A Journey of Faith, Certainty and Discovery

Are you Christian? Any other faith? No faith? Tell us just a bit about the role "faith" plays in your life. Don't seek to evangelize here. This is a "story-telling" forum. All submissions are equally valued if given in a positive spirit. New Comers please post here.

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Re: A Journey of Faith, Certainty and Discovery

Postby c.o. » Mon Aug 14, 2017 5:32 pm

Faith, certainty and discovery. A journey, indeed!

"Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Heb 11:1).

Jesus and the Apostles did not teach intending uncertainty or confusion. There are things of which the redeemed can be certain.

Predestination? Absolutely! It's inarguable from a biblical standpoint.

The responsibility of the human to believe? Absolutely! Also inarguable, biblically.

Do i believe in predestination, or the possibility that any repentant human can come to repentance? Yes.

I think they are called antinomies (Greek anti - in opposition to; nomos - law). We can be certain of both because they are clearly taught. We cannot wrap our minds completely around the apparent contradictions, but the Infallible Mind can.
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Re: A Journey of Faith, Certainty and Discovery

Postby Maverick » Mon Aug 14, 2017 7:22 pm

c.o. wrote:Faith, certainty and discovery. A journey, indeed!

"Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Heb 11:1).

Jesus and the Apostles did not teach intending uncertainty or confusion. There are things of which the redeemed can be certain.

Predestination? Absolutely! It's inarguable from a biblical standpoint.

The responsibility of the human to believe? Absolutely! Also inarguable, biblically.

Do i believe in predestination, or the possibility that any repentant human can come to repentance? Yes.

I think they are called antinomies (Greek anti - in opposition to; nomos - law). We can be certain of both because they are clearly taught. We cannot wrap our minds completely around the apparent contradictions, but the Infallible Mind can.


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Re: A Journey of Faith, Certainty and Discovery

Postby Petros » Tue Aug 15, 2017 7:07 am

True enough. And if people can tell me I am incomprehensible and inconsistent, how can we expect to grasp God simply?
The truth, the stark naked truth, the truth without so much as a loincloth on, should surely be the investigator's sole aim - Basil Chamberlain
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Re: A Journey of Faith, Certainty and Discovery

Postby dv8 » Tue Aug 15, 2017 12:25 pm

c.o. wrote:...Jesus and the Apostles did not teach intending uncertainty or confusion. There are things of which the redeemed can be certain.

Predestination? Absolutely! It's inarguable from a biblical standpoint....
I hope I was not unclear: I suggest nothing of "confusion," but neither do I read in the teachings of Jesus perfect clarity; if it was so, how could the disciples been confused for so long? The Good News is simple, yet it holds a wealth of complex meaning and application that no one person has ever understood fully since Jesus himself. Whatever understanding I have about the meaning of "predestination," it almost certainly varies somewhat from your understanding. Shall I be certain that my understanding is correct now, has always been correct, and will always be so? My wife's and my recent move to a Presbyterian congregation has given me opportunity to delve into this particular notion, and I heard around our table of "newcomers" a wide variety of understandings, all of them based in faith in the saving blood of Jesus and the abiding love of our Creator. Therefore I seek never to hold someone else accountable to my particular understanding as much as to their demonstrated love;
Mark 12:29-31 (NRSV) wrote:29 Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30 you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
c.o. wrote:... The responsibility of the human to believe? Absolutely! Also inarguable, biblically.

Do i believe in predestination, or the possibility that any repentant human can come to repentance? Yes.
We certainly agree that any repentant human can come to repentance - but even there, how and why that happens is a mystery left to God. I understand the command that applies to us all, to go into all the world, making disciples; precisely how and when a human comes into God's grace remains God's purview, but I am no less called to lead them there. I cannot be certain, but that is not confusion or even uncertainty; it is faith.
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Re: A Journey of Faith, Certainty and Discovery

Postby c.o. » Thu Aug 17, 2017 9:44 am

dv8 wrote:I hope I was not unclear: I suggest nothing of "confusion," but neither do I read in the teachings of Jesus perfect clarity; if it was so, how could the disciples been confused for so long?

The distinction needs to be made between the Disciples before the resurrection, and the same Disciples after the resurrection. Before, yes, they had trouble understanding (particularly) the Kingdom, believing it to be all set now that Jesus had accomplished redemption and rising from the dead in glory. See Acts 1, where they were still expecting it now. In fact, there came a point late in Jesus ministry where His teachings were intended to confuse (Mat 13:13).

But after the resurrection, and beginning with Cleopas and his fellow Emmaus-bound traveler (Luke 24), Jesus,”beginning with Moses and with all the prophets…explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” These two men, though not numbered among the Eleven, were nevertheless disciples, and were in the same state as the Eleven at this point, prior to Jesus’ further instruction. Note v 32 in Luke 24: “Were not our hearts burning…while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?”

Staying in Luke 24, Jesus is now with the Eleven. “Now He said to them, ‘These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures…” The Disciples, with their clarified understanding that Jesus is the God of Moses, the Prophets and Psalms, now had the understanding necessary to "turn the world upside down."

I am not saying that everyone who names the Name has had the same sort of instruction that these Disciples received. However, after this point (and Pentecost), see how the Church exploded (Acts), and see what little confusion remained. There was some, as Peter needed Spiritual convincing about the inclusion of the Gentiles in God’s salvation plan, and as the Jerusalem assembly needed to answer questions about the degree to which Gentiles should be expected to follow Jewish law. Acts is a transitional book -- Jewish understanding of godly things transitioning to Christian understanding. But when you read the Apostles’ teaching in their writings (all post-resurrection, all post-Pentecost), how much confusion or uncertainty do you see?

There are definitely some questions that are unanswerable to fallen humans. But there is tremendous clarity for those who apply Scripture – rightly divided – to the questions we have.
My wife's and my recent move to a Presbyterian congregation has given me opportunity to delve into this particular notion, and I heard around our table of "newcomers" a wide variety of understandings, all of them based in faith in the saving blood of Jesus and the abiding love of our Creator.

Interesting statement (and assuredly the best place to start) “all of [their understandings] based in faith in the saving blood of Jesus and the abiding love of our Creator.” Were any of their understandings based on responsible study of what the Creator actually says about these things?
Therefore I seek never to hold someone else accountable to my particular understanding as much as to their demonstrated love

And neither would I. But myself and everyone else ARE accountable to God as He has been revealed in Scripture. None of us this side of eternity have arrived. But when people bearing the name of Jesus believe things His word obviously refutes, it is not love to let them believe falsely.

Are you certain that salvation is by grace, through faith, the gift of God? Is it loving to let someone believe that salvation is based on his good works outweighing his bad? This is not love; at best it is apathy.

When Scripture (and Jesus) clearly, repeatedly and certainly demonstrate that Jesus is God, is it love to not confront those who believe the Redeemer to be just another created angel?
We certainly agree that any repentant human can come to repentance - but even there, how and why that happens is a mystery left to God.

Is it a mystery? Salvation comes by hearing the gospel (Rom 1:16); faith comes by hearing the gospel (Rom 10:17), and repentance is the result of the kindness of God (Rom 2:4). What we cannot know precisely is who out of the mass of fallen humanity will come. Of that we can be certain :-). And (no dissertation on this -- the reader breathes a sigh of relief), the way we 21st-centurians have come to define mystery (whodunnit?) is different than the biblical "mystery." When the New Testament speaks of mysteries, they are things which were not clear to pre-Christ saints, that have been revealed post-Christ.

While I cannot be certain of anyone’s eternal destiny (even tares look like wheat), I can with biblical certainty tell someone that if they don’t truly repent and trust in the work of Christ on their behalf, they will perish.
I understand the command that applies to us all, to go into all the world, making disciples; precisely how and when a human comes into God's grace remains God's purview, but I am no less called to lead them there.

Would you follow a leader who does not know where he is going, or from whence he came? How can one lead another to a nebulous christ? In your leading, do you present the truth, or vagaries, and how can one be expected to believe that?
I cannot be certain, but that is not confusion or even uncertainty; it is faith.

The writer of Hebrews disagrees. Faith is conviction, assurance. I don't have it perfectly, because i am certainly remaining, for now, in my fallen flesh, trusting completely that Jesus' sinless life has become mine in God's eyes, and that His suffering and death on the cross is full payment for my fallenness. And that the Father has accepted His life and death for mine by most certainly raising Him from the dead.
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Re: A Journey of Faith, Certainty and Discovery

Postby dv8 » Sun Aug 20, 2017 5:45 pm

Thanks to all who have offered words of wisdom and challenge - I read these with interest and, I hope, humility.
c.o. wrote:The distinction needs to be made between the Disciples before the resurrection, and the same Disciples after the resurrection...
I take your meaning about the new understanding of Jesus' words that followed His resurrection and the bestowing of the Holy Spirit. I cannot conclude therefore that understanding for the past 2 millennia has necessarily been clear for all Christians. I remain open to hearing what is said by those who love the Lord and live their lives to honor His commands and exhortations to the best of their understanding and abilities.
c.o. wrote:Interesting statement (and assuredly the best place to start) “all of [their understandings] based in faith in the saving blood of Jesus and the abiding love of our Creator.” Were any of their understandings based on responsible study of what the Creator actually says about these things?
To the extent of my ability and mandate to judge, yes. I wouldn't otherwise name them so. And I do not hold a low bar, albeit perhaps a different one from what others use.
c.o. wrote:...But when people bearing the name of Jesus believe things His word obviously refutes, it is not love to let them believe falsely.
It is not within my powers to allow or disallow another's beliefs. If they live their lives in accordance with Jesus' summary of the law of love as I quoted from Mark, differences in interpretation of scriptures are between them and God, without me as arbiter. While I will engage them and encourage them to consider my studied understandings, I will not declare with certainty that someone's otherwise loving choices are necessarily a block to their salvation. That is not mine to do.
c.o. wrote:Are you certain that salvation is by grace, through faith, the gift of God? Is it loving to let someone believe that salvation is based on his good works outweighing his bad? This is not love; at best it is apathy.
I am not certain where this comes from. You are right that salvation is by grace, through faith, a gift from God.
James 2:18 wrote:But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith.
Faith that shows itself through love strikes me as real, regardless of particulars of doctrine. Faith that demands a particular purity of doctrine over love doesn't impress me as much.
c.o. wrote:When Scripture (and Jesus) clearly, repeatedly and certainly demonstrate that Jesus is God, is it love to not confront those who believe the Redeemer to be just another created angel?
No, it is not love to leave such a person alone. But much hinges on the word, "confront." It is love to listen, to teach, to demonstrate the love of Christ through welcome, charity, humility, etc. On the other hand, it may not be love to present oneself as better than another.
c.o. wrote:Is it a mystery? ...I can with biblical certainty tell someone that if they don’t truly repent and trust in the work of Christ on their behalf, they will perish.
Clearly I fail sometimes in the use of the English language. I am not a Universalist:
John 14:6 wrote:Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Of this I am certain. How and when someone else meets the Maker's standard of "com[ing] to the Father" remains, to my faith experience, a mystery. Perhaps we are in disagreement on this - I am nevertheless at peace.
c.o. wrote:Would you follow a leader who does not know where he is going, or from whence he came? How can one lead another to a nebulous christ? In your leading, do you present the truth, or vagaries, and how can one be expected to believe that?
I'm sorry if I have given you the impression that my beliefs are vagaries, or that my Christ is nebulous; I am reading and value the same scriptures as all who call themselves Christian. * I do not add to the revelation from God anything not contained in or consonant God's revelation to humanity; however, I am open to the revelation of God through His creation:
Romans 1:20 wrote: Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made.
And, I am open to the revelation of God through His Holy Spirit:
John 14:26 wrote:But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.
(I note the future tense of "will teach.")
c.o. wrote:...Faith is conviction, assurance. I don't have it perfectly, because i am certainly remaining, for now, in my fallen flesh, trusting completely that Jesus' sinless life has become mine in God's eyes, and that His suffering and death on the cross is full payment for my fallenness. And that the Father has accepted His life and death for mine by most certainly raising Him from the dead.
Hebrews 11:1 wrote:Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Can there not be a meaningful distinction drawn between "assurance" - knowing with the depths of one's heart the truth of the Gospel, and "certainty" - allowing no possibility of mistake or shortage of understanding? I have assurance, for which I thank God and share my joy with others.
Petros wrote:...Come down to it, we have no proof that the universe exists save that we know it does [that is NOT the same as cogito ergo sum], and we have no proof that God exists save that we know he does.

I do not need to prove a gourmet meal or a sunrise.
We are in agreement, as far as I am able to understand. We live the truths that we are taught to be true by the example of creation, the breathing of the holy spirit, and the words of scripture. Our modern concepts of scientific "proof" have little bearing on matters of faith. On the other hand, if I believe a sunrise to be an example of God's generosity of beauty, another may see it quite differently as a warning of bad weather to come. Neither is wrong, and neither is "certainly" right. Both presuppose God's handiwork and lead us to a life of faith and love.

* The version I prefer to read is the NRSV, and I understand that for some that is not the truly inspired version. Furthermore, I do not include the Book of Mormon or the books of the Apocrypha, etc., and I understand that for some these books contain further truth.
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Re: A Journey of Faith, Certainty and Discovery

Postby Petros » Mon Aug 21, 2017 7:44 am

Scientific proof:

It is "riding a bicycle" if and only if:

a. training wheels are attached
b. there is a bell tuned to C#
c. there is a single gear ratio, 2 to 1
d. the rider has on padded blue lycra shorts
e. the rider drives on the left side of a designated bike path
f. the path is level.

Any thing a cyclist does conformable to these rules shall be valid Cycling. Any other activity involving a bicycle shall be nul and void.
The truth, the stark naked truth, the truth without so much as a loincloth on, should surely be the investigator's sole aim - Basil Chamberlain
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Re: A Journey of Faith, Certainty and Discovery

Postby c.o. » Thu Aug 24, 2017 6:05 pm

I take your meaning about the new understanding of Jesus' words that followed His resurrection and the bestowing of the Holy Spirit. I cannot conclude therefore that understanding for the past 2 millennia has necessarily been clear for all Christians.

Neither can i, of course! But notice that -- in addition to Pentecost -- the Apostles' certainty appears to have been catalyzed by a fuller grasp of all that the Bible (Old Testament at that time) taught concerning Christ. None of us can verifiably claim to have had the level of instruction, directly from the Word's mouth, that the Apostles had. My point was that a lot of the confusion and uncertainty demonstrated by them previously, vanished (in all but a couple instances cited) after these post-resurrection occurrences.

I'm not saying this next sentence to you dv8, because i know you already dig deeply. But being taught by those who know the original languages and historical contexts makes the particular English version of the Bible less relevant (and confusing).

An often-quoted-out-of-context word that Jesus spoke was "If you continue in my word, you are truly disciples of mine. You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." First, this was spoken directly to “Jews who had believed Him” (John 8:31-32). Second, Jesus identifies who His true disciples are -- those who continue in His word. Third, He confirms the result: by truly being My disciples and by continuing in My word, you shall know the truth. To at least some extent, it makes sense, then, not to stop at Jesus' great commandment (which is foundational, and which i am not minimizing), but to continue digging.
I remain open to hearing what is said by those who love the Lord and live their lives to honor His commands and exhortations to the best of their understanding and abilities.

I hope you don't think i am closed to hearing what is said by others. I don't claim to have perfect understanding, but my mind (and probably yours, too) automatically takes what another says and lays it out on the grid of Scripture as you and i have come to understand it, and we let Scripture judge. But hearing what others have to say, and accepting it as truth, or even valid in every case, are two different issues. Just because we say we love the Lord does not make a biblically wrong concept valid.
It is not within my powers to allow or disallow another's beliefs.

Nor mine. I cannot make someone believe or disbelieve something. But when the Bible instructs me to be prepared to give a defense for the hope i have, i have the sense that it means more than just explaining myself before a judge and jury, and extends into the idea of being persuasive. I think a lot of Apostolic understanding was much the same. Perhaps it’s a difference in our approaches. I tend to look at things on a rational plane, where you might look at things (and i'm not saying you're wrong) on a more emotional one(?).

Then, too, look at the number of outright (and sometimes very forceful) exhortations delivered to those within the Body during the early years of Christianity. At times, Paul got downright sarcastic with Judaizers (in Galatians). There were allowances and disallowances of others' beliefs. John was discussing wrong offshoots of “Christian” thought in his epistles (1 Jn 2:26).

Look at what the Reformers went through for the sake of the gospel. I daresay the Roman church believed they were doctrinally sound. I’m grateful others took a strong and forceful stand for what was biblically true against that which is biblically untrue 500 years ago.
If they live their lives in accordance with Jesus' summary of the law of love as I quoted from Mark, differences in interpretation of scriptures are between them and God, without me as arbiter.

I hope you don't "hear" this in any other way than a series of honest (and some just rhetorical) questions: Are you saying that if a so-called believer in Jesus does NOT live in accordance with your interpretation of the law of love, then you will arbitrate a difference in interpretation? What does it mean to love the Lord your God with the totality of yourself, and love your neighbor as yourself? Does that look the same in every case? Can you always tell when one is loving biblically (wheat) and one isn't (tare)? Can Scripture shed some light on what it means? Is it wrong to lead someone to a truer understanding based on Scripture?

Of course, everyone's faith-walks are between them and God -- ultimately. I am not suggesting God gave anyone any power over another that He has reserved for Himself. But He certainly seems to place elders in the church (and the Apostles) in a position to call out believers where they are wrong. And, He gives believers the discernment to call out elders when THEY are wrong.
While I will engage them and encourage them to consider my studied understandings, I will not declare with certainty that someone's otherwise loving choices are necessarily a block to their salvation. That is not mine to do.

But that is what Scripture does. What good is salt and light if neither do their job in the world? There are several lists in the New Testament describing things that “block” salvation. And i'm guessing that the larger percentage of those not going to heaven will insist that they are loving and lived their lives making loving choices (sheep and goat judgment: “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, did we not…?’”). Again, i'm with you: i cannot declare with certainty the eternal destiny of anyone based on my understanding or impression of them.
c.o. wrote:
Are you certain that salvation is by grace, through faith, the gift of God? Is it loving to let someone believe that salvation is based on his good works outweighing his bad? This is not love; at best it is apathy.

I am not certain where this comes from.

It was just an example of something about which a believer may be certain, and is obligated by the Great Commission to be telling someone, in love. (“Speak the truth, in love.”) There are people who claim Christianity, but expect that their personal goodness is the criterion upon which God will be gracious.
James 2:18 wrote:
But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith.

Faith that shows itself through love strikes me as real, regardless of particulars of doctrine. Faith that demands a particular purity of doctrine over love doesn't impress me as much.

It is not a “particular purity” of doctrine I strive for. It is biblical doctrine we should unify around. Is James speaking about love, or the relationship of faith to works?
c.o. wrote:
When Scripture (and Jesus) clearly, repeatedly and certainly demonstrate that Jesus is God, is it love to not confront those who believe the Redeemer to be just another created angel?

No, it is not love to leave such a person alone. But much hinges on the word, "confront." It is love to listen, to teach, to demonstrate the love of Christ through welcome, charity, humility, etc.

I am not advocating against welcome, charity, humility, etc. Not at all! But the Great Commission doesn’t end there.

John the Baptizer was confrontive. His first recorded word in the gospels is “Repent” (Mat 3:2). Luke 3:18 – “With many other exhortations also [John] preached the gospel to the people.” Isn’t preaching the gospel the ultimate charity (literally, grace)?

Was Jesus loving, welcoming, charitable and humble? (None better!) His first recorded word when He began preaching (Mat 4:17) was “Repent.” Of course Jesus was loving, but He was also quite confrontational.

Would you say Paul was loving? Would you say he instructed the assemblies he wrote to about love?

Acts 20:31 (Paul speaking to the Ephesian elders) – “Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.”

Col 1:28 – “And we proclaim Him, admonishing every man with all wisdom, that we may present every man complete in Christ.”

Col 3:16 – “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another…”

Paul lists exhortation as a spiritual gift in Rom 12:8 (and I’m not excluding his further teaching about love and hospitality in 12:9-13).

Titus 1:9 – an overseer [elder] must be able to “exhort in sound doctrine and … refute those who contradict.”

The writer of Hebrews exhorted his “brethren” (cf 13:22).

If nothing else, God, through Moses, the major and minor prophets, taught us that there is a time to confront God’s people holding errant doctrines.

If you give the message of the gospel, you cannot help but exhort, confront. The gospel is empty if it isn’t first preceded by why salvation is necessary: ones sins will keep them from fellowship with the Creator. If one does not understand how their sin offends God, can one truly repent?
On the other hand, it may not be love to present oneself as better than another.

In fact, it is NOT love to present oneself as better than another. That’s the original sin of pride. Simply because one is corrective, biblically, does not mean that one considers himself better than another. It would also be wrong to judge someone’s motives who corrects another’s less-than-scriptural beliefs.

John 14:6 wrote:
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Of this I am certain. How and when someone else meets the Maker's standard of "com[ing] to the Father" remains, to my faith experience, a mystery. Perhaps we are in disagreement on this


It’s more than just a mystery, but something we cannot know because we are not God. I hope I haven’t left the impression that I can determine when someone meets God’s standard of repentance.
I'm sorry if I have given you the impression that my beliefs are vagaries, or that my Christ is nebulous

I have no impression that your beliefs are vague or your concept of Christ is nebulous. The hypothetical “leader” I brought up was not you.
I do not add to the revelation from God anything not contained in or consonant God's revelation to humanity;

I don’t believe I do, either. And I am willing to hear anyone who believes that I have added to or subtracted from His revelation in Scripture.
And, I am open to the revelation of God through His Holy Spirit:
[quote John 14:26]But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.
(I note the future tense of "will teach.")

The following comments are an aside from the gist of our conversation: Because of the context, the circumstances and the audience directly receiving these words from Jesus, I believe His comment had more to do with the revelation, to the disciples, of what they would need to know in order to initiate the Church. I am not saying that the Spirit does not or cannot teach us more than we now know. I’m not sure “everything” meant literally every single thing. But it was certainly all that they needed to begin, and to form “the apostles’ doctrine” (Acts 2:42).
Can there not be a meaningful distinction drawn between "assurance" - knowing with the depths of one's heart the truth of the Gospel, and "certainty" - allowing no possibility of mistake or shortage of understanding?

This is a very good point. There are some hairs I’m unable to split due to mental deficiencies :? , but think I do see the meaningful distinction you make. In my ruminating over our conversation I’ve wondered if maybe I’m looking at two sides of the same coin. The eye is not the hand; the mouth is not the heart, and maybe this has more to do with different Giftedness than different theology. Just as the hand should not say to the eye "We have no need of you," neither should the welcoming greeter say to the watchman on the wall "your giftedness is not necessary;" and vice versa.

I DO struggle with the idea that one who may find reason to confront cannot be loving, and that trying to correct thoughts that appear clearly unscriptural comes from pride rather than desire for unity and edification.

Please do, dv8, tell me when you think I’ve failed from loving to prideful in any remarks I make. I’ll thank you in advance.
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Re: A Journey of Faith, Certainty and Discovery

Postby Petros » Thu Aug 24, 2017 10:51 pm

I might point out that whether one is a grasshopper or an ant - adapting that image to the grasshopper who leaps around the surface and browses on the simplicity of the Gospel, or the ant who digs deep labyrinthine tunnels and forages far and wide for a seed here, s morsel there - depends on who one is, how one is designed, what tasks God has assigned. I am a deep and wide digging ant; my MIL was a happy, superficial, strongly Christian grasshopper - or maybe a katydid [ingroup joke]

That said, Mark 9:24 pops: "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." The truths of Chrstianity include a huge number of truly deep mysteries. The certainties of belief are always being nibbled at by our urge to THINK we understand.
The truth, the stark naked truth, the truth without so much as a loincloth on, should surely be the investigator's sole aim - Basil Chamberlain
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Re: A Journey of Faith, Certainty and Discovery

Postby bn2bnude » Fri Aug 25, 2017 7:44 am

As I was reading through the thread, I was struck by how differently I think these days.

Growing up, certainty about our beliefs was the watch word... "Study to show..." and all that. "Eternal Security" and "Once saved always saved". Doubt was looked at as a bad thing.

In the last 10 years or so, doubt has crept in. The older I get the more I realize I don't know and that produces doubt. Some unfounded, some well founded. For instance, as a young college age guy, Creation Research Institute was pretty attractive... I was certain that the evolutionists were wrong and they were just trying to make fools of us. These days, I am not so sure. The more I know about the Bible, I understand that God created but the Bible doesn't really tell us how or how long. Maybe, just maybe, evolution was how he did it. Doubt.

I have doubt about a lot of things... What do I do about it? Nothing... In fact, I welcome doubt, I relish it. Why? It makes faith that much more vibrant.

I was talking to a guy last month trying to explain this (someone who was in a similar position). If I know, either empirically or otherwise, that something is going to happen, I don't need faith. For instance, I have a relatively new car that has never failed to start when I put the key in. I don't need faith to start it, I just do it. On the other hand, I have an old truck that I've had to repair several times, replace the battery, etc. Do I have doubt that it'll start? Some. Do I have faith it'll start? Every day I put the key in.

I live for doubt because doubt makes faith real. My bedrock, when going through this was the Apostles Creed. That is the most solid thing I can count on and even then....
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. (Rom 8:1 NLT)



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Re: A Journey of Faith, Certainty and Discovery

Postby c.o. » Fri Aug 25, 2017 7:30 pm

bn2bnude wrote:...In the last 10 years or so, doubt has crept in. The older I get the more I realize I don't know and that produces doubt...

Different folks, different strokes perhaps? I'm not getting any younger either, and it seems axiomatic that the more we know, the more we realize we don't. But if anything, this stokes my curiosity, and often brings enhanced understanding and increased faith.
...The more I know about the Bible, I understand that God created but the Bible doesn't really tell us how or how long. Maybe, just maybe, evolution was how he did it. Doubt.

Doubt? Or honest questions/curiosity?

There are things we can't know ("the secret things belong to YHWH" Dt 29:29), and things that aren't completely spelled out in neat sentences and paragraphs. That doesn't mean we cannot be curious about them, even sometimes asking God to shed some light on our questions and open our understanding -- in the process of our own pursuit. And we CAN take what is clear to help understand what is less clear, and perhaps, better comprehend.

I know many will consider the following statements foolishly simplistic, and i know you didn't bring this up to rabbit trail the topic. I say this not to start a creation debate, but to illustrate (perhaps) that there is a different way to look at what you call doubts. When it comes to creation, i'm content that since the Author (and only He) was present for it, and knows how to define a light-dark cycle, and isn't obscure about having spoken the universe into existence, and repeats the same words for light-dark cycle and "God said" without variation; and considering the creation story was written to people who weren't exactly rocket scientists or geologists in order that they would understand; and God used the light-dark cycle from creation week to define the Israelites' workweek; and neither Jesus nor the human writers of Scripture ever contradict the creation story as it has been simply portrayed . . . to my mind, i'm left without questions about it. I don't really need to know what year BC it happened. What substantive difference would that make in the otherwise knowable facts He's given us? Granted, i don't know much at all about the ammo used by evolutionists, but i'm far more interested in hearing/knowing/pursuing what God has said. When either a) i get to heaven and learn the day/age theory was correct, or b) sound biblical hermeneutics can prove otherwise, then my understanding will change. We were given Scripture so that we could know God better, and sometimes we take great pains to un-know Him.
I have doubt about a lot of things... What do I do about it? Nothing... In fact, I welcome doubt, I relish it. Why? It makes faith that much more vibrant.

Many of us when considering doubt from a biblical perspective will first mentally go to Thomas. Jesus didn't really excoriate him for doubting (He undoubtedly knows our inclination toward it, knowing our frame, being mindful that we're dust, having already watched Peter experience doubt on Lake Galilee, and having been tempted in every way that we are). But He was also not content to leave Thomas there, and pronounced a blessing on those who believe without necessarily having concrete proof. The key to Peter's doubt was having taken his eyes off Jesus.
I live for doubt because doubt makes faith real.

In Peter's case, doubt earned him a good soak :-).

I don't have perfect faith, but doubt seems to me like weakness in what faith i have.
My bedrock, when going through this was the Apostles Creed. That is the most solid thing I can count on and even then....

I hope this doesn't sound trite to you, but Jesus is the solid rock to count on. The A.Creed is a fitting brief description of things i believe in, too. What good is "count[ing] on" a creed? The creed didn't create, provide for, sustain, heal, call, forgive, die for, and redeem you.
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Re: A Journey of Faith, Certainty and Discovery

Postby bn2bnude » Sat Aug 26, 2017 12:37 pm

c.o. wrote:
My bedrock, when going through this was the Apostles Creed. That is the most solid thing I can count on and even then....

I hope this doesn't sound trite to you, but Jesus is the solid rock to count on. The A.Creed is a fitting brief description of things i believe in, too. What good is "count[ing] on" a creed? The creed didn't create, provide for, sustain, heal, call, forgive, die for, and redeem you.

I think you misunderstand.

First, consider that the Church (the big "C", the body of Christ) in America, for the most part, seems to be uncomfortable with doubt.

Second, where you misunderstand is I didn't put my faith in the Apostles Creed. I did, however, use it as the bottom line of where to doubt. That is, at least to me, the minimum that someone can believe in and still be somewhat orthodox.
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. (Rom 8:1 NLT)



If I speak with the tongues of men and angels but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. (1 Cor 13:1)
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Re: A Journey of Faith, Certainty and Discovery

Postby Englishman » Sat Aug 26, 2017 5:14 pm

I have enjoyed reading this thread; even though there where parts of it that required me to iron the kinks out of my brain after I'd read them! Knowledge and the search for it are good things. Certainly a lot of the early part of Proverbs suggests the search for wisdom, which is not the same as knowledge but may well share a rather fuzzy & ill defined border with it, is a good thing & the gaining of it is to be encouraged.

In Eph 3:17b-19 Paul says, "... that you being rooted & grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height - to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge..." I often feel the hyphen represents a pause in the Apostle's dictation when the absolute splendour of what he was attempting to communicate simply overwhelmed him. To be able to know that which passes knowledge sounds oxymoronic but in Him such things are true & here I am slowly getting to the point; there is stuff about God I will never fully know this side of the grave. I may get glimpses; glimpses of heaven so wonderful I would be reduced, like Ezekiel, to trying to express infinite truth in finite language.

From here I move to the radical, for me when it first came to me, idea that I do not have to understand everything; understanding is good but I know God & I know I can trust Him; which helps me deal with the current gaps in my understanding. I plan to keep looking but if I don't get the answers, that's OK. So, for me, it's not doubt I have to deal with (I don't really have much of that these days, despite my increasing years) but holes in my knowledge which are covered by the facts that I know God & I know He is good.

Not an awful lot of intense theology here; more of a developing relationship, I suppose. :D
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Re: A Journey of Faith, Certainty and Discovery

Postby natman » Sat Aug 26, 2017 5:15 pm

bn2bnude wrote:as a young college age guy, Creation Research Institute was pretty attractive... I was certain that the evolutionists were wrong and they were just trying to make fools of us. These days, I am not so sure. The more I know about the Bible, I understand that God created but the Bible doesn't really tell us how or how long. Maybe, just maybe, evolution was how he did it. Doubt.


On this particular issue, I am exactly opposite. When I was in high school and early college, I thought I KNEW that what the evolutionists taught was the TRUTH. However, after deeply exploring the DNA molecule in my last semester of biology, observing what the fossil record actually shows and discovering the IMMENSE improbability of life evolving in the early earth environment that that us evident in the geological record, I am ever MORE convinced that God created all life.

Like you, I think there is question (not doubt) as to the timing and the definition of the word "epoch".
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Re: A Journey of Faith, Certainty and Discovery

Postby Maverick » Sun Aug 27, 2017 3:25 pm

May I just say:

Englishman wrote:From here I move to the radical, for me when it first came to me, idea that I do not have to understand everything; understanding is good but I know God & I know I can trust Him; which helps me deal with the current gaps in my understanding. I plan to keep looking but if I don't get the answers, that's OK. So, for me, it's not doubt I have to deal with (I don't really have much of that these days, despite my increasing years) but holes in my knowledge which are covered by the facts that I know God & I know He is good.


I agree!

natman wrote:
bn2bnude wrote:as a young college age guy, Creation Research Institute was pretty attractive... I was certain that the evolutionists were wrong and they were just trying to make fools of us. These days, I am not so sure. The more I know about the Bible, I understand that God created but the Bible doesn't really tell us how or how long. Maybe, just maybe, evolution was how he did it. Doubt.


On this particular issue, I am exactly opposite. When I was in high school and early college, I thought I KNEW that what the evolutionists taught was the TRUTH. However, after deeply exploring the DNA molecule in my last semester of biology, observing what the fossil record actually shows and discovering the IMMENSE improbability of life evolving in the early earth environment that that us evident in the geological record, I am ever MORE convinced that God created all life.

Like you, I think there is question (not doubt) as to the timing and the definition of the word "epoch".


And I agree!
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