Monday, March 24, 2008

Just a Disciple

It didn't take me long to tire of my search for a new label. I've been using the label of "Disciple" for many years now, and I think it's sufficient. I am taught by one I hold in high regard, granted understanding through His spirit when necessary and rewarded for my applications of His lessons. I make abundant errors and rely on Him for correction - the consistency of which is only outmeasured by the mercy applied.

Maybe I am just lazy. I don't want to argue with man about whether I am right or wrong. I don't want to sit at the knee of every theologian and search the truth they've proven, getting a high from every "new" truth discovered.

I want to sit at the knee of the One - the Only One - who died with my sin on His conscience, suffering the death I earned, who has every right to condemn me - but instructs me, anyway, in the things that are old and true, boring and unenlightening, simple and timeless - the lowly things no other teacher would have the patience or humility to show me.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Am I Dispensational?

3/24/08 Update: No, don't think New Covenant works either, but I might be confused. How does a layperson know? I'd have to go to Bible College to figure this out - or give up my day job as a wife and mother to read up on everything. I really don't know how people can do this. I thought I'd take what I have found to ring true and it would fit nicely into a theology - but not so. Apparently, amongst many other considerations, I have to figure out the book of Revelation to choose an official theology. Can't really see that happening in my lifetime! Faith really is personal, huh? ;)

3/14/08 Update: I've been looking at distinguishing theologies and think what I have described is more closely related to the New Covenant view. Still looking - not sure I will find a label close enough to cheer for.

I dodge labels. I have all my life. But lately, I find a (unwise?) desire to locate a group - if not a label - that best fits my theology. To my travail, I have finally been challenged to understand some of the theological terminology that I have not to this point been educated on. One term I have heard bandied about most often is "dispensational." And the current discussions going on at Rose's are kind of dependent on some understanding of it. Initially, based on the meanings I knew of the term itself, I thought it might have meant a belief in how God distributes salvation. But as I read conversations, the implication proved false. Then using my understanding of the term along with contextual evidences in conversations, I deduced that it was a belief in breaking down the history of the Bible by the reigning laws of God for man. I think this was a fairly accurate assumption for so little real knowledge, but there is still much to know.

I don't really understand if these dispensational periods indicate different content requirement for saving faith, or simply the stages of revelation until Christ.

Here's my take. Let me know if you think I am dispensational or not. Would I fit in with that group or would I be thrown to the curb?

I don't always think that sin is what separates us from God. I often think that sin is the symptom of the disease that separates us from God - that not believing what God promises, such as "Eat the fruit of this tree and you will surely die," is what separates us from God. Sometimes I imagine that Adam and Eve ignorantly did many of the things we consider "sin" today, and God lovingly instructed and trained them as they trusted him to help them mature. But when they decided to trust the serpent and doubt God's promise, they acted in disbelief of that promise. That promise was more complicated than Adam & Eve were aware of. Obviously they did not seem to die at that moment, but they would. God knew this. They had chosen to trust themselves to decide what is right and wrong instead of God, and there was no turning back.

Have you ever been in a relationship where distrust entered in? How does that affect your relationship? Have you ever worked to bring that relationship back around to trusting? It takes sacrifice, doesn't it? I was trying to get some feedback on my previous post about sin as barrier between God and man, but no takers. With the lack of readers, I guess I have free reign to work this out. :)

Anyway, with this premise, I might understand that saving faith is believing God's promises and not acting in unbelief. I believe that God issued several promises in time that might have changed the "content" of what is to be believed, but at the heart of it was simple trust in God's promise. I have considered that there are some universal promises and some individual promises, and many of the universal promises were issued as a result of the trust ensuing in those individual promises. Consider God's covenant with Abraham, who believed in God's promise of a son and thus entered into a covenant that included all Abraham would add to it.

The universal promises I've identified align pretty well with the 7 dispensational periods I have read about online recently. Ironically (not really, because God knew this already!) each of these promises lead directly to the true fulfillment of all those promises - the Messiah - who issues the final and eternal promise of a reborn eternal life. It would seem that each age has it's specific promise to believe in, but Jesus is truly the fulfillment of all those promises.

I am still working through this. I might have found a tentative label, but I suspect that even if I chose to wear it, it would fall off occasionally. :)

Friday, March 7, 2008

Is Sin Really What Separates Us From God?

I keep running into a wall in my studies on sin.

Let me share the study I did on this prior to becoming a Christian, which is the conviction I held as passed on in the tradition of my church. I am not sure that it is a conviction I hold to today - but it might be. I find that as I mature in my studies and faith, there are many things I have to revisit and regain conviction of what was taught to me. All scripture is from the NIV, as I originally studied it. I find that the various translations continue to have different bearing on my understanding.

(Beginning of Study)

1 Peter 2:9-10 (from the NIV as I studied it originally)

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy."

Those that are saved are called out of darkness into his light:

Darkness =
Not a people of God
No Mercy

Light =
People of God

What is this darkness?

Isaiah 59:1-2

"Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save,
nor his ear too dull to hear.
But your iniquities have separated
you from your God;
your sins have hidden his face from you,
so that he will not hear."

  1. Sin separates us from God.
  2. In order for a man to have a relationship with God the wall must be broken down - sin must be forgiven.
  3. The point in time sin is forgiven - the wall is broken down - is the point in time a person is saved.
Romans 3:23-25

"...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished..."

  1. EVERYONE has sinned.
  2. All are equal; all are lost - whether we consider our sin small in comparison to others, that "small sin" creates the same wall as the "big sin". A moral life does not save you. You cannot earn your salvation by good deeds.
  3. Faith in the blood of Jesus saves you.

What is sin?

Galatians 5:19-21 (sins of commission)

"The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God."

2 Timothy 3:1-5 (sins of commission)

"But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them."

James 4:17 (sins of omission)

"Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins."

What is the eternal consequence of sin?

Romans 6:23

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Wages of Sin

Gift of God
Eternal Life

How do I come into the Light?

John 3:1-7

"Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, 'Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.'

In reply Jesus declared, 'I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.'

'How can a man be born when he is old?' Nicodemus asked. 'Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!'

Jesus answered, 'I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.'"

A person must be born again - born of water first and spirit second.

What message must one believe to be in the light?

Acts 2:22-24

"'Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.'"

  1. Jesus is from God.
  2. Jesus was raised physically from the dead.
  3. Everyone is responsible for the crucifiction of Christ - since all have sinned.
What is my response?

Acts 2:37-42

"When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, 'Brothers, what shall we do?'

Peter replied, 'Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.'

With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, 'Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.' Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer."

If you are cut to the heart, obey:
  1. Repent (turn)
  2. Be baptized (immersed)
  • sin is forgiven, so at this point you are saved.
  • Holy spirit given to you for the power to live as God commands.
(End of Study)

I am interested in what others think about this study. I don't believe this study failed me in coming to faith, but it is milk. There are deeper meanings than this in scripture. I think this study is enough - maybe more than enough. I have come to question the assumptions made in absence of scripture in these first studies I accomplished. I know more scripture now, and of course, the Holy Spirit guides me. I think it's safe to venture...

There is no reason to listen if I cannot hear.
Just Another Voice,

Thursday, March 6, 2008

His faith is immeasurable!

When I suffer scrutiny of my faith, one of two things happen (and sometimes BOTH!):

  1. I will hunker down like a caged animal and defend my belief in desperation - eventually revealing the deep fear that I will lose it, and God comes to my aid.
  2. I will grow in sorrow and compassion for those I have scrutinized in the same way, and God comes to my aid.

There is no reason to listen if I cannot hear.
Just Another Voice,

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Is the Bible alone sufficient?

Do you think it is possible to simply read the Bible, with no extraneous study materials or personal guidance, and come to a saving faith? Do you know anyone who has?

There is no reason to listen if I cannot hear.
Just Another Voice,