It seems that a LOT of people, including Christians, have a
number of misconceptions regarding Salvation and Prayers and
Answers to Prayers. Here are some thoughts on these subjects.|
SalvationWhen you ask Jesus to enter your heart, He actually does! Right then! But, the person might not realize it has actually happened! There is no great flash of light! And if that person then starts rattling off a laundry list of Prayer requests (or even a single one) it can sometimes seem like He isn't really there. How could this be?
Maybe you attend a Church that seems to be on a different "page" than you are on. Or one that seems to get all tangled in worldly matters or gets totally focused on one narrow aspect of Christianity. Or even one that is incompatible with your personality. About a year before I was Saved (at 19), a Catholic friend invited me to join her for Sunday Mass. At that time, the Catholic Church still did the entire Service in Latin. I didn't understand a single word that went on! I remember thinking how useless it would have been for me, personally, to regularly attend such a Church, as my friend did. After the Mass, I commented to my friend that I hadn't realized she understood Latin, and she said that she didn't. Apparently, she, and many of the others, were just going through some sort of rites (my personal view), without the slightest chance of learning new things about the Christian Faith.
Separate from the learning and development of Faith that can (and should) occur in Churches and Bible study, BELIEVE can probably help a lot, too. One of it's main purposes is to help "Teach" and inform and clarify. If there is some subject that particularly intrigues you, like "Salvation", BELIEVE has a comprehensive presentation on it. That way, you wouldn't have to wait a bunch of weeks until a Minister gets around to giving a Sermon on the subject that interests you!
So, the many presentations in BELIEVE might help you better understand different aspects of Christian Faith. Being able to find and attend a "comfortable" and suitable Church will help a lot, too. Since Jesus is already patiently waiting in your heart (even though YOU don't realize it!), at some point, you will certainly have an epiphany, where suddenly a lot of separate concepts are seen as parts of a larger whole. That's a pretty good description of how I got Saved when I was 19. It was truly a remarkable experience! You have something really amazing to look forward to! But no one has any way of knowing how soon you will be capable of grasping the totality of it.
That gets us to the "words" business. No words could possibly describe that experience I had. No Pastor could ever "Teach" it. The "words" just don't exist. And so we have to use "words" that sort of "skirt around" the true essence of it, Teaching all the things we Pastors Teach, hoping to prepare people to be able to attain a personal insight that is magnificent to the ninth power!
All in all, I'm saying that you might be headed roughly in the right direction, even if you do not necessarily see much progress going on. Explore. Learn. Study. Be as discerning as you can. I think Jesus is pleased when people are honestly inquisitive about Christian subjects, even unusual aspects of it that you might be considering. I think it assures Him that you will eventually get to where you are trying to go.
A funny thing is, that once you "get there", you will ask yourself "Why did it take me so long to figure all this out?" because it will then seem so simple and obvious to you! I cannot explain that, or even help you leapfrog ahead. I'm just telling you of my experiences. And that you will laugh at how difficult and confusing it used to seem! And, all the while, Jesus is just patiently waiting for you, smiling, Loving!
I actually think that there is a more common situation. When we demand that ice cream, a far more insightful parent (or God) might realize that this "child" needs to learn Patience. I can see the possibility where the ice cream might be INTENTIONALLY withheld (for a while) in order to allow a larger lesson to be learned. Good parents sometimes do such things. In our limited (child-like?) minds, we might not see the "Patience" lesson being present, because WE WANT ICE CREAM! We humans tend to have a lot of self-centered thoughts, and I think that God sometimes finds ways to allow us to have "learning opportunities". He knows that we have a LOT to learn! Now, this doesn't mean that you will actually LEARN patience from such an experience! You were just given the OPPORTUNITY to do so! Most kids/people probably wouldn't, but some would. Most of us tend to react by starting whining and crying about being neglected and ignored, etc. My parents are MEAN! Jesus doesn't care about me! See what I mean? We Pray for some thing, often fairly short-sighted. God's response is FAR better than we could ever have hoped! He has chosen to give us an opportunity to learn a personal "skill" that can become a permanent part of who we are. We asked for ice cream. We were GIVEN the opportunity to become better human beings! What an Awesome God we have! He overlooks the shallowness of our request and presented us with something incalculably better!
It is my hope that these various comments have given you things to think about. Many subjects have been touched on. If you ever expect me (or any other human) to give absolute answers to life's many questions, I cannot. I can give guidance, as suggested above. That's all.
If you are persistent in your exploring, you WILL come to really understand how it all fits together. Wherever you happen to be in that journey, the remaining amount might fall into place in a day, or a week, or a year, or in 5 years, no one can know. Your personal motivation toward studying and thinking through and resolving these matters will affect the "speed" that you get there.
In any Sermon, we are primarily limited to "words". There are MANY things and concepts that "words" do not adequately express. The depth of love between a husband and wife is an example. Christianity has many such subjects. It is probably true that most Christian Churches probably over-emphasize Jesus over the Father and the Holy Spirit (in the Trinity). There is a practical reason they tend to do this. We humans actually got to experience Jesus as a mortal person, so He "seems" more understandable and real to our limited brains. Only a handful of humans ever witnessed the Father (Abraham, Adam, Moses (sort of), Solomon, a few others) so it is much harder for us to "personally relate to" Him.
As to the Holy Spirit, since It has nothing "concrete" to envision, it is much harder to conceptualize or discuss. Consider the much simpler concept "anger" which we all understand. How could you ever describe or discuss "anger" to someone who had never experienced it? The Holy Spirit represents that sort of communication problem for Clergy, because most in the Congregation do not believe they have ever experienced It. (I personally believe that virtually all of them have, but haven't recognize it.) For these practical reasons, most Christian Churches tend to concentrate on Jesus, and on the Bible's "words".
Jesus was "meek" but He also intensely defended what He knew to be the Truth. Meekness, in His sense, IS a good thing, and is something to work at. But, self-image, and defending one's integrity and honor and Faith, is also very important. In some ways, I see elements of meekness in both Presidents Carter and Reagan. In Carter's case, he tended to get trampled by the politicians, which was sad. But Reagan never got "walked on" because people knew he would intensely defend his positions. These seem to me to be very different aspects of meekness involved.
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