Just want to assure some readers of a few things before I get burnt at the stake! (This was going to be a comment on the post below, but got long so I decided to post it!)
1) I don’t forget the Holy Spirit, ever.
2) When I talk about the irrelevance of the law I think you misunderstand what I’m saying. How can the law be relevant if you don’t even know it’s there. We know it’s there, we know what it says about living our lives, but that’s because we read our bible. Even if you preach it at non-believers they’ll still turn around and ask where the relevance is. I’ve been there, I’ve experienced it. The law was created for a community in relationship with God to live out their relationship with God and each other. It shows what God’s agenda is, and what each of us should be striving towards. That then becomes something we must encourage others to understand, but as I say, unless you know it’s there, it’s irrelevant to you…do you get what I mean?!?
3) I totally get the thing about God showing us what our failings are and our need for Him. That’s exactly my point!!!! It’s his job, and the Holy Spirit’s job in particular. Not me, not judgementaly, but in love, with relationship. I agree about faith discussion – that’s what I’m talking about, not a one sided diatribe. I had a conversation with a non-believer yesterday where they told me they were sick of being told they were evil and sinners by Christians who didn’t even know them. I wouldn’t have been able to have that conversation if I hadn’t have developed a friendship with that person. Where it goes, I don’t know, but at least we’re ‘discussing’!
4) I certainly would never forget about righteousness. But that’s God’s work in us, through the Spirit (just proving I don’t forget it!), not our own work. That happens when we’re in relationship with God, not before. Discipleship, discipline…however you want to phrase it…we have to let God do the business and seek to follow his leadings and deepen ourselves in him.
5) Doesn’t Hebrews 11v1 talk about faith being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (NIV…proper translation!!)? Isn’t that what I’m talking about? How is that mystical. Why does God heal some and not others? Why is there suffering? Why, why, why? I don’t always know. And you know what, I’m ok with that – but it doesn’t stop me wanting to understand more of God(whilst at the same time realising the more I know the less I actually know). I’m not being trendy, I’m being me! I know the answer is Jesus (like in Sunday school!), he is the truth, I know that. But I don’t think that means there isn’t a sense of mystery, a sense of wonder and awe (Psalmists) about our relationship with God. All I’m saying is that it’s not a scientific/mathematical equation like Pythagoras or something. It’s not that cold.
6) I think in a limited historical document like the New Testament we can’t assume that Jesus used hit and run techniques. We know Paul often stayed in places for 2 to 3 years at a time planting churches – I know Jesus wasn’t in ministry for longer than 3 years, but he ministered to communities that he would have grown up around, lived in…etc. Miracles are completely mysterious – that’s the point…Jesus is God – wholly man, wholly God, as our doctrines say – a unique perception that no others will ever be able to experience. Perhaps he had a bit of a head start on us!
Hope that helps!