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To Christian Teachers…

But I say unto you, That every idle (inactive, useless) word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. (Matthew 12:36)

 For the word of God is living and active (opposite of “idle”) and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

 What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. (Matthew 10:27)

 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God…that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ… (1 Peter 4:11)

 Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well. (James 3:1,2)

Those who teach God’s people in one way or another need to be very careful.  The “idle” words Jesus mentions are simply words that aren’t filled with and produced by God’s life, but come from another source.  They may sound very good or very religious, but that doesn’t matter at all.  Take this seriously!  If you really want to know God, some resource’s I’d recommend to start with are: scentofwaterministries.typepad.com, marketstreetfellowship.com, hallvworthington.com, watchman nee, and of course the Bible, with a humble heart that is willing to change and learn and conform to truth, no matter the cost.  : )

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Love’s Pursuit and Promise

“He who has my commandments and keeps them is the one who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and will disclose myself to him.” -Jesus

For some reason (I think fear), Christianity seems obsessed with behavior, particularly with avoiding what it sees as bad behavior.  Is this reflective of the desires of God’s heart?  Is God’s ultimate goal to have a world of well-behaved people?  I say it’s not nearly that shallow.  I think what God is after is love.  I want to look closer at what love is and how Jesus said it fits into relationship with he and his Father. 

In John 14, Jesus says that if someone loves him, they will keep his commandments (v. 15) and his word (v.23).  This basically means they will pursue relationship with him (his word) and honor him as Lord (his commandments).  He also says that the one who keeps (present-tense) his commandments loves him.  The word “keep” in Greek has the idea of guarding, attending to, and preserving.  So it’s not merely doing his word, it’s cherishing it.  You can try to obey Jesus’ statements in the Bible without loving him.  But you can’t “keep” his word in the true sense of seeking and cherishing it without love.  

I see a cycle: love produces a cherishing of his commandments/word, and cherishing his commandments/word demonstrates love.  This cycle is energized by love and produces love.  Love is the foundational requirement, the qualification for truly knowing Jesus, because Jesus reveals himself only to those who love him,  as the verse at the top shows.  If he doesn’t reveal himself, you can’t know him.

I believe an essential component of love could be called “selfless pursuit.”  Love in a relationship is shown in pursuit of the other in every good sense, without any selfish focus. If you love and cherish something, you will seek it and think of it constantly.  Thrill seekers love adrenaline rushes, pursuing and thinking of them constantly.  According to Jesus, those who love him will similarly seek to hear and keep his words, because they love him and he is their Lord.  

Jesus knew that it would be difficult to learn to hear his voice and to keep his words, so he warned us ahead of time that it would be very hard and costly in many ways.  But he gave us a wonderful promise in John 14:23: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.”  For those who love Jesus and his Father, that is worth any price.  

Examine yourself, as I am examining myself.  If we don’t cherish and seek to obey Jesus’ words, we don’t love him.  And if we don’t love him, we won’t be seeking him.  What a profound idea, which I probably barely scratched the surface of! 

God bless you.

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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What is Faith?

Scripture declares that there is no  righteousness (right relationship) or justification (“legal” innocence) before God apart from faith, as shown in the scriptures below.  If this is the case, then we better understand what faith is.  In my last post, I wrote that faith is a “divine persuasion” or “spiritual sight.”  I think the concept deserves a fuller examination.  (Note: As I’ve written this post, I’ve realized it was arrogant of me to assume I could completely explain this divine concept in ~900 words.  Maybe there will be a part 2 sometime).

  • (Galatians 2:16): “…nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of Law but through the faith of Christ Jesus…”

The Greek word for “faith” is pistis, which basically means “a persuasion.”  This thing we call faith is, in scripture, a spiritual substance, a gift that only comes from God Himself:

  • (1 Corinthians 12: 7,9):  But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the spirit…to another faith by the same spirit…” 
  • (Galatians 5:22) “And the fruit of the Spirit is: Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith…”
  • (Ephesians 2:8) “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God…”
  • (Romans 12:3) “…think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.”

When scripture says we are to have faith “in” Jesus Christ, as it does in several places, the literal translation is often “the faith of” Jesus Christ or God the Father.  This shows faith is not something that one owns and can use as they wish.  Faith “of” something indicates this faith originates with the object of faith and is a part of that person or thing – in this case, God.  Scripture confirms this.

In my opinion, two of the most enlightening Biblical scriptures that deal with what faith actually is are Hebrews 11:1 and Romans 10:17.

  • (Hebrews 11:1) “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  Here’s this verse in the “Amplified” version: (Hebrews 11:1) “Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].
  • (Romans 10:17) “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”

Faith comes, Romans 10:17 says, when a person HEARS (not reads) the “Word of Christ,” or in other translations, the “Word of God.”  This “word” isn’t the Bible, it’s God’s spiritual voice, His divine expression.  When this expression is truly heard, faith is born.

In Hebrews 11:1, the word for “substance” of things hoped for is hupostasis.  “Hupo” means “under,” and “stasis” means “to stand.”  It refers to a foundation, that which “stands under” and supports something.  In Hebrews 11:1, faith is the foundation that supports and guarantees that which we hope for, as well as the conviction of the reality of things we can’t sense by our human faculties.  A more thorough look at this concept can be found at http://hopefaithprayer.com/faith/faith-is-hebrews-111-hupostasis/

Combining these two verses with what we know, one could say: “Faith is a seeing and conviction of things which can’t be perceived with human senses.  Faith is the underlying foundation and assurance of things hoped for.  It is given by God and comes from hearing God’s voice.  This means faith is essentially a spiritual dynamic, because the spirit of man is the part beneath the human senses and mind, and faith is a spiritual gift from God, who is Himself a spirit and can only be known in spirit (John 4:24) “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”  (John 17:17): “Sanctify them through the truth; your (Father) word is truth.”

This is partly why I’ve said faith is “spiritual sight.”  It’s a God-given gift, placed deep in one’s spirit, an assurance of things we hope for (which are real) and conviction of the reality of things that we don’t perceive with our human senses.  It is deep within us, beneath the soulish realm of our feelings and human senses and logic.  It resides within our spirit.  This is why we can believe and be assured of something that we can’t really understand or explain logically.  By faith, we “see” them spiritually.

This is how, as Paul said, we can “…walk by faith, not by sight.” To do this is to base one’s life and behavior by the spiritual perception and assurance God has given by His word to us, not by the “sight” of our natural human faculties such as our mind.  So we must hear God’s voice – that’s the key to just about everything in the life of a disciple, just as it was in Jesus’ life (John 5:9, 12:49-50).  Please remember, faith comes not by reading, but by HEARING.

  • (John 18:37) Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” 
  • (John 10:27) My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me…”
  • (John 6:63 NKJV)  “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.”

One last scripture I want to look at is Romans 14:23, which declares “…whatever is not from faith is sin.”  If faith is a God-given gift of assurance, conviction, divine persuasion or spiritual sight of spiritual reality which we can’t perceive naturally, then to do something contrary to or apart from this God-given divine persuasion and perception of spiritual reality, is sin.  To sin is to “miss the mark.”  The “mark” we are aiming for is establishing God’s kingdom on earth – knowing and doing His will.  So even things that seem “good,” if not done from faith (spiritual perception and sight), are sin, because God is no part of them.

May God bless you.  I hope this will help you to walk by faith and follow in Jesus’ footsteps in knowing the Father and establishing His Kingdom.

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Dividing Asunder

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12, KJV)

I want to get the reader to consider something that I feel has been tragically neglected, yet is absolutely required if one wants a genuine relationship with God; that is, the distinction and division of soul and spirit.  Many believers are misled and deceived, but don’t realize it (who realizes they’re deceived, after all?), and one of the causes of this is the failure to realize this distinction. 

Some prominent teachers in Christianity insist that spirit and soul are synonymous, that they both refer to the one inner, invisible part of us.  Because soul and spirit are indeed both contained in our inner, “invisible” being, it is perhaps easy or tempting for some to say they are the same thing.  But I think that is totally false and a dangerous, lazy doctrine.  Scripture teaches that within us is a soul AND a spirit, and they are distinct.  The scripture at the top of this post clearly shows that the “word of God” (His actual voice or expression) pierces deep and DIVIDES, or separates, soul and spirit.  This makes no sense if they are the same thing; only if you read this scripture with your mind already made up would you come to that conclusion. 

As I’ve said before, simply put, the soul is the natural, inner part of us that we are born with, which everyone is totally familiar with.  It’s our human mind, reason, will, and emotions, our “self.”  In fact, the word for “soul” in Hebrew (nephesh) and Greek (psuche) is sometimes translated “mind” or “life,” referring to our natural, human faculties. Our spirit is deeper, it is beneath our mind, will or emotions.  It’s the part that senses or knows something in a way that goes beyond our ability to explain or “rationalize.”  It’s the part that yearns for Truth, for meaning, for God, and connects with God.  It can influence our soul and lead to a variety of emotions and actions.  Sometimes we feel a certain way for no discernable reason; the spirit is likely behind that.  Throughout scripture, in both the Hebrew and Greek languages, the word for “spirit” is the same word for “wind” or “breath.”  I believe this is a reference to the untraceable, invisible, primal ways of God and His nature.  Much more could be said, but this is in a nutshell the difference. 

Consider this scripture as well:  (1 Corinthians 2:14) …and the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for to him they are foolishness, and he is not able to know [them], because spiritually they are discerned.”  The “natural man” refers to one in whom the soul is ruling.  One person could be a “natural man” and a “spiritual man” at different times, depending on which part is dominating.  The Greek word for “natural” here is psuchikos, and the word for “soul” throughout the New Testament is psuche.  Likewise, the Greek word for “spiritually” in this verse is pneumatikos, and the word for “spirit” throughout the New Testament is pneuma.  So a very literal translation is: “the soulical man does not receive the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he is not able to know them, because they are discerned by the spiritual (man).”  Read that again carefully.  This is saying that you can’t  receive, discern, or recognize ANYTHING from God by way of your soul – your natural human faculties such as your emotions, reason, mind etc. 

This negates knowing or relating to God by understanding scripture or having proper doctrine.  This negates any understanding or connection with God that is based on what seems right to you.  This negates the claims religion has on connecting with God or pleasing God – what God wants and what God is saying are only perceived spiritually.  The scriptures just keep you on track and point you to God to hear and follow Him yourself, through Jesus Christ.  Here’s the same verse in the Amplified version, which includes more of the nuances of meaning behind the original languages:  “But the natural, nonspiritual man does not accept or welcome or admit into his heart the gifts and teachings and revelations of the Spirit of God, for they are folly (meaningless nonsense) to him; and he is incapable of knowing them [of progressively recognizing, understanding, and becoming better acquainted with them] because they are spiritually discerned and estimated and appreciated.”

So if it is the word of God which pierces and “divides asunder” between soul and spirit, then just what is the word of God?  First of all, the “word of God” is NOT the Bible.  The Bible is words of MEN which were inspired by God. The word of God is very simply the voice and expression of God.  Nothing more and nothing less. It’s a living, spiritual word and can be heard by an individual as God speaks to them, spirit to spirit.  It can be declared by men as God speaks to them, which is true prophecy.  The Bible wasn’t even printed until 1516, so for nearly 1500 years after Christ, his followers heeded the word of God in their hearts, His voice.  (Hebrews 11:3)  “…the worlds were prepared by the word of God…”      The scriptures, again, are words of men who were inspired by God, which is very different, which point men to God through Jesus Christ, to receive God’s word in relationship with Him.  The Bible never claims otherwise, only men do. 

The word of God is active, alive, present.  It is this spiritual voice and expression of God that penetrates one’s heart, with wisdom, and declares what is of the spirit and what is of the soul.  Many “good” or “religious” things are from one’s own soul, and while they may have value and appear good to men, God has no desire for them.  When God’s word comes to a person, it will expose the motives of the heart, and show what originated from the soul (self) and what is of the Spirit (God).  If one learns to still the mind, to sit in God’s presence and listen, one can learn to hear God’s voice and begin to move from being a soulical man to a spiritual man.  It’s not easy, but the hungry heart will persevere and God is a patient Father and His grace is a wonderful teacher. 

Here’s some invaluable resources with further teaching on this topic:

http://www.worldinvisible.com/library/nee/sprtmnv1/1968cont.htm 

http://www.hallvworthington.com/teacher.html

May God be in your heart.

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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