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grace
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« on: March 08, 2004, 11:36:30 PM »

I have some pretty serious problems with the way that these scriptures are used by some. Here's why:

I volunteered for a crisis line for a number of years. I found that I spent an awful lot of time trying to convince people that they were, in fact, not worthless pieces of dirt. Then some of them would go to church and would be told that they were, and my co-workers and I would try to pick up the pieces. A person who is depressed is particularly prone to engage in mental distortions. One of the big ones is the negative mental filter, where "you pay undue attention to one negative detail instead of seeing the whole pictureĒ (Beck, J.S. Cognitive Therapy. The Guilford Press: New York, 1995). The problem with the Romans Road is that a depressed person (in Canada, where I am, stats show that an alarming 1 in 3 will experience clinical depression in their lifetimes- we live in a wounded world full of wounded people!) filters out the rest of the Gospel message, and hears only what confirms their core beliefs about themselves. For an awful lot of people, the message that they are a worm is an awful lot more understandable, tangible, and therefore real to them than the message that they are unimaginably loved, especially if (as is the case with all too many) the message of parental and community love was not sent, or was partial or flawed, or just didn't get through.

What a terribly damaging and un-Christian message these people are left with!

This is what happened with me, in spite of a secure and loving family. For whatever reason, the message of love never fully got through; it was riddled for me with the message of earning and deserving. It is not right to accept that which you do not deserve; I applied this principle to God's love. Old habits die hard; even now sometimes, when I imagine myself in the palm of His hand, I find myself so riddled with shame that I canít let Him love me. I didnít deserve His love, you see; and I believed that while it was OK to give someone a gift that they didnít deserve, it was wrong to accept that which you do not deserve. [excerpt from my journal- "I am curled up tightly in the palm of His hand, my head covered, my eyes closed tight...but I can feel the warmth of His hand, and I am beginning to let myself enjoy that warmth."]

As I understand it, Romans was written to those who were already pretty well established in the faith (Rom. 1:8-13). Furthermore, in the Christian communities of the time, each new member was mentored intensively in the Christian faith over a period of 1 to 3 years (a tad more intensive than your average Alpha program). Also, before Constantine, because of persecution, Christian communities generally tended to be very closed and protective of themselves; any visitors would be under the sponsorship of a community member who knew them well and knew what they were about. The likelihood of someone slipping by with only a partial understanding of the Gospel was likely much less then. As a pastor friend of mine once said, ďIf nobody knows who you are, youíre really in a very dangerous place as a Christian.Ē How very much more true for a person just beginning their Christian journey!

We have a tendency to get complacent and self-righteous sometimes, and it is then that we need the Romans message. Jesus Himself differentiated between groups of people in the way He taught, tailoring His words to where they were at. It was to the Pharisees that he said that to simply get angry was to commit murder. When He addressed the multitude, the poor, He said "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God", even though, chances are, they got angry too, sometimes.

But for the prospective Christian? The use of these scriptures for this purpose is not biblical, and in many cases, not conducive to sharing the Gospel.

In His love,

-Grace

I look forward to hearing
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The Crusader
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« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2004, 05:26:05 AM »

IT'S GOD'S WORD - JESUS SAID IT, PAUL WROTE IT, I BELIEVE IT.

Roman Road to Salvation
The Gospel of Grace
(revealed by our Lord Jesus Christ to our Apostle Paul)

Many people think they will go to heaven because they have lived a good life. Perhaps, they treat all of their neighbors fairly. Maybe they volunteer for charity work and have never broken the law. Maybe they were even baptized or go to church regularly. But the Bible, God's Word, says that no one can live up to God's standard of righteousness.

Romans 3:10 "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one ...."

Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God ...."

Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

Salvation cannot be earned. Everyone is a sinner and deserves death, but God gives eternal life. So how can we receive God's gift of eternal life?

Romans 1:16 "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth ...."

To be saved, we must believe the gospel. The word "gospel" means "good news". But before we can believe the good news, we have to know what it is.

1 Corinthians 15:1-4 "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel ... that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures ...."

This is the gospel which we must believe in order to be saved. Now, how does believing this gospel save us?

Romans 5:8-9 "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him."

Romans 3:22-26 "Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation (appeasing sacrifice) through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus."

We can be saved from the wrath of God, because Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins and rose from the dead. He paid the price for us, and we are justified in God's eyes through our faith in the blood of Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 2:8-9 "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works lest any man should boast."

There will be no boasting in heaven. We cannot be saved by our own righteousness, but only by God's grace, through faith.

Ephesians 1:13-14 "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory."

Once we believe the gospel, we are sealed with God's Holy Spirit. This is God's deposit, that guarantees he will redeem us, whom our Lord Jesus Christ "purchased with his own blood" (Acts 20:28).

Studying the Bible is an essential part of the growth of every believer. New believers should begin by reading the letters of our Apostle Paul (Romans 11:13), starting with Romans and then continuing through all of Paul's letters.
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grace
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« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2004, 07:50:36 AM »

Crusader, you do a lovely exposition of the Romans Road, but you don't address my points.

Here's my own exposition, where I begin:
We all have a pretty solid idea that, in the real world, love is not enough. Yeah, sure, ďLove conquers allĒ, ďAll you need is loveĒ, ďLove makes the world go ĎroundĒ and all that nice kind of stuff is all very nice, and itís nice to think in these terms, but letís get real here. As nice as love is, it doesnít really change everything and fix everything. We canít trust it to answer all our problems. We need practical solutions.
   But what if it could? What if, somehow, it was a practical solution? Humor me here for a minute. What would that kind of love look like? It couldnít be on the same magnitude as the love in most of our relationships, or even be of the same type; many of them seem to cause far more heartbreak and trouble than they help.
   Those loves are imperfect; it would have to be a perfect love that could change the world, and us. And with all the crap thatís in the world and in us, it would have to be unconditional, or it would never permit itself to reach us. It would have to be like the love that a parent has for their child, except infinitely deeper and infinitely more perfect and true and consistent.
   Can such a love exist as more than a nice abstraction? Iíve been learning things, looking at some things in a different way, and actually even having experiences that are leading me to believe that it just might.  I canít prove to you that is exists, any more than you can prove to me that it doesnít. But I can share what experiences Iíve had, if it would help.
   God as I understood Him growing up was always either no help (too distant and uninvolved), or made me feel worse (guilt and shame for my inadequacies). That God loved me was a nice abstraction, but was of little comfort and certainly wasnít life-changing. That He would and could love with a love that was perfect and unconditional and personal did not even cross my mind.
   Iíve only just begun to know God as the giver of perfect, unconditional love, and my life has already changed so much, and every bit for the better. I used to loathe myself, and now for the first time in a very long time, I feel as though I am a worthwhile human being, and a good person, and a loveable person. The constant weight of never-good-enough has been replaced with a happiness I never dreamed I could ever have. Rather than doing whatís right out of a sense of obligation and guilt, Iím finding myself doing it out of joy, as if it is the most natural thing in the world. Iím also no longer doing things to try to prove my worth, or to not be a complete waste of oxygen, like I was before, but simply out of love. And my performance hasnít deteriorated; Iím far more able to be the person I want to be than before. Far from perfect; I have a long way to go. But my heavy heart gets lighter and lighter the more Godís love works on my heart. And it has been a practical solution for me, far more effective than anything ever before.
   Maybe love doesnít cut the mustard in coping with reality, but my experience has been that nothing else but love does. Who knows; you may find the same.

How many people reject the message
Quote
Everyone is a sinner and deserves death
? The first part is easy, it is the "deserves death" bit that, unless a person feels truly convicted before you even say it, is going to inspire them to walk away. Even if they're not thinking of themselves, they will be thinking of people in my life. "Are you telling me that my beloved mother, who is so kind and gentle and caring and generous and who never hurt a person in her life, deserves death? That Mother Theresa of Calcutta deserves death?"

Of course, that is what you are trying to tell them, but will they stick around long enough to figure out how that "outrageous" statement makes sense, and fits with the rest of the story? Not if the rest of the story is not yet becoming real to them, probably not.

In using these scriptures, many converters seek to create the need, and then fill it. But it is God's job to convict people, not ours (let's face it; we are bad at convicting others grace-fully), and it is God's job to convert people, not ours. It is ours to proclaim the Gospel, but, I repeat, not to convert.

In His love,

-Grace

 
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The Crusader
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« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2004, 05:31:47 AM »

Grace, this is NOT a Debate for me...

Maybe this will be helpful for you.

Words of God's Grace
From Romans: Verse By Verse
by William R. Newell

The Nature of Grace

Grace is God acting freely, according to His own nature as love, with no promises or obligations to fulfill and acting of course, righteously--in view of the cross.
Grace, therefore, is uncaused in the recipient; its cause lies wholly in the GIVER, in God.
Grace also is sovereign. Not having debts to pay, or fulfilled conditions on man's part to wait for, it can act to whom, and how it pleases. It can, and does, often, place the worst deservers in the highest favors.
Grace cannot act where there is either desert or ability; grace does not help--it is absolute, it does it all.
There being no cause in the creature why grace should be shown, the creature must be brought off from trying to give cause to God for His grace.
The discovery by the creature that he is truly the object of Divine grace, works the utmost humility; for the receiver of grace is brought to know his own absolute unworthiness, and his complete inability to attain worthiness, yet he finds himself blessed,--on another principle, outside of himself!
Therefore, flesh has no place in the plan of grace. This is the great reason why grace is hated by the proud natural mind of man. But this very reason, the true believer rejoices! For he knows that "in him, that is, in his flesh, is no good thing"; and yet he finds God glad to bless him, just as he is!

The Place of Man Under Grace

He has been accepted in Christ, who is his standing!
He is not "on probation".
As to his life past, it does not exist before God; he died at the cross, and Christ is his life.
Grace, once bestowed, is not withdrawn; for God knew all the human urgent needs before hand: His action was independent of them, not dependent upon them.
The failure of devotion does not cause the withdrawal of bestowed grace (as it would under law). For example: the man in 1Corinthians 5:1-5; and also those in 11:30-32, who did not "judge" themselves, and so were judged by the Lord, -- that they might not be condemned with the world!

The Proper Attitude of Man Under Grace


To believe, and to consent to be loved while unworthy, is the great secret.
To refuse to make "resolutions" and "vows", for that is to trust in the flesh.
To expect to be blessed, though realizing more and more the lack of worth.
To testify of God's goodness, at all times.
To be certain of God's future favor; yet to be ever more tender in conscience toward Him.
To rely on God's chastening hand as a mark of His kindness.
A man under grace, if like Paul, has no burdens regarding himself, but many about others.

Things Which Gracious Souls Discover

To "hope to be better" is to fail to see yourself in Christ only.
To be disappointed with yourself is to have believed in yourself.
To be discouraged is unbelief, --as to God's purpose and plan of blessing for you.
To be proud, is to be blind! For we have no standing before God, in ourselves.
The lack of divine blessing, therefore, comes from unbelief, and not from failure of devotion.
Real devotion to God arises, not from man's will to show it, but from the discovery that blessing has been received from God while we were yet unworthy and undevoted.
To preach devotion first, and blessing second, is to reverse God's order, and preach law, not grace. The Law made man's blessing depend on devotion; grace confers undeserved, unconditional blessing; our devotion may follow, but does not always do so, -- in proper measure.
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michael_legna
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« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2004, 04:10:07 PM »


Quote
IT'S GOD'S WORD - JESUS SAID IT, PAUL WROTE IT, I BELIEVE IT.

It is not God's word she has a problem with.  It is the fact that those who use the Roman Road can't see how twisted and turning that road is.  How it jumps around hither and yon, weaving back on itself, stringing together unrelated verses and skipping over those that might not fit their doctrine just to prove a point.

Not only that depending on who you talk to you get taken down different versions of the same road.  Any of which you cannot duplicate in the Words in Red.
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Matt 5:11  Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake:
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« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2004, 04:15:57 PM »

Any of which you cannot duplicate in the Words in Red.
 ROFLOL Grin

Praying for you. But No hail marys Grin
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« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2004, 06:51:49 PM »

Oklahoma Howdy to Grace,

I was a police officer for 25 years, so I understand some of your thoughts. I would simply have to say that I completely disagree with you.

Crisis lines stay busy because of sin and evil, not GOD'S WORD and the Gospel of the Grace of God. The Gospel of the Grace of God is the ULTIMATE LOVE, ANSWER, AND CURE. Anything less is putting another log or adding fuel to the fire that is causing their suffering.

I certainly understand and agree there are loving ways to witness with the Gospel of the Grace of God. I also understand and agree that some witnesses could be more effective if they were more skilled in sharing the ULTIMATE LOVE of the Gospel of God's Grace. However, it is simply another lie and adding to their misery if someone tells them what they are doing is OK. They already know it isn't OK or they wouldn't be calling the crisis line.

Every mature Christian should be helping others learn how to witness to the lost. An effective witness of the GOSPEL is extremely loving. One doesn't help these suffering people by giving them more dope or alcohol or telling them what they are doing is OK.

Grace, man's logic is nothing compared to the escape and Salvation available in the GOSPEL. So, we will have to agree to disagree.

Love In Christ,
Tom
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grace
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« Reply #7 on: March 11, 2004, 11:28:44 PM »

BEP, we may yet have to agree to disagree on some things, but we certainly don't disagree on everything! That
Quote
One doesn't help these suffering people by giving them more dope or alcohol or telling them what they are doing is OK.
I could not agree more; I certainly never meant to suggest telling them that what they're doing is OK!!!

I think back to my own experience: I didn't need anyone to tell me that something was wrong with my life; the pain, loneliness and shame that I felt made that abundantly clear. The first Christian message that ever really got through to me was not that I was a sinner and unworthy of God's love; it was that there was hope. Hope for the first time that my life didn't have to go on like it had been. Hope that perhaps Love existed that was stronger than what I believed myself to be.

The message that I was unworthy got in the way for me of accepting God's love. Long ago, I internalized the rule that it is wrong to accept something that you don't deserve. Even something freely given. I even had it in my head that God didn't deserve to have me in His presence and that I was doing Him a favor by never approaching Him. I harbored a sincere desire to, if the door of Heaven should open to me (which I didn't expect), walk away and give my place there to someone in hell, and take their place.
Even as my understanding of who God really is grew, I had a lot of trouble with my unworth getting in the way. I once imagined myself as the Prodigal Son, seeing my Father's house in the distance, but instead of approaching, hiding behind a tree. How could I face Him? He would be so disappointed in me! Maybe it would cause Him less grief and turmoil if I just turned around and walked away.
It was only the realization that He truly, truly loved me, and that He treasured me, that I was beautiful and precious in His eyes, that He wanted me, and that because of His love for me it would hurt Him even more and not less if I walked away,... - it was only this that stopped me from walking away.

In my flesh, there is no goodness, but God made me in His image, He saw that what He made was good, and He loved me. Though in my flesh there is no goodness, the flesh is but one part of my dual nature; there is also the spirit, the part of me that when freed from the flesh is the person that God originally created me to be, and intends for me to be. And the person that I can be only by His grace.

I am not saying ever that we should tell a person a lie, but that the truth of God's love is the part of the truth that we should begin with to witness most effectively. And that telling a terribly wounded person in particular the truth of their sinfulness may even prevent a person from recieving the rest of the truth, the crux of the matter. Because the truth if our sinfulness does not stand alone without the truth of God's love.

Had some well-meaning evangelist come to me behind that tree and begun to tell me how I fell terribly terribly short of the glory of God, I may have walked away from my Father's house and waiting, loving arms, and from the truth of the Gospel.

I have so much more that I want to write and share and say about this, but I need to try to get some sleep.

TO BE CONTINUED....

In His love,

-Grace
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