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  1. Thank you for sharing your experiences sister. They seem to be quite common with many Christians I've talked to online and some offline, that he seems to provide deliverance and save us when we are in the direst of situations and often before then, we haven't really come to "the end of ourselves" and are maybe still relying on ourselves, thinking that we can do it ourselves whilst paying lip service to God by saying that we have surrendered but we really haven't. Your hunger for the word reminds me of 2 Corinthians 10:4 which talks about the weapons of our warfare not being physical/carnal, but the truth of the Word being the weapon to kill off all of Satan's lies. I am trying to put to death sin in my life and this morning was struggling with overeating and literally in temptation minute by minute, and maybe trying to rely on my own self control measures. But after some prayer, I realised that the only way to overcome these long term sins is through being filled with the Holy Spirit, being in the Word, and filling our thoughts with Christ, rather than simply desiring not to do a particular action again or relying solely on fleshly programs. But even that will go through valleys and mountains and that often the sin we commit is due to not drawing close to God from a few days ago and starting to rely on ourselves. I also want to experience what you have experienced with KNOWING that you have been forgiven much, KNOWING God's love and grace penetrating to the heart and I think that way, I will be less judgemental and harsh on other people, and love them genuinely, which sometimes may be gentle and forgiving and other times still rebuking, but doing it out of love and with gentleness rather than out of pride. But if these people are true Christians, wouldn't have have had to gone through that period of soul searching, of darkness, of suffering and persecution. 2 Timothy 3:12 says that ALL who desire to live godly will be persecuted. I just don't know how these people could be 'true Christians'. In a way, I feel that it is 'unfair' that these people have no struggles, can 'sin abundantly' and still have the title of Christian and part of me thinks that if they are truly saved, then I would even get angry at God! for allowing such people to enter. But then I'm reminded and probably rebuked by the parable fo the vineyard with the earlier workers complaining about the later ones. I still don't think how people who love Babylon can have the love of the father in them (1 John). So I guess I'm caught in a bind, part of me is jealous, but part of me is not because I suspect their end will be Matthew 7:21 and we just have to expend all our efforts in not judging them, but on ourselves in not ending like them, and saving those who want to listen. I guess I was just disappointed that I was expecting church to be full (or at least with some people - such as yourself) who care about personal holiness, seeking God in everything and walking the narrow path. That's what I was seeking from church, to become a true Christian and live holy, and then being able to bear much fruit from abiding in him and having a good community to platform from. I do agree that Satan loves such people and in a way, if I was the enemy, I would try to give all false Christians as much peace and assurance as possible to ensure their destruction, whilst at the same time, I would try to plague all true Christians with as much doubt and insecurity as possible. So in that sense, for most people who are earnestly seeking God, should we even 'rejoice' in our doubt and struggles because it means we are drawing closer to God and therefore Satan and the demons are expending more effort attack us and prevent us from arriving at full faith in Jesus Christ. I decided in September of last year to go back to church and not judge the people who were there, but obviously have failed in that. I think leaving the church and turning my back on God all those years ago, the same temptation has been offered to me once again in being not able to find community, but I think this time, I will simply continue to seek God, do one on one 'church' and still try to walk the narrow path despite all the Babylonians within the church system, rather than them 'causing' me to stumble once again. I get glimpses of some of those things. But other sins in my life seem besetting. For example when I came back to church and started to seek Jesus again in September last year, certain addictions in my life which I had been struggling for for 15+ years just feel off and disappeared, not in the sense I had to struggle against them, but I feel that by the grace of God even the desire for sexual sin was terminated. I was no longer hateful and angry and people were commenting on the change. But certain things are still a bane, such as eating, and possibly wanting coveting marriage to fix loneliness, or still being unloving towards other people. So it makes me wonder, well non Christians can give up pet addictions as well, maybe it is just the same as them. I do want to please God in living a holy life and cut out as much sin as I can, I want to be worthy to serve and do his purposes, but sometimes I still worry about things like money and worldly success and saving face (coming from a Chinese background) that I will become the refuse of the world and become the shame of my family to give up all my money and I just don't know how to overcome that fear which I thought I had overcome but after hanging around the family for a while, it starts to plant seeds in the brain again. Stuff like "maybe I should still try to work hard and get a high paying job to 'make use of my talents for the glory of God'", or going back to storing up money in order to look after my parent as they age. Some of those things you ask, I do see, like observing creation and just wanting to bow down in praise of the Lord, but other things not so much. I do look forward to his coming again, I'm tired of the struggle in the world, but because of my doubts about my salvation, I'm kind of scared as well. But I think your main point here is that only I can answer, so I think the longer I persist, hopefully I will continue abiding and start to bear fruit and then the election will be more sure to confirm. Maybe true assurance simply comes from experience, experience of walking with God, experience of bearing fruit (not the casting out demons or prophesying, but the fruit of Galatians and making disciples)? I guess it's just a logical deduction. Let's say from Matthew 7:21 and Luke 13:24 you've got people who are self deceived. The definition of self deceived is that they deceived themselves right? But the problem is I don't believe anyone in this life deliberately seeks to live a deceived life, not even non believers. Every human being on this earth being selfish, seeks to live in a way that they believe leads to their best interest. Now whether the way that they live actually leads to their best interest is another matter. But every seeks it, including atheists, including communists etc etc. They believe that communism or atheism will be in their best interests, but they are self deceived. In the same way I believe that the people in those two verses lived in a way they thought would save them, they thought they were saved, but in fact were not, but they were self deceived because Jeremiah 17:9 says that the heart is deceitful above all things... So to turn the question back on us again, how do we know that we haven't deceived ourselves? Even with all the signs of fruit (or what we think are signs of fruit), even with all the signs of sanctification (or what we think are signs of sanctification), how do we know we haven't just lived one big lie and end up like the people in those two verses? Even if we compare with Scripture, how do we know that the thing we have in our life is the thing that scripture talks about? Let's say someone thinks that they've come to Christ, and they notice that they're not doing drugs anymore, how do they know that such abstinence is from the Holy Spirit working in them - and therefore that's a sign that they are saved because only saved people have the Holy Spirit in them? Because even unsaved people can quit drugs. So in that sense the we're testing if that is a genuine fruit of repentance versus whether it's a moral renovation. Then we can start to test whether the feeling we have in our heart is actually a love for others or just a warm and fuzzy feeling which is self centred (something which often non believers mistake as 'love'). Even if it produces great actions, for example "offering your body up to be burned", it is possible to do that without love as Paul says. So how do we know whether the thing we have in our heart is true love that comes from God, or just a manufactured deceiving feeling? When I examine all the "tests of salvation in 1 John", you can almost break them all down in this way and it creates major doubt because I feel we can't even tell if anything is real in our life. Another example, it talks about loving the world, well to what degree does affection for something constitute loving the world? I guess a theologically correct answer might be well, that if you love something more than God, but how can we tell that? I know lots of people who have hobbies in their lives which I perceive to be idolatrous, but to them they feel that it is not idolatrous? Maybe I just want to read the book of Life right now to ensure that I am a true Christian? Or is there some other 'spiritual blood test' which can produce an objective result. 2 Corinthians 13:5 seems to suggest that there is one but doesn't seem to detail it. I don't think I can articulate my question very well to be honest, but that's my best attempt for now? To summarise, I think my question is, how does a person know that they're saved? The question is not how does a saved person have assurance? Sorry, it's a bit convoluted. I will continue to seek God's Word, try to pray more and lean on him rather than self and build a relationship with Jesus Christ. You have truly encouraged me, thank you sister.
  2. The churches in Sydney are mainly 30-80 people in size (for one particular congregation), there aren't that many 'megachurches' in Sydney. The problems I reference are in relation to all churches of this size, they are not in reference to a megachurch, I have only ever been to a megachurch meeting once and that was years ago. By home church do you mean Bible study? Because the Bible study groups are generally built upon the people who attend these churches in question and yes I have been to some. I've been to Bible studies where the Bible wasn't even opened (we watched a video instead), I've been to Bible studies where 20 minutes was spent studying the Word, 20 minutes spent singing/crying, and 20 minutes spent on "getting to know you game". To give you an idea, over the last 2-3 months, I've been going to anywhere between 2-4 church services every Sunday, a mixture of Chinese churches and English churches. I'm starting to think the problem is my own expectation of churches and people, in my mind I had this image of a bunch of people living on the poverty line, giving all their money away to the poor and to each other, being persecuted by their family and work colleagues, suffering physical and spiritual attacks constantly, people considered "unsuccessful" by worldly standards, completely consumed and obsessed with Jesus Christ and people just pouring out the love of Christ on to others. The Bible says essentially that you can tell a Christian by the way that they love. The Bible says that everyone who seeks to live in a godly way will be persecuted. I can't see either, in both myself and in them. I feel like I need someone to guide me in the area of love particularly, as I feel less loving compared to even a pagan. Yes, I will try to go on living for Christ, but it's quite hard in some areas without assurance. It's hard for me to share the gospel orally if I don't know whether I am a true Christian, I don't want to be a hypocrite thinking that I am pointing people to Jesus, when in fact I am not even a disciple. I really like your answer to my "truly saved" question and this is a question I've always pondered, even before I left the church 5 years ago, so thank you for reminding me of it. There seems to be a trend amongst churchgoers participating in reformed theology, an automatic assumption that people will persevere, that it actually is still an individual responsibility to persevere til the end. I've talked to many people about this question now, and you're the first one who's brought this up. I think your attitude is a great one to have and explains the Philippians passage of "working out the salvation with fear and trembling" and various passages where Paul talks about running the race til the end and God hating people who "shrink back". I had already resigned myself to simply seeking his will, praying that I'll put my trust in Jesus, putting to death sin in my life, helping the poor, witnessing etc and that at the end of my life, even if I am not saved, that at least I would have "done what I could" rather than going back to the world, although these last few days have been hard, dealing with falling back into worldly think when I'm around pagan friends or family, there's almost a demonic wave overwhelming the soul to start worrying about money, career, dying alone, it's almost unexplainable and it's not necessarily explicit or specific things which are said in such conversations, but just a general 'vibe'. One counter to your argument though is that the Bible says in 1 John that "I write these things to you so that you may KNOW that you are saved", other places it talks about assurance of salvation, I just get a sense it seems that God does want us to know that we are his children if we are indeed. It's sometimes hard to even share the gospel without having assurance, I mean at the moment I can't even declare to someone that "I am a Christian" because I genuinely don't know. I don't understand how other people can be so bold in declaring they are a Christian when I see obvious sin in their life. Not from a criticising perspective, but from a point of view that I am worried about their lack of worry! One question which still bugs me is, how do you know whether you know something given that the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked? How do I know if I love God? I think by the world's definition I am some "psychopath/sociopath" as I cannot seem to feel empathy for other people in a lot of cases (or only in restricted cases). Like I may feel sorry for a homeless guy on the street walking past, but I probably wouldn't shed a tear if certain people in my life died, or if a bunch of people in the church passed away. Is love for God a particular feeling that one has? Or is it just doing things? Paul says that doing without love is worthless, so then what is this love he talks about? How can I claim to be a true Christian if my heart is still like this?
  3. I'm not going to lie Mike, I find your post to be quite offensive. I don't think you've actually read what I've written. My question is, how do you know you're saved. You're quoting a bunch of things which are certainly biblical, but still are subjective. How can you measure on a scale whether someone is hungering for his word? Many people read the Bible and do not 'hunger for the word'. What if they're simply going through the motions? Now you might say well a person themselves would know. But I would answer you with Jeremiah 17:9. Matthew 7:21 even though the things talked about include "casting out demons and prophesying", I think ultimately include people who went to church and Bible study groups everyday for 50 years, 'prayed' (or thinking that they were praying to God), but self deceived in the end. Now I'm not saying that Christians shouldn't want to do all those things you've listed, and last September I basically got to the point where I said to God that even if I spent my whole life searching for a relationship with Jesus Christ and didn't manage to find it, that it would still be a life worth living infinitely moreso than going back to the world. I particularly dislike your point about 'judgement' because ironically you are standing in judgement of me right now. I actually don't think judging is wrong, the Bible commands us to judge. Every moment of every second you're alive on this earth you're judging. You judge who to marry, what to eat for dinner, which friends to keep etc. For me, part of seeking God is finding a community of people who are born again and committed to serving Jesus with their lives and obeying him, talking to them about these issues with salvation, so when I have assurance/when I get saved, I can help others. That is part of the life of finding a relationship with Jesus, being around like minded people. The problem is verse Jeremiah 17:9, that the heart is deceitful above all things. My question relates to self deception. When you examine Matthew 7:21, you have a bunch of people who have full assurance of their supposed salvation, but are self deceived. These people are fully confident they are saved, but they are not. Even with certain 'signs' in your life, how can you know you haven't deceived yourself, considering that the signs are not objectively measurable (like for example a blood test, or God personally showing you the book of Life with your name written in it). The nature of self deception and the definition of it, is that you deceive yourself with your signs. Otherwise it wouldn't be called self deception and otherwise people wouldn't fall to it and you wouldn't get a verse like Luke 13:24
  4. Yes, that's the very thing I'm trying to do, I'm trying to be part of a community of believers (to be taught, edified and encouraged), hence the reason for going to church in the first place. If it was the old me, I wouldn't even have bothered (as I already left the place 5 years). One of the major reasons to be part of a church is to do things which you can't do alone at home, that is corporate worship, interacting with, loving, being loved, serving and evangelising. That is part of following Jesus, although I do understand that Old Testament prophets often lived a very lonely life without possibility of fellowship in many cases. Now if a person is trying to do that, and all they find is a bunch of people in church who are only ever interested in talking about carnal things all of the time non stop, that their every inclination is to exclude people based on the fact that they are not good looking, not financially well off, don't work a white collar job, then it makes true fellowship difficult. It makes it difficult when they will literally walk away from the conversation once it veers into the spiritual. It makes me question whether they are saved, it makes me frustrated that they can "have their cake and eat it too". 2 Timothy 3:12 comes to mind. They have no questions about their own assurance despite driving BMWs and Mercedes, the biannual holidays, eating out everyday, family idolatry and careerism whilst spending a couple of hours at church on Sunday, depositing ten dollars into the offertery box and maybe even serving on the music team. The analogy I would use would be like a computer trying to defend itself from a virus. During the week I mainly interact with non believers, going to work, going to the shops, you know not to be jealous of these people because they are perishing, you know you need to have your "firewall" up so to speak. But when you go to church you subconsciously "relax" this firewall, not expecting a virus. But in fact the virus is packaged within legitimate software, and so (maybe at the beginning before you learn), you let this "legitimate software" into your computer and the virus piggybacks in and ruins you. My reply with 1 Corinthians 15:33 is not just directed at you, but more out of pure frustration at the replies I'm getting (in real life mainly, but also on the internet). I get very frustrated when people start quoting Matthew 7:1-3 as the basis for "not judging". Isn't it ironic that the person actually quoting this is at the very same time imparting a "judgement". I believe that verse is one of the most abused verses in the whole Bible. I think Satan has done this by firstly using it to shape our western secular culture by introducing the concept of 'tolerance' and 'not judging' and thereby permissiveness of various sins and taboos which only a generation ago would have been considered sins and taboos. This has filtered into the church with the backing of Matthew 7. There is so much misunderstanding of that verse it sickens me. Why doesn't anyone bring up 1 Corinthians 5:12? They all like to bring up their pet verses to shape their worldview which ironically more often than not is a combination of being unbiblical, and worldly. Matthew 7:1-3 is talking about not judging hypocritically, rather than not judging. If we were to put aside all judgement, then we should indeed just put aside living altogether, because no human being can even be alive without making judgement calls every single second of their life! You walk across the road, you make a judgement beforehand to look for cars. You go to the supermarket and you make judgement calls on what items you need to purchase. You go to the church and you make judgement calls about who to associate with. 1 Corinthians 5:11, tells us not to associate with anyone in the church who is an idolater, slanderer, greedy or sexually immoral, a drunkard or swindler. Paul tells us to not even eat with such people. So by your standards, you are saying that "Paul is judgemental and how dare he make such a statement, he is still a sinner and should take the log out of his own eye"? How would you know such people are those things unless you make a judgement?! Now is the qualification to make that judgement that a person must have never committed such sins in the past? Of course not. If that were the case, then no human being living would be able to make any type of judgement. If you even read further on in the sermon given in Matthew 7, Jesus says not to throw your pearls before swine. How would you know someone is a "swine" (metaphorically speaking), unless you make a judgement. There's that word again. The point of the church is to have a pure community of born again believers (at least in majority) who are committed to the functions of the church. What we have in the west largely is a bunch of 'moralised' social clubs, dedicated to the fellowship and pleasure of 2 Timothy 3 individuals. Jesus says "by their fruits, you SHALL know them". Obviously no one is going to get it right 100% of time, but the Bible itself says we can make certain judgements with a fair degree of confidence. Just reading this writing back now, I recognise that it's a bit strong in tone, but it's more just an expression of my frustration, rather than anger at your replies. After this last Sunday, I've resigned to focusing on my own walk and just continuing to pray about this and taking it to God. I think this is one of the tests of faith where I have fallen down in the past, about 5 years ago, and so maybe this is a chance to persevere this time and get through it and grow. I thought I had put aside all worldliness but sometimes when I'm around such people, I get anxious and worried about the future once again and ask myself "is what I'm doing unwise/completely stupid". Yes, I've been doing some self reflection and I agree and am pursuing this path now. I think it's important just for the individual Christian to love their neighbour. That whoever is my path, whether it's the homeless guy on the sidewalk as I walk home or a work colleague or a family member, just to love them, to try to be a light to them. It's ironic, but I'm just going to various churches each week and "collecting" people who seem to be serious about what's written in the Bible, people who try to live by it. Then I just meet up with them every so often, otherwise it can be quite lonely. It's almost a paradox, you crave some people to talk to, to encourage and to be encouraged, to learn how to love, to learn to be rebuked and to rebuke, but at the same time, you know that it's unlikely to find that in the western church which is now probably one of the biggest mission fields in the world.
  5. 1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character."
  6. I think one of the detrimental things about going to these churches is that all the people are so physically blessed that it starts to cause me anxiety in areas which I thought I had put away. For example if everyone's got white collar jobs with good long term prospects and a good income, that's going to drag me away from just living by faith and being content with whatever (hopefully God has called me) to do. If everyone has spouse idolatry and living for family, it's going to make me jealous and scared of a single childless future, rather than trusting in God as the ultimate 'husband'. If everyone is living in a large house with their children and extended family, I'm going to be tempted to gripe about being 50 years old and living at home, when in fact I should have my eyes on eternity. It's okay now because I'm still not yet 30, but over the coming decades, the attacks from Satan using the tares in the church will only get worse. It's definitely also my responsibility to confront the idols of my heart very strongly and ask God for help in smashing them in order to keep the eyes affixed on eternity, but particularly in the beginning period where I am easily tossed and swayed, I just need a strong foundation to defend against these lies. And going to a field full of tares each week makes life more difficult, because these are professing Christians and not non believers. Non believers, the mind automatically switches off and you think of Psalm 73, but with professing Christians doing this, it's almost like a backdoor virus attempting to hijack the brain.
  7. I don't, which is why I've written down these questions, but I can't seem to find any answers: I want to rewrite the questions I have regarding the personal salvation as the three part edition I had previously seemed to repeat certain things and not emphasise other things which should have been emphasised. I can't deny that my motives for writing this may be impure, it may be to judge others and to lord it over them and condemn them that they themselves have not thought about this or do not have seem to have thought about them despite calling themselves Christians. In this regard, my pride and hatred of others stains the intentions of this document. In spite of this, I would like to press on in writing, because I feel that I need some answers, some godly answers to questions and doubts which have really bothered me for some time now, things which seem to be a stumbling block, a roadblock for me either to be saved, or to proceed further in the Christian walk or both. The ultimate core of my question is, "how can a person themselves know that they are truly saved?" I think it's important also to define at this point, what I am NOT asking. I am not asking, what the grounds of a Christian's assurance are and I'm not asking about what it takes to be saved, although I admit there may be pieces of each question embedded in the original question. In Jeremiah 17:9 it states "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" To me, this means that the original mechanism of how a human being can know that they are saved is already broken. The 'inbuilt salvation detector' within a person is already broken. When people say to me that “only you will know if you are saved!” I challenge them to respond to this verse, how can we know if our own hearts are deceived? At the same time, we know that the Bible tells us that we can know if we are saved or not. 1 John 5:13 says "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life." It seems that God tells us that we can KNOW we have eternal life. What is the means by which we can know? In fact many people point to 1 John, the entire book as a good test of salvation, except the problem is, when I read the book, all of the things written seem subjective. For example, some verses: - 1 John 1:6-7 - "If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin." - 1 John 2:3-6 - "We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did." - 1 John 2:15-17 - "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever." These words are a good test for us, but how do we measure ourselves according to these seemingly subjective tests? What is the measurement by which a person can look at their lives according to these texts and then know that they are saved, because they are not loving anything in the world, or keeping his commands/not keeping his commands? How do we measure this at an objective level? This is not to ask "How often can a person still be sinning as still be saved?" because such a question would come with an evil motive and be like a Pharisee testing Jesus, but the principle of the question is how can one know if they are 'passing' or 'failing' the 1 John test of salvation? Next, I would like to come to Matthew 7:21-27 - "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!" There seem to be a few things here. The verse seems to indicate that a lot of people will call themselves Christians (proclaiming "Lord, Lord"), a lot of people will be seemingly 'doing' for the kingdom of God (driving out demons and prophesying), and a lot of people will be having success seemingly doing for the kingdom of God (the demons actually being driven out) and yet will be unsaved (I never knew you). To me, this verse, in combination with Jeremiah 17:9 produces a lot of doubt and uneasiness. I trust that no one lives their life WILLINGLY wanting to deceive themselves. Self-deception by definition happens when we unwillingly think a certain path is right, when in fact is wrong, so by definition, self-deception happens unwillingly. If that is the case, so many people will be unwillingly self-deceived into thinking that they are a Christian and have professed saving faith in Christ when in fact they don't have a relationship with him. At this point a lot of people may point to Matthew 7:16 - "By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?" and claim, well you would know whether someone is a true Christian by their actions. But if you notice in Matthew 7:21, such people who claim Christian status DID have actions, they did prophesy and cast out demons in the name of Jesus. Doesn't this cause doubt as to whether we can truly tell someone by their actions or 'fruit' considering that a lot of false Christians will produce a lot of fruit seemingly 'in keeping with repentance'? I'm not saying that Scripture is contradicting itself because that would be impossible. Luke 13:24 - "Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to." only strengthens the argument that many are deceived and not know it. How does one not fall into the trap of being self-deceived then? Surely these passages serve as a warning that not many people will be saved and that many (I assume millions of souls) will be self-deceived, and possibly even have a great degree of FALSE assurance that they are saved when they are not. If two people profess saving faith and one is not saved and the other is, they can potentially both look exactly the same on the outside, doing exactly the same things on the outside, be completely convinced in their own hearts that they are saved and then one will end in hell and the other in heaven. How can one personally then avoid this trap? I also refer to the Parable of the Wheat and Tares. This parable seems to reference the fact that the tares are satanic plants completely indistinguishable from wheat until the day of judgement. If that is the case, how do I know personally that I am not a tare, that I am not a child of Satan being planted in the church to disrupt the work of the elect, even though I feel like I'm making efforts to 'work out my salvation'? What if I have simply deceived myself in this regard? 2 Corinthians 11:14 - "And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.", I have heard it said that Satan's 'best work' is the tares he plants in the church which look indistinguishable from the wheat, how then can anyone know which one they are? I believe that there must be an answer to this question, because 2 Corinthians 13:5 tells us to "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you--unless, of course, you fail the test?” I don't accept the 'answer' that people attempt to provide that 'you cannot truly know whether you are saved until judgement day', as I believe that this verse is in direct contradiction to that answer. What is this test Paul talks about? How do we pass/fail this test? My point in writing this particular paragraph, is to try to examine both the fruit and heart of a person. We know that the heart produces the fruit, but if both can be deceived, either through moral renovation via the strength of the flesh (as even unbelievers can make changes in their lives) and the fact that the heart is deceitful, how do we truly judge whether we are saved if on both fronts, deception is possible? At this point I'd like to ask the reader not to quote verses like Romans 10:9-10, John 3:16, Acts 16:31 etc., because the question being asked is not even "what does true saving faith look like? ", but "how does one personally know that they are truly saved by faith and not merely self-deceived?". So then the following questions naturally proceed from the above questions. How does one know if they are born again, or just self-deceived? God says that he will give us new 'hearts of flesh' to replace our hearts of stone. Does this heart of flesh kill off all desire to sin? If it does then how to we look at sin in a true born again Christian's life? How do we differentiate an infant Christian from a false Christian? Particularly an infant Christian who has not grown for a very long time? Hebrews 5:12 "In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!" references how infant Christians can remain infants for a long time. Is it possible for Satan to 'relent' from tempting us in certain areas of previous sin so that there may be 'victory from sin' in certain areas of our life to make us think that we've changed or being given a 'heart of flesh' when in fact we haven't? How can we also differentiate moral renovation from true change by the Holy Spirit? Finally, I see a lot of Christians saying "The Lord spoke to me about this..." or the "God told me to do that...” How does God speak to true Christians? What does it sound/feel like? I've asked people whom I consider to be true Christians and some say they don't hear the voice of God in an audible way that the communication is only through written word, other people "hear God speaking to them via the spirit". What is a true Christian meant to expect in terms of obedience to God in the area of what to do day to day in the small and big decisions of life? This is mainly in reference to Matthew 7:21 in talking about “…he who does the will of my Father…” If many are deceived into thinking that they are doing the will of the Father when they are not, how can we avoid falling into this trap? How do we know if we are doing the will of the Father when there are so many deceived churchgoers who may follow certain aspects of the Ten Commandments but are still lord over their own lives?
  8. So I've been to all these churches now and none of them seem truly Christian, and I'm wondering if it is either me or the church itself. I have been told that I am an unloving, judgemental hypocrite, a Pharisee of sorts. I admit to being unloving, a Pharisee and a hypocrite, but I can't accept the fact that being judgemental is necessarily wrong. I also can't accept the fact that 95% of these places are even real churches. 1) I find it detestable that the people in these churches are prospering physically and in the worldly manner. Their lives consist of studying hard when they're young, obtaining a good high school mark to enter a reputable field of tertiary study, obtaining a high paying white collar job, building up a financial empire, buying a house and then with the backing of such resources behind them, finding a spouse with similar values, marrying, having 1-3 children, and then sitting back and enjoying the fruits of their labour, both financially and professionally until they retire. There would also be the obligatory biannual overseas holidays and road trips, friendship circles, regular eating out, a nice European luxury vehicle, a house in a safe and prosperous neighbour in a good school catchment area. This is the pattern of 95% of the people who attend the Western evangelical (Anglican, Presbyterian, Baptist) churches. They cannot be differentiated in their goals, dreams, pursuits and lords, when compared with unbelievers. There is no denying self, no carrying the cross, no beating the body into submission. The "Jesus" of their imagination can be 'worshipped' together (and I use the word "worship" loosely - to throw ten dollars into the collection basket, spend 2 hours a week doing 'church related activity') with the other metaphorical Baals and Asherah poles in their life. Their lives have been compartmentalised, one god for each area of their life, just like the Israelites. We often scorn the Israelites and think "how could they be so stupid and wicked for turning to idols so easily" and yet our problem is still the same even after all these millennia. The Jesus of their imagination is merely the god of the "get out of hell free ticket". Once you have a good high paying job, beautiful spouse, good house in a good suburb, nice car, eating out, holidays, if you've got this life 'covered' so to speak, the next natural progression of that is 'covering' yourself for the next life right? If out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, then what we do know is that all these people's real gods are laid bare. The Bible tells real born again Christians, that with much tribulation, they will enter the kingdom. It tells them that many will try to enter and not be able to, that narrow is the road. I didn't know that the road was simply as narrow as studying hard so that you could have a good career and be able to enjoy this life to the full? We often criticise the low hanging fruit, the Joel Osteens, the Kenneth Copelands and Benny Hinn's, but they are merely caricatures of what the pastors, the congregation members are living and thinking, deep in their hearts and minds. I would like to make an addendum to this section that yes, my criticism extends to that of Bible study which involves reading and discussion a chapter, eating snacks, having a discussion whereby private interpretation is allowed (2 Peter) and then socialising. 2) Which brings me to the second point about pastors. I really like what Leonard Ravenhill talked about when he said that a pastor who does not pray for 2 hours a day is not worth his salt. Most of the pastors I've talked to today either operate their Satanic ministry from the flesh, and therefore are not born again. They have no personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and this shows through the quality of their ministry, reproducing false disciples who are just like them. Like producing like. These pastors are just as worldly as their congregation members, joining in to organise social events, so that people can hang out together to eat, drink and be merry, all under the banner of "fellowship", as if spending time together to talk about careers, and who won the football game last weekend, or who's in that new movie will cause great sanctification. I've heard people speak of church membership, but let's be real, most pastors don't really care about who comes and who goes on a weekly basis, if at all they even notice. Most are merely event organisers, and if that's the case, why not just hire an actual event planner/organiser from some event planning company? Surely they can produce a "bring your friend event" much better than these pastors can? Surely they who have an actual degree in this would do a much better job? I mean if after all, you are using carnal means to attract people, then why not just go the whole hog. The problem here is the leader of the congregation himself is not born again, therefore they have no Holy Spirit in them, and they have no power of God, to feed sheep. They can only be demonic in their thinking, to lead sheep astray, under the guise of sanctification. Satan after all, appears like an angel of light, and all his works in planting tares, his 'best work' is not done at the brothel, or gambling den, but rather in the church to produce false ministers to lead astray and retard the sanctification of the elect, and to keep the other tares in the dark. 3) The combination of this produces an environment hostile and disabling to the true functions of the church. The true function of the church is for born again believers who have the Holy Spirit to worship together, fellowship together, keep each other accountable (read judge one another) and keep them on the narrow path. If you've got a situation where 95% of the congregation are tares, and the pastor and most of the elders are not born again, they will produce hostility against any individual who raises the issue of the failings of the church, because Satan would want to prevent any renewal, revival or restoration of the actual church. Now we know Satan is adept at twisting scriptures and taking them out of context as with his temptation of Jesus, so demons will plant Matthew 6 into a lot of tares' minds and tell them to answer back "judge not lest ye be judged", when confronted with truth. This twists scripture because the verse is encouraging non hypocritical judgement, rather than hypocritical judgement. It is not commanding NOT JUDGING as implied by many of those in the church who use this defence. It says after removing the plank from your own eye, "THEN REMOVE THE SPECK FROM YOUR BROTHER'S EYE" What it doesn't say is "first remove the plank from your own eye, and then your job is done and do nothing else". The end of 1st Corinthians 5 talks about Paul judging the people inside the church explicitly. In fact, the books of the Corinthians talk about how Paul deals with blatant sin in the church, which is another huge problem in the church. Except that when you have false ministers and false Christians in the church, the message really is one of "love" rather than confrontation. Since when did true love and confrontation become enemies? If we truly regard the people in the church as our heavenly brothers and sisters, would it be loving, to allow someone with spiritual cancer (that is, blatant, unrepentant and obvious sin) to go unnoticed and not say a word. If that happened in the earthly sense, even non-believers would know to say something when they can see a family member has an illness, to encourage them to see the doctor! How much more so and more important would it be for someone who's eternal salvation is at stake?! 4) I have yet to see a convincing argument against all this. Usually people respond with an ad hominem personal attack, which is fine because I myself have issues to work on and to repent of and to change. But where is the attack on the substance and content of what is being said? If it is in error, if it is falsehood, then it should easily be discredited, because otherwise, all I can think of is 2 Timothy 3 and 2 Thessalonians and the end of Matthew 24. I didn't really want to write all this out before, but because I'm looking for a Biblical church, finding all these problems and issues (with many personal experiences of the satanic influences in churches), all I get is rebuke for being judgemental. One of the reasons why I’m writing this is to express frustration at no one seeing this problem, but also I would like to say that in a very selfish manner, I am past the point where I care about the salvation of these professors of Christianity in the church. I am past losing sleep over that, all I care about is being in an environment which is more corrupt and tempting than in the secular world. When I go to secular places of work, or hang out with non-believer friends, my mental expectation is resistance and being tempted by the world (although less so now). But if I am experiencing the same kind of discouragement from the church and from the pastor, from other believers, who are encouraging worldliness and sin for example claiming vehemently that “it’s okay to buy a BMW! It’s not a sin!”, it will cause me to stumble, maybe not right at this moment with this particular sin, but like water wearing a rock away over time, something will give. I have had previous examples of this happen, and in the history of my investigating Christianity, the worst times I’ve had in my spiritual walk is when I have been going to church and been involved in their activities and the lives of the people there. So no, I’m not just talking out of my ignorance, so to speak. Finally, I would like to say that it’s difficult for me to serve in the church, if I am not sure of my condition before God, whether or not I am saved. I cannot believe that most pastors with 4-6 years or more of “formal theological training” and years and years of pastoral ministry cannot even answer the basic questions of how a person knows that they are saved. What really irks me is these professing Christians walking in darkness who have full assurance of their salvation, that is, they can “have their cake and eat it too”. I unashamedly say that I am jealous of such people, that they can have peace in their lives, whilst I have none.
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    I agree with the statement of faith! Unfortunately I am not sure whether I am saved or not. I am 29 years old now and started attending church since the age of 7 or 8 as a parent was taking me. I attended the Sunday school and some Bible studies until the age of 12-13 and then stopped going. In saying that, until the age of 17 I had never heard the gospel preached or maybe didn't really understand it. In hindsight, there were no real Christians in my life either. It wasn't until I stumbled across an American police officer's webpage with articles regarding Christianity when my eyes were truly opened and that's when I realised Christianity was by faith. I got baptised and thought I accepted Jesus at the age of 17, but because of university entrance exams along with family opposition, didn't really attend church for a whole year. I was trying to pray and read the Bible everyday however. Between 18/19 and 22, I entered university and became lukewarm in my faith and didn't really do much, I was in worldliness and didn't know it. toward the end of that period, I discovered preaching by Francis Chan, Paul Washer, John Piper etc and felt convicted regarding the narrow road. I looked at the church I had been attending all those years and had 1 friend from there, a bunch of other lukewarm people who didn't care about the gospel in hindsight, despite regular church and Bible study attendance. Looking back, I realised that the church was merely a social club with event organisers in charge (pastors/elders). There was one real preacher there, but he has now passed into heaven. We never really talked to the preachers, even after 12 years of attending the church on and off. I left there because or Revelation 3 and Luke 14, I had counted the cost according to preaching by the online pastors and found myself unable to bear the cost. I tried to participate in ministry, to walk the narrow road, but there was only persecution from my family and a terrible time entering the workforce. I hated the fact that everyone at the church had their lives 'sorted out', good degrees, good jobs, accumulating wealth, happy, healthy etc. I thought they were all hypocrites and unsaved, zero hunger for God. So after that period and up until 28 (last year), I lived in the world, but I still didn't "blatantly sin" until probably last year. In hindsight I felt like there was still something restraining me. I still wanted to be a true Christian one day, but the idea of dying to self was difficult. I just found myself growing more and more angry at society. It wasn't until last year when I 'randomly' had a concussion in September 2017, that I started going to church again and really wanting to get saved after reading Hebrews 6:44-6, Hebrews 10:12, Hebrews 12 etc. I still don't know whether I am beyond salvation after the last 10 months or so. I've been trying to keep daily communication with God, but the same problems are coming up, I hate the prosperity I see in the church, the lack of suffering, lack of hunger for God, lip service only. I feel that it is essentially a glorified social club where people care less about each other than the members of a secular social club would. And this is across multiple churches, multiple denominations, multiple age groups. At the same time, I am also struggling with whether or not I'm truly saved. I can't overcome the questions posed of Matthew 7:21, Luke 13:24 and combining them with Jeremiah 17:9 concerning self deception. I guess no one has been able to answer the question of, if no one besides God has read the book of life, how can anyone know that they are saved? I'm angry that people are so glib and uncaring and just label themselves as Christians and they cannot even explain in simple language how they know that they are saved. I also struggle with idolatry, I'm dealing with overeating, possibly the idolatry of or coveting marriage, failure in career, fear in following Jesus, unloving heart, difficulty socialising (possible Aspergers/Autism), although praise God (surely it must be his work) that I've been able to stop blatant sexual sin which I was addicted to for 15 years, and also have been able to 'forgive' my mother (although not sure how real that is yet). The reason I joined this forum is because of wanting to find fellowship with true Christians, figure out whether I am truly saved, post my unpopular opinions which I've written down and get criticised for whenever I share them (e.g. the abuse of scripture pertaining to Matthew 7:1-3, the great apostasy in today's "churches" etc). To put it bluntly I get a little lonely so I go to church, but then I see all these unsaved people (2 Timothy 3:5, Matthew 24:12 etc) who profess Christianity with their lips and deny with actions and it depresses me. I don't want to be like such people because during times where I've wanted to really get involved in the church, my spiritual life seems to get worse and worse. Everyone is getting to the age where they are married now. I can't be bothered talking to these people about what movie they watched over the weekend, or the latest holiday or new gadget they bought. So that turned out longer than I had in mind, can I post in the main forum now? Haha
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    Hi all, I came back to or am trying to come back to God, after leaving the church about 6 years ago due to being unhappy with the state of it. Just checking in and wanting to ask how I can post in the theology section of the forum. Is there an agreed waiting period that I have to go through or does it operate by post count? Thanks
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