Posts Tagged ‘Word of God

12
Aug
14

Riots are NEVER a good thing

A few blocks from where I once worked selling cars in Ferguson, Missouri, a young man was shot and killed by a policeman which in turn has triggered ongoing and increasingly violent riots in the whole St. Louis area. Demonstrations are perfectly legal and entirely understandable but rioting, stealing, looting and destroying property is NOT.

It is interesting that the things going on in my area are the very things brought up and prohibited in the New Testament. Obviously the idea of people using a situation to justify rioting is not a modern phenomenon for it has been a part of cultures for thousands of years.

We need look no further than the mob action relating to the apprehension, “trial” and sentencing of Jesus to see that when leaders (especially religious leaders) stir up the people into a frenzy, the results are predictable and unpleasant. Is it not possible that the reason Pilate gave into the demands of the people to crucify Jesus was his fear that if he did not, the people would break through the Romans guards and crucify him?

On more than one occasion, the Apostle Paul was caught in public riots that nearly cost him his life. In Acts 19, while Paul was at Ephesus, people upset with losing money making idols of the goddess Diana, caused a riot that would have killed Paul if the disciples had not restrained him and safely took him away from the upheaval. An excellent definition of a mob is recorded in Acts 19:32 where it says:

Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused: and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.

Most people who participate in a riot have no clue why they are rioting. The confusion of the situation leads to lack of communication which in turn leads to clamor and mass destruction. While in Jerusalem, Paul went to the temple to purify himself in Acts 21. What happened next defines a riot and almost claimed Paul’s life:

26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.

27 And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him,

28 Crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place.

29 (For they had seen before with him in the city Trophimus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.)

30 And all the city was moved, and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and drew him out of the temple: and forthwith the doors were shut.

31 And as they went about to kill him, tidings came unto the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in an uproar.

32 Who immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down unto them: and when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers, they left beating of Paul.

33 Then the chief captain came near, and took him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and demanded who he was, and what he had done.

34 And some cried one thing, some another, among the multitude: and when he could not know the certainty for the tumult, he commanded him to be carried into the castle.

35 And when he came upon the stairs, so it was, that he was borne of the soldiers for the violence of the people.

Acts 21:26-35

Mob action is dangerous and many times leads to a full blown riot. A riot is a violent disturbance where angry and out of control people damage property and physically injure others. Rioting, reveling, clamoring etc are specifically forbidden numerous places in both Paul’s and Peter’s epistles. God’s people should NEVER be lured into a riot or mob action. There is absolutely no justification for anyone claiming to know and love God to participate, incite or take pleasure in anything resembling a riot.

My heart aches for what is happening in the St. Louis area for innocent and gullible people are being lured into doing things both illegal and dangerous. I pray that calmer heads prevail and the vultures descending on the area from other states fail in their attempts to incite the people to even more dangerous and damaging actions.

06
Aug
13

Reaching out with the love of Christ to a dying and lying world

My heart aches as I think of and pray for numerous people in various stages of cancer diagnosis, treatment or follow-up. It is incredible how many people are directly or indirectly impacted by this horrible disease. Added together, the amount of time, effort and money spent to monitor and treat various cancers is staggering.

My heart aches as I think of and pray for numerous people facing battles that are testing and trying their faith. So many people are afflicted with pressure in their lives due to financial and other issues. So many people are firmly entangled in the various elements of oppression and depression. Situations that arise and will not quit leave a person tired, worn out and vulnerable.

My heart aches as I think of and pray for numerous people firmly in the grasp of oppressive powers intent on making and keeping them slaves. Those who have sold their bodies or minds to others for the sake of financial security are in reality slaves to whom they sold out to. Once caught, very few people ever escape from the imprisonment of their choices and corresponding obligations.

Never in the history of this world have things appeared so good on the outside but so rotten on the inside. At first glance, the world seems to be buzzing along doing better than ever. At first glance, people seem to be content, happy, satisfied and well taken care of. But are they really what they project?

Under the surface of the pretty facade so many put up are unhappy, dissatisfied and restless people worried about what tomorrow will bring and what they did yesterday. Locked in the prisons of their own minds, they become experts at looking good to hide the inner turmoil, unrest, guilt and fears that eat them from the inside out just as cancer does in the human body.

Subdivisions and communities are full of people who outwardly appear to have it together and happily are living the American (or any other country’s) dream. Behind the walls of their mini mansions and within the confines of their own minds, these people are tormented day and night by unanswered questions, regrets about the past, guilt for things done or said and fears about what tomorrow may bring.

Lying underneath the smooth exterior people project are truly troubled individuals. Hidden out of view of prying eyes are questions, temptations, battles and doubts that drive people mad. How many millions of people resort to drugs or alcohol to subdue the demons afflicting them? How many people run to every distraction this world offers in hope of finding an ounce of peace and comfort?

Without Jesus Christ there is no peace. Without God there are no answers. Without the Word of God there is no hope. Without the fellowship of believers there is no way to withstand the onslaught of all that seeks to derail and destroy the faith by which we live.

There is a whole world out there diseased and dying; waiting for someone to care enough to help them out of the nightmare they call life. Let us pray to be Ambassadors for Christ willing and able to reach out with His love to those hurting and teetering on the edge of spiritual oblivion.

24
Jul
13

THE Word of God

I am and remain absolutely committed to the integrity of the Word of God. What God has said in His Word is the truth as far as I am concerned. All things must be measured according to the standard set in God’s Word. Anything that contradicts, belittles or compromises the integrity of what God has said in His Word is nothing more than personal opinions, myths and flat out lies
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I believe there are many things not recorded in God’s Word, for as Jesus said, if they were there would not be enough books on earth to hold it all. But, what IS written in the Word of God is in fact the will of God revealed for all to see and live by. In other words, I believe that it is possible for God to speak His Word outside of what is written, but that which is written is absolutely the Word of God.

Over my lifetime, I have witnessed the degrading and diminishing of the influence of the Word of God both culturally as well as within the church. The Word of God has been taken out of day by day living and except for an occasional “fish sign” or cross, there are few things in our culture that are Godly. Television, movies, books, music and art have all been scrubbed references to the one true God, His Son Jesus Christ and His glorious Word from their material.

Within the church there has been a slow erosion of respect for and proclamation of the living Word of God. Very few people still bring their Bible to church anymore. Sure there are huge screens with the verses on them, but those screens will never replace the feel of having God’s Word in your hands. In far too many cases, the church has chosen to de-emphasize and water down the Word of God so as to not offend anyone. By doing this, they succeed in offending God.

The Word of God is not just another book on the shelf. The Word of God is not a nice collection of stories that provide fodder for some new television series. The Word of God is in fact the revelation of everything that is important to God in relation to His will for us. If we desire to know the will of God we must know and understand His Word for therein is His eternal will revealed.

Do I worship the Bible? God forbid. Do I think the Bible is more important that Jesus Christ? God forbid. Do I think the Bible is infallible? God forbid. Do I believe the WORD OF GOD is perfect? Absolutely and undeniably.

I have devoted more than two thirds of my life to learning, speaking and living God’s Word. There is no way to remove the Word of God from my life for it is as much a part of me as my heart, brain or blood. I am not ashamed of these things but rather I thank God that in these uncertain times, I have the rock of truth to not only hold onto but to nourish and sustain me.

03
Jun
13

God was, is and always will be faithful

As any of you who read my blogs on a regular basis know, I am a great believer in the grace, mercy and love of God because these attributes of God are mentioned time and again in the New Testament. None of us would be alive if it were not for God’s grace. None of us would have an eternity to look forward to with God if not for God’s mercy. None of us would even be here except for the love of God.

Having said these things, there is another aspect of God that is just as important to understand as His grace, mercy and love. As great as these things are, and they are GREAT, they would be meaningless except for the faithfulness of God. The term “God is faithful” (or some variation of it) is used many times in the Bible, especially in the Psalms and Paul’s epistles.

Here is a partial list of the references in Psalms if you want to spend a few minutes looking them up and getting a general idea of the context regarding God’s faithfulness;

Psalms 33:4, 36:5, 86:15, 89:1, 89:8, 91:3-6, 92:1-3, 108:4, 115:1, and 143:1

Certainly it is significant that David would write about the faithfulness of God so many times. David knew God better than anyone and no matter what situation David found himself in, he took comfort in knowing that “God is faithful”. Without a deeply held belief in the faithfulness of God, it is impossible to consistently believe in the promises of God in our lives.

To believe in the integrity of the Word of God, that His Word is true and can be trusted, we must know and believe that God is faithful and that He will not renege on His Word or forget to perform it. Creation has survived the test of time because God is faithful. God’s Word has survived the test of time because God is faithful to do what He has promised.

In the New Testament, the phrase “God is faithful” can be found in:

Romans 3:3-4, 1 Corinthians 1:9, 1 Corinthians 10:13, 2 Corinthians 1:18, 1 Thessalonians 5:24, Hebrews 10:23 and 1John 1:9

Perhaps the most humbling chapter in the New Testament relating to being a leader in the Church is 2 Timothy 2. Within this chapter there are three verses that sum up the full scope of why it is so important to understand that God is faithful. Please look closely at 2 Timothy 2:11-13 from the Amplified Bible (copyright 1954, 58, 62, 64, 65 and 87; by Lockman Foundation)

“The saying is sure and worthy of confidence: If we have died with Him, we shall also live with Him.

12 If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny and disown and reject Him, He will also deny and disown and reject us.

13 If we are faithless [do not believe and are untrue to Him], He remains true (faithful to His Word and His righteous character), for He cannot deny Himself.”

Sometimes allowing the Word of God to speak for itself is best and these verses bear that statement out. Regardless of whether we remain faithful to God or not, God remains true because He cannot deny Himself. I leave you with a quote from Charles Haddon Spurgeon:

“Through the ages, our God has had billions of people to deal with. Yet there does not stand under heaven’s cover, or above the stars, or in hell itself a single soul who can say that God is not absolutely faithful. No item in the list of our divine promises is unfulfilled. God remembers every promise that He ever made, and He honors each in the experience of those who believe in Him. They who trust in the Lord will find Him faithful, not only in great things, but also in little things. His faintest word will stand firm and steadfast. His least truth will never grow dim. The glory of God’s faithfulness is that no sin of ours has ever made Him unfaithful. Unbelief is a damning thing, yet even when we do not believe, God is faithful.”

09
May
13

The whole and complete Word of God

In early 2004 I was snapped out of the lethargy that I had sunk into due to never ending physical problems I endured between 1997 and 2003. I did something I had never done, and then did it again, and again and again and again. That “something” was to read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation with no preconceived ideas. It was very difficult to not read into sections of the Bible what I had been taught or believed for many years. But, I knew I had to let the Word of God speak and have the open heart to receive what it said and believe it.

Each time I read a different version so I could glean more from what I was reading. Without a doubt, the most difficult time was when I used the Tanakh, the most enlightening was the Septuagint, the most educational were the Amplified Bible and the NIV Study Bible, and the most enjoyable was the NLV. Each of these versions or translations (plus the ones I cannot remember right now) helped me get a better feel for the Bible and helped me stitch the whole Bible together like a giant quilt in my heart and mind.

This project of reading and re-reading the Bible over and over again lasted for about 3 years until I devoted my time to diligently working sections in Jeremiah and Ezekiel as I was studying the phrase “Day of the Lord”. What I learned by reading the Bible cover to cover over and over was that since the creation of the heavens and earth, God had a dream and a plan. He has had to adjust this “plan of the ages” innumerable times due to man’s sin but God will never has changed.

After reading and re-reading the Bible so many times, I am absolutely convinced there are dispensations in the Bible. These sections of history are somewhat like the administrations of leaders of a country. In that sense they could be called “administrations”. Each administration is different than the one before and each has a different emphasis along with things that pertain to only that administration.

In the beginning was the original or paradise administration that lasted until Adam and Eve sinned. Throughout Genesis was the administration of unwritten law. Moses ushered in the administration of The Law which lasted until Christ started His ministry. For the few short years Jesus preached on this earth, it was the Christ administration which lasted until the Day of Pentecost when the grace administration started and continues unto this day. The next administration is when Christ returns to gather together His church and after He does, the administration of the wrath of God upon this world commences. Finally after the second coming of Christ, the administration of eternal paradise reigns forever.

I realize that the number of people who believe in the idea of administrations in the Bible are very few. I understand that the vast majority of Christians want no part of this kooky theology. I am painfully aware of the intense ridicule heaped upon anyone crazy enough to believe the Bible could be divided into administrations. In spite of these things, I cannot deny that there is no other way to understand the whole Bible than to break it down into administrations.

Anyone who believes in dispensations also believes that certain sections of the Bible are written to those who live in that dispensation. Thus, The Law was for God’s people at the time which was Israel. Grace defines the age of the Church of the One Body where there is no longer Jew of Gentile. The Book of Revelation along with numerous prophesies in the Old Testament are written for those who must live through the Great Tribulation.

Lest this turn into a book, I must stop and see how much damage I have done in writing this. Certainly my intent was not to arouse anger but I know many who read this will be very angry. For anyone who is, I pray you at least ponder the idea that the Bible is the whole and complete Word of God for all people who have lived, regardless of the time and place and there must be things written in the Word of God for each era in which people lived that put together represent the whole and complete Word of God.

01
May
13

Resolving apparant contradictions in Scripture

I have so many Biblical research books in my possession it astounds me. I have highly technical Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek books (which ironic since I don’t know any of those languages beyond a casual acquaintance). I have numerous concordances, lexicons and more translations of the Bible than I can remember. I have commentaries, dictionaries and books that deal with grammar and syntax.

Why do I have all these books? Because at different times in my life the hunger to fully understand the Word of God was so strong it surpassed the financial logic which would normally deter a person from spending the amount of money these books cost to purchase. Why do I have all these books? Because of my dogged determination to locate and eradicate any and all apparent contradictions in the Bible as well as my burning desire to know, understand and comprehend the length, depth, breadth and height of God and His love expressed through His Son Jesus Christ.

I am NOT a scholar and I am definitely not a theologian. I have only an Associate of Theology degree and lack the intellectual and technical skills to be anything more than an “ignorant and unlearned” man who desires only to see how the whole Word of God fits together and the specifics of what pertains to us today so I can be and do my best for my Lord and my God.

I believe with every fiber of my heart that THE WORD OF GOD is perfect. I believe that THE WORD OF GOD is inspired by God (literally “God breathed”) and is the manifestation of God’s will for mankind and for His people. I believe that Jesus Christ was THE WORD OF GOD in the flesh and the written Word is THE WORD OF GOD in written form. Both are the logos which is simply THE WORD OF GOD.

What we have in the King James Version, NIV, NLV or any other translation or version of the Bible is NOT perfect. The original God breathed WORD OF GOD is that which has no contradictions. Where is this WORD OF GOD? I believe it is found in ancient texts that were written thousands of years ago by holy men as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

Over time, as scribes copied and translated THE WORD OF GOD, mistakes crept in and errors in translations began to appear. I believe that any and all apparent contradictions in the Bible are due to either wrong translation from the original language or problems with our understanding. I further believe that if we can research the Bible through trying to get back to the original (in both language and understanding), we can come close to finding that perfect WORD OF GOD.

Unfortunately, there have been occasions when scribes altered the original text and either by mistake or deliberate forgery, altered what the Word of God appears to say and mean. I can think of numerous times the translators of the King James Version translated a Greek incorrectly and in so doing, dramatically altered the understanding of a verse or theology as a whole.

Although I no longer spend much time researching the Bible, I still occasionally will pull out the books and seek to track down an obvious mistake in translation or get a better understanding of a word or concept found in a verse or chapter. To me, this is part of being a good workman of the Word of God. To me, this is what it takes to search the Scriptures to see if these things are so, as the Berean believers did in Acts.

In conclusion let me say that although I fully understand the critical remarks made about me not believing the whole Word of God is THE WORD OF GOD, it still hurts me because of the nearly 45 years I have spent trying to understand and apply the principles that allow the truth of THE WORD OF GOD to speak loud and clear. Perhaps if you keep reading these blogs you will see what a daunting task it is to honestly research and understand the whole WORD OF GOD.

25
Apr
13

Legalism vs grace; the battle rages on and on and on

The battle between legalism and grace has raged in the Church since the First Century. The Jewish Christians wanted to retain elements of The Law while the Gentile Christians desired none of The Law. The apostle Paul pulled his hair out trying to preserve the unity of faith in the bond of peace, but the legalistic influence was so strong it prevailed in most areas in the end.

Paul spends an entire epistle (Galatians) trying to reason with and persuade the Galatians to wake up and understand what Jesus Christ did and accomplished through His death and resurrection. At the counsel in Acts 15 the men involved almost came to blows over the wording of an official proclamation regarding this subject. The arguments were passionate on both sides of the aisle.

Each of the original 12 apostles were Jewish converts to Christianity. Each one of them must have grappled with this subject most of their lives. They were raised under The Law but they knew what Jesus had taught them and thus they had to know something profound was taking place. They had to have known that whatever it was, it would make their old legalistic religion undesirable and unnecessary.

When Jesus Himself personally called Saul on the road to Damascus, He specifically ordained him to be the minister to the Gentiles. Saul, who became Paul, was himself a Jew above all Jews and the idea of preaching to and being a pastor to the Gentiles had to have utterly repulsed him. If it were not for the personal prodding of Jesus along with the time he spent alone in the wilderness, Paul would have rejected the idea as pure heresy and told Jesus to choose someone else.

Paul did indeed become the minister to the Gentiles just as the original apostles were ministers to the Jews who became Christians. Paul’s ministry took him to Asia Minor, Macedonia and Rome among others. Paul’s message (preserved for us in his epistles) is dramatically different than the message of James, Jude and even Peter whose ministry was to Jewish believers.

The Jews hated Paul as much as Paul used to hate Christians. They followed him, mocked him, beat him and thought they had killed him. They believed that if they could kill the messenger of grace they would kill the message. The legalistic tap root runs deep and is not easily modified or destroyed.

Although a miniscule number of Christians believe it, if we would concentrate on the epistles of Paul which are addressed to those with Gentile backgrounds we would see the unmistakable foundation of grace as opposed to a legalistic tap root. Assuming Paul wrote the epistle of Hebrews (no one knows for sure), it represents his final attempt to convince legalistic Jewish born Christians that grace did away with animal sacrifices and all other elements of the law when it comes to remission of sins etc.

There is no question that what is recorded in Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians is very different than what is found in Hebrews, James, Jude and to some extent 1 and 2 Peter. Put together all these epistles are the Word of God, but we would spare ourselves much confusion and turmoil if we looked at those sections of the Word of God specifically addressed TO US as being FOR US and the other sections as being FOR OUR LEARNING.