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What is it about nice people that attract total idiots?Nice people are martyrs. Idiots are evangelists.

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Sunday, January 4, 2015

Sunday Message: If/Then

You might have noticed in last week a discussion of Unitarianism vs Trinitarianism (which we are not about to discuss;  if you want to see some of the two sides of that debate, look here and here.)  But the discussion of it led me to an opening of the mind, rather than a change.  You see, to me the debate opens the topic of how big a God we have.  And I believe He's pretty big.

But we limit that God with conceptual chains, some golden and some not.  Atheists bind the concept in iron chains so tight, it couldn't breathe and died in their hearts.  But everyone tries to bind God into a spot they can recognize.  The pagans bound him in shackles to graven images; Catholics seem determined to bind Him in golden chains to Mary (another topic we won't be going into.)  Unitarians seem to bind Him (note the word "seem", please) to the logic of a) How can He be three if He is one, and b) how can Jesus be God if He is subordinate?  (I have some thoughts on that, but prefer to let them percolate for the time.)  Trinitarians seem to bind to "This is what we were always taught"- which is as simplistic a description as the others so far.  What I found in looking into these things though, is that we have a God big enough for all of them to be true.  Where we run into problems is where God's Word meets our conception of it.  And to show what I mean, I have a verse I want to examine.


Rom 10:9  Because if you confess the Lord Jesus with your mouth, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 


This is a logical if-then statement.  IF one condition is present, THEN the other will logically follow.  And here is where those who believe you cannot lose your salvation hang their hats.  But note one little word- WILL.

Now if you look up the word in the concordance, you won't exactly find it.  The concordance goes right from nekros- dead- to sozo- to save.  But, every single translation contains some form of will or shall.  A better Greek scholar than I will probably tell you there is some letter or inflection that brings in the implied time qualifier, and since they all have it, I trust it.*  So that leaves us with a concept that often gets overlooked- you WILL be saved.

As in, at a point in the future.

So wait a minute, Chris, are you telling me that you are NOT saved when you confess Christ as Lord?

Yes and no.

Lets take a look at John 10.


Joh 10:25  Jesus answered them, I told you, and you did not believe. The works which I do in the name of My Father, these bear witness about Me. 
Joh 10:26  But you do not believe for you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. 
Joh 10:27  My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 
Joh 10:28  And I give eternal life to them, and they shall not perish to the age, never! And not anyone shall pluck them out of My hand. 
Joh 10:29  My Father who has given them to Me is greater than all, and no one is able to pluck out of My Father's hand. 
Joh 10:30  I and the Father are One! 


So once you believe, TRULY believe, no one can steal salvation from you.  So you're saved, right?  Again, yes and no.

You see, I think there are two main places that even believers screw up their conception of God, and put their personal "golden chains" on Him.  One is the time factor.  God CREATED time.  He is not affected by it's flow.  This is the concept that Calvin missed in demanding that God picks you before He makes you, and you have no choice in whether you will ultimately be saved or not.  God does know you, He does pick you, but He is NOT chained to the concept of time;  He knows what you will choose, when you will be ready to choose it, and who and what to bring into your life to bring you to that point- a point He has seen AND will see.  He can see you as saved, in His presence, long before you, stuck in the flow of time, will come to it.  Because for Him, it will happen, it has happened, it is happening.

The other place that we put the golden chains on Him is on the goal.  Christians can be asked, what are you saved from, and most will know the answer- from Hell.  But what does that mean?  One pastor put what I'm getting at like this:  When you believe, you buy a ticket to heaven.  More appropriately, a reservation.  You redeem that reservation when you are called in judgment before the Lord.  So you aren't "saved" on earth because what you are being saved from- hell- is not on earth.  You are saved when you go before the Judge, Jesus says, He is mine; his name is in the Lamb's Book.  Thus, you WILL be saved.  It hasn't happened.  But it is certain- it is an if/then.


So here's something so certain that we say with confidence we are saved- but we aren't, not yet.  But we are.  Confusing?  There's my point.  We don't understand all the mechanisations that go into God, or His relationship to the Son and Spirit (and let's not bring in the couple of places where SEVEN spirits of God are mentioned!).  Is there a difference in Person between Father, Son, and Spirit, or in equality?  Answer is, if you look at Psalms 2 or Acts 5, you'll see that the difference between God and Man is such that IT DOESN'T MATTER- kind of like whether you were run over by a 100-car train or a 99-car train.  The one thing that does matter is Romans 10:9.


*And maybe that's why the concordance doesn't contain the time qualifier will/shall.  Because it is assured; it doesn't matter.

12 comments:

  1. Part 1 Of 2:

    BROTHER MARTIN ~

    >>... What I found in looking into these things though, is that we have a God big enough for all of them to be true.

    I don't think it has anything to do with how "big" God is when we're clearly dealing with mutually exclusive concepts. Either God is three equal Persons constituting One (God the Father, God the Son [Jesus], and God the Holy Spirit) OR He is simply one Being with no other distinct identities. Both of these statements cannot be simultaneously true no matter how "big" God is.

    It's like answering the question "Do you want cake OR ice cream?" with "Yes, please." That doesn't answer the question. But it seems you're trying to have your cake and ice cream too.

    Although there are many Bible verses that refute the Trinitarian concept, for me the whole thing gets put away with just this one plain verse:

    "No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared Him."
    ~ John 1:18

    If Jesus was God in human form, then that verse would be wrong because then the disciples would have been able to say they'd seen God. And while many people have had experiences with Jesus and have seen Him, even in our time, no one has seen God.

    God is God, and Jesus, the first begotten of God, is the one mediator between man and God. To me, The Bible is very clear on this matter.

    If there were no other anti-Trinitarian verses in The Bible, John 1:18 alone would be enough for me. And it should come as no surprise that the "orthodox" church has gotten this (man-made) theological premise wrong, considering that even the apostles misunderstood what Jesus was saying half the time, and they were right there watching Him and listening to Him.

    I do agree with you that this is not a salvational issue, but I have been curious enough about it to study it. Why so curious? I dunno. That's just the way God made me.

    Continued Below...

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    1. To the top comment: This is the whole point of my post. I feel that you limit God by tying him to terms YOU understand, like "mutually exclusive." If it helps you to conceive of him, fine, BUT I believe you are limiting him by your unwillingness to see that He operates on a plane that you just might not fully understand. I'm not trying to have any cake. I'm allowing God to be greater than my own understanding.

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  2. Part 2 Of 2:

    >>... God does know you, He does pick you, but He is NOT chained to the concept of time; He knows what you will choose, when you will be ready to choose it, and who and what to bring into your life to bring you to that point- a point He has seen AND will see.

    And this raises another issue that I have devoted a great deal of thought to over the years. If God does pick you, and knows in advance what you will choose, then that implies there are some people He doesn't pick. Or, at the very least, there are some people whom He knows in advance will NOT choose Him and will thus spend eternity in hell.

    But if that's the case, wouldn't a loving and merciful God have refrained from creating those who would not choose Him in the first place?

    I mean, let's say God knows even before he creates Johnny Dipshit that Johnny is not going to accept Christ and will ultimately spend eternity in hell. If God is really so loving and merciful, wouldn't he just skip creating Johnny Dipshit at all and simply move on to the next soul, say, David Jubilant, whom God knows WILL accept the Atonement?

    I believe I have worked out the answers to these conundrums, with a lot of help from the Holy Spirit. But in order for a theology to stand its ground, it needs to be able to include ALL of Scripture, without sweeping some verses under the rug because they don't fit the proclaimed, etched-in-stone theology.

    This is why I don't call myself a Christian. I don't claim to have all the answers, but it annoys me when I see so-called "orthodox" Christianity pronounce what's Biblical and what's not, while at the same time ignoring some of the really difficult questions, and ignoring the verses that shoot holes in their orthodoxy. ("Don't worry about that. We will all understand someday." A response like that, to difficult questions, really doesn't work for me.)

    And orthodox church theology is simply riddled with holes that I could never accept. So I dug deeper and considered possibilities that the church wouldn't even give a glance to. And why not? Because it's not what they've been taught for hundreds of years. Church history seems to automatically imply rightness to them.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

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    1. And to the second part: The key word to my first answer here is "in advance". To truly understand God, you must, as I have read somewhere before, recognize He is not a "chronological being" who "does things" in a "certain order". He is NOT of the time stream, He is beyond it.

      Second part: remember Romans 9? "…21Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? 22What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? 23And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,…"

      Johnny Dipshit, even if we accept the thought he is a vessel for destruction, serves many purposes in God's plan. It is HUMAN logic that says, "a loving and merciful God would do thus and so." If you truly think you should be the one to judge God's motives, go back and re-read the responses He gave to Job on that very subject.

      I am not trying here to put words in God's mouth. I am saying, He is too big for me to completely understand. I refuse to put the golden chains of time or the brass chains of human logic on Him. He doesn't need my chains to be faithful to His nature or his promises.

      Thank you for helping put my point as clear as It could be. That we don't have all the answers, because, frankly "We can't handle all the answers!" My goal is to get everyone to understand- we do not have time anymore to hash out the esoteric BS. The same people who take Christmas creches off courthouse lawns, the ones who want tot teach our kids how wonderful homosexuality is, are working for the same employer that pays ISIS and the idiots gang raping women in India. This world is spiralling ever faster to a climax, and we haven't begun to see the worst of it. But still, we think standing in front of a clinic with a "pro-life" sign is fighting the battle. We are fooling ourselves, and do not time to worry about anything other than, as Paul said, "Christ, and Christ crucified." I am trying to get people to understand we are leaning too much on human understanding, limiting God by things we can understand, while trusting that cars that can no longer be worked on in our back yards will start when we turn the key. WE DON'T HAVE TIME FOR THIS! We don't have time for debates, we don't have time for the Rosary, we don't have time for transubstantiation- We have time for Romans 10:9 and the Great Commission, and that's about it.

      Eccles 1: "…17And I set my mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly; I realized that this also is striving after wind. 18Because in much wisdom there is much grief, and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain."

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  3. I came and read but can't think of a damn thing to say maybe I need to eat as my brain feels like it hasn't fully woken up the antibiotics I am on have to be taken on an empty stomach and I have to wait at least an hour before I can eat so I have not eaten yet

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  5. Yes, I took these comments down. I did so in hopes that the necessary person gets the e-mail version of them as I do. I want to make something clear to everyone else- I don't mind being disagreed with. Especially when someone has valid points. But, when I specifically say "But this is not my point here", and then a commenter tries to turn things to a discussion that I deem antithetical to the post and its purpose... well, I have to take a little editors licence. Here's the thing... My point in this post is to get you all to see we have a BIG God. His only 2 limits are the one real one- HE IS HOLY- and the other is imaginary ones placed on Him by man's inability to see Him clearly. And stupid me, I let the comments section turn into a thing because someone feels slighted that I have turned closely held beliefs of his into "golden chains". Well, guess what, some of my closely held beliefs I turned into "golden chains" too. So everyone can clear away now, the drama is off screen.

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    1. Note to the commenter in question: The comments went up and came down because that was the only way I knew to get my response to you, as the last time I tried to use the e-mail you gave me, I got nada response. I am not going to reply to the latest response or post it here. I have read it. And after reading it twice, I get what you said at the end. You triggered something on that comment that I had in the back of my mind- not towards you, but in general- for a while. Perhaps that particular rant should have been saved for a better time.

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    2. Check your Email InBox. Hopefully what I just sent makes it through to you. (About 25% of the time, what I send and what is sent to me never makes its destination. Email is overrated.)

      ~ D-FensDogg

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