This is for Randy again and any who may be struggling to understand my position because I do understand where you are coming from and I believe that you sincerely want to understand about this and where one like me is coming from. http://www.fivedoves.com/letters/jan2012/barrya120.htm
I would like to share how this difference happened to me to bring me from where you are now to where I ended up on the other side of this line.
As I said in my post (link above) I grew up going to church in a Lutheran church and was as good a Christian as I knew how to be. One night in 1977 just after I graduated high school, I was at a Keith Green concert.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXOhSScVMUs (excellent documentary about Keith)
Keith challenged the audience that if you are a Christian yet God is not a vital, living presence in your life every day, then he was going to give us a chance to find out what was wrong. I remember thinking, Huh, what are you talking about, He’s not like that in anyone’s life that I know, not even the pastors or whatever…? But I was willing to see where Keith was going to go with this. So Keith said he was going to give us a time of silence during which he invited us to silently pray and ask God what was in our life that was coming between Him and us or that we have placed ahead of Him that was keeping us from having the relationship with Him that He wants. But Keith then warned us not to participate in this if we knew that we would not be willing to make a change in our life once something was revealed because if there is something, God will reveal it and if we are not willing to give Him whatever He asks, then it would be better not to know at all.
Well, I wanted to know if there was anything but I sincerely didn’t think there could be anything. So I prayed and immediately God answered me and said that I loved my record collection more than I loved Him and that if I really wanted to know Him, I needed to give the records to Him as a sacrifice and then I would have a real relationship with Him.
When I heard that I was stunned and shocked and horrified. First I was amazed that He really was talking to me and second I was amazed that there was something between me and God and third I was amazed at how accurate He was because I realized that my records were more important to me than a relationship with God was. My records were my life. They represented my goal in life as a musician and everything that I aspired to be and they were my friend and companion in all areas of my life. To get rid of them was unthinkable and I was devastated just as Keith warned would happen if I was unwilling to make the change.
I couldn’t do it and I begged God not to give up on me but I didn’t have enough faith to go through with it then but I was willing to be made willing. (Actually, that is not technically accurate because as I said in my post, God does give to every man the measure of faith to complete any task He calls us to. It was my own pride that made me unwilling to act on the faith and be obedient. Faith that is acted on produces more faith but faith that is not acted on will eventually be lost altogether and be dead.) It took God a year and a half to two years to finally bring me to be able to do it. I can’t go all into how it happened but when I finally did go through with it by taking my records to the beach at night and burning them, (and by this time my record collection had grown considerably from when He had first asked for it as well as my status as a local musician) then my relationship with God really began. I died that night. Prior to that night, I “believed” in Jesus the way many Christians do. But I was not willing to put my life where my mouth was. Many pastors and teachers say that such a drastic thing is not necessary for salvation but believing in Jesus and that He died and rose for our sins is all that is necessary. I already believed that part but I did not trust Him with my life. I wanted my own will for my life. This is what I believe James is referring to as faith that has no action connected to it. If God asks me for my records then why would I not give them to Him? Only one reason, that I don’t trust Him. Without faith it is impossible to please God. When I burned those records that took faith and faith cannot be faked. It was faith that led me to be able to do it and in doing it virtue was added to my faith the moment I did it. So that was when I added to my faith virtue and to my virtue I soon added knowledge etc. because now I was free to learn from God and was hungry to know Him. Plus after making that sacrifice, I was not willing to settle for anything that was not true or not from God and I began to see the difference everywhere. I understood as I grew which teaching was not from God even though it might be coming from some very highly regarded and prominent teachers and pastors.
One of the things that God promised me when I poured out my heart to Him about why I was afraid to do this thing and I complained that I was giving up what I knew for something that I never really could learn, the Bible… He promised that if I did this, then I would be His disciple and He would teach me things that even pastors and teachers didn’t know.
I did it and He has kept His word. I have discovered what Jesus said in His prayer to the Father about how God hides from some and reveals to others:
25. At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.
26. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.
27. All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.
It is up to God to hide and reveal and many teachers who seem to be wise and many who seem to be prudent are in fact the very sort that Jesus said the truth is hidden from. But doesn’t it seem that wise is a good thing and prudence is also a good thing? Why would God hide things from these types of people? Because God wants a relationship and these types would rather be in charge of their lives and have not humbled themselves to the will of God for their lives and are therefore left to try and understand the Bible with nothing but their own understanding to lead them. This is also why there is so much division among Christians and teachers and doctrines. If you asked them they all would likely claim to be taught by the Holy Spirit and they all claim to only teach what the Bible says. Yet they contradict each other. Is the Holy Spirit teaching them all and is being this inconsistent? Of course not. Paul used this very thing to illustrate who was a true follower of Christ when he said
1 Corinthians 14:
37. If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.
38. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.
In other words, the Holy Spirit is not going to teach one thing to Paul and something else to someone else but the same thing to anyone who is learning from Him so Paul could confidently make that statement. We must be teachable by the Holy Spirit and then we will learn the same thing Paul was teaching.
Except we become as little children we cannot enter. We must become babes to be taught. Therefore it is our own pride that stands in the way of our being taught. This was the very thing that caused Nicodemus so much difficulty. He had learned his whole life things about the messiah which Jesus told him were all wrong and needed to be thrown out if he wanted to know the truth. And Nicodemus said that’s like asking a man who is an adult to get back into his mother’s womb and be born all over again because I cannot just trade what I have been taught for what you are now saying. That’s why Jesus said the Holy Spirit will help but you still must be willing to accept the Holy Spirit’s help and it starts with you admitting that your own way is no good. Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me. This was Paul’s gospel too which he said must not be changed or any other gospel is not to be accepted to put it mildly. He called himself a bondservant of Christ and said we are crucified with Christ etc. Therefore, any gospel that makes Christ do all the sacrificing and we do none but believe in what He did I think is only half way there.
Ultimately we must each decide which is right for us. I will not condemn anyone for their position but I do like to at least let you know what mine is and why.