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Christian Experiences
by David Keyser 
09/25/13
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INTRODUCTION

Often after a person has been a Christian for a while, they begin to experience confusing or disorienting times. They may wonder, where is the joy, where is the excitement that I experienced at the first? They often feel that they are wandering in the woods looking for some of the old familiar signposts or markers. Things regarding their faith seem hazy or fog filled. They are going through a brief period of wandering in the wilderness.

Other Christians often tell them that such times are normal. After all, Moses and the people of Israel wandered in the wilderness, Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tempted and Paul spent years in obscurity before he began his ministry. These comparisons may apply somewhat to the individual walk of many believers, but they should not be accepted as normal or necessary. We live under a better covenant than the Israelites. Jesus had a unique mission to accomplish as did Paul. Many times the believer in this fog is experiencing one of three basic Christian experiences. Sincere Christians go through these repeatedly in their lives. God’s Great Love for us causes or allows these experiences for our own good. Often when someone becomes a Christian by accepting Jesus Christ into their heart, they are convinced that nothing can ever get difficult again. It is not long before they learn that this is not the case.


REMEMBER: Before we proceed any further we must remember that we live in a fallen world. Our existence is not idyllic. But it is victorious. One way or another we win. The verse is true that says that God causes all things to work together for our good. (Romans 8:28) All things do not work together for our good; but God is fully capable of turning any event to our favor.

What we are considering in this little book is not particularly about God turning events, it is about three things that we all experience. But we often spend a longer time in the fog than is necessary because we do not understand what to do to bring it to a conclusion.

We will approach each of these experiences by answering the following questions.

WHAT IS HAPPENING?

WHY IS IT HAPPENING?

WHAT CAN I DO TO GET OUT OF IT?

The answers to these questions are different for each of the three experiences.



DISCIPLINE FROM GOD

WHAT IS HAPPENING?

Since Father God is the perfect parent, he does not allow us to persist in doing things that will hurt us. Human parents do not let their children play in the traffic, eat rat poison or touch things that are very hot. Since God made us, he knows what is not good for us and disciplines us for our own good. Please understand, the Christian life is NOT about morals. Good morals can be achieved by following rules. The Christian life is about a RELATIONSHIP with God through Jesus Christ. When this life is truly lived, a person displays good morals, but rules will not change people, only new life in Christ can change us.


God’s discipline in our lives is usually the easiest experience to recognize. This is because we usually know when we are doing something wrong. Our heart, conscience, tells us so.

If a parent approaches a child with one of those “what did you do?” looks, the response is often, “Whaaat?!” When pressed the child will look guilty and often confesses to what he or she has done. When I taught eleventh grade American history, I noticed a student cheating while take a test. I announced that I had seen someone cheating and if they would simply write a sentence admitting it at the bottom of the test, we could talk later and they would not be embarrassed. To my surprise I received three confessions.

The first indication that we are out of the will of God is a lack of the divine peace. The more we displease God the more the Holy Spirit withdraws the peace of God from our life. Having once known this peace we yearn for it again. If the withdrawal of his peace does not bring us back to him, things will start going wrong in our lives. We lose the favor of people and things just don’t work out like they should. If we persist in wrong living, we can bring great hardship on ourselves. The longer we wait to return to God the harder it is to admit our errors.

WHY IT IS HAPPENING

We are assured that every child of God will be corrected by God because he is a loving and active father. One thing is sure with father God’s correction, it is not given at the convenience or need of the parent. It is solely given for our own good. It is for our profit so that we can further share God’s own nature. And it will not last indefinitely. So we should not be surprised when it happens.

Discipline also has to do with inheritance. We have an inheritance from God which Jesus Christ paid for so that we can have abundant life here and in the afterlife. We will see that if we do not submit to discipline, we cannot have the inheritance.

In biblical and medieval times only a legitimate child could inherit. A king’s son who had a mother who was not married to the king was illegitimate. He might become an important man, but he would never be king. As a matter of fact many illegitimate sons were proud to be sons of the king even though they could not inherit. James Stewart, Earl of Moray, was the half brother of Mary Queen of Scots, but he was illegitimate and Mary was not so James could not inherit. At the death of Mary her son James Stuart inherited the thrones of both Scotland and England. The scriptures teach us that to refuse our discipline from father God will cause us to share the place of the illegitimate son. Our inheritance is to share the very nature of God himself.

God takes the long view. Our growth into someone who resembles our father is his priority. We often want what feels good only for the present.

When we are being disciplined, we should not offer an inappropriate response. There are two kinds of rebellion; active and passive.

Active rebellion: If we rebel, we defiantly reject the discipline of God. We rail against it. We may even intentionally begin to act ever worse. When we do this, we are shaking our fist at God. This is not a good thing to do. God is always right and he can outwait us all.

Passive rebellion: If we give up, we are then weakened and fall into all sorts of false trails which can lead us to a worse place. This is likened to letting our feet wander anywhere that is easiest. We no longer control our destiny. Then we often wander off and hurt ourselves in many ways.

If we rebel or give up, we cannot have our inheritance.


WHAT CAN I DO TO GET OUT OF IT?

In short, we should submit to God’s discipline.
Simply tell God that you are sorry and ask him to help you stop doing what is displeasing to him. Repent out of it. The sooner you repent, the sooner it will end. This only works for this experience. The other two are different.




A TRIAL FROM GOD

WHAT IS HAPPENING?

The Greek word “peirazo” means to make proof of, to attempt, test, tempt. It is very important to remember that virtually all of the Greek scholars agree that the difference between the “tempt” interpretation and the “test” or “trial” interpretation can only be determined by the CONTEXT. Sometimes it can even mean both tempt and test simultaneously depending on the context.

God tests every believer who shows promise. So, when God tests us, we need to realize that we have not done anything wrong. As a matter of fact, we have shown promise in our faith and the test or trial is actually a reward and not a punishment.



WHY IS IT HAPPENING?

God tries or tests us in order to cause us to grow in our faith and in our relationship with him.
The greatest example of testing in the Bible is Abraham, the father of faith. In Genesis 22:2 Abraham was told to sacrifice his only son, the son of promise, to God. Abraham also believed that he had been promised many descendants through Isaac, but Isaac was still a boy and had no children at the time Abraham was told to sacrifice him. This causes Abraham extra grief because, as the father of faith, his faith was very important to him. He grieved at losing his only son. Then he had to deal with the fact that the promise of many descendants could not be fulfilled if Isaac was killed. Then he had to deal with the fact that he believed that he had heard God tell him two contradictory things. This is the essence of a trial by God, a faith situation that seems to be contradictory to what we know about God.


The book of Genesis tells us that Abraham took steps to obey God and that God interrupted the sacrifice by stopping Abraham and providing a ram for the sacrifice. But Genesis does not tell us what Abraham was thinking at this time. Paul tells us in the New Testament letter to the Hebrews by direct divine revelation what Abraham was thinking (yes, Paul did write Hebrews.) Paul tells us that Abraham resolved the conflict in his faith by further believing that God would raise Isaac from the dead so that he could father many descendants. Imagine the impossibility of such a thought for Abraham.

The amazingness of this leap of faith is almost too much to comprehend. It is made all the greater by the fact that in Abraham’s time resurrections were not commonly believed. Since Abraham’s time we have examples of resurrections not only by the Old Testament prophets like Elijah and Elisha but also resurrections in the gospels and Acts. The greatest resurrection of all is, of course, the resurrection of Jesus himself because it makes possible the resurrection of every believer at the final day of resurrection. Abraham received Isaac back as resurrected symbolically when God provided the ram. Abraham had not brought a ram with him.

WHAT CAN I DO TO GET OUT OF IT?
Therefore, Abraham solved his faith crisis by going higher. He came up to God’s way of thinking. But not only was this significant that Abraham believed that God would raise Isaac but he also began to share the grandest thought of all with God. Abraham believed in the resurrection of the long promised and sacrificed son. Abraham and Sarah had to wait a long time for the long promised Isaac. The fallen human race had to wait a long time for Jesus to come. At the transfiguration in Luke 9:31 we are told that Moses and Elijah appeared to Jesus and talked about the conclusion of the great sacrificial plan which would end in the resurrection of Jesus. In I Corinthians 2:9 we are told that we could not possibly imagine the greatness of God’s plan for our salvation. But through trial Abraham shared God’s grandest secret thought, the resurrection of the long promised Son. For this Abraham, to our knowledge, was not tested again and he is called the “friend of God.” (James 2:23) Imagine the fellowship with God that only Abraham had. As far as we know, nobody knew about Abraham’s test results except God. It does not matter who else knows. God knows and he is pleased with our growth. Although no one can initially earn God’s favor through good works, eternal rewards are based on our obedience to God and our obedience itself brings many rewards.

The way out of test is to endure and go higher. You cannot repent out of it and you cannot rebuke it. Remember it is a reward for your faithfulness.



AN ATTACK OF THE ENEMY

WHAT IS HAPPENING?

An attack of the enemy, Satan or his minions, is not something God wants you to accept.

Such an attack is usually harsh and threatening. It can come in the form of a strong temptation to do what you know you should not do. A lot of lies come to your mind which are designed to lead you astray, make you angry and confuse you. It can also come in the form of disorientation and fear. It is indiscriminate. There seems to be no reason for it. Negative things can even begin to happen if you allow it to continue. When this happens, remember that God is not upset with you and you did not do anything wrong. You are not being tested by God. Also, merely enduring it will not end it.




WHY IS IT HAPPENING?


It is happening because Satan and his forces are eternally outside the redemption of God. They are condemned and in time face eternal punishment. Human beings while they live on earth always have a chance to turn to God. This is why they are hated by the enemy. Furthermore, the enemy hates Christians even more than other humans because they have already entered into an eternal covenant relationship with God. This makes them special targets of Satan’s anger.


WHAT CAN I DO TO GET OUT OF IT?

It is important to develop your confidence in your authority over these spirits which you have in the name of Jesus and in the power of his shed blood.

Such an attack must be rebuked. Resist the Devil. Pray and then say aloud, “I rebuke you Satan, in the Name of Jesus. The blood of Jesus is against you. You must stop this attack on me and my loved ones. Go away and do not return.”

Make this pronouncement until it stops and then pray to the Father that all of your peace will return. God wants you to learn to use this delegated authority. When you are a new or baby Christian, God providentially protects you. As you grow, he still protects providentially but he also wants you to learn to use your authority.

This is an easy and quick thing to stop. Enemy forces must obey you in the Name of Jesus. The more success you have doing this the more confident you will become in your authority in Jesus. You have no authority of your own in this, you must use the delegated authority of the Name of Jesus. If you are not a believer, it will not work as it should.


WHY THE WRONG RESPONSE WON’T WORK.
You cannot rebuke a trial from God. You cannot rebuke a chastening from God. You can repent out of a chastening. There is no need to repent of a trial. You cannot repent out of an attack. You need to rebuke an attack from the enemy. Each incident has its own way out.
What if you are not sure which of these experiences you are having? Pray earnestly for guidance or consult another believer who understands such things.


YOUR CONFIDENCE AND YOUR AUTHORITY
You will not have confidence with God if your own heart, conscience, is condemning you. There is a double answer to this problem. One, God is greater than you heart. Two, if we repent and do good, our confidence rises. To believe that God can overrule your guilty conscience you must believe in the free grace of God. If you think that you must earn your way with God, you will be stuck in a bog of guilt and no confidence. Take authority by the grace of God if you are a child of God even when you have no confidence. Repent and practice good works and your confidence will grow. Remember, good works are the result of our faith and not the reasons for it.
© copyright 2012 David J Keyser PhD
http://www.booksoffaith.info/christiannonfiction.html



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