Coffee, Theology and Jesus

working out our messy faith over coffee

Tag: Holy Spirit

CTJ #24: Post-Truth & Cotton Candy Theology

This week Jordan is back on the podcast from Seattle to discuss the 2016 Oxford Word of the Year, Post-Truth.  Tim, Rob, and Jordan discuss a growing undercurrent in Christianity that places higher value on our experiences and feelings than the Word of God.  Of course, we can’t help but comment on the current political landscape since it is the inauguration week!

As always,

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My Story: Paths Colliding and God Directing (Rob)

Happy Valentines day everyone 🙂  I have especially been enjoying the thought of Christ’s love for us this week.  Think of Galatians 2:20
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

Ok so Tim and I were at Starbucks the other day and he told me that he wanted us both to do a “story” post on our spiritual life.  I enjoyed Tim’s post and through my post I want to show how God moved in my life to bring me to where I am today (including meeting Tim and starting this blog with him).

So, much like Tim, I was raised in a pretty conservative church.  Except, ours went a little further than even Tim’s upbringing did.  Sure, we were a suit and tie type place, but women also wore head coverings and were silent.  We had no pastor because the priesthood of all believers was something we really believed in.  The requirements for church membership were clear salvation and full immersion baptism and only those in fellowship are allowed to partake in communion on Sunday morning.  I still attend this church and will  gladly discuss why I believe God has called me to be there with anyone.  Growing up this way though had its downsides.  I don’t blame this on the church at all or my parents but I developed an attitude that I was better than some people because of how I was raised and certainly the kids I went to school with weren’t as good as me because I was a REAL Christian!  I grew up listening to a very clear gospel ever Sunday night and usually in the summer we had special gospel meetings for an entire month every night except Saturday.  I made a profession of my faith in Christ at the age of 12 (in 1999) during one of these summer meetings and held onto that for many years.  Really I was only depending on my own faith to save me instead of the work of Jesus on the cross.  I knew the gospel enough to give a good story and convince others I was saved.  I even had myself convinced at one point.  But oh the lingering doubts.  I got baptized to try and suppress some doubts and then joined the local church because that is what Christians do (Forsake not the gathering of yourselves together)!  But it was all a facade.

As I started college in 2005 I began to date a girl who by no means was a Christian and was into all of the things I always stood against (drinking, smoking, etc).  To this day I’m still not sure why I dated her but I’m actually glad I did.  This was the beginning of my REAL encounter with God.  I truly believe God was using this relationship to show me what a fraud I was that I didn’t care about anything that I was claiming to believe.  That is when God was speaking clearly to me, showing me daily that I had never  been “born again” and I was still a sinner on my way to hell.  On spring break in 2006, I was down at my parents house in NC visiting.  My parents still go to a very similar church but just down there in NC.  Whenever I was around them they had a joy and peace that I knew I didn’t have.  I longed for it.  One night I was on the back porch with my friend Daniel and we were playing some guitar together.  He would play all these nice Christian songs and I would play all these secular songs I was into (this is not a sermon against secular music at all).  But that spoke to me loudly, that I had no interest in this Christian life and didn’t care about God or Jesus or anything to do with the Bible.

That night I reached out to my friend Jimmy and told him what had been going on inside my head for some time.  That I really had never been saved.  He read some verses with me and as I was reading 1 Peter 3:18 “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened” I realized two things.  First, was that I had been depending on my own belief to get me to heaven.  I had convinced myself that I had believed enough and that is what salvation really was; believing God.  Second, I saw that no matter how much I believe that he suffered for sins doesn’t change the fact that he did; just like I can believe that the sun will not rise in the morning but it will not change the suns rising.  I realized that the Bible says he suffered for me and if the Bible said it that it was enough for me.  It wasn’t depending on my faith to save me but depending on the Bible saying that “It is finished” and there was nothing for me to do.  That was March 30, 2006.

Since then my life has been perfect and I have made no mistakes….. NOT.  Christianity is not perfect living, which I very quickly had to admit as the sins didn’t stop.  But as we grow in our faith the desire for sin lessens and we should look more like Christ.  Fortunately God has given us His spirit to accomplish this because the REAL Christian life is impossible without the Holy Spirit.

Now, how I met Tim.  Actually, it comes out of a lower point in my life.  It is not that I was doing anything wrong but I had some of my priorities a bit messed up.  I was reading less and cared more about hanging out with friends, having fun, and going to open mics.  But at Starbucks is where I met Tim and we hit it off instantly.  He encouraged and strengthened my faith as he challenged me.  He doesn’t go to a church like mine and doesn’t share some of my beliefs about how worship should be done but I love him anyway and he has caused me to dive deeper into Christ.  I met some other cool people through him as well.  I was always one to openly discuss my faith with anyone and everyone.  I am not one to shove it down your throat but if you ask me about it I’m going to have an answer.  I have a huge interest in Christian life, the church, apologetics, and science.  All of which integrate into my pursuit of Christ.  The more I talked with Tim the more I loved the challenges we brought eachother as we wrestled with what our faith means everyday.

Tim and I don’t agree on some things but we are definitely both in love with Christ and want to see him lifted up and his people encouraged to follow His example and His word.  When he asked me about a blog I thought it was an excellent idea and was honored he wanted me to join him.  This has been a great learning experience for me and we enjoy seeing discussion and wrestling with our readers as well.  That is really our desire with the blog, to make us all sit back and think and dive into God’s word together to be a better embodiment of our Savior.  We also value the opinions of those that aren’t Christians because isn’t that our commission? To go into all the world and preach the gospel?  Our testimony is at stake to and we want nonbelievers to look in and see a church body that is all about love and truth and God without all the other distractions and headaches that Christians are sometimes known for.  Let’s all grow together as Christians and be a light to an ever darkening world!

Thanks for reading and keep commenting!

-RM

 

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What Salvation Does: Part 2

Ok so in Part 1 we looked at what salvation is.  In its essence biblical salvation is agreeing with God that you are a lost sinner who cannot save himself (or herself) and turning to God for forgiveness of a debt you cannot pay (your sin).  Christ paid the price of redemption on the cross so that everyone can be saved but only those who believe on Him will be saved.

But now that we know what salvation is we should probably look at what salvation does.  If salvation was only “fire protection” from hell that would be a sad thing indeed.  Real salvation has real results! Being a believer is to obey Christ, to rest on him for salvation, and by God to be committed unto heaven’s doctrine of salvation.  We accept Jesus as our Prophet, Priest, and King.  Salvation is much more than just “a rescue from hell” although it is that.  Let’s see what the Bible says salvation does!
Indwelling of the Holy Spirit

John 7:37-39
In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.  He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.

1 Corinthians 6:19
What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

What did Christ teach during His ministry?  He taught that the Spirit of God was going to indwell believers which is much different from the Old Testament experience where indwelling was a temporary thing and the Spirit of God would come and go.  Since the day of Pentecost when the Spirit of God descended (and after the transitional experiences of early Acts) we see that all believers are immediately indwelt by the Holy Spirit permanently.  This CANNOT be lost.  This is probably the most important aspect of salvation.  Why?  Because the Christian life is actually impossible without the Spirit of God.  We have a teacher, a guide, a leader, a provider, a comforter, and a witness.  Salvation is a fresh start and it gives us the ability to live the life that God intends for us.

A New Man

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Colossians 3:9-10
Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.

Salvation is not “a license to sin” because a person that has come into the good of God’s salvation realizes the price of it.  A person who has been saved knows that the price of salvation was the shedding of the precious blood of Christ on the cross of Calvary so to continue sinning is to add to the punishment of Christ.  Would a true believer ever think that salvation gives the freedom to sin?  God forbid!  But as Christians we are given new life as a new man (or woman).  We can be assured like Paul in Romans 7 that our sinful nature is still within us and shall be until we die or are taken up with Christ by the rapture but with Salvation we are able to serve the law of God.  Now, I made a comment in an earlier post that just because you are a Christian does not guarantee you will produce fruit for God.  I think I should clarify that statement a bit.  Christians will fail and fall, stumble and stagger, and sometimes be shipwrecks but the overall tenor of a life that has been saved by God should be of victory and bearing fruit.  What I meant by my comment was that just because we are saved does not guarantee that we will not fail and always produce fruit for God. If we continue to feed our fleshly nature then we cannot produce fruit for God but like David in Psalm 52 there is always restoration for believers (and salvation for unbelievers).  God gives us the power to overcome our sinful nature and gives us new life as a new man but we must walk in it to be victorious and a true Christian will not be happy unless they are abiding in the vine.  Now, we are not to be the salvation police going around and declaring people to be saved or not but if I am claiming to be a true Christian who is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and given new life as a new man I had better be living to prove that and if I’m not I would hope that my fellow Christians would rebuke me and straighten me out.  We have a tremendous amount of “Christians” in this world that confess to be so but from their lifestyle it appears that this is just a nominal title.  Christianity is not a religion it is a relationship with God through a man who gave His life at Calvary.  So when we say we are tied with that man and act nothing like Him, why would anyone else want what “we have” (i.e. a changed life, a new man).  True salvation does change lives!  James gives us that when he says “show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.”

Peace

Romans 5:1
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

For me, one of the best things of salvation is that it brings peace.  Peace is something that this world is searching for.  Peace in the Middle East, peace in schools, peace in homes, peace of mind, etc. Everyone is looking for peace.  I would argue that the reason drugs and alcohol are so rampant is this one simple word: peace.  Everyone is looking for it somewhere.  What most people fail to realize is the reason there is no peace is because peace comes from God.  Now, I am not saying that Christians have no problems and enjoy very peaceful lives from the moment of salvation until the end of their life here on Earth, but what I am saying is that true Christians enjoy peace for the entirety of their lives.  When God gives peace it is not just peace from certain circumstances and dangers, and it is not just empty peace that things will turn out ok, but it is peace that whatever God is doing is the best possible plan for me.  Since we have been justified (made righteous by Christ), we have peace with God.  It is very important that this is only through the Lord Jesus Christ.  We won’t find this true peace anywhere else no matter how long we look.  I personally knew a former drug addict and dealer (who was actually the largest dealer in PEI, Canada) who got real salvation and it was the first time he EVER had real peace.  God’s salvation brings real peace because there is now no fear of death, no fear of the “afterlife,” no fear of what life may bring, because God gives peace.


So salvation is much more than being saved from hell, it is to know your sins forgiven, to be adopted into the family of God, to be coheirs with Christ, to be justified, to be sanctified, indwelt by and sealed by the Spirit of God, and the list could go on.  But as Christians we are given a new standard of living and should consider Christ as our role model.  Our lives should reflect well of Him who we claim to trust.  Let that salvation you have be the change that a chaotic worlds needs to see and be a light for the Gospel!

~Rob

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