Have recently been put back into contact with an old friend of mine back from Green Bay, goes by the name of Nate. He's now a married seminary student living in Texas and is about four or five years older than me (as most of my Green Bay friends tended to be). While chatting online one night we got to talking about Biblical matters, and I mentioned those Ezekiel sermons Bruce was preaching about, specifically all the talk about the Spirit leaving the temple. I sent him the link to Bruce's post, and here is an editted version of our conversation following it. Note- names changed to protect our AIMs.
Nate: yeah, reading it...aight...heres me thoughts
STU2: i'm not sure if i really totally agree with it, but he uses some good scripture to back it up...
Nate: God's plan did not change with the temple... he wasn't 'forced out' of the temple...even before Ezekiel he reminded his people that he had a plan to write his words on their hearts (going back to david's time)
Nate: there's this idea floating around right now that God changes his mind...that he has emotions and we can affect him...and i say...YES
Nate: but then we get into the tricky territory of what exactly we mean by change, when he is unchangeable
Nate: i think that His emotions are a reflection of His absolute character (and i'm getting to my point, i promise)
Nate: God changes every time someone accepts him and he 'decides' not to send them to hell... but our understanding of that time is so limited
Nate: for instance, if you really read genesis, it looks like abraham has been following God for some time before 'it was counted to him as righteousness'
Nate: which gets us to our point...and i don't entirely disagree with your pastor
Nate: all i'm saying is this--some people who claim to be Christians will be very surprised when they meet God for the first time
Nate: But all people that God claims to be Christians will know him when they see Him
STU2: hmm... i'll have to think about all this
Nate: i don't think that God changes His mind when we sin--even if we 'force him out' of our hearts (temple)
STU2: any scripture to back this up?
Nate: anyways, here goes: acts 17:24 and to the end of the chapter
Nate: it's one of the great apologetics
Nate: well, my point here is that paul has started out without judaism to convert to greeks...atheists and pantheists alike
Nate: he's pointing out to them that God does not live in temples made by human hands
Nate: the context is simple--he's standing in front of a temple to the unknown God
Nate: but his point is even more simple--that God doesn't need anything from us... in a pagan mindset, this is profound--the gods needed our attention--even fought over it
Nate: he goes on to argue that God has put man in the position that he's in--searching (fumbling or groping) in the dark to find God
Nate: God has placed in us this desire to find him... which is a paradox
STU2: off topic...read a good book recently that argues we need to adopt that a more Paul type form of witnessing than a Peter type...mainly because we as a culture do not have a biblical basis any more, so our techniques need to change
Nate: i'd agree with that point to some extent
Nate: but anyways, i know i'm like forever away from concluding my thoughts, but in verse 31 paul finishes with this simple thought that God gives assurance to unto all men (and he does say all) in the resurrection
Nate: so salvation is available to all, but not all take it. but those that do are assured of it
Nate: i'm not totally disagreeing with your pastor here, please understand
STU2: i understand
Nate: it seems like there are lots of holes in your arguments
Nate: but it seems right to me
Nate: anyways man, i hope that i've made any sense at all tonight, i'm kinda tired. my point in acts was simply this--we have assurance of our salvation, and it is the same assurance of damnation to the world--the cross either brings us to life or condemns us to death.
Nate: but when it does...well, that's hard to tell
Nate: the question which i've kinda sidestepped around is this--can you step back over the fence?
Nate: well, i still haven't really answered if you can lose your salvation or not
Nate: i've just answered that you can know for sure you have it
STU2: it's an ongoing debate among many circles...and despite what some fundamentalists say, it's not so easy to understand
Nate: but the question is flawed
Nate: i mean, you choose every day to step across the line
Nate: but you don't lose your salvation every time you do
Nate: because your salvation has nothing to do with anything that you've done
Nate: it's assured in the cross that you can be saved
Nate: so it's on the cross that you have to depend, thank God
STU2: true...which is hard for me to understand at times, coming from a legalistic background
Nate: i think the change that would be required of God to 'lose' your salvation would be against His nature
Nate: i don't think God changes that way, but we do
STU2: lol, it's too late for these types of arguments...
Nate: well, it's a lot ot think about
STU2: yeah... might as well just call it a night, u've given me a lot to think about
Nate: well, thanks for the friendly discussion
STU2: no problem
STU2: do you mind if i copy all this down and get some feedback from either friends or my pastor?
Nate: not at all
STU2: u'll be on the 6 o'clock news
Nate: i read a fascinating quote by C.S. Lewis the other day...let me find it
Nate: "i know it indeed to my cost. in the days when i still hated Christianity, i learned to recognise, like some all too familiar smell, that almost unvarying SOMETHING which met me, now in Puritan Bunyan, now in Anglican Hooker, now in Thomist Dante...it was, of course, varied; and yet--after all--so unmistakenly the same. recognisable, not to be evaded, the odour which is death to us until we allow it to become life. (CS Lewis)
Nate: speaking of Christianity, despite its divisions, as a 'formidable unity' to the those who are 'without'
Please feel free to leave any comments or join the discussion. I'll make sure Nate gets your responses.