As for me, I am not religious, but I am spiritual. I believe in God and what that belief stands for. But what's the difference between being a religious person versus being a spiritual one? Being religious is believing in a god or a group of gods and following the rules of a religion. Not just the rules you choose, all the rules. Being Spiritual in the sense of Modern spirituality, is centered on the "deepest values and meanings by which people live.
Either are a way of life you choose. Are you a part time or full time believer? That's the biggest question to ask yourself. Do you live by your beliefs? Isn't that what really counts? There you have it. I am a born and raised Catholic.
However, I believe in God's laws, not the man made laws. An example of one might be; someone should not be excommunicated from any religion due to being divorced. I don't believe that any God would want any person to stay in a marriage under certain circumstances such as physical abuse. To have to obtain special dispensation from any religious organization is totally absurd.
So if the Catholic religion grants you an annulment, does that mean you really were never married? It never existed? Does God forget that you were once married? Let's just get the eraser out and erase that part of your life away. Therefore, you can't say I'm religious because I do not live my life by all the teachings of Catholicism.
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However, being spiritual, I live my life by laws of God. This helps me to better myself by living by those beliefs.
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I believe in God's teachings, and try to follow that path. Will I stray, will you stray, of course we will. We are all human and subject to temptation and making mistakes. I think if most really looked at their beliefs, many would say they are spiritual. That does not mean any of us cannot go to the church of our choosing. However, with all that said, it should not rule your life, it should guide your life.
That's where some don't make the distinction. In part 1 we talked a bit about why things are taken from you. The concept that if God takes something from you, it's only to make room for something better, or God won't give you anything you can't handle. So which it is? I this true, or not? There is no right or wrong answer. It all depends on what you believe, which also speaks to how you process things in your own mind.
Your perception. As an example. I pray everyday. Both my parents have passed, and I speak to them each day. Why, because I miss them dearly, and I believe in God.
I believe my prayers are heard. I believe my parents can hear me. I don't expect all my prayers will be answered, but then, I don't pray for materialistic things, I pray for guidance. The guidance to help me make the proper choices. What I do with those choices is now up to me.
I don't ask for God to fix things that are broken. Just the guidance to show me how. You won't hear me pray to God asking him to get me a job, or make me rich. God isn't Santa Claus and does not live with the Genie in the bottle. In a sense that's a two-sided sword. If you believe in God, you might think it all worked out because God gave it to you because you prayed for it, and believed in God. You might now say or think that GOD drives your life. That is one valid concept. The other is, God has given us the tools we need from birth.
He will not control how we use them. If so, how would we learn? Therefore, the other concept, the one I believe in, is God has given me the tools. When I pray, it's for his guidance, it's to give me the strength to be able to sort it all out and make the right choice based on his teachings. When it's all said and done, the decisions are mine. Not God's. I could put you in a car, drive you to two paths, tell you about each one, but the decision you make as to which one you will walk down is yours.
In this writers opinion, that's the concept of GOD. This is a life long process. A process of learning that never ends. Is it really that important to even put a label on it? People either believe in God, have faith, or they don't. Does it matter that we must qualify it? If they have faith, they can choose how to practice that faith. We can beat this to death, but at the end of the day, that's the bottom line. Truth and reality at it's best. What do people do when their prayers aren't answered? Many loss faith. You either didn't listen, get the message, not learned the lessons, and simply made a bad choice.
You did that. Not God. Probably based on many factors, emotions being the largest. The human condition dictates that we are more reactive than pro-active. Now you pray for the guidance to repair it. There are many factors that determine whether what you pray for will come true. Most of those do not sit in God's hands, they sit inside your heart, your soul.
The other factor is, you can't control others. Some people get pissed off at God, others say, it happened for a reason. Something better will come along. Others will say that wasn't what God had planned for you. But all these sayings have one common denominator. None of them are God's fault, so don't lose your faith.
Be positive and look for what may be yet to come. Be open minded and not self serving. Things happen for a reason. Some say by God's choice, others say coincidence. Like that person who is pissed off that the flight was overbooked and they couldn't get a seat. Later they find out the plane had an accident. The first thing they do is thank God they weren't on it.
Coincidence, luck, fate, or God? You choose. My grandmother, as many others used to say. Deliberate choice. It is a predetermined relationship, a predetermined relationship in the knowledge of God. It is knowing, not in the sense of observation, but is knowing in the sense of bringing into reality. What do you mean? I predetermined a relationship with you. Israel is the only people I know anything about?
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I want you to fully understand this because it confuses so many people. The Lord called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named me, and he has made my mouth like a sharp sword. God had the whole thing planned. He knew who he was? He predetermined a unique relationship of intimacy with that prophet. The Lord spoke to Moses verse I have known you by name. Do you remember what it says there? He knew who they were. I never had a predetermined relationship with you.
I have a bond with them. More than I know who they are, I have a relationship with them bound up in a predetermined choice. That was all a part of his plan. You want to hear something? Get this, will you please? Every single thing that exists in the universe exists because God allowed it, willed it, thought it into existence. Did you get that? There is nothing that happens, has happened, will happen, that is not happening, has happened, will happen because God knew it into happening. Got that? But he allowed it, and he has a purpose for it.
If nothing else, he allowed it to exist in order to destroy it forever so that it would no longer be potential to mar his holy kingdom. This is not an easy thing to grasp. But what you must understand is that God predetermined in his plan to set his love upon certain people. He foreknew you. Christ certainly is a good model. Just as he elected Christ through foreknowledge, he elects us through foreknowledge. Tremendous truth. So, the nature of election, chosen by God. The condition of election, aliens in the world. The source of election, it came out of a predetermined relationship with God which he ordained as a part of his plan.
The sphere of our election. This is so marvelous. Now, notice this. Being elect and being saved are two different things. Are you with that? Two different things. Are you ready for this? You can be elect and not be saved. What do you mean by that? All of us were elect and unsaved at some time, true? The sphere in which election goes from being a plan to a reality is salvation. The reality of election comes to the elect through the sanctifying work of the Spirit.
This is how the divine and eternal decree becomes a fact of history. How long have the elect been elect? You remember? How long have you been elect? How long have you been saved? A few years. You were elect when you were alive and lost. Election, the plan of God, becomes reality in the life of the elect in the sphere of the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit comes along, makes you holy, which means makes you separate, sets you apart, hallows you, consecrates you to God in the work of salvation. We were milling around in unredeemed condition until the Holy Spirit came and set us apart, saved us.
The Holy Spirit does that marvelous work. Look at it for a moment. And then, verse Listen to this. Much debate in the Jerusalem Council. He chose Peter to preach. Who did that? The Holy Spirit. Cleansed their hearts by faith. God sends his Holy Spirit. We are born of the Spirit. He saved us with no regard for what we have done, but according to his mercy. Christ purchased salvation.
The Holy Spirit applies salvation. He does the regenerating work. Because we saw the Spirit come with power and change your life. Oh, what a great truth. God planned it. Christ effected it. The Spirit makes it a reality. The sanctifying work of the Spirit is that he sets people apart unto God. What does Paul say to the Corinthians? It embraces everything. And it is the critical work of the Holy Spirit at conversion. He sets us apart.
Now listen. And it goes on all our life. Salvation is a work of the Spirit. The Spirit grants you faith. Faith is a gift of the Spirit. The Spirit turns you in order to understand the message of the gospel. The Spirit turns you from sin, turns you toward God. The Holy Spirit makes us holy. It means separation. Did you know that?
Now I am. As I grow spiritually, the decreasing frequency of sin is the increasing reality of holiness. This is really the new covenant in a great way. In fact, let me just take a footnote here for a minute. Total contradiction. It would be absolutely impossible for God to choose a man to be in Christ, send the Holy Spirit to do the work, and not separate that man from sin somehow.
Of course. What does that mean? What are you saying by that? And it will show up in the way you live. A failure to understand that has created some diabolical misunderstanding of the gospel. Wait a minute. There has to be a difference. There has to be. Do you think that makes you a different person? I hope to tell you it does. How can anyone say that a person can be saved by the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, and as some are saying today, and not believe, and not be separate? It certainly flies in the face of what scripture teaches.
Well, the sphere of election, what is it? The environment of its realization is salvation. It occurs in salvation. The sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit that makes the unholy person holy. The salutation in this letter, verse 2, is similar. Boy, how did we get it?
Through the true knowledge of him. When you come to truly know Christ you get all that pertains to life and godliness. Certainly repentance pertains to spiritual life and godliness. Well, the nature of election, God chose us independent of any outside influence. He did. The condition of our election?
We are aliens residing in a foreign place. We love each other. We live by a whole different standard of life, and we have to resist the temptation to get so ingrown we lose the purpose of our being here, which is to be salt and light, scatter the seed. The source of our election?
It came out of a predetermined plan, in which God, before the world began, knew us, knowing us not in the sense of observation. He knew everything in the sense of observation. Knowing us in the sense of a predetermined relationship. It was in his own mind. He knew it into reality. He knew it into existence before it ever happened. And what is the sphere where election becomes reality? The sphere of salvation. Theoretically, if you were to die without ever embracing Christ, you go to hell, even if theoretically you were elect. Number five is the purpose of our election.
What is the purpose of our election?
I mean, this is so straightforward. In order that you may do — what? He saved you that you may obey Jesus Christ. That is not a wish. That is a fact. That truth alone is one of the most compelling I have ever found in the New Testament. But I want to save it because it has to be fully developed. The doctrine of election is so practical. It is so powerful. The doctrine of election will deal with your pride. It will deal with the matter of worship in your heart. It will deal with the issue of joy. The doctrine of election will tell you all you need to know about benefits and spiritual privileges.
The doctrine of election will compel you to certain kinds of behavior like no other doctrine will ever compel you. You absolutely cannot ignore it. And it had for its work the billeting of salvation. Election went through the world and marked the houses to which salvation should come and the hearts in which the treasure should be deposited. Election looked through all the race of man, from Adam down to the last, and marked with sacred stamp those for whom salvation was designed. He must needs go through Samaria, said election, and salvation must go there. Predestination did not merely mark the house, it mapped the road in which salvation should travel to that house.
Predestination ordained every step of the great army of salvation. Predestination ordained the time when the sinner should be brought to Christ, the manner how he should be saved, the means that should be employed. It marked the exact hour and moment when God the Spirit should quicken the dead in sin and when peace and pardon should be spoken through the blood of Jesus. Predestination marked the way so completely to the house that salvation does never overstep the bounds and is never at a loss for the road.
In the everlasting decree of the sovereign God, the footsteps of mercy were every one of them ordained. Election marked the house. Predestination laid out the path and the timing.
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And salvation followed that path. A gift from God. Overwhelmed to think about your infinite grace to us. Why would you choose us? O God, thank You. Thank You. We bless You. Lord, how our lives should reflect our gratitude. Help us, Lord, to always remember that we are aliens here. We are chosen by you for another place, a perfect place. Keep us with a clear focus on our true home, our eternal destiny.
Fill our hearts with such gratitude for grace that we are compelled to dedication, generosity, untiring service, investment of time, talent and money in the exaltation of your blessed name. Save us, Lord, from fooling with this fading world to which we have no kinship. Thank You, O God, for setting us apart. And, Lord, we would pray that there would be some whose election becomes reality even this hour, who having been chosen of God, are now the recipients of mercy and saving grace, who are granted repentance and faith, and set apart from sin unto you.
Do that work, Lord, for your glory.