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Posts Tagged ‘faith’

by Jim Gordon

There seems to be so much confusion among Christians in regard to law and grace. Most believe we are saved by grace, but many have a misunderstanding as to what part the law plays in our lives today. I think the mistake a lot of Christians make is that we do not truly accept or understand the whole concept of grace. Grace is a free gift given to us by God. When Jesus died, he took our sinful nature and destroyed it.

As stated in Galatians 2:16, 19-21, “nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified… For through the Law, I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly”.

Jesus restored our perfect, righteous nature and our fellowship as sons and daughters of God. Nothing we did, and nothing we can do can add to it or pay for it. It is a totally free gift provided by Christ. It is hard for us to accept this without feeling the need to do something to justify God’s love for us. We think we need to do something to make us worthy to come to God. This is performance-based living and not grace. Grace is a gift. Grace is God making us righteous and in fellowship with him, not of our own doing, but the free gift provided by Jesus.

Jesus lived and taught under the law. Yet, the important part to remember is that everything changed after the death and resurrection of Jesus.

As Jesus lived under the Old Covenant Law as Galatians 4:4,5 states, “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons”. Jesus had to live by and obey all the commandments, ceremonial rules and laws so He could fulfill the old covenant. Jesus said on the cross, ‘it is finished’, meaning He had lived under the Old Covenant, lived a perfect life and fulfilled the law, thereby restoring our fellowship with our God.

Not until the time of His death and resurrection was the Law fulfilled and a New Agreement took effect. At this time, the new covenant took effect. A new agreement in which we live by grace and not by trying to fulfill the Law.

So, since the old covenant has been fulfilled and we live by grace, why do so many of us still feel a need to live by old covenant law? Why do we seem to want to put ourselves back under slavery to an old set of rules when Christ has fulfilled them and done away with that need?

Galatians 5:1-4 reads, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore, keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision” (a part of the law), “Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace”. With Christ as our sacrifice, we in a sense died also. And since we died, we can now live free from the law as written in Romans 7:1-8 “Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives? For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. So then, if while her husband is living, she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man. Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter. What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, you shall not covet. But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead”.

Before grace, we could not live up to the standards of the law because we are an imperfect people. Now that Jesus has fulfilled the law, we are restored to fellowship with God. Although we still fall from time to time in this life, it is all covered by the blood of Christ and where sin abounds, grace much more abounds. We are no longer required to live up to the Law that we could not live up to in the first place.

Now that we live by grace and faith in Jesus, the law, which was our tutor to point out our sin, is no longer needed. Galatians 3:23-26 states, “But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore, the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor” (the law). “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus”. To say we need to live trying to obey the law and the ten commandments is saying that Jesus blood alone was not enough to cleanse us from our sins.

The Bible goes so far as to say that if we still try to live by obeying the old covenant law we live under a curse, as Galatians 3:10-13 reads, “For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them. Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, the righteous man shall live by faith. However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, he who practices them shall live by them. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us, for it is written, cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”.

We are told in Matthew to be perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. Obviously, there is no way we can do this on our own, but God would not have told us to be perfect if it were not possible to do so. Since we could not do it on our own, He made a way for us. The only way we can be perfect, is through grace. Accepting the free gift of grace through Christ will allow us to live out the new covenant commands of Christ, which are to accept Christ, love God and love others. The law that is mentioned under the new covenant is always to love God and love others stated in Galatians 5:14, “For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.

This is further pointed out in 1 John 3:23, “this is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us”; 1 John 4:21 And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also”; and again in 2 John 1:6, “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love”. We are totally incapable of living up to the law and we are no longer required to do so. Christ died and by His grace, we were made righteousness and restored to proper fellowship with God.

God has provided such a fantastic gift of freedom for us, and most of us today just do not realize all that entails. Because of grace, it is as though we have never sinned and will never sin. Not because of anything we have done, or can do, but because God loves us enough that he sent his Son to take our sins, past, present and future, and because of His grace we stand perfect in the eyes of God.

Now we need to walk in that freedom and follow the Spirit, loving God, loving others and not worry about the old covenant law, but live a life for God through love. Galatians 5:16-18 reads, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law”.

Thanks be to God, we now live by grace, not trying to live up to rules and laws that we cannot do. We are free in Christ to live a life of love for God and for all we come in contact. We no longer do things out or obligation, but we do them out of love for God and want to do what pleases Him.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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By Mike Edwards

Believing God exists or doesn’t exist requires faith, but surely a loving Creator would love the way we were created to love. It isn’t too presumptuous to imagine what a loving God is like though our moral intuitions, our consciences. Christians may argue we should trust “biblical truths” about God, but differing interpretations exist for many moral issues. See here.  Also, we can’t prove if biblical writers always understood God perfectly or God controlled their thoughts.

Why would a Creator or parent create unless wanting a relationship?

The idea of a relational God wanting to be mysterious may only come from a Book. The mystery card is often played when one’s interpretation of God’s character is incompatible with most people’s idea of a loving God. Some rationalization is needed for their interpretation, since they believe God gives us our mind and conscience. The mystery card short circuits discussions about God’s true character. A mysterious God suggests God doesn’t prioritize a relationship.

Even the Bible doesn’t necessarily claim God is a mystery

God isn’t a mystery just because we can’t comprehend all plausible moral reasons how suffering and a good God can coexist. Isaiah 55:8-9 is frequently used to claim God sometimes is a mystery: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways…” This passage isn’t suggesting we cannot understand God. God exhorts us to forsake our wicked ways and thoughts (v.7) and turn to God’s higher, righteous ways and thoughts (vs. 8-9). Mystery in the NT often concerns the unknown about Jesus in the OT until NT times. Jesus only spoke in parables, when directness went in one ear and out the other, so one might consider the message in time. 

God surely can’t be hypocritical 

Only a perfect, loving God is worth believing in. Is love ever hypocritical? God can’t possibly be hypocritical. We don’t always know what perfect loves is, but hypocritical love is contrary to our moral intuitions of perfection. The mystery card – aka as God can act however hypocritical God wants – is played because of one’s interpretation. It is nonsensical to claim God is good but good is sometimes evil. If a trait claimed about God seem hypocritical – reconsider!

God can’t possibly be a mysterious, moral hypocrite!

Many condemn gays because of their understanding of a Book. It makes no sense why God would condemn gays when they can no more choose who they love than straights can. Just ask heterosexuals or homosexuals what sexual lusts they struggle with. Please don’t judge when you can’t be certain. I can’t imagine one would think – except because one deems their interpretation of a Book inspired – that a woman shouldn’t be the CEO, priest, pastor, etc. if more qualified than the man. Loving others like you want to be loved is true, human, godly love! True relational love cannot be mysterious or hypocritical. Neither can God!

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Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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by Mike Edwards

Believing God exists or doesn’t exist requires faith, but it seems intuitive a loving Creator would love the way we were created to love. We can examine what a loving God is like though our moral intuitions, our consciences. Christians may argue we should trust “biblical truths” about God, but differing interpretations exist for many moral issues. See here.  Also, we can’t prove if biblical writers always understood God perfectly. We aren’t always certain how to best love, but we know that we or a Creator ought to love others as we want to be loved. 

The Bible says nothing about Hell as a consequence for decisions here on earth 

God only warned Adam and Eve about death, not Hell, if eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Noah, who was warned of a global destructive flood, was silent on Hell as a consequence for behaviors here on earth. So were the OT prophets. The Hebrew word Sheol in the Old Testament, translated into the English word Hell, was used to describe a place of darkness occupied by the dead regardless of beliefs, not a torture chamber for unbelievers. Job, an extremely righteous man in God’s eyes, desired to go there to escape his tremendous suffering (10:21-22). Recent Bible translations simply translate Sheol as “Sheol.”

The Greek word Gehenna is translated into the English world Hell. Gehenna is the name of a valley outside Jerusalem. In ancient times children were sacrificed in fire at Gehenna and the valley was known as a burial ground. Jesus refers to Gehenna to describe the suffering and devastation that come from doing evil. Many scholars consider Gehenna a metaphor to describe the destruction an evil life leads to, not a fiery place where sinners go for never-ending punishment. Gehenna is best translated Gehenna just as Mount Everest is best translated Mount Everest.

The main writer of NT makes no mention of Hell

The main writer of the NT, other than the Gospels, was the Apostle Paul. Paul never mentioned Hell. Hell is not mentioned in Acts which is the main book in Bible describing the beginning of the Christian movement and evangelism.

But the Book of Revelation speaks of a Lake of Fire!

Fire in the Bible is used more metaphorically than a literal fire where people are tortured forever after death. The Book of Revelation is the only place Lake of Fire is mentioned, but if dragons with seven heads are considered figuratively why wouldn’t the Lake of Fire be a metaphor? Revelation only suggests believers and unbelievers will face some kind of judgment after death.

Hell makes no moral sense to God or humans

A loving God couldn’t possibly torture anyone forever since such pain serves no lasting purpose. Humans wouldn’t even create such a place for their worst enemies. Hitler was condemned for torturing millions of Jews for a brief time; God is said to torture billions not briefly but forever. A moral God can’t be a hellish, sadistic, torturer!

Besides, humans much less God are fully aware beliefs are influenced by opportunities, role models, or misinformation. It is suspect an impartial, moral God determines our destiny based on beliefs while living a brief time on earth. If we humans really believed Hell made moral sense, we would never cease from warning our friends to repent to escape Hell. The only reason to think a loving God would create such as a place as Hell would be if we believed a Book taught such a horrific thing.

What is God saving us from if not Hell?  

When Jesus was asked by a religious expert how to have eternal life, He simply said to love God and your neighbor (Lk.10:25-37). Jesus’ focus wasn’t on quantity of life after death but about a life worth living here on earth. Jeremy Myers says it best: “When Scripture teaches about being saved from sin, it is not referring to escaping hell and going to heaven when we die, but to the deliverance from the devastating and destructive consequences of sin in this life.”

The word “heaven” appears the most in the Gospel of Matthew. The Kingdom of Heaven isn’t a place to go after life on earth. Jesus sought to bring heavenly love to earth – “on earth as in heaven.” Jesus said nothing about dropping to your knees to avoid Hell to go to Heaven after death. Paul mentions Heaven twice in Romans, yet says nothing about Jesus dying so we can go to Heaven (Rm. 1:18, 10:6).

What about justice?

Punishment doesn’t bring back a victim’s robbed memories of the future due to the murder of a loved one. Real justice is understanding your victim’s pain and accepting the harmfulness of your actions. After death God may bring to memory every action of betrayal and how it felt to their victims. The cleansing and educative effect may take longer for some than others. Humans like God may forgive their enemies if they truly regret their actions and seek forgiveness. Justice from a fair, merciful God is possible despite people being given a second chance after death.

Don’t people need the fear of God to change?

Fear only leads to trying to avoid getting caught. God’s continual encouragement and mercy, not the fear of Hell or gloomy uncertainty of God’s favor, is our necessary nourishment for lasting changes of the heart.  Fear doesn’t produce relationships worth having. One may argue if certain beliefs aren’t required for Heaven, people will do whatever the hell they want on earth. How real is faith if only to avoid Hell? Genuine changes result when knowing you are deeply loved by a parent or God empowering you to reflect such love to others.

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Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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by Mike Edwards

Researchers such as John Marriott and Josh Packard have written on why people are leaving the Christian faith or the institutional church but not always God. Believers must stop claiming people are leaving to justify lifestyle choices. Talk to them! Claiming that those that leave never believed in the first place is suspect as well. There are many more reasons than what I suggest, but perhaps some of the main reasons are true below.  Let’s listen rather than judge!

The Bible may be the biggest reason for wanting nothing to do with God

Christians sometimes argue we should trust “biblical truths” about God. The term is misleading because differing biblical interpretations exist for major moral issues. Certain supposed truths, such as the traditional understanding of Hell, may not be true. Also, the truth is we can’t prove God somehow magically controlled the biblical writers’ thoughts and pens. The writers may not have always understood God perfectly. Uncertainty though isn’t always a bad thing. See here.

Many feel compelled to choose science over God because a literal interpretation of Genesis demands God couldn’t have used evolution in the creative process. A fallible Book may actually lead to knowing God better because surely a Creator influences us through our moral intuitions, consciences. Claims about God, other than evolution can’t be true, can lead to rejecting God.

Certain accusations about God can lead to atheism or leaving God

According to the Bible it has been claimed God approves of putting men over women in leaderships roles at home and in the church. This has encouraged historical dominance by men. People condemn gays, despite their moral intuitions, because God supposedly rejects same gender loving relationships according to a Book. But scholars who accept the Bible as authoritative defend the Bible not showing partiality to men over women and that God doesn’t condemn gays. See here. Since we can’t prove our interpretation is the right one, common, moral sense is not the enemy.

Why doesn’t God intervene more with evil in the world? 

A God who can prevent evil but doesn’t is no different than a parent who stands by and watches their child being physically or sexually abused. Answers like “everything happens for a reason” doesn’t suffice for many of us. God’s nature requires their love to be unselfish and uncontrolling. Controlling love is a contradiction in terms. Freedom to love fully may have to include the freedom to hate fully. There may be plausible moral reasons as to why evils exist and God doesn’t intervene. 

When Christians leaders and laypeople act ungodly 

Another obstacle Christians put in the way of others interested in pursuing God is hypocrisy. If you treat people like dirt, I doubt you are being influenced by God. Most folks though understand no one is perfect. But if Christians fail to admit or confess their faults, I doubt others want to discuss your relationship with God. Parents who don’t do as they say should be quiet. 

How to avoid being a hinderance to those seeking God 

Don’t accuse those who have no inclination to include God in their lives being less moral. If we judge others at all, let’s challenge one another to love others as we want to be loved. What can we say to those wanting to talk about God or spirituality? Suffering and a loving God co-existing often makes no sense. Have an open discussion. Discuss worrisome claims made about God that seem unlikely. Our intuitions aren’t the enemy. Finally, if you want others to consider your God because God has made a big difference in your life, walk the talk. Seek forgiveness when wrong.

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Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

 

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by Mike Edwards

Honestly, I don’t know all the reasons one may be more inclined to want a relationship with God. A belief or unbelief in God is hardly a personality flaw or makes one more or less moral. I grew up believing there was a Creator. I was also taught many views of God that I now hate. I have no idea why I didn’t rebel against the whole idea of a God as many understandably have.

We can’t prove God exists or doesn’t exist. Either belief requires faith. If a perfect, loving Creator does indeed exist, it seems intuitive that understanding perfect human love is how to understand God’s love. Are misunderstandings about God a hinderance to those inclined and wanting to feel closer to God? Since God doesn’t speak to most people, we can only discern what God is like by examining our moral intuitions, our consciences. We aren’t always certain how to best love, but most of us would agree we ought to love others as we want to be loved.

Understandings of God can shape attitudes 

We can only be as close to God as our mental images of God allow. We may not pursue God more because we assume certain claims made about God are true, or God is like the poor role models we have had who claim to represent God. The God often portrayed by others condemns gay people, shows partiality toward men over women despite the history of men abusing power, and God supposedly created Hell to torture people after death if they don’t discover the right beliefs before death. Many claims about God just can’t be true if God is good. See here.

Why doesn’t God intervene more in suffering? 

The problem of evil and suffering is a main reason people indicate why they don’t believe in a good God or can’t get close to God. A God who can prevent evil but doesn’t is no different than a parent who stands by and watches their child being physically or sexually abused. Answers like “everything happens for a reason” doesn’t suffice for many of us. Maybe even an all-powerful God can’t prevent evil that leads to so much suffering. If evil is some grand scheme God can control, why does the Bible say God hates evil so much. Does God hate God?

Controlling love is a contradiction in terms. God’s nature requires their love to be unselfish and other-empowering. God cannot fail to give freedom to others, including those who do horrific things to others. Absolute freedom is necessary for authenticity in relationships. We could accuse God of not creating the “most loving” world, if God wasn’t uncontrolling. There may be plausible moral reasons as to why evils exist and God doesn’t intervene. 

Pursuing God despite challenges

Do you want to believe more in God? I am not sure there is anything to lose in beginning a journey of faith if the desire is to live life with fewer regrets. Personally, the biggest reason for being a God-follower is the inspiration and encouragement I sense in striving to be a better human being. If God is real, they should be able to make their case with each individual. Do examine if claims you believe about God are true. God must be a perfect lover, or they are a God not worth following. I am convinced the world is dependent on partnerships with God for a better future and world.

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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(And We All See Things Differently)

by Jim Gordon

It has always amazed me how some Christians can be so argumentative. They just do not know how to accept one another’s differences in doctrine or interpretation.

Following Jesus is based on loving God and loving others. Yet we have nearly 40,000 different denominations, mainly because we cannot agree and accept one another.

People will argue and defend their doctrines and interpretations, and then get mad when others disagree or have a different viewpoint. Even when they partly agree, they feel the need to point out where each other differs because they think that their way is right and everyone else is a little off.

I understand that people are not going to agree on everything, and that each of us have a little different way of seeing things and understanding things. The problem is that many go too far when they let these differences separate them. They want to keep in their own particular group, which they usually feel is the more correct way to believe, and do not want to associate with others. This should not be. Each of us can have our differences and still not separate ourselves from other brothers and sisters in Christ.

In a sense, we are all people of faith. No one can prove beyond a doubt that their way is right. People have faith there is a God, or faith there is not a God; faith in the after-life and heaven, or faith there is no hell; faith in reincarnation, or faith that there is just an end to our existence. None of us can prove or disprove any of it, yet many are ready to fight and argue amongst themselves trying to defend their viewpoint and interpretations even when they cannot prove anything.

No matter what we believe about God and spiritual life, none of us can prove our beliefs. It is all by faith.

As mentioned in the Bible, we walk by faith not by sight. For me, I choose to put my faith in a God who created me and loves me, a God who has provided freedom from sin and who has come to make a home within me so that I will forever be in His presence.

I also respect the rights of others to feel differently. I do not think it is my responsibility to expect anyone to believe the same as me, or to put their faith in the same things that I do. It is the Holy Spirit who draws others to God. It is the Spirit who teaches us and leads us into truth. My responsibility is to love and accept everyone as they are, and be available for God to show godly love through me.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

For those of us who grew up in the church, most understand the difference between the Old and New Testament. Yet we seem to be confused over the new testament and the new covenant.

Many of us believe the new covenant began with the book of Matthew. The fact of the matter is, there is a big difference between the New Testament of the Bible and the New Covenant.

The Old Testament talks a lot about life before Jesus came to live on earth. It contains the Old Covenant Law God made with the Jewish people. This Old Covenant continues beyond the Old Testament of the Bible and into the New Testament.

What many people are not taught is that the New Testament is not entirely the New Covenant. Jesus taught for thirty-three years under the Old Covenant Law. His sermon on the mount and the beatitudes showed the impossibility of completely keeping the old covenant law, and it showed the authority Jesus had over the law.

When Jesus died, the old covenant was fulfilled and came to an end. When Jesus arose, a new covenant began which restored fellowship between God and the human race. This new covenant was no longer based on laws and rules, but it was freely given to us through grace.

The problem now that the new covenant is in effect is that many of us want to continue to live by the old covenant law and mix it with new covenant grace. The fact is we no longer live by the old covenant law. We no longer have to worry about the 10 commandments or the 603 other laws that were given to the Jewish people. Does that mean we can now live as we please and do whatever we want? Well, we can but it is not in our best interest to do so.

We now live by love through the grace of God. When we truly love God, there are no rules or laws that we need to keep to make things better. We love God, therefore we want to do what pleases God. It is a life of freedom, not to do anything we want but freedom to love and have fellowship with God apart from any rules and regulations on how to do so.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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by Mike Edwards

I have written A Book About God – God May Be The God You Hoped For!  after over 45 years in my journey with God. I write briefly on different views in hopes you will be encouraged to explore your own convictions. Many are rightly turned off by what others claim about God. Don’t believe everything you hear. You may discover a God worth believing in.

What To Know About God In A 100 Words!

One could say it takes as much faith to believe there is a Creator or there is no Creator. If you have any inclination to believe there is a God, this is what I think about God in hopes to whet your appetite to read further.

A Creator must be the furthest thing from evil to claim to be God. We can’t know God perfectly according to the Bible because literature requires interpretation, and we don’t know if the writers understood God perfectly initially. Most sense a morally perfect God, parent, partner, or friend is not a sexist, sadistic torturer, angry egomaniac, homophobe, warmonger, freedom denier like terrorists, hater of atheists, etc. God is likely the kind of God you imagine a good God would be like. If true, God surely desires to help you become more like the person you deep down want to become.

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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by Mike Edwards

The truth is we can’t prove that God exist or doesn’t exist. Either belief takes faith. If a Creator does exist, most agree only a perfectly good or loving God is worth believing in.  Surely a Creator love in ways God’s creations sense they ought to love others.

There are moral reasons to doubt or question God though there may be an explanation.

  • Laws in the Bible proclaimed by Moses supposedly came from God. Deut. 22: 28-29 says: If a man happens to meet a virgin…and rapes her…He must marry the young women, for he has violated her. Did God really encourage a woman being required to marry her rapist? But maybe God didn’t inspire this law; only humans believed God thought this was a good law.
  • God seems to intervene in the world very little based on the amount of evil present. Can there be a plausible reason? Maybe God can’t control or violate freedom and love perfectly. Divine love limits divine power. Maybe God can only stop evil with others freely helping. See God Can’t by Thomas Oord.
  • God is neither audible or visible and God certainly hasn’t made it crystal clear what we are to believe about God. Are there plausible reasons for such uncertainty? See here.

Where has certainty gotten us?

It is logical to suggest we can’t be certain what an invisible, inaudibly God thinks, but supposed certainty has led to justifying slavery and other atrocities. Certainty has led to condemning gays, though scholars who accept Scriptures as authoritative, don’t agree the Bible disapproves of same-gender loving, monogamous, consensual relationships. Women, though gifted, are denied entrance into the priesthood or pastorate in God’s name. Uncertainty not certainty about God, unless talking about beheading infidels, protects against imposing beliefs on others in God’s name. We need honest, open dialogue as we continually evaluate what a loving God would truly be like.

Doubt or question away!

For whatever reason some are inclined to believe there was a Creator in the beginning and not others. If you are the former, don’t believe everything you hear claimed about God. Consider for yourself what a perfect, loving God would be truly like. Challenge God to reveal themselves to you as tangibly as possible. Still doubt! Not a problem with God. Being so damn certain may bother God more.

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by Michael Clark, Guest Blogger
https://awildernessvoice.blog/

Picture taken at a rest stop along the highway in central Idaho

For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all… (1Tim 2:5-6, ESV2011)

The Lord drew my attention today to this word mediator. He wanted me to see just what a great and thorough salvation we have been given to us in Jesus Christ. So I looked up the definition of mediator in Vine’s Dictionary of New Testament Words and found the following:

<Grk. mesites>

lit., “a go-between” (from mesos, “middle,” and eimi, “to go”), is used in two ways in the NT, (a) “one who mediates” between two parties with a view to producing peace, as in 1Ti 2:5, though more than mere “mediatorship” is in view, for the salvation of men necessitated that the Mediator should Himself possess the nature and attributes of Him towards whom He acts, and should likewise participate in the nature of those for whom He acts (sin apart); only by being possessed both of deity and humanity could He comprehend the claims of the one and the needs of the other; further, the claims and the needs could be met only by One who, Himself being proved sinless, would offer Himself an expiatory sacrifice on behalf of men; (b) “one who acts as a guarantee” so as to secure something which otherwise would not be obtained. Thus in Heb 8:6; Heb 9:15; Heb 12:24 Christ is the Surety of “the better covenant,” “the new covenant,” guaranteeing its terms for His people.

Mesites not only means “to go and stand in the middle,” but to accomplish the task for whom He was sent. God sent Jesus to the earth with not only His own attributes and mind, but he was given the attributes and understanding of mere men, yet without sin. Or as it says in the letter to the Hebrews:

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb 4:14-16, ESV2011)

What can be added to that? Our salvation has been made complete as we abide by faith in the Son of God, Jesus Christ. This is why the writer of Hebrews goes on to emphasize that there remains a rest for the people of God and warns us not miss that place of rest like the Hebrew people did in the wilderness. How do we miss it? By not resting, but rather choosing to do works, the works of the law, and the works of religion as we try to justify our existence as Christians. Yet the scriptures tell us, “The just shall live by faith.”

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Eph 2:8-9, ESV2011)

Even our faith is a free gift from God and not something we conjure up by positive thinking. Our salvation and faith is not of works! We rest in Christ as sons and daughters of God.

As I thought on this it became clear to me just how many “mediators” we who call ourselves “Christians” cling to in our constant state of un-rest, even though Paul makes it clear that there is only ONE Mediator between us and God. These can all be summed up as works, dead works!

For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Heb 9:13-14, KJV)

The writer of Hebrews was addressing the works of religion. We can serve our dead works or we can walk by the Spirit and serve God. In this same chapter about entering into God’s rest we read,

…Today, after so long a time; as it is said, Today if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. (Heb 4:7, KJ2000)

“While it is yet today” we are to enter into His rest. Today means moment by moment, living in the now. When we are bound by sin and our self-centered ways we are driven by thoughts of the past, by guilt or by worries of what tomorrow may bring. God’s voice is in the now. He calls Himself, the I AM, not the I Was or the I Will Be. We must leave our old ways of doing things and stop listening to our own thoughts long enough to hear HIS voice moment by moment while it is still called “Today.” We don’t listen to His voice because we habitually listen to our own inner voice and the confusion of our own thoughts. God calls this state of affairs a hardened heart. Yes, today after so long a time we must start listening to His voice, and when we obey that voice we start doing live works instead of dead works.

These dead works were being done by Jewish Christians, Hebrews who were still clinging to the Old Covenant. For them it was all about what the voice of God said YesterdayAll their religious activities were separating them from the perfect work of Christ as their ONE Mediator. They were still loyal to that other mediator of the Old Covenant, the Law of Moses, instead of the New Covenant of the Living Christ (See Jeremiah 31-31-34). They failed to enter into the Promised Land because of unbelief. They had works, but no faith and rebellion against God was the result.

Christianity has many traditions that we as Christians rigidly cling to that are not to be found in the New Testament writings. These traditions stand between us and God and displace Christ as our Mediator. We use them as a shield in our unbelief, just like Adam and Eve who made themselves garments of fig leaves to cover their nakedness after they sinned. Some of our traditions are regular church attendance, tithing, Sunday school, church hierarchy, the need for “all things spiritual” to take place in a special religious building, fellowship based on believing in and adhering to the same doctrines, outward appearances rather than being adorned by the hidden beauty of a heart that is resting in God, or receiving one another only to get into “doubtful disputations.” etc. There is no end to this list. Each of these things we judge as necessary to please God. They are MEDIATORS! They stand “in the middle (mesos)” between us and God and displace Christ as our All, the ONE Mediator between God and man, the Living Logos of God. Jesus told the law keeping Jews, “So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God.” (Matt 15:6, ESV2011) This condition contributes to us failing to enter into our Father’s rest because they are all of works and not of faith alone in Jesus Christ. There is no “Jesus And.” He is either our All in all or He is nothing at all. Paul wrote,

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (Eph 1:17-23, ESV2011 – emphasis added)

Christ is our Head, not men. He is our fullness. All we can do is walk by faith and abide in God’s perfect rest as we abide in Jesus. Man was created at the end of the sixth day for a reason, that we might walk with God in His seventh day of rest and abide in heavenly places IN Christ. We must labor therefore to enter into that rest (see Hebrews 4:10) and cease from all our (religious) works as God ceased from His works and rested. The origins of religion (the offerings of Cain and Abel) were the direct result of sin consciousness. By faith in Christ we are set free of sin consciousness. Christ is the fulfillment not only of the Old Covenant law, but also of any laws that we might construe from reading the New Testament. There is nothing we can do or adhere to that can add to what Jesus has already done. Are all works dead works? No, if we do not harden our hearts and obey His voice within, the resulting works will be enlivened by His Spirit and will bring forth good fruit. If we are truly IN Christ as our Life, what can we add to that? As John put it, “In Him was Life and the Life was the light of men,” and it still is!

“…for you are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (2Cor 6:16, KJ2000)

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