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December 2, 2008

“I believe the reason christians don’t recognize the presence of God or hear the voice of God is because we’re too busy telling God what we need Him to do instead of recognizing who He is” ~ Perry Noble


From → Faith

  1. 5minutes permalink

    Well… let me be the party pooper here.

    I think that Mr. Noble’s statement, frankly, smacks of elitism. First, it implies that God is somehow incapable of getting through to us in spite of our desires and lives. This, I believe, is a categorically false image of a sovereign, powerful God who is not – and never has been silent.

    Second – it implies that God hasn’t already spoken loudly enough. He has – in scripture, which should be sufficient for us – as long as we read it. This brings me to….

    Finally – Mr. Noble, I think, has it backwards. We’re not struggling in finding what God is saying to us because we’re talking or greedy or anything else related to this statement (although I do think we’re called, by scriptural mandate, to express ourselves, our needs, and our perceptions to God). We struggle in finding what God has already said to us because we are willingly deaf, blind, and corrupted to the core by our fallen natures, and the only difference between the murderers, thugs, prostitutes, robbers, liars, warmongers, Democrats… and us… is Grace.

  2. The fact is, people are just plain too busy. Period. We are often too busy doing “good” and so we justify our busyness that way. So much so, that we miss the simplicity of what God has for us, which is His love, and His desire to relate to us as His children and vice versa. And not to service our laundry list of wants. We box Him in and limit Him in terms of how He will move in our lives.

    God is big enough to break through to us in our busyness if we let Him…I agree that we are often “willingly deaf, blind and corrupted to the core” and so we miss the boat.

    My response to the quote…Guilty as charged…And double ouch.

  3. higherplace permalink

    Hey, no party pooped here. I am thankful for the perspectives and discussion. Kingdom stuff.

    I do want to go over the points though.

    First is my fault, it was late, I didn’t give context or link back to the quote and why it spoke to me. Therefore, it makes it too easy to make snap judgements about about the intentions and context (or lack of) given by Perry Noble. I would encourage folks to watch the sermon (where I got the quote from) at It is this week’s sermon right on the front page.

    Second, to some of 5minutes’ points. I agree to a certain degree with many of your assertions about the condition of man and our struggles. Certainly, the sovereignty of God is not in question in my mind. However, the quote in context or out does not imply that God cannot speak. It states that man cannot hear due to what man is consumed with. This is often true. The problem with hearing God always lies with us (unless God is not speaking at all, but even silence is an answer, right?). That is a point that Perry is making that I agree with. The fact that the quote states that Christians cannot hear actually implies that God IS speaking and is not silent. There is not an issue of loudness here either. God speaking is not an issue of volume, it is an issue of position. Many times through out scripture, and history for that matter, God has spoken and people have not gotten it. They were not in a position to hear. Not God’s fault. Ours. Since, I believe (and this may be where we get into differing opinions about the free will of man), that we have a choice to make in terms of following God or not, then there are, in my opinion times where our choices lead us away from hearing God. Position. As you said, “WILLINGLY” deaf, blind and corrupted due to our nature . . .

    I do also want to point out that my position on prayer is communal or at least has a communal part. I believe that we make our petitions to God, as well as, hear from Him. Conversational. We MUST never lose our sight of our position as children before and all powerful, just, and mighty Father, but we have access through the blood of Christ. Therefore, yes, scripture is sufficient, God has spoken, but I believe there is a continued conversation – communion that God desires. If everything that has been said is all there is then there is no real sense in a mandate for prayer, because it’s all been said and all been answered. I think there is a deeper mystery here. Not that there is further revelation beyond scripture (it is the final authority for faith and practice), but that God is still actively involved in the world calling, speaking, moving. Acts 29 if you will.

    I am so thankful that God speaks and I am desperate to hear.

    Love you guys! Keep up the conversation! Love it!

  4. 5minutes permalink

    I hear ya, Scott. My concern really isn’t that you – or more accurately, Mr. Noble – doesn’t get it. It really comes back, for me, to understanding the depth of the Fall and coming to terms with the fact that our failure to listen isn’t merely a passing “we’re too busy and not listening enough” or “we should take time and listen to God more carefully”…. it’s that we are in active, continuing rebellion against God.

    Even when we have surrendered to Christ, we still rebel. It’s a part of the process of sanctification that we all have to go through, and that we will continue to go through until the day we join Him in Glory. But during that process, we still are saturated in Sin (the condition, not individual acts of bad behavior – fallen nature is a decent synonym), and when we don’t hear God, it’s not a passive act of failure – it’s because we are in active rebellion.

    In other words: beyond my theological differences with Mr. Noble (and the rest of the world), I’m really concerned that we understand that this is SIN in action, and it’s yet another brick in the wall that’s painted with the simple message that we have a desperate, present need to repentant lives.

  5. higherplace permalink

    Thanks again buddy for the comments. I love the opportunity to discuss and explore with ya. It challenges me to grow and hopefully you as well. Not to mention we need to catch up sometime!

    I never meant to imply that not hearing God is simply a passive act of failure. On the contrary, the statement in context, is very much pointing to an active issue of failure. However, “not listening enough” or being “too busy” are issues to be addressed in the life of the believer. Heck, for the non-believer too. Also, saying that we need to address ongoing issues in our lives in no way negates the desperate need to deal with root issues of rebellion in the heart of man.

    I don’t feel that stating that we need to pay more attention to God’s will than pleading for our own will to be done is negating the root issue of sin (of which I agree with you) or being elitist. However, we could deepen the discussion a tad by dealing with how scripture breaks down the “offenses” against God and the condition of man. As I believe, we who have choosen to believe and follow Christ are “new creations”, “children not born of natural descent, but born from above”, “the old has gone and the new has come”. Therefore, as I believe, we have a new nature although we are still in the flesh. We become citizens of the Kingdom – stangers in a foriegn land if you will. I now live under the grace purchased by the blood of Christ. That is my condition. I still sin, I miss the mark, but my position is different. I am no longer lost and dead in my transgressions, but I am alive in Christ and learning to crucify the flesh.

    Scripture lists three general types of offenses to God (all of which are sin, but carry different heart intentions and produce varying earthly consequences). Fist is missing the mark, meaning that we blow it (we just plain get it wrong sometimes – imperfection). Second is transgression, meaning – I know this is wrong but I don’t care and am going to do it anyway (rebellion would be a good term here). Third is Iniquity, which is “tendencies” or things passed on to us generationally – alcholism, anger issues, etc.

    Living a repentant life denotes a change in behavior which would include learning to listen to God, doing what He says, building a life on the foundations and principles in scripture, finding grace for missing the mark, mercy for our transgressions, and deliverance for our iniquities.

    I agree with you and echo the urgent need to not ignore sin and it’s devestating consequence of our seperation from God. We must repent. I am simply pointing to the fact that we are also charged by Christ with Luke 10:27 (I know I harp on this) to Love God and Love People. That requires that we surrender to God AND grow daily in our faith as community (serving, giving, hearing, obeying, etc.).

    Love ya dude! What do you think?

  6. 5minutes permalink

    I think part of the problem is in definitions here.

    A few years ago, a friend of mine put it in a way that really made sense to me: when Scripture talks about “Sin”, it’s not referring to “bad behavior”. Jesus did not die to free us from bad behavior – if He did, then His death was pretty ineffective in that realm. He died to save us from Sin: the infection, the root core that separates us from God.

    My sins result from my Sin, just as my sniffles and sneezings result from the virus that makes it way through my body. That is the “Sin” I’m referring to. We don’t hear God because we – as humans – are still in active rebellion against God. He is sanctifying us, but the process takes time and won’t be complete until He is.

  7. John Hobbs permalink

    Being a thinker and loving theology I’ve been wanting to jump into the debate. However, now that I’m here I’ll be the practicle one. Theology means nothing til it is fleshed out in our daily relationships whether with God or man.

    I am so gald that when Jesus said, “It is Finshed” on the cross, He meant it in the fullest extent. Everything necessary for my relationship with Him was made fully available to me. This He also places in us through the presence of the Spirit of Christ at the moment we believe. Romans 8:15-16 say the Spirit we receive is not one of bondage and fear but rather a Spirit of adoption where we can call God Abba Father. This Spirit also lets us know deep inside us that we are His children.

    I have now been my (earthly) father’s child for 42 years. I have never feared whether I was His, especially as the older I get I look more like him. However, with each passing year I have grown to know my father better and understand him more. I find now that I have children of my own that I see how I was at their young age. I spent a lot of time asking my father for things as a kid. As I grew up I asked for less and spent more time just talking and listening to him. There are days now when I just call him to hear his voice. Just hearing him reaffirms his love and my identity as his child.

    Why do I share this? God has done everything needed to make us His children. As children of God, He lavishes His love on us through the Holy Spirit. But, children we are. As young children we have a tendency to ask God for a lot of things and make many demands on Him. Isn’t that what kids do? This is not an act of rebellion, its an issue of maturity. Like our children, immature children of God respond to what God does many times based on their needs. As we mature we respond more to who He is out of intimacy. As with my father, my relationship with God matures and I have a greater ability to hear without childish things getting in the way.

    Acts of sin over time can harden our hearts and affect our prayers and our fellowship with God which can include the sense of His presence. And notice I said sense. Though this is a problem many believers have, but shouldn’t, I cannot blame every believers lack of hearing God and sensing His presence on Sin.

    Part of the problem with christians, as I believe Perry Noble points out in his comment and in the context of his sermon, is also this issue of maturity. This is not a new believer thing. This means many long time christians have not matured in their relationship with the Father.

    As a pastor I have people who have been believers for many years but are asking how do you hear God or they do not sense God’s presence. Their prayer lives are filled with requests and demands. Many of them are not in rebellion or acting sinfully. Their need is intimacy with the Father, not repentance.

    I’ll leave you with this, knowing there are many others who read this blog and don’t give a crap about the theology we know, but who want to know how to know the Father.

    1. If you don’t know God the Father, He wants you to. He wants you to know His love.
    2. You can know Him by believing in His Son Jesus who died for you and your sin, which has kept you separated from Him.
    3. If you are a believer and living in sin, it will hinder your witness for Him and your ability to hear His voice. Prolonged sinful behavior will harden your heart and cause you to grieve the Holy Spirit and not heed His conviction. This hurts Him because He loves you. Repent and times of refreshing will come to you.
    4. Pursue growing in your knowledge of Jesus and your intimacy with Him. As you mature in Him you will become more secure in His presence and confidence in His voice.

    Remember, God has secured our destination in Jesus so we can enjoy the journey!

    Much love from a fellow traveler.

  8. higherplace permalink

    Scott, you and I definitely agree. Jesus died to pay the debt I could not pay for my root issue of sin. Amen to the idea that Jesus did not die to free us from behavior, but to pay the penalty for our root issue of sin. Thanks for those thoughts. I think, for me, a better way to start the quote that started this whole thread would be “I believe ONE of the reasons . . .” instead of “the reason”. Of which again I do agree. Now if we want to say that is a product of the root issue of sin, that’s not something I disagree with at all. However, day to day as believers we grapple with behaviors that help and hinder our growth in Christ.

    John! It’s my bro. Thanks for chiming in! Thanks for reminding me that we all as people are at varying levels in our walk with God – from lost, to mature, to everywhere in-between. Thanks for the 4 pointer at the end of your comment! Important stuff.

    Thanks for the comments gang!

  9. 5minutes permalink

    >>I’ll leave you with this, knowing there are many others who
    >>read this blog and don’t give a crap about the theology we
    >>know, but who want to know how to know the Father.

    Great quote.

  10. 5minutes permalink

    I’ll add that I’m halfway between agreement and disagreement with you guys. There’s a part of me that acknowledges that need for us to listen and hear God in a way that’s real, active, and meaningful. It’s this part that looks at the quote and wants to nod in complete and total agreement, stick up a sign in my yard, and vote for Mr. Noble for Pope.

    It’s the other part that holds me back. It’s the part that reminds me that it’s understanding the “Sin” (as opposed to “sins”) part of why we don’t hear God that’s critically important. It’s that part that reminds me that the reason I may not hear God is that the sanctification process isn’t done and that my inability to hear is a problem that will be fixed – eventually.

    At the same time, the whole quote still bugs me quite a bit. Call me the curmudgeon.

  11. higherplace permalink

    The funny thing is I find myself at the same place with you. I agree that we want to make sure that people do understand that “original” sin is our root problem. The only hope for man is the mercy and grace we find in Christ. Without our surrender to Christ we are lost, deaf, hopeless, etc.

    However, I posted the quote in light of the fact that it spoke to me about me. I have been delivered into this relationship with Christ, justified by faith. As I make my journey with Christ, I still need to grow and deal with imperfections and failures in my life. I believe, as my father says, that what we have been delivered into is as important as what we have been delivered from. We have been delivered from sin (lost, without God) and delivered into relationship with God as His children. I have no intention of wallowing in what the Lord has delivered me from, I intend to press on toward the goal – heavenward in Christ Jesus. So, this at times means I will need to make adjustments to my prayer life, serving, giving, thought patterns, habits, etc. because they hinder my relationship with God. If we need to say this is all because of root sin, that’s ok with me. Never-the-less, I want to deal with it – the root and it’s behavioral results.

    As far as putting a sign out for Perry and voting for him to be pope, I’m not sure he’s up for the job. The hat really isn’t becoming.

  12. 5minutes permalink

    The robes help…

    If the quote spoke to your need to focus on God, I’m not going to tell you to ignore it. My issues are primarily with the undercurrent – which I may be reading too much into.

  13. higherplace permalink

    Funny dude, you know . . . the ring is really nice too.

    The truth is though, if we dig, read into . . . prayerfully, then we can discover, be challenged, and grow. I really am thankful for the discussion.

    Hey, it prompted you to think and me as well. Now if we have stinkin’ thinking . . . well that’s another chat. 🙂

    Now how about a question . . . Ok two,

    After conversion, do we still have a sin nature or are we just wrestling with the flesh? Are we new creations with a new nature?

  14. 5minutes permalink

    I would say “yes”.

    Do we have a sin nature? Yes. We are fallen, pitiful creatures who still have a propensity to sin. (Rom 7:14-15)

    Do we wrestle with the flesh? Yes. (2 Cor 12:7-8)

    Are we new creations with a new nature? Yes. (2 Cor 5:16-17)

    All three of these things is absolutely true. We are poor, pitiful, fallen creatures who wrestle continuously with the flesh and the Sin that comes from the fall, who are also new creatures because of Christ and the Work He Did – and is doing.

    It’s the “is doing” part that I think most American Christians miss out on. We tend to think of Christianity from a revivalist standpoint: the “let’s go down to the front of the church and get saved” idea. Unfortunately, this has tended to push us into the idea of momentary salvation, where one moment you are not saved, and the next moment you are.

    This is counter to scripture. We are told to work out our salvation. Why are we told to work it out if it’s a moment in time? Simple: it’s not. It’s an ongoing process of sanctification that we American Christians tend to miss because we’re so caught up in the instant.

    I posted something similar to this at another site and a couple of Catholic and Orthodox brothers sent me e-mails, shocked that I would suggest something along these lines. While I certainly do not agree with Roman or Eastern Orthodox theology, I will give them credit for recognizing that salvation is an ongoing process. This is the “P” in Calvin’s TULIP that so often gets confused for “eternal security”. Perseverance of the Saints is not “a guarantee of salvation no matter what”… it’s a guarantee that the process – which is God-originated and God-driven, will be God-completed.

    This is why we can say “yes” to all those questions: because we are all three of those things. But praise God, we won’t always be.

  15. higherplace permalink

    🙂 I figured I could get you to go TULIP on me eventually! Seriously, I really appreciate your thoughts! Your mention about American Christianity’s “revivalist” view of salvation is a great point and that view point frustrates me. For me, that viewpoint negates one of the great charges to the church from Christ himself – make disciples. I think a post on Western Christianity is in order at some point. There are so many things I would like to address in that regard.

    Although I have a wide variety of church foundations (Methodist, Presbyterian, Charismatic, Pentecostal Holiness, and I’m sure there is some other) I would probably be a little more Armenian than Calvinist. With that being said, I have long since been a supporter of the idea of a process. One of my professors said this, “I was saved (referring to a specific point), I am being saved (sanctification – the process), and ultimately I will be saved (When I go home to be with Christ in heaven). This is actually in support of the original quote that got this whole discussion going. I am working out my salvation (with fear and trembling!). I am working on my prayer life (hearing), I am working on my serving, I am working on . . . well . . . obedience! A growth process.

    Now as far as Limited Atonement . . . he he we won’t go there.

  16. 5minutes permalink

    Don’t make me whomp you with a copy of the Institutes…. 🙂

    I actually hated to bring the TULIP into it, because A) not everyone is a Calvinist; and B) not everyone understands it – including Calvinists. But it was a common element that seems to flow through all aspects of Orthodox, Biblical Christianity.

  17. 5minutes permalink

    And by “it”, I mean “the idea of God preserving us to the end”.

  18. Hey, I would no more make fun of Calvinist than I make fun of myself. Since we have been delivered a marvelous mystery I would never pretend that my ways are higher than your ways. LOL.

    Truthfully, though, I am not fully vested in Calvinism, but I am smart enough to know that much of the TULIP idea gets taken out of context and misunderstood just as any set of doctrinal beliefs do by those who purport to not agree. I am actually a fan of the preservation of the saints (Thank God for it!).

    You know me, I haven’t changed much, I am just (as I wrote in an earlier post on this site) serious about simple faith. The Apostle’s Creed comes to mind here. I take the statements of Christ himself (red letter makes it easy, LOL) as paramount. I understand that there are no amount of works that man can do to earn salvation (total depravity), but post conversion works are huge (James). As I said also in an earlier post, I want Luke 10:27 to define my life.

    You are a smart dude! You know it would be neat, given the misunderstandings many people have about their own Christian church doctrines let alone those of other denominations, to maybe open a POLITE discussion thread about some of the majors. Because of my varied church experience I am actually a hodge-podge of several traditions. I love traditional liturgy and also find great meaning in charismatic worship. I have often dubbed myself a “free-will Calvinist”. Does that make me Armenian or just confused?

  19. 5minutes permalink

    Arminian. Quick lesson:

    Total Inability vs. Total Inability
    We both agree that humans are incapable of coming to God without God getting involved.

    Unconditional vs. Conditional Election
    Both believe in Election. Calvinists believe that God’s choice of us is based on nothing more than God’s Grace. Arminians believe God’s choice is based on our free-will decision to follow Him.

    Limited vs. Unlimited Atonement
    Calvinists believe that Christ’s sacrifice was capable of saving everyone, but was perfect and only effective for those who are Elect. Arminians believe that Christ died for everyone, period (meaning it wasn’t perfect).

    Irresistible vs. Resistible Grace
    Can we refuse God’s Grace? Calvinists say “No, He’s God”. Arminians say “Yes.”

    Perseverance of the Saints vs. Wesleyan Methodism
    Calvinists and non-Wesleyan Arminians believe God will complete His work. Wesleyan Arminians believe that we are responsible for perfecting ourselves.

    You’re welcome.

  20. Thanks for the you’re welcome! You rock. Great breakdown and I think does a great job for those trying to understand the differences. So funny how, as I said earlier, I really am on both sides on the way through. No teams here.

    Simply put, I feel that at the bottom of the issue is a difference in the definition of God’s sovereignty. Is it that Calvinists think if a person can choose to refuse the grace of God then He is not in charge, all powerful, and all knowing? I think an Armenian would argue that God is completely sovereign because the only reason we have a choice is because He chooses to allow it. This also covers the issue of Atonement in that Christ’s sacrifice was perfect in it’s propitiation of God’s wrath and the payment required for sin, but each individual is allowed the choice to Confess and Believe (Romans 10:9,10). In other words, our refusal to surrender to Christ does not control or impact HIS perfection and perfect sacrifice. He is perfect in Himself. Therefore any sacrifice He makes is perfect.

    So it is a question of “does God’s sovereignty mean no one has a choice?” or “is God sovereign and can choose of His own to allow choice?”

    I am sure that this is an “imperfect” (ha ha) look at it, but being that I am a little bit of both that doesn’t help.

    O, by the way, I will pray strongly for those that might feel that they can perfect themselves. It hasn’t worked very well for me. 🙂

  21. 5minutes permalink

    Nor I… and I was Arminian for a loooooooong time.

    This really has less to do with God’s Sovereignty than it has to do with what God has revealed about Himself. Calvinists like formulas and flowcharts, and the TULIP is very much an “if-then” progression. If we’re completely incapable, then we need a God who elects us – and finishes us – without condition in away that we will respond to and in a way that is true to His perfect nature.

    Having said that: I’m having a great evening thinking about the Redemption… thanks to The Shawshank Redemption. And yeah – the “crucified” pose upon the “resurrection” of Andy Dufresne as he comes out the tunnel, freed from the sin of his past (where his simple sin of hatred truly turned to murder). And let me say: it looks B-E-A-Utiful on Blu-Ray.

  22. higherplace permalink

    Eeewwww Formulas and Flowcharts . . .

    God elects (chooses) . . . in a way . . . that we will respond (choice?). I agree.

    Blue Ray – I am jealous. I’m sure that derives straight out of my sin nature!

    I’m one of those with a High Def TV and a regular DVD play . . . sad.

  23. 5minutes permalink

    Well… we’re doing it special. We’re redecorating our living room, which meant out with the old and in with the new. Out: 50-year-old sofa, 15-year-old recliner, 40-year-old endtables and coffee tables, big rack of DVD’s, and an HD-DVD Player (doh!). In: New sofa, new recliner, new rug, new curtains, new tables, 400-disc DVD Changer, and a Blu-Ray player.

    We’re also consolidating some debts and getting one lower interest rate. End result is that we’ll actually be putting out about $60 less per month.

  24. You guys need to come teach some that personal finance decision making to us so I can have Blue Ray.

  25. 5minutes permalink

    That’s probably not a great idea…. Really, we lucked out (aka God Blessed Us). We got our credit about a week before the credit market really tanked.

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