Posts Tagged ‘Christianity’

Living in the presence of the Triune God

I put out here the first draft of the first part of a resource I am writing to help disciple brand new Christians. I decided to write my own after being unsuccessful in finding a resource that is thoroughly trinitarian. Many ‘New Christian’ resources, while excellent and solidly Biblical, always seem to fall short on communicating the character and nature of the God with whom we have entered into relationship: the God who is Love at His very nature, because He is, eternally, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

There will be four parts, in four posts, in quick succession…

Beginning the Authentic Life

Welcome to the Family

If you are a Christian, then you have come into a relationship with the Triune God. God is the One and only God, who exists eternally as three persons in  perfect unity: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. He is not three gods, nor is he one person who manifests himself in three ways.

“The Trinity is not a maths problem or an ancient riddle; it’s the good news that God is Love. Forever the Father has loved his Son in the unity of the Spirit.” Glen Scrivener

Because this is who God is, Christianity is the only ‘religion’ that can truly say, ‘God is Love (1 John 4:8).

The Authentic Life

As a human being, you are created in God’s image. This means that whatever God is, you are like that in some way. Supremely, because God is Love, you are created to be a person who loves – which is why Jesus said the two greatest commands are ‘Love God’ and ‘Love your neighbour.’

God enables a human being to truly reflect His character of love by giving them two wonderful gifts: Hope and faith. Hope is the certainty that God is the faithful Creator who has a plan for this universe: to fill it with the knowledge of His glory (Habbakuk 2:14). Faith is being able to entrust ourselves to Him, knowing that we are part of this grand purpose, and trust that He will only ever do what is good for us. This hope and faith then results in us living as we are designed: in love towards God and towards our fellow human beings.

Life lost… and restored!

This hope, faith and love were lost by us in our rebellion and rejection of God’s good purpose, and have been replaced with ambition, fear and selfishness. We faced God’s certain judgement, as our sin is cosmic treason against Him, the loving Ruler of the universe. We were left in a hopeless and helpless situation; unable to save ourselves from Gods wrath even if we wanted to – we were God’s enemies.

Jesus the Son did for us what we are unable and unwilling to do for ourselves. He entered into our humanity and lived the life we have failed to live – a perfect life of hope, faith and love, led and empowered by the Holy Spirit. His great love for his Father and for us led him to give of himself by living a self-sacrificial life which culminated in going to the cross, where he died the death we deserve. Here he was actually abandoned by the Father because of our own guilt and shame. He did this as gracious, merciful act of love to reconcile us to the Father.

When Jesus rose from the dead, it was like the Father’s way of saying, ‘I am pleased with this sacrifice that Jesus has made for sinners. I accept his voluntary death as a substitute, and declare that all who trust what he has done may have all their sin and rebellion forgiven.’

Brought back to the Father

We receive the benefits of all that Jesus the Son did for us by simply trusting him (faith). We cannot do anything to earn God’s forgiveness, it is purely a generous gift from God – called grace:

“It is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:9)

I trust that in becoming a Christian, this is what you have come to know – and that it is not mere intellectual belief, but trusting in Jesus to do what you cannot do: reconcile you to the Father. The Father’s intention for you is that you know what it means to be His child by being united to His Son and filled with his Holy Spirit, and in so doing, live an authentic life of hope, faith and love. This promise is not just for this short life, but for all eternity. Jesus will one day return, all evil and sin will be banished, this whole world will be renewed, and we will live forever in a face-to-face relationship with the triune God.

How to use this booklet

This booklet contains a series of studies that will help you understand more about what God has done for you in Jesus, and something of what it looks like to live this authentic life. Each section contains a series of statements, the part of the Bible that these statements are based on, and some questions to help you dig into what these passages are saying. They should be worked through at a pace that you are comfortable with. Look up the passage, think about what it is saying to you, and pray that the Father will enable you, by His Spirit, to come to know him better.

It is recommended that you work through these studies with a friend who has been a Christian for a while, as they will be able to discuss it with you, and hopefully answer any questions you may have. Organise a time to meet with them regularly to talk about what you are learning, and so they may support, encourage and pray for you.

(Part 2 is here)

Were a difficulty allowed to exist as to the reconciling of these subjects, it would not warrant a rejection of either of them. If I find two doctrines affirmed or implied in the Scriptures, which, to my feeble understanding, may seem to clash, I ought not to embrace the one and to reject the other because of their supposed inconsistency; for, on the same ground, another person might embrace that which I reject, and reject that which I embrace, and have equal Scriptural authority for his faith as I have for mine. Yet in this manner many have acted on both sides: some, taking the general precepts and invitations of Scripture for their standard, have rejected the doctrine of discriminating grace; others, taking the declarations of salvation as being a fruit of electing love for their standard, deny that sinners without distinction are called upon to believe for the salvation of their souls. Hence it is that we hear of Calvinistic and Arminian texts; as though these leaders had agreed to divide the Scriptures between them. The truth is, there are but two ways for us to take: one is to reject them both, and the Bible with them, on account of its inconsistencies; the other is to embrace them both, concluding that, as they are both revealed in the Scriptures, they are both true, and both consistent, and that is owing to the darkness of our understandings that they do no appear so to us.

Andrew Fuller (1801) The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation: Or the Duty of Sinners to Believe

misused bible

The verse:

“Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God’” Mark 10:27

How it’s misused:

I can do anything I set my heart on, as long as I have enough faith and believe God for it and ask for His help.

What it’s really saying:

The context of this verse is a discussion about the salvation of those who have set up large barriers between themselves and God – specifically here a man who trusted in his great material wealth, and thought he could earn his way into eternal life. Just before this is the famous phrase, ‘It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.’ (vs. 25 – something that is technically possible if you have a meat cleaver, a blender and a syringe), in which Jesus highlights the impossibility of a person achieving their own righteousness.

So what is impossible with man (ie. can’t be done by man), but possible with God (ie. can be done by God)? Salvation. Why is this so? Because God is God, and so nothing is impossible for Him.

Hand_Of_God

I am not wedded to the old theistic God of mainstream Christianity. This is the God of hard theism. Vestiges of this God remain in the mainstream church, obstructing spiritual growth and enshrining institutional structures. The twenty-first century needs an alternative portrait of God. Therefore I am presenting the basis for a redescription of God, that is, an alternative way of thinking and feeling about God (a new theology). I am trying to find a way to redescribe God, which is not set in concrete by the ritual, polity and dogma of the Church or captive to the made-to-order spirituality of the contemporary world.

Steven Ogden, ‘I met God in Bermuda’, p. 17

‘What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God (theos) who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live yon all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God (theos), and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us…’

Paul of Tarsus, ‘I told you about God in Athens’, Acts 17