Monday, October 16, 2006

for trent and anyone else interested in discussing the issue of salvation


jON said...

Trent said...
Hi Jon,

Just a couple of fairly simple questions:

Who was "the official church" in Paul's day, and when and where did they tell Paul to stop what he was doing?

In what sense did Paul not preach Jesus, but only the Father, in the book of Acts? (To clarify - this question is based on comments Jon made to his sister/my wife in conversation last week. He encouraged her to search the book of Acts for herself to see if what he said was not in fact so. Good advice...)

How does your universalist view of salvation fit with scriptures such as ACTS 2:37-38 (If the audience is already forgiven in Jesus, what the hell is Peter doing burdening them with the obligation to repent and be baptized "for the forgiveness of [their] sins"?); ACTS 16:29-31 (If the jailer and his household were already saved, why didn't Paul and Silas give them the "good news" instead of demanding they first believe on Jesus. The verb at play in the phrase "you will be saved" indicates he and his family were not saved, and would not be saved, until they first believed on Jesus.); ROM. 10:9-15 (Even your hero Paul seems to have proclaimed a definitive need to confess verbally a heart reality of saving faith/belief having been placed in and upon the person and work of Jesus.)?

I'm the first to acknowledge a great breadth of interpretation of the scriptures, Jon. But for interpretations, and the life direction based thereon, to have any validity, they do need to have a firm foundation in what the text actually says, don't they?

jON said...

sorry. busy day yesterday with meetings and whatnot trying to figure out this new job. today i have 2 appointments with zaavan and won't be back until the evening. i AM researching, however, and am prepared to respond later this evening.

jON said...

to answer the first question, you'll need to forgive my ignorance if i don't have the proper terminology. the "official church" is of course the synagogue. this was the true church of god handed down over the centuries and the traditions kept faithfully by the priests and the rest of the leadership. and if you are really looking for examples, let me know and i will certainly painstakingly find each example in acts where those from the synagogue wanted paul to stop what he was doing either through strong words or threat of physical harm, or actual physical harm. but i'm sure you already know those stories quite well.

there appears to be some confusion as to the whole father/jesus question with paul in acts. i didn't say paul NEVER preached jesus (that would be silly), but that in speaking to crowds who were not quite ready for it, he didn't speak of jesus twice in the recorded sermons. the first is acts 14:15-17, and the second is acts 17:22-31. with the first, however, paul was already preaching before this and we are not told what he is saying. my main point in seeing this and pointing it out is that it seemed to me that when talking with "church" folk (jews) who should understand the story thus far and understand the culmination of it, he was much more open about jesus and what he had done. when speaking with gentiles who had no frame of reference, he didn't even go there. he spoke of things they could understand first and though we are never told, i'm sure, eventually, as they could handle it and understand, he got to jesus. but it was not his starting point. the same as it is not mine with young people who are not involved with church. or perhaps have been involved in the past but something went sour. if you start with terminology and thoughts that have already been ruined for them, you get nowhere. (in my experience) however, taking the time to learn how to explain the truth in NEW ways as well as give demostrations of the spirit and power brings has a much greater effect than simply saying the same things to a person that have never done anything before. and now, having been heard so many times to no effect, they become absolutely meaningless. (which makes the old david phelps song 'end of the beginning' hilarious. when someone doesn't believe what we have to say, rather than figure out something else to say, we say the same thing over again and wonder why nothing changes. and then generally curse them for being so 'hard')

(bear with me on the next passages. i have concepts, but i still have trouble putting them into words.) acts 2:37-38. i think our state of mind has more to do with things than we think. this has more to do with my own personal experience than any direct statements from scripture, but when these personal experiences are overlaid against scripture, i get a different picture than previously held. i am not so sure that "heaven" and "hell" are physical places. i think they are more mental states of being. and as many other theologians have maintained, we are working on our being now and who we are when we die has a lot to do with who we are when we enter the eternal kingdom. the difference for me is that i think the sin question has already been taken care of and i don't think "salvation" or "forgiveness" is sometihng you have to "get." i think it is something you already have, most people just don't know it yet. and we need to change our minds in order to see it. it is a completely different paradigm than we in our natural minds can conceive of. but once you change your mind, you have new eyes and new ears with which to see and hear and experience and share the god-life(holy spirit) all around us and within us.

acts 16:29-31. believing in jesus... such a vague phrase. what does it even mean? i'm not saying it to say that i don't "believe" but rather that it means so many different things to different people. and when i was young it basically referred to some sort of a head knowledge, which when agreed upon, would make sure you were "in". and i'm guessing that is the majority american experience right now. however, believing in jesus, his life, death, resurrection, and example IS a sure fire way to change your mind and awaken the god-life within you. but in paul saying this, does that make it a prerequisite? as we see in acts, peter and paul both encounter people who were already worshippers of the true living god. and the apostles simply give them the final piece and let them know it is finished. it does not begin the faith for these people, it simply confirms and completes it.

rom.10:9-15 once again, sure fire way. not saying definitive prerequisite. because there have been people who have not had the same christian faith in christ that i am quite sure were people of the true god. and if they were born again and served god by growing and sharing spiritual fruit(gal 5:22-23) and having undefiled religion(ja 1:27) but got to the end of their lives and found out they had to endure endless suffereing because they gave the "wrong answer" to the jesus question... wow. i don't know that i can believe in a god so cruel. or the reflexive of that that there are people who do give the "right answer" to the jesus question and then go on to do many cruel things to people because the believe they are justified in doing so because they are "god's special chosen people." brings to mind the parable of the two sons.

MT 21:28-31 “But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘ Son, go work today in the vineyard.’ And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he regretted it and went. The man came to the second and said the same thing; and he answered, ‘I will, sir’; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you."

i have simply spent a lifetime either having to say that i believe things that i really don't or saying that i don't believe things that i really do. and i'm tired of having to be a liar just so that other people can be comfortable with me.

Anonymous said...

Oh to learn greek and have the origianal bible in our hands. Too much interpretation. Even as Acts 2:37-38 say be baptized for the forgiveness of sins. Following by the letter of the bible, jesus corporately forgave the sins of everyone for alltime when he died on the cross. Thus creating a new demension in salvtion in which sin did not play a part. Only obedience. For someone to be accepted into the Kingdom of God, they must meet 5 critieria.Believe that the way to the father was created by God's Sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Repent, or change their minds, if needed. Confess, or agree with God. Obey the holy spirit. Faith in God the father's forgiveness. The only way someone that has been acepted, can be throw out, is rebellion against God, and Jesus has been placed as the judge of that by God.

SOOOOO after getting off track there a bit. It all comes down to this for me. None of these are physical actions. Just mental ones. (I percevceive obedience to be mental too. You either choose to be a "Servant", or not.) I have not studied baptism yet, so have not comment on it. But for me, any beleiver in almost every evangelical doctrine is taught these things. So what is the big deal? They are all going to go to the kkingsom of they obey. This ain't rocket science, God made it simple, man makes it complex.

jON said...

amen, brother. amen.

Trent said...

In response to the above...

It's convenient when seeking to distance oneself from most any and all organized manifestations of the contemporary Church, to speak of the synagogue as the "official church" of Paul's day. The only problem with that is Paul, and early believers, at no time, and in no way, identified the synagogue as "church". "Church" is a very specific term Paul and others co-opted to describe a distinctive and altogether new sort of community - the body of believers in Jesus Christ - whether in its local or universal context. Frankly, I think Paul would have been a bit miffed to hear the term applied to the synagogue.

I'll grant you the confusion over your comments regarding Paul's preaching of Jesus in Acts. However, even in your reference of ACTS 17 you're failing to recognize vs. 18 and 31-32. The very opportunity to speak as Paul did in Athens was the direct result of his initially preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. Further, in concluding his message, he again referenced Jesus and the resurrection. Not surprisingly, it was here the crowd turned away. Instead of seeking some "new way" that would satisfy itching ears, Paul remained faithful to proclaiming Jesus, even when it meant alienating an audience he had worked so hard to establish. How does a message with bookends of Jesus and the resurrection qualify as an example of what you're suggesting?
Finally, while I grant you Paul didn't get to Jesus in ACTS 14, flying stones interrupting the message are perhaps as good, if not better, an explanation of that omission than any thought on Paul's part to proclaim a "Jesus-less" message. If you want a summation of Paul's approach in the book of Acts, simply read the last v. in ch. 28. 1 Cor. 2:2 and Phil. 3:7-11 are also of some pertinence here.

Your explanation of ACTS 2:37-38 is very interesting, Jon, but what about those who never know and never change their minds? For that matter, what about those who do know - who do hear the truth - and never change their minds? Let's be clear here. Are you simply re-stating an orthodox evangelical view of conversion in unconventional terminology, or are you saying that even those who hear the truth and refuse to change their minds will still be "saved" as a result of Christ having died? Evangelical theology, some Calvinists excepted, believes the benefits of Christ's sacrificial death are potentially available to all, but only applied specifically in a "by grace through faith" conversion. Where do you stand?

I'm sorry, I beg to differ as to the vagueness of Paul and Silas' encouragement to the Philippian jailer in ACTS 16. "Believe", and its companion, "faith", are words which Paul (and his fellow-traveller, Luke, not to mention the early Church)had invested with very specific and particular meaning. To believe on Jesus was, and is, to literally place the entirety of your life in dependence upon him, and at his disposal, in confidence that he alone is the source of zoe - God's eternal quality of life - for today, and for eternity. That's not some 16th or 19th or 20th century theological construct, that's a pretty obvious summation of Paul's teaching regarding the nature of faith and belief.

Again, my apologies if I'm off base, but I really feel your response to the Rom. 10 passage is a lot redirection/misdirection. You know enough from personal conversation with me to be well aware I remain very open on the question of those who've never heard the name of Jesus or who've never had adequate opportunity to respond directly to Jesus in faith. That is not the issue here. It wasn't Paul's issue, it isn't mine. What is your opinion about those who have heard, who do know, who are given opportunity? Is it possible to look Jesus in the eye, conscioulsy reject him, yet still live out his teaching with a fair degree of consistency - a "Christless Christianity" - and thereby be "saved"? This starts to sound like "works salvation" to me. If you believe all are "saved" irregardless of response to Jesus, the answer to the above question is "yes". If you believe there is need of response - even a mental response -then the answer is "no". But which is it?

I am thoroughly perplexed at your "Amen" to Anonymous. I question how you can honestly respond in this manner. Do you actually believe repentance, confession, obedience and faith - even at the "mental" level (and let's be real - "mental" repentance, confession, obedience and faith are pretty worthless if they don't lead to the corresponding result of real world actions - what the Bible calls "fruit") - are absolute prerequisites to participating in the KoG now and for eternity? Do you truly believe without these you don't participate? If so there are contradictions in what you're saying that can't simply be resolved by saying "Amen".

There's alot here, Jon, I realize that. I don't expect a definitive answer in the next 24 hours, or the next 24 days, for that matter. My concerns however, are these: If you remain unclear in your own heart and mind as to the means by which people enter into the KoG, the message you offer those to whom you are attempting to minister is going to be unclear, potentially confusing, and worst of all, potentially misleading. If, on the other hand, you have a very clear sense as to your convictions regarding entrance to the KoG, don't hedge. Don't beat around the bush. Don't say "amen" to talk of pre-requisites if, in truth, you don't believe in any pre-requisites other than Jesus' death and resurrection. If you believe everybody's already in the Kingdom, whether fervant saint of God or dyed in the wool athiest, just say so.

jON said...

i agree with your thoughts onchurch. i simply use the word to give cultural context. in paul's day, and from the culture he was from, the synagogue was the dominant religious institution. and in our day, there are indeed both happening. the grouping of believers as well as the institution. i use the word in the institutional sense which it has for me. i am quite sure as well that paul would be miffed. both then and today.

and as far as acts 17, i was simlpy saying that in his address to the group as recorded he did not use jesus' name. i have no doubt that christ was central to paul's message to people. but of course, in the day he was speaking it, it was very new.

as to the next 2 paragraphs, at the moment, i see the world through a different paradigm. or perhaps different terminology, i don't know. it would seem to me that yes, indeed, the kingdom is happening now and we are all partakers whether or not we are aware of it. and yes, true faith in christ does bring an awareness of this as well as lead us to the father.

what i am saying is that i think it is possible for some to find the father first. there are many cases of this in the bible and out of the bible. i don't think it is always jesus first and then the father. this is where i think that those who have never "heard" fit in. to what degree did the submit themselves to holy spirit and act upon it?

as for those who HAVE heard and reject... in my travels throughout my life, the more i talk to people and let them bare themselves to me without judgement or fear, i find that when people reject jesus or god, it is not really jesus or god that they reject. they more often than not reject the messengers. and for many, this is one and the same. but in my opinion, it is not. i've known many an atheist who was so precisely because, in my opinion, they were chasing after god. after truth. and they could not, in good conscience, accept or practice what was being offered to them because it didn't square with what they believed in their hearts about god. and i have seen nothing about rejecting messengers as being a sure fire ticket to damnation.

so yes, i do believe that as of right now, everyone alive is a part of the kingdom. and i believe that it is to the degree that people obey the father by means of his spirit that people declare which kingdom they wish to be a part of forever. not in the sense of a works salvation. salvation came through the cross. but in a very real understanding that more than once we are told we will all be judged by "what our works deserve."

so... i think that, yes, everyone has been covered by the cross for their transgressions of the law. and that people have opportunity to hear and respond to the holy spirit's leading in their hearts spurring them on toward deeds of righteousness. but i think people are much better off if they come fully awake to the reality of god and his life. which stems from a mental change about god and his son.

the amen was for the statement that god made it simple, man made it complex.

and as i said, a lot of this is stuck in concept inside of me and it is hard to find the right english words to give voice to the conepts. as many english words already come with a lot of baggage for most people. real communication becomes difficult.

as to entrance into the KoG i understand your concerns and am thankful that you have them. i am learning much myself. what i DO know is that any standard attempts that i have made with people up until now have proved entirely fruitless. seeing the world from this new (for me) perspective of brothers and sisters already with god-life in them simply waiting to be awoken has proved more successful. it has (at least in non-church circles) helped temper my hard heart and my big head to open up myself and pour out copius amounts of god's love into the world to touch people where they are at and help meet their needs through radical acts of servitude that leave them scratching their heads and wondering who this guy is. and then i tell them, it's not me. i'm nothing special. it's god. and then we begin an ongoing dialogue as i show them god's hand at work in our world today and why i think it is so. that is the story thus far. as a matter of fact, i am just a hop skip and jump away from using jesus' name and speaking plainly. i believe they are ready to hear that now. many people aren't right off the bat. they've "heard it" all before.

so, unfortunately, i CAN'T say definitively what i think. i'm busy working things out in a practical sense. because,to me, you could have the best doctrine all laid out intricately using every verse in the bible. but if it has no practical application, it is useless. and all means of evangelization i have been taught up until now that i have tried have, as i said, brought nothing.

so now i am just trying to listen every day and say, "lead me." and lead me he does.

Wendy ftfs said...

The wonder of salvation has been around since the beginning of time .... Jesus has been around since the beginning of time. He IS God ... we tend to think that He showed up in the New Testament.

Exodus 15:2
The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my SALVATION.
He is my God, and I will praise him

2 Sam. 22:2
"The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my SALVATION. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my SAVIOUR —

2 Sam. 23:1
The Last Words of David
"Is not my house right with God?
Has he not made with me an everlasting covenant,arranged and secured in every part? Will he not bring to fruition my SALVATION and grant me my every desire?

1 Chronicles 16:23
Sing to the LORD, all the earth;
proclaim his SALVATION day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy in his dwelling place.

2 Chronicles:6:41
"Now arise, O LORD God, and come to your resting place,you and the ark of your might. May your priests, O LORD God, be clothed with SALVATION, may your saints rejoice in your goodness.

Most of the references found in scripture come from the O.T.

It is written as a future promise to be fulfilled ... not a present one,and it is written as belonging to God even in the N.T.

Luke 3:4
"A voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.
Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth.
And all mankind will see God's SALVATION."

Acts 4:11
He is 'the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone. SALVATION is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

Romans 1:16
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the SALVATION of everyone who believes:

Romans 13:10
Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our SALVATION is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here.

Philippians 2:3
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God,...made himself nothing,taking the very nature of a servant,....he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name....
12Therefore, my dear friends
...continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
14Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life—

2 Timothy 2:10
Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.
Here is a trustworthy saying:
If we died with him,
we will also live with him;
if we endure,
we will also reign with him.
If we disown him,
he will also disown us;
if we are faithless,
he will remain faithful,
for he cannot disown himself.

Hebrews 5:8
Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal SALVATION for all who obey him

Hebrews 9:27
Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

1 Peter 1:1
In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Concerning this salvation,..... Even angels long to look into these things.

Revelations 7:10
And they cried out in a loud voice: "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb."

Rev. 19:1
After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: "Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,for true and just are his judgments.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure you have other fish to fry, Jon, but if you get the chance, could you provide some examples of people in the NT who found in the Father first - and were considered to have entered into salvation/the KoG at that point - and then found Jesus later?

If all are already in the KoG, why Jesus' comments in Mk. 10:15 about those who will not receive the KoG? Apparently it isn't conferred upon people unilaterally, but received by them. The action of the verb "receive" relates to the receiver. The same thought is present in Jesus' remarks in Mk. 10:23-25. Why would it be hard, for that matter, why would it be easy, for any man, rich or poor, to enter the KoG, if we don't need to enter? People who are "in" by the unilateral action of the cross wouldn't need to enter. Further, why Paul's clear warnings in 1 Cor. 6:9-11, Gal. 5:19-21 and Eph. 5:3-20 that some have no place in the KoG? Further, note that the justification that has caused Paul's audience in 1 COR. 6 to go from "what some of you were" to a place of sanctification is a justification by faith in Christ and the work of the cross, not simply the cross being applied regardless of response. Col 1:1-14 is also pertinent, in that it is clearly addressed to the faithful who have faith (vs. 2; 4) It is these people of faith who have been qualified to share in the kingdom; these who have been rescued from the dominion of darkness, not everyone. 1 JN. 1:9 makes it pretty clear forgiveness is bound to a faith-based confession - Jesus communicated this in the Lord's prayer -Mt. 6:12-15. The ROM. 10 reference I shared in my last post bears this out, as well.

I'm sorry, Jon, you can make disclaimers about it not being works salvation, but when you say - "I believe it is to the degree that people obey the father by means of his spirit that people declare which kingdom they wish to be a part of forever.", well, the only way that isn't works salvation is if by "obey the father" you mean obey what God has commanded about the necessity of placing faith in Jesus and the work of the cross in order to be justified, santified, and made a child of the kingdom.

It's also difficult to read Rev. 20-22 without the clear realization that there are those who are not in the KoG. They have no place in the eternal city. You will undoubtedly suggest they did at birth, but pissed it away. However, even that explanation seems to run contrary to what you've said about rarely, if ever, having met someone who's truly rejected God. And by the way, yes, Jon, Jesus himself said rejecting the messenger could very well be a sure fire ticket to hell when he said, "he who reject you rejects me" in LK. 10:16. Paul said pretty much the same thing in the punchline of 1 TH. 4:1-8.

It seems to me in order to accomodate and validate your own perspectives and experiences as not only normative, but in keeping with the parameters of God's Word, you have embarked on an ambitious, but flawed, attempt to change, re-work, or ignore what the Word actually says about salvation and participation in the Kingdom. Since the life you've chosen for yourself doesn't fit within the parameters of what God's Word says life as a follower of Jesus should look like, you've simply chosen to change those parameters in a fairly arbitrary and confused fashion. This to the extent that on the most essential question of the NT, the one question God has gone well out of his way to explain in minute, painstaking detail - How might I be saved? How might I enter into the KoG? - you are now confessing a measure of unclarity and confusion. I appreciate your desire to evangelize, Jon. I intend no offense, but it's hard to lead people to something when you're not even sure yourself what it is - and that, Jon, is the value of sound doctrine and theology as the foundation for engaged, pro-active evangelism and ministry. You may have struggled with a lack of success with evangelism in the past, but in terms of anyone you've helped find a vibrant faith relationship with Jesus Christ by means of your "new way", I don't see where the success rate has changed. All that's changed is you've lowered the bar for what constitutes evangelistic success. With everybody already in the KoG, an evangelistic success rate of 100% is almost guaranteed...

Trent said...

Apologies, the "anonymous"' post above should have been credited to me.

Wendy ftfs said...

Has any of you read the scriptures I have posted on salvation ... they should clear things up... however you have to actually read them :-)

Trent said:
"Since the life you've chosen for yourself doesn't fit within the parameters of what God's Word says life as a follower of Jesus should look like, you've simply chosen to change those parameters in a fairly arbitrary and confused fashion."

I'd just like to answer this as one who has never met either one of you ... objectively.

This is a low blow, Trent and a judgment against your brother.

Would the life of a tramp in the alley coincide with what life as a follower of Jesus should "look like"? What does life as a follower of Jesus "look like" to you, Trent?

jON said...


i've thought about it a lot and i think the only thing i can really say to give foundation for understanding me is that i just don't care. i don't think about the bible in the same terms as most christians. if i was to say anything i think paul would be pissed about, i would say that it is the use of his personal letters to his children as a new law by people who call themselves "the church." a new yoke with which to burden and crush people. the very thing christ came to set us free from.

last february while i was hoping for more engagement and fellowship online from hope people, i came across a discussion in a myspace christian group about masturbation. it was begun by a young man who was obviously struggling with some heavy guilt and shame issues and was seeking help. EVERY SINGLE RESPONSE SOUGHT TO PUSH HIM DOWN FARTHER AND KEEP HIM DOWN. of course that was not the guise under which all of this "godly" advice came, but that was what it was notheless. i tried to step in and say that perhaps this young man shouldn't beat himself up so much and neither should we. it is a natural and healthy thing. this of course was met with scorn and derision and more people throwing rocks at this helpless young man who had come to them for help.

at that moment something in me snapped. i was about two seconds away from typing this out, but i stopped myself. basically i had an honest moment where something deep inside me screamed, "I DON'T CARE ANYMORE! YOU PEOPLE MAKE ME SICK! I DON'T KNOW WHAT GOD YOU WORSHIP OR WHERE YOU ARE GOING FOR ETERNITY, BUT WHEREVER IT IS, I DON'T WANT TO BE THERE! I WOULD RATHER STAND BY THE SIDE OF THIS YOUNG MAN AND BE NUMBERED WITH HIM!"

and since then... i just don't care anymore. i have been scared of hell and "not making it to heaven" my whole life and it has brought me nothing but misery. i just don't care anymore. i don't think the bible is a rulebook. i think it is a guide to help us find the right spirit to be interacting with in the here and now. to ask of us new things. which are old things. to bring into being the things that are not to nullify the things that are. it's just what makes sense to me. and in living this way, i have actually begun to bear fruit.

perhaps you don't think so, but you don't really know. you're not inside of me. my conscience is actually clear now. i am honest about everything. there is nothing in me that is hidden. everything that is in me and everything i think is laid bare for all to see. nothing is done in darkness. nothing is done in secret. and that, i think, is the most important thing of all.

modern christianity, as i have known and experienced it, encourages people to be dishonest with each other. about who we really are in our heads and hearts. and dishonesty does not a true community of god make.

i'm not trying to teach anyone anything. i simply find people who have similar questions and thoughts about life and we get together and discuss. i never say (as many pastors do), "this is definitively the ultimate absolute answer!" i simply say, "this is what i think. i could be wrong. decide for yourself."

staying consistant and doing unto others how i wish it would be done to me. because that's all i want. complete freedom to make my own choices without a lot of bullshit hassle because of it. so that's what i give to other people. and wow. what a difference it makes.

joy like i've never known. and such great peace. love overflowing. enduring patience. kindness without bounds. a goodness unfettered. triumphant faithfulness. incomprehensible gentleness. and a genuine self control.

and we work. and when the work is done we sit around and laugh and play games and feed each other slices of the sweetest fruit any of us has tasted. enough so that we want to share it with everyone we know and everyone we come into contact with. there a party coming down the line. but there's a party that's already going on. and the party that's going on is going to continue into eternity. are we getting ready for the party?

i think that's all it really come down to for me. sharing this woderful party with people. lowly people, forgotten people, miserable people. people who need a good party. and however people party... i don't care. i'm just glad to see these people experiencing joy. so i like to give them that. because that's how i would want them to treat me. with mindblowing joy.

jON said...

wendy, trent's comments are not a low blow. they are simply an honest assessment of what he sees in me and what he knows of god and what god wants from people.
all i've ever wanted for people is to have a place to be honest about the questions or thoughts that they have that are not necessarily "acceptable" in the sight of evangelicalism. and for a season, i believe we had that. especially back at exfoliations. and it was a wonderful thing.

it is quite true that i now live a life that, by appearances, when judgements are made strictly by externals, does not line up with god's word. which is all people really have to go off of unless they are willing to listen and believe what a person says to them. my desire, now, is to live with integrity and honesty. if something is inside of me, as jesus pointed out, it doesn't matter whether you act on it or not. it's in there. and that cleaning the outside of the cup, as we are advised to do by the christian culture, sermons, books, and advisors at large, scores us no points and does us no good. at least, that has been my experience. so i would rather simply be honest at any moment about who i am and what is in me at any given moment rather than have to lie and pretend that things are other than what they actually are. because i don't believe in a "works salvation" even from a reverse stance. and by that i mean that i am saved by NOT doing things. which, to the best of my understanding, is one of the main messages coming at us from the american church right now. i just don't agree.

what is actually happening is not me deciding that i get to do whatever i want and blah blah blah... i'm not even going to go there because it is NOT what's happening. (though i understand why one would think this. it is what you have seen on any other occasion and you may not have any sort of context for what i am going through) god has simply asked me to stop pretending and start being honest. no matter the consequences. no matter what any human would say. no matter if it contradicts the way we have interpreted scripture for centuries. no matter if it contradicts the very scriptures themselves. because i need to find out what is really in me so that it may be cut out. denying that these things exist in me is quite a fruitless endeavor. it is the way i was raised and the way that i was taught even as i was older. all it did was make me think i could change myself if only i worked at it hard enough, and this is simply not the case for me. i can change nothing about myself.

but rather than pretend or LIE, actually, about who i am and what i am like and what i like etc... i have begun to simply be who i am at the core of my being. and in approaching life through a lense of radical honesty, it has brought me several...adventures, let's say. and i'm sure trent, you probably want to scoff or think that you understand all of the ins and outs of what happened this summer, but you simply don't. no one does. sufficeth to say god was asking me to be honest no matter the cost. no matter the pain. and to choose him and follow him anywhere no matter what. and when he is leading, to me, nothing else matters. he is the ultimate authority. even more than the bible. god is the only absolute the universe has to offer. and he can ask you to do anything he wants at any time. and ultimately, it doesn't matter how any other human feels about it, you need to obey him because he is our only true judge. and he knows what really transpires inside of a person's heart.

Jn 5:39-40 "You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life."

i think, for the most part, we are simply splitting hairs here. we both know that people need to change their minds and come to a new understanding of the world they live in. i think the difference lies in methodology and points of emphasis.

and at the end of the day, there is this. i was living a life filled with lies and dishonesty and religion based on rules taught by men. now i am not. and, although it may be hard for people to see and accept, this is what i have wanted forever. a life lived in the light, in honesty, at any moment, apart from fear and judgement. does that mean i am perfect or that i will never make mistakes? no. but thanks be to god and his son for the cross that covers over our mistakes.

one last thing here. i would rather make a mistake of obedience than a mistake of disobedience. meaning, i would rather my mistakes be ones where i think i am hearing god and am not rather than knowing i am hearing god and doing nothing. but that's just me. because again, i don't think it's about the bible as being a law for us to follow. i think it is meant to help lead us to the holy spirit and learn how to hear this spirit and then follow him in our day to day lives. because for me, if i am living my life by scriptural doctrines, god can never tell me or ask of me anything outside of these parameters. and sometimes, if you are listening and open to it and willing to be obedient, he wants you to go outside the lines.

Wendy ftfs said...

:-) At long last a gesture of love to protect your brother. I sincerely appreciate that.

I have more thoughts on this but I have to get out of here now ... appointments call me away... back soon.

Wendy ftfs said...

a life lived in the light, in honesty, at any moment, apart from fear and judgement.

I know there are people who live inside the church walls who have a total heart for God and know this truth that you speak of ... living a life listening to the Holy Spirit ... I have met them .. they are there and do the work of God among the parishioners and they are gems, true lights. But I agree the church organization isn't for everyone and neither is everyone accepted and loved there ... those gems who listen to God love everyone there but they are flanked by those who judge and are rigid and unkind.
The gospel is for everyone ... Jesus is for everyone.... the truth is for everyone. We are the Church, the beautiful bride of Christ. The Lord calls us to work in many different areas on this planet... we are all a kingdom of priests ... life's circumstances lead us every which way and the Lord uses every thing we have and don't have for his purposes. The Holy Spirit recognizes the same Spirit in others ... this is how we know one another. We must respect each other for the place that God has placed us ... whether it be a struggling alcoholic or schizophrenic in the alley who knows Christ and tells his buddies about His love and grace to the suited man in the pulpit who sincerely obeys the Lord by living in love which is the same as living in God or abiding in the vine .... neither one is any better than the other ... in our Father's eyes they are both clean and sparkling before him and will inherit salvation for one single reason ... For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life...
God IS love .... the most powerful entity there is. He is in the business of gathering the harvest and the harvest is everywhere in every corner of the world ... it will be harvested not one grain of wheat will be missed. And He will do it His way.

So I hope this ends the hair splitting between you two and Trent puts down his mud ... and this blog can get to more wonderful things like exploring the Word of God again because there are treasures in there ... and it is fun to uncover them.

I'll bring warm cinnamon buns to the next get together. :)

Trent said...

The talk of honesty and openness that fills your most recent posts, Jon, and that serves as part of your blog masthead, is noble. But in carefully choosing to reveal, or not reveal, what you do, you're not being honest with your readers in the print image you present of yourself. For the sake of others, I won't go into detail. Suffice it to say that to present your "summer adventures" as part of something God called you to pursue is insulting - a truly low blow - to those who are aware of them, and to those closest to you who were most injured by them. This was not Christ's love in action, but as you actually verbalized to your sister/my wife, sin on your part. Perhaps before getting overly pontifical with your readers about the quality of openness and honesty you display here, you should be a bit more willing to practice what you preach with a circle of brothers and sisters who are actually able and willing to hold you in genuine spiritual accountability. This blog isn't that circle.

Wendy, I appreciate the scriptures you've listed regarding salvation, but as Jon doesn't believe or interpret them as you would, I'm not sure what relevance they bring to the discussion. You'll notice he hasn't bothered to address them, other than to say they really don't mean much to him. Perhaps that might be an indication of where he's coming from...

Wendy ftfs said...

"But by carefully choosing to reveal, or not reveal, what you do, you're not being honest with your readers in the print image you present of yourself. For the sake of others, I won't go into detail."

Hmmmm This is what I mean ... you purposely have us thinking that Jon is evil beyond compare ...

"You'll notice he hasn't bothered to address them, other than to say they really don't mean much to him. Perhaps that might be an indication of where he's coming from..."

I'm thinking that this is a young man with many Godly influences around him. Who are praying for him and his different ways of thinking .. in his desire to find a place where he can live unstifled as many an artist will tell you ... stiff rules are hard for them ... I'm sure there is some impetuous behaviour in this lad, but I have faith that the Lord of Lords has him in hand. He is not far off on the self righteous attitude of many present day churches and the fact that God's ways are as creative as infinity... not boxed up in our affluent congregations. There are a lot of secret sins among your parishioners and maybe even you ... hopefully not, but I've seen it over and over.

The Lord has given me dreams about Jon and, yes, I know he is in a place that is out of the umbrella of the physical church, but He is in a place where He will get to know God Himself and God Himself will deal with Jon in a way that you never will be able to... and He will do it with love whether that requires a hard or soft hand and answer the prayers of those who love him.
I will not stand in judgment over Jon's life or yours so I guess it is best for you as well to not try to stand where the Lord stands cannot do His work in Jon ... you cannot do His work in anyone ... neither can I. But I can pray and I can lovingly place apples of gold in baskets of silver. And I can hope for the offer of golden apples for myself as well. A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. Proverbs 25:11

Perhaps you should let us know all that is going on Jon ... I think it is the only way to stop this war here but that is entirely up to you.

jON said...

will it really? because every time i answer something, there's just more underneath. more coming. and i don't even know where it is coming from or why. i mean it was only one day after i had my membership officially revoked and i found trent back on my blog again. and i'm thoroughly confused. i don't understand what is being asked of me or what is being wanted. but whatever it is, i can see i'm failing miserably yet again...

of course i'm going to tell everything about this summer. as a matter of fact, you faithful readers will recall that i was getting ready to open up when i left on mroe haitus. came back from louisville and was sifting through my thoughts to try to trim it down to a palletable version. and then THIS whole thing started again. i guess i engaged because i'm tired of having to back down or just ignore hostilities. when in fact i don't think they're called for. i have no idea what game you're playing at, but it is not helping anyone or anything on this end.

and the worst part for me is that now you're throwing out slanderous and intentionally injurous statements like, "...other than to say they really don't mean much to him." i have never said that scripture doesn't mean anything to me. in fact, anyone who has spent any real time with me here knows just the opposite is true. i just don't view it through the same lense and paradigm as you and i believe i have that right as a human being to make my own decisions. i didn't see the need to respond because they are self explanatory and i didn't see them as coming across as some sort of challenge or something taht needed to be addressed. what they are saying is true.

i honestly have no idea what you're so upset about. and hopefully, after telling the story it will put things to rest. i genuinely hope so. because there is not, and never has been any ill will or feelings of hosility on my end. but i'm sure that becuase i won't explain myself well enough, or won't call things what you would like to see them called, that it most likely won't be enough. but i'm done running. i have nothing to hide. i am who i am. and that's all i can be.

give me a few hours and the post will be up.

Wendy ftfs said...

Jon, who were you addressing in your last post ... it wasn't clear to me ...
I hope you understand that I was addressing the things that Trent said in quotations. As I looked back I realized that I had not made that clear. My last post was not to you it was to Trent.

The reference about scripture not meaning anything to you is in quotations and is what Trent said not me ...

Read my post again ... there is no anger or malice toward you there ... sorry for the mix up.

jON said...

sweetie, i know how you feel about me. no questions here. it moved in and out of being to both of you. it started to you and then shifted to trent.

Anonymous said...

Well Trent, after listening to you through this I have lost a lot of respect for you. Not so much that you love Jon, and are trying in your way to change his mind to your way of thinking. The thing that I have come upon is that you aren't even coming close to understanding the concept of grace. Grace does not come from Jesus. It comes from God. God gave grace through GOD's sacrifice of Jesus. Jesus had the easy part. All he had to do was endure some pain for a few days, I could and would do that in a heartbeat, if it would cause grace to happen. Now watching the Passion of the Christ and seeing very vivdly how much Jesus suffered, would not put me off in the least. But, would I send my child through that? Would I send my child through the torments of hell? Even for the benefit of grace? Could I do that knowing how horrible people can be? Why would they be worth it? Could I send my only begotten, to death? I don't know. I think God's love and God's sacrifice was greater than Jesus sacricfice.

Sorry I digress. Grace being given in that act of sacrifice, what is God asking of us on return. He is asking for everything we are. He is asking that we obey him at all times. What the Holy Spirit asks us to do. Whether we like it, or understand it, or not. Whether you would like to lable the five criteria in the anonymous post mental works, or whatever, is immaterial and beneath you for an argument. I expect better from you. What about thsoe that have never heard? Then how can they believe and have faith? You obviously did not look at the criteria and do any thinking about them and how they are used to answer that simplistic question. That is beneath you as well. You did not even believe for the barest of seconds that these things were true. You discounted them. Which is beneath you. Disprove them through scripture. You are telling me we do not have to repent and we can still enter the KOG? Of course not. But since you did not know why Jon was amening the anonymous statement, you obviously don't understand Jon's points. You being a debater know that you can not beat someone in a debate unless you know there subject as well as they and know where the kinks in the armour are. If you did not understand why the amen, you still have not given a real ear to what Jon has to say. You haven really taken him seriously. That is the highest form of arrogance. That is beneath you as well.

I am following the spirit in this. Why today, so many days after the last posting. Ask God, I quit trying to understand what he asks me to do a long time ago. I just know it serves him. That is what I am now and forever his servant.

Anonymous said...

Oh, yeah one more thing, you are a proponent of doctrine and theology. Which one of the thousands that differ from one another, all proclaiming to be the truth, are you a proponent of? Let me tell you a doctrine that many people were put to death for. The world is round. That was heresy, and people were killed for it. That is what I think about doctrine.