Someone can hear the story of the Gospel, fashion in their own strength their imagination of the story, remember the story, and think: “I believe — I have faith”.
That person has believed in a story faith, but their heart and nature has not changed. Their spirit is not reborn. That person will always be striving to masquerade or perform Christianity in their own strength.
I learned the phrase “story faith” from William Tyndale. He writes about it in several places. Here is an excerpt from his prologue to Romans (link) —
Faith is not man’s opinion and dream, as some imagine, and form their own ideas when they hear the story of the gospel. The cause is that when they hear the gospel or glad tidings, they fashion by their own strength certain imaginations and thoughts in their hearts, saying, I have heard the gospel; I remember the story; lo I believe! And this they count true faith – which nevertheless, since it is but man’s imagination and assumption, does not profit. Neither do good works or lasting amendment of life follow.
But true faith is a thing wrought by the Holy Spirit in us, which changes us, transforms our nature, begets us anew in God, and makes us the children of God [John 1:11-13]. A faith that is genuine kills the old Adam, and makes us altogether new in the heart, mind, will, desire, and in all our affections and powers of the soul, and brings the Holy Spirit with her.
Faith is a living and steadfast trust in the favour of God, whereby we commit ourselves altogether to God. And that trust is so surely grounded and sticks so fast in our hearts that a man would not once doubt of it, though he should die a thousand times for it. And such trust wrought by the Holy Spirit through faith makes a person glad, joyful, cheerful, and true-hearted, toward God and toward all creatures….
Therefore take heed to yourself. Beware of your own suppositions and imaginations, which to judge of faith and good works will seem wise, but indeed are blind, and of all things most unwise. Pray God that he will assent to work faith in your heart, or you will remain evermore faithless, however much you surmise, imagine, strengthen your resolve, wrestle with yourself or do what you will or can.
Having a story faith ≈ blindness
Story faith assents to and remembers the historical story of record of Christ’s life, death and resurrection. It mentally assents to the proposition that He died for all sin on our behalf. But believing a story faith does not change the heart; it does not transform the natural man’s birth poison — original sin. Nor does it lead to assurance of forgiveness.
The heart that wants to ‘do life’ without regard for God’s loving and good design — the heart that is spiritually dead despite the fact that it is physically pumping blood around lung-breathing flesh — that heart will never be transformed from spiritual death to spiritual life by believing in a story faith.
Story faith is cold. True faith is a feeling faith.
Emotions, feelings, affections, heartfelt responses of compassion for the oppressed — and heartfelt dislike of falsehood and wrongdoing — are intrinsic to true faith.
Tyndale contrasts story faith with true faith:
For the reasons and similitudes of man’s wisdom make no faith, but wavering and uncertainty opinions only. One draws in this way his argument, another draws that. And of whatever principle you prove black, another proves white, and so am I ever uncertain, as if you tell me of a thing done in a far land and another tell me the contrary, I know not what to believe.
But faith is wrought by the power of God, that is, when God’s word is preached, the Spirit enters thine heart and maketh thy soul feel it and maketh thee so sure of it, that neither adversity, nor persecution, nor death, neither yet all the pains of hell could yet once prevail against thee or move thee from the sure rock of God’s word, that thou shoulds’t not believe that which God hath sworn.
– William Tyndale, “The Obedience of the Christian Man”, p 165 (Penguin Classics 2000.) [Punctuation in quotes from Tyndale has been altered and the English gently updated to make it easier for modern readers.]
Tyndale denounced the Roman church’s insistence on auricular confession: the doctrine that a person must confess their sins into the ear of a priest. Here is Tyndale speaking of the role of feeling (emotion) in confession:
When a man feels that his heart consents unto the law of God, and feels himself meek, patient, courteous and merciful to his neighbour, altered and fashioned like unto Christ, why should he doubt that God forgive him, though he never cram his sin into the priest’s ear?
[ibid p 118, gently updated.]
Tyndale talks about how the natural man can be taught to behave ‘morally’ but that only intensifies the vice of self-glory. The natural man can be motivated by fear, praise or profit. But when people in their own strength try to conform to or impersonate morality, they become more prideful.
That you may perceive and feel the thing in thine heart and not be a vain sophister disputing about words without perceiving, mark this:
The root of all evil the greatest damnation and most terrible wrath and vengeance of God that we are in is natural blindness.
We are all out of the right way, every man his ways: one judges this best, another that to be best. Now is worldly wit [cleverness] nothing else but craft and subtlety to obtain that which we judge falsely to be best. As I err in my wit, so err I in my will. When I judge that to be evil which in deed is good, then I hate that which is good.
Now; when we say every man has free will, to what him lusteth [what he desires], I say verily that men do what they lust. Notwithstanding, to follow lusts is not freedom, but captivity and bondage. If God opens any man’s wits to make him feel in his heart that lusts and appetites are damnable, and gives him power to hate and resist them, then is he free even with the freedom wherewith Christ makes free, and has power to do the will of God.
You may hereby perceive that all that is done in the world (before the spirit of God come and gives us light) is damnable sin, and the more glorious the more damnable: so that that which the world counts most glorious is more damnable, in the sight of God, than that which the whore, the thief and the murderer do.
With blind reasons of worldly wisdom may you change the minds of youth and make them give themselves to what you will either for fear, for praise or for profit: and yet you do but change them from one vice to another, as the persuasions of her friends made Lucrece chaste. [In Roman legend, Lucrece gloried in her chastity. Having suffered rape by Tarquin, she took her own life.]
Lucrece believed if she were a good housewife and chaste, that she should be most glorious, and that all the world would give her honour and praise her. She sought her own glory in her chastity and not God’s. When she had lost her chastity, then she counted herself abominable in the sight of all men, and for very pain and thought which she had, not that she had displeased God, but that she had lost her honour, slew herself.
Look how great her pain and sorrow was for the loss of her chastity, so great was her glory and rejoicing therein and so much despised she them that were otherwise and pitied them not. Which pride God more abhors than the whoredom of any whore.
Of like pride are all the moral virtues of Aristotle, Plato and Socrates, and all the doctrines of the philosophers the very gods of our school men.
[School men = legalists / false teachers / false Christians / scholars who debated about topics like how many angels could fit on the head of a pin.]
[ibid, p 44-5, gently updated. Emphasis added.]
The apostle Peter talks about the blindness of those who think they are following Christ but are not fleeing the corruption of worldly lust. It is a blindness they bring on themselves, by their own hypocrisy.
Grace be with you, and peace be multiplied in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who has called us by virtue and glory, by the means whereof are given to us excellent and most great promises, so that by the help of them you may be partakers of the divine nature, in that you flee the corruption of worldly lust.
And give all diligence to this. To your faith add virtue, and to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, and to temperance patience, to patience godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, to brotherly kindness love. For if these things be among you and abound, they will make you so that you will neither be idle nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(v9) But he who lacks these things is blind, and gropes for the way with his hands, and has forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
Therefore, brethren, give the more diligence to make your calling and election sure. For if you do such things, you shall never err. [Emphasis added.]
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet!
[From the hymn “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord”, also known as “Battle Hymn of the Republic”.]
[June 27, 2022: Editors’ notes:
—For some comments made prior to June 27, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to June 27, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to June 27, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (June 27, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]
Bible versions used in this series
New Testament: NMB (New Matthew Bible); notes from the NMB are in grey italicised text.
Psalms: Myles Coverdale’s translation as per the 1662 Book of Common Prayer
Old Testament other than Psalms: NKJV (New King James)
Posts in this series
Part 1: Are abusers blind? Are abusers deceived? What does the Bible say?
Part 2: Blindness from original sin
Part 3: Blindness exacerbated by individual choice
Part 4: Blindness exacerbated by group choice and group-leader choice
Part 5: Blindness as a result of being deceived by others
Part 6: Blindness as a judgment from God
Part 7: Is this post
18 thoughts on “Story Faith Blindness – part 7 of series on blindness and deception”
Cited in the original post:
Cited in the original post:
For me, the two quotes I copied from the original post summarize the process of being led by the Holy Spirit through blind spots, and to which I communicate to the Holy Spirit (again, citing from the original post):
^THAT takes diligence / effort / etc.
What a sobering post. I can see the truth of what he is saying. This state of affairs is so very common today in the church where we tell people immediately that they are saved just because they pray a prayer or feel some stirrings of desire for God. But this demonstrates how easily deceived we are, whether by sin, self, the world or the enemy. So, given that Scripture does say that if we confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts, we shall be saved, how then do we make sure that we have indeed experienced regeneration?
You have asked a good question, Kind of Anonymous. 🙂 I think it will take me time to compose an answer to it. I’m not saying my answer will be perfect or comprehensive, but I will do the best I can.
Kind of Anonymous, I hope you don’t mind if I add more to my answer. I hope this will help you and other readers.
THE DOCTRINE OF ASSURANCE (part 2)
I am about to copy / paste from The Westminster Confession of Faith. Some readers of ACFJ bristle when I refer to any Confession or Catechism which was complied by believers during the Protestant Reformation (1500s — 1600s AD). I never put those documents on the same level as the Bible; but personally, I find they can be helpful because they often give good summaries of orthodox Christian doctrine.
Begin quote from The Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter 18.
Hypocrites and other unregenerate persons may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and worldly presumptions that they are in God’s favour and in a state of salvation. This hope of theirs will perish. However, those who truly believe in the Lord Jesus and love him in sincerity, endeavouring to conduct themselves in all good conscience before him, may in this life be certainly assured that they are in a state of grace, and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, a hope that will never disappoint them.
This certainty is not mere conjecture and probability based on a fallible hope, but is an infallible assurance arising from saving faith and based on divine truth of the promises of salvation, the evidence in our hearts of those graces to which these promises are made, and the testimony of the Spirit of adoption witnessing with our spirits that we are children of God. The Spirit is the pledge guaranteeing our inheritance, and by him we are sealed for the day of redemption.
The relationship of this infallible assurance to the essence of faith is such that a true believer may wait long and contend with many difficulties before he experiences it. However, being enabled by the Spirit to know the things freely given him from God, he may attain to this assurance in the right use of ordinary means without extraordinary revelation. Therefore it is the duty of everyone to be as diligent as possible in making his calling and election sure, so that his heart may be enlarged in peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, in love and thankfulness to God, and in strength and cheerfulness in the duties of obedience. These, and not carelessness, are the natural consequences flowing from assurance of salvation.
True believers may have the assurance of their salvation in different ways shaken, diminished or temporarily absent. This may result from carelessness in preserving it, or from falling into some special sin which wounds the conscience and grieves the Spirit, or from some sudden and very strong temptation, or by God’s withdrawal of the light of his countenance and allowing even those who fear him to walk in darkness and have no light. Yet true believers are never utterly deprived of the nature which is born of God, the life of faith, the love of Christ and of other believers, or of sincerity of heart and conviction of duty. As a result of the presence of these graces their assurance may in time be revived through the working of the Spirit, while in the meantime they are kept from utter despair.
End quote from Westminster Confession of Faith.
I quoted the entirety of chapter 18. My source: “The Westminster Confession and Catechisms in Modern English”, edited by Roland S Ward (New Melbourne Press, 1996, 2000).
Kind of Anonymous’s question is about assurance.
THE DOCTRINE OF ASSURANCE (part 1)
The benefits in this [mortal] life which accompany or flow from regeneration, faith, justification, adoption and sanctification are:
(1) assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience
(2) joy in the Holy Spirit
(3) progress in holiness and perseverance in holiness to this life’s end.
Scriptures that testify to the three points I just listed:
ASSURANCE OF GOD’S LOVE, PEACE OF CONSCIENCE
Romans 5:1, 2, 5
(1) Because therefore we are justified by faith, we are at peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, (2) by whom we have a way in through faith, to this grace wherein we stand and rejoice in the hope of the glory to come, which shall be given by God. (3) Not only that, but we also rejoice in tribulation. For we know that trouble brings patience, (4) patience brings experience, and experience brings hope. (5) And our hope makes not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who is given to us.
JOY IN THE HOLY SPIRIT
(17) For the kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
PROGRESS IN HOLINESS AND PERSEVERANCE IN HOLINESS TO THIS LIFE’S END
(9) For this reason we also, since the day we heard of it, have not ceased praying for you, and asking that you be fulfilled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, (10) so that you may walk worthy of the Lord in all things that please him, being fruitful in all good works and increasing in the knowledge of God, (11) strengthened with all might through his glorious power to have all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness, (12) and giving thanks to the Father, who has made us fit to be partakers of the inheritance of saints in light. (13) He has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son, (14) in whom we have redemption through his blood; that is to say, the forgiveness of sins.
2 Peter 3:18
(3) This first understand: that there will come in the last days mockers, who will walk after their own lusts (4) and say, Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers died, all things continue in the same estate that they were in at the beginning. (5) This they are ignorant of (and that willingly): that the heavens a great while ago were, and the earth that was in the water appeared up out of the water by the word of God – (6) by which things the world that then was perished, overflowing with water. (7) But the heavens and earth which are now, are kept by the same word in store, and reserved for fire at the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
(8) Dearly beloveds, be not ignorant of this one thing: that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. (9) The Lord is not slack to fulfil his promise, as some count slackness, but is patient toward us, and would have no one lost, but would receive all to repentance. (10) Nevertheless, the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which day the heavens shall perish with terrible noise, and the elements shall melt with heat, and the earth with the works that are in it shall burn.
(11) If all these things will perish, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy living and godliness, (12) looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, in which the heavens shall perish with fire and the elements shall be consumed with heat? (13) Nevertheless, we look for a new heaven and a new earth according to his promise, wherein righteousness dwells.
(14) Therefore, dearly beloveds, seeing that you look for such things, be diligent to be found by him in peace, without spot and undefiled. (15) And count the longsuffering of the Lord to be salvation, even as our dearly beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, wrote to you – (16) yea, in almost every epistle speaking of such things, among which are many things hard to understand, which those who are unlearned and unstable pervert, as they do other scriptures, to their own destruction.
(17) You therefore, beloveds, seeing you know it beforehand, beware lest you also be plucked away with the error of the wicked and fall from your own steadfastness; (18) but grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To whom be glory both and forever. Amen.
(16) I pray that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with power by his Spirit in the inner man, (17) and that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith, so that you, being rooted and grounded in love, (18) may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is that breadth and length, depth and height, (19) and to know what is the love of Christ, which love passes knowledge; that you might be filled with every kind of fullness that comes of God.
(27) As I said to you, my sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me, (28) and I give to them eternal life. And they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. (29) My Father who gave them to me is greater than all, and no one is able to take them out of my Father’s hand.
1 Peter 1:3-5
(3) Blessed be God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who through his abundant mercy begat us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from death, (4) to enjoy an inheritance immortal and undefiled, and that does not perish, reserved in heaven for you, (5) who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation. Which salvation is prepared all ready to be shown in the last time —
1 John 5:13
(13) These things I have written to you who believe on the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life, and so that you may believe on the name of the Son of God.
(6) And I am confident of this: that he who began a good work in you will go forth with it until the day of Jesus Christ —
Kind Of Anonymous always brings up such great points AND questions. I love her honesty and straightforwardness.
I don’t know if there is any greater anxiety than NOT knowing the true state of your soul, and there are only two choices: saved or unsaved. Only one of two places you can go, one of two kingdoms you belong to, one of two fathers you can be the child of.
Depending on your season of life, these anxieties can be and often are VERY real. Your faith is tested, shaken, wearing thin or on the brink of ruin. You’re not only scared for your present life, but even more scared about the afterlife. Others may question the state of your salvation, which is also about as bad as it gets.
Barb’s responses were wonderful, plus the verses she offered as well.
I thought of 1 John 3:20-22:
And 2 Timothy 2:19:
I used to think the main “proof” of being born again (apart from bearing good fruit) was being less sinful. No, not being a “good” person, or following a bunch of commandments. It’s not a lifestyle, it’s a real life—focused on not being ruled by what used to rule you: your pride, which is the root of sin.
This is NOT a bad goal. When sin is chosen, death is the inevitable result. Even 20 years into being a believer, my old life, though spiritually dead and gone—-still finds ways to haunt me. I truly wonder if I will ever be completely “rid of” what used to rule me.
But I’ve observed a few things over the years that have shaped those thoughts more delicately.
First of all, there is no such thing as achieving sinless perfection on this side of eternity. So, you know you will fall short (you don’t give in to sin as if it’s inevitable). Second, it is our RESPONSE to sin that is the true difference between the old and new life. I am not proud of myself, or proud that I sinned AND “got away” with it.
Third, the joy of repentance, the actual ACT of repentance—-is beyond words. His kindness to lead to conviction of sin is so full of love, that I am never afraid to repent. I WANT to repent. We are closer than ever when it is all said and done.
I never feel joy at the NEED to repent of course. I don’t WANT to repeat the process over and over again. When I first met Him, I had no idea I was far more of a mess than I’d originally thought. That is because I had no idea what sin did or did not look like to Him. Sin paranoia is real, by the way. You can become so paranoid that sin is everywhere in you or around you that you forget to trust Him to keep you spiritually safe (Jude 1:24).
The process has just begun after repenting. Now growth in Him; growth in grace is next. (Barb pointed this out and brought in verses, too.)
As a new believer, grace was like a foreign word to me. It still puzzles me, many years later. Faith in Him is one thing. Grace FROM Him, believing and receiving that grace—is another.
Imagine the most expensive, beautiful piece of jewelry that exists. There is no way you could ever afford it. In fact, the price is so high that, should it be displayed in a case, there is not enough room to display its cost as well.
This is grace. This is what He gives us. He paid for it Himself, won’t ask you to pay Him back for it (won’t even let you try), and He wants YOU to wear it.
No, not THAT person who “looks like” he or she deserves it (better dressed, better looking, better behaved).
This isn’t optional. He won’t force you to wear it, but if you want to be in a relationship with Him, accept it for what it is and be glad to wear it. It’s not about how much it costs. It’s about how much it matters to Him that you wear it. It means you are loved by Him. And what could be better than that?
As you wear it, it becomes a part of you. You grow in understanding of what it means and what it doesn’t mean. That is what growth in grace is like, IMO. You start off feeling awkward and weird in trying to wear it. You might even forget you are wearing it and start trying to pay for it, or at least act like you deserve it (aka good works, being a good person). But He has a way of bringing you back to the beginning and reminds you: “I told you that I won’t accept repayment, I only want you to accept Me.”
The assurances of that go WAY beyond any and all feelings, even further than our faith. What I mean by that—-is that He is so faithful that even IF our faith struggles, He is there to remind you Who you belong to. Who will never forsake you. That actually strengthens our struggling faith.
Breaking up the comment for easier reading!
I thought about the hypocrisy comment in Barb’s response, AND the post itself.
Imagine two teachers. They are both incredibly dedicated, hard-working and love to teach. They are passionate about their students and want to see them grow and succeed. They work long hours, even extra hours to do what needs to be done. The job doesn’t pay much, but they focus on setting a good example, setting up the students to go out into the world.
One is a Sunday School teacher, the other is in a secular school. One might naturally assume the former is saved because of the setting, not so naturally about the latter.
Both teachers are doing great things. Admirable things, even—I have been grateful for warm, loving compassionate teachers because I was such an unhappy child. Both teachers are not necessarily bad persons. Their hearts were honest about their dedication. Throw in that they are both just as dedicated to their home lives.
Being distinctive from the secular world has to go deeper than that. Christ said in Matthew 5:20 that our righteousness has to exceed those of the Pharisees.
Yes, we know the Pharisees loved money and praises from men more than anything else. Let me bring up a man like Bill Gates, who has spent much of his fortune on charity and I recall hearing that he is going to leave much of his fortune to charity when he dies. I have no idea the state of his faith, but the fact that he gives a lot of money is NOT a true blue assurance that he is Heaven-bound.
Ironically, back to the school setting that I think gives an aspect of assurance. When we took tests, it is a one-on-one experience. The true test of who you are or who you are NOT. It will prove or disprove what you have learned, and what you still need to learn.
When my faith has been tested, I tended to get very low marks. It showed me how far I had to go. I could go into the test thinking I had it all figured out, but tests don’t lie. Even if there were “trick” questions in there, I should have been able to see through them. They reflected back to me in ways that did not come through in the classroom setting. I could raise my hand in a heartbeat, I learned fast and soaked up all the right answers. But when it came to being tested, I couldn’t put all that knowledge to its proper use to get the grade.
Back to those fictional teachers AND persons like Bill Gates. You can and should admire them. Be glad they exist. Bill Gates has likely helped countless numbers of persons. Those teachers likely did the same.
But how do THEY “score” when they sit down to take their OWN tests? Oh, it’s one thing to GIVE the tests, or to GIVE away a lot of money. But no one escapes being tested by Him. They may not be tests made out of paper, and I’d to think that while He “scores” those tests, it’s not just just about the right answers. He’ll test your heart as well.
Even after many, many low marks on my own “tests,” I stayed in school, or at least refused to quit. 🙂 A particular test I failed miserably in, when my cowardice was on full display—-it was like that test had been pinned to the wall for all to see—-was given to me AGAIN.
I saw the similarities. I DO think I did “better” that time around, but I still fell VERY short in VERY key areas. He would make the final call in this, but I do believe I grew some. That meant something to me. I felt SOME level of assurance.
Growth makes ALL the difference, not how much or how little I grew, but that I grew at all. For His grace to work in a very slow, stubborn learner as myself, that was proof positive of its authenticity, not to mention its effectiveness. It may work slowly in those like me (carrying the “[word redacted]” gene since day one it seems), but it DOES work. If He is willing to be patient with me, He must think I have some potential.
I still fear I will be kicked out or expelled—-what if He loses patience with me? Then I truly am lost. I have nowhere to go to be taught, to learn, to grow.
I try not to think that way. Fear and perfect love don’t go together. One drives out the other. Let THAT fact sink into my head, and let THAT drive me to keep “showing up” for school!
[We redacted the word Helovesme used as it might sound denigrating to some people. Editors.]
Hi, Helovesme, you mentioned Bill Gates as an example of a philanthropist who “we can and should admire”. I just want to caution you and other readers about this idea.
I believe that there are wealthy public figures who donate a lot of their wealth to supposedly help humanity. In the mind of the general public, these wealthy public figures get a lot of kudos and admiration for being philanthropists.
But are their donations really doing good in this world for humanity? Or are the donations just covers for enabling and exacerbating harm to humanity?
It is my belief that what the mainstream media tells you is not the whole truth and in fact what the mainstream media tells you is likely to be spin and disinformation. And when any fact or truth is published by the mainstream media it is often spun to polish up the reputations of wealthy people who are doing great harm in this world by being complying with Satan’s agenda for this world.
I believe Bill Gates to be one of those wealthy people.
Systems analysis tells us that people only get extremely $$rich in this world if they are psychopaths and are complying with the evildoers and their master Satan who is / are trafficking children, running drugs, and developing and running the worldwide weapons / wars / arms trade.
The Bible tells us the same thing. As one of many examples I could cite from Scripture I will cite Revelation 18 which talks about the merchants and traders of the earth who had become exceedingly rich because they were compliant with and worshipped Babylon.
Who are the ‘kings of the earth’ referred to in Psalm 2? Logic would tell us that they are powerful wealthy people who are at the top of the pyramid(s) in business / finance / politics / monarchies / ‘c’hurch institutions / banking / mainstream media / the so-called ‘justice system’ and all other major institutions of society.
See also Rev 17:2, 18; Acts 4:26; Ezekiel 27:33.
The cover that these evil people use is to be philanthropists, do-gooders, etc. One of those covers may be that the evildoer/ psychopath presents in public as a Christian.
Personally, I do not encourage people to admire or respect Bill Gates.
Thank you, Barbara. I do see your point. Perhaps it would have been better to have not used an actual name, certainly not one that we know little about except what is reported, to connect my comment.
There are non-Christian, non-wealthy, non-famous people persons who do try to help others. They very well may be involved in horrible crimes against humanity as well, just to cover the bases properly.
When I think about it I should not have said we should respect, admire anyone that we know so little about, based merely on reputation and / or the words of others, not up close and personal.
Perhaps this proved some of the heart of the post without realizing it. 😯 Completely unintended, but very instructional.
My former pastor was exposed to be an adulterer after he retired to avoid the public glare of the scandal, which was about to be revealed. I had been attending that church for a handful of years, not in the double-digit years like many others. Even so, it took me a long time to let in sink in, to this day I don’t know if it fully has.
To be honest, I couldn’t believe how well he concealed himself. Like I said, I wasn’t a part of the inner circle, but as far as I know they too were blindsided. It may be, as it is so often so, that only after the truth comes out, that you look back and see what you now know what you saw, or what you did not want to see.
The post did an excellent job listing out those warnings and necessity of taking those warnings seriously.
Sorry, this is my last reply! The question asked was so good and so meaningful, and so relates to the post itself.
Now I’ll tell you how I look at OTHERS who profess Christ. And the many ups and downs that came and still come with that.
Barb has written so wonderfully about such a topic, so I’ll throw in a few personal stories to illustrate the many ways she has brought this up.
I look for repentance in other believers. When I see the real deal need [for repentance], and there is no way around it. No amount of hurt feelings, sensitivities and / or insecurities can explain or condone or simply ignore that need. Those things may matter, and need to be dealt with, but that doesn’t mean you are “off the hook.” I know this well for myself, by the way. So if it “takes one to know one,” I am that one!
This is NOT to put them down or condemn them, not in the least. It is actually the exact opposite. You are truly concerned for them. You can SEE what a lack of repentance does, and it’s not pretty. If they are not held accountable, nothing good comes from that. And it only goes from bad to worse.
Bear in mind that only the Lord can bring a person’s heart to repentance. It is a work of Him, and a work of Him in an individual. If you recall the woman caught in adultery, only when all her accusers had walked away, did He speak to her one-on-one—-go and sin no more. Also, those accusers weren’t interested in her repentance, nor of their own! Their spiritual pride would have none of that! They cared nothing for the state of her soul, nor of their own.
If I don’t see repentance from Him, I don’t see growth in Him. I do not want examples like that around me. In order to persevere to the end (Barb’s reply went into more detail), it is imperative to be encouraged by the examples of those around you. There are so many verses that point this out, that the need for them simply cannot be bypassed. A lack of examples doesn’t spell out doom and gloom, but no doubt they can and do make such a difference.
I have found that in order to obey the first and greatest commandment, to love Him, one needs to look for not only what pleases Him, but what ticks Him off. It is applicable to human relationships, too. And His Word does speak of such things extensively.
Lies are very high on that list of what ticks Him off. They steal, kill and destroy. If there is anything I despise the most, it is those who attempt to “mess” with my mind with deception. This is not only the heart of the devil, it is the heart of a hateful abuser.
Truth is very high on that list of what pleases Him. It sets you free, it brings life, and it brings healing. If there is anything I LOVE the most, it is those who attempt to do anything BUT “mess” with my mind with deception. This is not only the heart of the Lord, it is the heart of a loving non-abuser.
Since you can’t control how others believe and behave, if (by the Holy Spirit alone) you discern that a professing Christian seems fine and dandy in believing and trusting in lies, has no interest in truth, and strangely enough, usually has “people-power” backing him or her up—-be assured that something is not right, and be assured that this is NOT the example you want around you.
Back to the classroom setting. If you are around the students who are goofing around, slacking off and disrupting class, change seats immediately. At best, they will simply distract you. At worst, they will tempt you to be a distraction like they are.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Barb is a wonderful example NOT because she denies her shortcomings. She admits them, deals with them with dignity, and does the best she can for the shortcomings of others. She aims for His righteousness, at the expense of her own and certainly while admitting that His righteousness is still hard at work in her.
I can easily admit how much I need to grow in this area, with no shame but certainly with no pride, either.
I look forward to your thoughts, Barb 🙂 Thank you. Don’t worry, I won’t hold up placards like they do in figure skating, Lol!
No I don’t mind at all, Barb. 🙂 I am still musing on the first part but the second part is even more illuminating as it speaks to some of my concerns. More later. Thank you very much!
This was such a helpful post, thank you!
Thanks for the encouragement!
By the way, I changed the screen name you had given in your comment because it was the same as your email address. I changed it to KayJay which (as far as I can figure out) was the screen name you used in previous comments, when you had a different email address. If you want us to change KayJay to something else, please email my assistant Reaching Out. Her address is:
I need to read the whole post, but the first few lines were so good that I wanted to point them out:
I look forward to the rest and reading the comments as well. So much there already.
The post was wonderful. I certainly enjoyed Tyndale’s writings, and Barb’s attention to trying to break down his writings for us modern readers, while still allowing us to read his actual words! I’ve had to go back a few times to re-read some of them to get more understanding.
The heading —
—stood out to me. It reminded me of reading history—often a litany of dates, events and cold, hard facts to either memorize or simply store away.
I try not to approach it with “coldness,” because these things really happened in real time to real people—just from a long time ago so you feel disconnected. BUT, one of the biggest reasons to read history is to learn about it, learn FROM it, and (where applicable), take pains to never repeat it.
I don’t think you can have this sort of attitude unless you find a way to humanize history. And without a doubt, personal stories or letters or even people (if they are still alive) will do their best to do just that.
But again—-reading their personal writings or even hearing their voices is not enough. I would say that you need to lower your guard and attempt to extend a measure of empathy. In a nutshell, inject some humanity into the history of humanity!
Just as this post states, it’s not enough to hear the Gospel and intellectually believe it. The other spectrum is just as dangerous: it’s not enough to simply FEEL that it is true. Neither is what the sure foundation of Christ in based upon.
The reason (IMO) is not because intellect and feelings are bad things. This post expressed it well. You DO need to know the facts about the Gospel, and Barb spoke of compassion for the oppressed, hatred of evil as “intrinsic to true faith.”
I liken it to Christ’s warnings about building your house on a foundation of sand or rock in Matthew 7:25. He who hears His words, but does or does not put them into action—not if but WHEN those storms came, one house stood, the one fell with a great crash.
I read a comment once about how love and righteousness were perfectly expressed in Him. He does not love at the expense of righteousness, and He was never righteous at the expense of love. Something about that always makes me want to draw nearer to Him, to understand this better.
A true believer is hungry for Him; a false one is NOT. You can only admit you are hungry if you first admit that something in you is empty, needing to be filled. Maybe this is why those that hunger and thirst for His righteousness are blessed—-what they need to fill that hunger is readily available. Being hungry is not the greatest feeling, but being fed certainly is!
When I am literally hungry, I do not have to be concerned because I have food in my house. I TRY to imagine what it would be like if I was hungry, but had nothing to eat. No food in the house and no money to buy any. Your stomach will remain empty, no chance of being filled. No way to deal with that hunger, unless someone is willing to feed you—but at their expense, and with the knowledge that there is no way you can pay them back.
Sound familiar? Some of Tyndale’s writings seemed to project that notion. He noticed that only He [Jesus]—no priest, no amount of good deeds, no self-glorifying, nothing the world has to offer or motivate us (“fear, praise or profit,” from the original post)—fills the need, undoes that “natural blindness” (from the original post) that no human being can undo, not on their own.
It’s that Holy Spirit within us, the Spirit bearing witness with our heart, the new man, the new creature in Christ which makes that supernatural connection to our Lord and Savior! Men’s or women’s hearts cannot duplicate that supernatural new man creation within the heart of those who don’t repent, and don’t really believe!
Thank you for this exceptional post. I do think my husband is one of those who have rationalized that he is a believer. His response to me asking him what John 3:16 meant to him was, ‘What do you mean?’. Then his next reply was, ‘You express it better than I can.’ He didn’t ‘get it’ at all. The next day, after he had spoken with a Baptist colleague at work, my husband came home and said, ‘I just know It’. Well, my Savior is not an ‘IT’. So I sent my husband an email, and said I had wanted him to tell me himself what he thought of John 3:16, and what it meant to him in his relationship to God. He never responded to my email. Never mentioned it at all, except for his, “I just know It’.
He and I cannot carry on a real spiritual conversation, even after [over four decades] of marriage, the years and years, he was taught in a group of Christians who regularly ‘drilled’ the young people with the doctrine that was taught. Head knowledge does not save a person. So sad, and pathetic. But God is faithful to all, not wanting any to perish, but that all should come to repentance. And I think that is the key right there, ‘that all should come to REPENTANCE’. If they think there is nothing in their life they need to repent of then why do they need a Savior. That is how the unregenerate heart perceives their ‘belief’, as a system of rules and conduct, and doctrinal dogma. But it’s the unaccountability issue, which will damn them to hell, that unrepentant heart which, all the good works in the world can’t save a man unless he repents. Then, and only then can the Holy Spirit work in a person’s heart to cause that indwelling of the fruit of the Spirit to manifest itself, and cause that direct line of communication to God, Himself, through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And so we pray, hoping the day will come that those we love, who are not truly born again, may see the light of the glorious Gospel. But until then, no one, not even the Holy Spirit can change the heart of the unregenerate heart. It is a choice we all have to make on our own.
[Duration of marriage airbrushed for protection. Editors.]
Thank you for the encouragement, Many Years. 🙂
I know I’ve been slow to respond to comments on this blog; but I want to assure you I’ve read your comment and I appreciate it.