Repentance and Forgiveness

I spent a lot of time on this comment response, so I’m making it a post. You’ll have to figure out the comment I’m responding to. It concerns my post “He Who Fears God and Labors at Righteousness”.

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I don’t say that Cornelius “deserved” the Holy Spirit or that he had the Holy Spirit. I am saying that God accepted him for his good works. That’s not an interpretation, that’s just a quote.

What does “accept” mean? Whatever it means, I suggest that it does not and cannot mean “condemned to hell.”

You asserted that I believe “We are forgiven, but we are also justified and sanctified by the Spirit of our God. We are taught the commandments of Jesus (Matt. 28:20), and we fulfill them (1 Jn. 2:3-4) because sin does not have power over us.” True enough.

I spent a number of years questioning my own salvation because of my temper and my lust. From what I could read in Scripture, I couldn’t see how I would be able to enter the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-11; Gal. 5:19-21,25; Eph. 5:5). Mind you, I was not physically committing adultery, but “looking on a woman to lust after her” seemed impossible for me to overcome.

Someone once said, “I will preach the Gospel truth even if that truth condemns me.”

I lived that way for years. My experience of God was very real. I had amazing experiences, amazing guidance, and I was growing in the knowledge of God and his ways, but I was easily thrown into lust and anger.

Over time, I grew desperate. The desperation was made worse by Jesus’ prayer in John 17. The world, Jesus suggested, would believe he was sent by God because of the unity of his disciples. I looked around and I saw no unity, no love between the brethren, no holiness. I used to ask Jesus in prayer why I should believe in him.

This was 1992-1995, when the situation in the US was worse, much worse, than it is now, probably because the home church movement was pretty much a failure.

The fact was, I couldn’t help it. I did believe, and I was compelled to be deadly honest with what I saw in the Scriptures—even if it condemned me.

When I got hold of the early Christian writings, it didn’t help. They were stricter than me, not less strict. They emphasized obedience more than me, though they emphasized the mercy of God as well. It did help in that they seemed to have no problem testifying that as a group, they were sexually pure in their minds as well as in their bodies.

I had long periods of success with lust, keeping my eyes where they belonged and my thoughts where they belonged, followed by a flurry of giving in to lust in my thoughts. I only had so much success with my “outbursts of wrath.” (This lasted fifteen years.)

Only finally finding the church delivered me. I confessed my struggles and failures to the men, and I talked to my kids, my wife, and my friends every time I got angry. (I wasn’t violent, just vocally inexcusable.)

The Scriptures say that the church is part of the answer.

Exhort one another daily, while it is called today, lest anyone be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. (Heb. 3:13)

The problem I have with backing off on my emphasis on the Gospel you described is that what I say is not just Scripturally verifiable, but it is the Gospel as taught consistently and without exception by the early churches before the great fall during Constantine’s reign.

If you think I don’t emphasize the forgiveness of sins enough, along with the Gospel that you say (accurately) that I teach, then who knows, maybe you’re right. My emphasis on mercy is a lot stronger in person, when people come to me for counsel. It is true that you cannot repent and be set free while you think God hates you, is against you, or is constantly mad at you. Well, I won’t say “cannot.” It’s a real hindrance, though.

There is a teaching I give occasionally called AGod Is Not Disappointed with You” to get people to understand that God is trying to get you from where you are to where he wants you. He is not deceived into thinking you are somewhere else along the path than where you are. He’s not shocked by your sin, confused by it, or grossed out by it. It’s exactly what he expects from you, and he wants to work with you right where you are.

It is while we were yet sinners that God gave his Son to die for us. He was not thinking, “Gosh, I sure hope they see this and stop their ridiculous, icky behavior.” He was saying, “Here is a reconciliation offer. You give up the life you’re living, enter my kingdom, and I’ll give you a much better life. I’ll even give you the Holy Spirit so that you are not a servant, but a Son, having my nature.”

Our response is, “How can I when I am unworthy to enter your house?”

His response is, “Old things have passed away; all things are new. Your sins are wiped out. Come on in.”

One last response:

You see a different emphasis on mercy in the Scriptures you listed (Acts 2:38; 5:31; 10:43; 13:38; 26:18) and what I say. I don’t. Maybe I’m deceiving myself, and if someone besides you wants to back you up on that, I’ll listen, but I’m already trying to listen, so I would need some help following through if I’m wrong.

Acts 5:31 in particular seems to say exactly what I say. The requirement for forgiveness has always been repentance. Jesus didn’t have to die to obtain mercy from God for us. Ezekiel has three passages telling us that God was always merciful to the repentant, even before Jesus died.

I emphasize repentance because that is what was lacking. God’s mercy wasn’t lacking. Isaiah 55:7 tells us he had abundant pardon for the repentant even under the Old Covenant. Romans 3 tells us that repentance was beyond us. Romans 7 tells us the same thing, and Romans 8 tells us that Romans 7 is what he corrected.

I am well aware that we love him because he first loved us, but the love he showed to us in reconciling us to God requires us to repent. These two passages especially put incredible emphasis on that:

So God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life. (Acts 11:18)

[I declared] that they should repent and turn to God and do works befitting repentance. (Acts 26:20)

That last one is a summation by Paul of what he was teaching. Repentance is the gift of God, and it allows forgiveness. I don’t know how to interpret the Scriptures any other way, and for centuries after the apostles, no one else in the church knew either.

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10 Responses to Repentance and Forgiveness

  1. Evan says:

    Thank you gentlemen – Jon & Paul for the give & take conversation that the rest of us are allowed to read. I was particularly interested/edified by Jon’s comment that we are forgiven as we continue to “battle” those besetting sins and similarly Paul’s comment that “commitment; not accomplishment” leads to mercy. I too have often wondered where God “draws the line” in my own life. When I used to believe in eternal security, I was always perplexed by Jesus’ words in Rev 3:15-16: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.” I wondered why would Jesus consider a “cold” Christian better than a “lukewarm” Christian; after all I reasoned isn’t it better to be warm than cold. After I disavowed my belief in eternal security (slow process which took me years to unlearn) I finally realized (likely read it somewhere) that the lukewarm Christian is like the proverbial frog in the kettle. As the water in the kettle gets warmer the frog has the unique ability to adjust its body temperature to maintain its own comfort level – until it is too late and it is boiled to death. This is analogous to lukewarm believers who adjust and accommodate sin in their lives until it is too late to repent and they are vomited out. My biggest regret is that I didn’t understand this much earlier in my life as I mistakenly presumed upon God’s mercy. This not only affected my life but my family was affected by the collateral damage. I figure I would be a lot further down the narrow path compared to where I stand now – but as you describe it at least I am committed to the battle.

    • paulfpavao says:

      Thanks again, Evan. I like the stuff you write. I am going to follow through on emailing you back once I’m done with this trip and after effects. I’m driving home today, but I have guests coming, both business and family, so I’m having to select my priorities in a way I don’t like.

  2. NBB says:

    Paul, please explain what you believe about the purpose of Jesus’s death and resurrection and what it accomplished.

    Thanks

    • paulfpavao says:

      Nat, you asked me to “explain what you believe about the purpose of Jesus’ death and resurrection and what it accomplished.” I’ll try in brief:

      FOUNDATION: God has always been merciful. God has always been just. The idea that God has ever judged imperfect humans for being imperfect–that is, sent someone to hell for even one sin–is repulsive to me, and I see it as an insult to God. God proclaimed that he was full of mercy to Moses (Ex. 34:6). Through Isaiah he promised “abundant pardon” to those who would call on him (55:7, I think). In Ezekial 18 and 33 he made it abundantly clear that even a wicked person could repent of his wickedness, begin to live righteously, and ALL his wickedness would be forgotten.

      Modern Christians say that this is because God looked forward to Jesus’ death in forgiving those wicked people. I think that’s an awful thing to say about God, and it’s just a silly, childish defense of a huge set of false traditions, none justifiable from history or the Scriptures.

      No, God always had a fair judgment, and he has always offered eternal life to those who “patiently continued to do good” (Rom. 2:5-6). People like Noah, Job, Enoch, Daniel, David, Josiah, and others, none of them perfect, and none of whom could stand before God if he “should mark iniquities.”

      JESUS’ DEATH AND RESURRECTION:

      Jesus did not die for God, he died for us. God was already merciful. He had not turned his back on us, nor rejected us en masse. He loved us, and so he sent his Son into the world to save us while we were still sinners (Jn. 3:16; Rom. 5:8).

      Our problem is not that we cheated on a test in 5th grade, got a little angry and jealous over a girl that chose our friend over us, or glanced one time at a girl in skin-tight jeans when we were 15. Our problem is that for the most part our throat is an open grave, our tongues are used to deceit, our lips have the poison of asps, our mouths are full of cursing an bitterness, our feet are swift to shed blood, and destruction and misery are in our ways.

      For the most part, we are not those who repent and devote ourselves to God. For the most part, we have all turned astray chosen our own way. We couldn’t find within us the knowledge to repent and be forgiven of our wickedness, and we could not find the perseverance to be faithful fearers of God so that we could be among those to whom the Lord would not impute sin (Ps. 32:1-2).

      So Jesus died because of Romans 7. We knew to do the good, but we could not do it. “Who,” cried Paul, “will deliver me from this body of death?”

      Romans 8 answers: “What the Law could not do because of the weakness of our flesh, God did.”

      I’ll go on, but I think most Christians miss that statement, and that is why they wonder if living in Romans 7 is just normal. It is not normal. The Law cannot deliver us from the sin in our body, but God not only can, he did.

      Did Paul say that or not?

      Okay, it goes on like this: “… God did, by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, as an offering for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh so that the righteous requirement of the Law [not the Law itself, but the righteous requirement of the Law) might be fulfilled in those of us who do not walk under the influence of the flesh [our human body] but under the influence of the Spirit [or possibly spirit, as in our own spirit moved by God’s Spirit].”

      What the Law could not do, God did by sending his Son.

      Jesus did not change the order of things. He died and rose to change us. In doing so, he saved us.

      One of the central tenets (the central?) of the New Covenant is that every person in this New Covenant would have the Spirit of God. They would all know him, from the least to the greatest. This was a rare and special blessing under the Law of Moses. Most people just got the Law of Moses, which is no small gift (Ps. 119), but they did not receive the Holy Spirit to empower and guide them like David, Samuel, Joseph, Daniel and others did.

      So Jesus took us out of Romans 7, being those under slavery to our bodies and its emotions and desires, and he put us in the middle of the same plan God has always had, but better. Previously, the idea was that we should walk in the fear of God, love his laws, keep his covenant, and continue in faith in him, and he would count us among those to whom he would not impute sin.

      We couldn’t do it.

      So he gave us a new option. Now, if we will believe in the new King, the Messiah, the begotten Son of God, then he will give us a brand new start. He will forgive our sins, he will bury our old life and raise us up to new life, he will give us the Holy Spirit, and he will live life through us.

      He also did some really mystical things in purifying the temple above, changing the course of the universe (the creation), preparing a final consummation where we are adopted as sons and resurrected and creation is restored, putting an influence in the earth, satisfying divine justice, fulfilling the divine plan (for after all, the Lamb was slain before the foundation of the earth … now that’s mindbusting to think about).

      Most of those things are motivating, but not practical.

      The big thing is that he saved us. We who could not save ourselves. We who could not fulfill the divine commands, nor even continue in repentance, he has transformed. He has given himself to “purify his own special people, zealous for good works.” By grace, a grace we obtained purely by believing, he made us “his workmanship, created in King Jesus to do good works” (Eph. 2:8-10). This he did, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but simply because we believed God’s message that he had sent Jesus as his Anointed King over all the earth, and in fact, over everything because he Lord of both the living and the dead (Rom. 14:9). In response to that message, we repented. We bowed our knee, acknowledged him as King, and received his Word.

      So that’s a portion–the main portion–of what I believe the purpose of Jesus’ death and resurrection. I have left off some important but less practical stuff about the ultimate purpose of God being to glorify his Son and bring all creation under his rule and into the divine presence.

      • NBB says:

        Thank you, Paul.
        Strange how we often take for granted that everything we’ve been taught is true. I’ve been a believer for a very long time, and consider myself a student of th Word, uh, I mean the Bible. I never considered that the traditional view that forgiveness came through faith in the future Messiah was not correct. Lots to think about and meditate on here. I may have more questions for you after I’ve digested this. Thanks again for taking the time.

        • paulfpavao says:

          You’re welcome. Thank you for the comment.

          You should be a student of the Word, including the Bible. 2 Tim. 2:15 begins with “study” in the KJV because Protestants already equate “the Word” with “the Bible.” The Greek is not “study.” It is be diligent. If the subject of our diligence is a book, then “study” is a good translation, but the object of our diligence is all of God’s Word. The Word comes into us as a seed, and it grows. The Word is also in the Bible, but it is the Word in you that allows you to understand and grow in the the knowledge of the Scriptures. It is the Word in you that allows you to take the Word in the Scriptures and speak it with “anointing.” You can speak it with anointing because the fullness of the Word is God’s Anointed, Jesus. Jesus is the Christ, which means anointed, and we “know all things” because of our corporate anointing of the Word in us, Jesus himself.

  3. Jon says:

    Wow. OK, so here in no particular order are 8 points by way of reply.

    1. The fact that you are still willing to fully and thoughtfully reply is worth more than something – If I were you I’d have lost patience with me a long time ago. I was half expecting you to say “go away, I can’t be bothered with your whining anymore”. I thank you for your patience with me.

    2. The overall point that there will be some who get into the kingdom without explicitly believing in Jesus is something I think I agree with. However, I think I’d still go down the line of their works proving their heart/some kind of faith rather than them earning salvation (there is a lone figure in the C.S. Lewis novel ‘The Last Battle’, obviously meant to be analogous to a muslim, that is often cited in this regard).

    3. I am aware that the word ‘earn’ really represent what you portray. However, it often sounds like what you promote is a kind of subsidized salvation – God has brought it nearer to us and made it more possible, however, we still have to do our bit in order to merit eternal life. That might not sound that bad, but to my ears it’s like seeing something in a shop with a sign that says “was £1,000,000 now slashed/rolled back/on offer for only £100,000!”. However, I can’t afford £100,000 either so it’s not really much of an offer.

    4. I understand and believe that the gospel promises transformation, and also follow what you said about your testimony. Where (I think) there is disagreement here is that it seems you would reckon that a Christian is damned as long as he/she has any undefeated besseting sins whereas I would take scriptures such as Matt 6:12, Matt 18:22, 2 Tim 2:13 & 1 John 1:9 to indicate that there is forgiveness always available every time we fall until we finally overcome a particular sin. Of course, I don’t mean forgiveness in a cheap, licentious kind of way – it’s only available to those who are battling – but it wouldn’t mean that in horizontal human relationships either.

    5. I like what you said about God not being disappointed, but often that is what comes across in some of the posts – That He is really annoyed at Christians who are not living the proper Christian life, and at ‘Goats’ and ‘Hypocrites’ (though I do have a tendency to include myself into just about any negative category you have a go at) who are deceived. I suppose (and I think I mentioned this before) that I often see a lack of application in your posts (i.e. what randomners like me who read your blog should do).

    6. You said “It is while we were yet sinners that God gave his Son to die for us. He was not thinking, “Gosh, I sure hope they see this and stop their ridiculous, icky behaviour.” He was saying, “Here is a reconciliation offer. You give up the life you’re living, enter my kingdom, and I’ll give you a much better life. I’ll even give you the Holy Spirit so that you are not a servant, but a Son, having my nature.” Our response is, “How can I when I am unworthy to enter your house?”His response is, “Old things have passed away; all things are new. Your sins are wiped out. Come on in.”

    That’s great. My struggle has always been in believing that I am included in that – I can’t underestimate how the thought “Well I’m probably not a real Christian, anyway” kills any desire for God and holiness.

    7. I have no problem with that last bit on repentance – of course repentance is essential to salvation. The key question though is the definition of repentance – If it means to turn around and change one’s basic orientation (yes to Christ and no to sin) then I’m with you. If, however, it means sort yourself out and clean yourself up before God can accept you then that’s where I’d have the issue.

    8. Final point regarding your original post on Cornelius etc. Would not Titus 3:5 ( “he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit”) challenge any notion that God brings salvation to some more readily on the basis of their previous works?

    • paulfpavao says:

      Jon,

      I love your questions and your comments. You lead all my followers by a long shot in “answer to your comment turned into a blog post.” I’m sure there’s been four, and there may have been more.

      I am a little frustrated with your struggle because I don’t know how to help. Here’s the frustration:

      1. You wrestle with your position in Christ, and you even wrestle with whether you are in Christ.
      2. You wrestle with whether you have the Holy Spirit.
      3. I don’t know what exactly to tell you, though if you were here, with the church, I would certainly know more of what to tell you and I would give time to you and prayer to God (well, I do that anyway) on your behalf until he gave us an answer.
      4. You’re not here for me to see or really know.

      I wish I could help.

      So, here’s my answers.

      1. I would never do that unless I thought you were a heckler. I guess they’re called trolls nowadays. It seems obvious that you are not. I also quit talking with people who tire me out with doctrine that has no practical application. Your comments are the most practical I get, on questions I only know how to deal with on an individual basis.

      Pause here … Are you on FB? Can I put you in touch with someone else I have never met but corresponded with a lot who has some similar struggles with you concerning feeling/assurance?

      2. I don’t like the word earn. I don’t think we “earn” salvation, but we can be worthy. “Worthy” is used regularly in Scripture concerning Christians. We are commanded to walk worthy (Eph. 4:early) and Jesus judged Christians in Sardis on the basis of their worthiness (whether or not they defiled their garments; Rev. 3:4-5). I am an employer of about 30 people. They earn their wages, but the bonuses and benefits I provide are gifts, not earned, even though those gifts are given more to worthy employees than unworthy employees. Employees who aren’t measuring up are told the problem and how they can solve it. As for works proving the heart or heart producing the works, I agree with that, but it doesn’t matter to me. The followers of Jesus are zealous for good works (Tit. 2:14; 3:8), so I make every effort to be zealous for good works. I don’t spend any time wondering if I’m doing it out of a good heart or not. I just try to obey. I don’t think the Scriptures spend much time apologizing for commands and warnings by carefully saying that they reflect the heart. Of course they reflect the heart, but do we have to say that every time we try to help someone stop living in greed, envy, or surliness? I don’t think Jesus or the apostles did that.

      3. My perspective on salvation is backed up by Scripture, but the statement that broke years of confusion over what seemed like a huge conflict in Scripture was in the Letter to Diognetus: “Once it became obvious that in ourselves we were unable to enter the kingdom of God, the power of God could then make us able.” That is my perspective.

      4. I sure hope this is true. I hoped some during my years of struggle that it was true, but I can’t be confident of that. I am much more confident of that for the ignorant. Christianity, at least here in the US, is an embarrasment to the teaching of Jesus. Demonstration is far more important than words, and the Christianity we demonstrate, in general, is that Jesus is powerless to transform most people, only the holy few. To be honest, I agree with that if we’re talking about Christianity as we know it today because we have forgotten the church and its incredible power. We don’t “exhort one another daily” and “have the same care for one another,” so Christians don’t have the help they need. We don’t just need Jesus and the Bible. We also need Jesus on earth. Without DAILY exhortation, we are likely to be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Heb. 3:12-13).

      I should add here that I believe that if Jesus asked Peter (and all of us) to forgive a repentant brother 490 times in one day, then he is willing to do so himself. So I guess, in a sense, that I believe that you can struggle and fight day after day and fail day after day and expect the abundant pardon of God. It was my hope against hope for years. I hate to talk about it unless a person is pursuing holiness and expecting to obtain it (Heb. 12:14). Then I have no problem telling them to get up, face the beast again, and press on. In the US, though, most Christians know nothing about “resisting to bloodshed, striving against sin.” There’s a foundation of commitment, not accomplishment, that leads to mercy.

      5. You wrote, ” I suppose (and I think I mentioned this before) that I often see a lack of application in your posts (i.e. what randomners like me who read your blog should do).” Thank you. I’m sure I’m guilty of that accusation, and it’s a big help to be told this. I will work on this … diligently. It’s important, and I’m sure you’re right.

      6. Hmm … Wednesday morning’s post is on the Gospel of the Kingdom. I would really like you to read it and give me feedback. I had a discussion today about the definition of justification with a guy who really helped me understand NT Wright’s concept of justification. That’s not in the blog post, but the post is related to the idea that justification consists first and foremost of believing that Jesus is the Anointed King, the Son of God, and of bowing your knee to that King. Those who will do so are “in.”

      I’m so sorry, Jon. I and the Christians I fellowship with here in Tennessee, are actually very good at setting people free. “What? Quit worrying about that!” is just as likely to be heard as, “You need help with this.” We think people in Christianity are way too religious and don’t have a very good idea of the righteousness of God. That is because as we have been together, he has taught us his righteousness over our ideas of “holy.” I don’t mean anything weird. I mean that obeying his commandments doesn’t mean that we are quiet, don’t drink wine with meals, don’t have a beer with a friend, never show our emotions, etc. I don’t see any such commands. I think Jesus wants to save–really save–real people with real problems, who are honest and forbearing with one another; people who have arguments and who want to quit. Those are the people we are, and those are the people we want to be with.

      7. I’m with you on repentance. Agree totally with what you said here.

      8. This gets back to the “earning” thing. I guess things only make sense to me on a practical level. They are really confusing on a theoretical, theological level. On the practical level, what happened with Cornelius is what happened. What happened with Job is what happened. What happened with Noah is what happened. In some sense, all three were called righteous by God before baptism, before knowing Jesus, etc. Paul says that God is commanding “everyone everywhere” to repent (Acts 17:30). Now when I say the word “repent,” surely you and many who hear me think I mean “sort yourself out and clean yourself up before God can accept you.” I don’t. I think Paul means “change one’s basic orientation (yes to the King and no to sin).”

      God is calling everyone. Everyone who comes to Jesus will BY NO MEANS be cast out (Jn. 6:37).

      Wouldn’t it make sense, then, that someone who is already going after the will of God in some way (“fears God”) would find themselves being singled out for some direct God-to-person calling? He’s calling everyone, but if you are already making steps in his direction, then he’s going to draw you along, bringing you closer and closer.

      Think also about the results. Cornelius immediately heard the Gospel. That is because his heart was prepared. Of course God is going to go after God-fearers first because they are much more likely to be good ground. Yes, the sower in the parable sowed the Word of God seemingly indiscriminately, but surely he devoted himself especially to planting in what he considered good ground? If you miss a spot of hardened path, the likelihood that you’ve had a mistake you’ll regret is small. If you miss a spot of good ground, the likelihood is great.

      Cornelius was not “saved” because of works he did in righteousness. God rewarded his righteousness by sending Peter to him with the Gospel. (That is stated plainly. I don’t see how that can be denied.) But that does not mean that God saved him because of his works. God sent the Gospel to him because he had fruit in his life that indicated he was ready to be reaped. God reaped the harvest of Cornelius and his family by sending Peter to him with the Gospel, and in return for believing that Jesus is the Anointed King, the Son of the Living God, Cornelius was forgiven, saved, and filled with the Holy Spirit.

      Does that make sense?

      I hate to write so much and leave it in the comments, but what must be, must be. Thank you very much, my friend Jon, for your comments, questions, and refutations.

      • Jon says:

        Thank you for your very gracious reply. One thing is for sure – you have always reflected Christ-likeness in the way you have interacted with myself online.

        Yes, please do put me in contact with that fellow you mentioned on FB (I’ll ‘poke’ you to remind you).

        This time, I am at peace with just about every point you have made (except maybe perhaps 2. but I’ll leave that one for now). That last point you clarified about your original post was really helpful, thanks.

        One thing I think that needs mentioning in all of this is that I often don’t get the original point of things very well due to my Church experience and background . The UK church is very different from the USA church. I’d be hesitant to say ‘better’, but very different with different problems, strengths and challenges. Often the polemical posts about the US church I don’t quite get because I don’t find the issues to be the same over here. For example, the notion that being saved is just about head belief that is divorced from discipleship was completely foreign to me (until I heard it from an American preacher!). I remember going on a Christian camp type thing at the age of 12. The one thing I can remember about the teaching (as muddled as it may have been in other respects) was that Christianity was presented as total life choice – one of surrender.

        Anyway, I really hope (and pray) that someday, somewhere we will get to meet in person. Thank you, Paul.

        • paulfpavao says:

          A Baptist church in Liverpool made it clear to me that the churches in England are very different from the churches in the USA. I would greatly change my tune if I was writing for a British audience. I do try to mention that every now and then. I was stunned by the discipleship and service of ALL the members of the Baptist church of which I speak. The pastor explained to me that only about 2% of the Brits profess to believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior anymore, and so there’s no cultural influence to just “attend.” (Do you think that’s true?)

          I’ll let you know if God lets me go to Europe. I would love to go back. I speak German conversantly, am progressing rapidly in Spanish (Hispanic, really), and I’m just shy of fluent in English :-D. I am a Yankee, but I do read English books. Oops. I’ve lived in west Tn for nigh on 20 years now, what am I doing calling myself a Yankee? Dangerous ’round these parts.

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