The God that I Know

I had an old friend message me recently on social media asking me what I think about cessationism. Cessationism is the school of thought that teaches that healings, prophecy and other signs and wonders don’t happen through believers today like in the New Testament. I responded by essentially saying I think the idea is absurd. I see God move in supernatural ways through His children on a regular basis.

I remember when I was about five years old thinking to myself, “Other people ‘believe’ in their gods. I know my God is real.” So I’ve had this conviction for a long time. The Lord is a real person, and He is really actively involved in our lives. If He was just something I thought I had to “choose” to believe in I would willingly resort to atheism. Thankfully, I was privileged to be exposed to and recognize His manifest Presence from a very young age. I’ve always know Him to speak, to heal, to touch — in tangible, practical ways. My faith has never been a mere “hope” that the Bible is true.

I’ve also known continuationist (those who believe miracles still happen today) say that sometimes we go through “dry times” where we don’t feel God’s Presence. These are time He supposedly removes our ability to connect with Him through our senses. That actually sounds rational to me sometimes, but it has never been sustained in my experience for any notable amount of time. Even when I was more dogmatically entrenched in dead religion (which I now see sucks the joy out of life), I still had a high consciousness of God’s Presence in my day-to-day life. I would hear preachers close to me talk about how “desperate” they were for an encounter with God. But I felt like I was aware of His nearness on a regular basis. It didn’t make sense to me to hear my elders in the faith speaking as if they were somehow living outside of the Presence that I walked in.

I don’t say all of this to act like I have never wondered if my version of Christianity is true. I’ve had plenty of doubts before about my faith, and my faith has changed a lot. Yet even when exploring my biggest doubts, I somehow knew it was inevitable that Jesus would break into my circumstances and remind me of how active He is in my life. I was actually more comfortable allowing myself to doubt because deep down I knew God is real and would still be with me in very real ways despite my questions.

I now feel that questing if God is real or questioning if He really works in our lives is similar to questioning if my brother is real or asking if I really have the ability to hear from him. Yes my brother is real, and no I am not just “imagining” that he communicates to me often. Simple as that. The Lord is the closest person to me in life, and I’ve never known a life without Him.

I often still question many aspects of my belief system, and I am okay with having such questions. My questions don’t keep me from being able to say that I am not merely following a faith tradition because I think it is good for me to do so. I legitimately feel conviction that God exists, to the point that I often wonder if prebelievers are actually overlooking all the ways God is constantly trying to connect with them. Respectfully, I feel like they might be caught in a delusion.

If you’ve ever had someone convince you that they love you passionately, unconditionally, and endlessly, it’s just hard to ignore or to doubt how much they care. Well, that’s what God’s done for me. It makes it a lot harder for ideas like atheism, cessationism, or even certain forms of Charismatic “desperation” theology to hold that much appeal to me anymore. God is way too good and too “here” for me to toy too much with any perspective that makes Him sound less present.

I really believe that if we just open our eyes to what is all around us, we can see God’s Spirit interacting with us constantly. His Presence is inescapable.

His Presence is inescapable.

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Salvation from… God?

I don’t know who originally created this meme, but I saw it on Facebook a while back and had to screen shot a picture of it:

This is laughable, but the maker of this image has a really good point. 

Most of what I’ve known as the Gospel my whole life was a message of love, forgiveness, and mercy… set against the backdrop of a God who gave violent retribution to those who refused to accept His salvation plan. It wasn’t always clearly stated, but there was this underlying idea communicated that Jesus came to save us from God ultimately. If you took your theology studies deep enough, you’d see this very dark message hidden in the details.

Fortunately, I’ve come to be convinced that salvation really is a gift from a perpetually good God who has NEVER been set against us. It was we who were opposed to him, not the other way around. Memes like this though provide good commentary on the way we have utterly perverted and miscommunicated the Good News we have been entrusted with.

I’m not going to go into a deep theological discussion in this post, but I wanted to post it as simple food for thought. We should ask ourselves, “Does our understanding of the Gospel ever make God look like the bad guy unnecessarily?” If so, we shouldn’t be surprised when masses of millenials are rejecting it.

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