Life Changing Experiences (part VI)


On reflection, what are some of the things experience has taught me!

 

1) My introduction to the Christian faith was evangelically orthodox, but not biblically sound, making the early years more difficult than necessary, creating unreasonable expectations that could never be fulfilled.
My first step to the Christian life came through reciting “the sinner’s prayer”, asking Jesus into my heart, a non-biblical practice that could give to some a false assurance of salvation. However, if done sincerely, it can become a first step to a greater, more legitimate discovery of discipleship.

A traveller doesn’t arrive in London by taking a flight to Tokyo but the desired destination can be reached later with amended directions and travel arrangements.

 

2) A Christian’s understanding of “spiritual” often isn’t very spiritual at all. Consider what motivated me to drop out of my first Personnel Management course, described in part iii of this series.

Also, for a short time after rediscovering my faith, I had regrets about my University study when I began to wish I’d gone to Bible College instead of spending three years studying writing and literature.

I gradually began to realise that those literary studies were far more beneficial than being taught what a particular church or theological group believed about the Bible. My university studies equipped me to understand the nature of communication, and how messages can be manipulated to create a desired outcome.

For someone who was very prone to assuming the unbiased integrity of people presenting a message (especially Christians), that was a very important lesson to learn. I’m now much more diligent about checking things out for myself instead of accepting things at face value. I also double check myself – am I REALLY remembering a part of scripture correctly and in accordance with its intended context? A lot of the time I find I’m not – and need to correct assumptions I’ve made.

Too often what we “remember” from scripture relates more to the context of teaching we’ve heard than its actual BIBLICAL context. At one time I had an impressive arsenal of memorised proof texts to back up my beliefs. Later I realised that MOST of them had been picked up from recorded sermons and my understanding was influenced by the context of the sermon instead of its intended context in scripture.

 

3) Inadequate, ill-considered or insincere teaching creates vulnerability that can lead someone to accept false teaching. If a teacher is careless with the content and method of teaching, their students will be equally careless.

Teachers need to take extreme care. James cautions that teachers will receive a stricter judgement and the gospels warn of the consequences of leading people astray.

However, false teachers don’t exist in isolation. They are sustained by willing followers. Paul writes of people who aren’t interested in sound doctrine who collect and surround themselves with teachers who say what they like to hear.

Regarding both teaching and being taught we need to be sure of our personal standing.

 

4) It is essential to test all things – accept nothing at face value, no matter what its source.

Even the bible can be used to support a variety of false beliefs, that’s why so many contradictory doctrines can have an alleged scriptural foundation. We will be held accountable for the things we believe and the things we pass on to others – so we need to be sure of their truth, as well as being sure of the truth and integrity of those who pass things onto us.

When the bible is used to support a  belief or teaching, is the bible actually saying and meaning what is being claimed?

 

5) Be honest.

Don’t bend the truth in thought word or deed.

Always act and speak with integrity.

Always think and reason with integrity.

 

Always demand integrity from your chosen teachers.

9 thoughts on “Life Changing Experiences (part VI)

  1. “I also double check myself – am I REALLY remembering a part of scripture correctly and in accordance with its intended context? A lot of the time I find I’m not.”

    A HEARTY “AMEN !!”

    I think as God sharpens our insistence on the standard of Truth for that comes at us, He sharpens our awareness of the same standard for all that is IN us.

    The scientist Richard Feynman said the first lesson for scientists was, “Never fool yourself. And you’re the easiest one to fool.”

    blessings, Steve

  2. “I guess when we are fooled, the only one we can blame is our self.”

    Your comment clarified some of my “other” thinking (though I’m increasingly coming to believe we’re led not in sorting and weighing a variety of different things, so much as coming to an INTEGRITY of view and criteria).

    Discussing with a friend the plight of our state, it was easy to see our distress is the result of the policies of our governor and legislature, both hard-line “conservatives” (and most of them, “CHRISTIAN conservatives”).

    Though our state has become hundreds of millions of dollars in debt by their actions (which shortfall they have tried to make up by cutting expenditures for education, social services, healthcare, roads; showing their priorities), few of those in power will flatly admit there’s a problem. Our governor especially continues to assert that “it’s working.”

    It seems the quintessential mind (or in Biblical terminology, “heart”) of an ideologue: that MY “reality” is truth, and my belief in it is immune even to real-world evidence. That mindset seems to underlie much “conservative” thought: climate-change denial comes to mind.

    Obdurate belief in a “personal reality” probably says of an ideologue’s spirit exactly what you’ve pointed to: SELF-delusion. More than simply “blame”-worthy, that delusion is deeply idolatrous. If I create my own “truth” and my own “reality,” I am effectively my own god.

    Blessings, Steve

  3. Steve, I think the following perfectly describes what you said – and it perfectly describes the state of mankind and the world today. While I’ve emphasised a few phrases in bold type, – I realise I could have emphasised ALL of it:

    But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.
    2 Tim 3

  4. SPOT ON scripture, brother.

    You’ll be interested to know that in my prayer-group last week one of the sisters…a pastor who is an ardent Trump supporter…quoted this scripture as what she was hearing from God.

    I’m hopeful she will realize God’s clear and pointed message in it.

    blessings to you, beloved brother !

  5. Yeah, that’s interesting, Steve. I hadn’t read your last post before picking out a couple pieces (from the passage Tim quoted), above, that I’ll look at. It’s difficult to communicate with people (such as that sister) who are often using the same words and even “verses” — but to bolster opposing or destructive concepts and people.

    It is of interest, also, to bring thoughts and observations together. I have increasingly come to realize that conservative really is all the things that seem stereotypical (oppression of women, minorities, less well-off people, etc. — as hard to accept as seeing that people can be that way is), no matter that there has been an effort for decades to show thatno, that’s not what it and they (we) are (have been) about. While it used to be handy to discriminate most specifically against women generally and black people overall, now the matter is more complicated. The point still being that there have to be classes to keep below those who want to be tops, and you have to get at least some women who buy the stuff about submitting and being loved and all that.

    I will get in a little more depth, right now, with regard to women. If a woman likes the idea of focusing on being a mom and taking care of her family, she has entered the situation with a sense of trust. But then, if things aren’t going well because her husband isn’t so invested in the whole matter, is she supposed to lie to herself and anyone else that everything is fine — that there is a “reality” she believes in — “it’s working” (it has to work, what else is there but to keep sinking blind faith into this truth)? Somebody had to be the sucker.

    A piece (from the passage Tim quotes) that I wanted to pick out is “disobedient to parents.” Kinda wondering how we are to evaluate that. Can it mean disrespectful toward people who are parents or toward parenting? Or does it have to be only disobedient to parents? The reasons I ask are, for one, to point out that it could be difficult to see such disobedience in many cases. Some people, especially in richer circles, can put on a good front. Second, people who care for children are not well compensated. And, not only that, obedient children can’t really count on respect or good outcomes from having been so (even doing good). Third, while the Bible says to honor your parents, it’s not unheard of for it to also lay blame for continuing to lie “like your parents.”

    Their “folly will be manifest to all.”

    While the two “J” names were found out relatively quickly, and sometimes that is what happens now too, I think we know now that many people won’t be found out or even have their own eyes opened until somewhat far into the future (even after natural death). My point in saying this is not to only put a focus on the by and by. We need people to know appearances aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be. But those “appearances” seem to be in competition to some extent with evidences (for recognition of truth).

    I hope I’ve been at least somewhat clear.

    I agree with you, Steve, as to your sharing on the state of Kansas.

  6. “We need people to know appearances aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be. But those ‘appearances’ seem to be in competition to some extent with evidences (for recognition of truth).”

    Well put, sister !

    It seems very much what Jesus is saying in Luke 12:54-56: we must “analyze the times” in their reality.

    It seems very much the truth Tim posted a week or two ago, simple and VERY profound: that “It (politics) is not really about politics.”

    We probably all grow impatient with the “political analysts” of our time. They only know appearances: Jesus called those blind to the spiritual realities, “hypocrites.”

    blessings, Steve

  7. Because of reading chapter twelve (of Luke), I quoted it from verse 45 on another blog earlier today (or yesterday, considering Australian time). It was quite timely. A quick summary would be that it really matters how people are treated, and it really matters not to play games pretending not to see what is going on.

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