COMING TO KNOW CHRIST

Sunday, January 01, 2006

INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

This blog is prepared with a specific objective to “open the door” in presenting the mystery of God’s revelation to people who do not believe in Him.

It is intended to be a gift of a believer to one who does not believe.

It is also intended to possibly stimulate the thoughts of those who do believe in witnessing to others.

ABOUT THE WRITINGS USED IN THIS BLOG

The basis for the blog is a number of papers written with the objective to come to know God. Each subject area dealt with questions the writer wished to understand.

The following briefly describes the chronology and context of some of these works.The first composition dealt with understanding Belief and the gift of Faith.

It was initiated about one year after being reborn in the Spirit on July 23, 1985.

The paper addresses the profound question as to how and why one comes to be chosen by Him, to have Belief and what Belief and Faith mean.

An other introductory effort is the Theater Analogy, (A Script for Life) which emphasizes the role of the Bible as a “script for life”: “Oh, how nice it would be if we had a little manual that gave us a generalized script about life and the future.”

Faith and Belief was followed by a work on the famous, beloved historian, Will Durant. It provides a perspective on the agnostic/atheist view.

This effort logically stimulated a work on Skepticism, detailing the erroneous view of nonbelievers.

Durant’s History of Civilization, and its specific references to Christianity, became a part of the “intellectual fabric” that contributed to the writer’s awakening of the truth of God’s existence.

The doctrine of the Gift of Righteousness was the subject of the next effort. It was cast in a perspective framed by the Father’s, Jesus Christ’s, the Holy Spirit’s and the believer’s witness as made evident in His Word, the Bible.

The next paper, The Pelagian Inclination, speaks to the doctrines of mankind, sin and salvation as framed by the little known, yet awesome 5th century Pelagian - Augustinian confrontation.

This contest dealt with the evolution of the issue of God’s sovereignty versus mankind’s supremacy, an issue that continues to plagues Christian religions today.

The Hidden Doctrine of God’s Wrath delves into the “functioning” of God’s Wrath by examining the cause of His anger and its specific “consequential manifestations” for the nonbeliever.

This was followed by the paper on Unrighteousness, A Different View of Sin. It specifies the difference between the applications of unrighteous sin in the lives of nonbelievers and believers.

This was followed by Judging and Forgiveness, a paper that exemplifies the simplist sin problems in the Christian life.These papers present, in some instances, a different view of traditional teachings.

The writer has not attended Seminary and has no formal training in religion or Bible study. His sole education has been his extensive readings over twenty years, as led and inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, these views are his findings on the walk in coming to know God. They are not intended to be a dogmatic presentation of theology or doctrine. They are the writers conclusions.

They are meant to encourage the reader to reach their own decisions on what is the most important consideration in one’s lifetime. For to know God is an eternal consideration that breaches all concepts of time and the life as we all know it.Considering this, the writer hopes you, the reader, will enjoy the entries in this blog, a journey in Coming to Know Christ.

THE BLOG’S SOURCES

This blog borrows from many sources. Appropriate credits are given where obviously required. But this work depends, to a great extent, on His Word, as made manifest in the New American Standard (NAS) Open Bible.

One may ask why the extensive quotes from the Bible when a reference would suffice.The writer hopes that by having direct quotes available, the reader’s creative thought process will also be enhanced.Furthering this hope, God says it best! His inspired authors are the best writers.

The continued fact that the Bible is the world’s first printed book and all time best seller is solid proof of this fact.

Even the most hard-hearted atheist cannot disagree with that success!

THE WRITER’S CREDENTIALS

The writer’s only credential, as such, in preparing this “work” is that he was a serious nonbeliever for fifty four years of his life!

He possesses an expertise on the subject of sin that exceeds the knowledge and understanding of the greatest divines and the great majority of all who believe in God.

Yes, the writer knows what it means to be a nonbeliever, to be unrighteous, to be lost and lonely, and to know God’s Wrath.

The writer welcomes comments and criticism of the works on this blog with the sincere hope that something more may be gained, hopefully a greater understanding in the walk with the Holy Spirit.

For that is the cost of His discipline, the great hope in growing in Christ, the price and prize of coming to know God, in knowing His love.

THE WRITER’S PERSONAL TESTIMONY

I often contemplate today how different life would have been if I had been a true Christian early in life. I am blessed having a great family, a beautiful and loving wife, four outstanding children with eleven grandchildren. And most important of all, a growing relationship with Jesus Christ, a relationship guided by His Holy Spirit.

I became a true Christian in July 1985 at the age of 54! Before that time I was a Christian only in a social/heritage sense.

My oldest son, Otis III, who played football at USC, had talked to me “long and hard” about Christ. That and other incidents led to an extraordinary experience:

My wife’s sister, Barbara Love Bartlett (now with Christ) came to Southern California to attend a Christian International Renewal Conference on the division of Christ’s Church at the University of Southern California. In an attempt to help her summarize what she had learned at the conference, I asked her what was the Trinity? I didn’t know!

In explaining the Trinity she told me of His Holy Spirit. I didn’t know who the Holy Spirit was! I knew of Jesus and God the Father, but I didn’t know about the Holy Spirit!

She told me about the Holy Spirit. I asked her about the word and concept of the Trinity and where could I find that term in the Bible. She told me the word was not in the Bible. I then asked how the word Trinity came to be, and she couldn’t tell me.

I struggled with this consideration of the Holy Spirit and the concept of the Trinity for two days. It was a perplexing struggle for me.Finally, I sat down with my wife’s sister and told her that the answer should be in the Bible. I then opened the Good Book. I opened the Bible and my eyes fell on Matthew 10: 16-20, and at that moment I was baptized in the Spirit!

It happened as simply as that. Yes, I knew something extraordinary had happened. I was flooded with joy. I was amazed and full of wonder. I knew the Holy Spirit had entered my life.I was a very confused fellow for quite awhile after that experience.At first, I didn’t know or really believe in the Bible. I was elated, but I didn’t understand what was happening. I was on the start of a long and vigorous inquiry: why and how did He choose me?

The Bible clearly substantiates that by His grace He chooses us, and while we may be inclined to think the opposite, that is, that we choose Him, His Holy Spirit really coordinates the “call.”

THE FUN BEGINS

When the Holy Spirit came into my life, that’s when the fun really started! For me, one of the interesting repercussions in being a born-again Christian is the perplexing reaction of people who knew me in my prior life:

· My brother, Cleve, fears that I will come stomping through Maine with Bible in hand, preaching the “good news,” sullying his reputation as a confirmed agnostic.

· Another reaction occurred at a party at the Stanwich Club in Greenwich, Connecticut. A number of very close friends recoiled in shock when I told them of my relationship with Jesus Christ. Many asked me questions, in a delicate matter, as though they were examining some one from the lunatic asylum. “Do you really believe the Genesis account of the creation? “ I replied, “Certainly. It is symbolic, yet who but God could have ordered it!” One person, upon hearing this, offered the observation that, “Man created God. God did not create Man.” I was not surprised or distressed by these reactions.

· When learning of my conversion, my old business associates react with a dismissive, condolent disregard, harboring secret conclusions that they knew it all along: “Otis is really unstable and has always been.”

· Two very close friends visited us at our home about a year after my becoming a Christian. Both are native Californians with advanced degrees from Stanford. They kindly observed that it was such a nice thing for me to be dignifying Western civilization’s greatest myth. They were honestly perplexed by my belief. And they were grateful that I didn’t impose a “hell and brimstone” attitude towards their educated atheism. I told them not to worry about me, that if God wanted them, they would be His. They were troubled by the threat of this possibility!

It is unfortunate that nonbelief is the accepted social position of the cultured, the educated, the financially affluent classes of society. Their collective witness is the denial of God. I know, for that was my story for fifty four years!That is the world we live in, the world that has always existed in terms of its attitude towards God! But for the "choosen", those elect of God there is His Amazing Grace, the final paper in this blog dedicated to you the reader.

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