Posted by: Terry | June 30, 2013

How convictions strengthen and change

I grew up with a neat religion, Bible first, Scofield to explain it. My choice of Bible school provided depth to the concepts I accepted as the only way to think. It was all about me and my need for salvation which was graciously provided by God through Christ. Acceptance of that brought forgiveness and justification, a right relationship with God. As a Christian my duty was to fight the sin in my life, tell others that they could escape judgement, and wait for a moment when I would be snatched away from this world while it was subjected to the wrath of God. My denomination was Conservative Baptist, a diminutive Baptist group compared with the Southern Baptists but not all that different in thinking; one thing was clear, we were saved for sure, other professing Christians were suspect. Salvation was determined by which doctrinal statement you accepted.

Now many years later, with much study, reflection, and teaching behind me my perspective is a bit more refined. With gray on my beard I am more than ever convinced that most of what I was raised on was and is true. Yet I have serious concerns about some distinctive teachings I was exposed to.

  • There are a lot of Believers in Christ that are not Baptists. Nazarenes, Presbyterians, even Catholics that consider Christ as the Messiah and the redeemer.
  • The whole idea of differing dispensations makes God seem like he is confused an undecided. The Bible is clear, faith in God as Creator, sustainer, and as savior is what makes one right with God. This one theme is woven through all of Scripture.
  • The wonderful idea that one day God will snatch those of us who believe away like in the “Left Behind” books sounds so appealing, yet the evidence of it is so thin in Scripture that it is hard to proclaim with any certainty. Aside from the multitude of other issues that must be solved if it is embraced.
  • The Millennium seems like a catch-all, anything we don’t understand as to when it will happen, must be happening in the Millennium. As far as Israel is concerned, there is nothing in the New Testament that says they will ever be a nation again. In fact what the Apostles say is that we, the believers, are now the people of God.
  • God is concerned with so much more than just my salvation, with the calling of Abraham he began a process to reconcile the world, to make it  right; my salvation is a part of that but not the end all, be all. My salvation places me in the new Kingdom of God and endows me with the responsibility to change my world today for God; to exhibit and promote changes in this world that expand the Kingdom of God.
  • The Gospel is more than the “4 Spiritual Laws.” The real good news is that Jesus was the fulfillment of all that was started with Abraham, developed in the Jews, and culminated in Christ. The good news is that God is reconciling and restoring the crazy wrong in this world, that through faith in the work of Christ on the cross I am forgiven, and placed into the new people. I get to be a part in the great reconciliation that God is moving in history to complete.
  • Justification is more than just the pronouncing of not guilty, there is the central issue that part of justification means that wet are  included in the people of God, the community of the faithful; we are adopted into the family, we are part of the Kingdom of God, his chosen people.
  • Eternal life is not just living forever, it is the life that is needed for living in the eternal kingdom which God is forming. Those that fail to get this life will die, they will miss the chance to be part of the new world. Those that believe and confess will have the life needed for the new world, as such they will participate in it.

What is it I believe more than ever?

  • God is sovereign, with a plan and purpose for all of history. He is working all things for the ultimate objective of creating a new world where people and God live and interact.
  • That God revealed himself to us, otherwise we could not know him. He did this by involving himself in history, recorded by the prophets of old and in the sending of Jesus, the Messiah. Those closest to Jesus, the Apostles, either recorded their teachings, or influenced others who recorded them. We call this the Bible, which reveals to us God, Christ, and how it all works.
  • Jesus the Messiah had to die, he was the atoning sacrifice, his death took care of the sins of the world. His resurrection beat death, and as such gave hope to me that I might beat death.
  • Salvation is the result of believing and confessing. Coming to a point where we understand that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the fulfillment of all the prophecy, the one who died on the cross. When we believe that to the extent that we will confess it publicly, we are saved. Baptism is the primary vehicle we have been given for that expression of our faith, as such it should be closely connected to when we choose to believe.
  • Communion, Lord’s Supper, Eucharist – these are more than simple remembrances, when we partake we are re-commiting and re-confirming the faith in what Christ did on the cross and our connection to it. It emphasizes that though belief and confession bring salvation, they are an ongoing process not a one time action.
  • Christ will come, the details are unclear, but he will come. In the meantime it is my role to demonstrate and implement his kingdom in my life. Both to proclaim who and what he is doing, but to effect change in my world.

I live now as part of the new Kingdom, forgiven, striving to live a life worthy. Intimidated that God the Father uses me to change this world and prepare people for the coming world.

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Responses

  1. I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great. I don’t know who you are but certainly you are going to a famous blogger if you aren’t already 😉 Cheers!


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