John Anning


JohnAnning.com
A Philosophical and Theological Perspective of Origins, Grace, and Biblical Faith



© 2017 John Anning   
John Anning Faith
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Philosophy Theology Origins Philosophical Faith and Origins of the Universe Reasoning and Truth
Origons and Faith
Faith and Philosphy

About John Anning — A Testimonial


"I was changed that night - no, exchanged!"


Beginnings
About John Anning
I was born October 4th, 1955. I am the oldest of three. I was fortunate enough, growing up, to be blessed with great parents who loved us enough to keep us in line when we misbehaved. Home life as a child was about as normal as it gets, almost like an episode from "Leave It To Beaver" where situations may have been difficult at times, but always seemed to work out in the end.


Early Inadequacies
Being raised Catholic, I was taught to believe in God and in the Catholic Church as the vanguard of spiritual truth. I was also taught that God's salvation for me was dependent on my actions and obedience, concerning the requirements of the Catholic Church. These are the earliest memories I have of feeling frustrated with my performance. Because I was Catholic, I believed that if the requirements of the Catholic religion were obeyed, that somehow, it would justify me getting into to Heaven. However, it was always more of a hope than an assurance because most of the time, I was disobedient to it's requirements. And, based on my performance (or lack thereof) along the way, even my hopes were severely diminished most of the time.


Why Am I?
I can remember at an early age asking questions about the universe and asking; "Who am I", "Why am I", and "What is my ultimate purpose in life?" I loved thinking about anything that was deep and mysterious. I was always asking "Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How?" I think I made my dad crazy sometimes with all of my philosophical inquiries. Perhaps it was a 60's thing, when it seemed in vogue for everyone to "find themselves". At least people were thinking. And, I think it is healthy to ponder the mysteries of being and purpose. Truth be known, I never did "find myself" in the 60's.


Reasoning and Truth
By time I was a young teenager, I was convinced, by sheer reason, that there was more to the material universe than meets the eye, and that there must be a first cause and purpose for its existence that transcends random naturalistic processes. (I go into detail about this on the "Origins" page) Thanks to my Catholic up-bringing, I was sure that "God" was indeed real, even though, to the contrary, I was taught in the public school system that we owe our existence to self-governing, naturalistic processes of evolution.

I wanted to know the truth about our existence. But, I found that even the word "truth" was a subjective term to some, who claimed that "everyone defines their own truth". I was not satisfied with this definition (and am still not) because there are no "absolutes" or "definitive meaning" to what something "is", or "is not", with this definition of truth. (See the "Philosophy" page for more on "Truth") So, truth, and the search for truth, became very important to me. It will be important to anyone who wants to make any sense out of anything.


Turbulent 20's - Troubles, and More Troubles
My 20's were a very turbulent time for me. To fulfill a need I had—to be more, and to mask the depression I felt due to my inadequacies, "drugs and rock-and-roll" became my way of life for awhile. My focus became more and more about me. And, the more I indulged myself, the more disgusted I became with myself. I can remember the night that I turned 30, asking myself "How much longer I can live like this?". That was the year that my life became unbearable and unmanageable by any self effort or will-power that I possessed.


My Way - A Dead End
Shortly after my 31st birthday (1986), I realized that something had to change in my life. My attitude and behavior was appalling, even by my low standards of morality, and needed to change. So, I made a grand attempt to clean myself up in order to be presentable to God. Yea right. That lasted less than 24 hours and I was right back where I started - still corrupt to the core! This confused me, but at the same time, taught me an important lesson about myself that I never realized before—I was worse off than I had ever imagined. (Isaiah 64:6) For the first time in my life, I tried really hard to be good (by biblical standards) only to learn that the harder I tried to be good, the more I realized that I was not good. My way didn't work! I could not make myself holy and righteous, not even close! I was a total failure in trying to be a good person, by any standard. But what was going to happen in the next few weeks, would transform my life forever!


God's Way - A Live Beginning
On one particular dark October evening in 1986, I became so frustrated with myself, that I decided to take a walk and have a long conversation with God. At first, I did all the talking, asking God many questions about my failures. Since my way failed miserably (for reasons that I now know), I finally admitted defeat in my own efforts, admitting to God that I could do nothing to better myself and asked God if He could do anything. (Rom 5:8) It is very clear to me now, that the Lord allowed my circumstances to get so bad, that I would ultimately ask that question. A few moments later, a revelation came to my mind that was absolutely incredible.. Jesus Christ did it all for me! He revealed Himself to me right then and there, and it was all as clear as crystal. (Mat 16:17), (John 17:6) It was as though a brilliant light had been turned on! In an instant, I understood the purpose of Christ's life, death, and resurrection for me. My new understanding of Jesus Christ was a gift from heaven. (Amos 4:13) I realized that God's way to man, through the gracious and personal revelation of His Son Jesus Christ, who fulfilled all the holy requirements for me, was nothing like my way to God, which was based on "performance based acceptance". I was changed that night - no, exchanged! My iniquities and punishment were transferred to Jesus, and Jesus' righteousness was transferred to me. (2 Cor 5:21) I was given life, when I deserved death!


Faith - The Heavenly Gift
As a result of Christ's life and imputed righteousness that He freely gave to me (1 Cor 1:30), and the Gospel which now resonated with me, (Acts 13:48) it became natural to willingly respond in belief because God changed my nature. (Phil 2:13) I could not, not believe! God's grace was irresistible to me in the sense that I did not want to resist it. My faith was born that night, not because of anything I figured out on my own, or of anything that was a result of my will, (Rom 9:16) but because of God's mercy toward me, despite my ignorant resistance to Him all of my life. (John 6:44) I cannot and will not boast about my faith because even the faith that was developed in me that night was a gracious gift from God. (Rom 12:3) I did not seek Him, He sought me! (Rom 10:20) The grace that God administered to me that night (and continues to administer) was and is free. However, the high cost of my sin (death) did cost Christ His life. He received what I deserved (Death) and gave me what I did not deserve (Life)!. (Eph 2:8,9) I received it willingly because it was too beautiful and irresistible for me to not receive it. I felt the weight of the world removed from my shoulders that night! What an awesome relief!! Thank you Lord!!!


Assurance and Insurance
Because God is omnipotent (all powerful) and omniscient, (all knowing), and given the fact that He sought me when I was not seeking Him, (Rom 3:11) I now enjoy the utmost assurance that He will finish the work that He started in me. (Phil 1:6) And it is God Himself that says that He will make me stand firm in Christ. (2 Cor 1:21)

Finally, I can rest assured that despite my failings, (and my feelings) I have an advocate, Jesus Christ, sitting at the right hand of the Father making intercession on my behalf. (Rom 8:33,34)


Growth - A Grace Walk
Since my conversion in 1986, the Lord has been growing me in stages—sometimes painful stages. Prior to my conversion, the Lord provided me with a great friend who would challenge my thinking regarding spiritual matters. The Lord used this friend to indirectly lead me to Christ and to disciple me along the way in my newfound faith. Just after my conversion, the Lord also provided me with a good bible-believing independent local church, where I could grow and establish relationships with Christians. The pastor of this church was very instrumental in helping me understand what it meant to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This was an important change for me because prior to this, I always thought of Jesus as a stern figurehead rather than a personal friend and advocate. My first year as a believer (the honeymoon stage) was like walking on clouds. It was very cushy and easy to manage. I think this was because of my initial overwhelming love and joy for the Lord as a new believer, that resulted in total surrender to Christ that empowered me, so that anything that was hurled at me was dealt with in His strength and not my own.

However, over time, my theology started to focus on me and my accomplishments, rather than on Him and His accomplishments. Flesh will do this. That's where my grace walk started to falter. Legalism and self righteousness crept in and life became a struggle again. I quickly found myself "burned-out" from all of the "doing" in what little strength that I possessed. Somehow, over time, I adopted a theological doctrine that was more focused on the abilities and responsibilities of man rather than on the sovereignty, grace, and power of God.

By the grace of God, as I studied the Scriptures more intently, I became more and more aware of God's sovereign providence in directing human affairs and decisions. This led me to an understanding of God's sovereignty and strength and on His holy purposes and ways, instead of mine. Little by little, I shifted my theology from a non-reformed view to a reformed view of God's sovereign election, (Eph 1:4-6) and to a view of God's grace that conquers even resistance and unbelief in a man's heart, (Rom 3:12) like the grace that God administered to me in the beginning. I did not seek Him, but rather, He sought me! (Rom 10:20) I need to always remember this and continue to always give God the glory for it.


Labels
I am not ashamed to bear the label "Calvinist" regarding the "reformed view of election" (which I believe to be the correct biblical view). However, let me be clear about this; I am not a follower of John Calvin, Martin Luther, John Edwards, Augustine, John Piper, John Mac Arthur, R. C. Sproul, or anyone else who may have written brilliant works, but rather a follower of Jesus Christ. I am Christian first and foremost and am not ashamed to wear that label. (1 Pet 4:16) I believe in my heart that these fine men, for the most part, preach what Paul preached, and what Jesus taught regarding God's sovereign elect and His irresistible grace, but men are fallible, still affected by flesh. Mistakes are made in the presuppositions that we develop outside of Scripture and sometimes even inside of Scriptures if we interpret them to accommodate our own dogmatic views.

I am a "5-Point Calvinist", not because I follow John Calvin, or that I agree with everything that John Calvin taught, but because I believe that the reformed view of election is the biblical view of God's grace administered to a corrupt and fallen mankind who cannot receive salvation apart from God's divine invitation and intervention.

Our only reliable source, regarding the matter of God's work of redemption, are the Holy Scriptures themselves. I realize that the Scriptures are interpreted differently, which will influence one's doctrinal view to some degree. But all too often, I find that one's doctrinal view has become the presupposition by which one interprets the Scriptures, rather than allowing the Scriptures to interpret themselves. This is where error and heresies enter the Church, and usually, where a secular, self focused view of man's part and credit in his election have their basis.

Ever since I discovered God's mighty and sovereign hand in the matters of men and what He did to secure them (and me), I have also discovered His amazing grace and an unfaltering security in His power of perseverance regarding those who belong to Him. (2 Cor 5:5)


Eternity - See You There?
I look forward to being united with all of God's children (my brothers and sisters in Christ) in the eternity to come. It will be an experience that we can't even imagine in our finite thinking. So, I dare not even attempt to describe it creatively without taking the risk of doing it a gross injustice

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord, and you believe in your heart that He was raised from the dead, then you too will spend your eternity with God. (Rom 10:9) And if you have confessed Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you can be assured that God was in it and enabled you to see and receive Him by divine invitation. (Acts 13:48)


Final Exaltations
For those reading this that have not believed in and received Jesus Christ as personal Savior, I pray that God, in His mercy and divine invitation, has included you to be part of His family. I pray that He will open your eyes and heart to the Gospel of salvation, either directly or by proxy, using someone in your life that He has sent to you as His witness. I pray that God, in His loving mercy, will reveal Himself in such a powerful way, that you will come to Him willingly, without reservation. And finally, I pray that this is the day it happens, because every moment with the Lord is a precious jewel of life, and every moment without the Lord is a living death.