solid grip on this doctrine, it was a humbling experience. I have always believed, as a majority of Christians do, that Jesus death granted us the opportunity for salvation if only we would respond so I was still able to maintain a little of my pride by taking that last step on my own, however if Jesus death didn’t merely buy us the opportunity for salvation but completed the work upon the cross, additionally granted me the grace and the faith to believe. Then it is a truly humbling experience because I wasn’t even saved through my decision that I may boast.

Maybe I will come back and address the other side of the coin in the future.

Categories
Videos

Why is the Rum Gone

Ok, after last weeks video I was lead to this one, and I thought it was actually pretty well done for one of these remix videos.

Plus I just love Pirates!

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Christianity Family Life Godfidence Suburban Missionary

Strangers a Continuing Story.

A few months ago I talked about strangers in the Bible and I expressed a desire to do more for strangers but for some time I have ignored those desires, or found some good ‘reason to do so. Today that changed.

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Through The Bible

Through The Bible: a Pause

I am going to discontinue my weekly through the Bible posts. This is a decision while not easy is for the best. I am still reading the Bible on the Chronological schedule here at my site, and I hope many of you join me but the fact is I am reading with the wrong intentions. I have found myself reading just to have something to write and I don’t think that is a healthy way to go about things.

I am going to ad a contact page in the near future so if someone has a question about the schedule or the Bible I can answer them as best I can but I don’t want to read the Bible to find something to write about. I want to come to it without that type of preconception.

Sorry if this dissappoints but I am sure I will find some things to write about, I just don’t want to force the issue on a weekly basis.

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Through The Bible

Through the Bible: God’s Love

I am continuing my adventure through the Bible and I am at least in the current month, at least until tomorrow.

I had to do some chain referencing in this one and I probably wouldn’t have done it but reading chronologically has made want to look more into what is being said.

I ready Psalm 106 and as the psalmist was recounting the works of the LORD among his chosen people I came across something I didn’t recognize.

30 Then Phinehas stood up and intervened,
and the plague was stayed.
31And that was counted to him as righteousness
from generation to generation forever.

Who was Phinehas? I couldn’t remember so I checked my chain reference and found his story in Numbers 25. It is certainly a story they don’t tell in Sunday school. Phinehas speared a man and his woman, who were acting in defiance of God’s command. What kind of position do you think they were in that he could spear them both at once?

It is comforting to read this psalm the recounts all the times the people of God have gone astray and done stupid things. And although it is easy to look back on all the signs they ignored and criticize them as a rebellious people we are not much better. We can all look back and in our own life and see places where God was showing us his love and often we ignore it or almost worse yet, ignore it all together.

But the comfort comes from Ps 106:45 “For their sake he remembered his covenant,
and relented according to the abundance of his steadfast love.” It is a covenant cut between God and God that keeps us in his steadfast love and he will keep it.

Categories
Family Life Godfidence

Community: a synchroblog

Holding HandsThis post is part of a synchroblog started by Glenn Hager. Take a look there for more posts on the topic of community and what it means to all the participants.

Community is one of the new buzz words in Christianity today. It seems like every other new church starting is ‘community church’ but this isn’t something that can develop by simply attaching the name to a building, or by following a program; community is something deeper than that. As Alan Knox points out in his post for this synchroblog it isn’t our normal method of operation, at least not in America, it seems to counter the rugged individualism that we value as Americans.

Strangely enough I find myself often more in community with people who are not part of my church family than with those who are. We tend to, as a church, get together for fellowship every week but I don’t see them much in between. We have joked, in fact, that we see each other less now that we participate in our house church together than we did before.

Building a community or covenant family takes more than simply calling what you do community. It will take a complete change in the way we think about church and our lives. It will take giving up our privacy, pride, time, tears, and all the masks we wear, in this area I still believe the church has a great deal to learn from AA. We have been trained in the church to always keep up appearances; we don’t want to burden others with our trouble. But that is what being a family is all about, bearing one another’s burdens and many other things that we shy away from.

Just take a look in the Bible for the phrase “one another” and see what you find. Here is my list:

  • Jn 13:35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
  • Ro 14:13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.
  • Ro 15:7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
  • Ro 15:14 I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another.
  • 1Co 1:10 I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.
  • Gal 5:13 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.
  • Eph 4:2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
  • Eph 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
  • Eph 5:19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord,
  • Eph 5:21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
  • Col 3:13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
  • Col 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
  • 1Th 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
  • Heb 10:24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
  • 1Pe 3:8 Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.
  • 1Pe 4:9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.
  • 1Pe 5:5 Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

All of these things help to build community but for the most part we are only capable of doing these things through submitting ourselves to Christ and allowing him to change our nature through his gospel.

We have begun down the road of community and I hope we continue no matter how hard the road is to travel, I believe the destination will be worth it.

Other Participants in the Synchroblog

Alan @ The Assembling of the Church: Community Is Unnatural Today

Jason @ Godfidence.org: Community: A Synchroblog

Jeff @ Loosing My Religion: Thoughts On Building Authentic Christian Community

Jonathan @ Missio Dei: Why We Don’t Like Grace

Kathy @ The Carnival In My Head: Equality Is An Action Word