C.H. Spurgeon

Sinners, let me address you with words of life; Jesus wants nothing from you, nothing whatsoever, nothing done, nothing felt; he gives both work and feeling. Ragged, penniless, just as you are, lost, forsaken, desolate, with no good feelings, and no good hopes, still Jesus comes to you, and in these words of pity he addresses you, "Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out."

Comment Policy: No profanity or blasphemy will be posted. You do not have to agree, but if you would like your comment posted, you will have to adhere to the policy.


Monday, April 30, 2007

I Used To Be a Christian, I Promise

On an atheist blog (yeah, I’ve been visiting one) I posted this comment which many may disagree with, so I decided to post my comments here and hopefully some will pay a visit to explain why they believe I am wrong.

I said:
It appears that some people here claim they used to be Christians.

My concern is not with whether or not a person believes they have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior by grace through faith, but the words used to be a Christian.

What I mean is that biblically speaking, if a person does repent of sin and by faith accepts Christ as Savior; they are in fact saved at that very moment and become what is known as a Christian. As a Christian we are to following the Word of God (Bible) as our authority, even if it means going against the traditions of men that also claim to be Christians.

Baptist, which I am, believe we are saved by faith alone, we are baptized in obedience (without it effecting our salvation one bit), and that tongues are not for today, which most fail to follow 1 Corinthians 14 anyway.

When one says that they used to be a Christian, they are immediately placed into one of two categories:

1] They actually did receive Christ as Savior one day and have currently decided to turn their backs on all that they know to be true, yet are still saved.

2] They never actually received Christ as Savior and are currently still unsaved.

At the very point of salvation (this is where one has to know their own experience with Christ) - without tongues or baptism - they are sealed by the Holy Spirit [Ephesians 1:13; Ephesians 4:30], they are kept by the power of God [1 Peter 1:5], cannot be separated from the love of Christ [Romans 8:33-39]. Therefore, salvation cannot be lost.

So being a Christian is because of the new birth by Christ. All the things that follow like going to church, etc. come from the new birth because one is now a Christian, they do not make one a Christian - Christ did.

Therefore if you truly accepted Jesus Christ when you say you did, then you are still a Christian today - not because you choose not to do the things the Bible says, but because Christ saved you the day you called on Him. On the other hand if you did not really accept Christ that day (and only you know) then you never were a Christian and aren't one today.

I hope this clears up what I mean, even if you disagree. Here is a verse to ponder.

2 Timothy 2:13, If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.

17 comments:

Jonathan said...

So, you would fall into the "Once Saved, Always Saved" camp?

Jonathan said...

Do you feel you are following biblical accuracy or more of a denominational doctrine?

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

Jonathan,

So, you would fall into the "Once Saved, Always Saved" camp?

Not exactly. Please view my post here: http://splintersofsilver.blogspot.com/2007/03/once-saved-always-saved-or-perseverance.html

Do you feel you are following biblical accuracy or more of a denominational doctrine?

I believe I have given the scripture here to show that I believe I am following biblical doctrine over denominational doctrine. Scripture is the final authority, not denomination.

Thanks for visiting.

leslie said...

sometimes people see a word or phrase and lose all sense of context.

Anonymous said...

I used to be a Christian, and now I'm atheist.

At least, I considered myself Christian. I was very deeply involved with my church, and even seriously considered becoming a missionary. I certainly felt saved, felt that I had a personal relationship with Christ.

But if you prefer to think of it as being the case that I never was Christian, that's fine by me. It's amazing the power that defining your own terms has.

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

Anonymous,

Thanks for the visit.

I am not sure what you mean by It's amazing the power that defining your own terms has.

I am not defining terms, scripture has already done that.

Scripture clearly shows that people may "[feel] saved, [feel] that [they] had a personal relationship with Christ", but it doesn't mean they truly were [Matthew 13:3-9].

I am not picking on you, but why did you fall away if you felt saved and felt a personal relationship with Christ?

Scripture declares:

Matthew 7

22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

I would ask that you please consider turning to Christ, repent of your doubt, and cleave to Him in faith.

Anonymous said...

Just wanna say I have been reading your posts on Atheist Revolution - am loving it. Keep your cool!

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the delay in replying. I got busy. :)

"I am not picking on you, but why did you fall away if you felt saved and felt a personal relationship with Christ?"

I don't think you're picking on me. We're having a discussion.

Why did I fall away? Honestly, I can't say that there was any single cause.The easiest, although admittedly unsatisfactory, answer is that I simply stopped believing. The state of grace is not a compelling reason to maintain belief in something that I have no evidence for (the Bible does not count as evidence). It is too easy to attain in any number of different contexts outside of Christianity.

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

anonymous,
I appreciate you return.

May I ask a personal question? Could you tell me why/how you believe you became a Christian?

Did you gradually stop believing or was it all at once?

Would you mind telling me what denomination you were involved in?

I am just interested into why/how one has gone from working in the church and wanting to be a missionary to no belief at all.

Only if you feel comfortable sharing this info.

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I was Methodist. Although my parents were Methodist, they were nonpracticing. Ironically, it was me that got them to return to the church (my father is now a minister) when I was about 6, by asking why we never went. For reference, I'm 42 now.

I suppose it came gradually. I remember when I first started to doubt, or awaken, whichever way you wish to view it. It was as a result of teaching Sunday School to little kids. Specifically, when we'd cover the standard biblical tales. The more I learned about the stories, and the more I learned about other faiths, the more I realized that I didn't think the Bible stories were actually true in the sense that everyone else thought they were.

It's difficult to explain to believers, actually, because the difference in worldviews is so large. The closest I could get was a short, literally fanciful but ideologically accurate scene I wrote here.

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

Interesting, I checked out the link.

As a Methodist, what was done or what happened for you to consider yourself a Christian?

Why did/What caused you to disbelieve the stories of Scripture? Do you disbelieve the entirety of Scripture or some of the teachings?

I believe I may have misunderstood or have been taught incorrect things from the Bible during my life, but I began to study myself to see what indeed was in scripture. Did you try this or do the stories seem too far fetched to you?

What do you mean by worldview? How would you describe your worldview?

Anonymous said...

"As a Methodist, what was done or what happened for you to consider yourself a Christian?"

Well, being a Methodist isn't relevant to the question, really. Methodists tend toward the "many paths up the mountain" viewpoint, and don't tend to discount other Christian denominations. I won't say I had a "born again" experience, but I did feel, for lack of a better term, "full of heart." I felt Jesus was with me, in my soul, in a very real sense. Since I was with the church from a very young age, I can't pinpoint an exact moment, but there were many moments of oneness.

"Why did/What caused you to disbelieve the stories of Scripture? Do you disbelieve the entirety of Scripture or some of the teachings?"

It depends on what you mean by "believe." I do not believe the Bible as a historical document. However, it that does not mean it fails to contain truth in some sense.

"I began to study myself to see what indeed was in scripture. Did you try this or do the stories seem too far fetched to you?"

Oh, I've studied the Bible (and quite a lot of Christian writings, both historical and contemporary, but mostly historical) quite intensively and, as they say, "with an open heart."

By worldview, I mean simply this: that Christians view the world from a baseline of Christianity. The words, for example, used contain suppositions that are uniquely Christian, and are so deeply ingarined that they fail to see there can be any other meanings. (This is true of all worldviews, not just Christian.) It makes real communication very difficult because although we may be using the same terms, we often mean completely different things by them, and fail to realize that.

Take the basic question "do you believe in God?" Well, do I? If a Christian asks, the only honest answer I can give is "no," because they mean something very specific by the word "god," and I certainly don't believe in that specific thing. But that's an incomplete answer. It's necessarily incomplete, because the full answer requires an understanding beyond Christianity before it makes sense.

Another example of the difference in worldview is when it comes to the Bible. Christians commonly revert to citing Biblical passages to support their faith to nonbelievers. The problem is that if you don't believe, then the Bible has no authority as evidence. Rather, people believe the Bible because they already have faith, not the other way around. To Christians, the idea that the Bible carries the weight of authority is so obvious that it rarely occurs to them that there is any other way to see things.

There is no concise way to describe my worldview in a way that isn't misleading to Christians. I suppose "materialist" is technically accurate, but again, that term is understood by Christians in a way that implies things I don't intend.

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

Since I was with the church from a very young age, I can't pinpoint an exact moment, but there were many moments of oneness.

The reason I asked is this. Sometimes I fear our children grown up in church learning and memorizing what is taught and have all the right answers, but never have a time when they actually repent and trust in Christ for salvation. Kind of like school. They go, learn and memorize what is taught but sometimes don't actually believe it, per say, take it with them, or desire to hold on to it after school years.

I realize that they believe or believe they believe in God, etc., but unless there is a conversion where the one is quickened and regenerated by the Spirit, one is still lost. Scriptures say the devils believe and tremble, so simply believing there is a God and the stories in scripture does not mean one has been born-again.

This is why I asked the question, for many people that attend church today believe they are a Christian, but have never really given their life to Christ and trusted in the Savior for salvation.


It depends on what you mean by "believe."

I meant why did you begin to doubt the stories in the Bible? Is there a reason that they cannot be true?


I find it interesting what you have written about the Christian worldview, I will have to ponder that and maybe start a post.

Anonymous said...

"Sometimes I fear our children grown up in church learning and memorizing what is taught and have all the right answers, but never have a time when they actually repent and trust in Christ for salvation."

Actually, although I don't think that was the situation in my case, I do think that your concern is well-founded. Book-learning is always different, and less sticky, than experience-learning. It one of the reasons that I think Sunday School, or any such schooling for very young children is a double-edged sword. But that's a whole 'nuther topic that I could ramble on at length about all by itself. It is true that almost everyone thinks of themselves as a follower of whatever sect their parents are. It's also true that most people, of whatever faith, follow their religion as a matter of custom rather than epiphany.

"I meant why did you begin to doubt the stories in the Bible? Is there a reason that they cannot be true?"

There are different kinds of "truth," that's why I was asking. I began to doubt biblical stories as I became more familiar with them. I found the Bible internally inconsistent enough that I could not escape doubting their literal truth. As I learned more about other faiths and myths, the disbelief deepened for a number of reasons.

There's a whole set of levels to this, and I'm not sure that I'm entirely comfortable spelling it all out. We're having a very nice discussion here, and I don't want to ruin it by coming across as antagonistic.

Anyway, about "truth." Although I don't think the Bible is literally true, in the sense that I think the stories it tells are largely, if not entirely, fictional. However, those stories themselves contain larger truths. They are parables, in my view. So do I think the Bible is true? Yes in some sense, no in some sense, and the question is meaningless in some sense.

(By the way, I don't mean to remain anonymous but I'm having trouble with my blogger login. I'm JohnFen, and pleased to meet you.)

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

JohnFen,

I appreciate you conversing with me. I sometimes have problems with blogger myself. I usually have to go to the login page to login, then I can post to my blog and others. It is weird, but it usually does not work if I am not logged in and try to post. It just erases my post and gives me an error.

I do disagree as to I do believe that the stories of scripture to be true. Examples as Adam, Noah, Abraham, etc., but I also as you say believe that they often carry larger truths. Then there are also parables and prophecies that are not necessarily literal stories but are true to what will come to pass.

If you believe that the Bible stories may be fictional, but contain larger truth, why would you lose faith altogether and not take it as such?


I found the Bible internally inconsistent enough that I could not escape doubting their literal truth.

I can understand not wanting to come across as antagonistic, but could you expound a little on this?

Anonymous said...

"If you believe that the Bible stories may be fictional, but contain larger truth, why would you lose faith altogether and not take it as such?"

Why do I need faith to learn the larger truths? And if the Bible is not inerrant, then why would I choose Christianity over any of the other faiths? Their books also contain larger truths, after all. I cannot determine the "correct" faith based on the literature, so on what basis would I decide?

We are not so different, really. As the old saw goes... I would venture to guess that you do not believe in any of the myriad gods that have been worshipped throughout history. The difference between us is only that I believe in one less god than you.

"could you expound a little on this?"

Do you want a catalog of discrepencies? I can do that -- there's plenty of fodder -- but I'm not sure how useful such a discussion is, particularly given the constraints of comment boxes on blogs. I'm not trying to be evasive, but perhaps this would be a better conversation to have via email.

In general, the problem is this: if viewed with a logical eye, the Bible makes no sense unless one is willing to take many of the passages (meaning the ones that aren't clearly intended to be parable) nonliterally. But, as many internecine battles throughout history have demonstrated, once you acknowledge that some parts of the Bible must be interpreted then you can support a wide variety of incompatible belief system through Biblical citation. This means that the Bible cannot be relied upon as an authority, because you cannot tell if your interpretation is the "correct" one (and all believers think they have the "correct" view, or they wouldn't be believers.)

There's also the little problem that the accounts in the Bible are very difficult, and in many cases impossible, to square with other historical evidence. That's not an internal consistency problem, but is a problem nonetheless.

--JohnFen

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

JohnFen,

Feel free to email me here for a more private and fuller converse if you would like.

When I said "why would you lose faith altogether", I think I was in a different mindset than you.

You had wrote that you believed the stories of the Bible were not literally true, but held larger meanings. So by my statement I was meaning why did you not except them as such and stay in Christianity?

Why would you consider that the Bible is not inerrant?

Please email me. I would like to converse further with you. Not to convert you, but to understand where you are coming from.

Hope to hear from you.

Tim

John Bunyan

To be saved is to be preserved in the faith to the end. 'He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.' (Mt. 24:13) Not that perseverance is an accident in Christianity, or a thing performed by human industry; they that are saved 'are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation.' (1 Pet. 1: 3-6) But perseverance is absolutely necessary to the complete saving of the soul…. He that goeth to sea with a purpose to arrive at Spain, cannot arrive there if he be drowned by the way; wherefore perseverance is absolutely necessary to the saving of the soul.