Coming to Christ: What to make of no spiritual experience

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Re: Coming to Christ: What to make of no spiritual experienc

#46

Post by Kurieuo » Sun Apr 18, 2010 4:50 pm

catherine wrote:What you said did 'get me down' I must admit. Yet again, I feel it's my fault that I don't have this assurance and that I must be understanding the scriptures incorrectly.
Damn, I think I must have missed the nail. I'm not too sure what got you down with my words. :(

I think you are understanding correctly about receiving a peaceful type of assurance through the Holy Spirit. William Craig even uses this personal experience of God being immediatley known and experienced in his five arguments for God and Christianity. Perhaps Craig sells too much on immediacy, however all I can advise is to keep your focus on Christ.

Many blessings.

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Re: Coming to Christ: What to make of no spiritual experienc

#47

Post by catherine » Tue Apr 20, 2010 7:08 am

Kurieuo wrote:
catherine wrote:What you said did 'get me down' I must admit. Yet again, I feel it's my fault that I don't have this assurance and that I must be understanding the scriptures incorrectly.
Damn, I think I must have missed the nail. I'm not too sure what got you down with my words. :(

I think you are understanding correctly about receiving a peaceful type of assurance through the Holy Spirit. William Craig even uses this personal experience of God being immediatley known and experienced in his five arguments for God and Christianity. Perhaps Craig sells too much on immediacy, however all I can advise is to keep your focus on Christ.

Many blessings.
I think I'm very frustrated with not sensing (feeling) any assurance at all. I don't think I can base a relationship with someone, on a hope that they exist and love me etc. I can maybe do this with a 'system', but not a person. The whole point of the 'gospel' surely is not just to learn a set of rules for how we are meant to live (most religions have those), but to come into a relationship with the living God- Jesus. How is this possible when I get no 'feedback' at all, that Jesus is even real? Surely, the least supernatural way of conveying to me that Jesus is real, is for His Spirit to bear witness with my spirit. What do I have as a foundation to rest my 'faith' on? Reading about it isn't enough. I'm struggling to hang on in here.

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Re: Coming to Christ: What to make of no spiritual experienc

#48

Post by DannyM » Tue Apr 20, 2010 8:28 am

catherine wrote: I think I'm very frustrated with not sensing (feeling) any assurance at all. I don't think I can base a relationship with someone, on a hope that they exist and love me etc. I can maybe do this with a 'system', but not a person. The whole point of the 'gospel' surely is not just to learn a set of rules for how we are meant to live (most religions have those), but to come into a relationship with the living God- Jesus. How is this possible when I get no 'feedback' at all, that Jesus is even real? Surely, the least supernatural way of conveying to me that Jesus is real, is for His Spirit to bear witness with my spirit. What do I have as a foundation to rest my 'faith' on? Reading about it isn't enough. I'm struggling to hang on in here.
I think I know how you feel, Catherine. As a Christian I'm now convinced that God sought a relationship with us. I always believed in God, a creator God. But I never really felt 'the love'. I knew that logically there had to be a creative being and I often 'felt something'. Anyway, long story short, not until about 3 years ago when I went online and started to see atheists waxing lyrical about God being an illusion, illogical, a childish belief etc did I begin to engage with some of these people, arguing for the rational belief in God. This may sound silly but I had never 'felt' God's presense or been so convinced of the Christian God's existence like I feel it now. I always "knew" it, but never really felt the personal touch until that time in my life. It's quite astonishing. Lord knows how and when it will hit you, Catherine, but search and my word you will find! Here's to you, and may it come soon.
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Re: Coming to Christ: What to make of no spiritual experienc

#49

Post by B. W. » Tue Apr 20, 2010 9:45 am

DannyM wrote:
catherine wrote: I think I'm very frustrated with not sensing (feeling) any assurance at all. I don't think I can base a relationship with someone, on a hope that they exist and love me etc. I can maybe do this with a 'system', but not a person. The whole point of the 'gospel' surely is not just to learn a set of rules for how we are meant to live (most religions have those), but to come into a relationship with the living God- Jesus. How is this possible when I get no 'feedback' at all, that Jesus is even real? Surely, the least supernatural way of conveying to me that Jesus is real, is for His Spirit to bear witness with my spirit. What do I have as a foundation to rest my 'faith' on? Reading about it isn't enough. I'm struggling to hang on in here.
I think I know how you feel, Catherine. As a Christian I'm now convinced that God sought a relationship with us. I always believed in God, a creator God. But I never really felt 'the love'. I knew that logically there had to be a creative being and I often 'felt something'. Anyway, long story short, not until about 3 years ago when I went online and started to see atheists waxing lyrical about God being an illusion, illogical, a childish belief etc did I begin to engage with some of these people, arguing for the rational belief in God. This may sound silly but I had never 'felt' God's presense or been so convinced of the Christian God's existence like I feel it now. I always "knew" it, but never really felt the personal touch until that time in my life. It's quite astonishing. Lord knows how and when it will hit you, Catherine, but search and my word you will find! Here's to you, and may it come soon.
Hi Catherine,

DannyM makes a true point — it takes time and when the Lord is ready — you'll know it. It sounds like to me that your head is in the way of your heart. You want to feel — experience — Christ love so as to be assured but your mind and thoughts get in the way.

Remember, what I mentioned before regarding God's Agape Love. It is a love that involves cherishing, nurturing, fostering, growth, cultivating, developing in order to unite you to the Lord. Much can be gleaned from how good wise parents raise their infants to little toddlers, etc…as that contains the essence of what Agape Love is — a state of action involving cherishing, nurturing, fostering, edifying, discipline, instructing but with agape the focus is uniting you with the Lord — transformed into an image of Christ as the bible teaches (Galatians 4:19 Romans 8:20, Ephesians 4:24)

In fact, your longing for experiencing God's love for assurance is part of this transformation. If you were not Born Again — you would not even be desiring this at all. So, this longing you express is in reality a form of assurance that you are accepted in the beloved.

I mention this to those that seek such experience is to practice what Jesus said to do in Luke 11:9-13:

"...and I say to you, Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you; for every one who is asking doth receive; and he who is seeking doth find; and to him who is knocking it shall be opened. `And of which of you--the father--if the son shall ask a loaf, a stone will he present to him? and if a fish, will he instead of a fish, a serpent present to him? and if he may ask an egg, will he present to him a scorpion? If, then, ye, being evil, have known good gifts to be giving to your children, how much more shall the Father who is from heaven give the Holy Spirit to those asking Him!" YLT

Keep asking, keep on seeking, and keep on knocking — simply ask — “Lord hold me tonight I need to know you.” Then rest. Start reading your bible slowly — say Book of John and 1 John — quiet your mind. Never stop asking or seeking. Soon the Lord will open a ray of light from heaven and shine it into your heart.

Maybe the Lord is delaying this from you because your mind gets in the way so why not seek and ask and knock for an answer on how not to do this. There is more I want to say on this matter but I need to pray and seek the Lord more before I do to check and see if it good enough to post here for you and others to read...
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Re: Coming to Christ: What to make of no spiritual experienc

#50

Post by jlay » Tue Apr 20, 2010 10:53 am

Catherine, you've experimented with doubt plenty as far as i can tell. Why not try a little faith?

Thank God for saving you, in Christ. Thank God for revealing Himself to you. Afterall, His Word says they are already done. You've just yet to see them manifest in your life.

The Bible says God saved you. Why not act on that and proclaim it over your life.
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Re: Coming to Christ: What to make of no spiritual experienc

#51

Post by Kurieuo » Tue Apr 20, 2010 5:28 pm

Catherine.

I have thought deeply on this issue, and I conclude here that I believe when someone comes to Christ that such should be accompanied by a personal and immediate experience of God. So I sympathise greatly with your distress if indeed you sincerely desire Christ.

A lot of spiritual people go chasing after experiences in religions to then choose which to follow, but Christianity does not work this way. Again, I am just offering reasons, but I can only assume from reading words on my monitor that you have genuinely and sincerely asked Christ into your life.

By believing in an immediate experience which accompanies finding Christ, I am actually deferring to my own intuitions and William Craig who has said:
  • there's a danger that arguments for the existence of God could actually distract one's attention from God Himself. If you're sincerely seeking God, then, I believe that God will make His existence evident to you. The Bible promises, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” We mustn't so concentrate on the external proofs that we fail to hear the inner voice of God speaking to our own hearts. For those who listen, God becomes an immediate reality in their lives. (http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/New ... le&id=7867)
I sincerely pray that you continue to draw near to Christ, and that God will also draw near to you to provide the assurance I believe we are promised.

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Re: Coming to Christ: What to make of no spiritual experienc

#52

Post by Jac3510 » Tue Apr 20, 2010 5:53 pm

catherine wrote:I think I'm very frustrated with not sensing (feeling) any assurance at all. I don't think I can base a relationship with someone, on a hope that they exist and love me etc. I can maybe do this with a 'system', but not a person. The whole point of the 'gospel' surely is not just to learn a set of rules for how we are meant to live (most religions have those), but to come into a relationship with the living God- Jesus. How is this possible when I get no 'feedback' at all, that Jesus is even real? Surely, the least supernatural way of conveying to me that Jesus is real, is for His Spirit to bear witness with my spirit. What do I have as a foundation to rest my 'faith' on? Reading about it isn't enough. I'm struggling to hang on in here.
Catherine,

Let me offer a bit of a different perspective. I actually don't think any kind of experience is necessary in the Christian life, nor do I think that any kind of experience necessarily follows salvation. Worse, I think that a lot of really religious people have very real experiences regardless of their relationship with Christ. I have no doubt that Buddhists, Muslims, and people from every other religion under the sun have had experiences just as real as anything anybody on this board can attest to.

The assurance you are looking for isn't going to be found in a feeling. It is going to be found in what you believe. It won't be found in what you want to believe. It won't be found in what you pretend like you believe. It won't be found in what you ought to believe. It will be found in the actual belief that you hold.

The questions are simple:

1. Do you believe that God exists?
2. Do you believe that Jesus is His Son and His chosen means for your salvation?
3. Do you believe that Jesus died and rose from the dead for your sins?
4. Do you believe that He told the truth when He said that if you trusted Him, then He would save you?

I'm not asking if you want to believe those things. I am asking if you are convinced that they are true. The last is the money question. Go read John 3:16, John 6:47, John 5:24, or any such verse, and ask yourself this simple question: Is Jesus telling the truth? If you are convinced that Jesus has given you everlasting life--if you are convinced that He has saved you--you have assurance of your salvation by definition. For example, are you convinced that you are alive? Do you ever worry that you are really dead? Obviously, you are convinced--you believe--that you are a living person. You have assurance that you really exist. Assurance is part of what it means to believe something. If, then, a person doubts their salvation, they are effectively saying to Jesus that they don't believe He told the truth.

I understand that you want a relationship with God through Christ, but before that can happen, you must first come to accept certain facts. That is no different than even human relationships. If my wife didn't believe me--really believe me, not just wanting to believe me--when I told her I loved her, we never would have been able to establish anything like a relationship. As it stands now, God has told you a few things about Himself, such as that He exists, that He loves you, that He gave His One and Only Son for you, that this Son--Jesus Christ--died and was risen for your sins, and that if you trust in Him He will give you eternal life.

Your question is really simple: do you believe what God says or not?

If yes, you will find the assurance is there as a matter of shear fact. If no, then you must ask yourself why. Are you not convinced that Jesus is who He says He is? Are you not convinced that God even exists? If the latter, you can search all you want, and God Himself says you won't find Him (Heb 11:6).

So I hate to be so boringly rational about this . . . I know you just want a supernatural revelation, but then again, so does everyone. So did the Pharisees. What you get is the same thing as everyone else gets: objective facts and God's Word. You get evidence. For my own part, and I'm sure for pretty much everyone else here as well, the evidence is so objectively overwhelming that the idea of non-belief is as foreign to us as the concept of our own non-existence. It's a shear matter of fact. You get that, and you get that assurance you are after.

God bless
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And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Coming to Christ: What to make of no spiritual experienc

#53

Post by catherine » Wed Apr 21, 2010 1:04 am

DannyM wrote: Lord knows how and when it will hit you, Catherine, but search and my word you will find! Here's to you, and may it come soon.
Thanks for your help Danny, I hope this will be the case.

B.W wrote: DannyM makes a true point — it takes time and when the Lord is ready — you'll know it. It sounds like to me that your head is in the way of your heart. You want to feel — experience — Christ love so as to be assured but your mind and thoughts get in the way.
I pray that God 'sorts' my mind out so that this isn't the case....

C
jlay wrote: Catherine, you've experimented with doubt plenty as far as i can tell. Why not try a little faith?
I don't think I'd be here now on this forum if I'd not 'tried' a little faith. ;)
Kurieuo wrote: I have thought deeply on this issue, and I conclude here that I believe when someone comes to Christ that such should be accompanied by a personal and immediate experience of God.
This is what I've been trying to say and what I thought you were not saying, hence my frustration earlier. Having read the NT over the years, I cannot get away from the fact that it claims this 'experience' quite clearly (and maybe powerfully for some) for believers in Christ, some time soon after their coming into the New Covenant with Christ, and by means of the promised Holy Spirit. I feel like a child whose Father has all his children in front of him. Each goes up and sits on his knee and has a cuddle and pat on the head and the father tells them he loves them and sends them on their way. He gets to me and says 'well you should know I love you. You don't need to sit on my knee and get a cuddle, etc, even though you can see I do this with all my other children. Just know that I love you and make do with that'. A crude anaolgy I know, but that is how I feel, and I have many a temper tantrum at 'father' for seeming to be like this with me. Of course the biggest 'worry' is that either He isn't really 'there' or He doesn't 'love' me like the other children- we've established that UR is not correct and so, some of the 'would be' children aren't accepted. Maybe I'm not accepted (adopted) into His family?? That's how it feels.........

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Re: Coming to Christ: What to make of no spiritual experienc

#54

Post by catherine » Wed Apr 21, 2010 1:17 am

Jac, I've just been typing up a response to your post and have gone and 'lost' it. Darn computer! I'm off to work now, so I'll answer your post later, as you have made some very pertinent points...

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Re: Coming to Christ: What to make of no spiritual experienc

#55

Post by catherine » Wed Apr 21, 2010 7:11 am

Jac3510 wrote:
The assurance you are looking for isn't going to be found in a feeling. It is going to be found in what you believe. It won't be found in what you want to believe. It won't be found in what you pretend like you believe. It won't be found in what you ought to believe. It will be found in the actual belief that you hold. By George you've got it! :clap:

The questions are simple:

1. Do you believe that God exists? Not fully, no. I doubt every day God is actually there, but I believe there is enough 'inferred' evidence e.g me, you, dna etc, to believe there is a 'Creator' or intelligence in the universe.
2. Do you believe that Jesus is His Son and His chosen means for your salvation? Here's where it gets tricky. There is no 'evidence' for this claim, other than what I read in a 2000 year old book, so I'm 'hoping' Jesus is who He said He was/is.
3. Do you believe that Jesus died and rose from the dead for your sins? Again, I hope He did. As for equating what He did to myself, I can't seem to make that connection. Because He isn't real enough to me, I can't really understand stuff on a personal level, only on 'principles' really.
4. Do you believe that He told the truth when He said that if you trusted Him, then He would save you? Again, I'm hoping He will save me (if He's real).

I'm not asking if you want to believe those things. I am asking if you are convinced that they are true. No, I'm not convinced really, which is the key you have 'unlocked', as to why I 'feel' no assurance. Of course I can't 'feel' or 'comprehend' assurance, if I don't even believe these things fully. The last is the money question. Go read John 3:16, John 6:47, John 5:24, or any such verse, and ask yourself this simple question: Is Jesus telling the truth? If you are convinced that Jesus has given you everlasting life--if you are convinced that He has saved you--you have assurance of your salvation by definition. For example, are you convinced that you are alive? Do you ever worry that you are really dead? Obviously, you are convinced--you believe--that you are a living person. You have assurance that you really exist. Assurance is part of what it means to believe something. If, then, a person doubts their salvation, they are effectively saying to Jesus that they don't believe He told the truth. You are right, but I wouldn't quite word the last bit like that. I'm saying 'Jesus, sorry I doubt you even exist. When I read about you, it has the ring of truth to it and so I'm asking you to give me faith that y ou are real and that you are the Saviour of the world...etc etc. If I thought the person of Jesus, as I read about Him was untrustworthy in some way, then I wouldn't bother with Jesus, and reading the Bible at all. But your are right in a way.

I understand that you want a relationship with God through Christ, but before that can happen, you must first come to accept certain facts. That is no different than even human relationships. If my wife didn't believe me--really believe me, not just wanting to believe me--when I told her I loved her, we never would have been able to establish anything like a relationship. As it stands now, God has told you a few things about Himself, such as that He exists, that He loves you, that He gave His One and Only Son for you, that this Son--Jesus Christ--died and was risen for your sins, and that if you trust in Him He will give you eternal life.

Your question is really simple: do you believe what God says or not? You make it sound so simple. If I could 'speak' to Him like I do my husband and you do your wife, then hey, it would be that simple. I believe in the moral principles I read about in the Bible, but many other religions share many of these principles, so that doesn't make Jesus real.

If yes, you will find the assurance is there as a matter of shear fact. If no, then you must ask yourself why. Are you not convinced that Jesus is who He says He is? Are you not convinced that God even exists? If the latter, you can search all you want, and God Himself says you won't find Him (Heb 11:6). Yes, this is a good verse. I've asked God to forgive me for my lack of faith and to give me more faith. So it seems I'm stuck in limbo........

So I hate to be so boringly rational about this . . . I know you just want a supernatural revelation, but then again, so does everyone. So did the Pharisees. What you get is the same thing as everyone else gets: objective facts and God's Word. You get evidence. For my own part, and I'm sure for pretty much everyone else here as well, the evidence is so objectively overwhelming that the idea of non-belief is as foreign to us as the concept of our own non-existence. It's a shear matter of fact. You get that, and you get that assurance you are after. Well, you do seem to have hit the nail on the head. This realization still does not cause me to believe any more strongly than I do. So the conclusion must be that I am not one of the 'elect'. I cannot please God because of my unbelief. My rational mind is stronger than my titchy tiny bit of faith (or some other sinful part of me??) and so having spent the last twenty odd years with this problem, I do not see it getting any better. In fact, I think I'm flogging a dead horse here. Thank you for your thoughts on this. You have made some very good points and helped me get some things into perspective.

God bless

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Re: Coming to Christ: What to make of no spiritual experienc

#56

Post by Kurieuo » Wed Apr 21, 2010 7:34 am

Catherine,

Glad someone was finally able to hit the nail on the head. I guess Jac isn't so bad after all. ;) (j/k Chris)

I see two options open to you given the realisation that your desire to believe is affected by having too many doubts:

1) Seek out rational responses to the doubts you have surrounding God and Christ, or
2) Look no further and continue remaining sceptical.

We are told to love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind. If your response to Jac is anything to go by, it seems you may have had the first three but without the fourth there was just too much missing to "complete the picture" so-to-speak.

Contrary to popular opinion, faith (at least the Biblical kind) is always presented as being built upon evidence. So I encourage you to look at the evidence for God and Christianity. If this thread is anything to go by, I am sure you will have many great Christians here willing to try provide answers to any doubts or challenges you might have.

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Re: Coming to Christ: What to make of no spiritual experienc

#57

Post by catherine » Wed Apr 21, 2010 1:36 pm

Kurieuo wrote:Catherine,

Glad someone was finally able to hit the nail on the head. I guess Jac isn't so bad after all. ;) (j/k Chris)

I see two options open to you given the realisation that your desire to believe is affected by having too many doubts:

1) Seek out rational responses to the doubts you have surrounding God and Christ, or
2) Look no further and continue remaining sceptical.

We are told to love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind. If your response to Jac is anything to go by, it seems you may have had the first three but without the fourth there was just too much missing to "complete the picture" so-to-speak.

Contrary to popular opinion, faith (at least the Biblical kind) is always presented as being built upon evidence. So I encourage you to look at the evidence for God and Christianity. If this thread is anything to go by, I am sure you will have many great Christians here willing to try provide answers to any doubts or challenges you might have.
I have come to the realization that it is best for me to cease 'banging my head against a brick wall'. It's not that I want to 'look no further'. I will continue to look for the truth but as far as Christianity is concerned, I'm knocking that on the head (if that is possible). I remain a sceptic. I have to trust my own instincts and intelligence.

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Re: Coming to Christ: What to make of no spiritual experienc

#58

Post by Jac3510 » Wed Apr 21, 2010 3:23 pm

catherine wrote:
Jac3510 wrote:
The assurance you are looking for isn't going to be found in a feeling. It is going to be found in what you believe. It won't be found in what you want to believe. It won't be found in what you pretend like you believe. It won't be found in what you ought to believe. It will be found in the actual belief that you hold. By George you've got it! :clap:

The questions are simple:

1. Do you believe that God exists? Not fully, no. I doubt every day God is actually there, but I believe there is enough 'inferred' evidence e.g me, you, dna etc, to believe there is a 'Creator' or intelligence in the universe.
2. Do you believe that Jesus is His Son and His chosen means for your salvation? Here's where it gets tricky. There is no 'evidence' for this claim, other than what I read in a 2000 year old book, so I'm 'hoping' Jesus is who He said He was/is.
3. Do you believe that Jesus died and rose from the dead for your sins? Again, I hope He did. As for equating what He did to myself, I can't seem to make that connection. Because He isn't real enough to me, I can't really understand stuff on a personal level, only on 'principles' really.
4. Do you believe that He told the truth when He said that if you trusted Him, then He would save you? Again, I'm hoping He will save me (if He's real).

I'm not asking if you want to believe those things. I am asking if you are convinced that they are true. No, I'm not convinced really, which is the key you have 'unlocked', as to why I 'feel' no assurance. Of course I can't 'feel' or 'comprehend' assurance, if I don't even believe these things fully. The last is the money question. Go read <a target="_blank" class="lbsBibleRef" href="http://bible.logos.com/passage/esv/John%203.16">John 3:16</a>, <a target="_blank" class="lbsBibleRef" href="http://bible.logos.com/passage/esv/John%206.47">John 6:47</a>, <a target="_blank" class="lbsBibleRef" href="http://bible.logos.com/passage/esv/John%205.24">John 5:24</a>, or any such verse, and ask yourself this simple question: Is Jesus telling the truth? If you are convinced that Jesus has given you everlasting life--if you are convinced that He has saved you--you have assurance of your salvation by definition. For example, are you convinced that you are alive? Do you ever worry that you are really dead? Obviously, you are convinced--you believe--that you are a living person. You have assurance that you really exist. Assurance is part of what it means to believe something. If, then, a person doubts their salvation, they are effectively saying to Jesus that they don't believe He told the truth. You are right, but I wouldn't quite word the last bit like that. I'm saying 'Jesus, sorry I doubt you even exist. When I read about you, it has the ring of truth to it and so I'm asking you to give me faith that y ou are real and that you are the Saviour of the world...etc etc. If I thought the person of Jesus, as I read about Him was untrustworthy in some way, then I wouldn't bother with Jesus, and reading the Bible at all. But your are right in a way.

I understand that you want a relationship with God through Christ, but before that can happen, you must first come to accept certain facts. That is no different than even human relationships. If my wife didn't believe me--really believe me, not just wanting to believe me--when I told her I loved her, we never would have been able to establish anything like a relationship. As it stands now, God has told you a few things about Himself, such as that He exists, that He loves you, that He gave His One and Only Son for you, that this Son--Jesus Christ--died and was risen for your sins, and that if you trust in Him He will give you eternal life.

Your question is really simple: do you believe what God says or not? You make it sound so simple. If I could 'speak' to Him like I do my husband and you do your wife, then hey, it would be that simple. I believe in the moral principles I read about in the Bible, but many other religions share many of these principles, so that doesn't make Jesus real.

If yes, you will find the assurance is there as a matter of shear fact. If no, then you must ask yourself why. Are you not convinced that Jesus is who He says He is? Are you not convinced that God even exists? If the latter, you can search all you want, and God Himself says you won't find Him (<a target="_blank" class="lbsBibleRef" href="http://bible.logos.com/passage/esv/Heb%2011.6">Heb 11:6</a>). Yes, this is a good verse. I've asked God to forgive me for my lack of faith and to give me more faith. So it seems I'm stuck in limbo........

So I hate to be so boringly rational about this . . . I know you just want a supernatural revelation, but then again, so does everyone. So did the Pharisees. What you get is the same thing as everyone else gets: objective facts and God's Word. You get evidence. For my own part, and I'm sure for pretty much everyone else here as well, the evidence is so objectively overwhelming that the idea of non-belief is as foreign to us as the concept of our own non-existence. It's a shear matter of fact. You get that, and you get that assurance you are after. Well, you do seem to have hit the nail on the head. This realization still does not cause me to believe any more strongly than I do. So the conclusion must be that I am not one of the 'elect'. I cannot please God because of my unbelief. My rational mind is stronger than my titchy tiny bit of faith (or some other sinful part of me??) and so having spent the last twenty odd years with this problem, I do not see it getting any better. In fact, I think I'm flogging a dead horse here. Thank you for your thoughts on this. You have made some very good points and helped me get some things into perspective.

God bless
I'm glad to have helped identify the problem . . . would you mind if I pressed a little further and suggested a potential solution?

First, let me point out that the issue of your election is a theological one with which you needn't concern yourself. While there are plenty of Christians who may sadly agree that perhaps you are not, there are many others (me included) who think that election has absolutely nothing to do with your belief whatsoever (that is, I deny the doctrines of unconditional election and irresistible grace, which argue that God chose certain people to be saved and this draws them to salvation in this life). The upshot is that your belief or non-belief is ultimately on your shoulders, not God's.

Second, it really is that simple. I understand that if you could "just speak to Him" then things would be different. I doubt anybody would deny that. However, there are plenty of things that you believe that you have never had such direct contact with. Do you believe that George Washington was the first president of the United States? Do you believe that DNA is found in the nucleus of the cell? I bet you would quickly affirm both of these, and yet I doubt that you knew George Washington or that you've ever seen actual DNA sitting in the nucleus of a cell with your own eyeballs. Why, then, do you believe such things? The simple answer, I presume, is that there is so great evidence in favor of both statements and, just as importantly, there is not reason to believe that they aren't true after all.

If I am right about the two points above, then it seems to me that you don't need to keep beating your head against the wall of Christianity in frustration trying to generate belief. As K noted, New Testament faith is predicated on evidence--evidence that God has provided. Let me, then, very gently suggest that perhaps you should consider the evidence in the light of the need for persuasion of simple facts rather than seeking some great theological revelation. For example, you argue that there is no evidence for Jesus' existence beyond what the Bible says, which you dismiss--however politely you may do so--as "a 2000 year old book." In the first place, are you not aware of what secular historians of the day said about Him? And in the second, rather than consider the Bible "a 2000 year old book," why not recognize it for what it actually is, namely, an extremely valuable two thousand year old library of literature that directly relates first hand accounts of the issues which we are studying! For instance, do you have a problem with appealing to the writings of Caesar or other such Roman writings to understand Roman history? Or would you not be overjoyed to discover a trove of books that were left by the Mayans immediately before their mysterious disappearance? If someone were to write off such a discovery as merely a collection of ancient books, would you not rightly point out that they had not grasped their significance?

Perhaps, then, you should look at the Bible in purely historical terms. I have done so, which is the primary reason that my faith is unshakable. I can honestly tell you that I can more easily disprove the existence of Napoleon Bonaparte using strict historical analysis than I can the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and if you take the time to read Historic Doubts Relative to Napoleon Bonaparte, I think you would agree with me. It is an entertaining read, by the way, and at less than sixty pages, you can cover the material in only a couple of hours. Of course, it is absurd to argue that Napoleon did not exist, which is the author's point. Yet the people who argue against' Jesus' resurrection--much less His existence!--employ the very type of historical methods that would disprove Napoleon.

Or what do you make of the philosophical and scientific evidence for God's existence? I won't bore you with all the arguments, but allow me to simply list a few propositions:

1. The finite and temporal nature of the universe requires to have been created by a God.
2. The finely tuned nature of the universe requires it to have been created for man by an intelligent God.
3. The irreducible complexity of biology and biological life requires the existence of an infinitely intelligent Being.
4. The fact of the Moral Law requires a Moral Lawgiver.
5. The fact that your thoughts are not determined by the laws of nature requires the existence of some spiritual reality.
6. The fact that the concept of God defines Him as be the very essence of Love, there must exist within Him a plurality of persons with whom He can share that love (otherwise, He woudl be dependent on His creation, which is absurd), and yet Christianity is the only religion that recognizes a plurality of persons within the Godhead.

I could go on, but these are the types of facts I want you to consider, not as a means of being converted, but as a means of coming to the proper view of the nature of God. Whatever you end up believing, you must take all the evidence into account, as I am sure you would agree. You can, of course, simply bury your head in the sand and refuse to consider the evidence, but if you think about that very long (i.e., if you put yourself in a situation in which you were speaking with someone who disagreed with you but refused to even consider your evidence), you can see, I'm sure, how even God Himself would regard such a course of action.

I'm not asking you, Catherine, to bury your head in the sand and try to believe. I'm not asking you to beat your head against a wall. Both roads are too frustrating. What I am asking you to do is step back and simply consider the nature of the world and the facts theists like myself highlight, and then, I am asking you to come to your own conclusion about what that means about the world. I can give you a list longer than I have time to write--and I can write a long time!--about why I believe. But at the end of the day, it is up to you to consider it. What do YOU make of the evidence, Catherine?

I don't believe for any supernatural reason, claims of Calvinists notwithstanding. I'm not a very spiritual person, actually. I simply can't get around the shear facts as they are presented to me. So yes, it really is that simple. Easy? No. Simple, absolutely. I would encourage you to simply pick a topic--an evidence, an argument, or whatever--and start studying it systematically, without any regard with where you will end up, and I am confident that Reality herself will point you to Her maker. Then you won't have to seek an experience. You'll look up and notice that, somewhere along the way, you came to realize that Reality's Maker was actually talking to you all along.

God bless

edit:

By the way, Catherine, let me also make one last suggestion. This is only a suggestion, and there is a lot of theology behind it, so please to take this as anymore than that, because I don't know how far it will go. I know this much to be true: that everyone who trusts in Jesus Christ for their salvation has eternal life. He said so Himself in many, many verses, John 6:47 being only one of them. Perhaps--and I don't know, because this is theologically contentious--merely with regard to your eternal soul, you may trust Christ for your salvation based merely and solely on what He has said. Consider the following prayer (and please note, I am NOT saying "pray this prayer and you'll be saved!" The Bible NOWHERE says that prayer saves a person):

Jesus, I'm coming to you confessing my doubts. You know them all. You know that I am not persuaded of even the most basic things that you said--or that you were reported to have said. But you know that I want to be persuaded. I do know that the Bible, as we have it today, has You promising that if I rely on you and you only, that You guarantee me eternal life and salvation. I'm taking You up on that promise now, doubts and all. I'm putting all my eggs in this basket, my doubts notwithstanding. If I'm wrong, then I don't know any other way to be saved anyway. And if I'm right, then I'll know for sure by experience when I see you in Glory, if not before then in knowledge if you are so gracious as to reveal Yourself to me. What I do know, is that if what the Bible says You said is true, then You promised eternal life to all who trust You, and Jesus, all I can do is trust You and thank you for the fact that I know that I have eternal life this very moment. I ask You for the grace of opening my mind as I study Your Word and Your world that I may come to know that the premise on which I am choosing to operate--that You actually promised me salvation if I merely trust You--is sure. In the meantime, I am relying wholly on Your grace, recognizing that salvation is a gift from You.

Now, I don't know if that will "do it." What I do know is that will give you a level of conditional assurance, that is, you will be able to say:

"If the Bible is true, and if all Jesus asks of me is my trust, then I must be saved."

It is, of course, possible that the Bible isn't true, and therefore you wouldn't be saved. It is also true that perhaps Jesus demands full intellectual assent with that trust, in which case, you probably wouldn't be saved. But the conditional assurance would be there just as well. I could, after all, argue that I merely have conditional assurance because it is logically possible that I don't even exist and then this is all a dream! If that is the case, there is no me to be saved, regardless of how much I am convinced it is the case. The question, then, for you, would merely be to find out if the condition for your assurance is in fact true . . .
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Coming to Christ: What to make of no spiritual experienc

#59

Post by catherine » Thu Apr 22, 2010 7:37 am

Jac3510 wrote:I'm glad to have helped identify the problem . . . would you mind if I pressed a little further and suggested a potential solution?

First, let me point out that the issue of your election is a theological one with which you needn't concern yourself. While there are plenty of Christians who may sadly agree that perhaps you are not, there are many others (me included) who think that election has absolutely nothing to do with your belief whatsoever (that is, I deny the doctrines of unconditional election and irresistible grace, which argue that God chose certain people to be saved and this draws them to salvation in this life). The upshot is that your belief or non-belief is ultimately on your shoulders, not God's.
I didn't use the word 'elect' in the Calvinist sense. I meant the 'few' who make it down the narrow path.

Second, it really is that simple. I understand that if you could "just speak to Him" then things would be different. I doubt anybody would deny that. However, there are plenty of things that you believe that you have never had such direct contact with. Do you believe that George Washington was the first president of the United States? Do you believe that DNA is found in the nucleus of the cell? I bet you would quickly affirm both of these, and yet I doubt that you knew George Washington or that you've ever seen actual DNA sitting in the nucleus of a cell with your own eyeballs. Why, then, do you believe such things? The simple answer, I presume, is that there is so great evidence in favor of both statements and, just as importantly, there is not reason to believe that they aren't true after all.

If I am right about the two points above, then it seems to me that you don't need to keep beating your head against the wall of Christianity in frustration trying to generate belief. As K noted, New Testament faith is predicated on evidence--evidence that God has provided. Let me, then, very gently suggest that perhaps you should consider the evidence in the light of the need for persuasion of simple facts rather than seeking some great theological revelation. For example, you argue that there is no evidence for Jesus' existence beyond what the Bible says, which you dismiss--however politely you may do so--as "a 2000 year old book." I wasn't 'dismissing' the Bible outright. It's age and the fact we have no original copies of manuscripts, and then all the 'errors' that are undoubtedly in it, do cause me some concern. As far as it being an historical record, I have no problem with 'believing' certain historical claims it might make. It's when those historical facts claim to be absolute truth that I then have more of a problem 'believing'.In the first place, are you not aware of what secular historians of the day said about Him? Yes. I've read many books e.g Lee Strobel's 'The Case' series. I've checked out many articles and familiarised myself with the Horus, Mithra claims. And in the second, rather than consider the Bible "a 2000 year old book," why not recognize it for what it actually is, namely, an extremely valuable two thousand year old library of literature that directly relates first hand accounts of the issues which we are studying! Yes, I can agree with this to a point. I must admit that I have a problem with some of it's moral stances and historical 'events' e.g the killing of women and children. I have never resolved these kind of problems because if these historical accounts are true, then Jehovah does come over to me as a very violent God. I've debated this topic before and gone all round the mulberry bush with it, so for times sake we don't have to go into it again. Suffice to say, I cannot reconcile that kind of a 'God' with the 'love your enemies' God in the NT. I've always 'swept the problematic OT stuff under the carpet' because thank goodness we've got a different kid on the block in the NT.For instance, do you have a problem with appealing to the writings of Caesar or other such Roman writings to understand Roman history? Or would you not be overjoyed to discover a trove of books that were left by the Mayans immediately before their mysterious disappearance? If someone were to write off such a discovery as merely a collection of ancient books, would you not rightly point out that they had not grasped their significance?

Perhaps, then, you should look at the Bible in purely historical terms. I have done so, which is the primary reason that my faith is unshakable. I can honestly tell you that I can more easily disprove the existence of Napoleon Bonaparte using strict historical analysis than I can the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and if you take the time to read Historic Doubts Relative to Napoleon Bonaparte, I think you would agree with me. It is an entertaining read, by the way, and at less than sixty pages, you can cover the material in only a couple of hours. Of course, it is absurd to argue that Napoleon did not exist, which is the author's point. Yet the people who argue against' Jesus' resurrection--much less His existence!--employ the very type of historical methods that would disprove Napoleon. I don't think I can look at the Bbile purely as historical. The fact it contains historically verifiable 'truths' does not mean it contains 'spiritual truths'

Or what do you make of the philosophical and scientific evidence for God's existence? I won't bore you with all the arguments, but allow me to simply list a few propositions:

1. The finite and temporal nature of the universe requires to have been created by a God.
2. The finely tuned nature of the universe requires it to have been created for man by an intelligent God.
3. The irreducible complexity of biology and biological life requires the existence of an infinitely intelligent Being.
4. The fact of the Moral Law requires a Moral Lawgiver.
5. The fact that your thoughts are not determined by the laws of nature requires the existence of some spiritual reality.
6. The fact that the concept of God defines Him as be the very essence of Love, there must exist within Him a plurality of persons with whom He can share that love (otherwise, He woudl be dependent on His creation, which is absurd), and yet Christianity is the only religion that recognizes a plurality of persons within the Godhead.

I've read many books that cover all the points you make above, e.g Darwin's Black Box, C.S Lewis books. All these things may infer and 'prove' a Creator, but they don't say anything about Jesus. I have no problem believing He existed as a person 2000 years ago. All I have as 'evidence' that He is God is what the Bible says. Now the other 'evidence' I suggested earlier in my posts, was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the receiving of Him. Some here agreee that a believer should receive the Holy Spirit, others are more vague.

I could go on, but these are the types of facts I want you to consider, not as a means of being converted, but as a means of coming to the proper view of the nature of God. Whatever you end up believing, you must take all the evidence into account, as I am sure you would agree. You can, of course, simply bury your head in the sand and refuse to consider the evidence, but if you think about that very long (i.e., if you put yourself in a situation in which you were speaking with someone who disagreed with you but refused to even consider your evidence), you can see, I'm sure, how even God Himself would regard such a course of action. So, over the last twenty odd years, I've considered the evidence and found it compelling enough for me to pray to this God of the bible and ask Him to be real to me and show me that He is the true God and His Son is the Saviour. I've had twenty odd years of confusion, Toronto Blessing bulls***., this church telling me they are right and the others are wrong, that guy making people fall back but no one gets healed or helped really. I've tolerated all this stuff because we humans are prone to mess things up. I've tried to be a good person although I've done bad things too, which I'm sorry for and would hope not to do again.

I'm not asking you, Catherine, to bury your head in the sand and try to believe. I'm not asking you to beat your head against a wall. Both roads are too frustrating. What I am asking you to do is step back and simply consider the nature of the world and the facts theists like myself highlight, and then, I am asking you to come to your own conclusion about what that means about the world. I can give you a list longer than I have time to write--and I can write a long time!--about why I believe. But at the end of the day, it is up to you to consider it. What do YOU make of the evidence, Catherine? there is evidence for a Creator.

I don't believe for any supernatural reason, claims of Calvinists notwithstanding. I'm not a very spiritual person, actually. I simply can't get around the shear facts as they are presented to me. So yes, it really is that simple. Easy? No. Simple, absolutely. I would encourage you to simply pick a topic--an evidence, an argument, or whatever--and start studying it systematically, without any regard with where you will end up, and I am confident that Reality herself will point you to Her maker. Then you won't have to seek an experience. You'll look up and notice that, somewhere along the way, you came to realize that Reality's Maker was actually talking to you all along.

God bless

edit:

By the way, Catherine, let me also make one last suggestion. This is only a suggestion, and there is a lot of theology behind it, so please to take this as anymore than that, because I don't know how far it will go. I know this much to be true: that everyone who trusts in Jesus Christ for their salvation has eternal life. He said so Himself in many, many verses, John 6:47 being only one of them. Perhaps--and I don't know, because this is theologically contentious--merely with regard to your eternal soul, you may trust Christ for your salvation based merely and solely on what He has said. Consider the following prayer (and please note, I am NOT saying "pray this prayer and you'll be saved!" The Bible NOWHERE says that prayer saves a person):

Jesus, I'm coming to you confessing my doubts. You know them all. You know that I am not persuaded of even the most basic things that you said--or that you were reported to have said. But you know that I want to be persuaded. I do know that the Bible, as we have it today, has You promising that if I rely on you and you only, that You guarantee me eternal life and salvation. I'm taking You up on that promise now, doubts and all. I'm putting all my eggs in this basket, my doubts notwithstanding. If I'm wrong, then I don't know any other way to be saved anyway. And if I'm right, then I'll know for sure by experience when I see you in Glory, if not before then in knowledge if you are so gracious as to reveal Yourself to me. What I do know, is that if what the Bible says You said is true, then You promised eternal life to all who trust You, and Jesus, all I can do is trust You and thank you for the fact that I know that I have eternal life this very moment. I ask You for the grace of opening my mind as I study Your Word and Your world that I may come to know that the premise on which I am choosing to operate--that You actually promised me salvation if I merely trust You--is sure. In the meantime, I am relying wholly on Your grace, recognizing that salvation is a gift from You.

Now, I don't know if that will "do it." What I do know is that will give you a level of conditional assurance, that is, you will be able to say:

"If the Bible is true, and if all Jesus asks of me is my trust, then I must be saved."

It is, of course, possible that the Bible isn't true, and therefore you wouldn't be saved. It is also true that perhaps Jesus demands full intellectual assent with that trust, in which case, you probably wouldn't be saved. But the conditional assurance would be there just as well. I could, after all, argue that I merely have conditional assurance because it is logically possible that I don't even exist and then this is all a dream! If that is the case, there is no me to be saved, regardless of how much I am convinced it is the case. The question, then, for you, would merely be to find out if the condition for your assurance is in fact true . . .
I prayed the prayer. Thank you.

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Re: Coming to Christ: What to make of no spiritual experienc

#60

Post by Kurieuo » Thu Apr 22, 2010 8:54 am

Re: God endorsement of Israel taking the lives of women and children in an enemy nation, it is interesting given our comforts in Western society that many within place themselves up on a pedestal to judge people in earlier times in different cultures living in a very different hostile environment. There are good reasons why Israel could not just love their enemies, because many wanted to wipe them from the face of the Earth. There are two good articles by Glenn Miller I would recommend if interested to explore this issue further on your own:
Re: your belief in God, it remains open to then continue exploring which belief about God is most probable, if any. And if Israel's God, which I believe to be the same God of the NT, is the one true God... and you have moral qualms with Him, then that is a decision you will have to live with. Many judge God for things they do not fully understand and I am of the belief this is a main reason why many reject God and trample Christ's forgiveness underfoot. If God exists, many do not want to know Him because they do not understand why He allows bad to happen. But while many will judge God, God being sovereign over all will have final say.

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