Monday, July 4, 2016

Is Your Faith Real?

In my previous blog post, Feelings...Nothing More Than...Feelings, I expressed my concern regarding the feelings of the Mormon Missionaries that came to my door as a sign that the Book of Mormon is true. Feelings, though may seem true at the time, are not true all the time, nor a test for religious books of antiquity. Like I told them before, sometimes I feel like reading the bible, sometimes I don't. But that is not a test to prove the bible is true, or not true.

There is a threefold confirmation that we are children of God, or an assurance that we are saved. Paul talks about this confirmation in 1 Thessalonians 1:5, "For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake." This threefold assurance of our salvation is found in the trustworthy word, confirming Holy Spirit, and the changed life.

Trustworthy Word

This is the heart of what I want to write about in the next blog post will be the trustworthiness of the Holy Bible and the trustworthiness of the Book of Mormon. Both claim to be God's word, and trustworthy books. It doesn't matter how I think I am doing, but what the bible says how I am doing. Objective truth is found in the object of the trustworthy word. Our assurance in the Bible is based on 1 John 5:9-13.

Confirming Holy Spirit

Second, there is an internal witness of the Holy Spirit that confirms that we are really children of God. Paul declares in Romans 8:16, "The Spirit Himself bears witness with out spirit that we are children of God." How do we know we have the Holy Spirit? We have His fruit. His fruit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). The Holy Spirit is the "IOU" of our faith in Christ. Paul stated in 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 and Ephesians 1:13-14 that the Holy Spirit is our guarantee of our inheritance until the end where we are face to face with Him.

Changed Life

Third, our changed life is a witness that we are Children of God. The proof that we have experienced the new birth is from our changed life. Good fruit only comes from good trees (Matthew 7:15-20). Probably the best known example of this is taken from the first chapter of 1 Thessalonians. This church, which is deemed the "exemplary church", was a model not only to us, but also to those around them and in all their known world  (1 Thessalonians 1:7-8). They had a changed life. From out of their faith they were followers of the Lord (vs 6), had teachable spiritual growth (vs 6), received the word in much affliction (vs 6), had joy from the Holy Spirit (vs 6), faith in God (vs 8), were active in evangelism (vs 8), bore fruits of repentance (vs 9), served God (vs 9), awaited with love the Lord's return (vs 10), and belief in the resurrection of Christ from the dead (vs 10).

Repentance is turning 180 degrees from sin and turning towards God to obey Him and His word. Yes it is true that God calls you just as you are, but the truth is He doesn't expect you to stay there. Let's put it this way, supposed your friend walked up to you and said, "I just got hit by a logging truck this morning." You look at him and there is not a scratch on him. How could that be? If you were hit by tons of steel and wood you would show signs of it. So I ask, what is bigger...a logging truck or God? If you were hit by God, you would know it...and so would everyone else.

I firmly believe that all three have to be there in order to have full assurance of God's salvation on our souls. If either of them are not found, there is no way a person could possibly be saved. Though the Mormons claim to have the Holy Spirit, and also their lives may seem godly, where they lack is the trustworthiness of the Book of Mormon. As you will see in my next post, the Book of Mormon fails as a book to be regarded as truth. This would be true also with someone who believes the bible, yet doesn't have the fortitude of a changed life. They still have no difference in their lives as a Christian as they did when they were not born again.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Feelings....Nothing More Than...Feelings.

Two weeks ago I finished up my study in the Precept Upon Precept of Revelation Book 2. It was to say the least, the worst Precept International Bible Study I have ever done. So I needed a break for a little bit between books. I prayed for guidance and like always the Lord provides. Either a yes, no, or wait. This time, the Lord provided a "yes". Last week I had two Mormon Missionaries come to the door and wanted me to allow them to do a bible study with me. They gave me a pamphlet called, The Restoration, and I agreed to read it and looked forward to our meeting next week. I've been praying for wisdom because I didn't want to scare these guys away like the others, and really wanted time to ease them into the truth and hope they hear what the Lord wanted to say.

Well that meeting was tonight. They talked about what the Book of Mormon was, and how it was the most correct book on earth, the prophet Joseph Smith, and the story of how the Book of Mormon came to be. And I asked them one simple question, "How do you know it's true?" Seems simple enough of a question right? Well it opened up a huge can of worms called, "feelings". From that point on, they talked about their, "feelings" and how they prayed, asked god to confirm the Book of Mormon was true, and god gave them good "feelings". Both boys then proceeded to tell me how they feel god speaks to them and how they think he talks to them in a way that makes them feel good. And, if they "feel" good that is a good sign they are in the right direction, and if they "feel" bad, they are in the wrong direction. This went on for the remainder of the night.

But as Morris Albert's song, Feelings suggests...they are nothing more but - feelings. Assurance is based on the authority of God's word. When you meet God's conditions, as revealed in His word, you can be assured that you are a child of God. The Christian lives by faith (trust) in the trustworthiness of God Himself and His word. 
This train diagram illustrates the relationship between fact (God and His Word), Faith (our trust in God's Word), and feelings (the results of our experiences to God's Word). Fact is the engine that pulls everything else. God's word does not change, it's powered by itself. It runs by itself without the aid of the other cars or caboose. God's word is sustained all by itself and doesn't need anyone else to keep it going. Faith, is pulled by God's word. Though a person's faith may change, God's word does not. Our faith is pulled by the self-sustaining objective truth revealed in God's Word...Christ Jesus.  Feelings are the result of our faith based on fact. It is the fruit of what is produced. But feelings change, and are not objective truth, nor would I even consider them subjective truth. Feelings change and are different from person to person. Sometimes I feel like reading God's word. Sometimes I don't. Sometimes I feel like I'm a good Christian, and sometimes I feel like a complete pagan. The fact is...I am a Christian based on how God describes a Christian in the Bible.

You may be thinking though, "How do you know the Bible is true?" or "How do you know the Book of Mormon is true...or not true?" There are several tests we can give the engine of the train to see if it really is fact. Unfortunately we have to do that in the next blog post. Stay tuned for my next blog post on testing objective truth.