From a young age I’ve always wondered about things, the world more specifically and our purpose as human beings in the world, I refer to an article I read some time ago which reads “As a species we constantly try to find something, anything that will explain human existence, why we are here, and our place in it; but it must be tangible for us to accept it. We are social beings and must be able to see it, touch it, and be a part of it in order to believe in it. Organized religion fills that need. Just believing in, and talking to God does not.
It's lonely when it’s just you and God. He doesn't say a lot and requires you to do all the talking. He exists only as a metaphysical being. God requires absolute belief in him without ever giving you a chance to scientifically prove or disprove his existence. That's hard to sustain for any one person without the support and fellowship of others. Thus, we organize ourselves into groups of like-minded individuals, who have basically the same beliefs, and call it a religion.
The majority of people never actually chose their own religion. It was chosen for them by the simple act of being born. I have no doubt that: If I was born in Israel I would probably be Jewish, OR If I was born in Utah I would probably be a Mormon, OR If I was born in the Middle East I would probably be a Muslim.
For the majority of us, religion is not a choice, it is a birth right. I apologize to that small percentage of you who have actively chosen your religion because it fits your beliefs. You've obviously searched until you found a religion that, as closely as possible, fits your spiritual needs. That works for me too, but unfortunately, we are in the minority and as of this point in my life, I have not found that religion” (Hart, T. "God's religion:" where it can be found. Retrieved from http://www.religioustolerance.org/hart01.htm).
Let’s take a few steps back, so I spent a long time researching a great deal of different sources looking for the answers. With each experience and course my life would take the search would deepen.
Without being to specific, I grew up in a household where my parents were Christian, god-fearing, prayerful individuals instilling in us the beliefs they so strongly held, nothing particularly out of the ordinary than that of most Christian families or the like, I would assume, and this became a defining part of who I was and naturally so.
For as long as I can remember I’ve always sought to do and be “miss goody two shoes” because of my beliefs (and no this is not a story about a good girl gone rogue, I digress, haha or at least not exactly).
I remember in my wee sub A or grade 1 years, I’d tell my friends what they needed to do in order to be right by God.
Basically my entire childhood and adolescent life was based on WHAT I NEEDED TO BE AND DO IN ORDER TO BE RIGHTEOUS or in God’s good books to the point where I was filled with this heavy cloud of guilt whenever I felt I stepped out of line.
This continued well into my adulthood, there was a constant fight going on inside of me, a fight between wanting to live free of guilt, just live my life be carefree and not fret about whether my identity would be tarnished because of my desires, whether it was to party it up, experiment or mingle with friends who did not share the same beliefs or morals.
I remember always trying to “preach” to my friends, I recall one day in secondary school where I did a oral presentation about my decision to get “saved” or “born again” which is what I was taught that you needed to be in order to receive God’s forgiveness and go to Heaven one day.
I mention this in particular as it formed the basis of my encounter with people in general, they needed to know what it meant to be saved or born again, and this I thought was based on their own choosing.
Today, I still have the desire to know God and make God known it is something I am extremely passionate about, although my beliefs have changed considerably, I know that it was all necessary for my growth, everything I thought I knew, every viewpoint I held so strongly was shattered and rebuilt and I now see everything in a different light, only now do I have peace and only now does it all make perfect sense to me.
So I’d like to provide a comparison of beliefs, a comparison of what I was previously taught and what I now believe through personal reflection and research. I would like to point out that it is not my intention to invalidate or disregard the teachings of the church in fact it has played a vital role in my growth and understanding as I’ve mentioned before. This is merely to reflect on similarities and differences to what I was taught and what I now understand.
Church – statement of beliefs
Summary - What I now believe
We believe the Bible is God’s Word. It is accurate, authoritative and applicable to our everyday lives.
Most scriptures I’ve been taught have been misinterpreted. The bible is descriptive not prescriptive. I acknowledge complete dependence upon the Holy Spirit for their accurate interpretation and application. I believe Jesus is the word of God, who came to dwell amongst us, as us.
We believe in one eternal God who is the Creator of all things. He exists in three Persons: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. He is totally loving and completely holy.
God is three persons, inseparable yet distinct. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The Father does not become the Son or Spirit, and the Son and Spirit do not become one another or the Father. It is a relationship of oneness, but not of absorption.
We believe that sin has separated each of us from God and His purpose for our lives.
I believe that sin only separates us from God in our minds, and that nothing can separate us from the love and grace of God, no religion, nor our belief or disbelief in God. Our perceived loss of fellowship with God is a condition of unbelief and belief in sin is faithlessness.
We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ as both God and man is the only One who can reconcile us to God. He lived a sinless and exemplary life, died on the cross in our place, and rose again to prove His victory and empower us for life.
Your physical body is holy. Your old sinful body died with Jesus Christ on the Cross when He paid the price for your sins i.e. price for sin Is death! In saying that we are free from sin does not mean that it doesn’t affect us nonetheless. Sin is a lie existing, a non-existence, but there is still a vast majority of humanity that identify with this lie, including countless Christians who don’t realise they are free from sin, so they still live according to that lie existence. Sin can only affect us if we identify with it, just like fear or insecurities is only real if we identify with it, once we grow and build confidence it no longer affects us.
We believe that in order to receive forgiveness and the ‘new birth’ we must repent of our sins, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and submit to His will for our lives.
Jesus Christs birth, death and resurrection is the sole reason we are cleansed and forgiven of our sins, whether we believe in him or not. This does not require a confession, repentance or change of religion and can only be revealed to us by the Holy spirit, we cannot muster up the belief on our own. Confession or repentance is a fruit of salvation (not a price tag by which you buy it). The idea of saving yourself invalidates the work of the cross i.e. that Jesus died to save you. Repentance literally translated means “change your mind”.
We believe that in order to live the holy and fruitful lives that God intends for us, we need to be baptised in water and be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit enables us to use spiritual gifts, including speaking in tongues.
Water baptism is not a requirement but rather a visible representation of our death, burial and resurrection with Christ.
We believe in the power and significance of the Church and the necessity of believers to meet regularly together for fellowship, prayer and the ‘breaking of bread’.
The Lord’s Supper too is not a requirement but is a means of fellowship with the real presence of Christ. Both of these ordinances are expressions of grace offered to the church, in that they reflect Christ's person and work.
We believe that God has individually equipped us so that we can successfully achieve His purpose for our lives which is to worship God, fulfil our role in the Church and serve the community in which we live.
Our purpose is to know Jesus Christ and to make him known through calling out the truth in people i.e. that they are saved, cleansed, free from sin, delivered, forgiven through the personal work of Jesus Christ, so that they live and rest in him, who is the only truth of who they are.
We believe that our eternal destination of either Heaven or hell is determined by our response to the Lord Jesus Christ. i.e. whether you choose to accept him or not (believe in him or not)
Hell is the ultimate condition of unbelief itself, the self-will to self-destruct. Hell is not the separation from God, God is omnipresent (fills every space). With Adam the entire human race fell into a delusion when Adam hid from God, that we could find a place where He is not. Hell is the insanity of trying to escape the inescapable love of God. Trying to live according to a lie or according to who we are not. Even unbelievers have been included in God’s saving act of Grace on the Cross, even before they come to realise it. EVERYONE is included even if only in a hidden way. You have the Kingdom of God (Heaven) living inside of you. Jesus came to wake us up to the truth!! The only difference between believers and non-believers is a believer believes and since we believe we start living according and walking in the knowledge of our true identity in Christ Jesus (Holy, accepted, forgiven, Good) and experiencing an inheritance that everyone else may be ignoring or rejecting. They miss out on the very life of their design.
We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is coming back again as He promised.
I believe in a literal return, a second coming of Christ. Jesus will return and establish his perfect purpose amongst us, then all truth will be revealed and lies nullified.
Random side note: The good news is soooo good it sounds too good to be true! It's hilarious, hysterical!
In conclusion I would like to list some key points I like to keep reminding myself of, as changing everything you thought you knew takes time...
1. It’s Not my job to “pull God down from Heaven” and get him in to people!
He has already been there behind the scenes trying to wake people up to a reconciliation that has already been accomplished by Jesus.
This changes how you see people, people are confused by so many lies.
Our job is not to get them included but awaken them with the good news that they are already included so that they see their true identity and their outward actions change as a result.
2. What about all the bad in the world, are we just supposed to ignore it?
Even the enemy is subject to God’s sovereignty. God is both Good and Sovereign, in that his sovereignty will bring about Good. It is a fact that horrible things happen in this life. The mystery in that somehow God allows it, does not mean he endorses it or wants it to occur. (think of a loving father allowing his child to make mistakes so they learn from them)
The main point is for us to see that God has an end game and a redemptive goal in mind in such a way that even the worst temporal atrocities are turned and work backward upon themselves to ultimately become a greater source of grace and eternal good.
What we rightly perceive as horror in this world let that be something to highlight what God is NOT like, but not think that it’s out of his control.
It has always been his divine intent to restore and redeem. God’s good and sovereign intent is to allow men to bang their heads against the wall until they give up and rest in the salvation his provided from the start.
3. What about those that do not believe in God?
Our unbelief does not change what God believes about us – He cannot contradict himself. If you deny the truth he will repudiate (refuse to accept) it, as he is fully convinced of your innocence. What we believe about God does not define him, God’s faith defines us. God cannot be untrue to himself.
Having “faith” is the opposite of self –effort. Faith means
to trust in God alone and not in our own good works to earn God’s love or be
granted eternity in Heaven. He loves all and it is by HIS finished work on the
cross that gives us access to Heaven.
Faith produces good fruits i.e. love, joy, peace,
forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control,
this is also how you’re able to test that which you hear is truth. A lie will
produce the exact opposite.
Faith is the realisation of our true identity which is in
Jesus Christ i.e. he knows what is true about us even though people might not
realise it or necessarily live according to it.
Faith comes by HEARING the word
of God (truth). Martin Luther said we need to hear the gospel every day because
we forget it every day.
The Truth is the Truth whether
we believe it or not, whether we experience it or not, whether we live it or
Your experience does not dictate
the truth, nor the contradictions you experience in life.
But as we come to
KNOW the truth, the truth sets us free and begins to dictate our experiences.
The real you looks like Jesus, you are not defined by the
negative desires or emotions you feel.
Just because you feel it doesn’t mean it is your standard for reality you do
not need to embrace that contradiction as your reality.
You see negative desires or emotions operate similarly to
how fear does, it holds you back from experiencing something great. We all know
the clichéd quote that FEAR stands for False Evidence Appearing Real, well
that’s exactly that, it’s not true of who we are and who we were meant to be.
Don’t just hear the Gospel and move on, lay your head down and rest continually, because this is reality, the fruit of realising who you
really are, a perfect, glorious little plum there is rest and a peace in this
that surpasses all understanding.
Below I will provide some resources which have been absolutely critical in my
walk to understanding the word of God and his plan and intention for our lives. They also serve as references to this particular article.
1. The Bible
Well duh! You got to start
somewhere and if God’s word is not your first point of call then you already on
the wrong track lol, But alas I know the bible can be hard to interpret or
comprehend so check out the sources below to put some pertinent issues in perspective
2. Jesus Trip by John Crowder
favourite and “go to guy” take the time to watch all videos covering a number
of topics, especially those often misinterpreted and be prepared to be offended
and have all your religious walls broken down but in a good way!)
also has authored many books which are still on my wishlist! Check them out
Books: Cosmos Reborn, Money Sex Beer God etc.
3. Jefferson Bethke
(For the young
at heart and those wanting to cover the baby steps before deepening knowledge
on theological content!)
Books: It’s Not what you think etc.
4. The Bible Project
(And of course
through all of my research I’ve got to relate my resources and finding back to
the bible and the and The Bible Project has been absolutely amazeballs in
explaining each book of the bible in a clear concise manner and the animations
are a real help! So check it out! The Bible Project is a Portland based
non-profit that utilizes short, animated videos to make the biblical story
accessible to everyone, everywhere.)
Thanks for reading!
But as we come to KNOW the truth, the truth sets us free and begins to dictate our experiences. The real you looks like Jesus, you are not defined by the negative desires or emotions you feel.
Just because you feel it doesn’t mean it is your standard for reality you do not need to embrace that contradiction as your reality.
Don’t just hear the Gospel and move on, lay your head down and rest continually, because this is reality, the fruit of realising who you really are, a perfect, glorious little plum there is rest and a peace in this that surpasses all understanding.
Below I will provide some resources which have been absolutely critical in my walk to understanding the word of God and his plan and intention for our lives. They also serve as references to this particular article.
1. The Bible