Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Do you suffer from a performance driven faith?


Do you suffer from a performance driven faith?


I did and at time still do suffer under the lie that I must be perfect to please God. Now, it is true that one must be perfect to please God, yet it is in the “how” that is error or truth based in our thinking.

I used to be in a major denomination. I was a bit of a rising star in my own way. This denomination’s ordination process is pretty ridged. I was about 23-24 and was at this point the janitor/youth pastor/ associate lay pastor/gopher. I worked a FT job and was paid $200.00 a month for my ministerial services. My mentor at the time was one of the most intelligent men I had met. His teachings were like a college level course in the detail he would lay down. I am very much like him in how I personally read and study scripture.

In this denomination one must sit before the ordination board and answer their questions. My pastor felt I had all the Bible knowledge I needed and decided to mentor me on the questions. He felt I did not need Bible College and should be set up as a Pastor right away as God had gifted me greatly.

Now, I am not telling you this to brag. Really instead the internal story was much different.

I was very smart, and very prideful in my knowledge. The Bible tells us that pride puffs us up. There was not a question I could not answer or a passage that gave me trouble until I met Grace.

God’s Grace that is.

I was only a short time away from going before the board… all things in motion. Then I began; or rather God began to work on my heart.

In my mind He showed me a picture of a high jumper. He was coaching others to jump and they did very well. He was a great coach. Then it was his turn to jump… and he missed the lowers rung. Again and again he tried and found he had to lower it every time. He was missing the mark every stinking time! I realized this coach was me!

I was in crisis. How can I tell others how to live, when I myself was not living by the same standard I taught? I realized I was a hypocrite and living sort of a schizophrenic life.

God has a sense of humor. At times in my life He has revealed this to me. He also has a way that when He talks to one’s heart, one can deny, run, or answer honestly His question. I began reading about eternal security of the believer. I was so sure one could cross that line and lose their salvation. (Please keep reading…even if you disagree, as I will explain my position on this in another post soon. This is my story from my experience and walk I do realize others are different). I also began to listen to a man named Bob George of People to People in Dallas TX. His view would enrage me and drive me deeper into scripture TO PROVE HIM WRONG!

I read his book Classic Christianity and hated to admit it, but it did seem to explain even clearer some tough passages I thought I already understood. Only difference was that instead of being about losing salvation, they were about and often against the teaching that one could lose salvation and against the people who taught that. In effect, as in Hebrews it talks of “crucifying Jesus over and over again to our shame”.

I began my journey out of a “shame/performance based faith” on toward a Christ Life or exchanged Life faith.

I then read Hebrews… very carefully keeping the contextual flow from beginning to end. If it said something was impossible in chapter 3 then it could not be possible in chapter 5 for example.

I read through how Jesus was greater than, Moses, Angels, and the Levitical Priesthood and “once and for all” died for our sins, and “once and for all” raised for us to receive eternal Life or Jesus’ Resurrected Life. If Jesus can never die, then as we are placed in Christ and are His Body, we will not die or perish either or we are saying Jesus resurrected Body is able to die again and again. We are also saying that His death was not enough to secure our eternity, as His death on the cross was not sufficient to be THE ATONING SACRIFICE ONCE AND FOR ALL.

I remember very vividly the question God asked me after I read Hebrews. He asked me, “What is keeping you from receiving what I have just taught you?” and I answered without hesitation, “PRIDE”. I was then broken down by God and He began to in a sense reprogram my mind and spirit. I realized I was reading the scripture through denominational lenses that tainted my view of Scripture as a whole. I began a new journey alone.

(More to come)
Blessings
iggy





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6 comments:

Dan said...

Hey iggy,

Long time no post. I realize that you are planning on posting more on this but I thought I'd throw out some things that maybe you can address when you go into more depth. I see a couple problems with your statements about "eternal security."

1) The whole perspective that you have described seems terribly geocentric for lack of a better word. The description of man having salvation one moment and not having it the next is a temporal view that oversimplifies something that is extremely complex and, in all honesty, is really beyond our understanding. The criticism you have mentioned here seems stuck on viewing our salvation as something that begins at one moment. It is the same mistake made in debates over personhood where they attempt to define the point at which someone is a person. Gilbert Meilaender makes a good point when he defines a person not by a particular moment, but says "a human being is a single organism with a continuous history." You are a person, not a person NOW. Your identity as a person exists beyond temporal limitations. So it is with our salvation. This is why (as I think I have mentioned before) the New Testament speaks of Christians as saved, being saved, and will be saved. The Bible is careful not to limit itself by time.
2) This argument does not address the contradiction that eternal security creates. You would either have to deny free will all together and say that all people on whatever side of the cross they may be, are simply acting in a way that God is making them. You could take a step back and just deny free will for those who have come to Christ, but then you would have to say that when Christians sin, it is God's will.
3) You have to answer the question "why can't I lose my salvation?" or more specifically "Why can't I forfeit my salvation?" An argument could be made that once some is truly filled by the Holy Spirit that they have no desire to leave God. But then what of the angels who fell? I don't think anyone could say that the angels were ignorant of God, in fact, they had a deeper knowledge than we could ever understand while on Earth. Yet they chose themselves over God. Why can't we do the same? And what about sin? If we are unable to turn away from God in such a way to loose our salvation, why are we able to turn away from Him through sin? Each time we sin, we choose ourself over God, what keeps us from taking one more step?

Just a few things. I'll post more when I see your next post.

iggy said...

Dan,

I was trying to see if this Dan Carter… but the profile link is not enabled on your end…

But if it is, CONGRATS! Hope the honeymooning and stuff and, oh yeah the wedding went well. I received the link to the photos and it looked like it was a great wedding service.

If you are not that Dan, then disregard the above, unless you recently just got married… (Though I did not receive the link to you wedding photos I bet they were awesome also!)

Now to address a bit of your questions. I do not mean to cut out everything you stated but am focusing on the “main” point… if I missed it let me know… I may even contradict something in the post itself as I clarify things.

Dan) Gilbert Meilaender makes a good point when he defines a person not by a particular moment, but says "a human being is a single organism with a continuous history." You are a person, not a person NOW. Your identity as a person exists beyond temporal limitations. So it is with our salvation. This is why (as I think I have mentioned before) the New Testament speaks of Christians as saved, being saved, and will be saved. The Bible is careful not to limit itself by time.

Iggy) I have not read Gilbert, but as I said I am just telling my story. In fact this was written over a year ago and in review I may not quite even see it exactly as it was written, though at the time of it’s writing I did… we do grow you know. I agree with what you said… in fact salvation is a process… but I see it as I am secure NOW… and on the return of Christ that salvation will be fulfilled.

My example is this. Jesus was God incarnate… God became a man… yet was still God. Jesus was perfect… yet Hebrews tells us Jesus “learned” obedience… and after He had “learned” obedience unto death, He was raised and exalted and is now perfected. All along Jesus was perfect, yet it was unproven until God exalted Him. It was a process. I was saved before I found grace… even in that I depended on my works to prove my salvation, God still was my salvation. Yet in His mercy He brought me out of my works and more into His grace.

Dan) This argument does not address the contradiction that eternal security creates. You would either have to deny free will all together and say that all people on whatever side of the cross they may be, are simply acting in a way that God is making them. You could take a step back and just deny free will for those who have come to Christ, but then you would have to say that when Christians sin, it is God's will.

Iggy) I think you (or I may not have been clear on a point) I would have what I would call a modified Catholic view. I do not agree with the Calvinistic view much at all. I see that there is no line… as saying a prayer, going forward to an alter, doing works… there is nothing we can do to receive salvation by what we do… yet somewhere in a persons walk they come to a point that they cross a line and are saved… I know this seems to contradict… I see it as “those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” God knew of those who would turn to him. so we of the “whosoever” are called, justified, then glorified.. . Just as Jesus was called of God to justify us and was glorified… that seems to be the model.

I see that this is impossible to do without freewill. For how can we then freely love or freely be a whosoever? If you notice I have a link to Irenaeus who taught free will well before Calvin took it away. I see the process broken down to:

1. God calls us.
2. We respond
3. We are in the process of conversion
4. Somewhere in that process we are saved
5. Then we are saved in fullness at the return of Jesus.

I see that some may stay in conversion for many years and some it is just an instant. In all it is about following Jesus and in that finding Jesus… Who is our salvation.

This is not in any way an elitist thing… I am not saying some are more saved than others, yet I see that ones who are not fully converted are able to walk away and those who have crossed do not. I do see that anyone that God has started a good work in, God will be faithful to complete it. So we can be as ugly spiritually as can be and God will bring that person to perfection in Christ…

It is a matter of exchanging my will for Gods… for exchanging my death for Christ’s Life… for crucifying our old self and putting on the New Man.


Dan) You have to answer the question "why can't I lose my salvation?" or more specifically "Why can't I forfeit my salvation?" An argument could be made that once some is truly filled by the Holy Spirit that they have no desire to leave God. But then what of the angels who fell? I don't think anyone could say that the angels were ignorant of God, in fact, they had a deeper knowledge than we could ever understand while on Earth. Yet they chose themselves over God. Why can't we do the same? And what about sin? If we are unable to turn away from God in such a way to loose our salvation, why are we able to turn away from Him through sin? Each time we sin, we choose ourself over God, what keeps us from taking one more step?

There is a big difference between us and the angels…

1. They saw God face to face and esteemed Him not vs. We loved Him though we have not seen Him
2. They had a deeper knowledge and still chose pride over God and rebelled Lucifer wanted to exalt Himself OVER GOD AS GOD Vs man was disobedient and as the image bearers of God saw equality with God something to be grasped.


As I have said one can forfeit their salvation in the conversion state. Even before that by not responding to God’s calling. It is God’s will none would perish. With that from our free will we choose or not to respond to the calling.
As one is place in the Body of Christ, Christ is without sin… if we are immersed in Christ, we are washed clean… otherwise Christ would have our sin in Him and not be sinless. The issue is not about avoiding sin… that is dealt with… and was even before Jesus died on the cross… it was the sacrificial system… through that sins were forgiven… but we were still dead in our sins… forgiven yet still dead… Christ’s atonement was “once for all” and then it is by the power of the resurrection we now LIVE. (Rom 5:10) What keeps us from taking one more step that would allow us to lose our salvation… first off to say WE can close our salvation implies we earned it in some way and that by what we do or don’t do keeps us saved… this negates “Saved by faith through Grace”… agian it is not by works that we are saved so no man can boast.


Thanks for your comments and allowing me to clarify a bit more.

Blessings,
iggy

Dan said...

Iggy,

First off, it is that Dan and thanks for the congrats.

Getting down to business, you haven't addressed the real question here. Why can't someone forfeit their salvation? I thought you were going to answer but then you said this:
"What keeps us from taking one more step that would allow us to lose our salvation… first off to say WE can close our salvation implies we earned it in some way and that by what we do or don’t do keeps us saved… this negates “Saved by faith through Grace”… again it is not by works that we are saved so no man can boast."

...which first of all isn't true in the least. Saying that I lost something in no way implies that I earned it. Someone could give me a new iPod and I could just throw it away. This action does not require me earning (or thinking that earned) the iPod. I will point out that "lose" is a misleading word which is why I will say forfeit. I don't think that someone can slip out of salvation unknowingly as if sin is left like a banana peel on the path to God. i do believe that it is possible for someone to willingly say "I don't want God." You pointed to Adam and Eve's fall and said that it differed from the angels' fall because:
"They had a deeper knowledge and still chose pride over God and rebelled Lucifer wanted to exalt Himself OVER GOD AS GOD Vs man was disobedient and as the image bearers of God saw equality with God something to be grasped."
You also claim that angels don't love God but we do. Looking at the latter first, you are comparing fallen angels with sanctified man which hardly seems fair. There are plenty of angels that didn't fall and spend their existence praising God. Conversely there are plenty of people who don't love God (I would say that even Christians can fall into this at times). Looking to the former, the intentions behind Adam's and Eve's sin is not so clear cut as what you present but assuming that it's true for the sake of argument, just because the first sin had such a dynamic doesn't mean that Man is incapable of choosing him/herself over God.

So again the question that needs to be answered is simply, why can't someone forfeit their salvation?

iggy said...

Dan,

Your question..."why can't someone forfeit their salvation?"

In which I know you will not like my answer, is this....


One can... by denying Christ to begin with...

One must take into account that salvation is not of us at all... it is all of God and none of us... that is really clear in scripture.

It is by Grace, through faith.

Why can't we forfiet it after we accept Jesus... I said that one can if they have not been fully converted. Yet, once fully converted...

God will finish what HE STARTED.

Philippians 1: 6. being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Our confidence is in God's faithfulness to complete the work He started in you as He start His works of salvation in those Who are filled with the Holy Spirit.
(I am not talking about the "second blessing" here)

We can have faith in God because He is faithful and will do as He said.

1 Cor 1: 8. He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.

Salvation is not about our faithfulness... it is all about God's faithfulness... first to the promise to Adam and Eve, then to Abraham and Israel, and now also to us as Gentile believers.

So, the only sin that will deny salvation is denying Christ for our salvation.

Blessings,
iggy

Dan said...

First of all, you post to much. It took me ten minutes to scroll back down here (and that's without reading anything). Secondly, I agree with the passages such as the one in Philippians where God assures us that he will be faithful to his chosen. But at the same time I can't ignore verses in Hebrews 6 and 10 or 2 Peter 2:20-21 (just to name a few) where it is clearly referring to Christians falling away. Do I believe that he who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it? Absolutely. Do I believe that Christians can abandon their salvation? Yes. How do I reconcile the two? I don't. The fact of the matter is that the scriptures supporting "eternal security" and those that support the ability for Christians to lose their salvation is about even and rather than ignore half of them or manipulate them to fit into some man made doctrine, I chose to live with that tension. I will leave to God what only he can do and work out my own salvation with fear and trembling.

iggy said...

Dan,

First off I really do appreciate you comments always have always will (Lord willing! LOL!)

Second this is MY story, My testimony and I struggled a long time in my early years under a heavy burden of "being good enough for God"... which I had hoped was the main point.

With that I know there are other traditions, and people are at other places in their walk... but I can only share the story I have been given to live. Believe me I have bee called names about MY story of how GOD touched me with HIS GRACE. Even with years of perspective looking back I only start right back to where I met God's Grace. I have lost friends over this... and I am not a heavy "once saved, always saved" person... I focus on growth...

For if one is growing, they are saved... if they are perishing they need to look at what is going on. = )

BTW I really do not like the “OSAS” as I see it is misleading. It implies one can just say a prayer, kneel at an alter, or whatever else… which only adds “woks” to Grace. Yet, even to say “I believe in eternal security” does not say enough to me… as I taught that as an Assembly of God youth pastor. Again, I see that the Grace we are saved by, sustains us and all are God’s works and not our own… I also want you to know even after changing my views so racially I will never say it was easy. There were still doubts and struggles as to my salvation, yet I was more and more able to not focus on myself, and more and more on Jesus… which is the FOCUS of our faith.

Now about posting too much, maybe your right... I just seem to have a lot to say... and only pray it holds some nugget for someone to find and bring them closer to our Lord.

Blessings,
iggy