Monday, 30 April 2012

Spiritual angst at 20

I was intrigued, on delving into a couple of old notebooks in which I worked my way through 'Search the Scriptures' in my university days, to find the following:

'O Lord, you know that now I am utterly confused about my spiritual condition. But you have given me certain lights to follow in my reading and talks I have heard.
1. My salvation is an objective fact, not a subjective feeling. I AM dead to sin.
2. My sanctification will only follow by God revealing to me more of His Son.
3. I can do nothing to precipitate this revelation; it can only come as a sequel to faith.
4. I can do nothing to generate faith; it will only come by God's Grace.
5. God's Grace will only have effect as long as I realise and act on the fact that I am saved and believe and trust in His Word. I do have the power to conquer sin through Jesus Christ; I must open my soul to that power, and rejoice in the love that makes it available to me. Only thus, can I, as salt, not lose my taste...'

A mixture of the good and slightly ambiguous so far as theology is concerned. Indeed considering the lack of any real teaching I was getting then, apart from Christian Union Bible studies and my own reading, I am surprised it is not worse. I had been a Christian about 12-15 months at this time but had not learned the importance of going to a good 'Bible teaching' church, much less did I have any clue about 'Reformed' things or even what a Calvinist was as opposed to an Arminian. I was, I think, instinctively, by my Calvinist-Methodist (though theologically very liberal) upbringing and by common grace a Calvinist, if such a thing is possible - is it truer for Celts? -, and the experience of regeneration by grace made this spiritually real and developed it. I remember over a college lunch once defending Calvin against a rabid Arminian supporter of Roger Forster (of Ichthus Fellowship fame - remember?)even though I had read nothing by Calvin at that stage. It wasn't until I went to L'Abri in 1981 that I really appreciated what Calvinism meant biblically, theologically and spiritually. I read the 'Institutes' in 1981-82.

A couple of pages/studies later in the same notebook I found the following:

'I realise that this parable [I think it must have been the parable of the 'dishonest steward' in Luke 16] speaks to me. I am not trustworthy with the riches that God showers on me, I spend too extravagantly on myself, to enjoy myself or to boost my ego (e.g. clothes)... At the moment I have a big question mark looming over my head as to whether I should spend £10 on a pair of jeans. I honestly do not know whether it is just a fad - an expensive, selfish desire - or whether it is justified i.e in accordance with God's will...'

Over-scrupulous perhaps?

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