Ok, I've been in a pit of depression over quite a lot of things taking place over the last week and a half that I won't even go into. I'm still not sure where I stand internally right now. But it seems every time I go through these, I come out with something to say.
So as I sat listening half-heartedly to the sermon tonight, it was all about faith. It was....James 1:6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. It was God can't help you unless YOU (by yourself) have faith and speak positive and change your words. I sat there getting more upset by the sermon than I already was.
On the drive home I realized that I have heard basically four principal beliefs. And thereby many of the reasons we have so many denominations. Please tell me which you believe and why you believe it. I will tell you which I believe and why I believe it, then I will tell you what came to me as to why you AND I believe as we do.
The Four General Belief Systems:
1. The above message that without faith, it is impossible to please God.
2. A step further that there is life and death in the tongue, that we must speak a thing into existence (name it and claim it?)
3. That God won't do anything outside His will no matter what we speak or pray. We gave this world to satan and God will step in where necessary but for the most part, satan's going to hit us with everything he can.
4. That God will step in and show Himself in our lives and solidify our faith/belief. That He will bring it to pass and "Lord I believe, but help my unbelief (doubt)".
I believe #4 is closer to the truth for many reasons. This passage in particular. Jesus did not tell the man go away you doubter. He also didn't spit in the face of doubting Thomas but instead stuck out His hands. God certainly is pleased by faith, but He ALSO said He came to heal the brokenhearted.
What does a brokenhearted person look like?
|a.||1.||Having the spirits depressed or crushed by grief or despair.|
Hmmm, interesting. So God heals people who have lost all hope or confidence. Brokenhearted people, people who have suffered one traumatic blow after another throughout their lives perhaps, have learned: You can't trust, you have nothing to hope for, life stinks, it's every man for themself to survive, no one cares, people lie, etc.
So how does God heal this without doing things in your life to show you that He's there, that He hears, cares? That means #4 is true....God will step in and show Himself to solidify our faith/belief.
So here's the kicker. Does that make #1 a lie? No. And therein lies the answer to: So why is it that #1 says the man who is double-minded (doubts) won't receive anything and #4 says I believe but help my unbelief (doubt) and Jesus helped the man?
Going back to the discussions of....does scripture contradict itself? How would you explain these two verses side-by-side?
Well here is how I explained them tonight in my head driving home.
The Bible wasn't written to Paul. It wasn't written to the Corinthians. It wasn't written to the Philippians, the Gentiles, the Jews....the Bible was written to EVERYONE.
It was written to Joe Blow who grew up in a loving home, attended church faithfully, accepted Christ at the age of 8, has a strong mental capacity, is a go-getter, graduated college and met his loving wife of 20 years raising 2 kids who he now puts through college and his dog Bruno.
It was written to Jane Doe who's father molested her, who's mother turned her back to it all and berated her for it, who had health issues most of her life, who's family never showed her love, never bought a dog, and kicked her out of the house pregnant at 16 so she could be beaten by the father of her child for the next few years. Maybe heard the Gospel preached for the first time at the age of 25. She now comes to Christ, dejected, hurt, unable to trust, unable to love, emotionally scarred.
Message #1 is going to be a slap in her face and message #4 won't appeal to forceful Joe.
And here's where the church I believe falls into so many problems. We split off. We label one another. We start tossing out the term false prophets.
In 2 Peter 2:1 it speaks of false prophets who deny the Master. Matthew 24:24 speaks of false Christs/Messiahs. Galatians 1:6 says "I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel."
The Gospel is the Gospel of Christ, the message of Christ Jesus, son of God, come down in the flesh, died on the cross and rose again. The message is to be like Christ. The false prophets teaching a false gospel are those teaching something other than Christ. They are not those who teach you can speak in tongues, you can't speak in tongues, you can cast out demons, you can't cast out demons, you can speak it and claim, God will bring you through and give you revelation.
I am praying fervently that I do not keep falling into despair. I likely have sleep apnea and after my sleep study have been scheduled for a CPAP mask study. I have hormonal issues that hopefully a minor operation sometime soon in the future I hope will take care of, and I have major traumatic childhood experiences and current experiences in life that go on and on without a seeming end. Yet right now, perhaps the despair, these events, are all so that I have something to impart. And what I impart here...let's stop beating each other down and shouting out false gospel. Instead let us realize we are all from different backgrounds, different personalities, and way different life experiences. And the Bible is written in such a way that it has a message for us all depending upon where WE are personally at. It is not meant to be something we beat each other over the head with using A scripture.
So the next time someone has a doubt, rather than say "Let not the double-minded man think he should receive anything from God", tell him "Lord he believes, but help his unbelief". Because one message helps him and the other doesn't. Which do you think Jesus would impart to him? The message of hope or the message of get away from me you worthless doubter?
I know this is long and if you read this far bless you. And I'm hoping for some opinions on this. This is what came to me tonight. You may have a different opinion of it, for better or worse.
For me faith is about giving our hearts to God. Faith enables me to see that God is with us amid the turmoil, troubles, and pain in our lives. I am learning to trust in the living presence of God's peace in my journey of hope. Immersing myself in God's Word, staying focused living according to the Gospel, or good news, of Jesus Christ. Keeping it simple.
I am learning to trust in the living presence of God's peace in my journey of hope.
I think that's a major point a lot of people like to sweep under the rug. They treat someone who hasn't yet learned to trust as if they don't understand how the person cannot, when they never dealt with trust issues. Makes the person with trust issues feel even more dejected and downtrodden.
Anyone can take any kind of belief system to an extreme. Faith pleases God. We are saved by grace through faith. Grace and faith both are gifts. Faith can grow. Faith has to have an object. The object of our faith should not be the thing that we want. It should be God.
New International Version (NIV)
Peace and Hope
5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b] boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Death Through Adam, Life Through Christ
12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—
13 To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.
15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!
18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
20 The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
God is the One doing the work, not our faith and not us.
Oops ... Sorry. I just hit you over the head with a whole chapter, not just a verse. LOL
Well ok, faith pleases God. But is that the same as to say doubt displeases Him...with us? I'm sure He wants us to have great faith, but He also knows our weaknesses and He knows how we are made and what we deal with and how we think, our fears, our worries....He knows this and yet still loves us? So then why would He be displeased with us being exactly what He knows we are?
But we had faith enough to turn to Him and that pleases Him. And He knows our faith will grow whereas others around us may want us to get there now and stop bugging them.
I have an old T-shirt that reads: “Justice-when you get what you deserve. Mercy-when you don’t get what you deserve. Grace-when you get what you don’t deserve.”
The body of Christ or the Church, which is you and me, isn't so much an academy of saints as it is a hospital for sinners.
Yes, God knows us intimately and loves us extravagantly. He accepts us as we are, with all of our faults and foibles, though that's not where he intends to leave us. That's grace. The Good News is not about us and what we do, but about God's faithfulness to us. Yes, we are called to be persistent in faith. Yes, we are to be open to discerning all that God would have us be.
But, regardless of our stamina or our success at life’s merit badges, regardless how often we push God away; it is God's grace and the Holy Spirit working in each of us that has secured for us eternal life as new creations in Christ. Jesus did it all; he rescued us.
Faith is about believing God. Not just believing in God, but believing God and believing God is acting on the word of God.
The issue with biblical teachings and doctrines is not the doctrines themselves, but our propensity to take them to extremes, unhealthy extremes.
Faith has to be watered and grow, AND God will help it. One would have to see God as an ogre to believe He'd take someone with little to no trust at all and tell them to trust Him and then not step in to make anything turn around in their life...give them nothing to base the trust on that is real to them, tangible. Nothing to look back upon and say look what God did in my life. I KNOW I can trust Him because __________________.