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Posts Tagged ‘faith’

by Jim Gordon

Does it not seem strange that in the christian church world we are told we are to love others, yet when we come to a difference of opinion or a change in views in our beliefs, christians can be the first to throw a stone?

We hear about fairly well-known individuals within the church system say they have changed their views and no longer accept some of the teachings they grew up with in the church. They are not necessarily saying they are walking away from God but they are walking away from many things they have been told about God they no longer accept.

When this happens, usually other christians are the first to judge and condemn these individuals rather than try to accept them and find out exactly what is going on. Their first thought is they are leaving their complete belief and faith in God.

Many times, this is not what the person is saying anyway. Leaving religious teachings of the church is not leaving God. In fact, many times leaving some of these teachings behind is just the beginning of a deeper walk with God.

I grew up in the traditional church setting and I had many good times there. I met a lot of nice people and learned many things about God. The thing is the church as we know it was never what God intended. Church is not a place or an organization, it is the people who love God and love, support and encourage one another.

The church today seems more like a corporation with the CEO and board of directors. I know there are a lot of good people within the church system. They love God and want to live their life for him. Yet for my wife and I, we became disenchanted with the religious system and felt there was a better way for us to live for God, which was outside the walls of religion and the human-led system of church each week.

We felt that since the Spirit lives within us there is no need for a middle-man (pastor) to lead and teach us. If the Spirit of God actually lives within us, why do we so often depend on a human being to lead and teach us?

I certainly do not want to make anyone feel bad if they are still a part of the institutional church. They are like I used to be and feel that was the best way to show love for God and learn about God. I would not tell anyone they should leave the system, although for my wife and I we certainly do believe it was the best thing for us.

Whether you are in the church system, questioning the church system or have left it, the main focus should be to love God and love one another. Doing so fulfills all the law and the prophets (as Matthew 22:35-40 explains). Of course, we know that the law no longer needs to be fulfilled but at the time Jesus taught this he was living under the law. Now that grace has been applied, we no longer live by the law but by love.

Leaving the institutional church or changing and deconstructing your religious views and interpretations do not mean you are leaving God. Rather than jump on board with those who judge and condemn, take a little bit and find out more about what is going on. Then remember we are all at a different place on the path as we follow Jesus. Pray for one another, encourage and support one another but do not beat one another up as we each try to follow Jesus as we feel led.

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by Jim Gordon

Galatians 2:16 – nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus

We Christians so often spend our time working at trying to obey the Ten Commandments and trying to do the right thing when in actuality we do not need to be trying to keep the law at all.

We know we are saved by grace but we will still try to mix in some good works by our own effort. We go to church every time the door is open, we tithe our ten percent, we will not smoke, drink, dance or go to movies. We look down and condemn those who do not do what we feel the Bible commands. We feel guilty every time we mess up and think God is going punish us if we do not do everything we know is right to do as Christians. It is all work, work, work.

What happened to grace? What happened to being saved through faith in Christ and Him alone. Not Jesus plus works, not Jesus plus baptism, not Jesus plus obeying the law. We are saved through faith in Christ and we do not have to do any of these things. We do not have to avoid certain things to be loved by God. We have a freedom in Christ that was bought and paid for with the death and resurrection of Jesus. That does not mean we just live our lives doing whatever we want, but we live in the freedom we have through grace. We do things out of love, love for God and love for others. It is no longer out of obligation or trying to follow the law.

Let’s stop putting all the rules and regulations on ourselves and others that we think will make us better people. Let’s stop adding a mixture of law and grace by trying to earn the love of God by our works. Let’s start loving God and loving others and enjoy the freedom God has provided by his grace.

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by Jim Gordon

Growing up in christianity, I found myself always wearing a mask when I went to church. I always wore a smile on my face and I always acted like everything was good. When people would ask me how I was doing I would always say ‘I’m doing great’.

WearingMasks

The problem was I did not always feel like smiling. I was not always doing great.

So often in our christian walk we get the idea that we cannot be ourselves. We have to always be upbeat and positive and we cannot let people see we are human and have bad days.

I am not sure where that whole idea came from, but it is not wrong for our human emotions be seen. We are not always going to be happy or in a good mood, and there will be times when we are mad, aggravated or depressed. That is just being a normal human being.

I think we need to come to the point where we are not afraid to be the real us. We need to take off the mask and just be human.

That certainly does not mean we go around grumbling and complaining to everyone we meet all the time. We do not yell and take our frustrations out on everyone every time we see them. Yet we should not hide who we really are or how we really feel.

When we have those days of frustration and depression, it is then our brothers and sisters and those who care about us can be a help and encouragement and can lift us up.

As followers of Christ we have a deep-down sense of spiritual peace and joy that passes comprehension. That does not mean there are times when our humanity is just not in a good mood.

PeacethatPassesUnderstanding

That is why we need one another, why we need fellow believers and friends who care about us. None of us are always in a good mood. When we are down, our friends can help lift us up. When they are down, we can help lift them up.

Friendship, whether it is between fellow believers or people who see things completely opposite, is important to our well-being.

Being friends does not have to be with people of the same faith or with similar views. Jesus said to love God and love your neighbor. Our neighbor, whether a fellow believer or not, can be a good friend when we look past the differences and love one another.

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To follow up on the last article ‘The Law is a Curse’, I want to point out that we are no longer required to follow the law.

Romans 3:20-24 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather through the law we become conscious of our sin. But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

SavedbyGrace

To me this cannot make it any clearer that trying to keep the ten commandments, doing good works such as church attendance, prayer, bible reading, witnessing to others, helping the poor, tithing, taking part in communion or any other ‘good work’ you can think of, will make a difference in being declared righteous in God’s sight.

Just in the same sense avoiding things we consider wrong or bad does not make us any more righteous either. We are declared righteous by faith in Jesus, the gift of grace freely given by him.

The law only makes us conscious of sin and our need for Christ. Once we believe his righteousness is freely given by grace and the law is no longer needed and actually becomes a curse. Galatians 3:10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” We know that none of us can keep every law that was given by God to the jews, of which there were 613 laws including the first ten which we call the ten commandments.

Good works are not wrong, in fact they will result out of love for God rather than out of obligation for earning his love. Yet because of the grace freely given by God we no longer need to worry about the laws and keeping them to earn the love of God and the forgiveness of sins he provided.

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Have you ever wondered when the Old Covenant ended and the New Covenant began? We tend to forget that the Old Covenant does not end with Malachi and the New Covenant does not start with Matthew.

For 33 years Jesus walked the earth living under the Old Covenant, which required following all its rules and regulations.

The New Covenant began when Jesus was crucified. When He said ‘It is finished’, he was talking about the Law, the Old Covenant. Upon his resurrection the New Covenant began and from then on we were no longer required to live under the Old Covenant Law.

OldandNew

The old agreement was basically a tutor. A way God used to show us that we were unable to live a perfect life on our own. It was a way to show us that we needed someone to save us from our sinful nature. Once Jesus came and lived a perfect life on earth, He became the perfect sacrifice that fulfilled the Law and freed us from our sinful nature (Matthew 5:17).

Now that the Law has been fulfilled in Christ, we are no longer required to try to live by the ten commandments and the rules and regulations of the Old Covenant (Galatians 5:1-6). So often we seem to forget that we now live by faith in Christ because of grace. We are no longer slaves to sin, we are no longer just poor sinners saved by grace, although we were sinners and we are saved by grace. We are now the righteousness of God through Christ. God no longer calls us slaves, but He calls us Sons (John 15:15) and tells us we are seated in heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 2:6). This is not to say that we should go out and do whatever we want, right or wrong (Galatians 5:13). We do have freedom in Christ to do what we choose, but of course there are consequences if we choose things that God has warned us to stay away from for our own good.

Freedom in Christ

Today we choose to live a life pleasing to God because of love (Matthew 22:37-40). Godly love is the fulfillment of the Law (Galatians 5:14, Romans 13:8 and 10, 1 John 3:23). We love God, we have been made righteous through Christ, and we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, who guides us, teaches us, and gives us strength. We do what is pleasing to God because of love for Him, not out of obligation or because we are trying to fulfill a set of rules and Old Testament laws that we could not fulfill anyway.

Enjoy your freedom in Christ, the freedom to love God and love others, but do not let your freedom become an opportunity for the flesh. (Galatians 5:13). Be guided by the love and strength of the Holy Spirit of Christ, who lives within us.

 

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I get so tired of reading posts online and following a string of replies that continues to blast the original post.

Do you notice how many times people get offended and feel they need to prove their point. It usually does not go well once that starts. Especially when it comes to spiritual and biblical topics.

We fail to realize that not everyone has the same interpretation as another. We also fail to realize the fact that we cannot prove most of what we believe.

We can fight and argue between Christian and atheist,  one Christian denomination and another, among Jewish, Christian, Islam and a host of other religions, about whether there is there a God or not, is there a hell or not, what this verse means or what that verse means. We get bent out of shape when someone goes against what we believe and do our best to prove our point. We even fight over what Christmas designs are on a cup of coffee these days.

ProveGod

Proving Our Point

Thing is, we cannot prove our point. We cannot prove God exists, we cannot prove there is a heaven or a hell, we cannot prove any other aspect of the spiritual. This life is a life of faith and belief. As Christians, we can have faith that God is there and he loves us. We have faith in his words.

And and the other hand, no one can prove there is not a God, there is not a heaven, or there is not a hell. Yet we will fight and argue until we almost hate each other trying to prove our way of thinking.

I think God can take care of himself. We do not have to fight and argue to defend Him. Rather than making ourselves look like mean, hateful people who have to be right, we should be showing the love of God to everyone. Show his love to those who agree with us and also to those who are a hundred percent sure in their minds that we are wrong.

Love of the Spirit

To be sure, we cannot have this kind of love and acceptance in our own strength. God says we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and it his love that flows out of us. Through His power, we can love those who live differently, who think differently, we can love our enemies and those who want nothing to do with God.

We can have our own way of thinking, our own beliefs and interpretations, knowing that God created each of us differently. Yet we need to remember we are not totally right on everything, and for sure we are not totally right in someone else’s view. We can all learn something by listening and communicating with others.

We all have a right to believe what and how we want to believe. People can put their faith in God or not. We can have completely different lifestyles. We can have a completely different interpretation on bible verses or we can completely reject the bible and not believe anything about it, and it is OK.

Show the Love of God

We are not called to make people believe like us, or believe in God at all. We are called to go into the world and preach the gospel, the gospel message that God loves and accepts us. Jesus came to restore fellowship between humanity and the Father. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are to love and accept others just the way they are.

We can have our individual beliefs and interpretations, yet that does not mean we have to agree with everyone. Love and acceptance does not mean agreement. We can love and accept others just because they are loved by God. We were all created in His image. We can have our differences and still accept and care for those God brings into our lives each day.

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It has always amazed me how we Christians can be so argumentative. We just don’t know how to accept one another’s differences in doctrine or interpretation.

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

We argue and defend our doctrines and interpretations, and we get mad when others disagree or have a different viewpoint. Even when we partly agree, we feel the need to point out where we differ because we think that our way is right, and everyone else is a little off.

I understand that we are not going to agree on everything, and each of us have a little different way of seeing things and understanding things, but we go too far when we let these differences separate us. We want to keep in our own particular group, which we usually feel is the more correct way to believe, and we do not want to associate with some of the others. This should not be, we can have our differences yet without separating ourselves from other brothers and sisters in Christ.

In regard to spiritual things, we are all people of faith. Whether we are Christian, Atheist, Muslim, Buddhist or whatever label we place ourselves under, we all live by faith. That does not mean we are all followers of Christ, but we are all people of faith. We do not have to be afraid to associate with people who do not have a faith in God. We just may be the only view of God they get to see, and love and acceptance should be what they feel through the power of the Spirit within us.

Faiths

None of us can prove beyond a doubt that our way is right. People have faith there is a God, or there is not a God, faith in the after-life and heaven, or faith in reincarnation, faith there is no hell, or faith that there is just an end to our existence. We can’t prove any of it either way you look at it, yet we all seem to fight and argue amongst ourselves trying to defend our viewpoint.

No matter what we believe, how much we love God, or how much we are convinced there is or is not a spiritual side to life, we cannot prove our point, it is all by faith.

As mentioned in the Bible, we walk by faith, not by sight. I am glad I have a faith in a God who created me and loves me, a God who has provided freedom from my sinful nature, and a God who has come to make His home within me, and that I will forever be in His presence.

I also respect the rights of others to feel differently. I don’t 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’s place to draw others to the Father, and convince others of their need of Christ. 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 ready for God to show His love through me.

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