Truth or Favoured Teachings?

Following is a reply I wrote to a commenter on another blog.

That person has spent some time arguing against a series of articles written by the blog owner, in which the blog owner was addressing the errors of “Once Save Always Saved” (OSAS).

The commenter includes links to a site promoting “Free Grace” theology – which basically says that once a decision has been made for Christ, then no matter what comes afterwards, that decision ensures eternal security.

As an example of this belief system, in one article posted by that commenter it was stated:

 “The Bible clearly teaches that God’s love for His people is of such magnitude that even those who walk away from the faith have not the slightest chance of slipping from His hand (my emphasis in bold type – onesimus)”

Such a statement is the worst kind of false teaching because the Bible does not teach anything of the kind, clearly or otherwise.

The “foundation” to this belief seems to be a single phrase “by grace you are saved” found in Ephesians.

In one of their replies to me the commenter said:

I told you not to bother answering me and to go back and study things…….didn’t think you would…….

 

This was my reply:

I have spent a life time studying, from my late teens.
The first years I studied what men said about scripture and what they said scripture meant, and I could quote verse upon verse to prove what they had taught me.

And then a lot of what I’d learned came crashing down when I found I could no longer push aside my increasing questions about why some of their teachings didn’t add up; that the parts of scripture they ignored tended to contradict some of the things they were teaching.

During the last couple of decades, I have let scripture itself be the authority and found it was much easier to understand than I expected.
I learned that proof-texting, or relying on individual bible statements to “prove” a point was not only counterproductive, it was destructive.
ANYONE can quote verses to “prove” whatever they want to believe. It’s often more enlightening to note which parts of scripture are avoided instead of the parts being quoted as “proof”.

The Bible is NOT a collection of countless individual theological points encapsulated in convenient quotable texts. The Bible, as a whole, is a developing revelation of God and His relationship with His creation, (in particular mankind) from the very beginning of this current creation, through to the establishment of a new heaven and earth.

It is impossible to grasp the truth by fixating on parts of scripture while ignoring the rest.
It is impossible to grasp the truth by fixating on individual words in scripture, while ignoring the rest.

Instead of fixating on a word like “grace” from one verse of scripture to establish an all-over doctrine of salvation – try getting an understanding through the whole of scripture, seeing God’s grace AT WORK through His ongoing relationship with mankind.
See God’s grace in action rather than applying man’s artificial definitions of what grace means.

It would be a worthless exercise for me to attempt to counteract the proof texts of others with proof texts of my own – I long ago recognised that proof text duelling is a fruitless exercise.

The truth will only be discovered and accepted by those who have a desire for the truth, who are willing to search the scriptures (the WHOLE of scripture) to find it.
It will not be discovered in out of context, cherry-picked parts of scripture.

THE GRETA THUNBERG HELPLINE

Australian media identities lined up to attack the Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg this week for her scathing speech at the UN.

From just one mention in the Australian media in September 2018, Thunberg’s prominence has grown to 2,848 mentions this month, according to Streem media monitoring.

The more the 16-year-old has been mentioned, the more annoyed some commentators have become.

There were the middle-aged white men who threw insults at the climate activist: the Nine footy personality Sam Newman, the broadcaster Alan Jones, the columnist Andrew Bolt, the Australian’s resident climate contrarians Chris Kenny and Graham Lloyd, and the Sky commentator Mark Latham. Then there were the middle-aged white women: the Tele’s Miranda Devine and the Sydney Morning Herald’s Amanda Vanstone. All very predictable.

from
https://www.theguardian.com/media/2019/sep/27/how-the-herald-sun-turned-on-its-own-after-the-george-pell-scoop

children that you spit on

 

Greta Thunberg is a true leader by every definition” by Mitchell Adams,
Sydney Morning Herald. September 25, 2019

The lyrics in the second verse of Changes by the late great David Bowie perfectly capture the events leading up to this week’s UN Climate Conference.

“And these children that you spit on; As they try to change their worlds; Are immune to your consultations. They’re quite aware of what they’re goin’ through.”

These incredibly potent words swirled through my head while I watched in awe as 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg gave heads of governments a well-deserved spray over their lack of action regarding climate change. Some of them, including our very own Prime Minister, couldn’t even have been bothered to show up to the conference.

https://www.smh.com.au/national/greta-thunberg-is-a-true-leader-by-every-definition-20190925-p52uqd.html

Amazingly, over the past few weeks, seemingly every conservative commentator, every internet troll and every tin hat-wearing conspiracy theorist has thrown one giant co-ordinated tantrum over Greta, all using some form of dehumanising and degrading language to describe her and paint her in as negative light as possible.

Under the weight of this constant harassment for weeks on end, even the toughest and bravest of adults would probably have a severe mental breakdown.

But instead, Greta responded in a manner that showed she possesses more maturity and leadership than any of her critics. Taking to Twitter, she said:

“When haters go after your looks and differences, it means they have nowhere left to go. And then you know you’re winning! I have Aspergers, and that means I’m sometimes a bit different from the norm. And – given the right circumstances- being different is a superpower.”

We Saw a Soyuz

After the serious content of my recent posts, it seems a bit out of step to write about this. But day to day life goes on, so I wanted to report an enjoyable experience from this morning.

ISS photoSince we had our first sighting of the International Space Station (ISS), Gloria and I have followed up every opportunity to see it when it passes over our town.
I registered with NASA’s Spot the Station so I would receive email advices of when it could be seen.

Recently I found that the Spot the Station page lists a lot of potential sightings that don’t lead to email notification. The emails only alert the recipient to the best opportunities to see the Station, those of longer duration, when it passes almost directly overhead.

For the past few weeks we’ve been noting the lesser sightings and have seen ISS more often than we expected. Sometimes those fainter, more distant views can be more rewarding as its not so easy to spot.

Last night I received an email forecasting one of the better sightings, however the ISS is now in part of its orbit cycle that brings it overhead very early in the morning, so we’ve not been following its progress in recent days, choosing sleep over sightings.

This morning we chose to lose sleep.
There was the possibility of something special.

61

Expedition 61 mission patch.

Around midnight our time, a crew of three launched from Baikonur, Kazakhstan heading for the ISS, where it would dock around five hours later. That would be more or less the time the ISS would pass over our place.
Would we be able to see anything of the much smaller Soyuz capsule as it approached the Station?

The Spot the Station site indicated that the Soyuz ought to be visible if conditions were right – with the very same location and time details as the ISS, so clearly it would be close to the Station.

At 5.14 am the ISS appeared quite brightly in the North Western sky, coming towards us. For the first time I’d decided to take our binoculars, but they weren’t easy to use to watch a small moving target.
Gloria had a lot of trouble and couldn’t even find the station through the lenses.

ms 15.png

Soyuz approach as seen from ISS

With the naked eye, all I could see was the brightness of the ISS, but as it passed almost directly overhead I tried the binoculars again. And travelling along just in front of it was a small but distinct light: the Soyuz capsule on its docking approach.

I was very happy when Gloria took the binoculars and despite her earlier failure, was also able to find the Station and its tiny companion.

exp 61.jpg

Crew of Soyuz, launched today.
Hazza Al Mansouri (UAE), Oleg Skripochka (Russia), Jessica Meir (USA)

Eye Level

A long time ago in a city far, far away…

…the sound of a bell would signal time to begin the school day. Later, a bell would signal the time to return to class after recess and lunch breaks.

In primary school that bell used to be handheld, either rung by a staff member, or by a favoured student. In High School, technology took over and a wall mounted bell would be activated, presumably by a timer.

Gloria’s experience was much the same, despite living in a small, far western NSW town.

The primary school up the road from our current home does things differently. Whenever I’ve been home during school weeks, at regular times throughout the day, a familiar tune could be heard coming from the school which is about 800 metres away. We deduced that the tune was the school’s alternative to a bell, summoning children in to class.

But despite the familiarity, I couldn’t think of the name of the tune. Out of frustration I sometimes considered phoning the school to ask what it was, I never got a round to doing it.

Gloria and I are avid viewers of a BBC game show, Bargain Hunt. Two teams are given an amount of money, and one hour to spend it in an antique centre or fair. The items they purchase are then sold at auction. They get to keep any profit made. Profits are rare, so the winner is usually the team with the smallest loss.

Last week one of the contestants was introduced as someone who had had a number one hit in the music charts. A brief clip of him performing on Top of the Pops was shown, dating back to 1973. It was the theme of a TV show of that time, and a much younger version of the contestant was conducting an orchestra playing that theme.

Mystery solved!

It was the same tune played by the local school throughout the day, every school day. It’s called Eye Level, and was the theme of a show called Vandervalk.

Addendum to Previous Post

What is usually denounced as “communism”, “socialism” or “left wing” by conservative “christians”, is in reality the kind of compassionate, needs based practice of the very early church as described in Acts 2.

All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. 

Sadly political dogma has too often replaced biblical example in the lives of professing believers. And decades of political indoctrination has undermined and compromised the gospel witness of many.

Instead of caring for the needy, the needy have been increasingly demonised, considered lazy, undeserving, and in someway responsible for their own difficulties. While those who are doing well are seen as either being “blessed” or deserving, and therefore entitled to hold onto, and increase, what they have, even if it means others going without.

“distributed to anyone who had need” (recommended article)

A recommended article from Steve, posted on his Cross Purposes blog.

I’ve always wondered what “Christian conservatives” make of Acts 4:32-35 ?

If they read it at all, that scripture should raise some uncomfortable thoughts…

https://cross-purposes.blogspot.com/2019/09/socialist-christians.html

“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there was no needy person among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need”. Acts 4:32-35