Monday, November 22, 2010
Today we hear of many "different gospels", or we might say counterfeits of the real thing. Because there is a real thing there can be counterfeit copies, as in the case of counterfeit twenty dollar bills. Satan is a liar and a deceiver, and is able to duplicate all of God's gifts, except "love". As far as I know that is the one thing he doesn't know anything about! Jesus said all he knows about is how to "steal, kill and destroy" (John 10:10). So we can be sure he is behind the different gospels circulating throughout the "church" today.
Jesus used the term "gospel of the Kingdom" in (Matt 4:23-24, 9:35-36, and 24:14) to explain the gospel (good news) that He preached. He explained that it included healing and deliverance from demons, as well as salvation and forgiveness of sin. In chapter 24:14 he states clearly that this gospel of the Kingdom must be preached to every group of people in the world before He can be given clearance from His father to return to receive His Bride, and then "the end will come". So this is the true gospel that we should be hearing from our pulpits, but sad to say it is often a "watered down version" we hear that leaves out sin, the cross and the blood of Christ that cleanses us from sin.
Paul defined the gospel he preached in (1 Cor 15:1-4) in his first letter to the church he had founded in the wicked city of Corinth. In his letter to the church in Rome in (Rom 1:16) he states "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek". I'm sure he was referring to the same gospel of the Kingdom as Jesus was. But only a year later in his second letter to the church in Corinth, I was surprised to read in
(2 Cor 11:3-4) about some false teacher coming to these same believers, and corrupting their minds with a "different spirit", preaching a "different gospel", and presenting "another Jesus" to them. And they believed this false teacher and were deceived! And this only one year after being saved by believing the true gospel that Paul preached! It's almost impossible to believe, but shows clearly the power of deception. If this were possible back then, we better believe the same thing can happen in our day, and indeed has been happening in many parts of the modern 21st century church. Jesus warned us that this would happen. (Matt 24:4,5,11 and 24)!!
Monday, November 15, 2010
Everyone has trouble with temptations of many kinds, while listening to a teaching CD by Bob Mumford recently, this thought came to me. It is tied to a little poem that Bob quoted, which goes like this.
"Tobacco is a dirty weed,
they say it fills no human need,
it makes you thin, it makes you lean,
it takes the hair right off your bean,
But I like it!"
The moral of this silly little poem as I see it, is that we can never be delivered from a habit that we like, even if it is destroying you. I think you can apply this to any evil habit that you might be trying to quit. God has promised us victory over our enemies, but not our friends, or things that we love to do! So if you like some evil habit that you are perhaps even "addicted" to, the only hope of being set free from it, as near as I can see, is to count it as an enemy.
Another fact that I learned from listening to this teaching by Bob, is that what we focus on always enlarges, or expands. In other words if we see a sign like "Wet Paint Do Not Touch", or "Keep Off The Grass", what is the first thing you want to do? Our fallen nature, which has been handed down from Adam, just naturally wants to disobey every restriction placed upon us. If we focus on positive, God honoring things, the scripture from Paul given to the church at Philippi, gives us some good advice. (Phil 4:8-9). Then there is a passage in Paul's letter to the churches in Galatia, recorded in (Gal 5:16-26) that speaks to this same issue. God has provided us with His Holy Spirit, to help us with this struggle with our fleshly nature. A careful reading of these verses point out clearly the difference between the "works of the flesh", and the "fruit of the Spirit". The works of the flesh will result in our failure to enter into our heavenly inheritance, (verse 21). While the fruit of the Spirit will produce in our lives, the character of Jesus Christ. This Is the real 7 fold DNA of God the Father, as outlined in (Exod 34:6-7). These qualities recorded by Moses were God's own self described parts of His very being, 1/ Compassion,
2/ Grace, 3/ Slow to anger, 4/ Merciful, 5/ Truth, 6/ Faithful, and
7/ Forgiving. When Jesus said "I and the Father are one", we know that He came to put a face on the Father, so to speak, since God is a Spirit and is invisible. (John 4:24)!!
Thursday, November 11, 2010
We are all familiar with this expression, which represents the center of a target we might use for target shooting with a gun or a bow and arrow. The goal is always to hit the bull's eye, but we seldom do. (Rom 3:23) tells that "All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God". In other words we have not hit our goal which is always the bull's eye. For us as followers of Jesus, this would be the perfect will of God, or as scripture defines it as "holiness". In (Heb 12:14) we read "Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord". NKJV. I heard of a man who bragged about hitting the bull's eye painted on the side of his barn with an arrow, which he left in place to show his friends. The truth was however that he had first shot the arrow, and then painted the bull's eye around it! In (Prov 14:12) we read "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death". In other words our ways or ideas are not always in line with God's ways!
We might say that God has painted a bull's eye around certain truths, so to speak, and these should be targets for us to aim for as we live our lives as followers of Jesus. God's overall goal is for us to become more like Christ in our behavior day by day. And for this reason He has written His Word as our guide. (2 Tim 3:16-17). We need to read the scriptures daily, and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to us what He gave to the authors who wrote the words they used in the original documents. Remember, whichever English translation we use is some translator's choice of words, and not necessarily always the best choice. That's why we need to check out important passages in other translations, to get the best understanding of the real meaning. Like the believers in Berea did, as recorded in (Acts 17:11). We need to pray "Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth" (Ps 86:11)
We all need to aim at the right target, which God has been faithful to direct the original authors of His Word, to use plain easy to understand words and phrases. Some theologians have complicated God's Word with their theories, which have been accepted by the church as being inspired by God. Some of these theories line up with scripture, but some do not, and have brought a lot of confusion to believers. To borrow a phrase from a recent ODB devotional "When we aim our lives at God's Word, we'll discover that His ways are right on target—every time"!!
Monday, November 8, 2010
HOW TO UNDERSTAND SCRIPTURE
Our Creator God knew we humans would need a standard by which to govern our lives, so He chose certain men to record His Word in print. This written Word of God we call "The Holy Bible", and it is now available in many languages and various translations. The original word was given to these men over a period of many years, and recorded in basically two languages Hebrew and Greek. Because we are mostly dependent on our English translations, we need certain guidelines to follow, to make sure we are getting the exact meaning of what these original writers intended us to know. They were inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Tim 3:16), the same Holy Spirit who indwells us followers of Jesus today, so we should be sure to seek His guidance for the correct understanding of what we read from His Word.
A fairly simple way of understanding scripture came to me from a little booklet called "Understanding Scripture at Face Value". The authors Robert Van Kampen, and Charles Cooper explain face value as "the normal, natural, customary sense of the text intended by the Author/author at the time it was written. This booklet has helped me to understand how the church has been led to believe certain doctrines that are not really based on God's Word. The 5 principles given in this booklet are as follows.
1/ Seek to discover the Author/author's intended meaning. Each and every passage of scripture has only one meaning, although it may have more than one possible application. This meaning was determined by the author at the time of writing, never by the reader!
2/ Recognize the importance of context. Only when we know and understand the context in which a text is written, will we know how the writer intended the passage to be understood.
3/ When ever possible, let scripture interpret scripture. Always interpret difficult passages in the light of clear passages.
4/ Determine the literal reference of figures of speech. A figure of speech is "any deviation either in thought or expression, from the ordinary and simple way of speaking.
5/ Look for near/far implications and applications in prophetic passages. In other words the same scripture may apply to more than one certain time. For example in
(2 Sam 7:5-16) the prophet Nathan's message to King David applied to his son Solomon, as well as to Jesus, who is referred to as the heir of David's throne forever!
If these 5 principles are followed faithfully when studying scripture, be prepared for finding out that many doctrines you have been taught as truth, are really not! In other words, some people have presented their own theories as if they were truth based on God's Word, when if fact they were trying to make the scriptures confirm their theory by putting their own meaning on them. We must never be guilty of doing that! Someone has referred to this as "Experiential Theology", or in other words taking some experience and attempting to find scriptures to support their experience, instead of checking to make sure their experience lines up with scripture! God's Word properly interpreted and understood is "Absolute Truth"!!!
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
I understand that many cell-phones are now "smart phones", to which can be added all kinds of features. You can do almost everything on them that you can do on a computer! These various additions are called "apps", which is short for applications. Most of us may not have a smart phone with lots of apps added to it, but we have something far superior! Our Bible, which is the written Word of God, is readily available to all of us, and contains all the apps we will ever need to meet any situation! These apps are personally made available by our Creator God, through His Holy Spirit, using His Holy Word, to help us solve problems. We don't need the Internet.
Consider certain scriptures like the second chapter of Paul's letter to the church in Philippi for example. In verse 2 we see the "unity app", in verse 3 the "humility app", in verse 14 the "no-grumbling app", in verse 15 the "shine-as-lights app", and so on etc, etc. You get the point, I'm sure! Or take the fifth chapter of Ephesians as another example, the "imitate-God app" (5:1), the "walk-in-love app" (5:2), the "purity app" (5:3) and so on. The book of Proverbs is loaded with apps, as well as many other books in our Bible. So we have no excuse, and don't need to depend on any "smart phone" to live a full active life.
Modern technology has more or less taken over our lives in this 21st century world, and most of it is meant for our benefit. It all helps us do things faster, and easier, but is that necessarily better? It seems the most often used expressions these days refer to time. We never seem to have enough to accomplish what we want to do. Some of us older folks can remember when we seemed to get more done without all the modern technology that we have today. Have the use of "smart phones", and all the other gadgets available today really made our lives better? Or have they only added more stress, and taken time that could be spent searching for answers to our problems in our Bibles? I don't pretend to know the answer, but do have a lot of questions about how much time these modern technologies really save us? Probably the answer is a proper balance in how we make use of the 24 hours that we each have available to us, and how we set our priorities! We read in
(Ps 31:14-15) NKJV "But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say you are my God. My times are in your hand". If this is true, and we know it is because it is His Word, then we have the answer, just trust Him to lead us!!