Due to the fact that I did not originally come up with this stuff, I would like to give credit where credit is due. The thoughts written below are my take on the book “Forgotten God” written by Pastor Francis Chan. If you would like to learn more about this subject matter, I suggest that you buy the book and read it for yourself and not merely trust my interpretation. Thank you Francis for all of your hard work and devotion to our King!
“The Lord challenges us to suffer persecutions and to confess him. He wants those who belong to him to be brave and fearless. He himself shows how weakness of the flesh is overcome by courage of the Spirit. This is the testimony of the apostles and in particular of the representative, administrating Spirit. A Christian is fearless.”
Tertullian was one of the early Church fathers. He actually wrote the first of Latin Christian Literature. Tertullian spent much of his life writing against heresy in the Church, which in turn gained him much persecution. God however, used his writings to bring Trinitarian theology into the forefront in the early Greco-Roman Church.
Thanks to Tertullian, we now have much of our understanding of the Trinity.
Tertullian’s quote is undeniable when it comes to the call for the Christian life. “A Christian is fearless!”
I don’t know about you, but fear has paralyzed my walk more than once. I currently battle with fear in my Christian walk. there are all sorts of fears that limit my obedience to the Word and hinder my faith at times. Below I want to discuss two thoughts from the book that have summed up much of my lack of faith and my reasons for timidity concernging the absoluteness of the Gospel.
Two types of Fear
1) “What if I pray for the Holy Spirit and nothing happens? What if I ask for more of the Spirit’s fruit in my life and don’t see any apparent ‘results’?”
This is an extremely hard question to admit! It’s scary to pray boldly for change or freedom from sin, because if nothing happens, then doesn’t that mean God failed? Doesn’t that mean His Spirit isn’t all we’ve been told He is? Doesn’t that mean that God doesn’t really care?
This particular fear, I believe, can cause us to limit our expectations of God, or as Chan says, “cover for God.” By this I simply mean, we ask for less, expect less, and are satisfied with less because we are afraid to ask for or expect more because we are afraid that God will not respond.
I can’t help but wonder how this kind of fear makes God feel: Imagine how much it pains God to see His children hold back from relationship with the Spirit out of fear that He won’t come through. How much it grieves Him to watch His children ignore the promises He’s made throughout Scripture due simply to fear! Does God not truly desire to bless us with this gift of the Holy Spirit!?
Luke 11:13 says, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” God is a good Father, who passionately loves His children and wants intimacy with them. The Bible openly teaches that God is a good Father! It seems crazy to me that a good Father would ever hold anything back from the relationship with His children.
Do you believe that God in heaven gives His Spirit to those who ask? Do you really believe what the Bible says about this is truth?
In Acts, after Jesus has been resurrected and ascended to heaven, Peter addressed a crowd and declared, “Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” –Luke 2:38. Think about if you were in that crowd and Peter declared, “Repent and be baptized!” I doubt we would want to have anything to do with the guy… unless… the Spirit was actually doing something in our hearts… after Peter’s declaration 2000 people came to know and accept Jesus that day because of the Holy Spirits power!
I think it simply comes down to faith. I can’t make you believe that God is real, that He passionately loves you, that He pursues you resentlessly, or that He desires us to have joy. I can’t make a good enough argument that could never be contradicted. I think it all comes down to the question: Do you believe God keeps His promises or not? Do you believe that God exist and works in the world?
For some of you here, you’ve repented, been baptized, and have prayed in boldness for God to do something and have not experienced the results you expected. Now you are afraid of asking again because it would lessen your faith if God were to “fail to act” again.
A lot of people have asked me why God does not respond when they’ve prayed in faith. I don’t doubt that these people prayed in faith. In fact, I’ve experienced the same thing and I prayed in faith. Chan points out something that I think many of us overlook: But the question is whether they prayed for the things God has promised. Often, it’s the un-pomised requests that God “fails to act” in.
There is a huge difference between believing what God has promised and praying for things you’d like to be true! So, I encourage you to pray confidently for what God has promised and don’t put your hope in what others promise or what you’ve been told you’ll “get” if you’re a “good Christian.”
Chan says, “Ultimately, you need to stake your faith in God alone, not in the gifts that He gives. It really comes down to trust. Do you trust God that when He says no or ‘not in this way’ to you, you still believe He is good and doing what is best?”
2) “What if God does show up but then asks me to do something crazy or to go somewhere or do something that’s uncomfortable?”
I’ve asked myself this question more times than I can count. “If God were to tell me exactly what He wants of me, would I even want to do it?” Chan tells a story of this in his book:
A few years ago, I asked one of my friends if he genuinely wanted to know God’s will- no matter what God desired to do through him. His answer was honest: “No, that would freak me out.” He then admitted that he would rather not know everything God wants him to do. That way in the end he could say, “I had no idea You wanted me to do all of those things.” I appreciated my friend’s willingness to say what many secretly think and feel about total surrender to God. It’s honest, more honest than most people are willing to be.
Can you relate to Chan’s friend? Looking back at my life, I would have to admit that I’ve thought and felt the same thing. Even today, I am battling with this idea of total surrender.
The sad fact is, many of us just don’t want to be lead by anyone other than ourselves. The whole idea of giving up control is terrifying!
Imagine this for a moment: imagine that you are sitting in your room or coffee shop right now reading this blog. After reading this you ask God to reveal His will for your life right now. You look up from prayer and see God’s hand writing His will for your life on the wall (kind of like he did with the ten commandments in the OT). What would you think? Would you get up right then and go for it or would you say, “God I’m not really ready for that right now… can you give me something else?”
The truth is that the Spirit of the living God is guaranteed to ask us to go somewhere or do something you wouldn’t normally want or choose to do. The Spirit will always direct you to the Way of the cross, just like it led Jesus to the cross and so many others…
In C.S. Lewis’ book The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, is the story of the boy Eustace, who becomes a dragon. In order to become a little boy again, he must undergo a tremendous amount of pain as the dragon skin is peeled away and torn from him. Only after he endures this painful process is he finally changed from the dragon back into a boy.
Because of the Fall, sin has become such a part of our lives that it requires this same kind of ripping and tearing to return us to how we are supposed to be. The Holy Spirit does not seek to hurt us, but He does seek to make us Christlike, which can be a painful transformation.
So, if you say that you want the Holy Spirit in your life, you must 1st be honest enough to ask yourself if you really want to do His will or not.
Chan says, “Because if you do not genuinely want to know and do His will, why should you ask for His presence at all? But if you decide you do want to know His will, there will be moments when you have to let go of the fear of what that might mean- when you have to release your grip of control on your life and decide to be led, come what may.”
We just care too much about the opinions of others!
“A Christian is fearless.”
Our fear keeps us from truly allowing the Spirit to work in our lives. And our fear revolves around our appearance to others. We worry about how everyone will view us. We worry that if we submit to the Spirit that our lives will be really crazy! We fear being classified as the crazy-Christians or religious nuts. I don’t want to be classified as a religious nut!
But as followers of Christ, our relationship with Him has to be our focus! When we allow the perceptions of others to guide our lives, we allow their perceptions to control our lives and rob us of our relationship with Christ alone. We become overcome with the cares of this world, which we are no longer citizens of. We are citizens of another kingdom, a heavenly Kingdom, with a heavenly King!
Where does our allegiance lie? In the heavenly Kingdom or the earthly one?