Hope and faith are such interesting concepts. The whole of Christianity seem to rest upon their shoulders. I believe that sometimes we get the definition of these two words confused. For instance, if one has a disease and has the confidence that God CAN heal them, they are exercising faith. The feeling that the healing will occur is hope. To simply say, "I don't have the disease for I am healed," is a lie to both yourself and others. To say, "I am sick but I have the faith that God can heal me and the hope that He will," is truth.
My entire life I have been taught that the Bible, all 66 canonized Old and New Testament books, is..."verbally inspired of God and are the revelation of God to man, the infallible, authoritative rule of faith and conduct" (Assemblies of God). And, to validate that point, Scripture contained within the Bible is used as proof. That is a very interesting fact when you take the time to think about it. You pick up the book, read it, the book says itself is the authority and, by faith, you build your hope around it with no supporting collaboration. That is called circular thinking. If it is verbally inspired by God, infallible and authoritative, it will stand up to external scrutiny.
When I was a child, my Mom's relatives were mainly Pentecostal Democrats while my Dad's family were primarily Baptist Republicans. I remember VERY heated debates at both of my grandparent's home over religion and politics. It made me a nervous wreck as a child. I learned early on that most Pentecostals tend to look at the rest of the religious world as though they are living in an existence without total revelation of the Scriptures; there is more to God than what they have had "revealed" to them. Conversely, many of those who are not "Pentecostal" look at the Pentecostals as though they are loony tunes and are trying to recreate something from the past that is not meant for the present. There are many classic debates between religious entities which include eternal security, backsliding, speaking in tongues, word formulation used at baptism, mode of dress, women in the pulpit, and the list goes on.
How can such a vehement division exist in the Body of Christ amongst Believers? These are questions I have been trying to reconcile in my brain over the past couple of years. One of the things I have attempted to do is separate myself from "what I have been taught" and research the Bible, from not only inside itself, but also from outside itself. I have had a very rude awakening. I was always taught that the Bible was perfect and there were no inconsistencies. How can this be when we have so many doctrines? One can be 100% scripturally correct to say that women should be silent in church yet speak in church. One can be 100% scripturally correct to say that speaking in tongues is permitted in public worship yet it should not be done. One can be 100% scripturally correct to say that salvation is free and eternal yet say one can lose it. One can deduct that Judas hung himself to death or that he died by his guts being spilled to the ground. One can follow the separate genealogies of the Gospels leading up to Jesus' birth in the New Testament and see that they clearly do not match. One has to reconcile the fact that it is nearly impossible that the Disciples who walked with Christ actually penned the Gospels; they were penned generations after the events occurred. These are facts I was not taught in church. Yet, it helps me understand why there is such diversity within the global church. It does contain differences.
Does the recognition that the Word is not as cohesive as I once thought make me an unbeliever? Absolutely not! I know my Lord. I know His Spirit. I walk with Him. I talk with Him. He is very, very real and moving in my life! What does this latest revelation do for me? It increases awareness that I must err on the side of grace, not law. It reinforces that God truly is Spirit and we who worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in TRUTH (the whole truth and nothing but the truth). I can no longer condemn others for what I do not understand. That is God's job. I can no longer pass judgment on which doctrines are right or wrong when the Bible clearly teaches both sides of certain fences. What I can do is live my life for Him in peace and through humility of service. I can be a man of integrity, love and acceptance. If God so loved the world, I believe then so should I. It is His job to sift the chaff from the wheat. He is the judge, not me.
I want to extend my apologies to those whom may have been offended as I have very openly processed through my hurt, disappointment and disenchantment. I have certainly pushed the envelope through my quest for truth. Regardless of where you stand on the Spiritual spectrum, it is my desire to extend my love and grace. I thank you for taking the time to read what I write. And, I pray that God richly bless your life through His abundant greatness!