Jim, you made the following statement:
"Paul's message to the Ephesians is exactly what you need to hear, for as a child of light there is only one legitimate mode of operation - and that is to SEE YOURSELF AS THE CHILD OF LIGHT HE MADE YOU AND TO LIVE LIKE WHO YOU REALLY ARE!"
I truly desire to "SEE MYSELF AS THE CHILD OF LIGHT HE MADE ME", & I think I am on my way, but I don't understand how to "LIVE LIKE WHO I REALLY AM!" Could you please elaborate a little on that last part? Because, to me, this just seems like another "requirement" that I won't be able to live up to. You see, I am continuously haunted by the fear that I will go through this life telling myself that I am in Christ (because I DO believe all the historical & biblical facts about Him & I DO accept that I can be saved by nothing else other than what He has done once & for all on the cross), only to find out that I am, in reality, just another one of the people that Paul says shall not inherit the Kingdom. <--- That is how I actually feel most of the time, & I find myself doing many of the things that Paul says will disqualify a person from entering the Kingdom. Please help me. Lastly, thanks for all the articles you have written. They have been a real blessing & I can't stop reading them. I hope to hear from you soon, JW
Hello JW! :)
To "live like who you really are" is to live free, for that is what you are. When you and I attempt to figure out HOW to do this it can only come across as being some difficult requirement. Why? Because the natural get-it-figured-out mind cannot understand true freedom, and therefore, it cannot understand true life and living. More and more, as you consider the basis upon which you learned how to live in this world you will also realize how much fear and guilt manipulated your every move, thought and word. That is the same fear that now haunts you, and believe me, I am fully aware of this fear, for it still sneaks up on me with its stinking demands and insinuations.
Paul's words to the Corinthians have been misread and misunderstood for a long, long time. Their purpose was not to induce fear and intense scrutiny to discover whether one will inherit the kingdom or not. He instead had made it clear where the insanity in their relationship was coming from. The believers he wrote to had fallen into the trap of comparing themselves one with another and were seeing each other according to the flesh. If you follow through the whole letter it becomes obvious that they were doing the very things Paul described as found in those who do not inherit the kingdom. But Paul immediately insists that
such WERE some of you, but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ 1 Corinthians 6:11
He didn't say this as an intellectual exercise but to make it clear to them that the things they had been using to boast of their "spirituality" were fleshly motivations ... and that which is born of the flesh cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Paul's demand was that they were not what they had been imagining themselves to be. They needed no super-spiritual wisdom to recognize the mind and works of the flesh, for it was so obvious. His point came through blazingly clear: Why are you listening to those who reason according to the flesh since the mind of the flesh cannot understand the things of the spirit of God?
Jim, Thank you for your quick reply. You asked for my thought. Well, here goes; please try to follow my rambling, broken up thoughts:
Your answer makes a lot of sense; it's just almost impossible for me to grasp the reality of any type of "true freedom", especially in the typical small-town southern baptist church, like the one I am a member of. Sure, they preach "freedom in Christ", but it's always been done from a "scare the hell out of them" approach to trying to get people to "turn from their sins & accept Jesus as their personal savior". Then, for the ones who do claim to have done this, the church hasn't done away with the law and/or the 10 commandments, it simply re-worded a couple & added about a million of it own "biblical" commands, not for salvation mind you, but for practical sanctification/holiness. After all, God wouldn't want us (saved ones) walking around blind in the world without a good "road map", now would he?
;-) It's insane. It leaves out the miraculous Life of Christ in us & the leading of His Spirit in us.
Then, to add to my confusion about what to believe/how to behave as a Christian, my preacher has given sermons where he doesn't seem to push any requirements other than confessing one's belief that Jesus has completed everything needed to save us, & all we have to do is believe Him (Jesus) & what He has accomplished, & we'll be saved. He has even agreed that to be saved, a person doesn't have to be a church member, doesn't have to be baptized, & doesn't have to do any works. He uses the believing thief on the cross as an example that a man is saved apart from any works, because what works did the thief have, other than evil works, right? He also says that once saved, we can never lose our salvation, no matter what type of sin we fall into.
Maybe I just totally misunderstand my preacher. Maybe he is simply serving God the best way he knows how. Heck, maybe he's totally right in his teaching & maybe I'm completely wrong to question any of it. The hard part for me is that I'm too intimidated to talk to him about my questions & concerns, because he is a highly educated man (he has Dr. in his title), & I am not well educated. I just get tongue-tied when I'm speaking to somebody with the level of education that my preacher has. I only have an Alabama high school education, which isn't saying much.
All in all, I'm very discouraged, even to the point of wanting to leave the whole sick medicine show called Christianity behind. I simply can't stand sitting in church & listening to the preachers tell me what God expects us to do, since they all have their minds made up that they're right & everyone else is wrong.
But, if I leave the church, it would negatively affect my marriage, since my wife does not share my discouragements with organized religion. She's not a bible scholar by any means; she doesn't even read her bible that much. She's just willing to go with the flow & not cause any kind of fuss. To her, leaving organized church would be breaking a promise we made to God. You see, we did "dedicate" our young daughter to the Lord when she was an infant, & "promised" to bring her up in a Christian home. I never liked the whole "dedication" & "promises" thing; didn't Jesus say not to make vows??? seems like I remember that from one of the gospels.
Thanks for listening to my convoluted ramblings. If you have any thoughts on what I've written (more like babbled), I would appreciate hearing them. Thanks, JW
Thanks for sharing your ramblings, though I didn't find them convoluted at all. You know, for a "not well educated" Alabama boy
You know what I think? I think you see quite clearly but are afraid to trust what you see. I think you've poked your head through the curtain of fleshly appearance and have seen beyond the facade, but you assume it's impossible for you to have seen what you have. Don't let the appearance of wisdom intimidate you.
Perhaps that preacher has done the same and yet because of the appearance of wisdom finds himself obligated to it. I wouldn't really know. But it's not about the preacher or the institution, is it? Your confusion comes from trying to balance or integrate the miraculous you have seen with intellectual explanations you have heard.
I also used to judge preachers or groups by how they stated certain teachings (aka the statement of faith), especially regarding salvation and who Christ was. As long as they seemed to agree with the basic premise of "faith in Christ alone" I just assumed they were true to God and his Word. However, I slowly discovered too many exceptions to the litmus test ... on both ends. The truth of life and freedom in Christ simply could not be captured by an agreement of words.
I understand your discouragement with what you call "the whole sick medicine show called Christianity". What an excellent description! I also feel your hesitation to leave it because of your wife. Perhaps she just needs a little more time, perhaps it is only her deeply embedded fear that won't allow her to consider such a drastic move. And maybe she has seen more than you know. I mean, you describe her as one who could easily be intimidated by any "Bible scholar" which makes it understandable why she would just "go with the flow and not cause any kind of fuss". Her fear of breaking a vow to God keeps her from daring to question those she assumes are authorities of God. Be patient with her, and don't be afraid to share your thoughts and insights with her. She needs to grow in her own confidence that she in fact hears God and has her life in Christ. Maybe you need to get out of that group, but even if you remain for a while, know that your physical location does not define where you truly are in Christ! :)
I hope to hear back from you. :)