Hi Jim! I've a question about something that I've found myself bumping into for a few weeks now. The simplest way that I can state it is; Can we help or hinder the work of God in our own lives and others? To clarify a little bit; I ask this in light of God being all-powerful, and all-present. If I set a law for myself that restricts my being more cognitive of Truth, am I retarding the growing in grace process. If because He makes me desire to seek Him, and to learn(spiritually) more of Him, am I accelerating the growing in grace process by not fighting against this desire? Will I grow faster than someone who is fighting this desire, and judging it to be an evil thing? Is it accelerated because of my eager or willing heart? Is it slowed by a law that I set for myself that seems to hamper this growth? Can what we present to others help or hinder them? Is ministering to others important? Does our giving others wrong information have consequences to them? Does ministering life to someone help? does ministering death to someone cause harm? Does anything we do have any effect on others at all? (I'm just trying to clarify my original question, by all these additional ones, so that you see better what I'm really asking. I know my wording of this question is a little (a lot) screwed up, but I hope that you see past my poor wording, and see what I'm really asking. You have a talent for that. I appreciate your answer, but take your time in replying. No hurry whatsoever! Love, Vinnie
Vinnie ... just responding to let you know that I did receive this. It is an excellent question (or line of questioning), and even though you may think it overly wordy you really make it clear where you're coming from by connecting the many different ramifications. Heck, I'm on a roll now so I'll just sling some thoughts out there for you.
I think we have put ourselves in this strange little quandary because we are trying to balance out our conflicting ideas of responsibility. I mean, if it's grace then it can't be works ... so we figure we have to question every little thing we do to make sure we're not doing anything. Haha! And as you mentioned we are learning that God's grace is based upon God being in complete control, so we wonder if we are getting in the way. Whew!! Huh?
Can we help one another? You'd better believe it. Is it all God's work? Yep. Can we be over-anxious? Definitely. Can we hurt others so as to hinder them? Most certainly. Will God still work that out for our good? Yep. So, if God's going to work it all out - even through the crap of legalism - WHY would we even try? Because it is the driving force of true life operating within us. In fact, I think we often put ourselves in despair or depression or feelings of hopelessness when we stifle this miraculous life that can't wait to get out.
This is why I so often speak to others about what is REALLY going on with us RIGHT NOW because we can so easily get all twisted up in knots trying to get it figured out. The life that is so obvious in you shows itself even in your long posts where you so clearly describe your logic and/or your experiences. Your questions are amazingly profound because they ask the very things that everybody else is or has been thinking or struggling with.
Can we grow faster? I used to think, sure, but for the longest time now I've often wondered if maybe this miraculous life simply can't be expressed as growing faster or slower ... for even when it seems that we were being hindered on all sides His grace came through all the more powerful.
But the right now ... this is where we are, and this is ONLY where we are. But is it possible to consider God's omnipotence and omnipresence (all-powerful and all-present) in such a doctrinal sense that we become afraid to simply LIVE? I think we often confuse the declaring or preaching the life with the preaching of an IDEA of the life. If that makes any sense to you.
For (the gospel) is the power of God to salvation for those who believe Romans 1:16
That's what Paul called it and that's exactly what it is because this message confirms to our hearts of God's operation for us and within us. The gospel is not a tool, but instead a witness to the very life of Christ as being our life. It convinces - FROM WITHIN - us that we are dead to sin and alive to God.
As far as wrong information goes I think we have dished out an awful lot of that. But the perversion of the good news is not as much a matter of wrong information as it the pushing of a fleshly mindset to achieve what is spiritual. Consider the fact that Paul's concern regarding the Galatians was not some incorrectly spoken facts about Christ, but it had everything to do with the pushing of a fleshly token to effect God's salvation.
I mean, there's no doubt that you could examine the words and find an error, but I think this only relegates the false gospel as merely a poorly presented belief structure. This is what evangelicals have been doing for a long time. This is what I was trained to do at my bible college so that I had become a pretty good technician as I examined every little word for error. No doubt I really did recognize a lot of error and fleshly perceptions in the process, but it was often devoid of any life ... and sometimes my discernment of another's preaching of HIMSELF (which is what preaching law really boils down to) it even pushed me to consider my self as somehow superior. Fortunately, God does indeed work through all of that. :)
Of course, this is the crux of the false gospel: the preaching of flesh (ME) vs. preaching Christ. It can be worded a million and one different ways but it's all the same. On the other hand, we can be poorly spoken while demanding that the life is equal in all who are born of God ... and this is the declaration of the good news because this is the message of Christ. For he equally damned us all in his own body so that he might equally give us life.
Anyhow ... I've now run out of steam. Hehe!!
An example; My wife got saved two years ago, but I've seen no frenzy of Bible reading like I experienced. She's never been exposed to religion or church, and knows nothing about the bible. Since becoming aware of grace, I decided to clamp my mouth shut, and trust in the Holy Spirit to do his work, without me imposing laws on her that she should read her bible and think about Him all the time. Should I be fellowshipping with her all the time, or just let God do His work? Will I help or accelerate His growth in her by sharing truth with her more often? How about your ministry here.(I call it that because that's definitely what it has been to me in my life!). I'm sure that God has used it to impact countless people. Does your website (God's use of it) help people to grow? Vinnie
Hello again, Vinnie. Let's see how far I can go on this one!! :)
Okay, regarding your situation with your wife. What does your heart desire toward her? Do you often feel stifled from holding back from sharing life with her in some form or another? Do you keep your mouth shut in fear of screwing things up? Believe me, I understand all this. :(
I mean, it's obvious to me that you don't want her to get into a frenzy, but I suspect you would love to share the life together with her in a very real and living way. True? But you often wonder, What's the use? because you know God has to take care of it in His own way. But God's way involves US into the sharing of His life. And you have known this desire in a powerful way.
Of course, if you take the religious cop-out then you would make her think that a program of Bible reading is the way to understand God ... and this would be the imposing of a law-mentality upon her. But I don't think that's your desire toward her at all. No, no, no, I don't!! :) The truth is that you are heirs of God's grace together which is why you want to see her more and more confident of the life within her. Don't be surprised to discover that ministering to your wife involves far more than a recognizable fellowshipping.
YOU are the witness of life toward her, and your words are extensions of this life. One day it may sound like, Can I tell you more about Christ?, while another day it may sound like, I love you! and yet another day it may not sound at all. Talking about the real stuff of real life is the same thing her heart desires as well ... though I suspect she may be afraid to address those deep driving issues of her life. Your confidence may be the very thing that offset her fears. The sharing of Christ goes directly to the fallacies and lies that are bombarding us from all around, and I can only assume that your wife is plagued by the same kind of stuff that affects the rest of us ... and she probably has no idea that Christ has anything to do with that very real stuff of her life!!
I have no problem with your calling what I do on the web as a ministry even though you don't hear me saying it. I don't say it because the whole concept of ministry is so stinking infused with religious connotations that I prefer to have others recognize the contrast so that when they call it a ministry there is more of a sense that this is what simple sharing of life is all about for all believers!
If I see someone in need, am I interfering with His work by being anxious to pull them out of it? Vinnie
Interfering? Only if you think that what it is for them to be pulled out causes you to demand that they conform to your expectations. To want to see them out of a life of bondage is a true concern. This is why Paul expressed his desire toward the believers as he did ... he wanted them to know this power that worked effectively in them. This has been my desire as well.
But in knowing that GOD is the one who does the work enables me to not try to enforce some kind of standards upon those I minister to. For me, it is such a freedom to often speak a word of life and drop it off at their door knowing that God will the real ministering. Because of this I can preach Christ in confidence even though so many have considered me to be a real wacko ... or more often, as being to doggoned ethereal. But my confidence is not based upon whether they see it as I would like them to see it ... and it turns out that such a confidence comes across as true assurance.
Vinnie, once again, let me tell you how much life I see in your questions, AND in your desire to further express what it is you want to say to me. :)