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stillseeking

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  1. stillseeking

    Reluctant new believer with some challenges

    All letters should be read in proper context. There is a lot of uncertainty about what the context is, on a lot of letters. One only need read a handful of Bible commentaries by different authors to find this out. Usually after doing this myself, I walk away thinking, "Wow, I still don't know. I sure wish God would answer that prayer for discernment." Christianity is unique among religions in that it uses letters and histories as a window into what God wants from us--not some supposedly inspired revelation that some sole person had in a vision one day. Thus, we have the additional complication of needing to understand the context in order to properly understand what is being said. The trouble is that no one quite agrees on what that is. Sure, this was written to the Jews, but they are not the only ones capable of hearing the truth of God, being given reason to believe it, and then rejecting it. I believe this might have happened to me. It sure would explain why God doesn't seem to answer any of my prayers.
  2. stillseeking

    Will God answer the prayer, "I want to see You."?

    I wish I could find this encouraging, but I find it discouraging. As long as this goes unfulfilled in our lives, it's an unfulfilled promise. There is no comfort in that. Furthermore, there are those who are crushed and broken-hearted and even die that way.
  3. Regarding the idea of remarriage after a divorce: It was allowed in Old Testament times, even though it wasn't the ideal. A remarried woman should stay with her new husband. Deuteronomy 24:1 "“When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens [a]that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out from his house, 2 and she leaves his house and goes and becomes another man’s wife, 3 and if the latter husband [b]turns against her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her to be his wife, 4 then her former husband who sent her away is not allowed to take her again to be his wife, since she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the Lord, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance." Regarding the validity of the second marriage: The biblical definition of marriage, echoed by Jesus in the new testament, is this: Genesis 2:24 "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." Note the lack of any specifics regarding ceremonies or licensing. In fact, government registrations of marriages (as an additional requirement BEYOND a regular marriage) didn't even exist until very recently. Even church marriages didn't exist for hundreds of years in the early church.
  4. stillseeking

    Reluctant new believer with some challenges

    The question still remains, though: What is the meaning of 'do the will of the Father' in Matt. 7:21 whereby those in verse 23 are, to their surprise, rejected on judgement day? Until we can understand the exclusionary conditions pertaining to salvation, we cannot properly understand if we are saved, if we are walking on the right path, etc. Personally, this is the source of a lot of Christianity-induced anxiety and depression. Beyond that, lack of discernment inhibits one's ability to share about salvation with others. Without discernment, if someone directly asked me about salvation, I'd have to give some sort of wishy-washy answer that includes a bunch of precautions about secret potential exclusionary conditions which might bite even the most sincere believer in the back some day. I know there are Christians who can support their biblical interpretations with logic and reason...but to be honest, I'm not finding a whole lot of that here. I find https://christianity.stackexchange.com/ to be a useful resource, where questions are examined and taken seriously. Currently, I am spending more time there than here, for that exact reason. I would love to continue discussing this topic but probably won't check it much unless someone responds further.
  5. stillseeking

    Reluctant new believer with some challenges

    Incorrect on all counts. Repeating something doesn't make it true. Shame on you for accusing me of these things, especially when I've openly expressed my appreciation and been very patient when people come on here and accuse me of thoughts and motives I simply do not have, as you are doing now. I have questions, and no one can give me any better answer than 'this is my interpretation, just trust God that it is'. Such answers are non-answers, so naturally, I still have questions. We should all be asking questions and seeking, constantly examining ourselves like the Bible suggests instead of assuming we've got it right. You did? If so, apologies, and I missed it. You would also be incorrect to assume I'm looking for a "last word" (although I certainly detect some anger in your post about your own not having one :P) The irony here is thick. I don't care at all who has the "last word". I just want answers...and actually, that means that the last word will, in an ideal world, go to someone else. I want answers, I'm plagued by the uncertainties, and I will continue seeking. And even if you discourage me by continuing to falsely accuse me of motives and ideas which I do not have, I will continue to seek answers, because I do know that God wants at least THAT of me.
  6. stillseeking

    Reluctant new believer with some challenges

    According to your logic, we all 'rely on our own understanding' due to the fact that all knowledge we receive comes in through the filter of our own perception. That aside, no, there isn't a contradiction. What I'm expressing here in these statements (taken out of context, I'd add) is that I do my best to avoid bias by questioning everything before arriving at a conclusion. Being scientific in my approach to everything is the best way to weed out as much human bias as possible. Most people who accepted something 'on faith' or 'from God' believe different things. Obviously, we have a large number of people who are listening to their own human perspectives, not God, and accepting their very own thoughts as 'God's' when they're not. If only they would question everything, this wouldn't happen so much. I fail to understand the issue you or anyone could possibly have with using the best methods for avoiding bias. Really? How? You seem to enjoy repeating this, but belief in God isn't the issue here; it's a specific of theology. There is no basis for this statement here. Please break YOUR circle. We're not talking about belief here. We're talking about a specific interpretation of a specific verse...one that no one I've talked to quite agrees on. I'm not stuck in a loop at all. I'm waiting here with the very same questions I started with because I haven't gotten any good answers. I'll repeat the summary of the remaining question for clarity: What is the meaning of 'do the will of the Father' in Matt. 7:21 whereby those in verse 23 are, to their surprise, rejected on judgement day? You could say I'm "stuck" there due to not having any clear answers, but there's no reason to state the obvious. Of course I'm stuck here; no answer has been supported by evidence to be better than the others. It's kind of an important issue, since Jesus is talking about people who THINK they're saved and aren't. It's extra important that we don't make assumptions here. I've prayed for discernment, and God hasn't provided any. Not in the form of experience, evidence for one explanation over another, nothing. So I'm not really sure what you're faulting me for at this point, but this accusation of being stuck in a loop isn't helpful; either help answer the question or don't. Good, we're on the same page. I never even said I had OCD. I once used a phrase similar to 'my OCD style repentence prayers' and from then on, you've assumed I officially have OCD. Whether I do or don't is unknown. No. I'm self-examining and changing all the time, not that you're owed this information. It's very funny to me that you, like so many people I've talked to, start talking this way as soon as I don't accept YOUR perspective as the truth immediately. THAT is the real pattern here: 1) I have a question 2) Someone poses an answer 3) I, like the Bereans, question the validity of the answer 4) Questions never get answered, and I remain skeptical 5) Person who provided the answer starts indirectly accusing me of being 'too intellectual' or 'stubborn' or in your case, 'trusting in my own understanding' because they can't accept the fact that the answer they provided was poorly supported or incorrect My question remains because it hasn't been answered: I have many answers, and no idea which is correct. God doesn't provide any guidance or direction on this. In fact, compound this with all the other potential exclusionary conditions to salvation, and I'm fairly certain that God has rejected me like those described in Hebrews 6:4. One would think that a God who wants each of us to be saved would be eager to help out when someone is seeking an answer like this, yet this is not what I observe. I observe that God appears to be ignoring me completely in this regard. All I get is multiple explanations and zero clarity.
  7. stillseeking

    Reluctant new believer with some challenges

    This isn't a logical conclusion unless one also exempts himself from the teaching of 1 & 2 Corinthians because he's not a resident of Corinth, or from the contents of Ephesians because he does not live there, or from any of the letters of the New Testament because we are not the original audience. Were your assumption true, our new testament would be significantly shorter.
  8. stillseeking

    Reluctant new believer with some challenges

    I don't expect God to be a computer. Scriptures are unclear and are interpreted differently by everyone I talk to. I have no idea what is correct. If God won't let me know what he wants, then I'm not exactly sure how I can even do my best at trying to do it. Many early Christians were binitarian. Many today still are. Christians disagree on this just like they disagree on everything in the Bible. Thanks for reminding me of yet another point of doctrine on which the Bible is unclear and on which Christians disagree. I find that the opposite is true thus far. This has CAUSED more worries and depression. I'm a little confused. You asked if I'm being judgemental against them and then presented two possibilities, which would potentially require the prerequisite of having made a judgement call. Define what you mean by judgemental, and I'll do my best to assess whether I think my reaction to these churches falls into that category. Since I was a young child, I've had a very strong ability to spot a bad apple. My parents even knew it. As far as the answer to your question, I generally choose the words I choose with purpose. By "hypocrites", I mean the dictionary definition of such. There's no direct commandment to attend church. I don't lean on my own understanding, and I question everything...but ironically, exactly because of this, people tell me I don't "trust God". I don't trust myself to even know if God is speaking. I don't have any clear discernment about the definition of "the will of the Father", and because I don't trust myself or any specific person, I STILL don't know the answer. Various people get frustrated with me and claim they've "given me the truth", and yet what they're really asking me to do is trust THEM...and they never realize it. Praying and seeking God and his wisdom largely goes nowhere. Thus, the continued frustration. Thus, the feeling that God has given up on me as in Hebrews 6:4. Really? How diverse is the group of Christians you talk to? I've found the opposite to be true. Ask 5 different Christians what a verse means, and they'll give you 5 different answers. Each person, of course, believes his or interpretation is God-breathed. Unlikely. This seems rather obvious to me, though, and it's one reason Christianity is so miserable and depressing. We're forced to keep ourselves constrained inside a path where perfection is the goal, which is psychologically damaging, and where we can absolutely never feel good about ourselves no matter what. Why? In anything, we may have even unknowingly sinned, and we wouldn't really be repenting if we didn't focus on doing so constantly. Constantly focusing on one's shortcomings is also a recipe for psychological disaster. This way of life is miserable and frustrating, but if it is how God wants me to live, then so be it. I'd rather live a frustrating and miserable life than end up in hell. My understanding is generally along these lines. However, it does appear that there is an emotional component, which I can't seem to grasp. We're supposed to love with all our being. I try to make my choices go along with this, and it's miserable. I always feel like God is some angry task master hanging the threat of hell over my head. I'm not sure how you can choose to love someone, especially someone who refuses to communicate intelligibly or make himself clear. I can choose to try, but that's not quite the same. Emotions or not, though, I still have no way to determine whether or not the exclusionary conditions for salvation describe me. Until I can determine that they do not, I really can't move forward at all. I can't 'do the will of the Father' unless I know what it is. I can't know what to tell others about salvation if I still have no idea about the specifics of the conditions under which one is NOT saved. I'm paralyzed by depression and feelings of abandonment the longer that the complete lack of clarity on these things permeates my emotions from the time I wake to the time I sleep.
  9. stillseeking

    Reluctant new believer with some challenges

    No one needs to waver. The issue is that the exclusionary conditions for salvation are unclear, and thus I cannot establish if they describe me. No clear answers have been given. Saying to trust God is not an answer until there becomes a clear way to understand if I'm hearing God's voice or another. Until that can be established, you're actually merely asking me to trust myself, and I don't trust myself. If I don't trust myself, and there is no clear way to discern if any given interpretation is God-breathed, there is no possible way to understand whether I'm assuming trust in God or myself. I have explained this in many different ways and feel like it's not getting across. I'm no closer than where I started and only more depressed and hopeless, if anything. I very much suspect I'm a Hebrews 6:4 victim and God has shut the door to me.
  10. stillseeking

    Reluctant new believer with some challenges

    Not a lawyer, no. Just striving to avoid intellectual dishonesty, especially as I establish the specifics of what I can accept as truth. There is no other legitimate way, and no better way to guard against one's own natural biases. The overarching point of mentioning that the list of 'God's will' is incomplete simply corroborates the point that the will of the Father, mentioned in Matthew 7:21, is not clearly spelled out. Jesus issued many commandments during his time on Earth, including the Matthew 23 exhortation to obey the entire Torah. Christians by and large don't agree on the actual meaning and scope of 'will of the Father', and it's still a point of confusion for me. Furthermore, we still lack clarity on who counts as actually doing it, since we also know that no matter WHICH commandments of God we choose, no one does them perfectly, which begs the question as to who actually is counted to have done them, and by what criteria. Not exactly. See above. Yeah, pretty much. I pray for discernment and don't get it. I pray for God to lift the depression that becoming Christian caused. I pray for help not sinning. These things just don't happen. In fact, the things which I pray for which do and don't happen are comparable in frequency to things I merely wished for before. In other words, hardly any observable difference...and perhaps none, if I could eliminate my own confirmation bias. And I'm supposed to trust that God answers prayer? On what basis? Um, no. It's disheartening when people think this way. God gave us brains, and using mine actually led to belief. I'm not the only one, and in fact, if you want to convince any intelligent person that God exists, you will NEVER do it without using logic and reason. Logic is a gift by which we can determine what's true and what's not. Paul had the right idea by praising the Bereans for being skeptical. Why on Earth would you ever want to discourage honest intellectual discovery...unless one is afraid his 'truth' is not true? No, I don't, and that's part of the problem. Christians by and large can't agree on specifics on right and wrong. I overanalyze everything I do and usually come to the conclusion that the mere fear that each thing might be wrong leads me to repent from it on the basis that it just *might* be evil...but in reality, I have no idea, and God won't tell me. I've even gotten to the point where I no longer can allow myself to enjoy most things, due to the fact that pretty much everything that isn't going to church or studying the Bible is somehow wrong due to potentially falling into the category of 'things of the world'. I can never know for sure. Actually, I can't. I most of the time can't determine whether a particular interpretation is 'the right one' (from God) or not. That's kind of the problem. Without analyzing these things, I have zero hope. At least by analyzing them, I have some modicum of progress.
  11. stillseeking

    Reluctant new believer with some challenges

    Nice to meet you as well! Glad you were able to find Christ among the Christians. This is an ironically hard thing to do in many places. And absolutely yes to being able to back up our beliefs with logic and facts. Most people, however, approach such things with their confirmation bias that supernatural happenings are impossible and thus fail to weigh such facts appropriately and entirely miss what they're pointing to. Furthermore, the Christian community by and large perpetuates a protectionist attitude around 'the outside world', in such a way that those raised in Christian families are never taught any rational defenses for their faith and end up losing the belief they had, because it was entirely based on assumption. I love talking to people who came to Christ as adults, as they not only share my experience but also are more likely to be able to demonstrate reasons they believe. Plus, most of us having taken this path have nothing earthly to gain by taking this path. At best, being Christian is considered 'not cool', and at worst, it's torture and maybe even your physical life. I thank God that my side of the suffering is closer to the former option.
  12. stillseeking

    Reluctant new believer with some challenges

    Confirm non-membership to all exclusionary conditions for salvation. Confirm a valid way to distinguish between influences representing God's will verses those representing very clever deceptions. We as believers all (purportedly) try to do these things, but we all fall short. We believe but have doubts even so. Therefore, no one *really* does the 'will of the Father'. So what percentage or cut-off or other qualification defines those who are considered to *do* these things then? I read your links and am confused as to how they came up with the concept of the "Five wills of God"...Jesus issued far more commands than are represented in those verses, even if each one isn't explicitly prefaced with 'this is the will of God'. In fact, we can be sure that this list is incomplete due to its omission of the great commandments (love God/love humans) and that we have trust in God. I pray for such answers and do not receive them. Also, I have talked to Christians from a variety of denominations, including several pastors. They all think they are led by the Holy Spirit, and they disagree on many things. Logically, they can't all be following the Holy Spirit, even though they think they all are. Logically, most of them would have to be wrong (unless God is into split personalities, which I doubt). We see that most people, then, who think they are following the Holy Spirit are, in fact, not. If most people are deceived into thinking they are following the Holy Spirit, when actually they are not, by what means can I reliably establish a criteria to determine whether any person, or I myself, am following an influence from the Holy Spirit or a deceiver?
  13. stillseeking

    Reluctant new believer with some challenges

    Agreed, and it is frustrating. My initial question remains due to the fact that no single explanation has been backed up with evidence. I hear various interpretations being restated--but nothing telling me WHY any particular one is right. The preceding verses do not clearly show that. They show that those who do not 'do the will of the father' will be left out, but this concept is left undefined. That remains the root of the uncertainty. Not quite. I refuse to blindly accept any one person's interpretation. I get different answers from different people, and when I first brought out this verse in this thread, I listed all the possibilities I had gathered plus my notes on each. At present, I'm not only having this conversation here on the forums but with 2 other people whom I know from real life, separately...so in total, I'm having a discussion on this topic in 3 separate places. Everyone has an interpretation and some proof texts. Couple that with my own reading and maybe you can see why none of the answers stand out as definitely right. Personally, I understand this verse at present to be about fake Christians who do not 'do the will of the father', but I do not have a clear definition of 'doing the will of the father' which I can apply to my own life to determine if I am doing this. Related confusions/thoughts/doubts include: * If 'doing' something is required, the popular evangelistic line about "just believe/have faith" is mistaken. This actually makes sense, because the Greek word 'pistos' which is often translated as 'faith' does not mean quite that--its meaning also includes obedience and trust. * Jesus was very obviously addressing Jews in Matt 7:23. He uses the word which translates in most English versions as 'lawlessness', and Jews would have understood this to mean disobedience to Torah. This is corroborated by Matthew 23 in which Jesus, by commanding people to obey the words coming from the Moses seat, is essentially telling people to obey Torah. Furthermore, Paul goes to great lengths to prove he keeps Torah in Acts 21, which is awfully strange if such things are no longer asked of us by God. * Am I in Christ, and He in me? What is the evidence for this? I feel depression instead of joy, I experience confusion instead of discernment, and I feel like my prayers are lost in the wind. Actually, I often wonder if I'm a Hebrews 6:4 victim and it's too late for me. * How can one determine if one loves Jesus with his/her entire heart? Presumably, many of us try, but we all fail. So, what is the objective way to determine whether we meet this qualification? * As far as confession, yes, all the time, pretty much whenever I have any thought whatsoever which is in any way potentially prideful or impatient...which is about every 5 minutes, and I thus spend my entire day thinking about what a failure I am, and I slowly observe how Christianity has forced me into a state of perpetual self-hatred. No, not exactly. Here is the exchange I believe you are referring to: This doesn't make sense, and the suggestion here seems dangerous. Assuming I have salvation when potentially I don't would put me EXACTLY in the category of those who are SURPRISED to be rejected on judgement day. My whole worry here is that I'd end up in that category. I do not have sufficient evidence of the definition for that category nor sufficient assurance that I am a non-member of it. Your exhortation to me included two parts: 1) To focus on the positive and 2) to focus less on reasons I fear I will be excluded from eternal life. If I am opposed to one or both suggestions, my answer will reflect that, and indeed, it did. However, for clarification's sake, I'm more opposed to the second exhortation. Why? The reason is already stated above: "Assuming I have salvation when potentially I don't would put me EXACTLY in the category of those who are SURPRISED to be rejected on judgement day. My whole worry here is that I'd end up in that category." I have no issue with focusing on the positive, as long as such does not lead to sin. Positive thoughts for my own benefit might be sinful because such could be selfishness. Looking in a mirror and believing that the dress I'm wearing looks flattering could potentially be vanity and therefore might be sin. Putting on make-up before going to work might be sinful if I detect that the reason is anything other than looking professional. Feeling anger toward being cut off by terrible drivers makes me wonder if I'm actually angry, if such potential anger is directed at my life having been endangered or at the terrible drivers for causing such an incident, and if my angry thought(s) and potential expression of anger constitute sin. For all of the above, I usually determine that they're all likely sin, and I usually ask for forgiveness individually each time one occurs. I'd say that such things happen several times per hour, constantly, throughout the day, every day. The above is a more detailed explanation of concepts which I've previously intimated at. I also pray for approximately 30 minutes per day, focused. Couple reasons I don't talk about it much, though. First, it would just be a bunch of complaining that God usually doesn't seem to answers my prayers (actually I have mentioned this on this very thread a few times). My prayers are usually not too extravagant. Themes include: Gratitude, seeking forgiveness, asking for discernment and wisdom, asking to be enabled to know and love God properly and to understand what that means, answers to my questions such as the actual meaning of Matt 7:21, current frustrations usually followed by apology for said frustrations, assistance with not being so sinful going forward, and getting to work on time. NB, I haven't been late to work since I started praying this, so there's that. The more I pray, the more frustrated I become. I used to fully expect God would answer me, but due to observing that He doesn't, I now have stopped expecting that He will answer. I suppose that means I have decreased in trust and faith thus far also. These things are also frustrating. Another reason I don't talk about it is it's kind of personal, and I generally only volunteer personal information when it's pertinent to the conversation. Third, I wish to avoid pride. I can't stand it when people tell me all about their prayer lives most of the time, because they usually volunteer these details with seemingly no purpose. I get the impression they just want to show off how holy they think they are. I do not want to be like such people.
  14. stillseeking

    Reluctant new believer with some challenges

    Thanks for your kind words. My experience with Christianity so far has been much closer to depression than joy. There are many verses in the new testament which speak of those who will be left out, and also that those who will be left out will be surprised to meet this end (Matt 7:21-23). Unless I can understand the correct interpretation of these types of verses and ensure that I am a non-member of any potential exclusionary conditions, it would be intellectually irresponsible to assume that salvation applies to me personally and that God hasn't shut the door on me already.
  15. stillseeking

    Reluctant new believer with some challenges

    Matthew 7:23 does not specify that the people who were surprised by rejection from Jesus were intentionally spreading a false gospel. In fact, that is the core of one of my worries about this verse. It's obvious from this verse that many will be surprised to be rejected on judgement day. It doesn't say why, and our only clue is that they didn't 'do the will of the father'. Their failure very well could have been accidental from what I can see. This doesn't make sense, and the suggestion here seems dangerous. Assuming I have salvation when potentially I don't would put me EXACTLY in the category of those who are SURPRISED to be rejected on judgement day. My whole worry here is that I'd end up in that category. I do not have sufficient evidence of the definition for that category nor sufficient assurance that I am a non-member of it. There are many interpretations of Matthew 7:21-23. I have yet to see one of them that the evidence clearly points to.
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