A question that I have been asked is why did I choose to stop blogging? Much has occurred in my life during the past two years. When I blogged under the name The Emissary, I was a single, graduate student looking to use my blog as a means to call professing believers to holiness. Today, I am a husband and a father looking to use my current blog as a means to proclaim the sufficiency of the gospel in all areas of spiritual life. About 2 years ago, I stopped blogging for two primary reasons: the hypocrisy of my spiritual life and the disappointment in blogging.
God Removes My Blindness
During most of my Christian life, I adhered to what I would call the “doctrine of holiness” – the view that the holiness of the believer justifies the believer before God. Because of this view, I spoke strongly and emphasized the need for personal holiness in the life of each professing Christian and how “without holiness, no one will see the Lord” (cf. Hebrews 12:14). When I blogged under the name The Emissary, I spoke harshly concerning the prosperity gospel, the danger of comfortable living, and the dangers of selfish ambition. Eventually, there became a point where my personal holiness became my confidence to approach God (although I would never admit this openly or vocally). However, when I admitted this in my heart, then God, in His sanctifying love, began to remove the blinders off my eyes.
Through His word, God emphasized the reality of the absolute holiness of God and the sinfulness of man. Interestingly enough, this was a message that I had learned from my early Christian days, but the reality is that I did not apply this standard to myself. I realized that I had an overestimated view of my holiness and an underestimated view of God’s holiness. In essence, my trust in my personal holiness diminished my view of the absolute holiness of God and caused me to develop a lower view of sin. In seeing this hypocrisy in my life, I decided to stop blogging and to ask myself some basic questions: if I maintain scripture’s standards concerning the holiness of God, on what basis can I approach God? Is it based on the subjective work of my personal holiness or in the objective work of Christ? In my background, I was taught that it was based on both – namely, justification by faith in Christ and ongoing sanctification. The dilemma that I faced was that if I hold that I’m justified before God on the basis of faith in Christ’s work and on the basis of my work of personal sanctification, then ultimately it is still up to my performance to approve me before God. Something was obviously missing in my understanding, and I knew that it was in my understanding of the gospel.
Journey Back to the Gospel
The answer to these questions largely came from two passages of scripture: Romans 3:19-28 and Hebrews 10:10-22. Romans 3:19-28 is the quintessential passage on the issue of justification by faith. From this passage, I became convinced that justification (and thus, my standing before God) is a free gift of God’s grace. For me, this meant that my good days of performance cannot place me in a better standing before God than my bad days. Although this is a simple point to most people, walking this basic truth out directly challenged my previous doctrine of holiness. If I attempt to relate to and approach a holy God solely with the works of my sinful hands, then the only response will be condemnation. However, if I come to God on the basis of the work of Christ, then the gift that I receive is justification. If I cleave to the hope of the gospel, then there is no condemnation; however, if I move away from the hope of the gospel by seeking my own righteousness, then condemnation is the just penalty that I will receive. I also became convinced that propitiation is a work of God, not my work. If Christ fully drunk the cup of God’s wrath (cf. John 18:11) on my behalf, this must imply that God’s righteous wrath must be spent on Christ and thus, there is no longer a basis of God’s wrath.
Hebrews 10:10-22 gave me more strong confidence to approach the Father. In this passage, we see Jesus as our great high priest who is a perfect and complete Savior. His sacrifice fully and completely atones for our sins for all time. This not only refers to my past sins, but also to my present sins and future sins, “for by a single offering, He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” (cf. Hebrews 10:14). Based on the argument of this passage, it is on this basis (the perfect and complete sacrifice of Christ) that I can draw near to God (cf. Hebrews 10:19-22). Once again, this goes directly against my doctrine of holiness where my performance provided me confidence to approach God.
As I began to search the scriptures more concerning the riches of the gospel, I began to see the faultiness of my own spiritual beliefs. First, I began to see how man-centered my spiritual life truly was. Instead of seeing how God is pursuing His glory in His work of redemption (cf. Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14), I was constantly inwardly focused towards myself and the development of my holiness. Instead of seeing my security and acceptance before God as a part of the triune working of God in redemption (cf. John 6:37-39 and Ephesians 1:13), I only saw my performance as my acceptance before God. This had the appearance of humility and spirituality, but it was only a façade because it wasn’t based upon the gospel; rather, it was based upon man-made spirituality. Second, as I began to look at the previous blog articles that I wrote, I came to a haunting realization:
I’m not preaching the gospel and exalting Christ; I’m preaching performance-driven moralism!
It was this point that caused me to abandon my doctrine of holiness and rejoice in the truth of the gospel: full salvation is in Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone, and to the glory of God alone.
Disappointment in Blogging
Even after realizing the errors in my own beliefs and with a passionate awakening to the riches of the gospel, I did not immediately continue blogging because I also believed that I had failed at blogging. Even though I poured out my heart and soul on my blogs, I noticed that very few people had ever read my blogs. I eventually became irritated by this and I figured why write anything if no one ever reads it. I was confronted with the error of my thinking as my wife and I began to read through the Prophets. Both the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah were commissioned to proclaim a message that no one would respond to. According to my standard, they would have been considered failures, but God appointed His prophets to speak His word. The success of the prophets was not based on the number of people who heeded the message, but it was based on the faithfulness by which the prophets spoke the Word of God. This conviction convinced me that even if my blog doesn’t receive much attention, my success is based on the faithfulness by which I continue to proclaim the gospel and the whole counsel of God. Therefore, my aim is to be a faithful steward and witness of what God has given me and trust that He will use it however He sees fit. In this way, God receives the maximum glory for using the simple means of the gospel to accomplish His purposes.