The Doctrine of Salvation 3


salvation-march

Hebrews 3:14-16 tells us,

 14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, 15 while it is said:

“Today, if you will hear His voice,

Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

16 For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? (NKJV)

          Who are these verses referring to, the Christian or the unbeliever? It seems like these verses are speaking to the believers. So then, we can harden our hearts as believers, but we don’t have that ability to so as unbelievers? The Calvinist doctrine tells us that no one can resist God; that He is in control and that He knows that his elected will come to the feet of Jesus as established by God before the foundation of the earth. So, are we really free? The Bible tells us in Acts 11:15-18,

 15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?” 18 When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.” (NKJV)

         We could get lost between Calvinism and Armianism, but it is important to establish that without repentance, salvation can’t take place. Therefor, the very act of salvation can’t possibly be a decision; salvation is a conversion. Repentance is a gift from God; that means that we do not have the ability to repent on our won; what we have is an unbelievable ability to justify our sin.

         You do not make up your mind in order to assist God in your salvation. You make up your mind to the realization that you are a disgusting and pitiful sinner. That is when the grace of God comes running to release in you, the God-giving ability for you to be able to repent of your sin. After you see the monstrosity of your sin, God’s Spirit releases faith in you so that you are able to trust Christ. 

         Salvation is brokenness; tears and the realization that even when we were yet sinners sinner, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). With salvation, our spirit comes alive and is activated and released from the legacy of spiritual deadness that the first Adam left us. We are now free to worship God in Spirit and in truth (John 4:24).

         Here we start the process of loving God above all things, we instantly become holy or separated for God and the sanctification process is activated in our lives. Salvation does not give us perfection, but instantly causes tangible and visible changes in our walk.

         Salvation is so powerful that it instantly changes your personality. We become a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17). Your fruit should speak of your salvation (Matthew 7:16). Salvation is indeed a visible thing.

         It is not the sinner’s prayer that saved you or me. The sinner’s prayer becomes a reflection of your newfound faith. The sinner’s prayer is the prayer of a man or a woman who is now spirituality alive. That is why the Bible tells us in Romans 10:9-10 that we must believe in our hearts.

 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (NKJV)

          The word “confess” it does not refer to just a simple prayer that we pray so that now we can call ourselves saved. This word means,

      “To concede, admit, confess to confess publicly, acknowledge openly, profess. To confess Christ personally, meaning to profess or acknowledge Him. To acknowledge in honor of someone, meaning to give thanks, to praise.”[1]

 To confess Christ, as Lord and Savior is to change the way we talk; our confession now acknowledge and honors Christ.

         The word believe here means, “To believe, to have faith in, to trust, to be firmly persuaded as to something.”[2] With this newfound faith our whole believe system is changed radically. Nothing can change a human heart as radically as the born again experience.      

         Faith comes by hearing this message (Romans 10:17); not by hanging around us, not by opening our church for little community programs, festivals or even our charity efforts. Faith comes by hearing the Word. That is one of our greatest responsibilities as Christians. In John 14:6 Jesus stated, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (NKJV) Jesus must be presented. The fact that you are a Christian is not going to save anybody; the fact that you are a nice person is not going to change anybody.

         Some people think they can present the Gospel without having to talk about Christ. So they develop a very low evangelistic standard. They are satisfied with people recognizing them as Christians, but they are fearful of presenting the Gospel. They use expressions such as I don’t have to beat nobody with the Word, or expressions such as, I am the Bible they will be able to read and such. But it is all a copout from our responsibility as Christians. We must give people an opportunity to receive this Gospel by presenting what the Word has to say about Christ. God is going to confirmed His Word, not anything that we have to say or do outside of His Word. Mark 16:20 says,

 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen. (KJV)

          Can you see? They went and they preach; that is our job. Then the Lord confirmed His Word with signs.

         I do not claim to have all the answers; beloved we all know in part; so is it ok to say that it is impossible for us to figure everything out. But do you know the basics. Also, God is available to take us deeper according to First Corinthians 2:10.

         I hope this series of articles brought some clarity to the doctrine of salvation. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to email me at angelcasiano@aol.com. God bless you!

 

 

        

          

 

 

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[1] Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.

[2] Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.

The Doctrine of Salvation 2


salvation-march

Two theologies of salvation came at the hands of two theologians. John Calvin, born in France in 1509, who became the successor of Martin Luther and, Jacob Arminius, from Dutch born in 1560.

         Calvinism is the doctrine that brings us predestination. The Calvinist believed that some people are predestined to go to heaven and others predestined to go to hell.

         Armianism, on the other hand, is the doctrine that establishes that salvation is a personal decision, that God has something to do with it, that He initiates the process but ultimately, the phenomenon of salvation is in our own hands.

         Make no mistake about it, if you are saved, God chose you. John 15:16 tells us, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.” (NKJV) God also told Moses, “…I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” Exodus 33:19 (NKJV)

         We don’t have to understand everything. Why God is choosing some and seems not to chose others? Or why some get saved and other don’t? I don’t know!

         The greater question for me is, if God is in charge of choosing, why not send us to those who are chosen exclusively? But He is sending us to preach this Gospel to the whole world. Can somebody chosen able to reject God? The Calvinist doctrine teaches that no one is able to resist God; that God is supreme and in control of everything. The Armianism, on the other hand, teaches us that people reject God all the time. The Apostle Paul told Timothy in First Timothy 2:1-4,

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (NKJV)

         If it is God’s will for all to be saved and, in reality, not all get saved, then, can we conclude that obviously some are rejecting Him? If it is God’s will for all to be saved, then why some get saved and some don’t? If anybody can reject Him, then is it possible that they can accept Him also and therefor; do we have something to do with our own salvation? Can we, as evangelist contribute to somebody’s salvation? Can we pray them in?

         I do considered Armianism, on issues of salvation, to be bad theology. I don’t argue that we have a free will, but the Bible specifically tells us that salvation is the total work of God; it is all a gift from heaven. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us,

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (NKJV)

         If salvation is a matter of decision, then repentance is not necessary. I can arrogantly say; I am making a decision to follow Christ. For example, the rich young man wanted to make such decision to follow Christ, while holding on to everything he had. Many are convinced that they could be saved while approaching the Gospel just as the rich young man did. In Matthew 19:21-22 we read,

21 Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (NKJV)

 

         I think that many times we fail to understand that Jesus accepts us as we are, but not without us repenting for what we have done. To follow God we must surrender all to Him. If you let Him do that kind of work in you, He will. However, we also have the right to reject any gift, that is, including the gift of salvation. Jesus told this young rich man to follow him, but the rich man rejected him, as he did not want to let go of his possessions. This is a typology of many that want to come to Jesus as long as they are allowed to continue in their sin. That attitude alone is evidence that repentance have not taken place. The story of this young rich man continue,

23 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” 26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:23-26 (NKJV)

         Noticed that in verse 26 we see a little of the Armianism and a little of the Calvinistic approach. The rich young man executed his will by not following Jesus, even after Jesus himself asked him to follow Him. This proves that God can’t be rejected. On the other hand, I see some Calvinism because Jesus made it clear that with God all things are possible. Can we say that if the rich man was truly a chosen one maybe the outcome would have been different? I only know in part!

To be continued…

The Doctrine of Salvation


salvation-march

What differentiates the Evangelicals from the rest of the Christian world is this concept of being born again. Other religions speak about conversion and even force people into such conversion, but the born again concept is uniquely ours.

         In John 3:3 Jesus made a powerful statement concerning salvation and the need to be born again, “…Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (NKJV)

         How do we become born again? Are there many paths to salvation? Can you do it your way? Are there other saviors? Can you be good enough to be saved? Romans 3:10-18 clearly describes our spiritual condition:

10 As it is written:

“There is none righteous, no, not one;

11 There is none who understands;

There is none who seeks after God.

12 They have all turned aside;

They have together become unprofitable;

There is none who does good, no, not one.”

13 “Their throat is an open tomb;

With their tongues they have practiced deceit”;

“The poison of asps is under their lips”;

14 “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.

15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;

16 Destruction and misery are in their ways;

17 And the way of peace they have not known.”

18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (NKJV)

         Nobody is good enough or capable of saving him or herself. We have a sinful condition that separates us from God. Psalm 51:5 tell us, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (KJV).

         The message of the Gospel was lost for more than a thousand years. Things were about to change after Martin Luther’s Reformation on October 31, 1517. The message of the Gospel was not fully restored until the Anabaptist came to the scene. After the reformation, common people had access to the Scripture. The Anabaptist came out of that group; they were not into reformation; they saw that the Catholic Church went too far, and they did, so they were separatist.

         Anabaptist means re-baptize. They were against baby baptism. They understood that the requirement for baptism was to be born again. This seemingly simple doctrine brought a devastating persecution against the Anabaptist. They were persecuted by everybody; the church of England, Rome and even by the followers of Luther. I always respected this group and, even as they made some mistake themselves, these were true Christians who loved the Lord and love souls.

         For the sake of this article series we will focus on the Doctrine of Salvation.

To be continued…

Assessing C. S. Lewis Explanation for Pain Through God’s Word


Pain

     Let me first made this point clear; I am not a follower of C. S. Lewis. I totally disagree with many aspects of his theology. He is consider by many one of the greatest Theologians of the 20th century, I totally disagree with that assessment and if you read C. S. Lewis’ work on spiritual matter, he will tell you the same. However, he was one of the best writers the 20th century indeed had. He die the same day John F. Kennedy was shot and killed.

     What I do admire and respect about C. S. Lewis is that he was not afraid of asking the tough questions and worked hard enough searching for answers. I guess that is a pattern I see with many of these deep thinkers, so different from the shallow mentalities of our day. I also agree with much of C. S. Lewis’ assessment concerning the reason for pain. I completed the following work as an assignment to one of my classes, I hope you enjoy!

LIBERTY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF DIVINITY

Assessing C. S. Lewis Explanation for Pain Through God’s Word

Submitted to Dr. Paul B. Greer, in partial fulfillment

of the requirements for the completion of the course

RTCH 500 D15

Introduction to Seminary Studies

by

Angel Casiano

October 2015

Contents

Introduction…………………………………………………………………………………………………………3

The Personal Influence of C. S. Lewis’s Writings on Pain and Suffering……………3

Experiencing Suffering as a Child…………………………………………………3

Experience with Pain as an Adult…………………………………………………4

Looking at C. S. Lewis Theology on Pain and Suffering……………………………….6

Fundamental Reason for Pain and Suffering According to C. S. Lewis…………..6

Explaining C. S. Lewis Theology of Pain from a Biblical Perspective……………7

The Purpose of Pain According to C. S. Lewis…………………………………………9

The Purpose of Pain According to Scripture…………………………………………10

Conclusion………………………………………………………………………………13

Bibliography…………………………………………………………………………….15

 

Introduction

            God is good! Can you reaffirm His goodness when facing suffering? Why is it that God seems so silent, so uninvolved and so careless in moments when it seems like we need Him the most? The reality is, that it is easy, and perhaps, very common to blame God for our suffering. Surely He gets the blame for terrorist attacks, the tragedy of September 11, divorces, drugs, rapes, murderess, etc. But is it His fault?

            The thesis of this paper is to establish, according to C. S. Lewis and according to God’s Word that first, God is not the reason for our pain. Second, that pain is unavoidable and third, that there is an ultimate and profound purpose on the other side of our pain.

The Personal Influence of C. S. Lewis’s Writings on Pain and Suffering

Experiencing Suffering as a Child

            Clive Staples Lewis was born on November 29, 1898 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. His father was Albert J. Lewis and his mother was Florence Augusta Hamilton Lewis. Lewis also had one older brother, Warren, who was more than a brother; he was a good friend.

            Lewis’ father was a successful attorney; however “The stability of the family was centered around his mother who had a talent for happiness…”[1] Lewis’ father provided a financially stable home. Lewis, who preferred to be called Jack, enjoyed a loving mother and a very close relationship with his brother. These were indeed the happy days. Education was the center of the Lewis home; before reaching the age of ten, Lewis was already learning Greek and Latin tutored by his mother.[2]

            In 1908 Lewis’ mom was diagnosed with cancer. Young Lewis prayed for his mom’s healing; however on August 23, 1908; on Lewis’s father’s birthday,[3] she passed away. That was Lewis’ introduction to pain and suffering and perhaps his first issue against God. Lewis was convinced that God let him down.[4] His father, Albert, struggled with his wife’s death and was not able to handle the pressures of raising his two sons alone. Also, that same year, Albert lost his dad and brother.[5]

            Through all, education continued to be very important in the family, so Albert sent his two sons to Wynyard boarding school. Lewis hated that school with a passion; he referred to Wynyard as, “Belsen, the name of a concentration camp.”[6] If we take into consideration a child who just lost his mom and being in a school he hated that much, I think we can imagine the impact in C. S. Lewis life.

Experience with Pain as an Adult

            On December of 1916, C. S. Lewis received a scholarship to attend Oxford University. On June 8, 1917, Lewis enlisted in the British army. During that time, he developed a close friendship with his roommate Paddy Moore. The relationship was so strong that they promised to care for each other’s family if they were not able to make it alive from the war. Paddy Moore was reportedly killed in battle on April 1918. On April 15, 1918 Lewis was wounded in the Battle of Arras. He was discharged from the army that same year. Sometime in 1919, Lewis followed up with the promise he made to his friend Paddy and moved in with his mother, Mrs. Janie King Moore, and sister, Maureen.[7]

            Perhaps out of all of Lewis’ experiences with pain, none could compare to the death of his wife Helen Joy Gresham. Marriage came late in life for Lewis, at the age of sixty, to be exact. His marriage was controversial. “…the esteemed professor not only married late in life, he married an American who was once Jewish, divorced, and personally rather abrasive.”[8]

            Lewis’ marriage to Helen was not received well; the majority of his friends opposed the marriage. Nevertheless, he did marry Helen. It seemed like they were made for each other; Douglass H. Gresham, Lewis stepson wrote,

            They both came to Christ via the long and difficult road which leads from   Atheism, to Agnosticism, and thence by way of Theism finally to Christianity,    and they both enjoy remarkable success in their university student careers.[9]

            Douglas adds that even at ten years old he was able to see that the love they had for each other grew and witnessing that kind of love made him feel happy. At the same time, that happiness was mixed with fear and sadness for it was known at the time that Helen had cancer.[10] Understandably so, Helen’s death was an unbearable pain for Lewis. Lewis writes, “Cancer and cancer, and cancer. My mother, my father, my wife. I wonder who is next in the queue.”[11]

Looking at C. S. Lewis Theology on Pain and Suffering

Fundamental Reason for Pain and Suffering According to C. S. Lewis

If God were good, He would wish to make His creatures perfectly happy, and if God were almighty He would be able to do what He wished. But the creatures are not happy. Therefor God lacks either goodness, or power, or both. This is the problem with pain, in its simplest form.[12] C. S. Lewis

  1. S. Lewis’ life was marked by deep and intense pain. From nine years old to his sixties, his life was filled with traumatic and painful experiences. From loosing his mother and loosing his best friend in the army, to being rejected and mocked by his friends because of his faith and marriage to his wife Helen and, to make matters worst, loosing his wife to cancer after only four years of marriage. No doubt C. S. Lewis had plenty to say about pain and, he had the scars to prove it. It seems, by looking at C. S. Lewis’ story, that he suffered most of his life.

            Perhaps these experiences forced him to ask the tough questions and to find the courage to search for answers. Perhaps these experiences helped shape his theology.

            If God is so good, so loving and so powerful, why do we have to suffer? Perhaps God is not good or perhaps He is not as powerful? These are the essentially philosophical questions at the center of C. S. Lewis theology on suffering. Lewis answered these questions beautifully, logically and, most importantly, Biblically.

            Lewis’ argument is that the Agape love cannot be a possibility without freedom; in other words, for unconditional love to be able to flow it must be totally free from any obligation. If God forces us to love, then we become robotic and in that reality, we will not be able to love, we will be controlled by God. We must have the choice to good or to do evil. Therefore, the reason we have so much evil in the world is not because of God’s lack of power or lack of goodness, but because of the abuse of our own will.

            Obviously God knew that this kind of freedom was also an open door for evil, but because God is God and because He is All-Knowing, we accept that this is indeed the best possible system for love to abound.[13]

Explaining C. S. Lewis Theology of Pain from a Biblical Prospective

            The Bible tells us that God is love (I John 4:8). Jesus took the Ten Commandments and the laws given to the Jewish people and made two commandments; one to love the Father above all things and the other to love one another (Mark 12:30-31). C. S. Lewis’ theology on pain and suffering can be confirmed in Deuteronomy 30:19, “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:” (KJV).

            God has given us Free Will. The Lord encourages us to do the right thing, to choose life over death and good over evil. Our will has the potential and the power to go either way. When we chose to embrace a lifestyle of evil, we will suffer the consequences with curses. When we chose a lifestyle of righteousness, then we will enjoy God’s blessings (Deuteronomy 28). Nevertheless, because of our own choices and the choices of others, evil is always active in this world ready to kill, still and destroy even those who are pursuing holiness (John 10:10).

            God warned us concerning suffering in I Corinthians 13:4, “Love suffers long…” (NKJV). Love will always serve as a platform for pain because of the freedom it provides for us to do whatever we want. In the Old Testament it was established that many are the afflictions of the righteous (Psalm 34:19). Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 3:12, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” (NKJV)

            Jesus was our best illustration of what C. S. Lewis is suggesting regarding the necessity of freedom in order for love to be able to be a possibility and, how that freedom will facilitate the freedom for evil to manifest also. God the Father, as we Biblically established already, is love. Jesus became flesh and walked amongst us. Jesus lived a lifestyle of perfect love. However, evil was right there to fabricate a case against Him and to crucify HIM. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ is the greatest manifestation of love this world has ever seen and, at the same time, the greatest injustice of all time.

            Surely, I am reminded of one of the key songs in the Rocky Movie Series, “No Easy Way Out” by American songwriter, Robert Tepper. In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed, “Oh Father, if it possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” Matthew 26:39 (NKJV). How wonderful is to know that Jesus understand the un-pleasantries of pain; how wonderful that He did not take the easy way out.

 

 

The Purpose of Pain According to C. S. Lewis

            If I knew anyway of escape I would crawl through sewers to find it. But what is   the good of telling you about my feelings? You know them already; they are the   same as yours. I am not arguing that pain is not painful. Pain hurts.[14] C. S. Lewis

  1. S. Lewis honesty is admirable. This amazing writer, with an extensive English vocabulary, brought it to the most simplistic form, “Pain hurts”[15]. What do you tell a mother who just lost her child in a drive by shooting? How do you explain to a father the purpose of his daughter being brutally rape and killed? How do you explain to that woman the reason why she was sexually abuse by her own father at the age of five? Why? In dealing with pain is a risky business to come up with explanations; perhaps there is a time to share those explanations, but reality is that they do exist.

            I believe that C. S. Lewis earned the right to talk about this topic and to offer some possible explanations after the painful and tragic experiences he endured through his entire life. He gently gives us a few reasons.

  1. Pain causes the sufferer to submit to God’s will.[16] In Psalm 119:67 another man who was intimately familiar with pain stated, “Before I was afflicted I went astray,

But now I keep Your word.” (NKJV) C. S. Lewis was biblically accurate in making the connection between pain and submitting to God’s will. 2. There are acts of mercy that arise out of the compassion of the spectator.[17] We can’t always confirm that peoples suffering will promote acts of kindness, but it does sometimes and, as Christians, we are called to reach out to people that are hurting such as the poor, the fatherless, the widows, etc.

  1. C. S. Lewis presents pain to sterilize and disinfect evil.[18] It is a very graphic way to put it, however, First Peter 1:6-7 tells us, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,” (NKJV) There is a fire that is indeed made to purify us.

            Dr. R. Havard, MD in the Appendix of C. S. Lewis’ The Problem with Pain, suggested another profound purpose for pain, 5. An opportunity for heroism.[19] Just like a soldier is honored for his great heroisms in battle and respected for surviving fatal wounds; the man and the woman of God are also receive as heroes when surviving diverse trials and tribulation. Of course it is for us to turn right back and give glory to God, for we know the battle is his, but perhaps nothing brings more honor to a man than surviving great battles, pain and tribulation.

The Purpose of Pain According to Scripture

            After Job saw his life and his health turn upside down, after his friends judged him and after his own wife encouraged him to curse God and die, God spoke to him. After hearing God Job made this extraordinary statement,

“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear,

But now my eye sees You. Job 42:5 (NKJV)

            The word sees

            Is a verb meaning to see. Its basic denotation is to see with the eyes (Gen. 27:1). It            can also have the following derived meanings, all of which require the individual to see physically outside of himself or herself: to see so that one can learn to  know, whether it be another person (Deut. 33:9) or God (Deut. 1:31; 11:2); to experience (Jer. 5:12; 14:13; 20:18; 42:14); to perceive (Gen. 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21,   25, 31; Ex. 3:4); to see by volition (Gen. 9:22, 23; 42:9, 12); to look after or to  visit (Gen. 37:14; 1 Sam. 20:29); to watch (1 Sam. 6:9); to find (1 Sam. 16:17); to select (2 Kgs. 10:3); to be concerned with (Gen. 39:23). It is also possible for this  verb to require the individual to make a mental observation. As an imperative, it can function as an exclamation similar to hinnēh (2009), which means to behold (Gen. 27:27; 31:50). Further, it can denote to give attention to (Jer. 2:31); to look into or inquire (1 Sam. 24:15[16]); to take heed (Ex. 10:10); to discern (Eccl.  1:16; 3:13); to distinguish (Mal. 3:18); to consider or reflect on (Eccl. 7:14). It can  also connote a spiritual observation and comprehension by means of seeing  visions (Gen. 41:22; Isa. 30:10). [20]

            To see God in this sense is to have a closer relationship with Him. Many of us know about having a relationship with God based on head knowledge or what somebody else tells us about Him; but as we go through suffering we have the potential to know him personally.

            We know we will see God face to face in our next dimension of life, but we can enjoy a closer relationship with God right now. Job had a relationship with God; he offered his sacrifices faithfully to the Lord; he was a good man. However, even job’s relationship with the Lord was not near where it was supposed to be. After his great suffering God gave Job more children, he became richer than before and God also restored his health, but the greatest blessing he receive was a closer relationship with the Lord.

            Matthew 5:8 tells us, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” (KJV). The word see here means many things, but in a wider sense, it means “to see God, to be admitted to His presence, enjoy His fellowship and special favor”[21] Again we see the concept of a more intimate relationship with God. Matthew 5:8 tells us, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.” (NKJV)

            The heart of man will always experience dissatisfaction without a relationship with God. That relationship is not possible without a pure heart, without a heart that is thirsty and hungry for God. That hunger and thirst cannot be substituted for anything or delegated to anybody; we must ask the Lord for that kind of heart.

            In Matthew 7:23 Jesus stated, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” (NKJV) Those are some scary words, depart from I never knew you. Many will make the argument listing all the wonderful things they did; but they will be rejected because of their lack of relationship with God.

            God is able to utilize our pain and suffering in a very powerful way. The reason for pain goes beyond C. S. Lewis explanations it goes beyond helping others. The ultimate purpose of pain and suffering is for us to get to see God in a more intimate way. Romans 8:28 zeal the argument for us, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (NKJV).

Conclusion

            God is not the reason for our pain. No, we can’t blame God for our pain and suffering. Our pain and suffering is the direct result of our free will and the fact that we live in a fallen evil world system. We must remember that devil is the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4). We also must remember that the devil’s job description is to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10). Everything around us is corrupt; everything around us is dying.

            An innocent baby is killed by his dad; a lovely wife died after giving birth; a hardworking and loving dad is shot kill after being robbed; a virgin young girl is raped on her way home from school; a faithful man of God is killed in a car accident. Who can understand the pain that these experiences produces in the hearts of their loved ones? But they are all, either directly connected by evil, directly connected by the corrupted will of man or both.

            No, we can’t blame God for our pain and suffering. He is love (I John 4:8); His will is for all to be saved (2 Peter 3:9). His love is so amazing that He gave His only Begotten Son for our sake (John 3:16). The greatest of all revelations is to know that God loves us like non-other and nothing can separate us from such love (Rom. 8:39).

            Pain is unavoidable. C. S. Lewis explained the reason for pain well. We have the freedom to love, but also the freedom to hate. We have the freedom to be instruments of God’s righteousness, but also the freedom to be weapons of evil. In a sense, we are victims of our own freedom; therefore, we stand in need of a Savior.

            The goodness of God is proven on the cross of Calvary. He carried our sins for us; he lived the perfect life, He expressed the perfect love and became our perfect sacrifices. In Him and through Him is the only hope and salvation of humanity. Only in Him and through can we find joy in the mix of great tribulations (James 1:2) and the peace that overpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

  1. S. Lewis explained the fundamental reason why there is so much pain and suffering in the world. He also expands in some purposes for such pain. I applaud this man for having the courage to do it. I agree with C. S. Lewis proposals on the reason for pain. However, I have found a more profound explanation of the purpose for pain and suffering in the words of Job,

I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear,

But now my eye sees You. Job 42:5 (NKJV)

            The ultimate purpose of pain is to see God, to develop a close relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Suffering has a way purifying our hearts. On the other side of the valley of suffering there are two directions to take, bitterness (Romans 12:5) or the greatest relationship with God you and I will ever have.

           

 

Bibliography

Clark, David, C. S. Lewis A Guide to His Theology, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing, 2007

Griffin, William, Clives Stables Lewis: A Dramatic Life, San Francisco, Harper and & Row, Publisher, 1986

Lewis, C. S. “A Grief Observe” The Complete C. S. Lewis Signature Classics, 647-688. New York: Harper Collins, 2007.

Lewis, C. S. “Mere Christianity” The Complete C. S. Lewis Signature Classics, 5-171. New York: Harper Collins, 2007.

Lewis, C. S. “The Screwtape Letters” & “Screwtape Proposes a Toast” The Complete C. S. Lewis Signature Classics, 179-296. New York: Harper Collins, 2007.

Lewis, C. S. “Miracles” & “Screwtape Proposes a Toast” The Complete C. S. Lewis Signature Classics, 297-462. New York: Harper Collins, 2007.

Lewis, C. S. “The Great Divorce” The Complete C. S. Lewis Signature Classics, 463-541. New York: Harper Collins, 2007.

Lewis, C. S. “The Problem of Pain” The Complete C. S. Lewis Signature Classics, 549-645. New York: Harper Collins, 2007.

Lewis, C. S. Reflections on the Psalms, San Diego, New York & London, A Harvest Book/Harcourt Inc., 1958

McGrath, Alister. Eccentric Genius. Reluctant Prophet. CS Lewis a Life, Carol Stream, Tyndale House Publisher, 2013

Root, Jerry. “C. S. Lewis Scripture and Spiritual Formation.” Christian Education Journal 9.1 (2011)

[1] David G. Clark, C. S. Lewis A guide to His Theology, (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2007) 16.

[2] Clark, C. S. Lewis A Guide to His Theology, 17

[3] C. S. Lewis Foundation, The Life of C. S. Lewis Timeline, (C. S. Lewis Foundation, 2015)

[4] Clark, C. S. Lewis A Guide to His Theology, 17

[5] C. S. Lewis Foundation, The Life of C. S. Lewis Timeline, 2015

[6] Clark, C. S. Lewis A Guide to His Theology, 17

            [7] The Official Website of C. S. Lewis, About C. S. Lewis

            [8] Lyle W. Dorsett, C. S. Lewis: A Profile of His Life, (Christian History Institute: Issue 7)

           [9] C. S. Lewis, “A Grief Observe” The Complete C. S. Lewis Signature Classics, 647-688, (New York: Harper Collins, 2007) 653

            [10] Ibid., 653

            [11] Ibid., 661

           [12] C. S. Lewis, “The Problem of Pain” The Complete C. S. Lewis Signature Classics, 549-645, (New York: Harper Collins, 2007) 560

            [13] C. S. Lewis, “The Problem of Pain” The Complete C. S. Lewis Signature Classics, 562

            [14] C. S. Lewis, “The Problem of Pain” The Complete C. S. Lewis Signature Classics, 611

            [15] Ibid., 611

            [16] C. S. Lewis, “The Problem of Pain” The Complete C. S. Lewis Signature Classics, 615

            [17] Ibid., 615

            [18] Ibid., 619

            [19] Ibid., 646

            [20] Baker, W., & Carpenter, E. E. (2003). The complete word study dictionary: Old   Testament (1023). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.

            [21] Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.

The First Theologian in the History of the World


Garden of Eden - Fall of Man

Theology has become a bad word in the majority of our churches and denominations. However, bad theology is deadly in any generation. The consequences of bad theology usually are felt by various consecutive generations.

         In the eighteen hundreds we had the rise of Enlightenment; this is an attempt to combine science with faith. This is trying to make Christianity look smart. However, the Bible tells us in First Corinthians 1:18, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” (KJV)

         The enlightenment era gave birth to Liberal Theology, Liberal theology is an attempt to interpret Scripture through the eyes of modern philosophic perspectives. Again, is Christianity plus something else and it is the Word plus something else, as if the Word is not able to stand in truth alone.

         Well, Church history is obviously deeper than what I am briefly presenting here, but the point that I will try to make is that any theology that moves away from God’s Word as absolute truth is bad theology and it must be confronted and rejected in our local churches.

         I love to study church history because father time do not lie, father time will tells us indeed what was good, what was bad and what was ugly. As time has gone by, the Body of Christ has been a victim of deadly theologies. We have placed a great deal of emphasis on emotionalism and very little emphasis on orthodox theology.

         Theology is not a degree; theology is a way of life. The basis definition of the word is, “…the study of God and God’s relation to the world.” (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/theology). Anybody having a conversation about God is having a conversation about theology.

         This liberal theology gave birth to Pentecostalism. Pentecostalism gave birth to the charismatic movement, the charismatic movement gave birth to the start of denominations without accountability, so called non-denominations and, all that, gave birth to what we have today, the Prosperity Gospel, where is all about being healthy and rich; is all about me and what I can get.

         But where did all these mess started, it started with the first theologian, the snake in the garden as she offered a very tempting and attractive view of what God already established. Genesis 3:1-4 gives us the first theological dialogue in the history of humanity.

Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”

And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’”

Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. (NKJV)

 

         The snake was the first speaker to discuss the subject of God in the Bible and thus the first theologian. This original “doctor in         theology” called unto question God’s character with a charge   that divine prohibition extended to all the trees of the Garden a      lie”[1]

What was the result of the devil’s theology in the garden? Adam and Eve lost the divine ability to be eternal; they started physically dying from that moment on. They immediately died spiritually. They were kicked out of the Garden of Eden. There were other consequences, but the must devastated one, was that they lost their communion with God; they lost His manifested presence. No longer were they able to walk with God in the cool of the day.

         Bad theology always drastically affects our relationship with God. What brings revivals to expirations is pride and personal agendas that ultimately manifested in one thing, bad theology.

 

[1] Jason S. DeRouchie, What the Old Testament Authors Really Cared About: A Survey of Jesus Bible, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Academy, 2013) 68

The Old Paths


ancient-paths

In the last days God will pour out His Spirit. The Apostle Peter quoted Prophet Joel in Acts Chapter 2. What took place on the day of Pentecost two thousand years ago was and continued to be today, the fulfillment of Scripture.

         The reality is that the Glory of God has always manifested when people seek HIM. The formula has not change:

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 (KJV)

         It is our job as Christians to pray. We must be humble and not arrogant. It is indeed our arrogance that gets on the way of prayer, as we convinced ourselves we could do whatever we want to do without God.

         We must worship God; that is seeking His face. Is that not what God is looking for, worshipers that will worship Him in Spirit and in truth?

         We must embrace a lifestyle of holiness; yeah I know, I know…we are not perfect, nobody is, but that is not an excuse for us to embrace a lifestyle of sin. We are called to be holy in the Old and New Testament. (Leviticus 20 & First Peter) Look it up!

         Every time men follow this formula, they experience, at the least, a personal revival. It is the same truth yesterday, today and forever. Professor John D. Hannah stated and, I believe in this statement, “Prayer does not bring revival, prayer is revival.”

         Oh yes! We can make God’s people do a lot of things; evangelize, prophesy, sing, they follow crazy folks that say they are Jesus and some have gone as far as drinking a deadly Kool Aid, but the devil will give God’s people all kinds of reasons not to pray. We talk, we gossip, we are good in stating what the problem is and even in giving solutions, but when it comes down to prayer, we are nowhere to be found!

         Beloved, stop asking God for something new; doesn’t the Bible tell us that there is nothing new under the sun? He can do something new if He wants to, but I guaranty you, whatever He does is going to be in accordance with His Word. Jeremiah 6:16 tells us,

Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. (NKJV)

         Before you ask for something new and get all excited about something you have never seen before, how about if we go back to those all paths? But we continue to let our rebellious spirit take over and we tell God, “…We will not walk therein”.

Oh God, teach us your ancient paths, that is where the good way is, there we will find rest for our souls. Father, Habakkuk, your servant, did not asked for anything new, he prayed,

“O Lord, I have heard Your speech and was afraid; O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years! In the midst of the years make it known; In wrath remember mercy.” Habakkuk 3:2 (NKJV)

That is my prayer today, revive Your work in the midst of the years and show us the ancient ways! In Jesus name…Amen

Make us One Lord!


boy-worshipping1

I found myself weeping on the altar today. I wept for the disunity of the Church. Make us one Lord!

The pain I felt was deep like the waters of the Atlantic. Make us one! Oh yes, we can preach and teach, but we can’t pray and we can’t come together.

Our divisions are adding stripes of blood on Jesus back. Divided since the days of the Anabaptist. A disgusting site before the Lord. Make us one!

We can’t come together under the banner of secularism, liberalism and personal agendas. We can only come together under the banner of God’s Word and the power of His Spirit. Make us one!

Every “ism” has failed! Catholicism and Pentecostalism are standing in the court of God’s judgment. Oh God, make us one!