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Remain Faithful Even When…..WHAT? — 12 Comments

  1. Another great post William.

    "...does God expect us to be faithful even when facing death..."

    I would propose that God does not "expect" us to be faithful unto death. Rather, it is just a necessity if I genuinely want to live the life that characterises the Kingdom of God - the abundant life of Jn 10:10.

    What do I mean?

    As Jesus taught and demonstrated, abundant life is founded on the principle of self-renouncing love. And self-renouncing love, by its nature, willingly lays down its life for another (Jn 15:13).

    Therefore, those who want to live the abundant life within God's Kingdom are those who willingly choose to have God re-create within them (ie rebirth) a clean heart and right Spirit of self-renouncing love (see Jn 3:3-6). This heart and Spirit willingly lays down its life for another when the situation calls for it (Jn 15:13). This is why being faithful unto death is nothing more than the natural outcome of a life rebuilt upon a foundation of self-renouncing love.

    Amen!(8)
  2. Thanks so much for such a thought provoking post and the immediate response. There are church members who have never experienced the first love and don't see God as a loving God because of past experiences and the pain and suffering in the world. They are members out of fear not love. Its like a dog chasing its tail. God commands us to love Him first and foremost and to love others. I know individuals who have left the church because they have never truly felt God loved them and because of pain they have suffered from church members. Any mention of God brings immediate examples of the suffering they have experienced in addition to what they see around them. How are individuals who truly don't see God as a loving God but serve him out of fear or who just give up and leave reached? One member who confided in me left after being a member over 30 years and another has been a lifelong member out of fear. What happens if it appears impossible for individuals to see God as loving and to feel God loves them even though they have read the bible and were/are church members?

    Amen!(5)
    • "There are church members who have never experienced the first love and don't see God as a loving God because of past experiences and the pain and suffering in the world. They are members out of fear not love."

      Sadly, your description is not limited to only a few members. There are many who feel this way - they just don't speak about it very much.

      Although it is not the complete story, I believe that a significant part of how and why this has happened is due to the success that Satan has had in misportraying God within Christianity.

      God is most typically portrayed and promoted as one who "commands", "demands" and/or "expects" that we love Him and that we love others. And He is promoted as someone who, in the end, will destroy those who don't.

      As a result of God being promoted this way, people not only live under fear but also understandably though unfortunately treat others the same way - with a 'commanding', 'demanding' and/or 'expectational' attitude. And while they may not physically destroy others who do not comply with those 'commands', 'demands' or 'expectations', they nevertheless adopt interpersonal approaches towards others that in-principle treat others in a destructive manner.

      God is also mistakenly promoted as being in complete control of everything and therefore when bad things happen, people mistakenly see God as the source of their pain.

      It is for the sake of these people, like the ones Sharon Hall is talking about, that I advocate so repeatedly for the need to re-examine carefully the nature and character of God that is most commonly promoted within Christianity (including Adventism). The God that has been promoted more closely resembles the nature and character of Satan than the true nature and character of God and the experiences of people like those mentioned by Sharon Hall are the unfortunate outcome.

      Although the English translations of the Bible don't reflect this, the original languages support the view of a God who:
      * commends/informs rather than commands
      * desires rather than expects
      * invites rather than demands
      * reveals rather than 'judges'
      * and, at the end of the day, 'frees'/releases those whose determined choice is to walk away from Him to their own destruction rather than being the one who destroys them (Rom 1:18;24;26;28). It is sin exclusively that steals, kills and destroys - not God (Jn 10:10).

      The truth about the who God really is and what He really is about is truely Good News. Unfortunately, the "darkness of the misapprehension of God" (COL 415) that has been successfully developed by Satan and promoted (mostly unwittingly) by much of Christianity is anything but good news and has led multitudes of people to "fear God" in the wrong way.

      Amen!(10)
      • Thanks so much for that response Phil van der Klift. You captured the feelings expressed to me when you referred to commands, demands and expectations. You also mentioned the limitations of the English language translations and the need to carefully examine the true nature of God. Are there any books or bible studies you could reccomend which demonstrate the bulleted segments of your response? One argument presented to me was if God wants to be loved so much why is he so difficult to understand and why do we have to search so hard to find him? He is more powerful than Satan but he appears to be inaccessable. Again thanks so much for your response.

        Amen!(3)
        • "Are there any books or bible studies you could reccomend which demonstrate the bulleted segments of your response?"

          Hi Sharon. I am afraid I cannot answer that question because I don't know of any. I have done my research (over the past decade) independently, using just Bible concordances and comparing scripture with scripture. I did this because I didn't want to be influenced by other people's ideas at the outset. I do compare and contrast afterwards with what others say on a given topic. And I find a fragment by this person and a fragment by that person, but haven't yet found anything comprehensive. There may well be books or bible studies out there somewhere, I just haven't found them yet.

          One thing I do when looking into words of the original language is to ask questions like: What does this word actually mean? How does this concept actually work? - and so on. The more I study, the more consistent a picture I find of God's nature and character - and of the rest of reality. And when I find an apparent inconsistency, I take it to God and ask Him to help me understand - and He does in time as per Matt 7:7-8.

          In regard to "if God wants to be loved so much why is he so difficult to understand and why do we have to search so hard to find him? He is more powerful than Satan but he appears to be inaccessable", the argument is understandable. It does seem like that at times - but then I keep in mind how much living within a sin-infect world 'cripples' my capacities. And that reminds me the problem is not God, it is unfortunately the limits of a sin-infected reality. I can accept that - even if I don't necessarily like it. It won't always be that way, but for now it makes things a bit complex...

          Amen!(3)
        • Dear Sharon,
          Regarding your comments with regards to fear driving some of our members, I'd to add another point. My observation is that sometimes new members might join or rejoin our church because of fear (and rising fear) of the world around us and where it's heading. Fear might be an alert, but it should never be a base on which we build our faith or relationship around. In time, fear is not enough to hold a member in church, and they just gradually or suddenly leave.
          Another wrongful premise on which we might our faith around is our expectation of how the world should work, and of God what He should do for us. Basically, we want to and expect to be protected and not have to suffer painful experiences, and we want and expect the world to be fair. When either of these expectations (assumptions) are not met we will generally blame God, because He's supposed to be there for us and not allow these things to happen. That at least is my own experience. I stayed quietly angry with God for two years after a painful experience (still coming out of it), and wouldn't let go of my anger, my pain, and my strong desire to now take matters into my own hands without His direction.

          When we shut God out and don't allow Him to heal us, teach us, and show us His love and care for us, then we just end up prolonging our problem. We can shut out God for years, even our whole lives.
          This then leads to your final comment about people finding it difficult to understand God, and whether it's hard to find Him. My experience is that He's not. He's truly just waiting for us to turn to Him and fully tell Him of our pain, confusion, and allow Him to calm us down and explain that we've built our conclusions on misguided assumptions. He does this in a most loving way. But we must genuinely give God a chance and let Him do this.

          So I would encourage and challenge my fellow brothers and sisters to examine what our expectations of God and life are, whether they are true according to the Bible and God's promises (within the Bible's overall context), and whether we are truly opening our hearts to God and allowing Him to lead our lives.
          What are our misguided expectations? have they been shaped by our childhood, our bad experiences and relationships, our fears, how we expect things should be? Can we let go of these and take them to God?

          Amen!(2)
          • These comments have lifted my spirit and brighten my day. I pray that my expectations of God will fall the biblical context of who God is really is.

            Amen!(0)
  3. I cannot help but relate your post William not only to our relationship to the Lord, but to one another...particularly our spouse. Excellent article, thankyou.

    Amen!(1)
  4. I've often wondered why people leave God when other people hurt them. It isn't God who's to blame; it's other people. To me, it's like, if a child is molested at school, a parent saying, "I don't believe in education now, I'm never sending my child to school again!"
    God IS there, He IS all-powerful, but He gives us complete freedom to choose our destiny.
    Jeremiah 29:13 "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." Emphasis on 'all' - perhaps God wants us to want Him so much that we will search hard for Him and give Him all of our will before He can take it and bless us.

    Amen!(0)
    • One only has to listen to the stories that came out of the Australian Royal Commission into institutional sexual abuse to understand why people blame God when bad things happen to them. When professed Christians use their position to abuse young people they are responsible for, the abused do not make the distinction between the abuser and God. I know several abuse survivors and their families who will never accept church-based spirituality again. One particular church offered abuse survivors a special church service to apologize for the abuse and was surprised when the survivors rejected the offer. They explained that "church" was where the abuse started and they wanted no part of it.

      Ministering to those who have suffered at the hands of the church is a very special ministry and requires a whole new approach.

      Amen!(6)
  5. What is that text about judging others? We each must give account for our activities. While many try to live a sanctified life, most if not all, cannot do it alone. Jesus promises help from the Holy Spirit to accomplish the problems that we face.

    Amen!(0)

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