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Catholics believe that being born of water and the Spirit in John 3 refers to the Sacrament of Baptism.
My upbringing was only very nominally Christian. Mum may have some small residual belief in God, but the rest are agnostic. I heard the Gospel message, and believed briefly in childhood, but just found it impossible to know for sure as I grew up. I read and asked God to show me if he existed, but I was always unsure.
Anyway a couple of years ago I had gone through some difficult times with lots of things including addiction and I was looking at the God question again. Then one night I was reading a site on science and God. I couldn't even tell you exactly what site it was, but it just suddenly hit me, there is a God! I can only think it was God's grace. And it was at this stage that the Old testament started to make sense to me. Augustine said 'The New Testament is hidden in the Old, and the Old testament is revealed in the New'. It was like I was seeing the Bible in a new way.
This is when I made the decision to follow Jesus, I repented of my past sins and committed myself to following God. And I am still doing this today, imperfectly, but determined to trust in Jesus and perserve.
| 2012/11/14 0:54|
"Pilgrim and Sojourner." - 1 Peter 2:11
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If all we do, and I am referring to no one on Si, is curse the darkness, then I can tell you that we will not have an effective ministry. The single most effective encounter I had with a staunch Catholic was over a kitchen table. She ranted for about 15 minutes about Catholic haters and how the Catholics were the true people of God. When I got my opportunity, I began to speak and I could feel that the Holy Spirit was leading and guiding my words. I spoke of Jesus and my love for Him and how after encountering Him He had changed my life and my whole world. I spoke in this manner, uninterupted by the previously angry woman, for about 20 minutes. I will never forget her words to me after I was done talking, she said in a very low and humbled voice " I do not know that Jesus you are talking about." You see how much she learned in a few minutes? Her whole view of Jesus and who He is was radically upended and she knew, without me saying it, that she did not know Him.
Thank you for sharing your testimony and burden. We are going to close the thread on this post because it really gives a balanced, biblical and christ-like approach to the RCC and also how we should minister and speak of our "enemies" even (that being in love) as our Lord taught us.
Throughout this thread there have been accusations and questions towards the moderatorship of the website and how this is being done. I do not want to spend time trying to justify myself or the other moderators intentions, motives and heart. Rather I want to speak to the more important underlying issue below all of this discussion, the IHOP discussion and others.
That is our Christ-likeness.
As some brothers have stated to have to have every single Christian debate solved on sermonindex will really not help the kingdom of God expand in anyway. What is 100% more important is all the members of the forums exhibiting great love and Christ-likeness to each other and to those they are speaking of. The Love of God should be known and felt in these discussions.
It is clear and obvious when reading through many comments, rants, reactionary posts and other posts that many are not written out of love but out of a perturbed state of being. I believe the focus needs to be on Christ more and not on every false ideal and theology. If we are well versed in the truth we will always be able to detect the counterfeit and such is the way of the kingdom.
Another area of Christ-likeness is submission to authority and considering others better than ourselves. This is not something to be by-passed but very important in our daily walks with the Lord. If we are catering rebellion in our hearts to any authority that God has put in place it can be a very spiritually dangerous thing. In my life I try my best to respect and honour delegated authorities and to not "slander" them or question them publicly. In the case of an Elder of a church I would never question the Elder publicly before his flock. Rather I would seek to find a time with him privately to air concerns and before that share the burden with the Lord for many weeks. Also to speak privately about the wrong leadership one feels there is in assembly and not to pray about it is simply gossip. And chiefly if we are not praying to the Lord privately "much" about problems in those in authority then we should not seek to discuss these things with others even privately.
Another important aspect dear brothers is our growth in Christ, Are we growing in Christ-likeness? Have we come to SermonIndex to listen to sermons, to grow in Christ, to encourage and be encouraged by others? Or do we have an agenda and things we want to do and teach others? One of my prayers for myself is that I would always desire to be teachable and to learn from all different brothers especially those that are weak. We have asked some members on SermonIndex to not participate in the forums simply because they were not teachable and did not come to "learn" but rather to teach everyone else. I believe this type of spirit will never build the body of Christ who is not teachable and humble to learn like a child. Even the most learned and godly amongst us should be learning from others in the body of Christ. We see this wonderful example from Paul the Apostle who always spoken of "mutual edification".
Lastly I would like to share that Christ-likeness shares the mind of Christ. And this mind sees how God sees and looks at the Church how God sees it. We see divisions, sects, Catholic vs protestant (strictly). God does not see this way but looks at the heart. It is not even an understatement to say there have been true brethren who have been in the Catholic system. Throughout the arguably 1700 years of Catholicism existing in part there have been those who truly knew Christ, believed His atonement and trusted in His work even in the midst of a growing list of pagan and demonically driven traditions. Especially during periods of the middle ages there was a large monastic movement where many of the more "true" believers instead of being kicked out of the church were given the blessing to go and start communities to follow "all the scriptures". Such places have been where the Gospel was preserved until finally a Hus and others emerged from the blackness of Popery. Pilgrim Church is an excellent book on this Church History.
Yet as we continue to reformers, and onwards still there was persecution exacted to other "true brethren" so there has always been a mixture and if we look from our fleshly eyes we will never see the beauty of God's true body of Christ. John Bunyan found out this truth after judging and persecuting the Quaker movement (George Fox's church) but once Bunyan found himself in jail with 2 Quakers did he realize they were "true brethren" and his doctrinal differences was non-sequential. May God gives us eyes to see how He sees his body and to not judge others.
In conclusion I would like to simply say that to God it is much better to have love, mercy and grace then to simply have the truth and hit someone with it. It is much better to be led of the Spirit than to do 1 million things for God in the flesh. It is better to do the work of God in spreading the love of Christ than to sit and speak against the darkness. The moravian movement of history never won the lost and had a year long 24/7 prayer meeting by finding every false doctrine and trying to tell Christendom about it. Rather they went out with such sacrifice, love and commitment that is shock believers everywhere with their peace and grace and resulted the conversion of not just thousands of heathen but John Wesley, Charles Wesley and George Whitefield also. And what was the power that did all of this, it was their Christ-likeness, Christ in them. To the glory of God. May He do it again and again.
This article will be posted in a separate thread also not to re-hash the RCC debate but to allow constructive, deifying comments on the theme of this article on Christ-likeness.
this thread is locked.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon
| 2012/11/14 1:22||Profile|
Whittier CA USA
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Greetings brothers and sisters, just thought I'd share my two cents here. This has been an interesting thread for me to read through. I see very good points on both sides of this issue. And as has been the case on so many other issues, I see a balance needed here.
I can see the need for exposing false doctrine in order to be faithful to God and His Word, and to help others who are caught up in harmful teachings. But I can also see the need for focusing on, exalting, and pointing others to Jesus, as we share about who He is and what He's done and is doing, and is going to do.
It's all about Jesus and His Word, the two being inseperable.
As one who has displayed a very rough side here on this forum at times, by God's grace I have had to learn the hard way(still learning) the need for heeding the exhortation given in 2Tim.2:23-26:
"23 But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. 24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will."
I can look back and see how I have toned down quite a bit compared to before. I used to be more quick to harshly rebuke anyone who would disagree with me on any given subject. Nowadays I am more careful to prayerfully try to discern whether or not I should just say, "let's agree to disagree respectfully and move on, shall we?"
Sometimes we can argue back and forth, share scripture after scripture till our faces turn blue and still have no one change their minds on a given subject. The question then becomes, is it really worth it to keep arguing when no one is open to change their view regardless of how much scripture is shared.
If I ever believed this site was going astray(which I've never seen so far even on this issue at hand), I would hope it would not cause me to be dismayed or discouraged. I would hope to prayerfully call it to the moderators' attention and if they refused to take heed I would hope to simply move on and leave it in the Lord's hand.
Sometimes all we can do is pray and move on and leave matters in the hands of our sovereign LORD. No matter how many individuals and church systems become apostate He will always have His remnant who do not bow the knee to baal.
When it comes down to it we should not base our Christian fellowship or walk or ministry on any internet forum. Yes, we can enjoy sweet fellowship here to a certain extent, but it's not nearly the same as seeing your brothers' faces and greeting them and fellowshipping with them in person. That's where the Lord would really have us fellowship. And yes we can minister God's Word here and be a blessing to others in that way. But the real ministry and battle is out there in the highways and hedges where Jesus is building His Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.
Too often forums like this become the central fellowship of believers while they do not seek out real fellowship anywhere. Many of us spend too much time on forums like this I'm sorry to say, sometimes including myself. May God help us all.
| 2012/11/14 2:39||Profile|