April 27, 2010
I’m back to reading and note-taking from The Misunderstood God by Darin Hufford. I grew up in a very strongly Wesley-Armenian understanding of our security (or rather lack thereof, according to a lot of teaching I sat under as a child)… but in the past 10 years or so have encountered much teaching from a Calvinistic perspective (principally from Baptist and Reformed perspectives).
My personal experience, in my walk with God, has leaned more and more toward a “secure relationship” with my Lord, as I have come to understand, with great joy, that HE LOVES ME!!! But at the same time, I have continued to feel confusion over these varying viewpoints, wondering how so many Christians could be so divided on “theological issues”.
As I have read Hufford’s book, I have been challenged to really seek the Truth. I am not sure that I agree with everything that Hufford says, but I have begun to see more clearly how different believers mean different things even as they use the same terminology – and thus have become willing to really try to understand what people (the writer, in the case of this book) are saying, rather than jumping to conclusions based on my own presuppositions and definitions. I have also realized, as I have been reading the book for the second time, that it is wise to read the whole thing, before assuming anything. The first time I read the book, I got so upset a few times, that I skipped whole sections. I was therefore rather surprised this time, as I determined to read the whole thing, that some things I had “assumed” the author meant when I read a particular sentence or paragraph, were absolutely not what he was saying at all.
Interesting – we do the same thing with the word of God, on a regular basis… oh dear..
Anyway, I would like to quote a few passages on the whole “security” question, and also include some of my own comments and thoughts on that (and a few other topics)… HERE GOES:
p. 125 Your Father… is the expert record shredder. Everything He touches becomes like new. There is no such thing as an “unpardonable sin” when you’re in the family. This particular Scripture applied strictly to the Pharisees who were trying to discredit Jesus by knowingly attributing His works to the devil. They were nonbelievers, not Christians.
You are precious to Him, and when He looks at you He sees only the picture of His perfect creation…
God also doesn’t define your future by your past. He has not records of your past, so your future is free and clear.
p. 136 You need to know right now that if you have ever opened your heart to God, you are safe. Nothing you do will make you any more ready. You are going with Him when He comes because you are His child. Nothing you do will ever cause Him to leave you behind.
The nature of love is that it expands. All things of God expand. Living together without a promise of absolute security requires an intentional constraint on the heart…. if you don’t believe your relationship with God is secure, your relationship with God can’t grow. Without an unbreakable covenant, you’re merely “living together” with God, and your spiritual fulfillment will be stunted.
Security is free, open space all relationships need to grow. You have that in God… (p 137) Your relationship with god and your security with Him can never be taken from you. The moment you lose sight of your security, you will cease to grow spiritually. God calls it a promise, and you can believe that.
The starting point of all true relationships is the knowledge that we will never be abandoned – our experience of love will never be taken away for any reason. This is the foundation of relationship with God, and therefore, the very foundation of faith…
My friend, you must believe in unconditional love if you want a true relationship with God. What other kind of security is there if it’s not total and absolute?
p. 148 When [God] looks at us, it’s important to know that He is not “hopeful” for what we could become, but of who we are in the “eternal future,” what we will become and already are to Him outside of time. This is the truth that God rejoices in, and this is the name by which He calls us.
p. 150 The truth is already in you. It’s in little children. When you hear it, it should be something that you know in your heart to be true.
(COMMENT: Yes. But oh my goodness…. There is all this other “stuff” – teachings from my past – that argues against it… and I feel like, “Do I dare to believe what is deep in my heart? Could it possibly be true? Oh I hope… but… what about…??”)
p. 156 God protects you because He loves you. Not because you are being good and following the rules… [His protection is] never used to manipulate or control…
Know for sure that God will never, ever lift His hand of (p 157) protection from you! Your security is sacred to Him…
…. God will never cease to support and grow our hearts regardless of what is thrown at the flesh. God will never override the heart to save the flesh. Everything He does is for the heart because that’s the part of you that lasts forever. Love always thinks this way. It’s all about the heart.
p. 167 It’s difficult not to make assumptions about the heart of God from the actions of His children. And we all are ultimately conformed to the image of who we believe our Father in heaven is!
I believe that the entire concept of “backsliding” is built on an inner belief that God closes His heart off to us when we make mistakes…. Before they know it, they have assumed a life emotionally separate from God for several years because they believed in their heart that God turned His back on them when they sinned.
When we feel we can’t approach God with confidence and boldness, we’re declaring that we don’t believe God (p 168) always trust. When we find ourselves performing for God in order to prove our trust -worthiness, we’re showing that we believe we have to earn His trust…. Anytime we feel closer and more accepted by Him because we followed the rules, we’re showing our belief that God does not always trust.
p. 173 Don’t ever think that God will stop trusting in you if you mess up. Your actions have no bearing on His perfect trust in you: He is the author of trust and openness. Rest in that and rejoice, because your Father in heaven loves you, and love always trusts!
p. 177 Hope that’s attached to truth is vital because it’s designed for the long haul. It’s the assurance of the prize at the end of the race. Faith is what causes you to take each step along the way. Our hope must be in the truth at the end of the race. That truth is what makes the race worth running. If that truth is in question and our hope is not sure, it comes merely a wish or a dream…
p. 179 …. It’s impossible to love people and purposefully cause them to question whether or not they will make it to heaven when they die. When we do this we are tampering with the most precious thing God has set before them. We are calling the prize at the end of the race into question, and we are covering it with doubt and uncertainty.
… [instead of being given assurance and security in Christ] we are given mountains of theological and doctrinal points we are supposed to put our hope in…
[COMMENT : I have often thought it would be great to get a Bible College, or even better yet, a Seminary degree… But now I am glad You have given me something far greater – relationship with You! Loved by You and loving You! Taught and guided by Your Spirit! Knowing You! Thank You for answering the prayer of my heart, not of my mouth…]
p. 180 If you are a Christian and you don’t believe you are secure in Christ, you have no hope. All you have is a wish and a dream. Until you know for sure that you belong to God and you are going to be with Him when you die, you will remain in a state of constant hopelessness. Everything in your life will waver, including your faith.
p. 182 If we imply that God might turn His face from one of His children for something, we are creating a chain reaction of tiny explosions that get worse and worse down the line of our theology….
p. 192 And with us, God ensured it by giving Himself up for us from the very start. Christ’s death not only atoned for our sin, but it proved His love. To… reveal the Father’s heart to the world, Jesus had to show us that He’d die so we could live.
Because of this, there is no doubt that God will persevere with you for all eternity. He has already given up Himself for you…. Living in the heart of the ones you love can happen only if you die to yourself…. Men will never understand their wives and women will never understand their husbands until they stop living for themselves and start living for the other person. Death (that is, self-sacrifice) is the very foundation of every true relationship in the world. Until you give up your life, you will never find it…. And the Apostle Paul said, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.”
SO WHAT DO I THINK ABOUT ALL THIS?
At the end of the book, Hufford says he has been blackballed and rejected, and his words misquotes and taken out of context by many Christians and ministries. Well… I kind of was in shock when I first read it… but I re-read it after asking You to show me truth… and I do see far more clearly what the author is saying … although I still do not necessarily agree with every single point.
I’m no sure about everything.
But I do understand security much better now! And see that if You are love (as Your word clearly says, and as is totally the experience of my walk with You), then Your children must be secure …
(though I still hear little voices on my shoulder arguing… fearful voices – and in Your love there is no fear – so what does that suggest about the source of the voices, eh?!?)
For so long I have had this “disconnect” between my experience of relationship with You, and what You teach me in Your word – and “doctrines/ teachings/ theology” I had had pounded into me since childhood. And much of that teaching has led me to believe that if I turn from those particular doctrines, even if I see them in a somewhat different way as I learn more of You, I co so at the peril of my eternal salvation! Oh dear… there’s that fear (dare I say, manipulation? ) again…
Father, can it really be that simple?
I mean – the whole thing about Your love? Wow. I want it to be true.
It seems so … awesomely lovely… perfect… safe… SECURE… right!
The child in me certainly wants to believe it. And my personal experience with You – and what I read in Your word – sure lines up with it….
But wow… I see how it threatens those who’ve dedicated their entire lives to… well… to complex doctrines and theology and stuff.
For them, I can see… it’s all too… free!!!
When they’ve put so much effort… time… money…. commitment… sacrifice… into “following You” – and then to be told that You just want them to accept Your love – freely – and for free… just be “in love” with (in) You… and as the inevitable outcome of Your love, love others, too…
Too easy? … not fair? …. Must be wrong, surely? … And yet…
My HEART tells me (and my experience with You, my experience of Your love) tells me clearly, surely, certainly! That it really is that simple… And even the “dying to self” part – hard as that seems – even Your death on the cross – is really “simple” – a simple decision, the only possible choice, if LOVE really IS … if YOU really ARE….
Patient (long-suffering) – kind – not jealous (not envious) – doesn’t brag (does not boast; vaunteth not itself; is not rash) – not arrogant (not proud; not puffed up) – doesn’t act unbecomingly (does not behave unseemly; is not rude) – does not seek its own (is not self-seeking) – is not provoked (is not easily angered) – does not take into account a wrong suffered (thinks no evil; keeps no record of wrongs) – does not rejoice in unrighteousness (does not delight in evil) – but rejoices with the truth – bears all things (always protects) – believes all things (always trusts) – hopes all things (always hopes) – endures all things (always perseveres) – never fails!
Wow! For God so loved the world … God is love … We love God because He first loved us and gave Himself for us… A new commandment: love one another … as a little child! …
1 Jn 3:1 See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we would be called children of God….
1 Jn 4:7-8 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love… 12. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us… 16. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him… 17. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world [already!] … 18. the one who fears is not perfected in love… 19. We love, because He first loved us.