Growing Into God

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All of us must work out our own creeds in life. We must work out our own salvation with diligence. (II Peter 1:10 ) Religion does not begin with lengthy creedal footnotes about God. That is backwards. Religion ends with your statement of belief about God, what you have experienced or found. This then is your creed. Religion begins with a tiny relationship or experience with God. That is the type creed on which you begin your life with God. At the end of your life you know your creed more fully. You have developed a statement of beliefs and findings that is your creed.

Western religion is entirely wrong when it tries to force pages of footnoted creeds out of the many charters on hand in the deep freezers of our different denominational corporations and say, “first you must believe this.” What nonsense! Experience first, doctrines second. Only in your own relationship with God will you find the true statements that come from your experience of the grace of God. That awareness is what starts you and God working together. Experience first; doctrines second.

It does not matter whether the experience of God or grace is dramatic, not dramatic, quiet growth, a suspicion in the night, or some other hint of grace or heaven. When you begin to be aware God lives and to work with a living God in a relationship to deepen yourself and to help or serve others, then that is where your experience of God starts. Experience first, doctrine second. The Apostle may have developed his doctrine but what would have been the case without his experience first. The Apostle’s views came bursting out of his justifying and spreading His experience. His creed came out of His life. His experience started the life long writing of His religious experience or set of beliefs.

I preach Jesus Christ. I can tell you what I have learned, perhaps wrongly, though I think I perceive rightly at times, but I force on you nothing. I see Jesus Christ as the Risen Spirit of God walking earth. But I cannot do your religion for you. Any suggesting they can do so, do lie. You must find Jesus Christ yourself. Some touch of grace may start your experience with God but your final developmental creed may be discerned only at the ending of your life when you have fought the good fight.

Your completed creed, essential truths of faith that you have learned, tested and profited from in your life of faith may turn out differently from others. So what? It is you that God has touched to be His instrument according to the grace given you. “Gifts differ according to the grace that is given to us” (Romans 12: 6) We prophecy according to the proportion of grace we see. Who can lay charge against God’s chosen if they have not heard what without grace, they could not hear? Our minds are limited and our native awareness small.

Often it is said, that certain beliefs are needed in order to be saved. People, I do not take up what is needed to be believed for salvation after you die. I frankly do not know that. Only God does. But I do not think much of the idea you are saved by consenting belief to a cold fact in an ancient creed. I advise you will be saved or judged by God according to the relationship you have had with Him. So have one!

A creed for death has never been my concern. I preach the creed necessary to love God and live! Do you really believe consenting to a thousand Byzantine theological footnotes accomplishes much? Do you really think anyone can start off real belief by agreeing to a thousand creedal footnotes? I am not for salvation through dogma, nor salvation through kowtowing to a literal and magically anointed priestly hierarchy, which is nonsense, pure nonsense, of course.

I say it is possible to grow into God. That is personally important: Growing into God. Begin with a touch of grace, a wisp of glory, not an overfull historic creed but a tiny seed of belief that is enough to start you working with God through co-accomplishment, experimentation, and service for Him. One day you may discover you have quietly grown into God. You may find with John Wesley at times that your heart is “strangely warmed,” or you may feel now and then the Quaker       “inner light,” or the calm Presbyterian confidence in election “once saved, always saved.” You may find Christ in your heart at times. You will recognize Him. Truly, people with Christ at the center of their hearts worry little over doctrines. Knowing Him is a primary source; doctrines about Him are secondary sources. Be still! You will know the difference.


Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.