Feb 27, 2006

A Biblical conversation with an old friend

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
STU2: true
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
STU2: ok
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
STU2: yes
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?
STU2: meaning?
Nate: well, i still haven't really answered if you can lose your salvation or not
STU2: true
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: thanks
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
STU2: ok
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.


The Charlebois said...

Yo, Watchman Nee is one of the most annointed authors I've ever read. It takes a while to read, you really have to pay attention, but it's gold when you get it.
I'd encourage you to try "The Normal Christian Life" and "The Release of the Spirit." They are both excellent books.

bruce said...

Hey Stu,
I am not sure what the subject here is or how I got included but I would just like to make sure that you and your friend Nate understand that I believe you can know you are saved and I believe that the Jewish people will be saved as God has represented throughout the word of God.

The covenant with Israel did and will not depend on Israel. They could benefit from obedience to the covenant or they could suffer under the curse. It was their choice. Holiness has its own benefit. Sometimes stupid Christians don't get this.

I believe it is all about the knowledge that Christ is in you and He is your hope of glory. You can know you are saved, but live so poorly that you think God hates you. That is your problem, not Gods.

On the other hand, I know that there are many people who were told that all they have to do is quietly raise their hand while they are filled with guilt and fear at the same time that everyone's eyes are closed and that means that they are saved, forgiven, and promised eternity with God. Hogwash.

If the jumper cables are not attached, the car will not start. The power is God's not ours. It is He who gives the faith, not the preacher.

Well, I hope I have not made things too mixed up for you.
Blessings, Bruce

bruce said...

"Soul-Searching" Bono Praises Bush and American Generosity at Prayer Breakfast: Loses Cynicism Toward Church
Teresa Neumann Reporting (Feb 17, 2006)

"Mr. President....be very, very proud"
REPORTER'S NOTE: After decades of fame, U2 still makes headlines. Just last week, the ever-ready band walked away with 5 Grammy awards. It is safe to say that a large part of U2's current popularity revolves around their front-man, Bono, who continues to be for many Christians an enigma. Is he the real-deal -- a passionate, well-meaning ideologue? Or is he a slick purveyor of spiritual compromise? Though his social stature naturally makes him a newsworthy subject, he is certainly an enigma worth praying for (as this transcript from his speech at the February Prayer Breakfast in our nation's capitol reveals).

Of course, BCN does not necessarily endorse any particular views that are reported, but I would contend that many of us know "Christians" who have for one reason or another become bitter or confused or have walked away from their first love only to return later as prodigals. In no way am I implying that such is the case with Bono, but his own confession of skepticism toward the church followed by the admission that he is learning to respect and love the Christian community again is cause for thankfulness.

May we, at the very least, respect those who express even the slightest interest in Christ and pray for their continued growth in the Kingdom, rather than condemning them on perceived minor doctrinal errors or politically correct faux-pas which are often rectified as the person grows in Christ. I include myself in this plea, as I admit I do not personally agree with a good part of Bono's political-social philosophy! - Teresa Neumann, BCN.

The following are excerpts from Bono's speech. To read the transcript in full, click on the link below. (Photo: Paul Morse-White House)

=========================================== Mr. President, First Lady, King Abdullah, Other heads of State, Members of Congress, distinguished guests…Please join me in praying that I don't say something we'll all regret. If you're wondering what I'm doing here, at a prayer breakfast, well, so am I. I'm certainly not here as a man of the cloth, unless that cloth is leather. It's certainly not because I'm a rock star...Well, I'm the first to admit that there's something unnatural… something unseemly… about rock stars mounting the pulpit and preaching at presidents, and then disappearing to their villas in the South of France. Talk about a fish out of water. It was weird enough when Jesse Helms showed up at a U2 concert… but this is really weird, isn't it?

You know, one of the things I love about this country is its separation of church and state. Although I have to say: in inviting me here, both church and state have been separated from something else completely: their mind. Mr. President, are you sure about this? It's very humbling and I will try to keep my homily brief. But be warned . . . ¬I'm Irish!

I presume the reason for this gathering is that all of us here Muslims, Jews, Christians, all are searching our souls for how to better serve our family, our community, our nation, our God. I know I am. Searching, I mean. And that, I suppose, is what led me here, too.

Yes, it's odd, having a rock star here, but maybe it's odder for me than for you. You see, I avoided religious people most of my life. Maybe it had something to do with having a father who was Protestant and a mother who was Catholic in a country where the line between the two was, quite literally, a battle line. Where the line between church and state was… well, a little blurry, and hard to see...

One of the things that I picked up from my father and my mother was the sense that religion often gets in the way of God. For me, at least, it got in the way. Seeing what religious people, in the name of God, did to my native land… I was cynical… not about God, but about God's politics.

Then, in 1997, a couple of eccentric, septuagenarian British Christians went and ruined my shtick¬; my reproachfulness. They did it by describing the Millennium, the year 2000, as a Jubilee year, as an opportunity to cancel the chronic debts of the world's poorest people.... It wasn't a "bless-me" club… it wasn't a holy huddle. These religious guys were willing to get out in the streets, get their boots dirty, wave the placards, follow their convictions with actions… making it really hard for people like me to keep their distance. It was amazing. I almost started to like these church people. But then my cynicism got another helping hand. It was what Colin Powell, a five-star general, called the greatest W.M.D. of them all: a tiny little virus called AIDS. And the religious community, in large part, missed it. The ones that didn't miss it could only see it as divine retribution for bad behavior. Even on children. The fastest growing group of HIV infections was m! arried, faithful women.

"Aha, there they go again!" I thought to myself, "Judgmentalism is back!" But in truth, I was wrong again. The church was slow but the church got busy on this the leprosy of our age. Love was on the move. Mercy was on the move. God was on the move. Look, whatever thoughts you have about God, who He is or if He exists, most will agree that if there is a God, He has a special place for the poor. In fact, the poor are where God lives. Check Judaism. Check Islam. Check pretty much anyone. I mean, God may well be with us in our mansions on the hill… I hope so. He may well be with us as in all manner of controversial stuff… maybe, maybe not… But the one thing [on which] we can all agree, all faiths and ideologies, is that God is with the vulnerable and poor. (MORE . . . )

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