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Thanks and have a great day! ~Tim Chastain
I thoroughly enjoyed your article about the baggage. I came across your article when I asked Google: “what did the disciples leave new believers with once they left town”… I got to thinking HOW did new believers continue to grow or be mentored especially if there was no formed church or book or CD for them to continue to learn and have questions answered.. I was thinking in today’s culture (and probably back then as well) the peers that people formally hung out with ~would continue to draw them back into their negative environment and persuade them to participate in former activities that perhaps are not conducive to spiritual growth.. for an example a prostitute living on the streets, the friends they have on the streets are there only source of companionship.. therefore, they continue to hang out with the wrong people not knowing where else to turn.. we know that evil spirits try to return to their original home.. the concern is how to protect them and keep them growing, strengthening in their faith long after you are gone…. Obviously, continuing to pray for them after you’ve left them/their country… trusting that the Holy Spirit will guide them and lead new people into their path is what makes sense..* Is that what you do when you’ve met someone along your path and know that you’ll probably never see them again (perhaps you just met them in the airport)… led them to Christ or provided healing in some way… ? Wondering how you cope with leaving them … not knowing if they have a support system or not… and hoping that the evil one will not undo the good that you’ve done…
This is a good question, Christine.
I think that the general pattern was that new believers recognized their identity with Jesus and his disciples and tended to form communities of believers. There were those, like the eunuch on the way back to his country, that might not have had regular contact; but there was probably enough information shared in the initial contact to suffice for following Jesus.
Complex doctrines and legalistic rules were not essential. As the Jesus movement spread to other areas, perhaps the distant followers reconnected with the group. I believe that many of our churches today major in telling people how to think and act instead of sharing the good news of reconciliation and the importance of loving the Father, other people, and themselves.
This is such a great question, and my response would be this:
We have a responsibility to do the best we can for them, and if we’re not able to be there guiding them personally, then we need to impress upon them the importance of the Holy Spirit.
““When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me.”
” But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
The “church” would have us believe that the Holy Spirit is the third part of a Divine Trinity, but we know the truth: There is only the one God.
So just what IS the Holy Spirit?
Simple! It’s the Word of the Father living within our hearts and speaking to us in a still, small voice, giving us comfort, support, and proper guidance!
Jesus was the “Word made flesh”. meaning that Jesus came to speak God’s message to us as to His real nature and what He expects from us, because of so many false voices who teach differently.
And Jesus said that if He didn’t go to the Father, the Holy Spirit would not come.
What was meant was that was that we would get dependent upon Him and not really grow to manage our own lives.
And that’s the job of that still, small voice: to give us guidance in order to grow as we should, if we would only listen!
” Be still, and KNOW that I am God!”
“And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:
And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.”
Actually, I think that still, small voice has always been with us, ALL of us, right from the very beginning, but we called it our “Genius”, our “Intuition”.
We need to learn and to teach how to sit and listen to that “still, small voice”, and then to compare it to the teachings of Jesus so that we know we are hearing correctly.
The two will never contradict each other!
And, bear with me, one more thought:
In the early church the followers stuck as close as possible to each other:
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved”.
They were a real community in the full sense of the word, even to helping to support each other, in order to stay separate from the influences of the world!
For me, whether you call it annihilation, no eternal life, or hell, they intellectually seem all the same to me — they mean eternal separation from an all-loving and forgiving God. I have spent considerable time over the years studying Hebrew, the Old Testament, Midrash, Rabbinicism, the early Church, etc. and don’t come close to your or Rob Bell’s conclusions. Honestly, I think you’re playing with words.
Your blogs marginalize darkness, gnashing of teeth, etc., but if they ultimately represent separation from God’s care and provision, how is a non-believer comforted by that? When I consider your alternative, it makes me feel no better for a lost and dying world.
It seems that the same all-loving God you so heartily project has enough hardness in his heart to let people just dissolve into oblivion. Ultimately, there is judgement. It’s necessary to separate the wheat from the chaff. Suffice to say, I am quite content that He judges. I’m even more content that He gave me His Son as propitiation.
Personally, I’ve never lived the “Fundamentalist” theology and find the works-based part of it very disturbing, so I can’t relate to your experience. All I can say is that when I turned my life over to God’s grace my life changed; it had nothing to do with being afraid of going to hell…or annihilation…or whatever you want to call it. I just wonder, though, if the rich man was annihilated how could he see across the chasm?
Like I said, I read several of your blogs and I scratch my head about the conclusions. While others enthusiastically embrace your ideas, I find the theology disingenuous in that (I paraphrase) those who believe in hell might be surprised that they won’t be in the presence of the Lord, but only people who buy into your theology will be. Sounds like you are still a fundamentalist to me; just one who now prescribes to a different kind psychological intimidation.
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Mike, I respect your opinion and understand your reservations about annihilation. But, in my opinion, God will not annihilate people; if there are those who refuse eternal life with God, then God accepts their choice and does not provide them with eternal life. Annihilation is self-chosen.
Of course, this is speculative; but what I do not consider speculative is that there is no eternal punishment in a burning hell. I don’t see that the Bible teaches that.
Hi tim my name is hannah and i have always thought of jesus as an enlightened man a bit like buddha i believe like buddha and jesus there were many enlightened beings but sometimes coming from a great religious family im afraid of the way i believe in case i believe wrong ?
I have a lot of respect for the Buddha, as I mention from time to time on the blog; and I respect other religious founders as well. But I think there are two aspects about Jesus that makes him different from any other religious leader. First, I think Jesus is the unique representative of God in a way that others were not, and 2) perhaps more importantly it is Jesus who secures for us eternal life with God after death in that he defeated death in his resurrection and ensures our own resurrection after death.
In fact, I just wrote an article about this very topic recently. If you re interested, you can see it at:
However, if you think the various religious founders are more or less the same I wouldn’t worry about it. I don’t think God is picky about people’s beliefs lining up in any certain way. You say that you are afraid in case you are wrong; what is it you are afraid of?
Hey tim i hope you still check this. I want to say i became i believer in Christ our lord about a month and a half ago but came with many questions. The more i read the bible the more questions i had. I fell weary to worrying about conditional security in my salvation because i know how weak i was in the flesh and how that temptations in the future can break my weak flesh in the future. I came to your site while searching for questions and for the first time really felt assured about my salvation. I didnt want to sin because it makes god sad. not angry. but your posts reassured me of his mercy love patience and understanding. So i do want you to thank you for that. However i wont lie, and i dont mean to offend, but often i wonder while reading your posts “what if im wrong, what if i believe this because i want to believe this. How do i know im not being mislead”. And the worry started all over again. I feel so confused. What you say makes sense to my human capacity to understand,but it is just that, my humanly faculty in which i know has lead me astray before. If you dont mind me asking is there anything that reassured you of this, if so what and how.
Nick, I am sorry for the delayed response. I do monitor the contact page but was unexpectedly without my computer for more than a week. You also posed some of these questions on another post, to which I have already responded more fully.
I certainly understand the concern about your faulty human capacity to understand, but this is the only method of understanding we have. If we accept someone else’s understanding of these issues we are relying on THEIR faulty human capacity–which is NOT a better option. Now I would not want anyone to consider me authoritative either, but if what I say makes sense you can consider it however you think best.
You state, “what if im wrong, what if i believe this because i want to believe this. How do i know im not being mislead”. Anyone can be wrong, but you don’t seem to me to be motivated by what you ‘want to believe’; you are genuinely wrestling with the issues. Even if we do get some things wrong, I don’t think God holds it against us in any way. I think the fear we often respond to is the constant fear that is found among fundamentalists–the fear of angry god, the fear of being wrong, and the fear of eternal hell.
I shared with you on the other post that I did have enormous doubt (and grief) for a period of time, but I resolved those doubts by focusing on Jesus alone as my teacher and guide to God’s character. If you did not see those articles, here they are again:
I hope this helps some. Feel free to continue this conversation.
I’m not sure how I came upon this. An ad literally just appeared on my FB page and at the most opportune time. I have believed that all civilizations and all cultures, from the most primitive to the most advanced, have developed stories (some would call them myths) to explain those things we do not understand (such as death) or cannot control (such as the weather, fertility, etc.). For example, the Judeo-Christian story about creation was borrowed from many cultures that had similar myths about creation. I am most familiar with the Judeo-Christian ethic, and when I read Hebrew or Christian scripture, I must do so through the lens of exegesis to understand who was the author, the type of transmission and what was the author attempting to convey. Each of the synoptic gospels was written to a specific audience during a given time and though the central message is the same, variations, some significant, occurred. I do try to follow the fundamental teachings of Jesus which primarily involves bringing the Kingdom of God on earth. I don’t know exactly what happened, but the circumstantial evidence suggests that there was some type of monumental event that occurred after his death whereby followers who were afraid to even be associated with him were now evangelizing, and within weeks of Jesus’ death, thousands were followers of “the way.” I very much look forward to following this blog and reading books that help to understand how to
Ike, welcome to Jesus without Baggage! I am glad that you found the blog no matter how it came about; and I am also glad that it was at an opportune time. It seems that you have a good foundation about the Bible.
I really like your comment, which has a lot of insight: “I do try to follow the fundamental teachings of Jesus which primarily involves bringing the Kingdom of God on earth. I don’t know exactly what happened, but the circumstantial evidence suggests that there was some type of monumental event that occurred after his death whereby followers who were afraid to even be associated with him were now evangelizing, and within weeks of Jesus’ death, thousands were followers of “the way.” ”
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