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164 Responses

  1. Michael says:

    Because not everyone likes cats…

  2. Al says:

    “Because not everyone likes cats…”

    LOL!

  3. Jean says:

    I was doing some research this afternoon on the kingdom of God, and was reminded of this verse:

    “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” John 15:19 ESV

    Is this teaching absent from evangelicalism?

  4. Owen says:

    Jean, I’m inclined to believe it is, at least, mostly absent. I have been to two evangelical churches in my time, and separation from the world was not on their list of priorities.

    I’m looking forward to hearing from those here with more experience than myself.

  5. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Well, we are to be in the world as salt and light, but we are not to be ‘of the world’ and that would need to be define better than I have time for here.

    We can’t separate physically, but we are to keep a light touch on things.

    The strange part is that people teach that your life becomes better when you become a Christian, when in fact most of the promises in the Bible seem to indicate that your misery level will go up.

    Have you ever noticed how Jesus gets presented? Do you have marriage problems – give Jesus a try. Do you have financial problems? Give Jesus a try. Do you have unruly kids? Give Jesus a try. Do you have jock itch?… well you get the point. If Jesus does not work in your life, he offers a full refund – just send in the unused portion of Jesus and you will have no further obligation. 😉

  6. Michael says:

    “The strange part is that people teach that your life becomes better when you become a Christian, when in fact most of the promises in the Bible seem to indicate that your misery level will go up.”

    And God keeps His promises…I enjoyed being a heathen much more than I have enjoyed being a Christian.
    Boy, did I enjoy being a heathen…

  7. Owen says:

    MLD…

    That’s some pretty good ad copy there…. 😉 Unfortunately, you’re not very far off.

  8. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Owen,
    “That’s some pretty good ad copy there…. ? Unfortunately, you’re not very far off.”

    I’m not off at all 😉
    The evangelical church uses the ‘world’s’ methods to push Jesus. It is the whole “we need to be relevant to the culture” — which is nonsense. Just look how many sermons are themed around movies or the latest fad.

    The church needs to say “we are different – we have a different product” (so to use their lingo) – but as long as the evangelical pastor sees himself as the CEO and / or the vision caster, instead of the servant to all, they will continue to influence their congregants into thinking they need to be cool and relevant.

    This is why Greg Laurie brings the Duck guy onto his stage and not bering home some missionary who has been living in poverty in the back jungles somewhere to sit on his stage.

  9. Owen says:

    MLD,

    I was being a little facetious with “not very far off” – I am in agreement.

    Jesus doesn’t need to be “pushed”, if we’re actually doing what He said.

  10. Steve Wright says:

    My life is infinitely better as a Christian than before. I say that without reservation.

  11. Owen says:

    Steve,

    Just a question – are you talking about internally, or externally?

  12. Linnea says:

    I agree with MLD’s #5. While my spiritual life and experience is richer and deeper than it could have ever been before Christ, I have suffered in ways I never imagined as a Christian. To love and serve those (for a long time) who hate you involves personal, emotional, and spiritual sacrifice. To be entrusted with knowledge too terrible to bear is spiritual sacrifice. To pray about those situations is wrenching. Yes, my eternal life is better, my identity with Christ closer, but my physical life is far more difficult. Even so, I choose Christ.

  13. Dallas says:

    Thoughts (Stolen and Otherwise)

    A public service to Western PA, Tim Keller blurbs, my old church now a vape shop, writing with writer’s block, etc…

    http://dswoager.wordpress.com/2016/09/07/thoughts-stolen-and-otherwise-5/

  14. Being a Christian is better for you in an eternal way, but as I said I was speaking of the misery level.
    Look at it this way – the non believer can cuss and speak of God all day long in a blasphemous way. But stand up in a crowd and speak of God and him blessings will probably bring the misery level up.

    Be a non Christian baker and the field is wide open. Be a Christian baker and find out the consequences.

    If your misery level is not up, perhaps you are blending into the community too much – defined as in the world.

  15. Michael says:

    Linnea,

    Great word @ #12…

  16. Michael says:

    I think for some people life is better as a Christian…but if you go into the Christian life with that expectation,someone has sold you a bill of goods.

  17. SJ says:

    Found a newer podcast I have been enjoying.
    Martyrmade….http://www.martyrmade.com
    From the beginnings of the Jewish state pre WW1 with the pogroms in Eastern Europe/Russia to the current conflict. Pretty epic. All the interesting intricate details. By Darryl Cooper. Pretty 50/50 down the middle.

  18. Owen says:

    Amen to #16.

  19. filbertz says:

    my post-life is going to be infinitely better, but it is difficult to measure how differently life would appear had I not embraced faith in Christ at age 8. That level of speculation far exceeds my pay grade. I have to believe internally–my thoughts, emotions, attitudes, and ‘heart’ are significantly improved over what I would’ve been. My wit and humor are certainly tamer than otherwise… 😉

  20. I think we need to keep this in the context of Jean’s #3 and what it means to live as a Christian with the hatred of the world nipping at your heals.
    Steve likes to tell of the price paid by concerts to the faith in India.
    This is the misery index I speak of. I remember what it was like to be a Christian convert in Orange County – Maranatha Village – bookstores all over – Christian concert venues like Knotts Berry Farm and churches on every corner. A real Christian bubble – a real persecution free zone … Because it was seamless with the overall look OC culture.

  21. Erunner says:

    MLD, I was a Christian convert in OC having come to faith at a Saturday night concert in Costa Mesa back in 1976. I walked forward at an altar call and said the sinners prayer and was saved at that moment. Lots of folks mock what I experienced.

    I came from a godless background. I had a terrible youth. But God was always on my mind in some fashion or other.

    Maranatha village and the CCCM bookstore are where I bought books to read. It replaced a lot of garbage I had read while unsaved.

    I loved the Saturday night concerts. That replaced the California Jam where I was one of hundreds of thousands in attendance. People were getting high and drunk everywhere. People were having sex in sleeping bags and we all worshipped at the altar of Black Sabbath and Deep Purple as well as other bands. Not a bad trade off in my book.

    I’d drink vodka and orange juice so I could get the nerve up to meet girls at Disneyland. So going to Knott’s to see Amy Grant and Kelly Willard was another step up for me.

    My life has never been free of troubles and trials. Yet I can say without reservation my life is better than it ever was despite so many trials and sin in my life in these past forty years.

    I went into the world looking for people to share the Gospel with. I wanted them to have what I had. I never promised anyone they’d enter into eternal bliss in this life. I told them there was more.

    My personal life has been filled with a lot of emotional suffering which began before I came to faith. I’ve made a ton of mistakes along the way.

    But I’m in good company as I read the Scriptures. I’ve learned we’re all flawed in one fashion or the other yet it’s never too late too learn from our mistakes.

    How can my life not be better as a Christian? I’m a child of the king and no longer serving the devil and my flesh. Knowing the truth causes me to ache for those who don’t know God. Seeing believers suffer hurts deeply.

    Michael said at 16 “I think for some people life is better as a Christian…but if you go into the Christian life with that expectation,someone has sold you a bill of goods.”

    I agree with that totally and have found that the problems can arise after we come to faith in that we sell ourselves a bill of goods. I’ve been there and done that.

    God loves Evangelicals the same as He loves His other children. If only we showed that love to one another.

  22. CostcoCal says:

    Erunner. Well spoken!

  23. Nonnie says:

    I know, without a doubt, that without Christ, I would be a bitter, angry old woman…full of pride and arrogance, whilst at the same time, being a hurting and broken little girl. But Jesus….Jesus has poured the balm of His grace, forgiveness, and comfort upon me.. and in Him, I have the hope of glory.

    Life is full of hurts for believers and non believers, but Jesus makes the difference. In Him we have that sure hope that He is working all things together for good. Of course that doesn’t take away the tears, the fears and the sorrow….but we have that sure hope….it will be better.

  24. Jean says:

    “My life is infinitely better as a Christian than before.”

    This is not the issue I posed at #3. Here is my quote from John:

    “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:19)

    It is not an issue of whether my life is better or not. Without Jesus no one has life. Jesus is the life and in Him we have life. A Christian abiding in Christ’s love does not allow the world to define or influence what life in Christ is like. And Jesus gives us His peace and joy. So, “yes”, Christians should be profoundly “better” than they were before they were Christians, but it depends how you define what “better” is.

    But my question was about living in the world but not being of the world. Sharing Jesus’ values and not the world’s values. Jesus says that if you share my values, the world will hate you. So if you go through the Bible and you look for Jesus values, how do they stack up with current worldly values? Would the world hate him today if we came preaching? If the answer is yes, then shouldn’t the world be just has opposed to His disciples today? If not, where has American evangelicalism dropped the ball?

  25. Jean says:

    Jesus was very adept in rooting out the sin in the pious. Take the rich young ruler for instance or one of his lunches with a Pharisee. BD said not too long ago that people today are interested in hearing about sin. But, isn’t sin a universal issue? Does the world like to hear about their universal sin problem that merits hell for every one of us? That Jesus died for every one of those sins for every one of us?

  26. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    We as the Church have strayed so far that we cannot even recognize our error. When did a mark of the Christian become happiness – as in since I became a Christian I am happy or my life has turned around and now I have success and / or fulfillment in my life?

    This kind of thing comes out of the error of testimony Christianity – that we have made people’s testimony become the centrality of the faith – we put up celebrities to say “oh, I was a down and outer before I met Christ and look at me now.”

    I know people who give the exact same “happy / successful / my life is turned around” testimony after becoming Mormon, say Richard Gere when he give his testimony to becoming a Buddhist – go back to around 1965 when Muhammad Ali changed his life when he became Black Muslim. Personally I think my life took on all those attributes in 1958 when my grandfather introduced me to Dodgers baseball.

    The question has absolutely nothing to do with this – it is solely the point Jesus makes – if you follow Jesus the world should be hating you. Does your Christianity cause you to be hated by the world or is the world comfortable with you — I should say us.

  27. This week I blogged about prodigals and risking community.

    https://kurtstaeuble.wordpress.com

    Good discussion on this thread. It may have veered a bit away from Jean’s original proposition at #3, but still interesting input from all.

    Sometimes I think we need the wisdom to dif dentists between the Christian lire being hard and life in general being difficult.

    In the same way, sometimes the world hates us because our faith. Other times it’s because we are annoying.

  28. I would say that Being a Christian has brought me pain and difficulty that I wouldn’t have experienced if I wasn’t a believer.

  29. Ha! Dif dentists is autocorrect for difference. This is what happens when I type on my phone. ???

  30. CostcoCal says:

    Don’t know if my life is “infinitely better” but I would say, “Where else can I go?”

  31. Michael says:

    MLD @ 26 is gold.

    I have known a great many believers who didn’t overcome their addictions, who didn’t really get a personality transplant, who, in short, don’t have a testimony anyone would want to hear.

    Their conversions were real spiritually, but didn’t manifest spectacularly in the flesh.

    Some would say that the world hates us because of our stance on moral and family issues.

    Maybe.

    All I know is that I’ve received far more hate from the brethren than I do from the world…

  32. Steve Wright says:

    This is not the issue I posed at #3
    ———————————–
    (said with a smile) Why do you assume I was addressing you?

    Read the comment thread sequence carefully and remember this is not your Thursday article but Open Blogging. Anyone who listens to my preaching knows that what Jesus warned us about the world is a steady feature of my teaching – as is a reminder of the persecuted believers in our world that we are to remember their chains.

    Now..as to the world’s hate of Jesus – of course, but I look around and see more than enough hate in the world between people that has nothing to do with Christianity as well. Whether on the macro or the micro. Muslims or Hindus kill each other if not of the same mindset, much less Christians. Political activists hate rivals whether Christianity is part of it or not, rival gangs in the cities kill each other, I used to take my Oklahoma Sooner stuff off my car when I drove down to Dallas for the Texas game for a reason. 🙂 Didn’t want to come back to a vandalized car (and yeah, saw it happen to others many times)

    The ramifications that we created beings somehow would be better without God, our Creator, even in this life, is untenable to me. The idea that this life, while not our final home, is actually some sort of purgatory we have to endure until REAL life begins after death is not Scripture.

    Is Psalm One and Two not in MLD’s Bible? (I’m teaching Psalms again at the Bible College so it is fresh in my mind once more). The word, blessed, that begins Psalm One and concludes Psalm Two is the Hebrew word better understood as “happy” (and often translated that way) – there is another Hebrew word for blessed in the common usage. Go check out those two verses – walking rightly and putting their trust in the Lord. How happy we are when both are true.

    The bill of goods is to tell someone Christians are immune to the problems of disease, disaster, heartbreak, economic or relationship hardships, a flat tire when you can least deal with it…etc.

    To tell them their life will be better with Christ, to be better with the indwelling and filling of the Spirit of the Living God, the One Who will never leave you nor forsake you, is with you always….that is no bill of goods. The gospel is not just hell insurance.

    And no, Christ is not a magic fix for years of sin and its consequences. We can’t promise a restored marriage for example just for becoming a Christian anymore than we can promise probation to the inmate serving his sentence for his crimes. But we CAN promise the days ahead will be better with than without Christ. And for the record, Christ HAS healed a lot of marriages too.

    Two other points. I do not view life (nor does God) with some semi-Gnostic, external vs. internal mindset. LIFE is the whole package – body, soul, spirit. There is a reason sick people in the body also get emotionally depressed and spiritually troubled. We can’t separate parts of us anymore than we can separate the Trinity.

    Second, we should not conflate Christianity with ministry service and the heartbreaks and challenges found there in this discussion. One does not HAVE to go down that path just in becoming a Christian anymore than one has to become a surgeon and be one of the few people to know what it is like to have someone die on your operating table. Let’s remember though, all people in life know of hurts, hardships, scandal…to some degree. Once more, there is no comparison to dealing with such things with Christ versus apart from Him.

  33. Em ... again says:

    hope, joy (as opposed to “happiness”), discernment (out of wisdom and understanding resulting from searching the Book – the Word)… i’m sure there’s more than those things that i’ve gained in the abundant life in Christ…but, perhaps, we shouldn’t overlook the fact that a fear of God (humility?) is where we begin …

    agreeing that lifestyle, with or without Christ, goes a long way toward a happy life and there is nothing immoral in itself (or moral) about living a good life in a prosperous land

    IMX, the more corrupted the unbeliever is with evil – usually self righteous evil – the more they will despise a life lived in Christ and, if in a position to do so, will try to harm you … but many church-goers (saved or unsaved, i don’t know) sadly fall into this category, too IMX

    Acts 15:28-29 come to mind, though (where i was reading this morning) in God’s eyes it is our relationship with Him that counts for redemption… not so much our lifestyles … so i must ponder whether or not some and some placed in positions of Christian leadership who live pretty high off the hog today will simply be in that category- saved, but shallow (the mile wide and an inch deep faith?) … dunno … i really don’t … 🙂

    grace is a marvelous attribute of God

  34. Em ... again says:

    yeah, what Pastor Steve just said – amen

  35. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    OK, we have 1 vote for happiness being a mark of the Christian – any others on that bandwagon?

    “The bill of goods is to tell someone Christians are immune to the problems of disease, disaster, heartbreak, economic or relationship hardships, a flat tire when you can least deal with it…etc.” – this is the bill of goods being pedaled every time someone is brought in to give their ‘testimony’ – “my wife and I were on the verge of divorce – we were both in multiple cheating relationships, but then we both came to Christ and now we live happily ever after. You too should buy a tube of Jesus and save your marriage.”

  36. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Steve – your point of “happy” is what I was saying earlier about living in the Christian bubble – living in Christian community – us four and no more. There we see the internal happy.

    But Jesus’ words – you take that outside to the world, the world is going to hate you – because they hated him.

    I have never heard at any altar call of Harvest Crusade, the call to come to Christ so that the world will hate you – no not once and if you can point me to one of your recordings where you said that in your altar call (when you used to do them) I will retract. But no, what I do hear is, if you have this / these problems in your life, come forward today and let Jesus handle these cares – Jesus is the answer to your life’s problems.

    Worse yet is when I hear “give Jesus a try.”

  37. Steve Wright says:

    Did I say “mark of the Christian”? Did MLD bother to engage the Scripture I did reference?

    Did I say a word in support of sloppy testimony evangelism? Does MLD deny that Jesus HAS saved many marriages, or just that those Christians should stay silent and not “Go tell what good things the Lord has done for you”

    When the strawmen arise and the goalposts move, that’s my sign to stop typing. I lived it my way for 25 years. My opening short post stands…my life is infinitely better today. Not just “someday” when they bury me. Today. Praise to the Lord.

  38. Em ... again says:

    maybe we need to examine the term “happy?” in the context of the Christian life, does it connote fat, silly and careless – or carefree?

    time to go get another cup of coffee … in old age one cup of caffeine isn’t sufficient to wake me up

  39. Steve Wright says:

    Em, the word is Scriptural. When I lived a life that was the polar opposite of Psalm One, I had a lot of fun, lots of the pleasures of sin for a season, laughed a lot, but I was not happy. Because I was indicative of the nations raging against the LORD and His Anointed described in Psalm Two. However, by God’s grace I was drawn to kiss the Son, and oh how happy I am having put my trust in Him.

    God’s word is true.

  40. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Steve,
    “Did I say a word in support of sloppy testimony evangelism?”
    As you said, with a smile – why do you think I was addressing you? I was just relaying my experience to an Open Blogging audience. But don’t call it sloppy evangelism – it is the dominant evangelism style of our age.

    Now about the mark of the Christian – I spoke twice earlier about people making ‘happy’ a mark of the Christian – unless you weren’t addressing my comment about happy (but you did specifically ask if Psalm 1 & 2 were in my Bible – then I would assume you were making the case for happy being a mark of the Christian.

    Also, in Bible HUB only 3 of 24 translations translate the word as ‘happy’ and only one of those were committee translations.

    The question still goes back to and I will include all of us – are we hated by the world because Christ was hated by the world – or are we really just another religious part of the world?

  41. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    “…my life is infinitely better today.” Steve I have no doubt it is – but on testimony alone, what is your reaction when you hear Richard Gere speak of all the wonders since he became a Buddhist – perhaps around the time you became a Christian and he finishes his testimony saying “…my life is infinitely better today.”

    So this does go back to that internal / external thing I think Owen asked about. Internal = how you feel about being saved — external = what God has in reality said about you being saved.

  42. Paul A. Lytton says:

    This is one view of being “In this world, but not of it”.

    As a Christian, either new or seasoned, we often sin in ways similar to the same sinning that the lost do.
    Hence, “In this world”.

    However; we are ashamed of ourselves and truly wish we would not have done that.
    Hence, “but not of it”.

  43. Dallas says:

    I have been experimenting with some more conversational posts on my blog. I’m 50/50 so far. The first actually created some cool discussion, while the second fell completely flat.

    Just dropped the third, and while it might be wildly too personal in subject matter, I thought I would post a link here as well.

    The Blasphemy in My Head

    http://dswoager.wordpress.com/2016/09/10/the-blasphemy-in-my-head/

  44. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Dallas – good thoughts in that article. I also read a couple of others.

    No telling what goes through our minds. You hear the stories of great elderly saints who we think have it all together and then they get Alzheimer and they have no filter and you hear of the vile and cruel things that come from their mouth – things held in because they were able to.

    Perhaps one of the lies we allow in is that we do have it together.

  45. Jean says:

    Dallas @ #43,

    Timely article. I appreciate the length :-).

    I left my comment on your blog. It’s worthy of discussion.

  46. Dallas says:

    Thanks MLD and Jean, I agree that one of our great lies is that we have it all together. The great sin of pretense. I know that authenticity is a curse word in some circles, and we just aren’t safe to be completely transparent with everyone, but it is truly a blessing to have people in your life that you can be open and honest with. Confession is good for the soul :).

  47. Em ... again says:

    #44- alzheimer as your barometer? then you would find the late R.B. Thieme a great saint… he was a gentleman and expressed snatches of his belief in Christ until the disease was terminated at his death…

    however, i’m not sure that i agree – i don’t believe a damaged and, perhaps delusional, brain indicates where the soul is … IMHO … but that’s all it is, just an opinion…

  48. Michael says:

    “So this does go back to that internal / external thing I think Owen asked about. Internal = how you feel about being saved — external = what God has in reality said about you being saved.”

    Faith is believing that external word despite how you feel about current circumstances.

    I was watching the wondrous Tina Turner last night as she exulted over the happiness she found in Buddhism…when she sings a chant, it’s glorious. 🙂

    Now that I know that happiness is the mark of a Christian, I have something else to be discouraged about…not really… because I believe that external word about what Jesus has done, not what I feel.

  49. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    There may be some correlation between those churches that think carefree and happy are earmarks of a sound Christian faith, distributed by the Holy Spirit and the Happy Clappy worship styles we see in many evangelical churches.

  50. surfer51 says:

    As some have said, becoming a Christian did not change things all that much.

    My own observations since the late sixties is that while the vicissitudes of life continue onward, there is actually a change that does take place.

    God does something in your inward parts whereby the vicissitudes of life no longer get to you.

    They become like water off a ducks back.

    You become mature in the faith whereby you have faith, hope, and love internally in such proportion that your not as affected inside like you once were by life’s trials.

    The demon winds can blow so hard on us at times and yet we survive because of our Christianity.

    Others collapse but Christians have Christ to cling to, rely upon, trust in and Velcro to.

    This is not Jesus juke, this is the Living Word of God.

    He is the cleft of the rock.

    Our strong tower.

    Underneath are His everlasting arms.

    Our refuge.

    The name of the LORD is a strong tower; The righteous runs into it and is safe.

    God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

    https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+46&version=KJV

  51. surfer51 says:

    Somber boring worship turns most Christians off MLD.

    I like the prophetic worship style myself.

    It lifts me up and draws me to the Lord in my spirit.

    Here is a great example of the kind of worship I respond and resonate with myself…
    And ya it does include happy clappy Joy of the Lord which our strength.

    Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

  52. Steve Wright says:

    What parent here does not want your child to be happy in this life?

    Is that an evil desire for our children? Is it a wish that necessitates a desire for our children to compromise with the world? I would say, no, on both counts.

    Is happiness not somehow, good? Is not God the Source of every good thing?

    If you being evil desire good gifts for your children..how much more your heavenly Father.

    Do we sinners in a fallen world often pursue happiness outside of God’s boundaries (like every other good thing He has given us that we abuse) – of course. That is why Psalm One so clearly connects to Psalm Two.

    One of the things the prosperity movement and the other Osteen’s of the world have done is make a lot of solid Christians overreact the other way. As if God WANTS you to be sick, poor, and miserable in this life, and you are wrong to ever preach otherwise. That life is a misery until heaven so get used to it until you die.

    That is NOT the teaching of the Scripture. Nor has it motivated Christians for centuries who not just bring the Gospel to foreign lands but bring expertise in medical care, crop farming and other areas to help people have a better life.

    Look at the many Christian scientists who sought to discover how to use God’s creation to better the earthly lives of people to the glory of God.

    Look at all the Christian artists who have used their gifts to bring pleasure here on earth for people. Painters, composers, poets….

    Look at all the Christian educators who seek to educate people so they might have a better life, not just in theology either. (Great line from a secular movie Legends of the Fall when Anthony Hopkins says he will teach a little rural Indian girl and her mother asks, what for, and he says (to paraphrase), “Why to have a better life of course?”)

    Schools, hospitals, the arts, agriculture, business…so much Christian effort for EARTHLY betterment. Earthly improvement. Earthly happiness.

    I’ve encountered people who had a religious upbringing as small children, talking about how miserable the nuns were who taught them, how somehow laughter was practically blasphemy. I encountered a few such “religious” people along the way outside of Catholicism in my early years, though fortunately was spared that childhood for the most part. The “godly” people I met in my early unbelieving years were some of the most miserable SOBs you could every encounter. And they sang a hymn like it was a funeral dirge.

    Of course, that’s part of the issue. There are miserable people in this world, who get upset if everyone is not as miserable or upset about the issues that have made them miserable in the first place. Many of them waive the Christian banner, a couple I know are pastors as well.

    I find myself lately giving thanks far more than I do asking petitions when I pray. Giving of thanks is good for the soul. Phil 4:6,7

    People may want to take the excesses and errors under some umbrella pejorative known as “evangelicalism” and try to attach it to what I am saying – but what I am saying is right from the Bible. Yes, I know all the passages about the persecution and hardships promised as well. I’ve also traveled a little and been with Christians in other lands facing hardships and persecutions we don’t face here – and they are also some of the happiest, joyful, pleasant people to be with. Have most Americans beat by a mile…..

  53. Steve, sounds like your sermon prep now includes the Joel Osteen library.

    Simple question going back to the beginning — are you hated and disposed by the world because of your profession of faith in Christ?

  54. Jean says:

    We have two topics crisscrossing. Regarding happiness, a NT, New Covenant word is joy and rejoice. It’s a kingdom gift and is listed among the fruit of the Spirit. Our task is to learn what that means from a biblical perspective.

  55. Babylon's Dread says:

    My life is infinitely better in Christ than before.

  56. Babylon's Dread says:

    Didn’t see that Steve Wright beat me to that comment. So now you have two witnesses.

  57. The happiness gospel doesn’t preach well in war torn 3rd world countries – an the “I am infinitely better since becoming a Christian is just competing noise with I am better being a Buddhist. The only thing that counts are the promises oh Jesus and then duck.

  58. Linnea says:

    Thank you, Michael…

  59. Babylon's Dread says:

    MLD,

    There is NOTHING mentioned by me about a happiness Gospel. I said my life is infinitely better in Christ.

  60. Michael says:

    First off, let’s answer MLD’s question.

    Does the world hate you because of your Christian witness?

    No.

    The people that hate me have other reasons and most of them are Christians too.

    Does this speak to how I’m living out my faith?

    Probably.

    Now, let’s take a look at Psalm 1.

    “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.

    He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

    Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.”
    (Psalms 1:1–6 ESV)

    If “happiness” is the mark of the Christian by authority of this passage, then so is prosperity.
    You can’t have it both ways.
    Unless you agree with prosperity and happiness both being the marks of a Christian,we need a more nuanced interpretation of the Psalm.

    I count Christ as my greatest treasure and my faith as the greatest gift given me.

    This, despite the fact that ‘happiness” has often turned away from my door.

  61. Jean says:

    “The Psalter ought to be a dear and beloved book, if only because it promises Christ’s death and resurrection so clearly and so depicts His kingdom and the condition and nature of all Christendom that we may call it a little Bible.” – Martin Luther

    Luther published 6 separate editions of the Psalter, and his commentaries on the Psalter fill 5 volumes of Luther’s Works.

    Regarding Psalm 1, here is Luther’s brief commentary:

    “Psalm 1 is a psalm of comfort. It admonishes us to gladly hear and learn God’s Word and brings us the comfort that, in doing so, we will have many and great benefits. Just as a palm tree by the water grows green and brings fruit despite all heat and cold and the like, so also all our words and works will prosper despite all enemies. Human doctrines do not have this benefit, and, as the wind blows the chaff away, so they also pass away. For God says that those who study His Word please Him, but the others He allows to perish.

    This psalm flows from the Third Commandment; indeed, it is part of that commandment, for the command to honor the Sabbath is itself the command to hear and learn of God’s Word. Psalm 1 is also included in the Second and Third Petitions of the Lord’s Prayer, for in these we pray for God’s kingdom and His will, both of which are conveyed by His Word.”

  62. Josh the Baptist says:

    I would have to throw another vote in the “much happier with Jesus” camp. I’m not saying it would be the same for all involved, but it certainly happened in my experience.

  63. Steve Wright says:

    My nuance was mentioning Psm 2 and the last verse with Psm 1 as I did repeatedly through this thread. They are united in introducing the entire book of Psalms as multiple scholars attest, and I agree (and teach)

    But I’ll surrender the point. God wants us to all be miserable wretches until we die. He does not want us to ever succeed and how dare we even try to. He’ll meet our needs if we recognize those needs as the pine box we go to glory in.

    And all those references to happiness in BOTH testaments are scribal errors….

    OR…..like I said earlier, the lies of the prosperity name it and claim it guys have robbed a lot of Christians of enjoying walking with a loving heavenly Father, and the many blessings He bestows anyway to us are then received with self-loathing and America/Orange County guilt.

  64. Maybe the way I look at things: I don’t really expect Christ to make my life better (happy and materially blessed) but rather he makes me better (character and joy) in the midst of life’s challenges. Seems that’s what the NT spends a lot of time talking about.

  65. Michael says:

    “God wants us to all be miserable wretches until we die. He does not want us to ever succeed and how dare we even try to. He’ll meet our needs if we recognize those needs as the pine box we go to glory in.”

    No one…not me, not MLD, no one…has even come close to that kind of a statement, nor has it even been inferred.

    You have purposefully misrepresented me and the others again…and I will not tolerate it.

    Will not.

  66. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Let me try it this way. Way back at Jean’s #3 he posed the question “Is this teaching absent from evangelicalism?” I answered with the idea that evangelicals (except Steve) do not want to deliver the hard message of what it is like if you become a Christian. As I jokinly said, if you have jock itch, Jesus is the cure.”

    Well, I think many of the comments have made my point. I asked about what the message is at the altar call, in a church or at a Harvest Crusade. I have never heard the evangelist tell the crowd that he did not want a response that night, but that he wanted the prospective converts to come down front and pick up some liturature that will explain why they needed to count the cost of becoming a Christian, because of the proposed hatred of the world – that you need to count the cost of having family turn against you – that you may ose a job and a variety of other things. “Come back tomorrow and let’s discuss it.” Not once have I heard this – and we know it is none existent.

    Now, I mention all of the above for one reason – and it was my original reasoning behind my comments. Today pastors and evangelists pander only to the felt needs of the prospective convert. If you have a troubled marriage – if you are a drug addict – if your kids won’t listen – Jesus is the answer. The lure of Jesus – the way Jesus is dangled out there obscures what the real offer of Jesus is – eternal life – the fact that he has conquered sin and death for us — he has no promise to cure our dandruff issues.

    So, from that platform, my thought is that happiness and life satisfaction is not a part of this. People of every world religion are just as happy, just as fulfilled and satisfied by their religion — and none of that is Christianity.

    But I can guarrantee, tomorrow, every evangelical altar call will be the shiny, glittery Jesus.
    The alrtar call at my church will be at the rail to receive the body and blood – a Jesus who has hidden himself in the bread and the wine – for the purpose of forgiving my sin – I will still leave church with jock itch. 😉

  67. Michael says:

    MLD,

    Lets clarify for the critics.

    You’re not saying that God never blesses people.
    You’re not saying that there is no temporal benefit to being a Christian.
    You’re not saying that if God blesses then you should feel guilty.
    You’re not saying that Christians should be unhappy.

    You’re saying just what you said…and I agree.

  68. Josh the Baptist says:

    I like hearing testimonies of what has done is a person’s life. May ask my class in the morning if anyone wants to share.

  69. Michael says:

    Here’s my testimony.
    By His Spirit, Word, and sacrament He has enabled me to persevere in faith.
    Please hold your applause until everyone has spoken…

  70. Josh the Baptist says:

    That’s awesome! I hope you share it often!

    Anyone else?

  71. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Let’s all give our testimony. I will go first.
    I was 32 when Jesus saved me. Up to that point I was a great person. I graduated college, I served in the military, I was married at 19 – by the time I was 22 I had a career type job. I was a great husband, father, employer, employee, loyal to my friends family and country.

    Then Jesus stepped into my life, saved me from damnation for which I will always be grateful. Today after salvation, I am still a great husband, father employer, employee, loyal to my friends, family and country.

    End of testimony. 🙂

  72. Josh the Baptist says:

    Beautiful! Praise JEsus!

  73. Em ... again says:

    “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. … i prefer to think that the blessedness is a condition, not an emotion … but precious few of us can say that we meet the requirements described here … but, from where i sit, we are still better off than the wicked in this life and the next

    i must protest the glittering generality of accusation at #66 above
    i acknowledge that i haven’t sat in an evangelical church service with its Sunday morning invitation to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior in recent years… last time was with the Presbyterians a few years ago and they did not offer a cure for any kind of itch… or any other troubles, but the one of eternal separation from their Creator – that said…
    i suspect that there a plenty of evangelical pastors who will tomorrow simply and graciously give some unknown folk in their midst a chance to acknowledge their sinful state and choose Christ

  74. Em ... again says:

    testimony? i thot God was a silent and uncaring bully, until one day, a month after my 15th birthday, i understood John 3:16 and stepped into a whole new world – a blessed one 🙂

  75. Josh the Baptist says:

    Hallelujah!

    I can’t imagine why you guys don’t like this.

  76. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Josh – but what is the purpose at an evangelism event. Do we expect someone to hitch a ride on my experience?

    When you ask your class tomorrow to ‘give their testimony – to what end?

    I have never given my testimony in any kind of public setting -not even to my class. If it gets told, it gets told in a partial way in a one on one conversation – but never to show that “someday, you too can be like me.”

  77. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    and imagine all of the cradle Lutherans who have no ‘testimony’ other than my parents took me to the pastor who splashed water on me in the name of the Triune God … and God saved me.

    But I have no memory of i and depend soley on their testimony of what happened.

  78. Erunner says:

    MLD @ 66…. “Let me try it this way. Way back at Jean’s #3 he posed the question “Is this teaching absent from evangelicalism?” I answered with the idea that evangelicals (except Steve) do not want to deliver the hard message of what it is like if you become a Christian. As I jokinly said, if you have jock itch, Jesus is the cure.”

    The key here once again centers on Evangelicals. I’m convinced Steve Wright wouldn’t preach a message of happiness and the good fairy protecting you from any harm or trials in the Christian life.

    I’ve hurt it numerous times from the pulpit that once you give your life to Christ is when the real battle begins.

    I’m sure there are people who teach falsely how everything gets better now that you’re a child of the king. That ill prepares a new believer for the realities that lie ahead for them.

    I would have been impressed if Jean stated at #3 Is this teaching absent from THE PULPIT today as opposed to zeroing in on Evangelicals. To me that’s an unprovoked attack that wasn’t necessary.

    I could state something like Lutherans add the work of baptism in order to be saved. Therefore theirs is a works based salvation. That would go over like a ton of bricks here.

    What would be the point? Lutherans have their set of beliefs and they do well by them. No need to drop a bomb like that.

    It seems to me we all fall short in one way or the other. I like the idea of building one another up.

  79. Josh the Baptist says:

    Praise God for the testimonies at #78 as well!

    Purpose? I guess just to praise Jesus for all He has done.

  80. Michael says:

    I wrote a nasty comment but erased it.
    I have been sanctified.
    More testimony…

  81. Josh the Baptist says:

    I’m assuming a nasty comment aimed at me? Why?

  82. Michael says:

    MLD,

    I have no remembrance of ever “getting saved”.
    I know I’ve known Jesus from the beginning.

    Oddly enough I was baptized at two weeks of age…in Crater Lake.

  83. Michael says:

    Josh,

    Not aimed at you…just generally nasty.
    I’m an old, jaded, curmudgeon with no use for some traditions.
    That’s entirely my problem.

  84. Josh the Baptist says:

    That’s amazing. These are great testimonies. Very uplifting.

  85. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Erunner – I exempted Steve in my #66 comment and you did the copy / Paste that included it.
    “I answered with the idea that evangelicals (except Steve) do not want to deliver the hard message of what it is like if you become a Christian.”

    I showed him the love.

    Because you may know people who do not pander to the felt needs of the convert prospects does not mean that it does not happen so often that I can say ‘the evangelicals.’

    Have you ever heard someone ask them to delay making “a decision for Christ” until they have considered the costs? I haven’t. Those who think they are exempt from thistype of activity can consider that I am speaking of the other 90%.

  86. Josh the Baptist says:

    All good, Michael. I just sincerely like hearing about the work that God is doing in people’s lives.

    Sometimes the testimony is, “Look. Life is killing me right now. I know Jesus is holding on to me, but that’s all I’ve got.”

    I appreciate hearing those too.

  87. Josh the Baptist says:

    “Have you ever heard someone ask them to delay making “a decision for Christ” until they have considered the costs? ”

    In fairness, the New Testament model doesn’t always ask for a delay either. Peter’s Acts 2 sermon comes to mind, and there are many times when the person is baptized right then and there. So, I understand where you are coming from with “consider the cost”, but I think there is enough New Testament evidence of no delay, that it would be wrong to consider either “more biblical”.

  88. Michael says:

    “Sometimes the testimony is, “Look. Life is killing me right now. I know Jesus is holding on to me, but that’s all I’ve got.”

    I have a lot of people like that in my life and “ministry” right now…and if someone told these dear people that “happiness is the mark of a Christian” I’d knock them out and repent later.

  89. Josh the Baptist says:

    Right. That would be the testimony of at least half my class in the morning.

  90. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Josh, I know it is late for you back on the east coast. My model wasn’t that you had to ask people to count the cost – I asked if you ever head it during an altar call.

    Another thing since you brought up Peter at Pentecost – he just preached and the Holy Spirit took over – he did not pander to felt needs- no one was asked to respond to an altar call. The Holy Spirit just came over them as a result of the preaching and poof!!! they were Christians.

    This is the Lutheran approach – we preach God’s word in his two voices the law & the gospel and let the Holy Spirit do the work. I doubt there has ever been a Lutheran divine service end with – “now with every head bowed and every eye closed …”

  91. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I think one of the great NT events is Acts 8 with the soon to be Lutheran, the Ethiopian Eunuch 😉 who cannot understand the Bible and needed a preacher – because you cannot be saved without a preacher to preach the word.

    Philip is miraculously sent to him and preaches the text to him – and after hearing God’s word and no presentation of an altar call, no appealing to the Eunuchs felt needs – the Eunuch announces he wants salvation through baptism. That pretty good stuff.

  92. Josh the Baptist says:

    “The Holy Spirit just came over them as a result of the preaching and poof!!! they were Christians”
    Not completely accurate. The crowd asked “what must we do” to which Peter answered “Repent and be baptized.” It wasn’t Charles Finney, but it was an opportunity to repond to the message.

    And yes, I’ve heard “count the cost” many, many times.

  93. Erunner says:

    MLD, My mistake as I thought you were mocking Steve so accept my apology.

    My main point with Jean’s #3 is that he specifically zeroed in on Evangelicals. I thought that was not necessary and I shared how I though he could have worded it to expand the conversation a bit more.

    Maybe it would have gone directly towards Evangelicals any way. I don’t know.

    I know that the Gospel message can and is shared in a very shallow and misleading way. I’ve seen it for myself. But I’ve also heard it shared in a very good way

    My history is CC and I’m not embarrassed about that. But we both know CC isn’t the same CC it was when I arrived here 11 or so years ago. Good things are happening and I’m happy for that.

    I don’t believe I have heard anyone use the word delay in considering the cost of making a decision for Christ. I have heard it in the message many, many, times though when it comes to counting the cost. Yet I believe the Gospel can be presented in such a way that a person can make that decision on the spot. That happened with me on April 6th, 1976.

    We see in the NT people being converted on the spot. God the Holy Spirit can certainly do the same thing today.

    We’re saved by grace through faith. God can and does see His work accomplished in many ways.

    That we are allowed to be a deliverer of that message is a privilege. It’s to be taken seriously.

    There will never be a consensus on how exactly this message is to be delivered.

    My concern is for the lost. Those in cults, etc. I’m over arguing with other believers on the exact details on how we reach them. The wording we use. If the essentials are there then I’m satisfied. God will see His will done.

  94. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    And yes, I’ve heard “count the cost” many, many times.

    Really – at an evangelism event?? Who presented the costs to the prospective converts?

    You guys may do it differently in the south – but I know in 25 yrs hanging at CCs and SBCs – not once.

  95. Erunner says:

    “Sometimes the testimony is, “Look. Life is killing me right now. I know Jesus is holding on to me, but that’s all I’ve got.”

    My mom was here today. Her last visit she fell on our porch and hurt herself. She had been saying her balance is off. In less than a week she can’t walk on her own. We have to hold on to her. Her dementia is advancing. She watched this disease take her mother and aunt and she’s aware of what’s coming.

    She’s depressed and one moment is thankful things aren’t worse and then she mourns what is happening to her 80 year old mind and body.

    What Josh shared is my mom’s life now. It kills me to watch it happening. She asks me why. How in the world do I answer that? Her mind is slowly slipping away. That’s the reality for so many. What I share she forgets. All she says is me and God are talking a lot every day.

    But in the midst of that my sister and I are talking again. She lives with my mom and to say things have been difficult between us is an understatement. So I take the good with the bad. And then I thank God for loving me.

  96. London says:

    Sometimes the testimonies that some people are mocking can save someone else’s life.
    For a while, after a rather emotionally difficult job loss, I participated in a local recovery based church service. It was the only place I knew I could go and get emotionally healthier. I haven’t ever had substance abuse issues, but there I met many who did.
    Every week, rain or shine, I forced myself to go there. I honestly wondered if I was going to make it out if that season.
    The testimonies of those that had made it out of their own personal hell was a large part, not only of mine, but many other people’s healing.
    Knowing that someone else “got through” keeps people going. It’s a key part of recovery, both in the hearing and in the saying.
    There is a purpose for it and that purpose is to give hope to those listening and empower to those speaking.

    Everyone who has participated in recovery of any kind knows the following prayer. I think it is a good one to post in this thread.

    The original full version of the “Serenity Prayer” reads, “God give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the thing which should be changed and the wisdom to distinguish one from the other. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it, trusting that You will make things right, if I surrender to Your will, so that I may be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen.”

    No one who has an addiction, or an emotional trauma, is worried about whether or not it is “wrong” to want to be happy. They just want to be out of pain and can only dream of one day being happy.

    If you’re reading this thread and are dealing with addiction, depression or emotional trauma, don’t give up. Keep taking one step at a time, and never be ashamed or feel guilty that you are looking for happiness. It’s ok and it is not wrong.

  97. Steve Wright says:

    I recognize that writing a detailed paper on this subject exceeds the multiple back and forths so I offer up Piper’s contribution to the point I have made above. It is not every day that I can say I agree with Piper on just about every word, but this is one of those times (other than his frustrating insistence on using troubled marriages in his illustrations given his track record on that topic in some of his other messages)..

    That aside, if anyone thinks I have been saying something different than Piper here, then it is my clumsy expression that is to blame. Of course, you may disagree with Piper as well if so inclined. I also think it supports my continued insistence that Psalm Two and One go to together. Don’t rage at God, but instead kiss the Son (it speaks to allegiance and submission by the way) and put your trust in Him and then proceed to walk in the Lord’s ways and not in the ways of the sinners of the world. Pretty simple. Life will never be better. As Piper concludes, “obedience to the commands of Jesus leads to happiness.”

    I note this Piper quote ” I know that many people use the word joy and happiness as different experiences: Happiness is superficial and based on circumstances, while joy is deep and based on Jesus. And, of course, there is such a thing as superficial happiness and there is such a thing as deep and unshakable joy, but that distinction in the words themselves won’t hold up in the Bible. The Bible doesn’t have a word for superficial happiness and non-superficial joy. They all flow into each other. All the words for joy and happiness and gladness and rejoicing and pleasure and delight, they are all used both ways in the Bible. They are used superficially and they are used deeply. You can’t carve it up that way. We must simply make clear at every point, what does the Bible mean and what do we mean in our preaching.”

    Amen. Here is the whole thing. http://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/does-god-want-me-to-be-happy-or-holy

    I also looked up plenty of examples of how the hymns Christians have sung for centuries often talk about being happy – not because they have the weight of Scripture but to reinforce an earlier point that the prosperity heretics out there have robbed the church of something as so many bend over backwards to teach in a way so as not to even be remotely associated with their ideas. Throwing the baby out with the bathwater indeed.

    But I decided not to post all the examples of them, as I do not want MLD to get to church early and start ripping up the hymnals in fear someone might come away with a so-called happiness gospel. 🙂

  98. Al says:

    It’s a mixed bag.

    I have Atheist and Agnostic friends…one who is a former Calvary Chapel Pastor…who say they have much better lives now and are happier as Atheists or Agnostics than when they were Christians….and I’ve observed them for many years now and they are much better people and much happier and more moral than my Calvary Chapel Step-dad and many others I’ve observed for years as well.

    It’s a mix for sure. No denying that.

  99. Al says:

    I have no reason to doubt Dread’s claims or even Steve Wright’s claims. I think they feel better and live better as Christian pastors.

    I also have no reason to doubt many friends I have who say they have great lives and are happy and moral who are not Christian pastors.

    I know many total bastards and evil people who are Christians and pastors….many good and honorable largely moral people who are Christians and pastors….and many good folks who are largely moral who are not Christians and not pastors…and of course many folks who are as bad as some of the Christian pastors.

    The Truth is it’s a mixed bag and there is no Constant.

  100. Linnea says:

    London…a good encouragement. Thanks for sharing it.

  101. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    The issue I have with public testimonies in an evangelism event is that someone in charge makes the conscious decision that the preaching of the gospel and the story of Jesus is not enough to convert people – so we must add the story of me.

    Steve, you need to make up your mind. Either being happy is a mark of the Christian or it is not. You seem to continually make the case that it is, but when pinched, you deny that it is. Now you post an article by Piper stating that being happy is a command of God.

    I would love to hear you preach that one.

    I am happy and fairly content in life. My older brother is Jewish and he is happy and fairly content with his life. My younger brother is an atheist and he is happy and fairly content with his life. – so I do not deny that being happy is better than being miserable – but Joel Osteen’s “Your Best Life Now” and Robert Schuller’s “Be Happy Attitudes” would not be found in any 3rd world country’s Christian bookstores as they are here.The difference?? In those countries they are actually hated by the world and are constantly on the run or living in fear of human consequences. We on the other hand are fat, happy and content – especially since Donal Trump the other day promised to protect Christianity as the dominent lifestyle in America. 😉

  102. Every semester at our local Gospel Mission (at the last very last class) I have my wife share her story of becoming a Christian to the 8-10 former addicts/criminals I have spent the previous 13 weeks explaining the gospel to.

    For 13 weeks I share with these women how and why the gospel works.

    On week 14 I provide a living story of what it looks like.

    Her story glories in the saving, healing and sanctification of Christ. It is emotional. Not to be manipulative. But because she experienced God’s love at a time her life lacked love.

    Also, it seems to me that when Paul explained the Gospel throughout the book of Acts he just shared the story of Jesus, but at least in what is written, he didn’t talk a lot about counting the cost.

  103. Xenia says:

    A young man in our parish is always saying, and always posting on FB “I am the happiest man in the world because I have God.” And he is a happy person, grateful for the things God has given him, even though he is materially poor. His joy in the Lord is contagious and it’s hard to complain when he’s around.

    I have learned a lot from this young man about gratitude.

  104. Owen says:

    So, a few days ago I was sitting in the OR waiting room at the hospital, waiting for my surgery to happen. On the tv was the U.S. Open tennis matches. There were some very interesting twists and turns happening.
    I’m reminded of that while reading this thread. And trying to keep up with the discussion.

    I commented on Steve’s #10 (waaaaay back up there) by asking, “do you mean internally, or externally?”.

    What I was getting at was , did you mean your life is better as far as feeling more at peace more often, maybe no longer struggling to find meaning, etc…. those sorts of things that non-Christians tend to be searching for.

    OR,

    did you mean the outside circumstances of your life improved?

    Please understand – at this point I wish to rescind the question. This discussion has gone far beyond it, and I myself have learned quite a bit.

    I’ll retreat once more and listen some more.

  105. Hopefully my #103 makes sense. Typing on my phone with a few interruptions makes for mangled syntax.

  106. Xenia says:

    So yes, I think Christians should be happy, although not happy as the world defines happiness.

  107. Xenia says:

    Because after all, the Gospel is Good News, which should make us very happy people.

  108. This thread seems to have splintered a bit, and as a result there seems to be a bit of talking past one another. And yet I am intrigued by the various themes that have emerged.

    One thought I had was the fact that because I am a Christian, I sometimes make decisions that actually make my life more challenging. Things I would likely not do if I was a non-believer. Thinks like forgiveness which is often really painful. Or serving someone who I find distasteful. Or bridling my tongue when everything inside me wants to give my tongue free rain.

    I probably would not have adopted a handicapped child if I didn’t believe in Jesus. Just being honest. He has brought many unexpected joys, but there have been many challenges as well.

    Just thinking out loud…

  109. Michael says:

    Owen,

    I think your distinction has merit.
    The internal, spiritual response to the Gospel will always be one of joy for the Christian.
    Our response to the external stresses and sorrows of life will be appropriate to the situation.

    Despite the increasing difficulties of my life I do have a settled place of trust and rejoicing when I see good things happening elsewhere.
    I’m also overwhelmed by other emotions as the trials continue.

    I will object strongly, however to anyone who would claim that “happiness” is a mark of a Christian…putting a new law and another burden on those breaking from the load they are already carrying.

    What makes me “happy” is to know that I am in Christ and it’s His behaviors imputed to me that matter.
    I guess Jesus was “happy” for me too…when He wasn’t a “man of many sorrows”…

  110. Michael says:

    I’m happy football season has started and we have church in the evening…hope that counts toward my “happy” quotient…

  111. Michael says:

    “He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.”

    If we are to take this “literally…then there should be no poor, afflicted, Christians and no wealthy heathens.

    I’m not sure what world this is true in…unless we are speaking spiritually, then I can say the amen.

  112. Owen says:

    Michael,

    I like how you summarized it in your #110. Response to the Gospel, and response to this life.
    Our response to the Gospel comes from the indwelling of the Spirit.
    Our response to this life tends to come more from our humanity.
    “Appropriate to the situation” is a good way of putting it, I think – I really don’t think God expects us to be Pollyanna when excrement occurs in life. He knows just how human we are.

    I also believe He gives us many things we can be happy about….. including football season. My wife and I just watched some college ball last night, in fact.

    That Psalm has been used as a burden, I think – as an expectation. But a literal interpretation would go against Jesus saying things like “in this world you will have trouble…”

  113. Owen says:

    Pineapple,

    Good thoughts. You’ve expressed a whole different form of “happiness”, which may even defy definition.

  114. Em ... again says:

    well i for one, am a happy Christian as i know i’m not headed for eternity in hell (whatever that is, it is one of the promises in the Book)

    believe it or not, i subscribe to the theory that Satan wants us to be happy and contented with our lot in life – not concerned with all those bad things out there in his playground that won’t seem to go away – disease, poverty, war etc. … and, for sure, he doesn’t want us to stop and consider, “is this all there is?” … rather just ignore the unanswerable postulates – just don’t worry, be happy and go shopping or whatever else sublimates any gnawing anxiety that lurks, that eternal question, is there a god? of course, there isn’t; have you ever seen him? course not…

    i, myself, think Hebrews 12 makes a pretty good meditation – at least for those of us who know there is a God to whom we will answer – eventually

  115. CostcoCal says:

    So what do you folks think Jesus meant when He stated to His disciples, “My joy I give to you and your joy will overflow”? This is a great discussion, thanks!

  116. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    CC – I can’t look it up right know, but didn’t it say elsewhere that his Joy was to go to the cross? So Jesus may be pronouncing a joyful death sentence on his disciples.

  117. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Who here preaches – witnesses – leads someone to Christ by saying “come to Jesus and you will be happy?” If not, why not – it seems to be a natural if God has commanded us to be happy.

  118. Em ... again says:

    Costco C’s question is a difficult one- joy is a word that shows up in the Bible to express many forms of excitement as well as that deep peace (beside the still waters as David expressed it)… but now, it is that internal peace that we should all know and yet, from what some have expressed here, is yet to be experienced – thanks to poor teachings, perhaps? dunno
    i think Jesus endured the cross for the joy that was to follow His obedience to the will of the Father… He wasn’t happy about the experience, itself – rather the result – it was truly the climactic event in God’s plan to redeem His creation, was it not? the result was incredibly good, but the experience was incredibly hard, was it not?

  119. Jean says:

    I did a lot of research over the weekend on the biblical meaning of “joy”. I will share a snippet from an upcoming article. If you have any comments, I would be happy to take them into consideration. Because of moderation, I am deleting the citations. However, “joy” is in Paul’s description of the kingdom of God and the “joy” is huge in the 4th Gospel.

    “Joy in the Holy Spirit. Jesus shares His joy with us, which also is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. In John’s Gospel, joy is associated with the word that Jesus speaks to His disciples (citation omitted), especially concerning His resurrection and return to the Father (citation omitted), and the sending of the Holy Spirit, who will take what is His and declare it to them (citation omitted). We have this joy because Jesus defeated death and “the ruler of this world” (citation omitted), and because He is present with us in His Word and through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.”

  120. Steve Wright says:

    it seems to be a natural if God has commanded us to be happy.
    ————————————
    Hilarious. MLD redefines the gospel in a way nobody is stating and then argues we are inconsistent in not proclaiming this false gospel. This is why I would never have this discussion over email – nor more than a couple minutes even in person. The only value is Costco Cal and the others out there who might be reading…and tracking. Putting out strawman fires gets old…quickly.

    Lives filled with peace, joy, love, longsuffering – may be not so controversial except of course many Christians live lives that know nothing of such things. They are possibilities, as the Scripture declares, no different than the possibility for happiness. And they are conditional. (Jesus talks repeatedly about keeping His commands in that John passage that promises joy – so did Piper in his article…so have I throughout this thread)

    Like I wrote earlier, I agree with Piper that an attempt to hyper-dissect the various terms used so interchangeably throughout Scripture has no exegetical support, and rather each verse using such terms needs to be analyzed clearly and taught appropriately. The world has its form of peace too…per Jesus…just like happiness. Jesus’ is better. Happiness is IN the Bible. Period. God used the word…many times…both testaments.

    When I was saved I did not have a problem by the world’s standards. Single guy, 25, fairly rich, driving a Lexus, living on a lake, cruising to Vegas, parties, best physical shape of my life, chasing women (and catching a few).

    I was not happy though. Not that anyone would know it. God knew it…and said in His word why.

    And no, I did not get saved to find happiness, or because someone promised it to me. I believed the gospel – I was a guilty sinner that Jesus loved, died, and rose again for. He forgave me. I was (am) born again.

    I was forgiven much. Now I love (Him) much. And all those prior things are gone, and I count them but dung.

    And I am happy. As I said at the start of this. My life is better. Even if I am martyred tomorrow. Oh happy day! Jesus has washed all my sins away. (And that is true 24/7 – those sins ain’t ever making me guilty in God’s sight again)

    If you guys can dissect rejoicing in the Lord, having gladness, pleasure, joy in the Lord – and still lack happiness, knock yourselves out.

    If one can claim to have joy gladness and pleasure in disobeying the commandments of the Lord, then I would challenge that (though nobody has said this yet). Sinful pleasures and gladness (and happiness) – of course. But that is not the issue. I had that stuff for years.

    And I shudder to think of one who obeys the letter of the commands and has no happiness in doing so. Something definitely is not right.

    Remember – this all began with the question of not happiness…but whether your life is better as a saved person, than in rebellion to your Creator. Apparently that is debatable among some….and so, enter all the qualifiers, Gnosticism, parsing…

  121. Erunner says:

    I heard a pair of comments this weekend. The first is that our duty is to share Christ with all those we work with. That was followed by a scenario that boiled down to “God, if Erunner/Allan would have shared with me just once I would have believed.” Really saddened me that some would put all of that on any believer. Also heard a nice song today on youtube. You might like it.

  122. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Steve,
    “Remember – this all began with the question of not happiness…”

    No, my interchange with you began when you said I must not have Psalm 1 & 2 in my Bible – and then you went on to make the claim about it being filled with ‘happy’ stuff. You went on so much about happy Christians, that I teased you about happy now being the new mark of the Christian.

    I simply try to get you to comment – do you tell people to come to Jesus to be happy (simple yes or no) – if you do not, why not?

    Is being happy a command – perhaps you need to go back and reread the ending of the Piper article you posted. What is it you always say “Look how he moved the goal post? – well you have moved the whole field.

  123. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Erunner – no one goes to hell because we did not witness to them. By the same token – no one goes to heaven because we did.

  124. Erunner says:

    MLD, He does allow us to be His emissary to see His will done. If someone is saved after I or anyone else shares with them all of the glory goes to God.

    The idea we are or could be the reason a person enters into eternity separated from God paints a very weak picture of an all powerful and all knowing Creator. They are judged based on what they did with the Gospel message. No one is to blame but them.

  125. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    E,
    God allowing us to play along with his salvation plan is similar to when we taught our grandkids to ride a bike – we stood behind them holding on while they thought they were doing all the balancing. 😉

  126. Erunner says:

    MLD, it’s by His grace we’re allowed to participate on any level. Some can share in a way that a believer thinks they’ve never done enough and they need to repent and rededicate each week. Yet there’s that part of all of us that wants to be under the spotlight. No good comes from it.

  127. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    E – so that we are clear, I am not speaking of God allowing us to participate in our own salvation. I am speaking of how he uses us to present the gospel to others.

  128. Erunner says:

    MLD, there’s a lot of debate there. It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around. I responded to an invitation. I heard the clear Gospel and I believed it. I went forward publicly and recited a prayer. From that moment onward my life has never been the same. I waited maybe a month to be baptized. I was a believer during that month. By God’s grace I’m still standing.

    I’ve been a believer for 40 years. I’ve been battered and bruised and have messed up a lot. I’m happy for anyone who is my brother or sister in Christ. None of us are deserving. Yet He calls us His child. People have huge disagreements over the particulars that will never be settled until we see Him face to face. I’m good with that.

  129. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    E – I must have misunderstood your #122. I thought you were speaking of our responsibility to share with others – not how we get saved.

  130. Erunner says:

    MLD, just the opposite. Although if a door opens I’ll share but without the pressure of leading them on the spot in a sinners prayer as I did early on. I share these days and ask God to use it somehow.

  131. Babylon's Dread says:

    This was actually a good discussion with the usual amount of us speaking past one another.

    I have been asking lately about worldliness. I find far more public expressions of the faith talking about relevance than avoiding worldliness.

    Paul actually called people to leave their immorality and their idolatry. We have no idea what either of those mean.
    y
    By the way Paul was quite focused upon sexuality when he spoke immorality though not completely. You could be sure that everywhere he went he taught them to abstain from idols and from sexual immorality. This was just as the Jerusalem Council agreed.

    Now back to the original question. My answer is still yes. My life got infinitely better when I received the Holy Spirit, got sober, stopped my serial girlizing — I was too young to say womanizing. I got reconciled to my family. I began to achieve better in my education. My life did indeed improve. On the other hand I lost almost all my friends. Now, I grew up southern so the religious crowd was proud of me and wanted to use me as a trophy.

    Anyway, the world will surely hate you if you give up immorality and idolatry today.

    They will also hate you if you promote faith in Jesus in any public ways apart from your religious ghetto.

    But not much thought is given to worldliness

    I think the Jesus religion is undergoing quite a transition.

    Much of the public expression we have had for 100 years to the Jesus religion is not going to survive.

  132. Josh the Baptist says:

    So, I did ask my class for testimonies. 4 people spoke up. Amazing. Sacred.

    Then my pastor delivered a sermon that was totally opposite of what you guys think “evangelical” is.

    Great day.

  133. Can your “nutshell” what you communicated, Josh?

  134. Josh the Baptist says:

    What I communicated? When?

  135. Em ... again says:

    #132-amen…
    “Paul actually called people to leave their immorality and their idolatry. We have no idea what either of those mean.” … perhaps, he was telling them to refocus? …
    why do we hear folk say that Paul was too much of a legalist when in Acts 15:28-29 he seemed to be just the opposite?

    on a different tack, someone sent me some footage of Hillary coping with some pretty serious physical problems… i must say that she is an incredibly brave and determined women… i’m concluding that her goal is to be elected the first woman President and that she’ll resign from office pretty soon after election

  136. Michael says:

    BD,

    As I read Paul in historical context I believe that immorality and idolatry were often linked together.
    I speak of the temples in every town and the sexual rituals that accompanied them.
    Often,these were linked to Caesar worship.
    I would suggest that this generation of the church is as politically idolatrous as those living then…to make it worse we have baptized it as holy.

    When I was a kid worldliness was associated with movies, and entertainment,perhaps the books you read.
    There are equally deadly ways of entwining ones self with the world that has nothing to do with such…

  137. gah…I meant “your pastor”… 🙂

    PH

  138. Josh the Baptist says:

    PH – Oddly enough, the opposite of the things MLD spoke of in this thread. He preached from Revelation 1 & 2 about the cost of being a Christian. How anyone who tells you it will fix your problems is lying to you…etc. It’s like he read this thread and preached the opposite.

  139. Josh the Baptist says:

    He even mentioned emotional testimonies and said, “The best testimony you can give is just to endure.”

  140. CostcoCal says:

    Was our Presidential election just determined? Or does Mrs. Clinton simply need a few more naps? Sorry for bringing this topic up, I couldn’t help myself.

  141. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Josh – I only report what I see / hear evangelicals doing and saying. If you have a difference of opinion from what I report, you need to take it up with them.

    American Evangelicalism is pretty much undefined with a free for all worship style, free for all bible exegesis etc. if anyone from RC Sproul to Benny Hinn can call themselves evangelical, well it gets to be like nailing jello to the wall.

    When your pastor says. “How anyone who tells you it will fix your problems is lying to you…etc.” – yet in the day to day evangelism – whether it be one on one or in mass stadiums, this is still the predominant voice you will hear – ‘Jesus is the answer to your life’s problems.’ In fact this is why ‘testimonies are inserted into evangelism events – look at my wretched life before Christ and look at me now that I became a Christian – you too can have all of this … just come down here and say this prayer with me.

    But I agree with your pastor – these people are liars.

  142. Josh the Baptist says:

    ” you will hear”

    I’ve told you over and over, NO! I don’t hear that. We aren’t unique. You base your caricature’s off the worst, loudest examples.

    But it doesn’t matter. We had a wonderful time of evangelical worship on Sunday. Praise Jesus we don’t have to have MLD’s approval.

  143. Xenia says:

    ‘Jesus is the answer to your life’s problems”

    Jesus IS the answer to our life’s problems, if we are asking the right questions.

  144. Josh the Baptist says:

    Absolutely agree with Xenia. What I don’t agree with is “Jesus will make your pain go away, the bill collectors stop calling, your wife come back, etc.”

  145. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Well perhaps the altar calls have changed in the 10 yrs I have been away – perhaps the call does not come with “if you are hurting, come up here and stand at the foot of the cross and invite Jesus into your life.”

    Hey, if that is gone – good.

  146. Josh the Baptist says:

    I don’t know how either of us could possibly know what’s going on at the 100,000 or so altar calls across this country every Sunday morning.

  147. Jean says:

    Costco,

    I don’t know about naps; I’m not a doctor. But you might be right. Mr. Trump and his role model Mr. Putin, who I’m sure wants America to be great again, appear poised to ascend to the throne of American Strong Man.

  148. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    We can’t – I can know only what I experienced for 25 years and what I see at the crusades and on the internet. For those who are not doing it – grand – and I already said I agreed with your pastor that those who do it are liars.

    But … the ones still doing it are still identified as evangelicals.

  149. Man, I may be in the evangelical camp but I’ve never referred to myself as one, probably for the reason that it can mean so many different things to people. Such a broad label likely will do more harm than help.

  150. Josh the Baptist says:

    Solution – Stop watching crusades on the internet. I’ve been in at least one evangelical church every week for the last 22 years (totaling in the 100’s), and what you are claiming just doesn’t happen.

    Gay marriage supporters are still called Lutheran.

  151. Xenia says:

    I find that a great deal of one’s “hurting” is the result of a guilty conscience. Not all, but a lot. Repenting and having one’s sins forgiven does go a long way towards healing a hurting heart. This was certainly true in my life.

  152. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Gay marriage supporters are still called Lutheran.

    But I don’t run away from it. Yes several Lutheran denominations, including the largest have lost the faith and a re apostasy — so?

  153. Josh the Baptist says:

    So?

    Lutheran’s are liberal and don’t believe the bible. Don’t think I’d associate with them.

  154. Em ... again says:

    Costco and Jean, from what i hear (trickled down out of the local medical community) she has something more serious going on than pneumonia, but pneumonia could be a side affect… if they can keep her on her feet until after 11/8 – she’s our next President, but, if what i hear is accurate, she’ll have to resign pretty soon after unless they do a miraculous cover-up job with someone else actually running the show… perhaps the end is near 🙂

    #151 – agreeing 100% – i’m thinking waay back to the first Billy Graham crusades in those tents in So. Calif. and what he was preaching was hell fire and damnation, but come to Jesus who loves you and wants to save you from all that… we all thought he was a hillbilly and just another side show of sorts… but then Hollywood did begin to respond and many actually did make their peace with God, i think… of course, then as Hollywood goes, so goes the nation and everyone got on board the “come to Jesus” train, eventually with the distorted results that MLD is fixated on … or so it seems to me … dunno, tho, do i?

  155. Josh the Baptist says:

    And though I’m being sarcastic, I still take it back. It’s just not right to broad brush a large group of people that way based on their worst examples.

    MLD will never stop this so I give up.

  156. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    that is why we are specific as LCMS – AND we break communion with those who are as you describe. The LCMS has no pulpit or table fellowship with those groups. We recognize the issue. In other words, we do not associate with them.

    But you can’t say what I described doesn’t happen – and must happen often enough to the point where even your pastor is calling them out as liars. You should follow your pastor’s lead.

    And this is OK too, the biggest evangelical churches are having their Best Life Now 😉

  157. Josh the Baptist says:

    You are no different. I am specific as SBC. I have no fellowship with Joel Osteen. It just happens instead of saying “Joel Osteen” You include millions of us that aren’t Joel Osteen by saying “evangelicals”.

    You know this, but it gets the rise you so richly desire.

  158. Michael says:

    Just for the record…I’m not going to host comments mocking Mrs. Clintons illness, whatever it is.
    Period.
    Don’t waste my time making me delete them.

  159. Em ... again says:

    Michael, as one of those who has mentioned the illness (136 & 155), please feel free to delete those comments of mine – while intended as an expression of amazement at her determination and pluck (the thinking here is that she’s most likely fighting Parkinson’s), i realize that my comments could well goad some more and they are unnecessary observations political…

  160. CostcoCal says:

    For the record, I was not mocking her illness. It was a valid question, on my part. However, I ought to stay away from politics. Not only here but in general.

  161. Jean says:

    Gossip is still a sin, even in 2016.

  162. CostcoCal says:

    Proverbs 11:13

    He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, But he who is trustworthy conceals a matter.

  163. Em ... again says:

    #s 162 & 163… thinking…
    if i am under consideration for CEO and a stockholder sees that i am showing signs of dementia under my blonde dyed grey hair, bringing that concern to the board meeting is not gossip… on the other hand, if i’m the old lady next door and seem to be a little off and you find my strange behavior topic for idle conversation, that is gossip

    if i am an executive in a large corporation, i won’t want a talebearer revealing my secret peccadillos – or worse – to the rest of the employees and those close enough to see my faults should be people i consider “trustworthy.” but does that equate with virtue? nope, not IMV

    wisdom is the principal thing, but with all thy getting, get understanding (insight) Proverbs 4:5-7

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